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.

StOp! Ed

Extra Extra

GAZA TRAGEDY A WAR CRIME

Re: President Trump has squandered his chance for Mideast peace

What’s the appropriate response to Israel’s s shooting dead, of dozens of unarmed civilians in Gaza on May 14 – a total of over 100 such killings since March 30, when the March of Return began(with 2700 injured, 1300 being shot, none of them Israelis)?

These are essentially state executions.  They constitute war crimes against humanity.  The victims have both the right to return to the land from which they were dispossessed by Israel, and the right under international law to resist the illegal, oppressive and life-threatening occupation and siege to which they are subjected.

The correct response is for the United Nations to raise a force to arrest the killers, charge them with murder, and bring them to trial before the International Criminal Court.

In contrast, our Prime Minister calls for an investigation of these admittedly ‘inexcusable acts,’ knowing full well what happened to the investigations into the 2008-9 and 2014 Gaza massacres.  The United States rendered them inoperable.

The Record says Israel ‘should be making a far greater effort to mitigate the loss of civilian life.’  That is, aim the dumb-dumb bullets at the legs, not the heads.

Thus do the Canadian government and media continue to enable Israel’s 70-year campaign to cleanse Palestine of Palestinians.

Ed Eglin

***

PALESTINIANS COULD HAVE PREVENTED GAZA TRAGEDY

There were two tragedies in Gaza, on May 14.  The first was that Palestinians died.  The second was that Israel, its security wall, and its army were threatened with obliteration, and were forced to take such measures.

Militant, terrorist Palestinian leaders cynically incited a vulnerable mob to attack a secure fortification, with no concern for the lives and safety of their fellow-citizens, just to make a political statement.  The heavily-armed leaders remained mostly safe, well behind their cannon fodder.

Just because none of those killed possessed guns, they were far from unarmed.  They had stones and slings, like David killed Goliath with.  They had Molotov cocktails.  The defenders were not to know who had guns – or rockets, or high explosives.

“Dum-dum bullets” fragment on impact.  I believe that Ed meant mushrooming bullets, though, other than his letter, I have read no mention of their use in this fray.

Any police officer will tell that they are trained to fire at center of mass.  When a screaming mob, intent on your death and destruction attacks, there is no time for the niceties of aiming for rapidly-moving legs.  All shots are to be toward the center of the mob.  Even if hundreds of legs were maimed, apologists like Ed would probably complain about the number of cripples created.

Israel was created by the United Nations, in an area that they had been dispossessed from by the Arabs, and it has the right to protect its existence.  ‘Under siege’ means to be surrounded.  Palestinians are not under siege by Israel.  They may move back at any time.  Israel is surrounded by, and under siege from militant Muslims, whose rallying cry is to kill all Israelis, and drive them into the sea.

There are two sides to every story. Both sides of this one were regrettable, but to blame Israel for something that Palestinian leaders created, is biased and wrong.

(Both sides now)

Archon

Real Romney

The following is reblogged from David Brooks, political and cultural commentator for the New York Times.  I wish that I could produce a piece as humorously accurate as this.  I can’t, but I felt even non-Americans would appreciate the chuckles and the insights.

*The purpose of the Republican National Convention is to introduce America to the real Mitt Romney.

Fortunately, I have spent hours researching this subject.  I can provide you with the definitive biography and a unique look into the Byronic soul of the Republican nominee:

Mitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947, in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Virginia and several other swing states.  He emerged, hair first, believing in America, and especially its national parks.  He was given the name Mitt, after the Roman god of mutual funds, and launched into the world with the lofty expectation that he would someday become the Arrow shirt man.

Romney was a precocious and gifted child.  He uttered his first words (“I like to fire people.”) at age 14 months, made his first gaffe at 15 months and purchased his first nursery school at 24 months.  The school, highly leveraged, went under, but Romney made 24 million Jujubes on the deal.

