Quite a few weeks ago, we spent Shabbat in Kfar Chabad. Traveling back after Shabbat, we had two options:
1. Take the train all the way home, which meant a second train switch.
2. Get off where we normally would, in Be’er Sheva, and take a bus.
Although our hosts thought the train was a better idea, we didn’t have a carseat for Shlomo with us, and so we preferred to take a bus, instead of having to take a taxi from the train station. I checked the times and found out that from when we were supposed to get off, until the last bus home left, was fifteen minutes – which should be exactly enough, giving us 2 minutes to spare if we moved fast.
As it turns out, I made a mistake. The time we were supposed to get off the train, that gave us 15 minutes, was the time we were supposed to get off the train at a previous stop, to catch the connecting train. The train got to Be’er Sheva five minutes before the bus was supposed to leave. We ran and ran – and missed the bus, the last bus, by two minutes.
Then we had two options: Wait until the wee hours of the morning, or take a cab. Yitzchak insisted that there were night lines. He’s said this a lot, and I know that at one point such bus lines existed, but in practice, we have never seen any sign of them.
There were two other people who needed to get home to our city there, also. We thought about finding a big shared taxi (together, if we paid for both kids, we would be 6 people, and even if we paid the extra for the others who weren’t there, it would still be cheaper than a regular taxi). But none of the taxi companies were answering their phones.
A shared taxi, or ‘monit sheirut’.
Then a religious driver offered to take us for 60 shekels off the usual price, in his words, “I’m practically losing money, but I figured, you’re religious, and I want to help you out.” We were going to split the cab with the other people going, but when the driver saw how many we were, he refused to take all six of us. I told G-d we were going to do this once, He should protect us from our stupidity and get us home safely, and next time we go anywhere where we might need a cab, we are going to bring a carseat for Shlomo.
During the drive, the taxi driver (religious with a knit kippa) started talking to us. I asked him why there was such a huge price difference between a taxi during the day and a taxi at night, and he told me. Then he said that when he sees an Arab, he doesn’t take him. I asked how he would know just from looking that it was an Arab – some of them are almost indistinguishable from Jews, if you just look at them. He said, first of all, he locks all the doors and closes the windows. Then, he pulls over and opens one window a crack. He asks where the guy is going and talks to him a bit, and if the man is an Arab, or even if he’s simply not 100% comfortable, he finds some excuse and drives away. “It’s not worth it, even if he would offer me 400 shekels, it’s not worth the money, and I’m not going to take a risk by picking him up.”
He’s the first taxi driver I ever heard of who does this, and I think, honestly, that he’s a smart guy. Maybe a little racist, maybe the refusal in itself carries risks, but it is still the safer route to take. What is absolutely true is that picking up an Arab – whether you are a taxi driver or just a nice guy willing to give him a tremp (let him hitchhike) – can be very, very dangerous. Often, it leads to carjackings, and more often, to murders, though these have become less common recently because of the awareness.
And like we saw last summer, taking a ride with an Arab, or even someone you don’t know (because they can dress as Jews and some speak beautiful Hebrew) can be very risky. Three teenage boys took a ride with someone whom they believed to be a religious Jew, and who turned out to be a Hamas terrorist. They were kidnapped and killed . . . remember?
Yesterday, a 60-year-old man in Tel Aviv agreed to give two young Arabs a tremp. In return, he was stabbed, bound, put in the trunk of his car, and driven by those same Arabs towards their home in the PA. By some miracle, the police decided the car was suspicious, and heard his cries for help in time.
Think about it: The guy lives in Tel Aviv. Why under the sun didn’t the terrorist find someone closer to home? Why does he need to go all the way from Tel Aviv? Is there no one murder-able closer to his home? Of course there are (unfortunately). But here he had a chance to kill two birds with one stone: He gets home free of charge, and takes a Jew, dead or still living (and therefore torturable, and a good bargaining chip, as well) back with him. Eventually, of course, he will kill the Jewish captive and get his 72 virgins (when he dies) – as well as a nice, fat, salary while he lives.
And if any of you had any doubts whether these Muslim extremists kill Jews because they are oppressed and want a decent life, or whether they kill Jews because they are taught to kill Jews, no matter how good their life is – watch this: