An “Only in Israel Story,” The Arab Bus Driver

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Not long ago, after getting on a bus to Jerusalem, I realized they the bus driver was an Arab. This happens a lot, because as I keep saying:

“Israel isn’t an apartheid state!”

Honestly, I don’t inspect the driver when getting on the bus, so unless it’s a driver I’m familiar with, I haven’t a clue as to who’s driving us.

I only realized that the driver was an Arab when he began to make announcements. Now, to be honest, drivers don’t usually make announcements on Israeli buses. It took me a bit until I realized what was going on.

First he suddenly stopped the bus, and before getting off he said that “everything was fine.” But then we saw him anxiously trying to make some calls and apparently try to report something. I was starting to get pretty nervous. Then he made an incomprehensible announcement. Incomprehensible between my rotten hearing and his heavy accent. He had to repeat it a few times for me.

He reported that something was wrong with the bus, and he was going to do his best to get us as far as Givat Asaf where there are lots of buses towards Jerusalem.

And then he addressed me in Hebrew, and of course I asked him to repeat it a couple of times.

“You know English? Are you from America?”
“Yes”

And then he suddenly spoke to me in excellent, slightly British accented English.

“Where are you from?”
“I’ve been here a very long time.
“But where are you from?”
“New York”
“I was there.”

And before I knew it, the Arab bus driver was telling me a whole long story of how he had tried living in America to study and how outrageously expensive it is.

“It’s much better here.”

He seemed so very happy to be speaking English. It reminded me of when I used to work in Yafiz, Sha’ar Binyamin, when there used to be a lot of Arab customers. They loved speaking English to me and would tell me that it made them feel like they were back in America.

PS Yes, we did get to Givat Asaf, and a bus picked us up after only a couple of minutes.

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5 Comments

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  3. Esther Revivo

    What a lovely story Batya! Thanks for sharing! I can’t stand folks who generalize and say that there are no good Arabs in our country. There are good people of every nation and faith. Yes, many wish we were gone from the country and wish us dead. But there ARE good Arab folks out there, probably too scared to speak up. My daughter’s life was saved by an Arab doctor years ago and I will be forever grateful! Kudos!

    1. Thanks, Esther, I also want to show people how there are normal exchanges between Jews and Arabs throughout the day. Most Arabs are very grateful for Israeli rule, though it can be dangerous for them to say so. The danger of course is from other Arabs.

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