Madlen Vanuno was born in 1948, the year the State of Israel was founded. During the Six Day War she was a young mother with a baby of eight months. She lived in the neighborhood of Musrara, near the wall that separated the city. She remembers well the atmosphere of fear in the city and the instructions given to the residents of the area to protect their houses. When the shelling started, Vanuno and her family found temporary shelter in a ramshackle house nearby. In a quiet moment they escaped to find sturdier protection. The Civil Defense forces found them and took them to safety. When the residents were finally allowed back home, a few days later, Vanuno was frightened of what she might find. Yet, despite the damage and destruction to the neighborhood, her apartment was not hurt.
Following the end of the war, Vanuno heard the sounds of explosions set off by the sappers and workers removing the mines and the obstacles between the two parts of the city. She describes the feeling after the war as “euphoric”. She wasn’t afraid of the Arabs who were now able to pass between the city parts and wasn’t scared to open her door for an Arab woman who sold vegetables, who lived in one of the villages around the city.
Over time the two women developed a friendly relationship. One day, the vegetable seller invited Vanuno to join her and visit her home. Vanuno, whose family still calls her naïve, took her baby and joined the woman, not telling anyone where she was going. The two women walked together to Damascus Gate and took a bus to the village. Vanuno spoke Moroccan and the woman spoke local Arabic. On the way Vanuno began to regret her rushed decision and was a bit worried, but she was warmly welcomed into the woman’s home with sincere hospitality. When it was time to return home, the woman’s husband took her to the bus stop and made sure the driver knew where to let her off. After driving through areas unknown to her, the bus finally came to Damascus Gate, which Vanuno recognized and she got off the bus and walked home. When she came back to her neighborhood with her son she found the entire family worrying and searching for her all around the neighborhood.
The woman continued to sell vegetables to Vanuno for years after.