Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4078)

Sitting Twenty-Four

Pada was surprised at how easy it was to acquire the address of the gentile boy’s father. He drove to the home, walked up and knocked on the door.

When it opened, a man stood there in front of him, not that different from himself, both in appearance and in countenance—not a mirror image, but still—more alike than different.

Pada spoke deliberately. “Are you the father of Amir?”

“Who are you?” the man responded.

“I am the father of Jubal.”

“And who is Jubal?” he countered.

Pada drew a deep breath. “He is the boy with your son, in the desert.”

The man in the doorway vigorously shook his head. “You mean the boy who has tricked my son into disobeying his father, and who is living like an animal in the sand?”

Pada was up to the fight. “That’s strange. I thought it was your boy who deceived my son.”

The two men eyed each other.

There was no semblance of friendliness—no indication that an invitation would be extended to enter the home. This conversation certainly would be conducted standing in the doorway.

Pada continued. “I didn’t come here to argue with you, but I guess, to ask you, overall, what do you think we should do?”

The man smirked. “You want my opinion?”

Pada pursued with more vehemence. “Actually, I want an answer. Your opinion will suffice.”

The man leaned in a little closer and responded coldly, “I think until my people are given their freedom and the land they deserve, such atrocities by the children will be rampant.”

Pada sighed. “Ah. Politics. Must it always be politics? I am here to talk about our children, not the condition of our people.”

Amir’s father raised his finger and pointed at Pada’s face. “But it is about our people. It’s about thousands of years of you Jews arrogantly believing that you are the only sons granted inheritance in this land. I am a son of Abraham.”

“I am, too,” insisted Pada. “But that can’t be possible, because there’s no way that the two of us could actually be brothers.”

Amir’s father stiffened. “I do not want to be your brother. I just want my father’s inheritance.”

Pada stepped back to escape the intensity. “Why can’t we speak of our children?” he pleaded.

“What children?” the man asked.

“Your son—Amir, am I right? And my son, Jubal.”

Amir’s father shook his head. “I don’t know if you have a son named Jubal, but I have no son named Amir. You see, disgrace has no name, and dishonor cannot live in my house.”

Pada shook his head. “Nor will I allow it to live in mine,” he retorted. “Jubal is a shame to me. Yet he is my shame.”

The angry man moved as if he was going to close the door but stopped short of completing the deed. He spoke through a smaller crack. “I have no shame, for I have no disgrace, for I have no son named Amir.”

He was about to finish closing the door but stalled, inserting a thought. “Do you really expect to come to my house as a Jew and talk to me of earthly things? Family and children? If we do not agree on the heavenly, how can we ever discern the earth? You are not my enemy. You are just nothing at all.”

Having completed his speech, Amir’s father slammed the door Pada’s face. He stood for a moment, wondering whether to pound on the door until the man responded, but finally turned on his heel and made his way down the steps to his car.

For a moment, he wondered if he had a part in causing the rage in Amir’s father, or bringing about the disrespect he felt from Jubal.

Then all at once he remembered his own father’s words: “The Palestinians will serve us, just as our children are born to do so.”

Pada smiled and nodded his head. So it was, so it is and so it shall be.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4064)

Sitting Twenty-Two

Karin was embarrassed.

She had promised “the boys in the sand” that she would come up with some answers—or just do anything contrary to their belief that she would do nothing–so she took some time to gather together a sampling of the gifts donated during her phone solicitation. Matthew stared at her in disbelief—partly because of the frenzy of nerves that had overtaken her in accumulating the items, but mostly because he couldn’t figure out how this particular collage of “things” had any central theme.

They drove until Karin was able, through trial and error, to remember where the encampment was. Then, much to her surprise, she saw that many other of the gifts had been delivered to Iz and Pal, including the portable toilet, orange construction cones, fruit baskets, and what appeared to be bags of hamburgers. She shook her head, unable to conceive how anybody had been able to find the location.

