Illustration: Line at Israel Postal Company Office by Rakoon [CC0 1.0] via Wikimedia
Interesting things often happen while waiting in the post office.
Sitting next to me were two Arab women. As I sometimes do, I asked one of them a question I had about Arabic. I continually try to improve my Arabic, which is a constant challenge and kind of a hobby of mine lately.
So I asked one of them a question. She did not quite understand what I wanted, and did not seem overly interested in helping. It happens; perhaps her Ramadan fasting was getting the better of her mood.
A few moments passed and she got up as her number was called. We said goodbye.
Then the fellow sitting behind me, who was around 20 years old, said in a rather challenging manner: "What do you want to know, I can help you."
I was about to take him up on his offer, but then I felt uncomfortable with him — and his bad breath, which was because he was fasting on a hot Ramadan day I suppose. So I said no thanks and turned from him.
He got upset. His face turned very threatening and he raised his voice.
He said, "You want to speak to an Arab woman but not an Arab man!" I said, "What is it to you?" This really pissed him off.
“You cannot do that in our culture,” he said, apparently implying: “You cannot talk to our women in public.” He was yelling.
I stood up and asked him if he owned her: “Is she your family? This is Israel, not Saudi Arabia."
He said I cannot speak with her or any Arab woman, or something to that effect. He was yelling loudly and everyone was looking at us now. I said, "You can't tell me with whom to speak."
He said, "I will smack you!" Given his accented English, I actually thought he said that he would "slice" me.
With this, I stood up close to him and said, "Slice away. I am right here." To this, he yelled, "F*** you!"
I wanted the public to understand who the players actually were in this little unfolding drama, so I asked him to repeat what he said. He did so about ten times louder at the top of his lungs.
It may have been Ramadan stress or just true deep Jew-hatred — probably both.
The reactions of some of the Arabs there was very interesting. At first, the Arab man sitting next to the screamer joined him against me. When I stood up and yelled back at him, and showed no sign of being the first to end the yelling match as we stood opposite each other, other Arabs approached and tried to calm the young foul-mouth, no pun intended. They sized up the situation quickly.
Security approached us and wanted to stop the yelling match. I said, "He threatened to harm me.” The security personnel said to me I could call the police, but stop the yelling here.
To this, foul-mouth yelled: "F*** you and f*** your police." I don't think he likes the idea of armed Jews in uniform. In his "culture," Jews should not be in that role.
Things quieted down and I saw him go to the service window. He spoke to the teller in Hebrew as he had to deal with the hated Israeli system, according to their rules and in the accursed language of the Jews. He did not seem very happy.
This incident illustrated for me once again the truth and reality that will not go away, no matter how good we are to our enemies.
Foul-mouth and I live in the same country and city, with the same rights and opportunities. He and his people enjoy the benefits of the only country in the Middle East that treats them as human beings.
Their hatred for us is not diminished by that knowledge. Quite the contrary.
Hate is easier when there is a perceived valid reason for it. However, hate that cannot be fueled and justified by real grievances is much more difficult to bear and sustain without effort.
Poor Israeli Arabs. They can not even take satisfaction in their hate. I think of Mick Jagger, who could have written his song just for my foul-mouthed friend and his fellow frustrated haters: “I can't get no, no, no, no satisfaction — and I try, and I try, and I try — I can't get no, no, no, no satisfaction."
There was a great martyred rabbi that understood this psychology long ago — he tried to warn us that you can't buy love.
Contact Shalom Pollack, veteran licensed tour guide, for upcoming tours at Shalom Pollack Tours: Personalized Tours in Israel. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.