06/11/2007 05:46 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011


Recently, after pulling a glass pan out of the oven, I set it down in the sink and turned the cold-water faucet on to get a head-start on the sticky stuff, and KABOOM! The thing exploded into a million shards of glass, causing my cat to go into flight or fight mode, and my dog to come running to save me from evil. After recuperating from the mini-sonic boom, then thanking the heavens for my shard-free eyes, my first thought was, 'Hmm, must not have been Pyrex.'

My very next thought was of my Jewish friend, Karen, who considers one of her favorite people in the world to be her Palestinian pal, Bashar. Bashar and Karen haven't seen each other in quite some time. This is because, though he is a citizen of Canada, Bashar refuses to cross the border for fear of meeting a fate similar to that of Syrian/Canadian national Maher Arar, whose tortured misadventures in the clutches of our terror-fied government are well documented. (Somehow, the $9 million apology from Canada and still-missing mea culpa from the U.S. don't sweeten the pot none.) From Jewish Karen and Palestinian Bashar, my mind then ricochets to those Hand of God amulets featured in the exhibition on Healing, which I co-curated for the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. The same protective Hand of God amulet is called the Hand of Hamsa by Jews; Muslims call it the Hand of Fatima. In either case it protects from the evil eye, that malevolent, envious gaze, which can curse a person with, among other things, the horror of infertility. This common belief does a great job of pointing out the inherent sameness of these two supposedly different peoples. Meanwhile, Bashar would do anything for Karen, except crossing the border to attend her next big birthday. And she can think of no one else who has been so there for her as a friend.

Hmm, she must not really be Jewish, and he must not really be Palestinian, I think the hardliners on both sides would agree. (She's not Israeli but in my experience, most American Jews side with Israelis on the conflict.) That thought reminds me of when I was a kid, and my white friends would sometimes tell me that I'm not really black. Why? Because I'm a Haitian native and I speak French, among other things. As if one thing precludes the other. As if not being really black was a good thing.

Just then, I hear a commotion in the other room and when I check to see what it is, I see my dog Tulip, a pit bull, tearing around the house after Scotch, our cat. Not a second later, Tulip's got him cornered. Scotch cowers, lays on his back in defeat, and Tulip crouches down to lick him.

Hmm, I think to myself, she must not really be a pit bull.