As she climbed the hill with her trinkets, she observed the boys opening and closing the door to the toilet, poking their heads inside and giggling. “It’s a toilet!” she shouted.

They jumped back, startled. She covered the remaining distance quickly, and gently patted Iz on the shoulder. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” she said tenderly. “So, what do you think of your new toilet?” She stood back, holding out her hand as if introducing royalty.

Iz shook his head, perplexed. “Why do we need a toilet?”

“Well,” said Karin slowly, “don’t you get kind of tired of, like, burying your stuff in the desert?”

“No, actually it’s kind of fun,” inserted Pal. “I mean, every once in a while you forget, and you dig up one of your old…”

Karin interrupted. “I got the idea!” She lifted her hand to stop any further explanation. Suddenly remembering her guest, she turned to Matthew, who had just arrived. “Iz and Pal, this is Matthew Bradley, and he is here to take your picture.”

Matthew stepped forward. “Hey, dudes. You see, I’ll take this box and point it at you, and what you look like will come through this lens…” He paused to point at the front of the camera and continued. “And from this lens it goes onto what they call film, and makes a picture of your faces.”

He said each word slowly and deliberately, like a missionary schoolteacher. Karin intervened. “Matthew, they are not Aborigines. They have seen cameras, and they’ve had their picture taken. And by the way, they don’t think you’re stealing their souls. Just tell them how you want them to stand.”

Matthew paused, rubbing his chin. “Karin, what is the theme of the picture?”

Karin rolled her eyes, trying to make sure that Matthew didn’t notice. “Theme? There is no theme, Matt. I need a picture of these boys so I can get more attention for their situation.”

Matthew signed, impatient with her ignorance. “Well, if you just wanted a picture you could have picked up one of those disposable cameras,” he said, disgusted. “Listen, Karin, I’m more than a ‘photo guy.’ That’s your problem. You see me as so, so, so very small…”

Karin realized that what she deemed logical he felt was unappreciative. She eased over and gave him a sideways hug (so as to avoid his breath) and said, “Matthew, I’m sorry. I just don’t know about picture themes. What do you think?”

Matthew, immediately healed by the gratuitous apology, was elated. He suggested the two boys embrace as a symbol of their friendship, but since the boys had never really embraced before, it looked terribly awkward. Then, in a brief flicker of pure dumb luck, they managed to hug each other and turn to the camera with huge, cheesy grins.

It was an inspiring moment.

“What are you going to do with the picture?” asked Pal.

“I’m going to try to make your picture famous,” Karin replied, “so you don’t have to be.”

The boys nodded (the way twelve-year-olds do when they don’t really understand adult talk, but also don’t want to hear any more.)

Truthfully, Karin didn’t really understand herself.

Yet several hours later, in a small darkroom, Matthew developed the photo and presented it to Karin. Never in her journalistic life had she seen a picture reflect such clumsy warmth and genuine homespun tenderness. A tear came to her eye, which she reached up and dried quickly. It was no time to be sentimental.

There were still cows to get into the barn.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4057)

Sitting Twenty-One

Matthew Bradley was a photographer with a lesser known news organization with the unfortunate acronym of W.U.S.—Wire United Service.

Matthew refused to be called Matt because he felt that using his full name, Matthew, along with Bradley, might remind people of the famous photographer, Matthew Brady, from the Civil War, who no one remembered anyway.

He was sweet—which in the world of romance, is akin to leprous. He wasn’t unattractive, but certainly never did anything to paint his old barn. He nervously talked too much, and his voice was pitched high. His cheeks were sunken and his teeth, with just a touch of “buck” to them, threatened halitosis. For his breath was just south of peppermint with a hint of garlic, which made close contact just a little stuffy.

Matthew liked Karin. He was infatuated. She was a female and he, a male. Twice a month he asked Karin to go out on a date. She had never accepted the offer—not only fearing that he might become too obsessed, but also having little desire to provide the lion’s share of the small talk.

