25 January 2009

To those of you who don’t understand...

The story below is written by our young Israeli friend who lives and works as a veterinarian in California. Its' a true story and it may be a lesson for some people, so I've decided to offer it to our readers unabridged - as it is told, titled and written down by him. Enjoy.

To those of you who don’t understand why there are wars in the world.

Being an Israeli today is not an easy task, mainly if you chose to live abroad. People are asking for your opinion about why you can’t make peace in the Middle East: why can’t they understand, these Middle Eastern folks, that peace is better than war?

Make love not war they like to say…

I am not for wars, but I understand why there are wars in the world and why, probably, they will always exist.

Here is a little story that happened to me a few weeks ago and made me understand that more then ever.

The story happened in a small town that is called San Luis Obispo (SLO) that resides on the beautiful central coast of California. It is a small student town, very peaceful. When you come to visit SLO, it seems that everyone is busy with only one thing - having fun. The stores are full, the restaurants are fully booked, many young males and females walking up and down the streets showing what they have to show (and some times what they don’t), and everyone is nice and happy.

On a small street, located slightly away from the center of the town, there is a small restaurant serving Mediterranean food and named “Jaffa café”. I’ve visited this restaurant many times. It has decent food that reminds me of the food I grew up on at Israel. The proud owner of the place is Adnan. He used to live in Israel about 20 years ago, then he decided to come here and try his luck. It worked for him; he opened a successful business that provided for him well through the years.

Once in a while, when I am eating in Jaffa and when Adnan is there, we talk a bit about Israel, about life and about business. Approximately a year ago he told me that he thinks about buying the business next door and opening there a second restaurant, serving American food and pizza. At that time the business next door was a flower shop. I thought to myself, wow this guy is a good businessman. He will have two separate places side by side, serving different food, people will think they compete and this way he will attract customers that grew up on bacon cheeseburger with a lot of BBQ sauce rather then the weird people that prefer to eat humus in that nearby place…

It sounded like a smart move to me (but I’m not a good businessman).

Time went by, my wife and I visited Jaffa few times, enjoyed the falafel, tabule salad and humus (and to lesser extent the pita bread which is not very fancy…) everything was good, everyone was happy and life went by.

The last time I visited Jaffa was about 2 weeks ago. Me and my wife decided to stop by and grab something on the way to Costco (we always try to save money on food before spending at least $400 in Costco. It makes us feel better when spending the money… I don’t know why). Anyhow, while approaching the parking lot of Jaffa I was very busy talking to my wife about something that was probably very stupid and thus missed the parking lot of Jaffa, but I did get to the adjacent one, where the flower shop was. Guess what - there is no flower shop there anymore but a restaurant. It is called Petra and there is a large neon sign that says: Pizza!!!

Wow, I think to myself again, this Adnan is not playing around. He is a man of his word. He has opened it as promised. I tell my wife that we can park in the parking lot of Petra, since it’s practically the same business. But the wife is very perceptive and noticed that on the parking spaces there are signs saying “Petra only”, so she mentioned that to me and I, the know-it-all, told her that it is just a part of Adnan’s tactics.

We park the car and as we step out, someone is approaching us from Petra. I know the guy: he used to work for Jaffa. He says hi and when he sees that we are starting to walk toward Jaffa he mentions the fact that this parking lot is for Petra only. I nod, smile to him that little smile of some one that knows “the secret” and keep on marching toward Jaffa Café. He calls me again, very nicely, and repeats his mantra. This time he gives me a paper menu with the proud name Petra on it. I don’t even look at it and as I look through the window of Petra I see another person that was working at Adnan’s place for a very long time.

Now I am sure it's all for show. (At that stage, my, as I've mentioned, very perceptive wife understands that we should move the car. She starts to elbow me to give her the car keys so she could move it to the Jaffa Café parking lot) I give the guy the secret smile again and ask him quietly “both businesses are owned by Adnan, isn’t it so?”

He doesn’t return a smile and says “No, not at all, it is a different owner”. Now he asks us again us to move the car. I still don’t buy it (by now I have a little bruise on my rib cage from my you know who) Don’t give up, go with your heart that is what my mom always said…… and I don't give up. I tell the guy, look your parking lot is empty I am going to grab something to eat at Jaffa do you really mind if I leave the car here? He looks at me, then looks at the other guy in Petra and asks: “Are you going to be there a long time?” I don’t think so and tell him that. He nodded his head and gave me the permission to leave the car in Petra’s parking lot.

Finally we walk the 10 meters to the entrance of Jaffa Café. As we open the door to go in, some one from the Jaffa café approaches us and asks us if we parked the car at Petra’s? I don’t answer, my wife doesn’t answer - she just grabs the car keys from me and is gone… She is moving the car, she’s had enough.

I am going in… smiling, slightly confused. As I get to the counter I hear the guy from Jaffa calling out to me: “I see you brought your tissue with you”. Having no clue what he is talking about, I look at my hand and see that menu from Petra… I understand the joke, I smile and now, when I am in the friendly and familiar territory I ask for an explanation.

So here is the story from the guy that works at the counter at Jaffa café:

The guy that bought the property that became Petra was Adnan’s old partner. They decided that he will open an American restaurant next door; they will share the parking lot and enjoy the mutual clients. Few days before the grand opening of Petra, the Jaffa people noticed that there are signs at the parking lot that mention that it is for Petra’s customers only. Moreover, when they checked the menu of Petra, it appeared to be identical to Jaffa’s – with addition of Pizza…

The war has begun!!!

Now, I ask you, who exactly is going to benefit from that war? No one. Does it make sense? Not really.

Are there enough clients for two identical Mediterranean restaurants in a side street of a small town in California? I find it hard to believe, since most residents of the town don’t know where Petra is, where Jaffa is, what falafel is or why they don’t serve burger…

They still chose to fight.

Is it going to last for ever….. No, when both of them will understand that they don’t benefit from it will end. But it is not going to happen until then.

Peace comes from understanding; it can't be forced upon any one.

I just find it ironic that one place is called Jaffa (a city in Israel) and the other one is Petra (a city in Jordan), even here in a small town in California they can’t get along…

I hope I made my point and that you enjoyed the little story.

I apologize to the people of Petra, I am sure they have a totally different story to tell, and that their story makes a lot of sense from their side but it wouldn't change the outcome. It still doesn’t make sense no matter who started, who was there first and who was unfair to whom.

Now Jaffa and Petra are side by side and they will fight until they will understand that it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

We have to let them fight until they will resolve it on their own. We can choose sides but that isn't going to help either - it might just make it longer…..

I will keep coming to Jaffa because it is the only place where I can eat like at home but each time I come I will remember that now I really understand why wars exist in the world and why, as sad as it is, they will always exist.


Guest said...

I am related to the owner of Jaffa and would like to calrify that there is in no way, shape, or form a "fight" between them.  At least not on Jaffa's part.  There are other parts of your "little story" that are incorrect as well.  Please be sure to get your facts straight before posting something like this.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Feel free to bring up correct facts (as you see them) here, and I shall add them to the post above.