# 304 – The Culture Gap by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 304 – The Culture Gap

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409

January 17, 2017

First of all, will all those Obama/Kerry-like people stop putting Israelis and Palestinians in the same boat, as if they speak the same language.


Over and over, I have repeated that, if/when this problem is solved, it will only be to prove that this is not the problem. I wrote that early in my letters, 15 years ago, and had I started the letters 30 years ago, would have said the same. The Middle East is not only a mess, its culture is ‘many years’ away from Western culture. I am trying to avoid identifying which is better; that’s not the point. It’s the gap between that is significant.


Differing cultures meet all the time. If there is a relatively peaceful environment, like in the immigrant-heavy areas of East London, West London, Bradford and Birmingham, there is perhaps co-operation, but cohabitation and proper communication take longer.


Israel in the Middle East stands out like a sore thumb. So basically different to its neighbours. If there were a peaceful environment, you and I know there would still bel severe hurdles to cross. But there is constant unrest, if not out and out war. No chance for rapprochement. And this is a vicious circle. The longer there is no peace, the less likely it will come soon.


We had lunch on Shabbath (Saturday) in Abu Ghosh, the Arab town just outside Jerusalem that is considered perhaps the friendliest to their neighbours, the Jews.  Abu Ghosh was the the first, after the 1948 War of Independence, to ‘open its doors’ to co-operation.


So, guess what – the town has prospered. Peace and prosperity often come together. But not without troubles. Just as we secular complain that the religious often become too involved and dominant in Israeli politics, so, too, in Abu Ghosh. The Mullahs at their beautiful grand mosque are apparently forbidding members of their congregation to attend services, because of the persistent co-operation with their Jewish neighbours.


Yesterday, we saw ‘In Between’, a terrific Israeli movie that deserves Oscar nominations. The Hebrew and Arabic titles translate: “Neither here nor there”. It tells of 3 Israeli Arab girls who share an apartment in Tel Aviv. One is a lawyer by day, relaxed in her Israeli surroundings, and by night, she lets her hair down in whatever direction she wants.


Two is gay, skipping from job to job, caught in the problems of ‘coming out’ in a traditional Christian family. And three is a plumpish IT student, a religious Moslem, but beginning to be aware of the ‘world outside’.


They are in Tel Aviv, but they could be in Beirut – or even in Paris  The chauvinism of their society reflects reality. It exists in most societies, but here, it is still primitive. And there appears to be no great optimism that they will ‘catch up’.


That’s what I am trying to say – but without implying ‘primitive’. Changes are happening, faster and faster. Whether it’s technology or dramatic differences in social behaviour, we are worlds apart, and not necessarily getting closer.


The Middle East is in turmoil. Arab ‘brothers’ and ’cousins’ are killing each other. And the World wants us to share the same capital as our angry neighbours. Am I missing something?

They certainly are.


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