Photo: Our weekly meeting out front of the Israel Today offices with Rami, Aviel, Rabbi Yanka’le (Yaakov) and Jala.
For the past several weeks, our editorial office in the heart of Jerusalem has been closed for the first time since we started publishing Israel Today. Coronavirus and government regulations have forced us to work from home. It can be done. Today everything seems to be possible as long as the Internet and WiFi work.
In the meantime, Jalal has been taking care of the offices in our absence. Every day he inspected the empty offices, checks that everything is in order and waters the plants.
Jalal is a Palestinian Arab. He lives in the Arab neighborhoods on the eastern side of Jerusalem. The Islamic holy month of Ramadan began a few days ago, and this makes the Muslims tired during the day, since they are not allowed to drink or eat until sunset. And for a whole month.
Before Ramadan, we met Jalal and other friends from the building in our editorial office once a week and had coffee together. Now coffee is a taboo for Jalal until the end of Ramadan.
Jalal has been working for us for several years. It is not unusual for Arabs to work alongside Jews in offices and companies throughout Jerusalem. He has a key to our editorial offices, and we trust him explicitly. We very often learn from him what is happening on the Arab side of the city, or in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories. He often points out little things to us so that we can better understand the bigger picture in Arab society. Those who only spread poison and insist that Jews and Arabs cannot live or work together either have no idea what they are talking about, or are purposely spreading lies to perpetuate the conflict.
Jalal, like other Arab colleagues of ours, knows how to enjoy life under Israeli freedom in Jerusalem. Even if he must take care from time to time and would, for example, never acknowledge that a Jewish temple existed in Jerusalem, there’s no need for us to live in constant friction with one another.
We believe that the prophet Zechariah was right when he warned that Jerusalem would become a stumbling block for all people. Those who try to lift this burdensome stone will be cut by it. But that is not the case with Jalal, Khaled, Aiman and other Palestinian friends and co-workers. At most, we might argue over how best to prepare the coffee, but we keep the harmony between peoples alive.