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Jewish-Arab Relations in a Vietnamese Restaurant on Argyle Street 25 June 2006

Posted by EDITOR in Culture, GUESTS, Politics.

Our guest contributor this week is David K, a Chicago-based freelance journalist.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005. I had a touching experience today. I was having lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant on Argyle Street here in Chicago. At the end of the meal, I went up to the counter to ask for change with which to leave a tip. The man who gave it to me was Asian, and I asked him if he was from Vietnam. He said he was. I then asked if he spoke French. He learned it a long time ago, he said, in high school.

And that was that.

I returned to my table to leave the change for the waitress. A man who had just come in to the restaurant and had taken a seat near my table asked me if I spoke French. He obviously had overheard me talking to the other man. Yes, I said, I do.

He had olive-colored skin, and I guessed he was from North Africa. Tunisia, he told me.

I felt excited. Tunisia is the one country in Africa I’ve been to. We proceeded to have a conversation in French, talking about my travels in his home country. I told him I had visited the El Ghriba synagogue a month before a truck had crashed into an outer wall and exploded (in 2002).

“Vous êtes juif?” he asked me. (“Are you Jewish?”)

“Oui,” I responded.

We continued talking. About where I had traveled in Tunisia, about Chicago, about other things. When the waitress brought him a plate of rice, I gathered my things and got ready to leave. “Al salem aleikum,” I said to him, using the Arabic expression for “Peace be unto you.”

“Shalom,” he responded.

I felt joy well up inside of me.

WIth that, we shook hands, and I left.

I’m happy to report that in a Vietnamese restaurant on Argyle Street, Jewish-Arab relations are good.



1. The Turk - 26 June 2006

Thats the problem we are friends anywhere but in Israel. The same goes with Indian and Pakistanis. As long as you are removed from the battleground you are friends.

2. Aladin - 26 June 2006

You can say that again, Turk.

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