I was in Israel about 5 years ago, when the intifada was still going on. I was there for two weeks as a college graduation gift from my parents. I was in Haifa, staying with my friend Irit and I was leaving to head onto Jordan. Her Yiddishe grandmother was there, and when she heard I was going to Jordan, she exclaimed, "Vhat, it is so dangerous! You have to be careful wit zee Arabs!" I explained that I spoke some Arabic, and would be saying with a friend in Amman. This calmed her a little, and she said, "Fine, but before you go, you must eat something."
I went on to Jordan, and had a wonderful time visiting Petra, Ma´adaba and Amman. I was staying in Amman with my friend Omar and his family. Omar´s mother is Palestinian and his father is Kurdish, perhaps the most dispossesed combo in the Middle East. Anywho, I had a wonderful time with his family, and was treated like a king. The day I was heading back to Israel, Omar´s Palestinian grandmother was there. When she found out that I was heading to Israel, she exlaimed "What, it is so dangerous! You have to be careful of the Israelis!" I laughed, and explained that I was Jewish, spoke some Hebrew and would be fine. This calmed her a little, and she said, "Fine, but before you go, you must eat something."
That anecdote explains the Middle East conflict in a nutshell. Two sides that don´t know the other, are terrified of each other, and warn me to be wary of the demons on the other side, yet treat me with such compassion and stuff me full of wonderful food before heading out to do battle. Grandmothers are grandmothers the world over.
2 days ago