Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fraternizing With Minorities in Israel

Fraternizing with minorities in Israel
“Absent Kafka, my wife wants her case to be heard in the court of judge Jon Stewart”(photo: Salon)
I am divorcing my wife. I have to. Read this article and you too will understand: Don’t let the link fool you. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to the actual title of the article in today’s Haaretz newspaper, which declares: “Soldiers probed for non-offense of ‘fraternizing with minorities.’” As you read the article you come to realize that “the nonexistent offense” is pretty serious in nature. First of all, minorities “is a euphemism for Arabs.” And in the minds of the quoted members of the Military Police and the Military Advocate General Corps such transgressions seem to be associated with the crimes of “trafficking in illegal drugs” and “contact with a foreign agent.” That definitely puts an end to our life as a married couple. We both know that the IDF sets the tone for civilian life in Israel.
To be fair to my wife (I am tempted to say ‘my ex-wife’ but her lawyers may use my ‘jumping to conclusions’ against me in the coming court case) I must admit that she was the one to notice the article first and to call my attention to it, possibly out of fear of its logical implications for our marital life. She has been fraternizing with minorities for over half a century now. Psychologists are quick to point out the known phenomenon of criminals betraying their guilt through inadvertent symbolic gestures, Freudian slips and the display of inner tension. It is the basis for the Hebrew truism known to the laity as “the hat burning on the head of the thief”. Whether out of inner remorse for hiding her terrible offense from me, her legally wedded husband, all those long years or out of a sense of betrayal towards the state that has granted her permanent residency for most of our married life, my wife decided to face up to her terrible ‘non-offense’ and to admit it through reading the said article to me.
By now “that woman” knows I am not a violent man and that I have no guns in any of the drawers in my study. Still I found her behavior in reading the article to me rather audacious. I had to consult with our son who happened to be visiting us on vacation. As I read him the article and proceeded to explain my dilemma he seemed to question my sanity. He wanted to know if I hadn’t realized that his mother had a distinct tendency to hanging around minorities in her younger years. I suddenly realized what a dope I have been, what a fool she had made of me for fifty-one years. Everyone in Hawaii, her homeland, is a member of a minority. No wonder she liked living in Arrabeh, my home village in Galilee. She had seen the number of minority members in it double and quadruple over the years, a dream world for one addicted to “fraternizing with minorities.”
Next in line for me was my dear childhood village friend, Toufiq. His first reaction was that I should seek the help of an expert in dream interpretation. It wasn’t anything to do with me. But the article required explaining by such a specialist, he thought. The one nugget that he found to be the key to everything in this conundrum was the fact that “the officer who handled one case was himself a member of the minority Druze community.” Toufiq expressed his deep sorrow that Kafka is currently unreachable. But who wants to open such a Pandora’s box? The Israeli commander who led the Israeli troops in massacring residents of the Shujayah Neighborhood in Gaza was also a Druze. After treating his injuries he begged the doctors in the hospital to let him go back to finish the job he had started. I suspect that what upset him so much was when his commanders told him that in Gaza “the minorities” were in the majority.
Absent Kafka, my wife wants her case to be heard in the court of judge Jon Stewart.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bob Schieffer in a World Gone Mad

Bob Schieffer has been gravely misunderstood and misquoted by Palestinians and their sympathizers when in actual fact the ones he maligned were the Israelis: If you listen carefully to the man ( you will find him concise and to the point, delivering his message clearly in the best of CBS sound-bite traditions. Here is the main message for which he has been maliciously faulted:
“In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause - a strategy that might actually be working at least in some quarters.”
And yet many listeners think he is speaking of Palestinian self-abuse despite the clear giveaway. After all, who holds the Palestinians in his grip but Israel? Obviously Bob is talking about Israel. And you think he is slandering the Palestinians! No wonder he thinks that “we are in the midst of a world gone mad.”
Let me now guide you through the man’s statement a word at a time: To contextualize the message for Americans, whom we know are all pro-Palestinian, he starts with a familiar concept, the Middle East. That should be sufficient, Bob in his wisdom-fraught mind must think, to arouse their interest and set their senses on edge for the coming blitz. After all, who but our Palestinian allies have gotten us involved in our glorious crusades in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine? [Are all these countries in the Middle East, I wonder? Who is going to bother asking anyway? Let us just finish the thought.] Think of how profitable it all has been for our energy moguls. And the mere mention of “the Middle East” will undoubtedly evoke tender sentiments of sad longing for the lost millions of lives in those crusades. So much life has been wasted that Bob hasn’t slept well for years, and he looks it. So what if the lives are mostly those of non-Americans? That is Bob’s central message: We all are human brothers and sisters. The life of a Syrian farmer in the Beqa’a Valley, of an Afghan shepherd in Peshawar or of a Palestinian fisherman in Gaza, of any Moslem anywhere for that matter, is equally dear to Bob’s Orient-soaked heart.
Now that he has put his millions of mesmerized audience on edge, Bob has to sooth their nerves with a calming image they all love, that of “Palestinians.” What better word to arouse his American viewers’ tender sentiments. He knows his central message will be appreciated by the multitude of anti-Semitic pro-Palestinians across the land. Every American across the wide spectrum of Jew-haters and self-hating Jews viewing him on TV will be tantalized by the expectation of what comes next. Now is the time for Bob to release his heavy dose of venom against Israel and its backers.  Bob calls the entire pack of Israelis and their financial and weaponry backers “a terrorist group.” True, he doesn’t call Israelis by name. But he leaves no doubt about whom he means: He exaggerates of course: He accuses Israel and its backers of holding the Palestinians in their grip for the mere act of controlling their land, sea and air space even when the Israelis go to the trouble of calculating the Palestinian children’s caloric survival requirements and permitting that to seep across the borders. He then claims that Israel “has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause.”
With what more can you accuse Israel, Bob? Israel has built the most moral army in the world, as we all know. It sends its children to defend its innocent citizens. True some of those children die. But they take their revenge at a high rate, thanks to the testing of the new weaponry that their fighter-bombers with their sulfur payloads, their helicopters, their gunboats and their tanks spew. The Palestinian death rate in 2008-09 ran at one hundred to one Israeli soldier. And currently it is averaging some 20 Palestinians to one Israeli soldier. The high rate of collateral damage of civilians including children of 80% should be sufficient to let Bob realize that Israel’s children are not sent to die simply “in order to build sympathy for its cause.” You can’t level such an accusation against Israel when it passes no chance to levy a heavy price for the killing of its children. I will forgive you, Bob, for pointing accurately that Israel does willfully send its children to die on occasion. But it does its utmost to guarantee their safety, witness its Aldahiya principle by which any area, residential or otherwise, from which its boys are fired at will be considered a military target regardless of the consequences. The principle is not even debated anymore. It simply is given as the justification for its repeated elimination of whole families, a dozen or two relatives at a time, and for targeting playgrounds, mosques, clinics, hospitals and UN schools. Bob, what more atrocities you want Israel to commit before you stop making your fowl accusation against it?

You know what Bob? I think you are full of shit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Arrabeh’s Eid in Gaza’s Shadow

 Shortly after an unremarkable Galilee summer’s sunset the ‘Allahu akbar’ cries of half a dozen muezzins confirmed the sighting of the new moon and the commencement of celebrating Eid Al Fitr ending the fasting month of Ramadan. I perked my ears attentively straining to pick up any special announcement marking the 22nd day of the ongoing massacre in Gaza. I didn’t have to wait for long. When the young man leading the prayers in the mosque closest to the household hosting our breaking of the fast reached the end of the fifth and last formal prayer of the day he waxed inventive in asking for God’s favors on our collective behalf. He started with the usual requests of forgiveness of our transgressions and shortcomings in performing our duties toward Him and for mercy on all of us and on all of our parents “for tending me in childhood.”  He then progressed to ask for God’s punishment of our oppressors specifying two by name, the Zionist enemies and their Egyptian collaborators. He needn’t be more specific. He must have assumed, correctly I should add, that all his flock knew what sins General Sisi had committed: Banning the Moslem Brotherhood and sealing the Rafah border with Gaza. Still, the young imam saved the harshest of curses for the Zionist infidels: “Please God, dry up all of their women’s uteruses!” he pleaded. I broke out laughing at the anatomically specific ill wish. My communist host objected. He didn’t quite agree to the cursing of General Sisi but he would like to allow the drying up of the Zionist uteruses.

“How is that different from ‘Death to Arabs?’” he wanted to know.

“But the young man is an employee of the Ministry of Religious Affairs,” I argued. “He collects a monthly salary from the Zionists’ treasury, for God’s sake!”

“So do members of the police force protecting fascist gangs attacking Arab civilians for no reason except their race. It is Israel’s version of democracy and balancing of the forces of evil.”

The cacophony of loudspeakers exploding one after the other from seven different directions ended the dawn’s bucolic peace waking me from a fitful sleep. For a moment I almost understood the attitude of a colleague, a Polish immigrant physician as I recall, who informed me in my Ministry of Health days that she had encouraged officials of the Jewish city of Upper Nazareth where she lived to run their collected sewage refuse openly down the valley to the Arab village of Reineh because of the latter’s disturbing of the Jewish resident’s sleep with their dawn time calls for prayer. My two children at markedly divergent time zones around the globe were text-messaging us throughout the night. Israel’s deadly incursion into Gaza and the ensuing air travel confusion in and out of Israel’s own airport had thrown a monkey wrench in our family’s scheduled annual summer get-together in Arrabeh. But my outrage quickly dissipated.

I decided to take advantage of the morning’s cool weather to pick some dew-washed figs and cactus fruits from my orchard. But first I had to check the Internet: The death toll had exceeded the magic figure of one thousand. Somehow, that wasn’t as sad as my friend Ramzy Baroud’s pained status on Facebook decrying his family’s fate. They were on the run again, refugees from their shelter as refugees in Gaza. I wanted to advise patience, forgiveness and magnanimity. Then I wondered how magnanimous I would have felt if I and my family had been driven out of our home in Arrabeh to have a Polish or a Brooklyn immigrant family live on my father’s land, collect its olive crop and enjoy its figs and cactus fruit, and then to have them now send their son in an American jet fighter bomber to chase me further away from ‘their homeland?’

As I picked my daily supply of summer fruit, the sudden silence that descended on the empty village streets after the end of the morning prayers in the mosques had a deadly quality. There were no children with toy guns out celebrating on the streets, no flares and no firework. I went for a stroll on the newly paved desolate street in our neighborhood risking the likelihood of a village rumor about my sanity. The neighbors had lined the entire sidewalk with a thousand candles in memory of Gaza’s martyred children. The butcher sat on a chair and twirled his moustache. A lone skinned lamb hung by the door. Usually on a day like this he would have two or three of his children helping him out. He offered me the standard sip of black coffee:

“No family gatherings to celebrate the Eid today,” he said more in apology than in anger or dismay. “Men coming back from the mosque look like a snake had spewed its poison in their faces.”

I agreed. I realized that none of the neighborhood’s children, including the dozens of grandnephews, had come dressed in their new clothes to knock at our door for the usual Eid treats and monitory gifts.

The first and only holiday visit I made on this sad Eid morning was to an octogenarian former patient of mine. He is terminally ill and needed help with an injection. After the usual but subdued formalities of exchanging Eid greetings I asked for his opinion regarding what was going on in Gaza.

“I am dying anyway. I wish someone would take me back there and give me my old English rifle,” he responded, tears rolling down his leathery cheeks.

As a young man he had enlisted in the British Mandate border police and served in Gaza training young recruits in marksmanship. Desperation, at the personal and national level, fueled his wish for martyrdom, he explained.

As I returned I checked my email again. Someone had posted a moving poem in English beautifully recited by its animated Palestinian author, Rafeef Ziadeh, declaring her body “a TVed massacre.” I couldn’t hold my tears of sadness and pride in her concluding line: “We Palestinians wake up every morning to teach the rest of the world life, Sir!”
I watched the video. Twice. The second time I cried more. Then I saw it a third time, then a forth, a dozen times. And I cried more each time than the last. At first, as I sat with a pair of tweezers to pick the few tiny thorns from my hands I pondered the adaptive defense mechanism of the cactus. Then I switched to more distressing thoughts: Even if they hadn’t taken over my home and though they had left me some of my land, those foreigners had stolen my culture, I realized. They had claimed my cactus fruit, the Sabra, as the simile for their children who were born on my land.

Let us join hands Ramzy! We all are in this together.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Palestinian Sign Language

Here is the link to the news story that inspired this post:

Courtesy of Mohammed AlQadi

When you stop to think about it, numbers have a meaning and a power beyond their original numerical value. In its most basic sense a number refers to a physical entity whose repetitiveness imbues that number with its meaning. That was what numbers originally signified. Then came the Indians and started meditating on those numbers while doing their yoga, trying to fill their minds with void. Lo and behold, numbers suddenly had their own independent existence that one could manipulate, aggregate and disaggregate, fiddle with and twist into different sequences and formulas. This inevitably led to the all-encompassing infinity, the endless concept with no substance to limit its possibilities. From there the Indian mind reversed back to Zero, the mother of all abstract thinking, which the Indians bequeathed to the Arabs.

That, in a nutshell, was the root of Israel’s problem with the Palestinians: Not only that they knew how to count but also that they were comfortable with zero. They claimed it as the basis of their practice of resistance, their famous Sumoud or perseverance: You have nothing, do nothing and get zero from the international community; you just sit still and wait expecting nothing. But also, as part of the Arab Semitic people, the Palestinians had the peculiar habit of using their hands to say things. It started with their closing their fist and extending the index finger straight to give witness to the unity of the creator. Whether praying, meditating or preparing to die, they would be seen making that sign. Such Palestinian pious pretensions didn’t fool us. We Israelis knew intuitively what the one finger sign meant. True, we weren’t about to start documenting which finger those sneaks were using: “As soon as our soldiers would look away, even in the midst of prayer a Palestinian would switch from the index to the middle finger,” The official IDF spokeswomen said. “Even under the strictest of security measures they would give us the ‘up-yours’ sign. You look back at one of them and he or, even worse, she would beat you to it and switch back to the index finger pretending to be deep in communion with Allah. But then, Allah probably would give us the middle finger sign if only we could see Him. But you just wait. Our Yahweh will get Him sooner or later.”

Then came the First Intifada and the whole world colluded with the Palestinians by opening its media to let their criminal youth into living rooms around the globe. And what did the little terrorists do but use the world’s innocence to their advantage showing the two finger sign under the guise of making the V-sign as if for victory. But we knew the way their dirty minds worked. Our analysts figured out their thoughts even before they conceived them. We knew instinctively that they were using England’s code signals to say to us the F-word. You go figure which way they turned their hand as they made that signal. We knew they all meant to turn its back to us as in the original English tradition not the palm side as in the V for victory. That was why our peace campaigner, Rabin, issued his order to pardon all those creeps and only to break their arms so they won’t raise them with the vulgar sign again. Arafat himself played along and imitated Nixon and Churchill with that V-sign for victory while deep in his heart he knew that they too were saying ‘up yours’ to the whole world.

And then the Palestinians started scheming to abduct three of our boys while on a hike. They began more than a year in advance and enlisted the services of the world media on which they have a monopoly as we all know. Can you imagine a more sordid trick than to use the well-tested method of hiding in full view of the whole world? Here they were signaling their plan to abduct three of our settlers, using the three finger sign of course and passing the information across the entire Arab world in the guise of the number they connived to assign to Mohammad Assaf as a contestant in the Arab Idol song fest. Imagine a Gazan refugee winning in a civilized singing competition! Where would he have studied music and voice? Did he start with imitating the sound of a sick camel or the screams of hungry camp orphs? But he won that competition on the strength of the popularity of their planned crime. There was hardly a Palestinian man or woman, adult or child, in or out of jail who didn’t raise his hand with the three extended fingers in support of the abduction scheme.

They may well be geniuses in connivance and trickery but they are poor in math. They must have figured that if they were to get the same thousand-to-one prisoner exchange rate as they had with Gelad Shalit then three of our youth would be enough to free all their prisoners. They knew we had some five thousand Palestinian prisoners in our jails. But they must have figured that 1000 X 3 > 5000. Believe me I have meditated on that one for a long time and I can’t get it to work. Perhaps they do their calculations on basis of volume. Might that be why so many Palestinian prisoners have started fasting in preparation for the coming exchange, I wonder? Or it must be that, in their simple-minded calculations, they count every two or three children as one adult prisoner. But that formula doesn’t work. even if we were to subtract all 700 Palestinian children that we arrest every year, 99.74% of whom we convict in our military courts. I told you we know what they think before they even think it, those slow Arabs, and we manage to beat an admission of guilt out of their dirty little minds every time.

And about those 10 and 11-year old children of theirs: You must think that we have no right to abduct them out of their beds at night. But you can quote me on this matter: "I am not racist but it is necessary to kill them from the moment they are born." Every Palestinian squatting in our promised land commits a crime against us every time he or she breathes. They consume the oxygen our future generations need.

Got it straight now? You tell me how many fingers I should give.