Once Upon A Time In The Mid-East

Arab

Once upon a time in the mid-east…. things haven’t really changed much, only gotten more so.

Many moons ago, I worked as a security guard.  One of my co-workers was a man even older than me.  As a young man, just after World War II, he had traveled to England to take advantage of the burgeoning British post-war economy, to get a job.  Instead, he enlisted in the British Army, and was attached to the British Palestine Peacekeeping Force.  Their job was to prevent violence, and protect the newly-minted state of Israel.

Many Jews had lived in what became Arab Territory.  Either voluntarily, or under political pressure, they were convinced to leave farms and lands that they had worked and lived on for generations, and move inside the imaginary boundary-line of Israel, into imaginary safety, and start all over again.

He said that, as they patrolled around in Palestine, it was easy to see who had occupied the properties.  Jewish farms were green and lush with fruit, grain and vegetables.  They had bright homes and barns, and greenhouses to get new crops started.  Arab homesteads were dusty and brown, with perhaps a scrawny goat wandering around.

Did the Muslims who were leaving Israel take possession of these ready-made sources of shelter, food and income??  They did not!!  Usually the homes and outbuildings were burned, the greenhouses torn down, all the glass smashed.  The patrol was supposed to be neutral, but he said that it was difficult not to have sympathy, and side with the people who tried to build things up, rather than the hooligans who just wanted to tear things down.

One day they were called out to a problem.  They were trucked to a nearby Arab village near the new border.  They debarked, and marched into the village square/market.  There they came upon a small clot of idlers, with more drifting in.  As in my StOp! Ed post, the local imam or mullah was working the mob up, to march to the nearest Jewish settlement and attack.  Knives, machetes, clubs, slings, rocks, and bottles were in evidence.

My co-worker recounted that, in English, and in his best brash British bluster, the Sergeant-Major commanding the squad, waved his hands as if shooing flies, and told them that ‘You chappies ought to just break this up now, and get on with your business somewhere else.’

He got back the equivalent of, ‘No speakee English, you Tommy Brit invaders.’, so he went to plan B, and literally read them the Riot Act.  For those of you who think that being read the Riot Act is just a euphemism for your Mom coming down on you, think again.  There is an actual British Riot Act.  The solemnity of having it read to potential rioters is supposed to make them think twice about causing trouble.

Our Sovereign Lord The King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the Act made in the first year of King George the First for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies.

God Save The King

The rules state that it must be read three times, before any official violence is unleashed.  The SarMaj read the ponderous paragraph of it once in English.  Then, because some of the miscreants might be Jewish, he read it in Hebrew.  Then he read it in Arabic.  Then he circled around and read it again in all three languages.

All this time, the crowd is growing in size, and the mood is getting nastier.  Knives are waved at them, and small fake sorties are threatened.  Finally, he got the Act read three times in three languages, and ordered them in Arabic to disperse.

Wasn’t gonna happen, so he started giving the squad, orders.  Present arms!  The Arabs watched.  Insert cartridges!  They slapped magazines into their Lee-Enfield rifles. (They’d been unarmed all this time.)  The Arabs waited.  Charge weapons! Rifle bolts back, and then forward to cock. (Now they’re finally ready for action.) The Arabs wondered.  And, the SarMaj shouted, At the knees, aim!

He said that, by the time he got his rifle up to his shoulder, and his eyes on the sights, a single piece of paper, and dust, was settling to the ground.  The little plaza was empty.  Maybe some of them understood English, or just understood superior firepower.

Sadly, nowadays, little altercations like this happen much faster and more violently.  The Gentlemanly British rules of war have been replaced by Kill Or Be Killed.  Perhaps they were what Mr. Ed, the talking horse’s ass was thinking about.

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Peace Through Stupidity

Shock

Some years ago, shortly after Kitchener built its new (third) City Hall, I had cause to be walking in front of it. On the sidewalk were two earnest-looking young men, with a folding plastic table covered with papers.  Curious to see what was attracting a small group of people, I ambled over.

They were looking for signators for a petition to the Federal Government of Canada, for “Unilateral Nuclear Weapons Disarmament.” The woman beside me grabbed a pen and quickly filled in name, address, phone number and signed it.  Then she stuck the pen in my face, and said, “Here, sign!  It’s a really good idea.”

