Israel Stories

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Of Koalas and Men

Fat, lazy and smelly. That’s how I would describe him. Gangaroo near Bet Shean is always a good day out (and good drive as well). My kids like the Koalas, but I don’t. Maybe I am jealous that they get to sleep 23 hours a day, but I wont let on, instead I tell my kids that they are fat, lazy and smelly. My wife growls at me for being a grumpy old man, little does she know that we all want to be a Koala once in a while (except for the Eucalyptus leaf diet).

My daughter told me once she wants to be an Arab. I warily asked why, knowing that a child’s use of logic, however innocent could be very damaging. She told me that whenever we see Arabs they are sitting down, either by the road selling fruit, waiting for lifts, on a break from working on the road or just generally laying about. She thought that was a good life. I explained to her that there were Arab doctors and lawyers and in fact Arabs worked in all walks of life.

That seemed to satisfy her. She wasn’t going to be an Arab. On a visit to Gangaroo she concurred with me that apart from the smell a Koalas life was pretty laid back and satisfying so maybe she would be a Koala.

“What’s better”, she asked, “a Koala or an Arab”.

“You can’t really compare”, I answered. “It’s like comparing apples with oranges. You need to try and compare apples with apples. You could ask what’s better being a Koala or a Kangaroo or you could ask what’s better being Arab or Chinese.”

“Ok,” she said, “what’s better being an Apple or an Arab.”

I looked skyward for some help. “OK,” I said mustering all my patience, “you can compare people with other people, fruit with fruit and animals with animals”.

“Look,” she said mustering all her patience, “Some Arabs are lazy, Koalas are lazy and apples really do nothing all day.”
“Yes,” I replied, “and some Jews are lazy too. You have to be a bit more specific.” Ok so the word specific was lost on her but I think she understood.

In her mixed up little world, where everything is black and white, there are very specific categories. I needed to find a way of explaining to her better.

On the crocodile farm in Chamat Gader, we carried on the conversation. “Those crocodiles lie about all day but as soon as they are hungry they jump to life and are very fast at getting food. Are they lazy?”

“No,” she said, “they spend a lot of time waiting for their breakfast, lunch and supper.”

“So there you go then. Arabs that you see are not lazy, they are waiting for someone to buy there fruit, or to carry on working or just waiting for a friend.”

“So what you mean Abba, is that Arabs are like crocodiles.”
OK things were getting out of control.

“Ok, some people are like Koalas, some are like crocodiles and some are like kangaroos, but it doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Arab, everybody is different.”

“I see,” she said, nodding her head in contemplation, “but who are the apples?”