We sat in the Netanya sunshine sipping coffee and watching the world go by.
Ilan, Rami, and me.
Ilan is a successful lawyer in town, son of a wealthy Moroccan merchant who fled his country with his wife out of fear for their safety. They found sanctuary in a flapping tent in a barren field, provided by the Jewish Agency, in a nameless part of a yet to be named small town later to be called Netanya. They had come because this place had been promised as the national home of the Jews.
Rami was born and raised in Marseille, before making his Aliyah to Israel. He is the son of immigrants who fled Algiers due to the anti-Semitic riots that left many dead and his family dispossessed in southern France.
I had come from Manchester, England, the country of my birth, that I still look back on with fondness and sadness.
Put three Jews together and you have a parliament. Sit them together at a coffee shop and they easily solve the world’s problems or discuss them in serious detail each from their personal persective.. No small talk takes place in these gatherings. Deep issues of state take centre stage.
I don’t recall how but the conversation turned to a heated debate on Jews and Arabs.
“We know what they are like, you don’t. We lived among them. It’s always envy, greed, and murder with them. “
“That’s racist talk”.
“And they always do it out of religion”.
“When the mob came to kill us in Fez it was ‘Allah Akbah!’ I am sure that these were the last words those poor souls heard on the planes on 9/11.”
“When those Arabs killed the Jews in Hebron they were ordered to do it in the name of Allah by the Grand Mufti in Jerusalem’.
They always turn their murder and theft into a religious command”.
“They always cover their crimes by telling themselves it’s a Mitzvah. They always justify their theft by saying it’s a blessing to God.”
“What do you think the Ground Zero mosque is all about? It’s a way of saying thanks to Allah for their victory over the Americans”.
“You have to understand the Arab mind. You have to have lived among them and experience what they do to you, what drives them, to really know what they are all about. It’s envy, greed, and murder, ordained by God”.
“What do you think is happening here? We built up this land when there was nothing here. Nothing. They came to find work. We gave them work. They saw what wonders we were achieving here. And they wanted it for themselves. It’s always been that way with them. It doesn’t belong to them but they want to take it from us, even if they have to kill us to do it”.
“Look what happened in Europe”, said Rami. “Look at France. You think that when the Muslims were given refuge in France they expressed their gratitude? Ever heard of gratitude or praise from any of them, anywhere in Europe? Do you think that France will be more liberal, more tolerant, when they take control of the country? Will they make it a more advanced country? What will be their contribution? Shariah law, that’s all!”
“What about things here? When they steal the land from us will they make it any different from the twenty other Arab countries? No! They’ll probably start squabbling and killing each other. Look at what is going on where ever you look. Muslims are killing each other right across the Muslim world in Asia and in Africa. Why should it be any different here?”
“My parents ran away from them in Algiers. They chased me to France and are making life uncomfortable there. I left them there and came to Israel. Even here they continue to torment us”
“What will be the end with them?” It was more a sigh of resignation than a question.
“I don’t know how it ends”, said Rami, “but it always begins with envy, greed, and murder”.
I sipped my coffee in silence. I had no answer to give them. Living under attack results, in any society, in the hardening of attitudes. How can I give answers to people who have generations of suffering in different countries from which they develop an instinct of what is approaching?