Why must an Arab Israeli household agree to an act of deceit in order to get their apartment thoroughly cleaned? This humorous column by Sayed Kashua ran in the Haaretz weekend magazine and lifts the veil on the personal details of getting spic 'n span.
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This is it. It's happening. Our first housemaid will arrive on International Women's Day. Our first Jewish housemaid, our first Jewish employee. When all is said and done, I wonder how many Arabs have been in a position to pay a Jew for work.
I arranged to pick her up at 8. At 7:30 I will send the kids off to school, take my wife to a friend's house and then get Tikva. It doesn't have to be complicated, there's no sign with our name at the entrance to the building. Afterward I will leave her on her own - my friend said she's very reliable - and when she's done I will return to drive her home. At which time I will also pay her. I will actually take money out of my wallet and pay the Jewish woman. Okay, my wife really let me have it, but I still think it's a type of revolution.
Now I have to hide every telltale Arab sign in the house. First I disconnected the telephone, in case my mother should phone, heaven forbid, and frighten our Tikva. Then I started to take the family photos off the walls.
"What are you doing?" my wife shouted.
"With all due respect, and you are very beautiful," I told her as I went on taking down the photos, "but still, it's sometimes pretty obvious that you are an Arab."
I hid the family photos together with a stack of children's books and a few books of poetry in the storeroom. I made a final tour of the house to ensure that no scrap of paper, workbook or other sign of Arabic remained visible. A few paintings we had received as gifts and which I was afraid suffered from "Arab taste" were also thrown into the storeroom, which I then locked. To be on the safe side, I threw out a bag of squash and a package of pitas which announced in Arabic, "Beit Safafa Bakery." "That's that," I asserted when my labors were done, my gaze scanning the empty walls. "This is what a Jewish home looks like."
Cartoon by Amos Biderman. Hat tip to Sheera Frenkel for the Haaretz link.