“I don’t really think so.” “Why not?” she demanded.  “Well, first of all, while Canada has nuclear power plants, we do not have nuclear weapons, or heavy bombers or ICBMs to deliver them.  Also, I don’t think it’s a good idea for ‘us’ to give ours up, if ‘the other guy’ doesn’t give his up.”  She replied, “That’s what this is all about.”

“No, the petition is for UNILATERAL action.  That means that we do, but they don’t.”  Almost crying, she blurted, “That’s not right!”  “No, it isn’t, but that’s what you were in such a hurry to sign up for.” and I watched the crowd dwindle before walking away.

After an 18-month hiatus, caused by a poor choice of restaurant, I recently attended a relocated Free Thinkers’ Sunday brunch. Somehow, they were conned into allowing a World Peace representative to give a ‘little’ talk.  He promised that it would be just a 15-minute AV presentation, but maundered on for over half an hour, killing most of my chances to interact with the other attendees.

First he attacked NATO. Up until 1991, they were a defense against Russia, and the Communist Bloc.  When they lost their raison d’etre, they just became big bullies, and spread out all over the world.  Now they were in Africa, and Asia, invading countries.

Then he segued to the United States, another big bully. The American General who was the liaison to NATO was recalled to the Pentagon.  How our mumbler would know this, I don’t know, but he told the possibly apocryphal story that, on his first morning, NATO guy was approached by another, excited General, who asked if he’d heard “The Plan” yet.

It seems that there was a list of 7 countries that the US would invade over the following 5 years.  He couldn’t seem to keep his facts and/or accusations straight.  First he claimed that they were to be invaded for their oil, then it became just so that America could show its power, and control them.

It turned out that the US only went into 6 of the 7. I don’t know or care who produces oil, but I’m sure of one, and suspicious of another, that they don’t.  Of course, that still leaves him his ‘bully excuse.’

Then he turned on Israel. The US didn’t need to invade, because they already controlled it.  I was going to ask how much oil Israel had, but I remembered that, also about 1991, the Prime Minister of Israel complained, “The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, and when Moses finally led them to their promised land, he picked the one spot in the region with no oil under it.”  And then, a couple of years later, a bit of oil was discovered offshore of their north-western tip.

If the Jews would just ignore those guys in the Gaza, who threw 18,000 rockets at them, and hid behind women and children, all would be peaceful. The Arabs pushed the Jews out of the region in a diaspora, centuries ago, but when the United Nations gave them back a little bit of territory, he felt sorry for the displaced Palestinians, and could support them in their frustration when they promised to use violence to push the Jews back into the sea.

It didn’t even surprise me when he became an apologist for North Korea, going through Libya and Iran to get there. Peter Paranoid Peacenik claimed that both Muammar Khadafy and Saddam Hussein had been threatened by the US, to give up their weapons of mass destruction.  They had given them up, and America had still invaded, and ruined both countries.  Kim Young Psychopath looks at this and sees what happens to countries that disarm, and decides to keep his nuclear weapons – strictly for peaceful protection.

Neither Khadafy nor Hussein, quietly, peacefully or obediently, gave up their weapons of mass destruction.  Libya didn’t even have them.  What they had, were training camps for terrorists, to spread death and mayhem among the Western, Christian countries.  Libya provided money, food, weapons, training and false documents, until a coalition of countries used bombers to convince Khadafy that it was not a good idea.

While Hussein didn’t have the WMDs that George W. was led to believe he had, he very un-peacefully used regular weapons to invade Kuwait, and set fire to hundreds of oil wells, before the United Nations-led coalition forced the Iranians out.

It’s difficult to understand how someone like this could acquire and justify these points of view. Is it ‘White Man’s Burden’, or is it just wishful thinking and terminal stupidity?  The pacifist, Neville Chamberlain returned to England from Berlin in 1938, claiming to have achieved “Peace for our time”, but instead, embroiled most of the Western World in 6 years of nasty war.

‘We,’ – our countries, our militaries, our politicians – are far from perfect (and Donald Trump is pushing the envelope), but I’d far sooner live with/under them, because I can live with them, and not be exterminated simply for having the wrong race, religion or skin color.  I’m not stupid.  🙄