Even though Karin was not interested in him as a potential boyfriend, she had never needed a photographer as much as she needed one now. Pictures were required so that the public could catch a vision of what was going on in the desert with Iz and Pal.

Taking a deep breath, Karin picked up her phone and called him. She told him that she wanted to see him. There was a very long pause. Matthew replied, “Who is this really?”

After thoroughly convincing him of her pedigree and authenticity, they met for a brief luncheon, at which time she explained her dilemma. He never took his eyes off what seemed to be a region below her nose and above her mouth. It was unnerving.

Yet he agreed to go with her to the desert location to take pictures—if she agreed to attend a correspondence dinner with him in two weeks, where he was going to receive some sort of simple award. Even though Karin was dedicated to the project and wanted to do what she could for the two young fellows, she still paused for a moment to consider what an evening with Matthew would be like—especially if he was juiced up with the energy of grasping a small trophy.

Still, she knew how important this visual would be to her article—and taking heart from contemplating that some forms of cancer can take effect suddenly, be diagnosed and kill in less than fourteen days, she agreed.

They split the bill, she offered him a mint and they headed off into the desert.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4050)

Sitting Twenty

Actually, there was no Yellow Pages printed out by the local community.

Even though the town was emotionally depressed, spiritually entrenched and socially retarded, it had culturally caught up to the current century in technology. Therefore most astute businesspeople found their information via their computers. Yet there were several private schools in the city which had agreed to put together a Yellow Pages, including telephone numbers and business ads, to raise money for their institutions so that their students could have at least some good of the better, if not the best.

Karin’s editor, in a fit of civic pride and an unusual bout of generosity, had purchased twenty of the volumes, which now lay around the office ignored, threatening to be fire hazards.

Karin tired of web surfing, so she resorted to one of the catalogues, which began with a table of contents, including:

Agencies

Banks

Child Psychologists

Doctors

Educators

Financiers

Grocers

Helping Hands

Insurance Companies

Judges

Kan-Ga-Roofing

Labor Organizations

Mothers

Newspapers

Office Supplies

Priests

Q-Tie-Pie Child Care

Religious Organizations

Senators

Teachers

UNICEF

Videos

Women

X-Ray Technicians

Youth Clubs, and the

Zoo

Yes, everything from A to Z. It seemed that blessed benefactors were bountiful—an alliteration of possibilities of people to hit up.

Karin entered the project optimistic and energetic, but soon found that no one wanted to become involved—at least not directly or openly. Yet amazingly, almost everyone offered something, even if it was just negative advice. After about six hours of calling, Karin sat back, having secured the following assistance through her persistence:

One Port-a-john toilet

Sixteen orange construction cones

Seven miscellaneous books in Aramaic

Two fluorescent green soccer balls

Four pairs of tennis shoes

One hundred dollars-worth of gift certificates for food items

One teddy bear

A bag of army men

Three Bibles

Two Korans

A single copy of the Talmud

Seventeen sympathetic sentiments

Eighteen guarantees to participate “if someone else does something first”

A promise from a politician to do his part after he was elected

And a bag of all-black jellybeans

Karin perused the list carefully, trying to determine if there was any theme to the collection, and finally decided that the common thread to the whole encounter was: thoughtful but basically worthless.

Persisting, she decided to chase down one more idea. Some press coverage would help, but nobody at the wire services and news agencies expressed interest. A universal chorus arose from all hearers. It was either, “no story there,” or the story that was there was too scary to chase.

As a matter of fact, one cranky son-of-a-gun called the situation “blasphemous.” When Karin inquired what made it blasphemous, he replied, “That’s easy. If you want to make money and you live in the Middle East, anything that’s too hot to handle is best determined to be blasphemous.”

