Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drawing the Line at My Front Door

One of westbankpapa's volunteer activities is acting as one of our yishuv's official spokesmen. He handles both Hebrew and English speaking groups, and is called upon to deal with reporters, tourist groups, and Israeli officials when they need a guided tour of our little village or some information about an incident that happened in our area.

We are sometimes asked to host people for a meal in our home, which we accept gladly.

At least most of the time.

Awhile ago westbankpapa received a request. A famous left-wing personality, who had been hosted himself in America, was now hosting both a Christian American and a Palestinian American (Muslim). They asked him if he could arrange to meet a "real settler".

This request always puts me off a bit. I mean, really, we are not museum pieces or attractions at a freak show, we are normal human beings who happen to live in an area that some find controversial. At the same time, this is what being an official spokesman is all about - making a good impression on people who are unfamiliar with those who live in Judea and Samaria.

Westbankpapa told me about the request, and we were working out some logistical arrangements, when he casually mentioned the name of this famous left-wing personality.

I remember bursting out, completely without thinking, the following: "I will not let that man step foot in my house!"

Westbankpapa was shocked. In the past I have had Palestinian Arabs, fundamentalist Christians (including the pastor), and European reporters in my home for meals without batting an eyelash. I believe that communicating with people on a one-to-one basis is the very best way to break down stereotypes.

This time was an exception, though. The person in question was personally responsible for telling vicious lies about our whole community, and literally causing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of others to hate those of us living in Judea and Samaria without cause. I just couldn't bear the thought of him in my home.

Of course, after I said this, I started to feel a bit guilty. Most women are taught to "be nice" no matter what. Having guests in your home is a fundamental part of being an Orthodox woman. And, the insidious little voice of egotism started to speak. "Maybe when he meets us he will change his mind about settlers, and realize that we are not so bad after all"....As if my recipe for brownies (as good as they are) will somehow tame the savage settler hater into a more objective and reasonable person....

Of course a few minutes later reality set in - and I figuratively shook myself and thought "NOT GONNA HAPPEN MAMA. This guy has an agenda and your hospitality will not change it."

Westbankpapa made arrangements to speak with the three visitors in the yishuv but not at home, and he said it went well. This small group left the yishuv never knowing that they missed out on my delicious brownies. And I reaffirmed a feeling that I have had for a long time.

I do not have a lot of clout in the traditional sense. I work part-time at two very low paying jobs, and I do not come from a wealthy or a powerful family.

But within the four walls of my home I am the queen, and I choose who gains entrance to it and who does not. Although not opening my home to this man made absolutely no difference in the cosmic sense, it made a big difference to me.

16 Comments:

Blogger Jerusalem Joe said...

good for you.
you have just mannaged to handle settler PR better than moezet yesha has for the past three decades...
pandering to the people who are determined to ruin your home and community, if not have you killed is so...odious.
and stupid.
and spineless.

9:49 AM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger tafka PP said...

I think you are right, it is hard to change people's minds. However good your Brownies are (milk or plain chocolate?)

11:18 AM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger a mother in israel said...

Hey, here in the blogosphere you have clout too. We love you :-)!

12:46 PM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger AidelMaidel said...

Ahem - everything we do effects the entire world - that's why we say one more mitzvah could bring moshiach. Your ability to draw a line and say "not on my turf" definitely affected the cosmos. How it affected it, only Hashem knows, but it definitely affected it!

I'm proud of you for sticking to your guns!

2:04 PM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Every little bit counts. More individuals standing up creates an impact... it's the "Army of Davids" idea.

That's pretty much what blogging is. It is slowly having a greater impact.

6:39 PM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger bec said...

not hosting this person may have kept harmony within your home, and in that case, you did right. your home is sacred space for you and your family, and whomever you invite in. if a particular person will cause a decrease in shalom bayis, then they should not be invited. you did the right thing, AND you didn't have to share the brownies....!

10:51 PM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Of course you could have slipped some Exlax into the cholent. Not that I am suggesting that you do so, but who knows what kind of bugs are running around this time of year.

;)

8:16 AM, December 14, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

jerusalem - I don't know if it made any difference - westbankpapa met with them anyway!

tafka - I only make my brownies pareve - you never know when a craving will come upon you, even when you are fleishig...

a mother - well, that is sure a compliment! thank you!

aidel - I guess when you put it that way you are right

ezzie - I think blogging is having a large impact, judging by the names we are called lately

bec - I is a good thing that westbankpapa trusts my instincts. He didn't argue with me at all about not having him, and just made alternate arrangements

jack - it really is a good thing you are on "our" side...

10:11 AM, December 14, 2006  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

First, when you publish recipes, will you please include the pareve brownies?

Second, could you arrange to give some lessons in drawing bounderies to the more spineless members of our government 'leadership'? They don't seem to have the knack....

6:35 PM, December 14, 2006  
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7:56 AM, February 23, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

福~
「朵
語‧,最一件事,就。好,你西.............................................................................................................
..................-...相互
來到你身邊,以你曾經希望的方式回應你,許下,只是讓它發生,放下,才是讓它實現,你的心願使你懂得不能執著的奧秘

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