December 7th, 2002

yellow star

Interesting life: an Arab as a Jew, of sorts

He was especially sensitive to prejudices about the Middle East, including those that related to both Jews and Arabs. He says the hatred of foreigners did not make any distinctions between the two Semitic peoples. "They threw us into the same basket," he says. "But when the Germans got drunk, their curses were directed at the Jews first.

I was 26, and had just bought my first car - a Renault 4 - and I went on a trip to Finland with a girlfriend. One night, we didn't find a place to sleep. So I stopped next to a potato field and we decided to put up the tent that we'd brought with us. A very dapper-looking man came up to us and invited us to sleep at his house. As we were talking, I found out that he was a well-known architect, and he also happened to mention that he was Jewish. All my fears resurfaced. I didn't sleep the whole night. Even though I was younger than him and several times stronger, and even though we weren't in Israel but very far away in Scandinavia, the stories that I grew up on - about the Jews being killers - suddenly came flooding back and I couldn't close my eyes.