Ari ordered a Turkish coffee at the counter. The cafe was crowded with men sitting in groups of ones or twos, talking or doing business.
These days it was impossible to tell at a glance the Jews from the Arabs. Young men with dark hair and golden skin, all of them with cellphones in their hands or face-up in front of them. Old men playing chess or dominoes, reading books or the newspaper.
He remembered Uncle Yusef telling him about 1948, how Shmaryahu Gutman had tried to negotiate with the Arabs right up until the Jordanian tanks opened fire, slaughtering women and children in their houses.
He’d believed that story all his life until his friend Mohamed told him a different version, one in which Palestinians were lined up and shot by members of the Palmach Strike Force.
The truth, Ari supposed, lay somewhere in between.
For now, this was peace enough.
Lod is sometimes called “Murder City” by Israelis – a drug capital dominated by gangs and crippled by poverty.
Located just twenty minutes outside Tel Aviv, this ancient city once knows as Lydda is one of the few remaining places in Israel that could provide a model for effective Arab-Jewish shared society; it is a microcosm of Israel as a whole, containing mirror images of the country’s diverse populations, history, struggles, and opportunities.
One of Israel’s last cities with mixed Arab and Jewish populations (both of which contain a multitude of religious and ethnic sub-groups), Lod is colored by its ancient and modern history, and especially by its experience in the Independence War. Lod suffers from issues found across Israel: crime and corruption, socioeconomic struggle, rapid population growth, religious and economic gentrification, and identity conflict.
But even with all its troubles, Lod has tremendous potential to become a symbol of multiculturalism and coexistence. Shared socioeconomic struggles of its mixed population provide an opportunity to build social cohesion through coordinated efforts towards mutually shared goals.
If Lod can reach its potential, it can provide a way forward for the Israeli society it mirrors to do the same. If it fails, it could represent a symptom, or a cause, of greater societal collapse.