Inshallah – in Israel

The Jewish people I’ve met in Israel so far have been both inquisitive and dead-pan. I’m never entirely sure if they’re being serious, but this is pretty much how my conversation at lunch today with the waitress went.

W. Do you speak Hebrew (in English)?
C. Inshallah
W. Are you Muslim?
C. No, I’m Australian
W. Oh, so you’re Christian?
C. No, I’m Cameron. Christian is Batman.
W. Christians are Bat Men?
C. Yes, Christians are bat-men. They have sonar and poop in caves
W. [giggling nervously] You want a drink?
C. Yes.
W. Yes?
C. Yes.
W. [rolls eyes] So what do you want to drink?
C. Do you have Turkish coffee?
W. No. We have Jewish coffee. It’s like Turkish coffee, but sweeter [I shit you not].
C. Ok, I’ll have a Jewish coffee then.

[five min interval during which I make these notes in my journal]

W. Here is your Jewish coffee
C. Thank you (I take a sip). I think the Turkish coffee is stronger, but the Jewish coffee is definitely sweeter.
W. [looking slightly affronted with her hands on her hips]. Jews are stronger than Turks! And smarter! And better looking!
C. um …. [staring into my coffee for a moment, not entirely certain how to respond to this revelation] W. Did you ever hear of the Nobel Prize? Jews have won more than 20% of them. Look it on Google! You know Einstein?
C. Well, sure, but I don’t usually think about Einstein doing strong man poses in a swim suit.
W. You want to see Einstein in a swim suit? [pouting] Are you gay?
C. No, I’m Cameron. Can I have another Jewish coffee please? One just isn’t strong enough.
W. [flouncing away and calling over her shoulder] Perhaps you should go to Istanbul if you love the Turkish coffee so much!
C. I’m heading there in a few days.

[two min interval while my coffee is made]

W. Why are you going to Turkey?
C. I thought we covered this? I need real coffee, I’ve been in Israel for a week and I’m suffering withdrawals
W. Where are you from? I mean, why are you in Israel?
C. I was in Jordan – Israel is right next door. Seemed rude to visit your neighbour and not visit you, don’t you think?
W. [suspiciously] Why were you in Jordan?
C. I was learning how to make coffee. From Muslims – they offer the beans to Allah before they make the coffee. I think that’s why it’s stronger (this is bullshit, btw] W. That’s ridiculous! Allah [long string of indeterminate Hebrew words ending in rolling her eyes at the ceiling]. So why did you come to Israel then?
C. To raise money to open a string of coffee shops across the Middle East as a place to meet and foster dialog between Christians, Muslims and Jews. While drinking coffee. Because, you know, coffee!
W. That will never work. You want that I make you another coffee?
C. Bring me arak. That seems more helpful at this point since you just demolished my hopes for world peace.
W. Don’t be sad. It probably won’t ever happen, but you never know, it might.
C. Inshallah.
W. Uh huh. I’ll bring you your drink now, Bat Man.

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