Before I even got to the house I was introduced to our host, a smiling man in his 30's holding a toddler. He welcomed us to his house. I thanked him for having us and gave him the ruggelach, assuring him that they were from a good bakery (they were—I bought a few others to sample and the quality was indeed very, very high). I thought to myself: okay, he is smiling, and saying "welcome" but is he really adding in his head "…you evil Zionist bitch"? I decided that I would be better served by not thinking at this point.
Accordingly, I stopped thinking and I walked into the house. I found myself in a sitting room with couches and chairs forming a circle around the room. X sat down; I sat down next to her. There were…20 people? About a third were Israeli; the rest were Palestinian. Based on what I had heard about these Israeli-Palestinian "meet and greets", I expected to see at least a few foreigners there to help us play nicely. There were none.
Right then. Introductions were passed around. The lady of the house joined us, along with three other children. She thanked me for the rugellach. I thanked her for having me. I decided to quit while I was ahead and say nothing else the rest of the evening—that way I could not offend anyone. Gadi had other plans.
"Tell them your story".
People looked at me. I told my story. X translated my words into Arabic.
I told about the bombing. I told about my injuries. I told about President Katzav's visit and my inadvertent joke. I told them that I was minding my own business, buying rugellach. X asked me "and what type of cookies did you bring today"?
"Oh no…rugellach. But from a different bakery." She translated that as well. People laughed.
At the end, people were quiet. The lady of the house spoke.
"We are sorry about what happened to you".
No excuses. No pissing contests. No justifications.
We. Are. Sorry.