"I love this city so much! It gives me shivers!"

Dalit Saidian

Location: Independence Park, Jerusalem

Residence: Jerusalem

Age: 35


The encounter: I met Dalit in the early evening in the park. She was talking with another dog owner. Before I even saw her, I heard her beautiful belly laugh, which erupts at the smallest provocation.

What are you doing here right now?
I’m walking my dog.

 What is your occupation?
I have a store of Judaica and religious souvenirs. Most of my merchandise is geared towards Jewish tourists. But I also sell to Christians and a little bit to Muslims. Most of the Muslim tourists come from the US or Europe: people who have no visa problems visiting Israel.  We don't get enough tourists these days. But I shouldn't complain. My business is doing alright.

Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I am single. My dog is my baby.

Where is your family from?
My family is from Persia. I was born in Teheran. I came to Israel in 1990, when I was ten years old.
I still have some family there. But they don’t want to come. They have their life there, and their work... After a certain age, it’s hard to just pick up everything and start over.
My family moved to Israel because... because it was Israel: the Holy Land! My father raised us with a very big love for Zionism. And I still can’t stop loving this country! It’s something unbelievable! I can’t even describe it. Maybe it’s especially the people who immigrated here who feel this special love for the land. But it’s only for Jerusalem! I won’t live anywhere else in this country.  I love this city so much! It gives me shivers!

How do you describe your religious or national identity?
I'm very Zionist! When it comes to religion, I'm traditional: I celebrate the holidays, I eat kosher, but I don’t strictly observe Sabbath. I will fast on the Day of Atonement, but I do eat shrimp.
My mom taught me to do everything in life in moderation: Not to love too much and not to love too little; not to be too religious and not too secular...everything in balance! That’s the best solution! To always be somewhere in the middle!

What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
I’d like more equality in this country. For instance this whole issue of discrimination against Ethiopians bothers me. And the homosexual community – they deserve equal rights! I believe in God, and I know we are all God’s children! They didn’t chose to be homosexual; they were born that way, and that’s God’s work.
As for peace... I’m from the Middle East. I think I’m little bit more realistic than others. I don’t believe we’ll have peace any time soon. I grew up with the idea that this is our country; that I don’t have any other place. Okay, the Palestinians also have rights, but I think about myself and the generations that come after me. I don’t know... You can’t say that either side is guilty. It’s a problem for all of us. I just hope we can learn to live together in a better way. We don’t have to be best friends; we have different perspectives. But we should learn to respect each other. If that happens,  we may eventually reach peace.