In one of the more surreal conversations I’ve had recently with a cab driver (here’s how I do it), it ended with my saying, “promise me you won’t give your tip to Hamas.”
Getting into the cab in San Francisco, I began a chat with the driver. Eventually, I asked him his country of origin, to which he responded, “Palestine.”
“Here we go,” I thought.
You never know exactly how to handle this situation. You don’t want things to get uncomfortable, but you don’t want to back down either.
Of course, at this point, I hadn’t tipped my hand so I had to wait for the right moment…if at all.
He told me that he was actually born in Jordan and lived his entire life in Amman.
Then he asks me if I’ve ever been to Jordan and I told him that I had been to Petra. He replies that he might go there in a few weeks when he takes his son to visit his family in Palestine, but they live in Jerusalem.
“Have you ever been there?”
“I have, but I would call it Israel.”
He smiles knowingly.
“So, before we get into a long discussion, let me ask you this: Do you think it is possible to have peace with a two states? One that is Palestinian and one that is Jewish.”
His answer. “Since you put it that way, I would say no.”
“And I would agree with you,” I said.
So, from there, the conversation moved toward mutual understanding and respect.
I understood that the Arabs who left Jaffa, Haifa, etc. will never give up.
And he, I think, understands that Israel isn’t the same as the middle of Montana for Jews.
And we both realize that no solution is possible.
So, I said, “I guess it comes down to….can the Arabs kill the Jews or can the Jews prevent the Arabs from killing them?”
And he basically nodded.
It was really a great conversation and, on the other side of the world, it would have gotten heated (possibly) or not, but when we pulled up to the airport, I said.
“I’ve really enjoyed the conversation and I think you’ve earned a nice tip, but promise me you won’t send it to Hamas.”
“I will give it to my son. And promise me that you won’t send money to buy tanks to shoot Arabs.”
“Well, if the Arabs stopped trying to shoot Israelis, we wouldn’t need tanks.”
He gave me my suitcase and we shook hands and then moved into the hug. (we really need a word for that)
One of those only in America moments, I suppose.