Mitt grew up in a modest family.  His father had an auto body shop, called the American Motors Corp., and his mother owned a small piece of land, Brazil.  He had several boyhood friends, many of whom owned NASCAR franchises, and excelled at school, where his fourth-grade project, “Inspiring Actuaries I Have Known,” was widely admired.

The Romneys had a special family tradition.  The most cherished member got to spend road trips on the roof of the car.  Mitt spent many happy hours up there, applying face lotion to combat windburn.

The teenage years were more turbulent.  He was sent to a private school, where he was saddened to find there are people in America who summer where they winter.  He developed a lifelong concern for the second-homeless, and organized bake sales with proceeds going to the moderately rich.

Some people say he retreated into himself during those years.  He had a pet rock, which ran away from home because it was starved of affection.  He bought a mood ring, but it remained permanently transparent.  His ability to turn wine into water detracted from his popularity at parties.

There was, frankly, a period of wandering.  After hearing Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side, Romney decided to leave Mormonism and become Amish.  He left the Amish faith because of its ban on hair products, and bounced around before settling back on college.  There, he majored in music, rendering Mozart’s entire oeuvre in Power-Point.

His love affair with Ann Davies, the most impressive part of his life, restored his equilibrium.  Always respectful, Mitt and Ann decided to elope with their parents.  They went on a trip to Israel, where they tried and failed to introduce the concept of reticence.  Romney also went on a mission to France.  He spent two years knocking on doors, failing to win a single convert.  This was a feat he would replicate during his 2008 presidential bid.

After his mission, he attended Harvard, studying law, classics and philosophy, though intellectually his first love was always tax avoidance.  After Harvard, he took his jawline to Bain Consulting, a firm with very smart people with excessive personal hygiene.  While at Bain, he helped rescue many outstanding companies, such as Pan Am, Eastern Airlines, Atari and DeLorean.

Romney was extremely detail-oriented in his business life.  He once cancelled a corporate retreat at which ABBA had been hired to play, saying he found the band’s music “too angry.”

Romney is also a passionately devoted family man.  After streamlining his wife’s pregnancies down to six months each, Mitt helped Ann raise five perfect sons – Bip, Chip, Rip, Skip and Dip – who married identically tanned wives.

Some have said the Romney’s lifestyle is overly privileged, pointing to the fact that he has an elevator for his cars in the garage of his San Diego home.  This is not entirely fair.  Romney owns many homes without garage elevators, and the cars have to take the stairs.

After a successful stint at Bain, Romney was lured away to run the Winter Olympics, the second most Caucasian institution on Earth, after the GOP.  He then decided to run for governor of Massachusetts.  His campaign slogan, “Vote Romney: More Impressive Than You’ll Ever Be,” was not a hit, but Romney won the race anyway on an environmental platform, promising to make the state safe for steeplechase.

After his governorship, Romney suffered through a mid-life crisis, during which he became a social conservative.  This prepared his way for his presidential run.  He barely won the 2012 republican primaries after a gruelling nine-month campaign, running unopposed.

At the convention, where his Secret Service nickname is Mannequin, Romney will talk about his real-life record: successful business leader, superb family man, effective governor, devoted community leader and prudent decision-maker.  If elected, he promises to bring all Americans together, and make them feel inferior.*

It’s Only Fair

First, I attended the Multicultural Festival.  All I had to do was eat and ogle, for both of which I am eminently over-qualified.  Then I had to expend a little more energy to transport the daughter and her stuff, and set her and her friend up for the Cherry Park Festival.

Friday night, the city held its annual cruise night.  They block off six blocks of the main street, centered on the city hall, assemble three hundred antique cars at the big park, and have them do a drive-past to their assigned spots.  Antique to them is anything over twenty-five years old.  Antique to me is anything older than I am.  I don’t want to see a Bondo-filled example of some rusted-out piece of crap I had to junk.

