Love in the Time of War


Joshua Gross, a public affairs consultant in Washington, D.C., wrote a poignant story in last week’s Forward about how his relationship with a Lebanese woman was threatened by last summer’s war between Israel and Lebanon.

As is the case with many Arab-Jewish or Muslim-Jewish relationships, politics was a topic typically avoided in their relationship:

Together, Helen and I had tried to create a tidy little universe with a population of two. In this universe, it didn’t matter that I was a Jew and Helen was an Arab. We were beyond the politics.

As the war progressed, there was incredible strain on their relationship–although Joshua never says that the two of them discussed the war in-depth. He seemed to subscribe to a strategy of avoidance.

I was afraid that if we talked, we would discover that we just could not be together. I was afraid of discovering that love had failed to elevate us to a place beyond politics. “Please,” I begged, “give me some time.”

Interestingly, their relationship became a source of inspiration for some of their friends, who framed their relationship as a “microcosm of the peace process itself.” “You can’t give up! You owe it to humanity to make it work!” said one friend.

Joshua has a healthy skepticism toward such attitudes, although the piece suggests he also saw the allure of such idealism. I won’t reveal the ending, but I bet you will be touched–and maybe a bit frustrated–by his tale.

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