Neighborly Favors

When I was in seventh grade and Ali Talab was in ninth, settlers decided that if they flooded our side of Jerusalem with Jews, our city could never be the capital of a Palestinian state. Since our broken-down neighborhood of blunt-cornered houses and hunched concrete storefronts lay just down the road from the Old City and right over the Green Line from Israel, they set their sights on us. Palestinian agents appeared at our doorsteps, offering huge sums of cash from unnamed buyers. My father, distressed that our neighbors might be tempted to sell, enlisted me to help make sure no one did. But I couldn’t convince anyone of anything, so I enlisted Ali, and my father couldn’t have been more pleased. Like a band of motley salesmen, my father, Ali, and I marched from door to door urging our neighbors to stay put.

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