Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Gentle Jew

The Gentle Jew
I’m on the Denver Red Lion Shuttle sitting after a long wait standing with my bag. A handsome well dressed young man sits down beside me. A woman with a baby in her arms and a young child at her side followed by her frazzled husband with more kids gets on.
“There’s no standing room.” The driver says. The woman and husband and tired children turn to get off.
This guy jumps up. “Take my seat,” he says.
“Take mine too,” I say. As this little family fall with thanks into our vacated seats.
Outside the shuttle with another one an hour wait away I say, “I’m very impressed. You showed me that chivalry, kindness and generosity are alive and well in America.”
“You did the same,” he says humbly.
“But I was following your lead.” I say, not certain I’d have got up on my own anymore. “ Want to share a taxi.”
We catch a taxi.
“Where are you from?” I ask, catching a hint of accent.
“I’m Israeli. But I’m living in Palo Alto.”
“I lo ved Israel,” I say.
“You’ve been.”
“Nearly ten years ago. It was easier to take the side of the jews in the conflict then though.”
“I think it’s irreconcilable. That’s why I’m here. I want to have some of my life in peace. But what would you do. Every day they throw bombs. Every day rockets are launched. It would be like Mexico bombing California every day. There’s got to be retaliation. I can’t speak to the scale of the retaliation. I’m left myself. But there’s got to be retaliation.”
“I feel badly. I found myself in Canada swaying towards the Palestinians. I had medical friends who were texting and sending pictures from the hospitals they were working in when the Israelis invaded. There was no way out for the refugees or them. It was very bad.”
“it’s always bad for somebody over there. It’s always been that way and I fear it always will be that way. That’s why I’m here.”
“It’s Canadians fighting in Afghanistans. Our soldiers have been getting killed by the Americans or by their own friendly fire or by the government not putting armour on the underside of the cars. The deaths are swaying Canadians to ask what are we doing over there and what’s America doing fighting in Iraq. Those sentiments spread to the Israeli Palestine conflict. Why all the killing. ”
“So many people want peace over there too. So many Israelis. I can’t be unbiased. My friends get bombed every day. If feel badly I’m over here and I had to leave.”
“I feel badly I get swayed by the media in Canada. I think I can know things when I really don’t know anything. If somebody bombed me I’d retaliate too. I can never judge them yet I do. I’ve worked with the military in Canada and I’d never say to a soldier on the ground in a fight what is the right amount of retaliation. I know myself if someone hurt my family I’d retaliate as much as I could. “
“An eye for an eye was the first law of mercy.” He says.
“You’re right about that.”
When the taxi arrived I offered to pay, then I offered to pay half, but again generous and kin, he’d have none of it. “Let me pay. It’s a business expense. United cancelled my flight so I have to stay over till tomorrow.”
“It was good talking to you,” he says looking me in the eyes. His eyes are clear and true. We shake hands. His handshake is firm. I’m thankful that God has put this gentle man in my way. He is like the Jews I met in Safed and the Jews I have as friends, the Jews I had as teachers.
He is a gentle jew. We hear too little of him.

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