Text size
related tags

"Where's my blue shirt?" I yelled as I impatiently ransacked the closet that morning.

"Why do you need a blue shirt right now?" replied my wife, who was busy making sandwiches for the kids.

"Ya'allah!" I shouted back. "I told you a million times that I'm going to the Knesset today and that I need the blue shirt from my brother's wedding."

"What's your problem?" asked my wife, wiping her hands and coming to my aid. "Why does it have to be the blue one?"

"Why? Do I have another button-down shirt that still fits me?"

"Ahh," she thought for a minute and said: "Fine, I'll help you look for the blue shirt," and, since she's a head taller than me, she searched the upper part of the closet. "Here you go," she announced, holding out the wrinkled shirt. "But don't even think I'm going to iron it for you."

"But it's a minister," I pleaded. "You know if it was just an ordinary MK I wouldn't insist, but it's a minister. Please. It's my first time meeting a government minister."

Stuffed in a shiny gray suit from the most recent wedding in the family - and wearing a tie that took me close to an hour to put on, while staring at a how-to video on YouTube that made things worse because of my confusion between right and left - I still showed up at the Knesset entrance an hour early for my meeting. The director and the religious producer had arrived before me.

"What? I don't believe it!" shouted the redhead director, chewing his fingernails when he saw me approaching. "I knew I should have worn a suit! What am I going to do now? I'm the only one who came dressed like a jerk?"

"Hey, what's got into you?" I said, trying to reassure him as I took in his khaki military jacket and supposedly cool sneakers. "This is how a serious director looks."

"Really?" he asked. "You mean it?"

"No," said the producer, adjusting his skullcap, "but what are we supposed to tell you now? There's no time. The next time, try to show a little more respect for this place. Dear God, you come to the Knesset and you haven't even shaved?"

"What?" said the panicked director. "So you two go in, I'll stay here. I don't want to come with you to the minister's office."

"Ya'allah - enough!" the producer cut him off as only a producer can. "But I'm telling you that if this meeting is ruined because of these Nikes of yours, you're fired."

"How's my suit?" I asked, trying to rub it in.

"Too Arab," proclaimed the producer. "But that's okay, it'll serve the purpose of our meeting with the minister."

"Oh no, we have to see a minister," wailed the director as we entered the security inspection area.

"Shut up," hissed the producer, marching ahead toward the wing where the government offices are located.

I must admit I was previously unaware that there was such a thing as a minister for minority affairs; I also wasn't quite sure what "minority" was supposed to mean. This meeting had been arranged by our seasoned producer after all attempts to convince the authorities to let us film at Ben-Gurion airport had failed.

After that incident, the producer - whose slogan is always "I don't take no for an answer" - decided to bring the problem directly to the government. The original idea was to try to involve the transportation minister, but when we realized that it was Yisrael Katz, I said I was afraid, the director said he had no idea who that was and the producer said that, from his understanding of politics, the transportation minister wouldn't do anything for us anyway.

After some consideration, and perhaps because he was the only one who agreed to talk to us, a meeting was scheduled with the minister for minority affairs. Two days before, the three of us had a meeting to coordinate our positions and to prepare for the encounter.

"What does 'minorities' mean exactly?" I asked then.

"That's the thing - I'm not really sure," answered the producer with a shrug of his shoulders.

"If it's Arabs, then why don't they just call him the minister for Arab affairs and leave it at that?"

After a three-hour discussion, it was decided that I, as an Arab, the producer, as a religious person, and the director, as a redhead, all fulfilled the definition of a minority in one way or another, and as the producer summed it up: "One of us is sure to score."

"I'm screwed!" whined the director as we waited in the corridor. "What am I going to do? What an idiot! How could I have come here in these clothes?"

"Will you just shut up already?" the producer scolded him, looking at his watch and clearing his throat. The door to the office of the minister for minority affairs opened and out came two very distinguished-looking Arabs, one of whom I recognized as being from the Islamic Movement in Tira. The second guy, whom the minister called "Mr. President," I'd never seen before but I presumed he was president of some Islamic religious court or something like that.

"Well, would you look here," exclaimed the cleric from Tira, who recognized me. "We're from the same village and we have to come here, to the honorable minister, in order to meet."

"Crap!" - that was the thought that immediately came to my mind. It's bad enough I already have a reputation as being a lunatic "collaborator." What better proof would folks in Tira need than to hear from a respected cleric that I was seen knocking on the door of a government minister? They'll have me pegged as a Shin Bet operative at the very least. I'm a goner now, I thought. Go explain to the people of Tira that I was coming to see the minister for the first time in my life just to beg him for permission to film at the airport.

"You're a journalist," said the cleric from my village. "Write that we came to see the minister to request that hospitals in this country have places of prayer for Muslims, too."

"Ahh," I stalled, trying to think of a way out of this mess. "Yes, certainly, it is a terrible injustice, it's discrimination, we can't remain silent. So, do you think the minister is going to help?"

"See for yourself," he replied, just as we were ushered into the office.

"Looks like we can forget about the airport," whispered the producer as we entered the office of the minister for minority affairs.

Meanwhile, I said quietly that I found it a little unsettling to discover that my own modest little office was at least twice as big as the officer the minister had.

"Size doesn't count," the director whispered back.

"Shut up," the producer scolded again, "and start thinking about creative solutions to the airport problem."

"Something to drink?" the young woman who came in after the minister offered.

"Water," said the producer.

"Nothing," squeaked the director.

"Do you have any whiskey?" I asked, which made the girl laugh for some reason.