Unlike their compatriots in the diaspora, where the seductive armsof assimilation have succeeded in denuding Armenians of their ethnicentity, the kaghakatsis and Venketzis of Jerusalem have been able toresist its charms and retain the purity and independence of their blood. There have been instances of intermarriage with their neighbors,mostly Christian Arabs, but these have been few and in most cases theoffspring of such marriages have been firmly absorbed into the Armenianfold. One or two Armenian girls have broken from the fold and acquiredMoslem husbands - in at least one case, the Moslem husband has had noqualms about his children going to an Armenian school or eventransmogrifying his Moslem surname with the addition of the distinctiveArmenian patronymic "ian." And lo and behold, Bitar becomes Betarian! On the other hand, one rarely hears of an Armenian (or Christian)male wedding a Moslem girl. Not because of the lack of eligible brides,or the impossibility or impracticability of a romantic interlude, butsimply because it is anathema for a Moslem girl to marry outside herreligion. Although the code of laws enforced by Israeli courts in Arablands it has occupied has practically eradicated the pernicious"tradition" of honor killing among an Arab society growing insophistication as it becomes more exposed to Western ideals, the stigmaand alienation attached in such a mixed marriage is enough to deter themost ardent wooer. Before the Israeli juggernaut swept over Jerusalem, Armenians hadbeen living under the sway of the Arabs who have had a noticeableinfluence on their way of life. The Israeli presence did awaken them tothe unlimited possibilities available from a different, more Westernizedperspective, but the old traditions and mores had been too deeplyingrained to be easily uprooted. The Arab influence pervaded many aspects of Armenian life, includingtheir cuisine and social mannerisms. Arabic became the Armenians' secondlanguage: the kaghakatsis spoke it fluently but the Vanketsis have alwaysbeen struggling with it because coming late on the scene, they had lesscontact with and exposure to the Arabs. On the other hand, the Vanketsiswere at ease with Turkish which had been their second tongue before their arrival in the Holy Land. At home, almost all the kaghakatsis spoke inArabic! Inevitably, the Armenians interjected their conversations withlinguistic expressions adopted from Arabic and Turkish, thus enrichingtheir vocabulary and expanding their literary horizons. I can rememberscores of Arabic (and a few Turkish) proverbs I learned at home and inthe streets, but hardly a dozen in Armenian. As a matter of course, some of the juiciest dealt always dealt withthe lower parts of the human anatomy. And quite a few descended to thelevels of sheer vulgarity. If you were unhappy with your portion of a pieor cake, you would protest that it was as small as the femalereproductive organ of a crab. Two inseparable friends, appliedspecifically to gossiping females, were described as two bottoms in onepanty. Whenever I kissed my grandparents' hands (this tradition, too, hasdropped by the roadside), they would bestow this blessing upon me: "maythe soil you touch turn into gold." The Jewish influence has been salubrious, and the affluence madepossible by the higher standard of living is appreciated by modernArmenians. But they still find it difficult to make Jewish friends. Formany, it is easier to communicate with the Arabs. Perhaps this is theresult of the Arab conditioning process. Perhaps they find Israelis"cold." Even so, the Armenians cannot help feeling a begrudgingadmiration and sympathy for Israelis. They share a similar history ofpersecution, if nothing else. Israel's superior technology and the sheerendurance of its people never stops acting as an incentive for Armenians. The young adventurers and their chaperones usually came back withtheir pot of gold, but disaster overtook a distant uncle of mine. His sonwas hit by a train. He buried the youth in a foreign land and returnedhome empty-handed, a broken man. The years rolled by. Radio and TV invaded the Armenian Quarter, andthe lure of tempting places and distant fortunes gripped the young. Theconcept that Jerusalem was merely a temporary sojourn intensified,particularly among the young. They believed that this was merely a waystation, that their future, or that of their offspring lay either inAmerica or Australia, or perhaps Armenia. The older generation could onlymoan and grieve and pine, too deeply rooted in tradition to ponder anymove themselves.