From an Israeli Jew to an Israeli Arab
Toward the end of my first pregnancy I woke up one morning feeling that my hands and feet were uncommonly swollen. Looking in the mirror, I saw that my face too was so swollen that my features were distorted. I felt quite well, despite the bodily bloating, and made my way to the dining hall of the kibbutz where we lived. As I did every workday, I timed my arrival with my husband's morning break, so that we could have breakfast together.
My husband and I met, took our food and sat at a table near the panoramic window which made-up about a third of the wall of the semi-circular dining room. I asked my husband if I appeared unusually swollen. He said I did, but since I was at the end of my pregnancy and that I told him that I felt fine, he thought it was a normal symptom of late pregnancy.
Awhile into the meal, one of the Arab workers, who had worked on the kibbutz for years, and was friendly with my husband came over to the table. He whispered something in my husband's ear. The two men excused themselves and went away from the table for a tete-a-tete. A few minutes later my husband returned with an extremely concerned look and said in a no-nonsense tone: "We're going to the infirmary - now". Confused, I left the dining hall with him, thinking that he didn't feel well.
When we got to the infirmary one of the nurses looked at me and I saw her face drop. She sat me down and took my blood pressure. It was 150/90. Looking at my chart, she saw that just the day before my blood pressure was 120/70. She took a urine sample and put a piece of litmus paper in it. She said: "You're going to the hospital, immediately." I felt afraid and asked what was going on. The nurse told me that I was demonstrating classical symptoms of pre-eclampsia (bloating, elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine coming from damaged kidneys) . I had read about pre-eclampsia in books about pregnancy. I knew that it could develop into a full-fledged eclampsia in a very short time, resulting in convulsions and often the death of the fetus, the mother or both.
An ambulance was called. An hour-and-a-half later I was in the maternity unit of the local hospital. Again, my blood pressure was checked. It was now 190/100. One more time, a urine sample was taken and a litmus test done. I was admitted into the high-risk unit of the maternity ward and remained there until I gave birth to my child.
My daughter was born by Caesarian section. My blood pressure reached 220/110 during the delivery despite being infused with medication to keep my blood pressure down. My kidneys failed and I was transferred to the intensive care unit . I fought for my life for four days in intensive care. After coming out of intensive care and spending another two weeks in the high-risk unit of the maternity ward, I went home with a beautiful healthy baby girl.
As I was checking out of the hospital the Head of the maternity department, who oversaw my delivery personally, asked how it was that I knew that I had to come to the hospital exactly when I did. I told him that I didn't know. I did as I was told by the nurse in the kibbutz infirmary. "Well," said the doctor, "now I'll tell you the truth. Had you not arrived here when you did, it is highly doubtful that you and your daughter would both be walking out of here alive today."
I turned to my husband and said: "Why did you take me to the infirmary that day?" My husband told me that the Arab who works on the kibbutz told him that I had what he called the "pregnancy poisoning" and told me to have you checked at once. The Arab worker is a man with many children who comes from a large family and thus recognized the syndrome at once.
I owe my life and that of my first child to that Arab man who took my husband aside in the dining hall and told him to have me examined without delay. He could have let a Jewish woman and her unborn baby die without even being incriminated for it - but he didn't. Having had such an experience I become furious when I hear some Israelis and some Jews outside of Israel (who know nothing of what everyday life is like here) say that Arabs and Jews are irreconcilable enemies or that all of the Arabs want us dead.
This is but one of the many stories that I can relate which prove that the Jewish and Arab peoples in the Middle East are not enemies. The "war" is the creation of the convoluted minds of hate-mongers (both in this area and outside of the Middle East) who are manipulating public opinion for their own interests.
Both our daughter and our son know that our daughter and I live and breathe today thanks to an Arab. I'm grateful that I can share this story with others - particularly those whose opinions are shaped only by the news. In fact, I know very few Israelis who don't have good relations with the Arabs in this country, and in surrounding countries as well, in their civilian lives.
On May 25, 2001 at sundown people all over the world will take a vow of one hour of absolute silence devoted to prayer for peace in the Middle East. Some of us will extend the silence until sundown May 26. You are all warmly invited to join us in this powerful world-wide, orchestrated prayer for brotherhood.
Doreen, your write-up is so beautifully appropriate in the wake of all the recent violent happenings in the middle east. It's a real blessing to hear of such unifying incidents and elevating thoughts from somebody like yourself who actually lives in that area. Thanks so much for showing us an example of how we can choose light over darkness, love over hate, peace over war and oneness over divisiveness.
Invitation to Boloji Readers: Please consider participating in the one-hour prayerful silence at sundown on May 25. Matter (i.e. reality) is indeed a collection of our thoughts. Your thoughts, therefore, do matter!