As Israel tries to make heads or tails of yesterday's as of yet incomplete photo-finish elections, I stopped to fill up my car this evening at the "peace" gas-station. Everything is named for "peace" these days in Israel, so a gas station named "peace" shouldn't sound so odd.
I started filling up my car with gas, and the Arab station attendant, "Bassam" clearly stated on his name tag, approached and asked if I wanted a bottle of windshield washer fluid -- the day's special sale item.
Shaking my head, "sorry, not tonight," I replied.
He understood, and started to walk away, when he stopped, pointed to the road and asked if I knew why many police cars were driving by. It took a second to comprehend why he was asking me of all people, and then I realized my volunteer EMT jacket must put me in the group of people who appear to be "in the know," if police cars are driving around.
I checked my pager to see if I had missed anything "big" in the area, and said, "looks like everything's ok, Baruch Hashem (Thank G-d)."
He smiled, and replied, "Hamdil l'Allah" (the Arabic equivalent of Thank G-d).
My car was still filling up on gas...so I asked, "So, did you vote yesterday?"
He got very excited and animated about my question. "Yes, yes I voted, I voted. I personally took 15 family members to vote."
"Who did you vote for? Did your party get in?"
He excitedly replied, "Yes, yes, they got 3 seats."
"Raam-Taal?" I asked? (The Arab party that got 3 seats according to the exit poll)
He gave me a strange look. "No, No, I voted for...," and stated something in Arabic I couldn't recognize.
"The Balad party?"
"No. One minute please..." as he ran off to inside the station, returning seconds later with the day's newspaper.
"Here," he showed me. "This is the party I voted for," as he proudly pointed to the Raam-Taal party.
"Raam-Taal?" I queried?
He again gave me a quizzical look, and said "I only know the letter of the party...not its name".
(In Israel, you vote with a piece of paper with a letter or (2 or 3 letters) for the party you choose. )
He asked me who I voted for. Also smiling, I replied, "Likud..."
He nodded with a grin.
"Democracy, isn't it a great thing?" I asked.
Bassam answered, "Baruch Hashem".
My car finished filling up with gas, he wished me a good night, and off I went...back to my settlement in the Shomron.
There were still rocks on the road -- thrown an hour earlier by Arabs at Jewish motorists, bits of glass from shattered windshields and the remains of a molotov cocktail burned into the road's asphalt.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד