old arabic kettle

The sorrow of doing good

Time to time, while passing the crossroads of Einav and Tulkarm, I see an old man standing and selling dark coffee from an old kettle. The man is using the oldest and most advanced technique of kettle, that have a cylinder in the middle to place burning coals that will keep the kettle hot. As a coffee addict and a fan of old stuff, each time I pass him I’m thinking of stopping, wondering how much will be the cost of a cup. But as written in the last post, unlike the Moslems, Israel’s has a good reason to fear and need to think twice before pulling over.

But last Friday, while driving from Shavei-Shoron i had seen him standing tired at the roadside, in his hands the familiar kettle, and by his feet large amount of bags. His other hand had just gone down, seeing that the coming car is an Israel’s car, and giving up the hope of catching a ride.

Hitchhiking is a common practice at our region, rich in small settlements and with horrible public transportation. Personally, I almost never hitchhike, but whenever I see someone with his finger up I stop, more than happy to help and looking for an interesting conversation. Sometimes, if I’m tired or in the middle of an interesting lecture on the radio, I turn on the volume, indicating that I’ll prefer no further human interaction. But I almost always stop. Unless, as the old man knew, unless it’s an Arab. No Israeli will risk himself, hitchhiking with an Arab, or stopping for someone unknown.

My first instinct was to stop, who will not stop for a old man standing alone on a hot day in the middle of nowhere. A moment later the surviving instinct had started to protest, lighting all the fear from the horrifying possibilities, remembering all the official warnings of kidnappers. Within few seconds I want back and foreword, arguing with myself, at the end, with eager demand to do the right thing I had counted the chances that random old man, returning from a routine day job with all his bags, at a very hot day, what are the chances that he is planning something bad.

First thing I had notice was the surprise in his eyes, disbelieving that the Israel’s car had really stopped. Then we had a short and poor attempt of trying to understand where he needs, at the end I had named the Arab village at the far side on the road, and as quick as possible he loaded his bags and climbed in.

The few minutes until we had reached the point where he had got off had gone with a mixture of three languages. Starting by a monologue in Arabic that I got out of it only this gratitude. After I had made an attempt to switch to Hebrew, noticing that he knows Hebrew as I know Arabic. As a last resort I had tried English in which we had some common understanding. The second shocked face was at the finale destination, where the man waiting had seen the hitchhiker stepping out of the most unexpected car.

This small and trivial act of humanity, helping a old man, had left me full of sorrow. Was it an act of naive foolishness that could end in the front pages, or a healthy moral?

O, and a cup of coffee costs two NIS.


The photo of the kettle had been taken from here.