My friend Moishe has been kvetching again. This time not about his life threatening ailments – it’s his Arab neighbour who is the source of the problem. He’s worried because he agrees with the man.
I asked what the problem was with that, telling him that some of my best friends are Arabs. It’s not true, although I have a cordial enough relationship with my Iranian dry cleaner.
The problem, Moishe explains, is that the council is about to introduce even more restrictive parking controls in his neighbourhood and is proposing to increase the permit fees by 200%.
“So what’s this got to do with the Israel – Palestine conflict?” I ask.
“Someone told me he supports Hamas.”
“And does he?”
“He says not but he’s an Arab so you can’t trust him can you?”
“And if he does support Hamas, so what? What’s that got to do with parking in Hendon?” I query.
“Are you joking? How can I sit down next to a man that supports Hamas…”
“May support Hamas…” I interject
“May support Hamas, OK, how can I work together with him to fight the council’s proposals.”
“Do you want to stop the council implementing these plans?”
“So what’s the problem? You have a common interest, fight together. Be allies!”
Moishe pondered this for all of three seconds before inflicting the coup de grace: “But once we’ve beaten the council on parking, he’ll turn on the Jews! I can’t let that happen. No, the thing to do is to withdraw from the whole thing. It’s better that I should have nothing to do with that terrorist. I’ll start my own separate campaign instead and I’ll only allow Jews to campaign with me. I tell you, the more we mix with these people the more trouble we heap upon ourselves. All this interfaith stuff, what’s the point? They all hate us. They’re all anti-semites. And furthermore, any Jew who stands alongside Mr Khan must be a Hamas sympathiser as well.” Then he added, but I’m not sure why: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us!”
“There’s another way,” I suggested tentatively. Moishe’s vehemence had taken me by surprise; I hadn’t seen him this worked up since Bloom’s announced it was closing down. “You could show the way forward for peace in the middle east with this opportunity” I told him.
“Seriously. If you work with him on this campaign he may come to realise that we Jews aren’t so terrible and you might change his attitude about Hamas. Then he’ll tell his friends and they’ll tell theirs and before you know it, you’ll be off to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. You and Mr Khan together. I tell you, Barnet Council won’t dare raising their permit fees by 200% if it means upsetting a couple of Nobel Peace Prize winners.”
Moishe was pensive for a minute then turned me with that deeply serious look he gives his doctor every time he informs her that he’s finally succumbed to whatever terminal illness he’s just learned about on daytime TV. “You mean today Barnet Council’s Parking department, tomorrow the world”.
“Exactly” I replied triumphantly.
“And join the ranks of those vegetarian liberal self-hating Jews!” he snapped, “I don’t think so. Besides, if we made peace with the Palestinians who would there be for me to fear every day?”
“There’s always daytime TV,” I meekly offered.