September 22, 2010
You really don’t know what it’s like.
The image on the next page shows our north Tel Aviv beach (‘our’ in the sense of ‘here in Israel’ – not possessive) with a party/group/family of Israeli Arabs enjoying themselves.
This follows the email I forwarded recently, showing images of ‘a wonderful place’ and surprising you with the revelation that it was Gaza.
You – no, not exactly you, but the people out there who think they know enough to comment/criticise, when they really don’t – you don’t know what it’s like to walk along the beach, to constantly be reminded, every moment of our 62 years, that there are neighbours literally down the road who not only want to but constantly attempt to kill us, and to see their brothers and sisters enjoying themselves on the beach – on our beach – being allowed to enjoy themselves on our beach. And we are criticised…
BBC yesterday featured the story on 20 new cars being allowed in to Gaza..even had the stupidity to comment that it is doubtful there are customers for the cars, so downtrodden are the Gazans. What utter c..p!
How can I make you – no, not you..them – see the light?
I am from the Vietnam generation. I lived in USA in the late 60s and early 70s, when so many were drafted. I lost a couple of friends over there – and witnessed a couple of others ‘losing themselves’ after their return. I saw films, read just a couple of books, and then saw/read/heard ‘millions’ of opinions on every Tom-Dick-Harry news report, editorial comment etc. I thought I knew.
So I developed an opinion, and sometimes, when I came in touch with someone who ‘really knew’, came under great criticism. ‘How can you know?’ they would say.
Well, now I came a whole lot closer.
I have just read Tim O’Brien’s ‘The Things They Carried’. Oh ignorant me had never heard of the writer. Yet, reading the 10 pages of admiring comments from every critic found, it’s as if I’ve been in Cuckooland since 1990 – or since 1979, when he came out with ‘Going After Cacciato’, which won the US National Book Award.
The book is fiction, for only fiction tells the real truth about a subject that cannot, refuses to be real.
So now I know what it was like? No way, now I realise that there is no way I can know what it was like without having been there, without having been at least 100% involved.
Now I only thank God that I was not there. That I was not put to the test of a) surviving, and b) surviving with a decent opinion about life and my fellow man.
Sorry, I know this all sounds rather silly, but this is my new attempt at asking the neutrals to look at the Middle East differently now, and not to jump to silly conclusions.
And, perhaps an unconnected comment: Golda (Meir) was famous for saying that if she hates the Arabs, it’s not for what they have done to us, but for what they have made us do to them.
War, hatred, or just plan ‘being unfair to the decent’ can bring out the worst in people.
As Tim O’Brien says, ‘I hated him for making me stop hating him’.