Last night my husband and I watched the latest "Portlandia" episode. Weird, anything goes, as usual, but seeing the streets and hearing the sounds of the Oregon coastal destination took us happily back to a wonderful Labor Day vacation. Not quite satisfied with a half hour of weirdness, we surfed to our local PBS station, which was re-airing Episode Five: Tradition (1957-1979) of "Broadway: The American Musical" [http://www.pbs.org/wnet/broadway/about/episode- descriptions/ ]. Watching the snipets of "West Side Story," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Funny Girl," "Annie," and other shows got me thinking about the beauty and grace of American Jewish culture, about all the gifts with which it has enriched this country and the world. I cried especially hard when Barbara Streisand (Fanny Brice, FG) sang "People" in the foreground, with Omar Sharif (Nick Arnstein, FG) watching her from a distance. By the time Joel Grey was shown singing "Through My Eyes" to his gorilla/true love, mocking Jews in "Cabaret," I was in why-do-we-still-not-have-Middle-East-peace land. Soon thereafter, when Mel Brooks noted that his career has been in large part about making America and the world laugh at Hitler (e.g., "Springtime for Hitler" in "The Producers"), I realized that we won't have the political will to make peace, not war, in the region until we can make sense of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a conundrum that European and American powers enabled as much as Arabs and Israelis. We need to accept these mistakes, laugh at them with sorrow leavened by anger and hope. We need to do this through shared cultural traditions -- poetry, religious rites, singing, dancing, art, fashion -- we need to create joy so powerful that miraculous moments of peaceful coexistence over-power the long years of conflict. Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim figured this out together http://www.knowledge-is-the-beginning.com/Daniel_Barenboim_and_Edward_Said.html ]. Individually, Arabs and Jews who live in the same communities figure this out every day. When we celebrate the shared culture we will show us that Arab-Israeli peace is possible. We need Jews and Arabs to share cultural traditions globally to show our mutual respect and love. We need to create more love to understand and absorb the pain of the Palestinians and the Jews and the Syrians and all the rest. Through our tears, we can learn to laugh, together. I hope. Maybe not in my lifetime, but someday. The hurt, the waste, are just too great.