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Thursday, February 9, 2012

"You Give Me Hope," The Arab Said. Should I Be Glad or Scared?

As you must know by now, I work with Arabs, a lot, more than I had ever imagined.  My selling job has put me in contact with Arabs all the time.  They love to shop in the Rami Levi, Yafiz stores.  Our branch, in Sha'ar Binyamin, isn't restricted to Arabs with "papers."  Most (or all) of the other branches are in areas in which only Arabs with entrance permits can go in.

So we get Arab tourists from countries that aren't allowed in Israel and Arabs from the PA.  Even some of the workers can't go to other branches to work.

Never in a million years did I ever expect to find myself in this "oasis" of Jewish-Arab what's the right word...  It's  a pragmatic "tolerance" of sorts.

There are a number of actresses, mostly very amateur in my family, and I guess that when I'm working, I go into an acting mode.  Salespeople and teachers are on stage, no less than TV, Broadway and movie stars.  So, you can say that I'm in the family profession.

Using that analogy, once I'm on-stage I really don't pay much attention to people's dress and nationality or identity.  I just enjoy selling the clothes we have. Yes, I really do.  It's fun and much easier than controlling a class.  It's almost as easy as tutoring, teaching one-on-one.  Selling in the store is more like tutoring, because I work with one customer at a time.

The other night, there was this Arab guy on the outside of the store, where we have a lot of sales items.  I went over to check out what was happening.  I was fully in my role and enjoying myself; my smile was sincere and natural. From what I began to understand, the guy was there with a number of wives.  He'd check out prices of various items and send each wife to buy them with cash from his very full wallet.  He told me that he found my smile encouraging.

"You give me hope."

I didn't ask him what he meant by it.  It actually made me a bit nervous.  I don't treat the Arabs well for political reasons.  As all readers here may know, I'm not a Leftist, nor a Liberal with a capital "L." 

I'm pragmatic, not a racist.  On the stage of the store, I have no prejudice if that makes any sense.  Each person who enters is a human being and potential customer.  I don't care about their politics when I'm showing them items they can buy.  And I don't let my politics get in the way of my job.  Actually, that's not quite it.  In a sense my ideology makes my job more fun.  I love the idea that Arabs are shopping in Yafiz and Rami Levi and putting money into the Israeli economy.

But I would never ask an Arab like the guy I helped the other night what he meant by his statement.  I don't want to know and I don't want him to know what I believe either.


Shy Guy said...

I would have answered him back that considering his people's self inflicted hopelessness, he sure could use some.

Batya said...

The politics just doesn't mix with the job. If you can get me a different job I can do...

Hadassa said...

I wouldn't say scared, but if that Arab thinks that we want him here, he's wrong. It is not good for the Arabs to think that we are tolerant. Tolerance in this case is weakness.

Batya said...

I don't think I give the impression that I want them here in any capacity "leumi" status.

There's no reason to be nasty, but I don't see the harm in doing my job as a salesperson for an Israeli company.

10rainbow said...

blessings batya. just my two cents worth. i dont think you should trust or be scared. trust, its only in Hashem you trust, and fear is only in Hashem. i know you more than me a noahide, you know that best. the jews are very magnanimous people. for all the harm we have inflicted on you all, we noahides were welcomed and taught. the jews did not proselyte. we approached them with questions on xtianity which the priests refused to answer.
there are good people in all nationalities. Hashem knows their hearts, we dont. the arab may not realise it, the blessing is his to interact with you all. may they realise that soon.

Anonymous said...

An Arab with a fat wallet is GOOD. Why? Well it is my thought that as long as they are fat and happy in the short term they will leave us alone, However in the long term like any human they will not appreciate their health, wealth, and prosperity and their ideology of hate will show its ugly head. So making them as comfortable as possible is in our best interest if only the gov. would use this time of relative peace to our advantage and rather than teaching them prosperity comes with the price of recognizing Israel as a Jewish Nation not a people they can run over and out of their land and homes. So in the end if they are not fat and happy with the realization of why they are that way (i.e. the Jewish people blessing them.) they will bite the hand that feeds them. Batya keep your eyes open and be careful nothing wrong with treating another with human dignity and you do not have to play a role it is a mitzvah. Shalom

Anonymous said...

ooops, I meant "rather" NOT "rather Than"

Moriah said...

I think he was sincere. You didn't go rushing over suspiciously like he was about to steal something. You came over with a broad smile and an an offer to help. He responded in kind. You are smart to leave out the politics with this job. I disagree that tolerance is a weakness. I like your approach. It can be used for many different occasions when working with the public.

Shy Guy said...

Moriah, the guy was sincere alright - sincerely super-condescending, as if to say that the rest of Israel is hopeless.

Get it straight.

Batya said...

a, Moriah, Shy, the more I think about it, I wonder if I had expressed myself well. My concept of true peace is when we're in charge and the Arabs know it and behave. So, that Arab was playing by my "rules."

And yes, everything is done nicely. I'm not talking about some cruel regime, not at all.