Jerusalem & Friends
– Louie, the Arab
Now Think On This
“The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael.” (1 Chronicles 1:28, NASU)
A short walk inside Jerusalem’s Old City Jaffa Gate takes you down the narrow street, lined on each side with Judaica, olive wood, clothing and spice shops. That’s where I first met Louie, or rather Louie met me. He was on the lookout for tourists whom he could draw into his brother’s gift shop. As was my custom, I was open to shopping.
This past year in 2017 Louie said he first got acquainted with me in 1994 and gave the exact date. Knowing he has a sharp mind, I figured he was right, but I sure didn’t remember. I do recall he offered me orange juice or Arab coffee, my choice, which was a customary way of getting one into their shops. Of course, always liking to receive that which is free, I obliged and followed him down the cobbled, slick stone walk a quick distance. His brother had an elaborate shop, filled with Jewish and Arab items of all sorts. Some were actually made in Israel. Most were Chinese imports.
Now after these many years, Louie has his own shop. He explained that the tourism numbers are very good, but those coming now are less apt to buy, making it tough for him to earn enough to pay the high rent. With his small shop along this busy section of the Old City’s Quarters, one of four (Christians, Jews, Muslims and Armenians, each having a quarter within the outside walls) many walk by but few buy. He continued explaining that when the Americans came in huge numbers, sales were good. Now more and more are coming from China, Southeast Asia, and South America, but they tend to purchase less goods. Hence Louie said he has to spend longer hours to attempt making the sales in order to meet his expenses.
Wanting to support him too, as I have regularly done with the Jewish shop owners on Ben Yehuda Street, less than an hour’s walk west out of Jaffa Gate, he picked out items on my list I had in my mind. Olive wood camels, menorahs and possibly a piece of jewelry for my good wife Laurie. He pulled several nice pieces from behind the glass doors covering the display cases. One beautiful menorah (7 branch candle piece) was one of the few left he had on hand, actually made in Israel. With the cheaper imports from China, competition is high, forcing even the locals to get out of the manufacturing business. I bought the silver-plated menorah because it had the “Made in Israel” label adhered to the base. Support blue and white!
Adding to my menorah purchase was a three-piece camel set, of course, made out of olive wood, hand carved in Israel. There is something about camels that amaze me. Beasts of burden to carry goods for the people.
Then he pulled out of a special wooden drawer several pieces of fine shaped silver and Eilat Stone necklaces (green and blue color stone from south Israel). Among them was my final choice, having already almost exceeded my budget – a very beautiful necklace for Laurie. Though she isn’t much on jewelry, occasionally she does appreciate this type of gift, and so the Tree of Life piece was chosen.
It is always a joy for me to spend time with Louie, hearing of his daily life as an Arab in Jerusalem. Life can be hard at times he shares, but he appreciates what he has. Here he can have his own business and livelihood, knowing freedom is not found everywhere in the Middle East.
Next time you are in the Jaffa Gate area, look around for my friend Louie. He will be looking out for you, and is anxious to share his goods with you. At a good price!
Now think on this,
Love For His People, Inc.
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Now Think On This #337 – in the year of our Lord 12.15.17 – “Jerusalem & Friends – Louie, the Arab”, Friday, 12:30 pm