Dani is an Israeli-American. But she is totally cool, having grown up away from Israel's occupation. She never knew a Palestinian before Feras. But Dani's mom was an Israeli, who was born in Israel and moved the States after she got married.
At first I assumed everything would be fine. I was a naive 22-year-old who knew little about Palestine and Israel, other than the catch phrase "Peace in the Middle East."
Dani and Feras got along so well and knew all of these cool foods that I had never seen -- like hummus, baba ghanoosh, schwarma, and so on. As the child of restauranteurs I always saw food as a common denominator that binds us all.
It's almost funny how little I knew about the cultural appropriation that Israel imposes on Palestinians at the time. But 10 years later, after all the wars I've watched, it just makes me sad to know how many other people know as little as I once did.
Even the experience of meeting Dani's mother looks so different when I think about it after all these years compared to how I felt about it when I experienced it.
We picked her mother up from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. It might seem weird that Feras and I went with Dani on such a personal errand, but we were all relatively new to Arizona and were still getting the lay of the land.
If we had the technology we do today as widely available back then, I might have been spared the whole experience.
It was clear that Dani's Israeli mother didn't approve of Feras from the start. I mean it was never going to go great when the first thing she asks him is where he's from and his reply is naturally "Palestine."
She took every opportunity to cut him down. But at the same time she was really nice to me. I assumed that she was a man-hater having been recently divorced. That's how oblivious I was to the [racism of the] whole thing.
Even though she practically threw herself at Dani's "Prince Charming" whenever he was around. (No offense to her taste but that should have been a red flag right there, PC was okay-looking, but he is no Feras).
Did I mention how weird that was since she could have been his mom? All the signs were there but I didn't know enough to see it then. One experience that stands out... More