On the way back home early this morning, on the subway, this Israeli guy started talking to me.
“Hey! Are you from China?”
I said I was not.
I told him I was from Singapore.
“Oh I thought you might be Chinese or Japanese, you have the same eyes as my girlfriend,” and he proceeded to tug the sides of his eyes, “She’s half-Japanese, half-Italian, and your eyes are similar. I love my girlfriend, but I disagree with what she believes in.”
Casual racism aside, I asked, “What do you mean?”
She was a teacher who taught in a school for Arabs, he said. As a result, she sympathises with the plight of the Arabs in the whole Israel-Palestine conflict, and takes the sides of the Arabs in the country instead of the Jews, which he is.
“She says things that are crazy, just like the rest of them,” he said, “They’re all brainwashed.”
I thought it was funny that he should say that, because the Arabs in the country probably thought the same of the Jews. In fact, a couple months ago, I got to meet a recent immigrant from Israel who echoed the same sentiments, almost verbatim.
“The Arabs will not hesitate to take over Israel if they could,”
“They’re all brainwashed from young into believing their nonsense,”
“You give them a little, they keep wanting more. They’re not satisfied with equality,”
These were some of the sentiments that both the Israeli men, whom I met several months apart, echoed, almost word for word. It was as if they were reciting from something learnt in the past.
Then, the guy on the subway asked me,
“So, whose side do you take? What are your views on this issue?”
I opted for the safe path and said, “It is not in my place to comment; I’ll let them Jews and Arabs, Israeli and Palestinians work it out.”