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Playgrounds Jerusalem Tel Aviv

At long last Ariel and Lilach turned up with Ophir and Alon. Ariel had said they’d be here at 2 and now it was close to 5. I never give up on my kids, no matter how late they are, but I gave up waiting expectantly, compelling myself to lie back and get stuck back into the book I was reading, Coming up for air, by George Orwell. In this book he describes the mundane actions and thoughts of an ordinary man. It teeters on the edge of boredom, but is constantly rescued by slightly out of the ordinary events.

Etti’s call roused me and the family stood there. They’d been in the pool at their hotel, the YMCA and had stopped to buy the kids’ favorite treat in Jerusalem, Falafel from the kiosk up the hill, operated by an Arab family. Meeting Arabs was an important part of the attraction Jerusalem held for them. That wasn’t possible in Kiriat Ono, where they lived. The idea that we heard the daily calls of the Muezzin fascinated them, They could see the Arab village of Issawia from the one side of our balcony and the Palestinian village of Shuafat from the other side.

The two boys had outgrown the playground equipment in the park nearby and it was a sweltering day, but they were as eager as always to go there. Without them saying so, I knew that the possibility of meeting Arab kids excited them. But sad to say all we found were some young children and their orthodox Jewish parents, swinging, sliding and even reading the portion of the week. Ophir rolled the wooden barrel, in a desultory fashion, back and forth. Once as a young child he enthusiastically struggled to meet the challenge of climbing on and pushing it with his feet as he balanced. What had happened to the Arab kids? Why didn’t they visit the park anymore? I surmised that the city council had built parks in the Arab village. But we understood that wasn’t the reason. Our relationship with the Arabs had changed.

Alon sat on the end of the curving red slide staring out into space. I called them to look at the wall separating us from the Palistinians, which could be seen from the park.

They weren’t short of exercising equipment at their home in Kiriat Ono and in nearby Tel Aviv. There Alon practices his ninja skills, swinging from one parallel bar to another, from ring to ring, like a monkey in the jungle.

Here the best thing for him to do was to sit and discuss movies with me. I told him about some good movies I’d seen recently and he told me about one or two interesting ones he’d seen.

Ophir, forever the optimist dragged us off to the other park. Off we went only to find it also full of little orthodox Jewish children and their parents. Disgusted he’d had enough of looking for Arab kids and we returned home.

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