Prague Twin

Monday, August 14, 2006


I was talking to Abraham who works in the kebab shop in the center of Liberec (Czech Republic). Abraham is Palestinian but he has Jordanian citizenship. We were talking about the normal stuff: work, stress, sleep, excess of the first two and lack of the latter. I started to joke with him a little asking, "why don't you start drinking?"

He said he didn't really like it. I said, "yea, you are Muslim right?"

He said, "yea, but that is not why I don't drink. I don't take it so seriously."

Never passing on a chance to be snide and obnoxious I asked, "you mean you don't hate me?"

He asked, "why would I hate you?"

"Because I'm an infadel."

He laughed out loud at this one. "No," he said, still chuckling a little, "I don't hate you."

I explained I was just kidding, but I think it was pretty obvious. Presently he started telling me a story about something that happened at about 3 am a couple of nights back. It fit right in with our previous lack-of-sleep-over-worked conversation. Here is what he told me....

"About 3 am, a Czech guy comes in and asks me, 'are you from Palestine?'. I said, 'Yes, I am.... and?'"

The kid replies, "Well I am from Israel."

Abraham responds, "O.K. so, so what?"

The kid says, "I know you hate me, and you probably want to kill me."

Abraham laughs at him and says, "you know, when you first walked in the door, I had the feeling you were drunk. Now, you've proven it. Go home and get some sleep."

Why am I recounting this story? I'm not exactly sure. If anyone has any idea, I'm all ears.


  • This same issue has been playing on my mind lately, and I’m not sure why. I lived in an incredibly culturally diverse city enclave in Sydney. So far as know, from data, there was just a handful of national/language groups not represented.
    The same sort of conversation was common, though comfortable and even prosperous in the village, they feared the attitude of outsiders. And the village straddled a major city trunk road.
    Particularly playing on my mind was the Christian Lebanese. Although they lived in an area with mixed Christian/Muslim people, their lives were spent in their small shops.
    It was the confrontations with the punk ‘Muslim’ drop-ins that were particularly unsettling for them.
    And yes, they shared their feelings fairly freely with a ‘whitey’ (the current label for broadly European background people in Australia.)
    All this hodge-podge of civilization, crammed into a few square kilometers, wanted from life was peace to get on and do the best they could with their lives.
    But regardless of race, there was always some arsehole wanting to import hate from somewhere else.
    I don’t have an answer to your question.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 10:03 PM  

  • Most Muslims couldn't care less if someone is an "infidel."

    I've probably spent around 17 years of my life in fairly close proximity to Muslims in one way or another, and no one cared that I wasn't father is Jewish and most of his best friends have been Muslim...the fear and paranoia is just cooked up by the politicians and the right-wing media..

    By Blogger Anne Rettenberg LCSW, at 12:45 AM  

  • Damn I'd really like to believe that the most recent mideast conflict was just the result of both side really tying one on.

    Or perhaps, that's just what they should do...get rip roaring drunk. (OK I know that the Muslims in Lebanon aren't going to do that, but perhpas they could import some Qat from Yemen.) Then everybody sits down and talks it out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 AM  

  • Interesting story. There are probably thousands, millions of encounters like this every day. I think most of the hate and prejudice are pushed by the "leaders" and headline-grabbers. I traveled all over Iran and Pakistan in the mid-1970s. Lots of friendly hospitable people. I'd be a little leary of going back there now. The political situations have changed over there, but the hatred that we keep hearing about isn't ingrained in their culture or religion, because it wasn't like that 30 years ago.

    By Blogger Tom Harper, at 2:28 AM  

  • Thats so sad..the kid might of been immature kids do, or he might of been trying to start something..its hard to say..but the world is now taking this whole thing personal..and we shouldn't. Its a fight between heads of state aka a pissing contest, all bravado and bullshit. If people tried to understand and use common sense it would help alot. Kneejerk reactions are very seldom right.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3:26 AM  

  • Never judge a book by its cover.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

    By Blogger David Schantz, at 3:56 AM  

  • No question in my mind; we all are wittnessing handy works of the world leaders of all stripes in the present day conflicts.

