I don’t know if many Egyptians, Arabs or Muslims follow me, but this post is specifically for you.
If you are on the road, outside your country and away from your circle of friends, you naturally meet different people from several backgrounds and countries. And usually before talking to them you have no idea of where they are from or what is their religion. You just talk because the situation made you talk.
And for me, on several occasions, I have met many Israelis.
Mind you, this was not the first time that I met any Israelis in my life, because due to my ex-job’s location, in Sinai, I did get to meet many Israelis there, but it was only on the business level, they get sick, come to the pharmacy, and I sell medicine and that was that.
When I am abroad, however, I got to meet them on the personal level!
My first Israelis
While walking el Camino de Santiago in Spain, September 2011, all pilgrims naturally talk to each others in the bars, share meals and dorms, socialize with each other.
My first Israelis were on the last leg of my Camino, between Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre, they were a couple and another girl friend walking together. They talked to me and my friends because they didn’t know the way and they didn’t have a guide book, while one of my friends did…
Of course we exchanged the where are you from, and the guesses depending on the looks and the accents, and BOOM, they are from Israel and I’m from Egypt! Did we punch each other in the face? No…Did we kick each other off the mountains ‘unintentionally’ while walking? Still no…
What happened actually is that when we met them the next day, they showed me how to make Tuna BBQ without any equipments, a trick they learned in the army and comes very useful when you are trekking and don’t want to eat cold tuna sandwiches…
My second Israelis
Those were the best by far; I have mentioned them before on the blog. I met them by coincidence, or by accident, when I was in Mo Paeng water falls in Thailand and I slipped into the water, with my camera in hand. These were the first people that rushed to give me a hand out of the water!
And when they knew I’m Egyptian, they said we are neighbors, and laughed about the whole situation and the crazy coincidence!
No, they didn’t push me back into the water, or tried to steal my camera which they had in their hands…
My third Israeli
On the bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, right across the aisle, sat a young man, who I could have sworn he was Arab! He had the features, the skin tone, the hair, the nose! Everything! And in the dim light of the bus he was reading a book which wasn’t Arabic or English, so I was kind of confused about where he is from.
Also I should mention I was wearing the popular Palestinian scarf on the bus because it was freezing!
We both exchanged looks several times as in the “I think I know where you are from” look, but never really talked until the bus made a stop and we were off the bus. I went straight to him and asked where is he from…
“No I want to know where are you from?!”
I knew right away he’s Israeli, he had a really heavy Israeli accent!
He’s a young man from Jerusalem, “The holy land of all religions” if I can use his exact words! We stayed for the whole break chatting together, and about how hard it is now for Egyptians or Israelis to visit the other country.
I told him how my grandparents have visited Jerusalem, and that was the last Egyptian generation that was allowed to do this pilgrimage. He used to visit Sinai a lot before, he loves Ras Shitan! But he really wishes he could visit Cairo and Luxor as well, specially that he works in tourism and has planned several overland trips for tour groups, and he dreams he could join them someday…
My Fourth Israeli
In Koh Phangan, I was just on the beach of my hotel taking photos of the sunset, when a guy randomly came and asked me if I bought my camera from Bangkok (which I did) and we started chatting! Yes, he was also from Israel, a nice guy who was ending his two week vacation. We had a beer together later that evening and that was that, but he was a nice person…
Wait a minute!!
Am I saying that Israelis are all lovers of humanity and we are the only haters? What about Syria? What about Palestine?
I know. I understand. And trust me, most of them understand, too! Yet, there are the haters…
My Fifth Israelis
Also in koh Phangan, on the day of the black moon party, I was hanging out with my friends in front of our bungalow having some pre-party drinks, when 3 guys came and asked us to charge their iPhone in our bungalow, because electricity in the bungalow only works if the key is inside and they wanted to go hangout by the pool.
Also after chatting for a while my friend asked where they are from, “Israel, and you guys?”
“Germany, Germany, and I’m your neighbor!”
“I’m from Egypt!” I said with a smile
After they exchanged glances, they talked for a few more seconds and then asked for their iPhone and left abruptly…
I don’t know them well but I think I have enough right to call them intolerant? Even my German friends noticed what happened and noted that it was rude what they did.
So yes, there are the good and the bad, but what I hope for is a world of all good, I’m just Imagining with John Lennon! Is it too much?
And from my few experiences, it is 70% good people Vs only 30% bad. While I won’t know about the Arab/Egyptian/Muslim stats for the same issue but I guess it is much worse?
All I am saying is do not judge people according to their nationality. You can hate Israel as a state and you have the right to, but hate it as a government, not the people. Be against the government, but when you meet the people, know them first before judging them…
Did you have any Israeli encounters (if you are an Arab)? How did they go?
If you’re not an Arab, what do you think of the whole situation? Are you biased towards one of the sides?