I have fond memories of the desert hills of Judea. As a lad, I would sometimes hike in that area. Before the intifada, it was relatively safe, even for an obviously Jewish man trekking alone. On one such hike, I was wandering aimlessly, enjoying the solitude and pondering how many had walked those hills before me. Merchants, monks, shepherds, and armies. In my mind’s eye they all marched before me… and then faded into the mist of history.
All of a sudden I came across a lone Bedouin. He was seated on the ground next to a small bonfire in the middle of nowhere. He appeared to have no possessions except for what he wore, a couple of metal cups and his kettle, propped up crudely above the flames. It was a hot day, but Mid-Easterners are wont to drink hot coffee or tea, almost as if to mock the merciless Sun. As I approached him, he beckoned me to sit with him and he offered me a cup of thick Turkish coffee.
As I sat, sipping the coffee, I tried to communicate with the man. I still remember that his name was Brahim, short for Ibrahim. Much to my regret, he knew not a word of Hebrew or English and my Arabic was non-existent at the time. We gestured friendly gestures. What impressed me about him was the innocence of his demeanor. His eyes contained none of the worries or complications of modern life. The simplicity of his existence set him apart from other people I have known. There, in the hills of Judea, we were both children of the desert. There was nothing to divide us or set us against each other. Only the coffee that served to bring us together.
Now, when I learn of the young woman stabbed to death not far from my old haunt, I weep inside. Even as she lies cold in the morgue, I wish I could reach out to her and say, “Here. Drink from this cup of coffee. I got it from a friend.