…at a Syria-Lebanon border crossing


e asked me many questions, mostly lobs. It was the kind of general chitchat that makes travel in the Middle East so engaging. But when the border guard saw Benjamin (my son) and then Sharon (my wife) as names on our passports his mood changed from benign to serious. He started flicking through each page of my passport and looking hard at all the stamps.
“I have to ask you, have you been to occupied Palestine (Israel)?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” He stared at me for a long time, working up to the most fearful question.
“Are you Jewish?”

Photograph by Bramwell Ryan
A noria – a wooden wheel scooping water from the Orontes River for irrigation in Hama, Syria