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!)