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Vacation and Politics

By Ania Drimer

One of my more memorable vacations was in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Bethany Beach, you ask? Not hiking in the Swiss Alps, swimming in the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, not tasting red wine in Provence, all of which I experienced.

It was September 1978. Every year at this time we spent the long weekend after Labor Day in Bethany Beach in the company of two other couples. These were not casual friends: one couple included my best friend and her husband whom we brought from Poland to the United States, and the other, Russian immigrants, whom we helped in many ways to adjust to living in America. Together we rented an apartment overlooking the ocean and spent time enjoying, listening, and singing along to Polish, Russian, and Yiddish songs, as well as listening to classical music.

I would get up early and, in the stillness of the morning, watch the sun paint the ocean silver. During the day I lounged on the beach and swam in the ocean, warm after the summer season. What a difference from the cold Baltic sea where I learned how to swim!

In the evening, warmed by the sun, face glowing with heat, health, and pleasure, I gathered with our friends for some wine and appetizers. Life was good! Often we would go to have crabs in a restaurant on the boardwalk. There, on the table covered with newspapers, cooled by the breaths from the ocean, we consumed large plates of crabs. Eating crabs is not for the fainthearted. There is little reward for a big effort, but it tastes great, especially with a glass of ice cold beer.

Even in this relaxed atmosphere, feeling detached from the cares of the world, as a news junkie, I had to have a dose of the daily news, which, at the time, was very exciting. The reason for all the excitement was a meeting at Camp David arranged by President Jimmy Carter between two long-time adversaries: Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, and Menachem Begin, prime minister of Israel. As a result of this meeting and talks, a historic agreement was finally signed at the White House on September 17, 1978.

After 30 years of hate and war, it formalized the framework for peace in the Middle East by recognizing Israel's right to exist, allowing Israel to take control of the Sinai, and establishing the right of the Palestinians to statehood. There was the sincere handshake of all three parties. Watching this handshake was emotional to all of us because we cared deeply about the existence and future of Israel, and at that moment, a hopeful and even euphoric atmosphere prevailed. I left Bethany Beach right after the speeches ended, very content with our stay: the strengthening of our friendship, the relaxation for body and mind, and finally the hope for the Israeli people and our family who lives there.

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