My Muslim Colleague and I

calimaniBy Susanna Calimani*

Let’s talk about it, although it’s kind of private.
A few days ago I went for lunch with my colleague: he comes from North Africa, he is Muslim, a PhD student here in Germany and currently sitting in front of me at the European Central Bank, so not really the last caveman. Obviously we talked about a bit of everything, but mostly about Judaism, stereotypes, prejudice, Israel and Palestine.
I did my part, as always.

He told me he grew up, with all his friends, always being taught to hate Israel, and all the Israelis; and it’s hard to get rid of stereotypes; almost impossible. I didn’t ask him, he told me, spontaneously. Then he added it would be weird for him not to teach his kids to hate Israel and all the Israelis.

I kept silent for a while, and then I told him that neither my parents nor my grandparents ever told or taught me anything about hating Germany and all Germans – although maybe they did hate them- for what they did to half of my family.
He looked at me, between wonder and astonishment, as if I were telling him the most incredible of the things, and he asked me
and with the most peaceful look I said “Yes, really. And I live here now.”

I simply told him it’s never good to irrationally teach children that things are black or white, what to like and what to dislike, what to love and what to hate. Just give them the tools to try to rationally build their own opinion which in the end could not be more wrong than yours.
I don’t know what the moral is.
Maybe the moral is that if you teach your children hate, they will never be able to find peace.

*Susanna Calimani is a wandering economist, currently based in Frankfurt.