He continued, “It would be like someone calling me on the phone who said he had a huge scoop about an abortion doctor who discovered the mysterious gay gene while vacationing with his mistress in Red China.” His conclusion to Karin? “Although intriguing, there’s no part of the topic that’s public-friendly, so therefore, it must be classified as blasphemous and be avoided—like a Biblical plague.”

Karin listened carefully, wanting to object to comparing the two boys to locusts, but before she could speak, he added, “Arabs and Jews want to pretend that they don’t have a problem, and they certainly don’t want two upstarts reminding them that they are lying to each other.”

She tried to insert a thought, but the line was dead. She was pretty sure he hung up on her. Still, one possibility remained.

She picked up her phone one last time and called…

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4043)

Sitting Nineteen

Karin was perturbed at herself—“perturbed” being the most civilized word she could come up with after rejecting some more colorful choices.

It seemed she had totally lost perspective. No, that diagnosis was much too clinical. She had just downright screwed up. Plainly, she had let sentiment take over her better judgment.

There was nothing wrong with being sentimental—as long as the work you set out to do gets done, the children are safe in their beds, the fire is lit and all the cows are in the barn. (She had no idea whatsoever why she had chosen such a rural metaphor. She was trying to be completely practical, and nothing seemed more “earthy” than a farm.)

After all the excruciating activity of the day, it turned out that she had not improved the situation whatsoever. Arrogantly, she had tried to solve all the world’s problems. She was aware that this was not her job—her actual job was two-fold: to keep from being a problem to the planet and try to keep all the crazies around her from doing outrageous things.

She considered—if each person with a lick of sense would just try to stay out of trouble and take a few moments to care for friends who couldn’t make things work, well, to quote the old song, “what a lovely world this would be.”

But she had not helped two boys stop their insanity. She had made it worse. After all, before she came on the scene, they were two young dudes out in the desert, chomping on food and giggling. Sure, they had a hand grenade—but they didn’t know how to use it. No, she was the one who provided that information to them. She brought the soldier. She caused the conflict. And she got those two friends spitting mad at each other.

Karin realized that she could work a lifetime and not tally such a disaster again. Yet she had done it in a single afternoon—not to mention losing the respect of her editor.

What perturbed her most of all was that she could not figure out why she had acted so “girlie.” She had been trained better and had certainly learned better. Frankly, she had never bought into the lingo of the day, which claimed that men and women were hopelessly non-communicating misanthropes. If men were from Mars and women were from Venus, why couldn’t they just build spaceships and travel to this good ole’ Earth and live together as humans?

The whole thing was rather ridiculous. But—and a very important “but” it was—she needed to do something. Her soul and conscience refused to stay out of the affair. It was frightening, considering this was how she got into trouble in the first place. Yet Karin Koulyea had a heart to be part of the solution instead of remaining a jagged edge of the problem.

So she pondered—a rather exhausting task after completing such introspection.

Then she remembered what the editor said. He was going to make some calls. Well, she knew how to use a phone. And God knows she would be safer in her apartment contacting people instead of in the desert, threatening to blow up little boys.

She opened up a book she had never used before:

The local Yellow Pages.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3980)

Sitting Ten

“Stay back, lady!” Pal leaped to his feet, alarmed.

Karin shouted, “I’m a reporter! “

“We are young men,” said Pal.

“Dangerous young men,” added Iz. They stood shoulder to shoulder, gazing at the intruding female.

Karin halted her progress and softened her voice. “So I heard.”

“What do you want?” demanded Pal.

Karin slowly inched her way forward. “I want to report your story. I want to find out why you two boys are in the desert together. If you don’t mind, I want you to tell me why you’re dangerous. And I also want to give you some water and food,” she said, motioning to the supplies she had laid to the side.

Pal and Iz gave each other a quick glance. Water and food—always good. Iz spoke up. “Just leave the water and food and go.”

Karin shook her head. “No deal. I didn’t come out here to be your delivery service. I told you—I’m a reporter. I want to know what’s going on.”

