Friday, October 24, 2008

Sound Knows No Border

One night couple of weeks ago, I took a walk with my husband through a neighborhood a bit downhill from ours. This area is filled with million dollar villas, all of which have expansive views of the separation fence (which around here is a fence, not a wall) and the Palestinian villages beyond.

The homes we passed were beautiful- lush landscaping, huge windows, swimming pools- and the streets were clean and quiet.

[Note, if this is important to you: we do not live ‘over the Green Line’; our town (well, most of it- a few blocks straddle the line) lies within what is sometimes (erroneously?) called ‘Israel proper’.]

Um- did I say quiet??!!

Well, I guess if you could tune out the sound of the muezzin and of the music and cheers, shouts, fireworks, and gunfire (gunfire seems to be a regular accompaniment to our Arab neighbors’ celebrations) that was echoing (I was going to say ‘ricocheting’ but didn’t want you to think that there were bullets flying about) off the homes.

My husband and I walked about, mouths agape- the sound was REALLY loud. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LOUD.

Occasionally, depending I guess on how the wind blows, we can hear the muezzin in our home, and several times a week the sound of fireworks and gunfire echoes along our block. But it’s never very loud, and it only lasts a few minutes.

This, on the other hand, was annoying, disruptive, have to keep-the-windows-closed-and -the -air-conditioner-on-to-keep-out-the-noise loud. Exponentially worse than the neighbor’s-dog-who-won’t-stop-barking, dammit, loud. [A pet peeve of mine (excuse the pun), especially as it sometimes seems that just about each and every one of our neighbors has a dog that barks all the time. (End of rant.)]

My husband said that the police should be called to tell the Palestinians to be quiet.

‘You’re kidding,’ I said.

He wasn’t.

On the other hand, I saw it as a unique culture bridge; a way to share in their celebration from afar, to listen to their favorite music. And the fireworks were pretty.

Yeah, sure, it was annoying. I wouldn’t want to pay a million dollars or more for a home in what I thought was a sleepy hillside town, only to be bombarded with such loud sounds that I couldn’t enjoy sitting on my deck.

But when you live in the hills, you have to anticipate echo. And anyone who lives in these parts (by that I mean, the Middle East) knows about celebratory gunfire. As to loud voices and loud music- hey, Israelis run with the best of them.

I keep thinking, though, that there’s an important message here. One that has to do with peace, and loving your neighbors.

I guess a cynic would say the message is that ‘Fences make good neighbors’.

Heck, I’d be happy with just that.

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