Monday, July 14, 2008

Sadam, Yoni and I

Middle-aged Sefardi men and hot-shot Arab teenagers don't always see eye to eye. Forget about politics, I'm talking about basketball.

Pick up 3 on 3 at the
Gan usually involves waiting one's turn to play, and choosing your other two team mates from the losers, or from those who are also waiting their turn on the side. Yesterday, I ended up playing with Sadam and Yoni, and to be honest, we made a damn good team.

But before I picked these two six footers to do all my dirty work (rebounding and driving), a word about the tension on the court just 15 minutes earlier. Sadam had been playing on a team with a middle aged Sefardi guy who made no secret of his displeasure of Sadam's inability to pass (it was a fair point to be honest). But he took it too far. Maybe because he was an Arab, or maybe just because, he shouted at him in front of everyone. What's worse, Sadam took it very badly. I was impressed with his response though. After being humiliated, he shouted back: "I give you the same respect I give my father! He would never talk to me this way in front of other people! I'm not playing with you!" And he stormed off the court.

Nothing short of free food would hold up a game at the Gan, and surely soon enough they found a replacement for Sadam and continued to play. But I felt uneasy. The guy was really upset, and to be honest, apart from him being right to be angry at being humiliated, I don't think it is ever a good idea to let an Arab walk away from Jews feeling like he was wronged by them.

I sat down next to him, and without meaning to get political I said, "listen, sometimes even when you are in the right, you have to continue..." I didn't add - "I'm not talking about the Middle East you know?" but it was OK, he appreciated having me on his side. When it was my turn to play, I asked him to join my team, and spotting a group of short Chareidi boys still wearing their black trousers and white shirts waiting their turn on the side, I quickly turned to one of the members of the losing team, Yoni, (6ft 3 " and wearing shorts) and asked him to join us.

We were unbeaten for a good few games - we won in style - I felt like I'd made peace in the Middle East. Then Yoni had to go back to Efrat, and non other that Mr Sefardi guy, the source of Sadam's anger was the only person available. "Yallah" I thought. I asked him to join us. They both hesitated, then smiled and shook hands and we started. There was no shouting this time, but I think I finally learnt what it means to be the pointguard (playmaker) on the team - in my efforts to keep them both happy I hardly took a single shot!

1 comment:

Avram said...

nice piece Zak - now please take this to the next level and be the point guard between the Arabs and Jews of all of Israel. Thanks