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
A bit surrealistic.....
(nice to read a "regular" post again!)
Just when I get so frustrated with the situation and think we have managed to dig ourselves yet a deeper hole, you give me some hope yet.
"טובה הארץ מאד מאד" -
RivkA: It was surrealistic. Reminded me a cartoon from the Shair Charka book.
LB: Thanks! :)
Nice to see this writing style again in a post...
love it..thanks Jameel
Great post! One thing that is quite interesting to me is that in the United States it is taboo to ask someone who you voted for, but in Israel it is commonplace.
Seth: Things can be very informal here...strangers on a bus can ask you how much you earn (and people even answer! [sometimes])
Wow. The left here in America is very upset. Good for us? I hope so. I have been listening to the middle east talks,or rather U.S. talks about the middle east, and the U.S. is very concerned about a destabilizing Pakistan with militants becoming more and more crazy. The left here seems to think that if the Islamic world goes nuts, having a nuclear Israel with a right wing government is a bad idea. I really don't know how much Israel gets involved in India and Pakistan, but the world seems to be looking. I also heard from a few left wing talk shows that Israel is not a democracy, but a Jewish theocracy. They base this on the fact (I never heard this) that Netanyahu wanted to deport Arabs from the west bank last time, and that removing people base on religion is a theocracy, not a democracy. They also think that Beiteinu is insane. Has he (Beiteinu)really threatened to kill Arabs who talk to Hamas, and force them to sign loyalty oaths?
Don't believe Lakewood Falling Down.
We in America don't know any of this is going on.
We aren't really focused on politics and absolutely not the politics of other countries.
We didn't even know about your recent war.
So, yeah this Lakewood Falling Down person is exaggerating completely.
We in America don't worry any more.
We don't have to think about anything that might us feel sad or upset.
After all Obama is our President. Whatever is going on Obama will take care of it for us.
I want to thank you.
Whenever things get really bad in America as they are now I just read about how screwed up things are in Israel and I can say Thank God I am not one of you poor bastards.
You know Bassam's son will be your Prime Minster someday.
Okay, not his son but someone who looks just like him but probably was born and grew up somewhere like France or Great Britain.
It only gets worse from here.
So much for Democracy. Great idea in principle but doesn't work in any society that gives the vote to just anyone over a certain age.
Gene: Would you believe I willingly left the United States to move here, and I don't regret it for a second?
Well, indeed things are really bad here.
But as bad as they are here you live among your enemy.
I mean we do here as well but not in the stark way you do. We haven't gotten to the point of throwing stones at each other although sometimes I wonder if it would be much easier if we were at that point.
But time is not on your side. It will no doubt take a generation, or maybe too but someday the situation will be reversed and you will be a second class citizen in this country that is now yours.
Sorry, but it is all an issue of demographics and the lack of will among your people.
A generation or maybe two I mean. And then there will be a no more hated person in Israel than a Jew.
That last anonymous was me Gene.
Sorry, I kind of like you Jews but you don't have a chance. As much as you are hated around the world right now someday there will be no place on earth where a Jew will be more hated than in Israel.
And I mean it about that Arab who will become your Prime Minister someday.
He would have grown up in Europe, or perhaps America, go to all the best schools, and constantly talk about how you "oppressed" him.
Sorry, that was me again, Gene.
Not much of a future for you and your family is there.
Talk about jumping out of the fireplace and into the fire.
I mean jumping off the fire grill into the fire.
When we talk about the Enemy Within, we mean it but we don't mean it with such stark urgency you mean it there.
Gene: We've survived for thousands of years, under much worse circumstances.
I am pretty good with allegories but in this case I didn't really understand all the symbolism here. Perhaps it is because we are from different cultures and if I was from your society I would no doubt have gotten it.
Now I get the "gas station" symbolizes peace or more accurately the peace process.
But what was the significance of you not wanting the bottle of windshield washer fluid -- the day's special sale item.
Was it saying that Israelis want the peace process to continue do not want to accept, do not want to buy what the Palestinians are offering, which in this case symbolized by the "window washer".
You Jews are so good with writing your allegories. I am sure if I was one of your people I would have gotten this allegory as well.
No, Jameel those were far better situations to survive in than you face now.
Believe me as I am much in the same situation.
Ben: Don't read more into it than you have to.
It wasn't an allegory -- it's what happened last night on my way home from work.
Here is an allegory that is shared among my people.
A scorpion was wandering along the bank of the river, wondering how to get to the other side. Suddenly he saw a fox. He asked the fox to take him on his back across the river.
The fox said, "No. If I do that, you'll sting me and I'll drown."
The scorpion assured him, "If I did that, we'd both drown."
So the fox thought about it and finally agreed. So the scorpion climbed up on his back and the fox began to swim. But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him.
As the poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, "Why did you do that? Now you'll drown too."
"I couldn't help it," said the scorpion. "It's my nature."
How can any country, any society, exist with an enemy population, a literal enemy population in its midst.
The Palestinians have the demographic advantage (they are producing more babies than you) and you lack the will to do "what it takes".
What would it take? Well, Andrew Jackson knew what it took. And yeah we aren't proud about it, but it worked.
Yeah, the situations your people were in during the past were no doubt very unpleasant but because of that these same situations gave your people the hunger for survival.
But now without those situations you lose your hunger. Meanwhile you are in the midst of a people whose hunger is growing.
So, yeah, your people had it tougher in the past, but if we are talking about survival and we are here those situations were much more conducive as it maintained that hunger whereas now such hunger has been sapped by the relative luxury you find yourself in compared to past generations.
Maybe sadly, if things were worse off for you, you would have a better chance for survival.
Dear Gene etc.:
We Jews are indeed a stiff-necked people, but we have survived numerous no-longer extant empires, as well as Hitler, and (to date) the Arabs, because God promised we would and not because of our stubbornness or "hunger for survival".
As it says (roughly translated) in the Passover Haggada, "For in every generation they [i.e., someone] rise up against to destroy us, and the Lord Blessed be He saves us from their hands".
Unfortunately, we have continued to have enemies rise up against us in every generation -— but we're still here, and believe the Jewish people will continue to survive against all odds, as we always have.
As David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, said: "A Jew who does not believe in miracles is not a realist." And Blaise Pascal, the great French philosopher, who when asked by King Louis XIV to give him proof of the existence of miracles, answered: "Why, the Jews, your Majesty -- the Jews.
In short, I wouldn’t count us out.
And like Jameel, I too, along with my husband and children, moved here from the US voluntarily over 15 years ago — and are thrilled that we did.
Don't believe LFD? I'm not saying Israel is a theocracy, just reporting what I hear, here in the U.S. I do believe Israel is a true democracy, but IMHO, because there is, was, and always will be anti semites, the truth gets distorted. I just think it's interesting to hear the opinions of us (us being Jews).
You are a liar.
Americans don't even know what is going on in Israel.
So of course if they don't know what is going on they can hardly be upset about it.
tamar and Jameel I have a question for both of you.
Why did you move to Israel and why don't you regret that decision?
I think I know the answer to that question but if I am wrong I would be interested in knowing that.
What no response?
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