"My father feels affinity for the Druze in Israel– they are his people after all – but he’s a Jew now and his loyalty is with the Jewish nation."
Location: Arena Beach, Herzliya Pituah
The encounter: I met Oshrat and her friend Hadas on a Friday afternoon at the beach in Herzliya Pituah. They came from Ofra, a settlement near Ramallah, about an hour’s drive away. Oshrat told me that her father, a convert who had grown up in a Druze village in Lebanon, had also worked as a comic-book artist in the US. When I looked him up online later, I found out that his story was even more surprising than I initially had imagined. In the 1970s, he worked for Marvel Comics and drew legendary characters such as Batman and Wonder Woman.
What are you doing here right now?
We decided to make a quick visit to the beach before the beginning of Shabbat. We just jumped into our car and drove up.
What is your occupation?
I work as a secretary at a foundation that promotes religious family life. We help young religious people find a marriage partner, and we offer workshops and family counseling.
Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I have three kids: a 6-year-old girl, a 4-year old boy, and my little one is just two months old. My husband is over there in in the water with the oldest two.
How do you describe your religious or national identity?
I’d describe myself as Jewish, religious. But, as my friend Hadas said, I take it “sababa” [chill, cool, relaxed]. I like to take it easy. I’m not a fanatic, but I was raised religious. I was actually born in Ofra and stayed there when I got married.
Where is your family from?
My mother is from Kurdistan, meaning: her parents are from Kurdistan but she was born in Israel. My grandparents moved to Israel shortly after they got married.
My father’s story is more complicated. He converted to Judaism as a young man, when he was looking for his identity. He is half Lebanese and half American. His father was a Lebanese Druze and his mother is American. My grandmother has some Jewish roots – her grandmother was Jewish – but she never had any connection to Judaism or Israel.
My father grew up in the Druze community in Lebanon until his parents divorced and my grandmother took him back to the US. My father lived most of his childhood in Lebanon, but when he returned to the US, he became immersed in American culture and eventually became a comic-book artist.
My grandfather has died, but I may still have some Druze family members in Lebanon. I don’t know much about them. My father stays in touch with some of them, but he hasn’t seen them in years. From what I understand, most of my Lebanese family members now live in the US: some in California and some in Detroit. My father feels affinity for the Druze in Israel – they are his people after all – but he’s a Jew now and his loyalty is with the Jewish nation.”
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
I wish we could live in peace, even though I have no idea how that can happen. I hope the Lord will help us attain peace within our own nation and also with the Arabs who live around us. I don’t hate them! I’d love to live with them in peace, as neighbors.
The biggest problem is the intrinsic hatred many Arabs feel toward us. It’s in their education. They are raised on it. They want their own state, right? But, I believe this land is the Land of Israel. So they should either agree to live with us peacefully, or they have to find somewhere else to live.
If they can be good neighbors and don’t try to kill me, I’m fine with giving them Israeli citizenship. Gladly! I have nothing against them! I’d love to share this land with them in peace. But for that to happen, we need some kind of miracle.