Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jewish-Arab integration in Jerusalem

The neighborhood pool just happens also to be the only full-sized Olympic pool in Jerusalem, and we've got some active swim-teams. Yesterday evening as I was preparing for my swim, there was a gang of teenagers from the team who were showering and dressing. Most of them happened to be Arab teenagers, tho some were Jews. At one point three or four of them were standing near me and I eavesdropped. Only one of them was Jewish, and they were talking about the matriculation exams they'll all be taking in the next few weeks, as they finish high school. The Jew, it turned out, had chosen to take the easiest version of math, and his chief interlocutor was poking gentle fun at him. "Of course it depends on what you intend to do afterwards, but don't you think you should at least try for the intermediate level, not just the easiest?" Two of the others launched into their own discussion, in Arabic, about which math credentials it's best to strive for.

This banal discussion would have been inconceivable in the first decade after Israel annexed Jordanian Jerusalem in 1967. As recently as 10 years ago it would have been conceivable, but not possible. Things are changing in Jerusalem, under our noses but also under the media radar.

After my swim and shower, there were two fellows in their mid-30s chatting as they dressed. They were discussing the hardship of living a mostly sedentary modern work-life, and then going off for three weeks in the infantry and being called upon to make physical exertions that were easy 15 years ago but not anymore.

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