Climate Change: Tolerating Intolerance

Recently I’ve had to take our cats to the vet and chose to take taxis to get there. The closest station to me uses only Arab drivers and an interesting thing happened every time I hailed a cab. The driver stops and when I open the back door to put the cage in the driver turns around with wide eyes to see what’s in the cage. When they see that it’s cats they calm down. So I decided to ask why they were so curious as to what was in the cage.

The answer as given by every driver was “if you had a dog in there I wouldn’t take you.” Got it. Arabs are intolerant of dogs. I follow up and ask what’s wrong with dogs. The most common response is that “dogs are ‘Najis‘ (unclean) wiki/Najis . More specifically, one must wash their hands/feet seven times before praying after touching a dog.

I asked the drivers whether the dog can ride in the trunk, or on the roof, and they said no, but smiled at the question. One driver, Abdallah, said that “you Jews are smart. If you have a problem with religion you seek solutions.” But, he added, “if you look at hareidim (ultra-orthodox) they too don’t like dogs.” It’s true, but not for the same reasons, and hardly as absolute a rule amongst them as it is amongst Arabs.

I asked Abdallah a hypothetical question. Say, for example, a driver doesn’t allow blacks into his car. If there isn’t even one black person who the driver knows personally and is comfortable driving then it’s clear the driver is intolerant. While not equating the worth of humans of any race to that of animals (humans are worth more) Arab intolerance to dogs is clearly revealed. 

Abdallah explained by saying that Jews and Muslims are stubborn about religious issues. “Rosh b’Kir” (lit. head in wall) is how he put it. Arabs are raised from toddlerhood that dogs are ‘najis‘ and to be avoided.

I asked whether a Muslim to touch a dog while wearing a bombsquad suit and gloves. He said that there’s only one condition that a dog is permitted. No, he didn’t say for sight-impaired people, but rather for shepherds who need the dog to protect flock and wake shepherd at sign of trouble.

So I asked Abdallah yet another question. “Suppose you’re driving along highway one day when your friend the shepherd hails you down and explains that his dog is sick and needs to get to a hospital. Would you allow the dog in the car under those circumstances?”

“Yes,” he replied after giving it some thought, “one can’t harm animals, and should help those in suffering, so I would take them where they needed.”

The reader may ask, “why then wouldn’t the driver take YOUR dog to the vet?” Good question. For this I have two answers.

First, your dog is a house dog, not a work (ie permitted) dog. Second, people should be free to be jerks. 

Now some liberals will say, “he’s providing a public service and ought to be open to the public.” Buses can’t refuse to let dogs ride. Restaurants can’t refuse service to minorities in the US; and Christian mailmen regularly deliver pornographic materials to subscribers, even though its against their religious convictions. This, however, is where the easy questions end.

More difficult questions include “why grant Muslims freedom to be intolerant?” and “why are they allowed to drive cabs?” Why aren’t dog owners protesting?”

Personally, I do not begrudge stranger’s biases in a private setting. I prefer to understand the opposing view first, rather than change their mind. Never-the-less, if you have a dog and need to hail a cab, its important that you can do so easily.

Here’s what to do. Simply call the dispatch you’d like and tell them that you have a dog traveling with you. They’ll put out the call to their drivers and eventually one tolerant of canines will pick you up.

About the Author
Nisan Hirsh is from Skokie, IL. He lives in Talpiyot. He's been fighting to Change the Climate by emitting dangerously high levels of CO2 into the blogosphere.