Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bittterness, Bile and Israel...........

I can’t really write about this without having a quick bit of bio. I describe my father as a lapsed Jew, I should perhaps point out that he is a British Jew and possibly illegitimate. He was in Bahrain serving in the British navy when I was born. We as a family returned to mainland Saudi Arabia some years later to work on the aircraft support group in Dhahran. On reflection the notion of a Jew working in Saudi seems absurd, but we managed this with ease by virtue of all signing affidavits to the effect that we were in fact Christians and having Anglican Clergy endorse them. The smell of damp sand and humidity is unavoidably the smell of home for me. The Arabs I spent time with varied widely; some simple, some smart, some educated and some bigoted. They were a culture apart by virtue of not having developed along the same path as the west or indeed America. They shared in a different and it appeared to me altogether more devout form of religion. I was informed that it was always the shia that caused trouble and the sunni that did best business. Within this the underlying politics of family and tribe were obvious. Arabic culture was once both advanced and virtuous for its time it has to my understanding always been tribal and really can only be understood from this point of view. It is no surprise then that Arabs have rarely been able to present a united front on any important issue much to their detriment and shame.

I also remember a rather sobering conversation with my father about anti-Semitism and the role of the Jews in world history. It ended in the usual punch and Judy farce commonly played out between us; with one chilling difference. Before he stormed off in a drunken fury my father chillingly reminded me that whilst I wasn’t Jewish, I was “Jewish enough to get burned…..”. That riposte shut me up for a long time and the memory of it still disturbs me. It should be noted that this conversation actually took place whilst were on Arabic soil.

Neither the encounter with my father nor the then rather amusing antics of the Israeli air force (they regularly used to buzz Dhahran Airport ) forced upon me a real point of view with respect to Israel and the related conflict. My readings revolved around Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Ghandi, and Solzenytsyn (pretentious or what). No surprise then that my sympathies always came to rest with the little guy (and probably still do). But I was really quite ignorant of this issue. I was for the longest time pre-occupied by the end of the cold war. This all changed in 1989 when I went to the USA. After three months of learning that America was a nice place to visit but not a nice place for a guy like me to stay I was ready to leave. I caught the dog from the west to the east and opted to visit the seat of government in Washington on the way. It was here that I experienced something of an epiphany. There were a lot of guys clearly Arabs (I was later to learn Palestinians) protesting out side the Whitehouse. It was a bizarre thing to observe the protesters watching the CIA watching the protesters, cameras clicked and radios buzzed. In this context I began to realise that the protest wasn’t altogether benign. The placards displayed an array of grievances but it was a pamphlet protesting the Zionist control of American media that was actually shoved into my hand by a very nervous looking young man. On the bus to NY I read the pamphlet and I really made me think. Suffice to say in the 18 years that followed I have never turned from arguing and sometimes screaming my support for a free Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and related UN resolution. I have learned much over time and been despondent, depressed and disappointed with all sides of the debate. I have however never changed my mind on this matter.

An important point to note here is that I dislike Israeli’s for the same reasons I despised my father, not because they are Jewish but because they are contemptible human beings. I have consistently accused Zionists and Israelis of being the lowest immoral cowards, these people have used and manipulated the suffering of the holocaust to defend the indefensible in the Middle East. They have consistently and selfishly devalued other instances of genocide the world over in order to achieve their goals. These people in effect have hidden behind their own dead. How low is that ? My love for America has gone, my love for certain Americans and indeed certain Jewish Americans has never wavered. It is a strange feeling to be tracked across the world by virtue of being born in the Middle East. It is both strange and tragic to stand in yet another line for a “random” airport search and be the only white face in a very brown looking queue. It is kind of funny seeing the look on those brown faces though (what’s whitey doing here ?).

For the most part I have avoided ranting about this issue in this blog preferring to voice my opinions elsewhere. It would though, be negligent of me to be completely silent on these matters for fear that this might be taken for an endorsement of the status quo. It is through silence and dubious ignorance that things have been allowed to get as bad as they are now. Though I should point out they would have some way to go before matching the atrocities of 1982. Nonetheless 750 dead in pursuit of two captured combatants seems pretty poor behavior to me. But here is what really bugs me: America has consistently blocked any collective effort at world level to bring an end to these problems (as usual). As such the present atrocities though well publicised are allowed to continue. There has been much wringing of hands and sympathetic writing, but in the end no actual action has been taken. This IMHO is truly sad and genuinely negligent. I don’t buy Israeli goods. I won’t entertain or endorse any Israeli activity that I encounter; I will not travel to America for the foreseeable future and avoid buying American goods. I have never met anyone in New Zealand with all its liberal traditions, including my wife, who is prepared to do the same. Whilst my actions may seem pathetic I believe they are better than nothing. I for one will not sit on my hands and just bloody well cry at the injustice of it all. Sorry folks can’t do it, this issue offends my deepest moral senses. Enjoy those out of season Oranges and if they come from Israel spare a thought for what they really cost.

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