This morning's Jpost mentioned that the PA warned Arabs NOT to shop in Rami Levi supermarket chain anymore. "We know who you are!!" they threatened.
The truth is that many Arabs shop in Rami Levi, more than in any other supermarket.
The PA wants Arabs to shop in their own stores, regardless of the conditions or the prices or the products. I myself am very conflicted about this issue, but I really can see many different sides to this complex supermarket situation.
** The PA wants Arabs to separate themselves from Jews and a Jewish way of life, a Jewish economy, Jewish manners, Jewish clothes, Jewish attitudes. Of course, they want to build an Arab society without Jewish (read: enemy) influences. Whereas the PA goal is concerned, I find this very commendable. Forget the price, the pleasant shopping atmosphere, the clean beautiful store, the abundance of products. The PA wants Arabs to get used to buying in Arab stores, speaking only Arabic, reading Arabic labels, making do with Arabic products. No Telma cornflakes, no Osem cakes, no Sabra Humous, just Arab products, like Al Hasami. The PA wants Arabs to get acclimated to an Arab atmosphere and stop thinking Jewish. (Funny, the United Arab Emirates is encouraging foodmakers from around the world to sell their produce in the UAE and the Palestinian Authority is trying to close their market doors to non-Islamic products.)
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog that also mentioned the new Arabic signs that have been popping up in Eastern Gush Etzion. Israeli signs have Arabic, Hebrew and English on them. The new Eastern Gush Etzion signs have only Arabic on them. Nothing else.
That's the way the PA wants it. They are working very deliberately to create the fact of Palestine, even if they don't have an official state yet.
And in Palestine, there are no Jewish products, no Jewish foods, no Jewish papers, and no Jews!! Complete separation - physically and psychologically too.
Jews are not allowed on Arab roads or in Arab areas. The PA is physically Judenrein and the PA would like to make sure that the PA is free of our Jewish/Israeli emotional/spiritual/etc. influences as well.
** Israel on the other hand goes out of its way to make its Arab citizens and Arabs from Judea and Samaria comfortable. Every office has the option to listen to a message in Arabic. Every sign includes Arabic. Many officials (police, doctors, administrators of all kinds) speak at least rudimentary Arabic. Israel wants to be a welcoming place to Jews and people of all religions and nationalities. Utopianly moving, but in reality, it doesn't quite work. Yet Israel keeps trying.
** The PA wants to declare itself the 23rd Arab country.
** Israel is embarrassed to declare itself the 1st Jewish one.
Shopping with Arabs
I am not a frequent Rami Levi shopper, but I've shopped in Shaar Binyamin when I've got to stop at the supermarket with my Bet El kids. And Gush Etzion is about to open its doors to its own Rami Levi. In Rami Levi, as in many other larger supermarkets, Arabs and Jews shop side by side. There's no fighting. No name calling. No dirty looks. Just shopping.
Shopping carts bump, excuse me, shy smile, we walk on. An Arab mother checks the price of tuna, so do I. Her kids drive her crazy for candy, and mine do the same to me. We both chuckle and go our separate ways down the next aisle.
It's a kind of coexistence that Israelis might be happy is present in some small part of Israeli life today, but its the kind of coexistence that the PA is adamant to stop. Israelis might see this situation as hope for the future, but the PA sees the opposite.
To the PA, know your enemy, means: understand his national habits and find out all the security info that you can. It doesn't mean: know his name, if his kids like Karlo chocolate pudding or Dani, and what he feels about the world economic crisis and the local prices at Rami Levi.
The PA knows that if its Arabs feel any kind of relationship to Jews (even just a memory of an Arab and a Jewish mother smiling over their kids' chocolate covered faces in Rami Levi's Aisle 2), it could put a chink in their warriors' armor and in their hate-culture. Yes, if Arabs can't give up lox or Milkies or Knorr's BBQ sauce, it could put a crimp in their national identity.
So, the PA has outlawed Rami Levi. For their purposes, it's a great move.
Can Israel learn something from this attitude?? Let's keep our eyes on this situation, and reassess in a few weeks. Remind me.