Watering the beasts: a lesson in comparative religion

Striding down Shderot Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Boulevard) last week, running late for an appointment in south Jaffa, Stuey and Dexxy, starting to wilt under the midday sun, were desperately trying to pull me off the tarmacked sidewalk and under the shade of each and every tree.

The sight of Stuey (always so full of beans), in particular, actually tiring is a rare one. So, passing a plant/flower centre, I popped in to request some H2O for my hairy flatmates. A nursery employee was instructed to pour some brownish water out of a large black flower bucket into a tan plant-pot tray.

Then, as I was enjoying the  sound of the canines quenching their thirst (always so strangely enjoyable), the centre’s Arab owner volunteered:

“Our religion tells us to give water to dogs, but not to rear them.”

My first thought: “Why the hell is he telling me this?” After all, I hadn’t asked him about the place of dogs in Islam.

My second – a reaction, perhaps, to all the shit that has gone down since 9/11 – was to inform him that I couldn’t give a f*ck about what his religion does or doesn’t “tell” him.

But, while I often fantasize about a Monty Brogan-style outburst, I, yet again, settled just for thinking:

“And my religion tells me: to build buildings, not to fly passenger planes into them; that women, though different, are equal, and certainly not some subspecies that should be forced to wander around like cloth-covered Daleks; to teach our children the right way; to treat animals humanely; to respect the environment; and to obey the laws of the land.”

Mr. Flower Man’s one sentence had summed up for me the huge gulf that exists between us.

Not that I haven’t, since moving to Jaffa (a month and a half ago), already been made fully aware of that: Cries of “Allahu Akbar!” emanate from the loudspeakers of local mosques five times a day, including at 5 in the morning (though to his credit, and my relief, the ‘chazan’ at my local is surprisingly melodic).

All this with Jaffa now estimated to be three-quarters Jewish. And, while you can argue the toss about inequalities of bargaining power, those Jews have purchased their homes, not – according to the much-loved narrative of the Israel-only basher – driven out the former owners, forced to flee only with that iconic key.

So, Mr. Flower Man, if you wish to win me over to your religion, it won’t be through its approach to our furry friends (much less to humans).

No. Apart from those 72 virgins (I would settle for just two, these days . . . though twins, please, if poss!), far more likely to Islamize me in these troubling times would be the old proverb:

“If you can’t beat us, join us.”

To all readers of melchett mike, a happy, healthy, and always humane, 5772. (And, if you haven’t done so yet, kindly visit http://www.justgiving.com/mike-isaacson/ . . . only 200 quid to go!)


24 responses to “Watering the beasts: a lesson in comparative religion

  1. Judy Labensohn

    And maybe the guy just wanted to make conversation. Maybe you missed an opportunity to get beyond all the f**g stereotypes.

  2. Quite, Judy. I have always found the followers of Mohammed to like a good chinwag. Especially about religion.

    Perhaps I’ll go back for some Bonzo . . .

  3. Steve Jellyfish

    Seeing as you now live close by Shuk HaPishPeshim (the Jaffa flea market) maybe (in light of your recent writings) you could change your name from ‘Melchett Mike’ to ‘Prejudiced Piss Artist’, just a thought Michael.

  4. Steve Jellyfish

    That meant to read “pish artist” but my auto-spell check caught it before I did, you are in the clear !

  5. Just tell it as I see/hear it, Steven . . . sorry to take you lefties out of your fairy (in all senses of the word!) dream world.

  6. Steve Jellyfish

    That comment would work if I was a left-winger!

  7. Another thing, Judy and Stevie Boy . . .

    Apart from the muezzins calls from the minarets, my post doesn’t touch upon all the other “stuff” that goes on in Jaffa.

    Is relating the facts “stereotyp[ing]/prejudiced”?

  8. Steve Jellyfish

    Your comment is starkly reminiscent of the remonstrations of 1930s Nazi Germany propaganda that simply was ‘relating the facts’ about Jews.

  9. “Starkly reminiscent” my arse!

    I love a ridiculous Holocaust analogy, me. Yours, Steve, boils down to . . .

    Don’t say anything about Islam/Muslims – even if factual/accurate (including, presumably, anything regarding Islamofascism, 9/11, the London bombings, etc) – because of (wait for it . . .) the Holocaust.

    Some norverners [Stevie’s from Sheffield] are a bit fick.

    Is that “prejudiced” too?! 😉

  10. Steve Jellyfish

    It’s not anything to do with the factuality of Islamic terrorism, as much as you are seeming to tar all Muslims/Arabs/residents of Jaffa with the same brush.

    As for fick noverners, I’ll just hand back me PhD to level the playing field!

  11. “you are seeming to tar all Muslims/Arabs/residents of Jaffa with the same brush.”

    How? Where? I don’t recall having written anything about “all” anyone.

    But this is an experiential blog, and I guess I was just a bit puzzled, felt it was kind of ironic, receiving such a ‘lesson’.

    Come and see the filth in which so many people live in Jaffa . . . and then tell me that dogs are dirty animals.

  12. Philip Witriol

    Another terrific piece. Even if anyone feels the need to “contextualise” the owner’s comment, the overall point you make is absolutely true. The depressing thing is that so many “liberals” appease, indeed often side with Islamofascists.

    As a minor example, Londonistan’s antiracists celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street today – it can be safely assumed that no mention will be made of modern fascists/racists unless they are of the White British variety.

  13. Thanks, Philip. The point in your second paragraph is, sadly, oh so true.

    I posted on the subject of Islamofascism and the “White Right” shortly before – I think – you came across the blog . . .


    And long before that, too . . .


  14. It’s an odd religion (this is the mildest of my views on the muzzies btw) that has the stricture of giving water to dogs but not to rear them . In the interest of human discourse I think I would have sympathised with him that Islam lacks this basic compassion. When I lived in Israel in kibbutz regavim the adjacent Arab village had inhabitants who kept dogs kept as pets. I recall walking over there one day in an attempt to return a lost dog. I also wonder what does Islam have to say about punishing people who err from the true path in this way. Is it another case of death by stoning or being forced to chase after and return rocks as a punishment?

  15. Mike

    Whilst picturing in my mind’s eye the scene of panic and chaos that would have doubtless ensued from a request for water for one of your dogs from a boutique on Shenkin, I thought it only fair to your Jaffa neighbours to point out, in this period of High Holiday reflection, that the Jewish position on this issue is not as Slam Dunk as it might appear.

    Based on a Mishna in Baba Kama and a Gemara in Shabbat, the Rambam evidently does not permit the free raising of domesticated dogs whilst the Tur and Shulchan Aruch do.

    The question that I would like to ask the Rambam is whether, in his opinion, you are eligible for two lots of Makat Mardut due to your double infringement and whether, in place of the usual strap, it would be appropriate – under the canine circumstances – to use a cat o’nine tails.

  16. In response to my learned friend from Ra’anana, I would like to point out that in certain establishments in Tel Aviv – not, of course, that I would be familiar with any of them – “Makat Mardut” has to be paid for!

    On the subject of pets in Orthodox Judaism, see http://www.matityahu.org/RavLeffQA/viewquestions.asp?viewcat=9&page=8 – scroll down to Question No. 327, and click to hear the Rov’s Answer.

    As far as Dexxy and Stuey are concerned, I can assure the Rov that they are, indeed, “good dogs,” even though they do sometimes “bark at people,” especially Charedim . . . oops!!

    As for “minhag ha’mokoym,” however, I think I may have been on safer ground in Tel Aviv! 😉

  17. Yitzchak Landau

    Fantastic – it would now appear we have a shaalos u’teshuvos page on Melchett Mike; now there’s an Aseres Yemei Teshuva initiative if ever there was one!! Pehaps it should have its own title bar at the top of the page, alongside Twatter and Mensch / Mook of the Month. Resident Rabbi could be John Fisher with occasional guest appearances by ministers of Mike’s choice – no doubt depending on the desired answer to the particular question!!!

  18. Ben Wulfsohn

    Seems to me you may have over-reacted. Was not the guy providing your dogs with water gratis (you did not buy any flowers after all), and depending on the context of the statement, could have just been a conversation starter. I wasn’t there, so can’t tell really. Possibly, you have become overly sensitive due to recent events.

  19. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Given the time of year and judging all men kindly etc etc, one must assume he was jealous of the fact that Mike was allowed dogs and he was not.

    If we are to assume this is not true, then he was just being an a**hole.

  20. David Prager

    Hi Mike
    I reckon you had a lucky escape. Had said Arab shopkeeper OFFERED to water your hounds, you may have been compelled to marry him, as in Eliezer’s test of Rifka.

  21. To be entirely fair to our Mohammedan cousins, yesterday another one, working on a building project I am involved with, said something very similar – “You know, we are not allowed to have dogs” – but ended it off with: “It is something that is wrong with our religion.”

  22. Mark Schechter

    Love Ed Norton’s “F*ck You!” speech from the 25th Hour movie. Not seen the movie but love the rant.

  23. Ian Ronald Bell

    I don’t see how pissing on people’s tents – where they were going to sleep – qualifies them as ‘good’ dogs.

  24. Don’t lump me with that little runt, you stupid fuck!

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