“Who’s dat?”

“That’s Loony Luna, Aussie, your cousin, my brother’s dog. She lives on top of a big house in central Israel.”

“I don’t want no cousins. And who’s dat?”

“That’s Moll, Aussie, your Jerusalem cousin, my sister’s dog.”

“Like I said, I don’t want no cousins, including Henry. I want to be an only dog.”

“We all want to be only dogs, Aussie, but we’re not. There are always other dogs in the world, know what I mean?”

“If you’re referring to that spiritual bullshit about how we’re all one family, spare me.”

“Take a look at Moll, Aussie, who lives in a second-floor apartment—”

“Poor girl!”

“—and goes to a dog park twice a day.”

“What’s a dog park?”

“She’s a purebred Anatolian Shepherd, one hell of a smart dog and way more expressive than you are, Aussie.”

“Hard to believe.”

“Do you know how Ruth got her?”

“Do I want to know?”

“She saw an ad by a Palestinian-owned dog shelter in Bethlehem asking for Israelis to adopt dogs from the shelter, and she agreed—sight unseen. Sure enough, they come by one day and drop off this gorgeous and highly intelligent Anatolian Shepherd, whom she named Moll.”

“Did you say she never even saw the dog before she arrived? Isn’t that playing it a little dangerous?”

“I think my sister was surprised by the size of her. My point is, Aussie, here’s a dog that was taken in by Palestinians in the West Bank and adopted by a Jewish Israeli in Jerusalem.”


“It’s hard to capture the give-and-take that’s always happening between different people and cultures living together—or trying to—in an area the size of one of our smaller states. Our Navajo Reservation is probably bigger than all of Israel, West Bank, and Gaza combined, and there are 400,000 Navajos on the reservation and almost 14 million in that area in the Middle East. All kinds of things exist there: domination, oppression, apartheid, religious fanaticism, anti-Semitism, denial of self-determination, even racism.”

“Could we stay in the Valley?”

“The point is, Aussie, that even in the middle of all that, other forms of communication and relations spring up. Green plants and even flowers grow in the biggest beds of thorns.”

“Since when do you garden?”

“We can’t ignore the oppression that goes on, but it’s never just one thing. Even single families can be complicated. Bernie and I used to work in Palestine and Jordan, supporting non-violent resistance, and come to Jerusalem to have Friday night dinner with my mother, a right-wing Jewish fanatic.”

“How was the food?”

“Good. The talk, not so much. Another relative belongs to an army unit that destroys tunnels in Gaza, while his rabbi father has worked for much of his life for a two-state solution and participates in lots of interfaith meetings with sheiks and imams. You see what I’m saying, Aussie?”

“That you have a crazy family?”

“That too, but also that life is never just one-dimensional. Even as we think that things never change, the earth does its thing, worms turn the soil, rain and sunlight come down, new life starts taking hold.”

“Again the gardening?”

“In a way, we’re all gardeners. And there are times, like during a drought, when we feel like giving up, throwing our hands up in the air and saying that nothing here ever works, nothing will ever grow. But even as we say that invisible processes are taking place,  working in their own way, biding their time. Even when checkpoints are closed a purebred Anatolian Shepherd like Moll arrives from a Bethlehem dog shelter into a Jewish home in Jerusalem.”

“Was she wearing a bomb?”

“Don’t be stupid, Aussie.”

“Did anybody check her collar?”

“She didn’t wear a collar then, Auss. She has one now with her name, Moll, and a phone number.”

“You never know, maybe they injected her with something incendiary and one day she’ll explode.”

“Aussie, you’ve been watching too many movies. Dog lovers on both sides wanted to save a dog, and they succeeded. Moll brought them together; that’s why I call her Moll Doll. Life has more tricks up its sleeve than all of us together, Aussie.”


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