Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19, 2014: Israel

[It is 10pm as I write this, and if I weren't Old Baldy the hair on my head would be standing in anticipation of the missiles to come. Of course HamAss will deny responsibility, and credit for the assault will be claimed by four organizations: Paleolithic Platypussies for Palestine, Ponderous Pachyderms for Palestine, Rectal Reptiles for Ramallah and Gay Godzillian Geeks for Gaza. And we will pretend it is just a drizzle to be ignored. We won't even ask them to wobble it a bit.
Well after midnight. Zilch. Zip. Nada. My sources inform me that the four organizations were called to a meeting by Insipid Idiots for Islam who convinced them to hold off for another day or two. Sigh…]

AN  ADMISSION  by Smoke-Still-Coming-Out-of-my-Ears Moshe

In excruciating detail, and fury undiminished by time, I recall how the members of kibbutzim stood at the roadside and mocked us every Friday from noon to three as we drove home to Gush Katif. They chanted "End the Occupation! End Gush Katif!" while holding signs with the same message.

Over the years we became friendly with some of these people. As long as the subject was not politics or ideology they could be quite charming, but let the subject touch on Gush Katif or religious belief and it was as if a curtain had descended between us.

"Our Arab neighbors only want to live in peace with us," they would say, "but you religious fanatics and occupiers make it impossible."
Nothing we could say made the slightest difference. The intensity of their secular belief made our supposed religious fanaticism pale in comparison. Like Climate Change/Global Warming, Save the Whales/Snails/Quails, etc, their once-scientific belief had become Holy Writ, and even though scientifically it was Wholly Spit, was enforced with a frenzy that would have thrilled The Inquisition.

After our expulsion, when their loving neighbors began to pound them with mortars, the kibbutzim made a deal with our government to maintain the fiction that all was quiet. However badly they were hit, however serious the damage, no public report was made and the government saw to it that they were well compensated within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Only when there was human injury – animals didn't count, there being no Bovine Weekly or Chicken News or Donkey Radio – was the media informed.

A subsequent conversation with one of these people, in which I asked if she was now prepared to acknowledge that we were right, drew this response: "NO. NO. NO. If only you had left sooner, our neighbors wouldn't be so angry."

So now, as many abandon their homes and others, dulled with despair, await their inevitable destruction, I find it difficult to shed a tear over their plight. Though I have been know to weep for the animals…

Many Sderot residents had similar attitudes, though they expressed themselves in kindly and non-ideologically-charged terms. They genuinely felt sorry for us, but hoped our expulsion would lead to protracted quiet. Once they began to suffer the barrages we had learned to endure in Gush Katif, Rachel volunteered to aid an organization created to publicize their suffering. Once or twice a week I would drive Rachel to Sderot, and wait outside while she edited their English publications in their office, which was in a residential area. I would park in an open lot nearby, sit on a folding chair and smoke cigars while listening to classical music on a small radio. Occasionally a resident would ask me what I was doing, and I replied "My job is to sit here and guide incoming missiles." They would stare, then smile, realizing what you all know, ie, that I am nuts. When the siren would sound, which it did regularly, they would scurry for shelter while I sat there laughing.

Most residents of Sderot were Sephardic, religious, Ethiopian or Russian immigrants. Not the sort of people that our secular, progressive white leaders particularly cared about. My sympathy for them is as great as my lack of sympathy for the kibbutz members.                  

Shortly before our expulsion there was an art exhibit in Ashkelon. Rachel participated as her teacher was from Ashkelon. The mayor approached the Gush Katif participants and said "Why are you wasting your time there? Come live in Ashkelon, enjoy the peace, the quiet, the safety." When Rachel and others said the barrages we suffer in Gush Katif will fall on Ashkelon if we are expelled, the mayor gave us a pitying look, then a sneer, then mumbled an obscenity and walked away.

My feelings about Ashkelon are much closer to my feelings about the kibbutzim than they are to the Sderot unfortunates. Most rockets fall in the southern part of the city, the part whose residents are largely poor or lower middle class Sephardim. Those in the northern part pay lip-service sympathy but are clearly indifferent.

What does it say about me that I derive such perverse pleasure from their suffering? Keep this in mind when you next try and cast me in some heroic mold.

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