Lokafy is determined to change the way people travel, to make it more about the people we come across as we travel and not just about the places we see. We’re sharing a story from Omar, who now lives in Victoria, British Columbia. His story comes from an experience he had at a Los Angeles Airport.
I sat at the busy airport waiting for my flight to board and decided to make the most of my time. I pulled out my laptop which thankfully, was charged and began catching up on emails and some work. I couldn’t help but notice these two women who looked distraught as they unsuccessfully looked for an available outlet to charge their phone. I wasn’t using all of the USB ports on my laptop so I offered to help the ladies.
As someone who had helped them they began to engage in small talk with me and as they spoke I quickly picked up on their Israeli accent. We continued to speak as her phone charged on my laptop and I learned that they were from Haifa and had served in the Israeli army and were now taking some time off to relax and travel.
“Where are you from?” she asked. “I am from Gaza” I replied with a smile on my face. The ladies who, just a couple of seconds before were smiling and giggling with me, looked like they were about to have a heart attack. There was a bit of an awkward silence for what was probably only 10 seconds but seemed like 3 minutes. They looked more than ready to grab the phone charged or not and run away from me!
When they had told me that they had served in the Israeli army I didn’t suddenly cease to want to help them. I continued to let them charge their phones even after they had told me that because I had seen the ladies struggle and I was simply in a position to help and so i did just that. I tried to get the ladies to be at ease by continuing to chat with them casually and act as though nothing out of the ordinary had been said and it seemed to work. We began to talk about the length of our flights and our destinations and then they asked “Well, where is your family?” The ladies must have assumed that if I had gotten out of Gaza the rest of my family would have come with me but that was not the case at all. “My family is in Gaza, I miss them dearly” I responded as I continued to smile. One of the ladies asked “Why don’t you go and visit them?” A part of me wanted to scream at her “I can’t! I can’t because of what our people are doing to each other.” A part of me wanted to confront them about the situation between Gaza and Israel and let them know that the situation was extremely terrible. A part of me wanted to play the blame game with these ladies. A part of me wanted to scream all sorts of profanities regarding the situation. Eventually after a long conversation we all had to depart as our different flights began to board.
Knowing that these women had served the Israeli army I could only imagine the terrible things that they had done to my people in Gaza directly or indirectly. I don’t know how often you come across a Palestinian who is willing to help an Israeli knowing the gravity of the situation between the nations. It is so rare for Israelis and Palestinians to see the humanity in each other and in this situation it came through the universal need to charge a cell phone.