    It seems fairly clear to me that these leaders, whether democratically elected or not, are basically the same "animal". The lust for power is the engine that keeps their mojo working and it has only the limits that our societies are able to muster. In democracies the task is naturally easier, providing that we are smart enough to excercise that power.

    An unfortunate fact is that, regular Jeans and Johns just want to live in dignity and prosper but their leaders have far more ambitious goals than that. They want to become great, historically significant and great statesmen. This usually necessitates subjucation of others near by or, like with all the colonial powers, anywhere. That's where we, the hoi-poloi, are needed, and it is vital to such a leader to convince us that we are not only better than "them" but they are down right evil and not quite human.

    This trick of theirs has been used for milleniums and hasn't lost a step in it's effectiveness. Since leaders are not going to stop using this scam, we should stop falling for it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:42 AM  

  • Great post

    I also have a story to tell. I have a friend who is a Muslim who’s name is Abraham. He & I used to go with a group of other "blue collar" types on a fishing trip every opening day in the Sierra Nevada’s. On the day he discovered I have a holly Islamic name, he would no longer allow for he or his son's to ever been in front of me while standing in any type of que or line. This in spite of the fact that he is 10 years my senior. Even after I explained to him that I was not a practicing Muslim I was still given this preferential treatment.

    As to your question of why it is that you recounted the story, it seems to me that it is an effort to show that the actions of a few are not always a good representation of a whole. At least that’s what I got. How many people may have at one time or still believe that all the German people were Nazis? Perhaps humanity will evolve to a point where it will be able to distinguish its enemies without having to demonize whole cultures or races.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:30 AM  

  • C,

    I lived in California where we had some diversity, but mostly it was just the Europeans (Italian predominance) and Mexicans (about 20%). There were hippies and conservatives and everything in between. There were very respectable Mexican families, and there were cars full of illegals all summer long. It was pretty hard to characterize anyone based on their race. What few other minority families that did live in town had in common was that they were pretty damn successful. So like the 3 black kids were rich, and so were the two Chinese kids, and so on. Kind of broke down the sterotypes. Anyway, religion didn't really play much of a part. It was private. There are some wacky people, but they do their wackiness in private, so its cool. I think most were non-practicing Catholics (like my mom) and agnostics (like my Dad). But of course there was a very strong Prodestant contingent, as well as Mormon and Jehovis Witness. But nobody ever fought about it. We were tought in school to respect others religion and that was precisely what America was all about. Even kids like me who had not been indoctrinated whatsoever got a free pass. I remember a few small attempts to get me to go to Sunday school, but hey, who would go to school on Sunday if they didn't have to, right?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:52 PM  

  • Elizabeth,

    That is what I though. Thanks for confirming that.


    Thanks so your very serious attention to this matter. I knew I could count on you!


    Thanks for ditto what I said to Elizabeth. I think that is everyone's experience in most places you go. Sure, there are some bad people, but you never find a whole country who actually hates you. Americans should travel more. It would help everyone, oh, but wait, oh yea, oh forget it.


    Exactly. It just shows how easy it is to make someone believe something that just isn't true. Sad indeed. :(

    Never judge a book by its cover.

    Man, that would have been a really short post. Wish I had thought of that!


    Yes, it appears that once again we have taken the bait. It ties in nicely with yesterday's topic.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 11:02 PM  

  • Arch,

    You know, I've been thinking about that story all day and I just can't figure out what you mean by it. Pehaps it means something less conscious but yet profound to you but I just can't put my finger on it. Maybe somone can help.

    I think that what you say in the end is the great challenge. If indeed that is what you seek for the species, we have a very long way to go indeed.

    Thanks for your very thoughtful comment.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 11:06 PM  

  • This situation is politcal, more than a religious fight. Sure religion plays its part, but it is why overblown. And I am an atheist. I don't like missing opportunities to criticize religion, but this is about much more

    thanks for posting that story

    By Blogger Graeme, at 11:06 AM  

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