Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bizarro Hitchhiking

I've posted before about the dangers of hitchhikers (though not limited to Israel)

No, not for the people doing the hitching, but for the drivers.

As parents of teenagers in the Shomron, it's a constant battle explaining the risks of hitchhiking and setting reasonable ground rules [only from within our settlement going out, only with people they know, etc.]

Yet this past Erev Shabbat was truly the most bizarro hitchhiking experience I ever had.

My son had an "in-shabbat" in his yeshiva high school, and I drove him around 3 PM to his yeshiva. On the way back, I encountered the "tremp lachatz" (Stress Hitchiker).

This is when the hitchhiker actively guilt trip you to take them -- either by standing in the middle of the road looking rather forlorn or approaching the driver side window and asking you when you're stopped at a stop light intersection if you're going where they need to go.

Personally, I rarely cave in to such social pressure, but since it was almost Shabbat and I was in a decent mood -- when this particular hitchhiker asked me at a traffic light if I was going specifically to my settlement, I acquiesced.

The second he sat down in my car, my 6th sense went into the red zone -- something didn't seem right. I asked him his name, and he provided a Hebrew, Jewish name. Since he said he was going to my settlement, I asked him, "who did you vote for in last week's municipal election?" to see if he really was from my settlement...and he replied with a valid answer. Yet I kept looking at him strangely...something didn't click.

He understood, as if reading my mind.

A few seconds later, he looked at me and said,

"Yes, I'm a Druze Arab".


Now, I had heard the rumors over the years that our heterogeneous settlement was home to a rather eclectic bunch, including a small minority of non-Jews from the former Soviet Union. We all try to get along and succeed for the most part, despite secular-religious and political tensions.

Yet to come face to face with a Druze Arab, sitting in my car's passenger seat, on my way home for Shabbat, to HIS home settlement as well, was rather, unexpected.

Sensing the slightly awkward situation, he said, "I was an IDF career combat officer and tracker for 10 years," which did make the ride easier. We started exchanging stories as his life story took shape before me; he was married to an Israeli, Jewish woman, and they have a few children -- he says he has no problem with his wife raising them as Jews. I asked what language they speak at home and he replied mostly Hebrew but his children know Arabic as well.

"Do your immediate neighbors know?", I asked. He answered that he doesn't want to attract attention to himself, but some of his neighbors know.

"I try to respect everyone , especially the religious people on the settlement and refrain from ever having loud music come from our house, so as not to disturb their Shabbat....I give them the utmost respect and like them alot, and in return, they respect me."

"My daughters are just like me," he mentioned towards the end of our conversation..."their mother is Jewish and their father [me] is a mother is Jewish, and my father is also Druze..."

"So you ARE Jewish," I countered.

"According to Judaism, yes, I'm Jewish, but according to Druze tradition, the children's religion follows the father, so I consider myself my father."

He gave me his phone number for future reference, as I pondered this bizarre encounter.

Maybe he would join our settlement's counter terror unit?

What would annoy Euroleftists more; an Israeli Druze Arab living in a Jewish Settlement on the "Occupied" West Bank -- or him being part of our counter terrorist unit which helps protect and defend the settlement from Palestinian terrorists?

I still have to mull this one over.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Oh. My. Gosh.

That is pretty darned NEAT!

And it's kind of ironic that the word verification word is "uncer" for this post.

Rafi G. said...

I wonder how he chose to live in a religious settlement in the West Bank.... there are a million places he could have chosen to live - many which would (stereotypically) be more accepting of his family situation, so I wonder what made him choose your settlement...
must have been the famous House of Waffles :-)

YMedad said...

That's us. The real humanitarians. Sharing with all.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

YSRM: I think its more "bizarro" than "neat" ;-)

Rafi: Our settlement is very heterogeneous is far from being exclusively "religious". While my neighborhood is all religious, the whole settlement is not.

YMedad: Humanitarian Settlers. Oxymoron?

Lurker said...

Jameel: In the cosmic scheme of things, you seem to be a bizarro magnet.

Lurker said...

YSRM: And it's kind of ironic that the word verification word is "uncer" for this post.

OK, I'll bite.

What does "uncer" mean?

Anonymous said...

When you wrote about the danger hitchers pose to drivers, I thought you were going to write about idiot hitchers who stand in the road, hidden behind bends, trees etc., in the dark etc. and jump out at you. Typically they have a gormless expression of surprise on their faces as they bounce off of my windscreen.

Yellow Boy

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

YB: Oh, those are just simply to pathetic to write about. If you lived in the Shomron, you could get a government subsidized hitch-hiker-proof windscreen like I do.

Its also good against rocks.

Anonymous said...

There's a small Armenian community in Maaleh Adumim who moved there from the old city in Jerusalem.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

ashoichet: You cant really compare Maaleh Adumim (which is HUGE...) to the Muqata...or any of the yishuvim in the Shomron (I dont count Ariel, since that's already designated an "urban city")

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Lurker - I just saw in it "uncertainty". Whatever.

Jameel - you might think it's bizzaro but *I* think it's neat. :)

Certain liberal tendencies I was raised with seem to stick with me. I think it's really cool to meet people who are different than I am. I really like it. Most of the time. :)

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

ashoichet - I've lived in MA for almost 17 years. Armenians? That's neat too! What neighborhood are they in?

Anonymous said...

do you live in Eli?!?!

Lurker said...

Anonymous @ 6:43 PM: do you live in Eli?!?!

Why, are there Druse living in Eli?

Anonymous said...

WHOA!!! is right!!! I've been toying with the idea of writing a book on tremping - there is certainly enough to say about it - this story takes the cake!!

Batya said...

I love it. You discovered that a Jewish Druze-Jewish couple is in your yishuv. That's a good one.

