Israel’s Vox Populi Is the Voice of Racism

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In Israel the taxi conversation can get a little out of hand. Credit: Eran Lanun

“He’s doing it to us on purpose,” said the large woman in line at a Tel Aviv Super-Pharm. “He” was the Arab pharmacist who was patiently waiting on an elderly woman with a long list of prescriptions. “He” was the only one working there, and the line kept growing.

Then the large woman’s phone rang and she proceeded to have a loud conversation. When she finished, she turned to me with a knowing look and muttered, “Just look at his eyes – full of hatred.”

The other folks looked at her and said nothing. Just one guy raised an eyebrow to a friend, signaling that this lady was a little nuts. The pharmacist didn’t react, though he must have heard what she said.

“We all have to pay because Super-Pharm decided to hire Arab pharmacists,” the woman added. And she went on grumbling until her turn finally came, and of course she wasn’t the least bit surprised when the pharmacist informed her that the medication she wanted wasn’t in stock. She stomped off in a huff.

A few minutes later, my taxi driver broke into an impromptu monologue gushing with enthusiasm for Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He praised the Turkish president for ridding his country “of all those scum who wanted to topple him. I used to go with my family to Antalya every year, until those killers came here on the Marmara,” he said, referring to the activists on a protest boat armed with metal rods. “Now we go to Bulgaria every summer.”

The ride was short but crammed with quality material. At a rapid-fire pace, the driver regaled me with the following insights: “If only we had a president like Erdogan. He’s showing them who’s boss. And if our army would throw out all those pansies who went to demonstrations against the soldier who shot the terrorist in Hebron, we could sleep well at night.”

It went on. “Why do you think we’re losing to the Arabs? They’re poisoning the soldiers’ minds. Or tomorrow they could do to us like they did in Turkey. People say the leftists are weaklings, that they’re all homos, but believe me, they’re strong. They’re everywhere. They won’t even need to take over the television stations. They already control television.”

Taxi drivers of course are a prime source of the mood on the street. If I were a Turkish tourist in Israel, I’d quickly glean what sort of country I was visiting, and the lady at Super-Pharm would tell me just who the enemies of the state were. But wait, there’s more – the morning wasn’t over yet.

At the main branch of the Meuhedet clinic in Tel Aviv, appointment times bear no relation to when patients actually get to see the doctor. The doctors rightly devote as much time as needed to each patient, while the waiting room gets ever more crowded.

It’s a fascinating microcosm of Tel Aviv: an Ethiopian family, an Eritrean man, a young Arab woman from Jaffa, and several older folks in striped shirts and sweatpants. The most important question is “What time is your appointment for?” and then the order can be set.

“You’re after the Ethiopian woman,” the Arab woman told me as she typed away on her smartphone. “You can go in before her,” the man next to me whispered. “She doesn’t understand Hebrew and they need to learn to wait.” But wait, "the Ethiopian” was reciting a Hebrew poem to her little daughter.

When the door finally opened and a patient exited the doctor’s room, "the Arab” stood up and moved toward the door. A carefully coiffed woman stood up as well and tried to enter with her.

“I just need to pick up a prescription,” the woman insisted. “So do I,” said the Arab woman, familiar with that old trick, and she went in first and quickly closed the door on the would-be infiltrator. “What chutzpah they have! I’d like to see her say that at a clinic in Jordan or Egypt. They have it too good here,” the woman hissed.

We have it pretty good here, too – if you don’t count the Arabs, Ethiopians, leftists, homos and all the other scum.

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