Sadly, there were only two Corvettes, neither of them the scoop-side model that I adore, but the newer StingRay.  There were some older vehicles. The oldest was a 1902 something whose name I don’t remember.  Back then, there were lots of tiny little companies which made a few cars a year.  Ford was the first to install the assembly line.  It’s like the local Bob’s Motors, a real name to conjure with.  Would you buy a car from a place called Bob’s?  Some people do.  I see the occasional licence-plate ring.  Or the German-named Wunder Car Sales.  I think his motto is, “If you get a good car, it’s a Wunder!”

Sunday, the daughter and I went to another Free-Thinkers’ meeting, more on that in a later post.  The first time we went, the city was having a Car-Free Sunday, and the entire main street was closed to traffic.  The handicapped lady had to hobble two blocks to the venue.  This  Sunday they merely closed off three blocks and lined up tables in an attempt to set a Guinness record for the longest/largest picnic.

Saturday I transported the daughter, her friend and all their stuff to the big park and helped (?) set them up for the Anti-Violence Festival.  It’s held on a wooded island.  The daughter’s gazebo tent and a couple of other, unprotected displays were the only ones to be in the sun most of the day.  The Liberal Party suddenly packed up and left about 2 PM.  Maybe they got too hot.  Maybe they had to rush off to buy another vote.  Attendance was poor, perhaps because of the heat.  Once you got there, under the trees, it was nice, but the getting there was hot, hot, hot!

Again, commerce was the unifying factor, but both the sales and community-service displays were a little more towards the “hippy, tree-hugger” end of the social spectrum.  Booths included Bahai, Sexual Assault Support, the YM and YWCAs, Healing Gemstones, Hatha Yoga, the Liberal political party, who bailed early, Transition K-W, which is a bit like the Unlearn group, teaching new ways to conserve and preserve water, air and land.

There was the Qigong Oasis teaching oriental ways and thought processes, a Ride-For-Cancer sign-up booth, some mostly organic-type, snacks and drinks, and a booth teaching meditation.  The local Aids Awareness group was there trying cut down on bullying and harassment of gays.  The Barterworks group was there, and a group called Time Banks.  They trade services.  I fix your toilet, you repair his car, he shampoos someone else’s carpet, and so on, and so on.  The Conservative party was not represented, but the NDP was, as well as the save-the-environment Green Party.

The Human Rights people were there, as was the Right To Vote group.  That surprised me.  I thought that everyone, of-age, in Canada had the right to vote.  There was a booth promoting the upcoming Link Festival, which is like the Multicultural Festival, just without all the food.  I saw Dollars and Sense, a monetary reform advocate group, World Without Wars, Earth-Friendly Living and Hope Stream.

I picked up a lapel button which reads Imaginez La Paix, which means Imagine the Peace, in French.  The French are serious about peace.  The only country which has surrendered more, and faster, is Egypt, during the Six-Day Israeli War.  Put down the guns, put up the hands.

There was a group called Fair Vote, which is a proponent of proportional representation.  They don’t think it’s right that any political party which garners only a few more votes than its opponents, gets a majority government, while, for example, the Green Party gets a million votes, but only one seat in government.  They had a huge bowl of wrapped caramel candies that they urged people to take.  Once you’d peeled the wrapper off, you were supposed to vote for one of the three main parties by dropping the wrapper through one of three labeled holes in a sheet of Plexiglas.  When you did that, you saw that every wrapper wound up in the same shiny galvanized garbage pail with a sign that said, “That’s where all your votes go.”

On Saturday, as we were doing Anti-Violence, our twin city up the road was holding an AfroFest.  Next week, in our big park, there will be a Craft Beer and Ribsfest.  On the 28th, in a smaller park, nearer to us, is a Croatian FoodFest.  There’s food and foreign culture from all over the world in this city.

The Link Festival is in early August, and, in early September, there will be a Word On The Street Festival, with book sales, free books, learn-to-read groups, and lots of other Printed S**t.  There is a small WordsWorth bookstore downtown, and three book exchanges/second-hand.  The entire family are friends with two of the proprietors, with me going back 45 years, five locations and three owners, at one.  I imagine we’ll all turn out for that one.  Among the three of us, we have almost as many books in this house as the smallest of the three stores.