I tremp less, since I stopped working. And now there's not much of a trempiada in Jerusalem. What's left, now doesn't have the back-up of buses.

Baila said...

My friend stopped to pick up SOMEONE SHE KNEW at a trempiada when an Arab hopped in the back seat, closed the door and said wherever she was stopping up the road was fine with him. She and the pick-up were terrified the whole way and very relieved when he left the car a few minutes later.

A Living Nadneyda said...

I think it's completely awesome -- what a privilege, to meet someone with such interesting heritage. I would love to talk to him. Does he blog? ;-)

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

An interesting subplot or tie-in for Srugim...?

Anonymous said...

"If you lived in the Shomron, you could get a government subsidized hitch-hiker-proof windscreen like I do."

Yet again the settlers benefit from a disproportionate amount of the national pie! :-x

Yellow Boy

Anonymous said...

Erm. Haven't you just blown his cover, in as much as a lot of your readers may well know who you are and where you live?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Tafka: He's not hiding out. So far, a few people know of is existance.

Besides, now everyone knows I live next to Yisrael Medad in Shilo.

(or not :)

Yellow Boy: Of course, we try to sap as much as we can out of the cash strapped economy....I hear the Muqata Waffle House may get a 3 million NIS grant from the Ministry of Gourmet Food.

RH: Ah...the chardalim would say this is a typical subplot for Srugim, how the religious Katamon singles would run after Druzim. Somehow I don't think so.

YMedad said...

Please, as long as you refuse to comment on my waffles picture, I don't know if we should be near to each other anymore.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Yisrael: The post is in the oven.

YMedad said...

Great, so now I go from the frying pan to the waffle oven to the blog oven?

Lurker said...

Jameel: The post is in the oven.

You should go check it; it could be burning by now...


has anyone done a study of how many non jews live in the shtachim?

Nachum said...

Well, if the Druze really are descendants of Yitro as they claim, their living among (and marrying?) Jews (in the Shomoron!) goes all the way back to Sefer Shoftim at least...

Baila said...


I promise (bli neder), I'll vote in the next election! I did say I was ashamed that I didn't vote....

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... no TARP money for the international waffle house? Those are US citizen jobs after all.

Tzipporah said...

Cool. Very very cool.

As I understand it, the Druze are really quite separate (deliberately so) from the other Arab populations. Not surprising they might identify more with us than with the Pals.

YMedad said...

Tzipporah: only when they're dressed in traditional clothing. You haven't served with them in the army together, right? But they usually do know more about Jewish traditions than most other Jewish soldiers.

Anonymous said...

Druze Arabs tend to not get along with other Arabs, having been persecuted by them. They are peaceful citizens of Israel. I would feel perfectly safe in the car with a Druze. Actually, I hitched with one once. Am it was perfectly pleasant.

Lion of Zion said...

my most interesting tremping story is when i picked up eliyahu mcLean by the dead sea.

he was affable, but then the convesation turned to politics. my wife kept on giving me looks to hint that she wanted him out of the car even though we were in the middle of the desert.

(my word verification is hoter?)

mnuez said...

I once met a true blue antisemite in a forgotten used-bookstore run by a retarded guy in the middle of Yucca Valley California. The fellow I met was an older but vigorous guy who was dressed like a hobo who hadn't changed his clothes in weeks. He was wearing no socks and was browsing books (they were all over the floor of this shack run by the retarded bookseller who had gotten his stock of volumes many years back) on his lonesome.

Being a fellow interested in strangers I chepped this guy for information and he responded with some sort of "nosy American" type (I wasn't wearing a Yarmulka or I'm sure he would have gone with "nosy Jew" as his preferred epithet). I didn't let up though so we got to speaking.

Turns out he lives by himself in some shack in the middle of the desert (no roads go to his shack) where he collects books. He was held in some sort of camp in England (I think he may have been sent to Australia) for a little while after concern that as an emigre from Austria at the start of WWII he might be a spy for the enemy. Turns out he wasn't a spy but was rather a big fan of the British and ended up working for the British as a soldier in Mandatory Palestine. From there he moved up through the ranks until (he says) he was in charge of all transportation in the DP holding camps in Cyprus. He does not like the Irgun, says they shot at him or something.

Good news is I followed him home and bought a book off of him that I would have killed to have gotten. It's a book of Jewish apologetics, published in English, in the 1700s - and that is entirely unavailable anywhere but that I'd read about and had long wished I could see.

Guy said he was pleased to be rid of this book as he couldn't stand having a Jewish book in his house. Sold it to me for $25. When I took out a 20 and a 10 and asked for change he yelped, "ah! If I'd have known that you had a 20 and a 10 I would have charged you thirty dollars for the book!". I felt bad for how he must have been feeling so to cheer him up I smiled and said, "how very Jewish of you!", to which he gave a hearty belly laugh and was a happy man again.

We continued talking and I told him that I'd hook him up for a Yom Kippur service in LA where a friend of mine was the President of a fancy MO shul. I knew he wouldn't take me up on it but I was going to be there and, at least in theory, it would be cool to share the experience with this international hobo hermit.

He replied with an "ach!" and - as I had started to half-suspect - "I hate Yom Kippur! I remember my grandfather screaming at me for running around, playing outside..."

It had taken a while but I had finally squeezed it out of him.

"Which grandfather?"

- "Ach! Both of them"

"Listen, come to shul, you'll..."

at which point he chased me off his property.

Anonymous said...

The Druze soldiers I served with had a tremendous amount of respect for Judaism. They are also very knowledgeable in surprising ways, such as how to build a proper and kosher Sukkah - imagine this, me and a bunch of Druze soldiers building a Sukkah, that only I would end up using on that base.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Joe - THAT is bizzare. But I like it.

Of course, I had a button I used to wear in college: "Being weird isn't enough."


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