“Nothing,” spat Iz.

“So why are you dangerous, then?” Karin moved a few steps closer.

Pal backed away. “Because we want to be left alone,” he replied.

Karin reached out with open hands and said, “Okay. Give me my story and I’ll leave you alone.”

“Here’s your story,” said Iz. “Two boys…”

Pal interrupted. “We’re not boys, Iz.”

“Right,” said Iz, slapping his forehead with his palm. “Make that ‘Two Macho Men, Left Alone and At Peace in Desert by Reporter’.”

“I don’t know,” said Karin. “I can tell you—it’s not really a page turner. How about this instead? ‘Two Muscular Manly Men Tell Their Intriguing Story to Attractive Reporter and All At Once, the World Understands’?”

Pal shook his head. “The world will not understand.”

Iz jabbed his friend in the arm. “And listen, lady. You’re not that attractive.”

Karin feigned an offended gasp. “Now I see why they say you’re dangerous. Your tongue just killed my ego at fifteen paces.” She paused to see if the boys would laugh. When they didn’t, she eyed them with deep contemplation, then continued. “Just let me ask you five questions.”

“One question,” said Pal.

“Four,” countered Karin.

“Two!” shouted Iz.

Pal displayed a toothy grin. “I guess that means three.”

“All right. Three questions,” Karin agreed.

“And no funny business,” said Pal, crossing his arms.

Karin chuckled. “Listen, fellas. I live in the Middle East. What’s funny?” She carefully eased her way into the thrown-together encampment and sat down beneath a palm, staring at the two young gentlemen in front of her. She crinkled her nose. Although she was a good four feet away, they reeked of sweat and grain. She motioned for them to be seated.

Pal refused. “So what is your first question?”

Karin said, “I’ll make it easy. I’ll give you all three questions at once. Why are you here, what are you trying to do, and I guess my friend down there in the jeep? He wants to know where in the hell his grenade is.”

Pal jerked his head and shot a look at the vehicle. “Is that him?” he asked Iz.

Iz squinted to see. “I can’t tell. At this distance, Army men all look the same.”

Karin eased her way to her knees and interrupted. “Well, are you going to answer my questions?”

Iz could not take his eyes off the soldier. “What does he want?” he asked Karin.

“He wants his grenade back,” she replied quickly. “He really doesn’t want to be blamed for killing and mutilating people because he was careless with his weapons. You can certainly understand that.”

Pal shook his head. “We’re not trying to kill and mutilate anyone,” he said.

Karin sensed a moment of vulnerability, so she went on the attack. “Well, listen, dude,” she said. “That’s what grenades do. Maybe you should have thought of that before you stole it and came out here, flashing it at people.”

Iz continued to stare at the soldier, with his back to Karin, and inserted, “We just want to be left alone.”

Karin spoke back harshly. “If you’re not careful, you’re gonna be just left dead.”

Pal eased his way a bit closer to her. “Listen, lady. No one will die. We don’t even know how the grenade works.”

“Shut up, Pal!” screamed Iz.

Karin laughed. “Oh—and that’s good?” she asked. “That you don’t know how a grenade works?”

Her question quieted Iz and Pal. Iz made his way over and sat down by the reporter. Pal stepped closer but remained standing. It was all so crazy—not what they had envisioned. They were horrified by their plight.

Karin gave the moment a chance to simmer, then asked, much quieter. “Why are you here?”

Fighting back tears, Iz tried to explain. “We had become friends, but we really were not allowed to be friends. Our families are separated, our countries are at war and our people hate each other.”

Moved by Iz’s admission, Pal came over and sat down. “If we try to be friends, excuses will be made why it is a bad thing. So we’ve come out here in the desert, where we can be friends without interfering with the war that the grown-ups like to have.”

Iz leaned forward and emphatically concluded. “They can have their war. We just want to be together and be left alone.”

