Eve and Said
By Eve Berliner
By Eve Berliner
The incendiary advent of Benjamin Netanyahu
onto the international scene sent shudders through our household, the
It is a relationship on the cusp of history, Said and Eve, the Egyptian and the Hebress, a deep connection, an ancient, mesmerizing alchemy.
He, startling, stunning, exotic.
She, a wild flame.
Said, blood of Ramses
running in his veins, his face carved into the Pyramids of Giza. Eve, mother of the human race ("
The fecundity of the union, the importance of it.
Stepping over the scars of history, we meet as human beings to reach beyond the barriers of culture, stereotype, dogma, to comprehend the other's truth, to see the sweep of history through the other's eyes.
His brother Mohammed who lost his life in the 1973 war with Israel, the forces of General Anwar el-Sadat crossing the impregnable Suez Canal and seizing the Sinai back from its captors who had conquered the land from Egypt in 1967, his brother's blood spilled mortally on the sands of the Sinai, a martyr to his country, buried there at the soldier's monument; for Said the loss of his brother its own mortal wound.
* * *
The day's headlines are provocative: the
The world detonates around us. It is the
time of the assassin. The Egyptian patriot Anwar
el-Sadat who gave his life to the consecration of
peace with Israel, the Israeli visionary Yitzhak Rabin, slain by a fanatic
Jewish fundamentalist in the name of God. The cauldron of the
Radical militant Arabs blow up a bus in
Tel Aviv, a hemorrhage of death;
"Islam is peace. Islam is love. If you have a Jewish neighbor you have to give him peace and love. The face of Islam, the face of Islam is beautiful. Islam is not against the human being. The Islamic religion is for peace and for the human being to live, not to destroy. The Prophet Mohammed made peace with the Jews," Said states softly. "In the Moslem religion, a Moslem man may take a Jewish wife."
"Cousin," he proclaimed when I informed him early on that I was Jewish.
For the biblical patriarch Abraham begat two sons: one by Sarah whom he called Isaac, the other by Hagar, who bore the name Ishmael; Isaac, from whom sprang the Jews, Ishmael, whose descendants became the Arabs, human brotherhood between Jew and Arab in the blood.
* * *
It is an elemental thing, the masculine/feminine mystique. Strong male essence to this brooding catlike man; magical black eyes, long sinewy body, sinewy sweet lips, this fellow who believes that Eve came from Adam's rib!!!
"Get me a glass of water...please," he intones.
Centuries of attitudes about women, so deeply ingrained, so complex. The subjugation of women in a culture of male autocracy, woman under the veil.
In the old culture a woman was not permitted to leave the house without the permission of her husband, young girls hidden behind shutters so as not to be seen by man. Only the surreptitious contact of eyes would occur, and that too was prohibited.
"Mutilation of Egyptian Girls: Despite Ban It Goes On" -- reads the New York Times headline.
He is silent.
He is caught between two cultures, torn
between the wildness of his own nature and the Islamic strictures of
centuries; 18 years in
And yet he is in fact a modern man. We
meet as equals. He allows me my freedom. He respects my independence. And he
loves to cook! This devout Muslim with the macho vulnerable core, this
tender, fierce and beautiful man from
Two different planets and yet the
relationship is one of harmony. There is freedom of expression in our
household and freedom of religion, Said passionate about
I do not try to talk him out of his beliefs. He is entitled to them. I do not argue with his cultural inheritance -- it is impossible -- his historical perspective -- it is his truth.
"I missed you. I missed
He was inducted as an American citizen
"No one is exempt from the law in
* * *
We rise above history, Eve and Said, the chronicle of slavery and enmity and war written in the sands of time.
The exodus is behind us.
And we come together at the millennium as Arab and Jew, in love and peaceful coexistence.