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    Volume 9 Issue 25| June 18, 2010|

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Writing the Wrong


Sharbari Ahmed

When I think about Israel, and its politics, I think about the intrigue and character assassinations amongst the aristrocacy of the French Court under Louis Quatorze, which may have indirectly led to some head rolling. Lately, I have also been ruminating on what happens when a critical mass of a certain segment of a present, similarly incestuous society, come together to gossip, inveigle and manipulate, sometimes to the serious detriment of others.

In the following article, I will attempt to draw a credible analogy between my recent observations about human folly and what has been happening in the Holy Land, proving that the politics of bullying follows the same pattern regardless of the scope. It could be Israel starving Gaza and justifying it by saying they are protecting themselves, or a single person wreaking havoc in their carass (Vonnegut's word for a social network) by pitting one member against another, to feed their own ego. I am also having a crisis of faith as I see no tangible consequences in the actions of Israel against the Palestinians. Furthermore, I watched the venerable White House correspondent Helen Thomas lose her reputation and be forced into retirement because, in an unguarded moment, she expressed some heated words against Israeli policy. I did think what she said was insensitive and made me cringe. It made reference to painful memories for the Jewish people and that simply cannot be discounted. But this is a woman who has been a trail blazer in the field of journalism, who can be described as the grande dame of columnists and is now considered by many as a bigot. Neither her age -- she will be 90 in August -- nor her decades worth of accomplishments matter. What does this mean? That no matter how extraordinary a life is, it can be easily dismantled by the manipulation of information executed by the bully in charge? What does that mean for us, more modest achievers?

First rule of the politics of thuggery:
Paint yourself out to be the victim. The victim card is the manipulative weapon of choice many use in power plays. Everything is being done to them. It never ocurrs to these bellyachers that it is impossible for everything to always be someone else's fault. I remember one such person once stated to me when I suggested they look at the other person's point of view, “Never use the expression it takes two to tango with me again. I hate that expression!” Of course you do, dearest, I thought. Because it would force you to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. God forbid.

Israel is the master of this, the grand poobah of blame shifting. This tool is used to justify all manner of outrageous injustice and human rights violations, and murder. This is what was used to justify storming an aid flotilla heading to Gaza to relieve the devastated population there and killing unarmed activists. Israel was preventing weapons from entering Gaza, you see, because peanut butter and crayons are lethal. Maybe in Macgyver's hands, and as far as I know, he has not joined Hamas.

*According to former US ambassador Edward Peck, who was on a smaller boat in the flotilla, “the pirates” as he described them, for this is what they would be called had this been Somalia, stepped on to their ship, donning masks and live weapons. The unarmed activists formed a human chain to protest this overt act of aggression and were met with violence. Ambassador Peck witnessed injured activists being taken off the boat. One of whom has not been heard from since the incident. IDF also stormed a Turkish vessel. Turkey remember, is their main ally in the region. On that boat nine activists, including an American were killed. Israel responded to criticism by posting a government approved youtube video spoofing the incident.

The Hebrew word for good deeds is mitzvah. All Jews are expected to live a life of mitzvah, honour and grace. In Islam, niyot, Hinduism, sadhana or shadhona.

Which takes me to rule two: Cover Thyself in the Shroud of God's will.

Have you ever noticed that the ones who beat their spirituality drums the loudest are the most pernicious in the end? I know people who have special rooms with floor to ceiling bookshelves groaning with tomes on Sufism, and healing crystals and Buddhism, who dispense canned “wisdom” to slack jawed neophytes and espouse helping the poor, and yet, are polarising, duplicitous and conniving. Filled with Jealousy and Schadenfreude (revelling in the misfortune of others), divide and conquer is their mantra; just like Israel with its claim that they are preserving the sanctity of the Holy Land from spiritually bereft Arabs. It's a brilliant cover you see? It lulls people into buying the propaganda and allows the insanity to continue. The exterior is shiny, back lit to illuminate the requisite halo, and inside the spirit is crawling with vermin. Those who are afraid to face the unpleasant truths imbue them with power. Those who turn a blind eye to these machinations are just as culpable. Hear that Obama?

These fake folks only dabble in spirituality because the truth is dharma is drama at first; dharma can and does sometimes suck, or as my kid would say, dharma blows. To really commit to it, you have to forgive, love and admit your own contribution to the negativity. You wrestle with it, Greco-Roman style but without the entertainment value. The pettiness, and ego creep in and mitzvah eludes you. As you can see, I am not doing too well with the forgiveness part. I have a very long way to go. So does Israel.

Addendum to Rule # 2: Further, Hamas and the people who elected them are ogres, diabolical creatures who do not deserve freedom or our respect. So we must kill or starve their children. They brought it on themselves. They are to blame. The Old Testament talk about righteousness. We have the moral high ground. You are either for us or against us. Insert a fist pounding a podium for emphasis a la Adolph.

If you stop for a moment and think back on situations of conflict and discord in your life with an unmindful partner, you might remember being blamed for everything that went wrong. You might even agree with the analysis, as these blame shifting, manipulators are nothing if not brilliant at convincing you of your guilt. The Palestinians do not suffer from that particular problem. However, they also have difficulty acknowledging their culpability, e.g., the internal bickering and conflict between Hamas and Fateh that continues to undermine the lives of their people and effectively destroys their credibility. Israel and her allies can always point to this lack of cohesion and use it to make her case for force. In village politics the same rule applies. You expose your underbelly by say confiding in someone too much (just an example) and your enemy will most assuredly use it against you.

Rule three: understand your audience and launch a PR campaign. The Arabs have to get smarter. They have to work on their PR skills and not wear their emotions on their sleeves -- like I do. Our opponents certainly don't and this is where we can learn from them. Keep the halo polished to a high sheen and make sure you play up that you are the wronged party. This is very sad, but very much the way of the world, it seems.

On that note: Mazeltov.
*Source: Free Speech Radio News: http://www.fsrn.org/audio/web-special-former-us-ambassador-describes-raid-gaza-flotilla/6860


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