‘Peace Begins With a Flat Tire’ By Kiki Belzer, Israel

“Beware of camels near the road” a road sign warns. I’m heading northbound, driving on Route 90 through the west bank, hypnotized by the surrealistic views of Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan.

After a long time behind the wheel,  this deserted road has a tranquilizing effect on me. Bon Iver playing through my speakers, my mind drifts into wishful-political  contemplation until it is abruptly disrupted: “Beeeeeeeeeeeeep!” “Beeeeeeeeep!”  “Beeeeeeep!“  A white truck  tailgating me is honking like mad. Alarmed, I look in my rearview mirror to check the license plate – white and green –   Palestinian. ‘Shit!’

The truck speeds up and drives dangerously parallel to me on the southbound lane. Inside are three Palestinian men honking and making rude gestures at me. They roll the window down and yell at me in Arabic ( “Sharmutah” being the only word I can comprehend).  Then one of the men very elegantly takes his pants down and shines his genitals for the world to see.

Frightened and shaken up I think to myself, “These Palestinians. What a  bunch of loonies, how can we ever achieve peace if they can’t even bring themselves to be civilized on the roads?” When I see the checkpoint in the distance, signaling the end of the west bank I let out a sigh of relief.

Approximately twenty minutes later I hear a strange noise.  I stop,  get out of my car and realize that my day has just gone from bad to worse. Stuck in the middle of nowhere on the border with Jordan, my car gives in to a flat tire. I pop my trunk to get out the spare tire and jack –  I know how to fix a flat tire…theoretically…

I’m standing by my car feeling pretty useless when a car driving by politely stops and asks if I need a hand. Before I get a chance to explain, four men jump out. While they approach me, I suddenly realize they are all Arab,  “What did I just get myself into?“ I think to myself cringing.

Five minutes later the tire is fixed, I express my sincere gratitude and we go our separate ways. I believe that flat tire was symbolic and happened for a reason. It taught me an important lesson on stereotypes, co-existence but mainly Trust. Mutual Trust.

Kiki Belzer,

YaLa Young Leaders

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