Peter Day. The Middle East: it’s important to talk.

David was a good Jewish man: faithful to his God; devoted to his family, and deeply connected to his land.

Khalid was a good Palestinian man: faithful to his God; devoted to his family, and deeply connected to his land.

Each year, in early spring, David and Khalid would meet for a chat at a small cafe. It always began with a respectful, silent handshake. Then, after a kindly nod towards the waiter, the pair would sit down.

More silence would follow, usually a couple of minutes at most, until their coffee and sweet biscuits arrived. Then, without any small talk, off they went – as they had done for 34 years:

Said the Jew: “I think it’s important we are allowed to state our case.” 

Said the Palestinian: “I think it’s important we are allowed to state our case.”

Said the Jew: “This is rightfully our land.” 

Said the Palestinian: “This is rightfully our land.” 

Said the Jew: “We are victims of your aggression.” 

Said the Palestinian: “We are victims of your aggression.” 

Said the Jew: “We will fight ‘til the bitter end.” 

Said the Palestinian: “We will fight ‘til the bitter end.” 

Said the Jew: “You killed my family.” 

Said the Palestinian: “You killed my family” 

Said the Jew: “We are a brutalised and traumatised people.” 

Said the Palestinian: “We are a brutalised and traumatised people.” 

Said the Jew: “You hate us.” 

Said the Palestinian: “You hate us.” 

Said the Jew: “There can be no peace ‘til you change your ways.” 

Said the Palestinian: “There can be no peace ‘til you change your ways.” 

Said the Jew: “Look, this is our land.” 

Said the Palestinian: “Look, this is our land.” 

Said the Jew: “Mmm, a nice coffee. Give my regards to your family. See you next year.” 

Said the Palestinian: “Mmm, a nice coffee. Give my regards to your family. See you next year.”

The conversation continues …

Fr Peter Day is the Parish Priest at Corpus Christi, Canberra.

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John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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