Living in the gap

This is the reality, and it has existed for almost 80 years. They still haven’t found a replacement or a solution for it.

By Anat Schneider | | Topics: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

One morning last week, I took my car in for repairs. I admit that this is one of my least favorite chores, but at the same time I am also thankful for the fact that I have a car that serves me and takes me wherever I need to go.

After parting with my car I had to get to my new office, which was several kilometers away. It was raining outside even though the forecast promised a warm day. I had dressed for a dry, pleasant day – without an umbrella, without waterproof shoes and with a thin shirt.

“Really, Anat,” I scolded myself. “Why do you still believe the forecasts? You saw in the morning that there were clouds.”

Walking down the street thus rebuked, I thought to myself that I might catch a bus, something I usually don’t do. Finally, a taxi came along. It was the most convenient option. So I got in. The driver was Arab. I only realized it after I sat down. It’s not exactly the most pleasant situation, and maybe not even the safest these days. We are currently in wartime. The Muslims were at the peak of their month-long Ramadan holiday, with all that that implies. The Jews were at the height of the Purim holiday, with everything that implies. But I had already sat in the back of the taxi, and it felt awkward to get out. So I decided to boost my faith that everything would be fine.

I usually chat with taxi drivers. They are very interesting. And it is important for me to hear the “street wisdom” that they have. But on this trip I only said where I needed to go.

And that’s it.

From that moment there was silence in the taxi. As the journey progressed with no conversation between us, the tension in the air was high. Maybe it was just me, but I was uncomfortable. The sights we both saw through the taxi windows did not help. Wherever I turned my head were sights that increased and emphasized the gap between me and the driver.

I looked to the right and saw huge placards of the hostages, with a demand to release them now. I looked to the left and saw a cafe with a large picture of a soldier in whose memory the cafe was established. At the pedestrian crossing, an IDF combat soldier crossed the road with his weapon. After that there was a big sign that said Gaza is moving. I did not fully understand the meaning. I also had no one to ask. (I assume that the meaning is that the borders of Gaza may change). Later in the drive, the road we were supposed to take was closed because of a Purim procession.

Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

And the driver, according to the instructions of the traffic police, was now supposed to turn around and recalculate his route. I didn’t hear a word from him during the whole drive, not even a single complaint. And this is definitely not a normal situation in an Israeli taxi. But the tension level in the taxi rose. You could now cut it with a knife. I still kept silent, because I felt that any word I said might ignite an unpleasant argument. And I just wanted to get to my office safely. When we had almost reached our destination, he told me very politely and in a voice that really calmed me down, the name of the street and that we had arrived.

I said thank you, paid, said thank you again. And that’s it.

I got out of the taxi and breathed a sigh of relief. But then, as usual, the wheels of my brain did not rest, but continued to work and process the situation and the reality of two peoples living together, even if they don’t want to, and even if they don’t like it, and even if the situation between us is really not ideal.

But that’s the way it is. This is the reality, and it has existed for almost 80 years. They still haven’t found a replacement or a solution for it. And I thought, maybe it’s time for our country to recalculate its course! Because the current direction is like a pressure cooker that hasn’t finished boiling yet. At any moment it feels like it is going to explode on us again, and continue to undermine our lives.

Maybe there is a new route that can lead to quiet? And if not to quiet, then maybe to security?

And maybe there is even a path that can lead to peace?

Don’t we deserve peace already? And maybe they, too, deserve peace?

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2 responses to “Living in the gap”

  1. Disciple 1978 says:

    I had some similar experiences. I was on a special trip to Israel organised after the 2nd Intifada. We were supposed to stay with the group but I tiddled off for a wander and got a taxi back to the hotel. Hotel security were suspicious of an Arab taxi pulling up but I identified myself to reassure him. Aviel was the hotel to see us off.
    On another occasion the Arab taxi driver told me he could barely manage on $2000 a month having 4 wives and households to keep. When he learned I was still single he asked if I was gay, which I’m not.

  2. Masami Cobley says:

    Your last few sentences are exactly what those who attended the Nova Music Festival and those who lived in the kibbutz near Gaza were thinking about and were hoping for before Oct. 7th, aren’t they?

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