I’m an innocent nineteen year old American who decided to leave my hometown of New York City to serve in the Israel Defense Forces mainly to get away from Mom’s irrational fear and worries. Everything I’ve in fact, learned about the Arab speaking world in Israel has been heavily influenced by the media in relation to the Palestinian uprising back in 1987.
Together with Mom’s fear, I am a walking soldier of nerves on this sandy base in Gaza strip – the occupied territories of Israel.
But Maoen, a Druze soldier from a remote village in the North of Israel managed to assuage my fears.
At first I thought this chapter would just be about finding love, but then my editor asked all these questions about the Druze population, and as I responded to her questions, I started realizing that this was a great opportunity to show how my relationship with Maoen, an Arab-speaking citizen of Israel, was in fact, more that just “puppy love,” but a cultural education in itself.
From chapter 20, Finding Love in Gaza
The more I learn about Israeli Druze, or Arabic-speaking citizens of Israel, the more I realize how unique and different they are. They are known to form a close knit and cohesive social community in an already small and tight country. Prior to 1957, Israeli Druze, or Arabic speaking citizens of Israel were not recognized as a religious community and discriminated against. Since then, the Israeli government designated the Druze a distinct ethnic community. Many members of the community have attained top positions in Israeli politics and public service. Their social customs differ markedly from those of Muslims or Christians and they represent a very small percentage of the population in Israel, living primarily in the North of Israel. They are known as “the People of Unity” or “The Unitarians” which perhaps explains why Maoen is a peaceful person who puts me at ease.
What I learned from writing this chapter
This is why it’s so important to keep an open mind when you write. The mind is a creative process can easily affect the story we think we’ve been destined to write, suddenly changes into something different.
As I tweeted earlier….
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