Karin was reasoning in her mind the whole time the boys were speaking. She knew she needed to do something, or the situation could easily go awry. She spoke gently but firmly. “It’s not that way, boys. There are lots of Arabs and Jews that get along together. For God’s sakes—they work in the same companies and factories. I’m sure there are lots of Jewish and Arab boys that are friends.”

“Do you know any?” Pal asked sincerely.

“Now that is a trick question,” said Karin. “Just because I can’t offer a name doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”

Iz leaned forward. “But aren’t you a reporter? Aren’t you supposed to have answers?”

“Okay,” said Karin, drawing a very deep breath and releasing it slowly. “Let’s say you guys are right. Let’s say your families won’t allow you to be friends. Here’s my question. Is it really better to live out here—pardon me—starve out here, to be with each other, than to be with your families, safe and sound, knowing they love you, in your own communities?”

Iz sadly shook his head. “You just don’t get it, lady. What you’re saying to us is to give up our love and friendship just so our families will think we’re all right and will include us in the home. Why can’t we be included…together? Why don’t they make an exception because they love us?”

Iz’s speech touched Karin. “Hell if I know,” she responded. “That’s just not the way it works right now. And you’re not going to change it playing in the desert, dehydrating yourselves and smelling like a three-day-dead goat.”

Pal was surprised. “Do we smell that bad?” he asked.

“No,” replied Karin. “It would take four baths for you to smell like the goat.”

Iz shook his head. “Very sorry. I guess our manly body parts are much more mature than we thought.”

Karin winced, considered a retort, but opted to move on. “Well, I guess you’ve answered question two–‘What are you trying to do?’” she noted. “Or is there more? Are you boys trying to send a message to the Israelis and Palestinians?”

“Yes, we are,” said Iz. “Leave us alone.”

Karin looked around in all directions. “It appears you are alone.”

“Then good,” replied Pal. “But we also can do without reporters.”

Karin pretended to cry. “You mean you don’t want to be famous?”

“No,” said Iz. “Famous is our worst fear. The less people know about us the better.”


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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3917)

Sitting One

The sun is unrelenting and sand is hot—often forgotten in discussing desert matters, the blistering heat baking earth and all humans from head to toe.

Young boys—no, fellows. Growing humans. What would be the right words to describe two twelve-year-old gentlemen? The term “boys” certainly limits their experience, and the distinction “men” seems overwrought, almost comical.

Amir and Jubal, two chaps trapped in both name and culture, demanded compliance to a lifestyle of birth—one Arab, one Jew, respectively.

How did it all begin? How does anything begin? If necessity is the “mother of invention,” then curiosity is the flamboyantly dressed aunt with the horn-rimmed glasses, chomping on her gum, saying, “Why not?”

One day, these two boys just noticed each other across the dusty road of an open-market. Eyes met and then nervously retreated in fear of breaching some ancient cultural taboo. But after all, they were just guys—so eyes met again, affixing a stare which promptly sprouted a grin and a tiny, inconspicuous wave. Caution was observed to make sure that milling adults did not notice the connection, but it was made. Two fellows noticing each other for the first time, wondering what the other one was really like, curious about playtime possibilities.

All at once, Amir pointed straight down to the ground and then immediately up to the sky. Jubal’s brow furrowed in confusion, so Amir repeated his gesture. Jubal nodded his head, not certain of the agreement. On the walk home, he thought about the finger-pointing. All at once it occurred to him. “He wants me to meet him there tomorrow at mid-day.”

Jubal wasn’t sure, but it certainly sounded more fun than carving the vegetables set before him by his stern father. “Yes, that must be what he meant,” Jubal concluded.

It was the last thing on his mind before he went to sleep and the first thought that popped in his head with his awakening at dawn.

At midday, Jubal raced to the market, and there was Amir. It was such a delightful moment—not just the sensation of seeing each other, but the excitement of knowing they had crafted a plan without words.

 

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