# 271 – Christmas in Cuba by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 271 – Christmas in Cuba

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409

January 4, 2015

Christmas in Cuba

Happy New Year from Israel! Yes, we do recognise the ‘other’ calendar; we’re not that isolationary, although we often feel isolated.


It so happens we had a bottle of champers ready to open at midnight, but we didn’t have the strength nor incentive. We only arrived from the airport perhaps 10 minutes prior…

We had been on a fantastic trip to Cuba (just over a week), Costa Rica (5 days) and an extended overnight in Panama.

Christmas in Cuba – quite an experience.



You perhaps have noticed that my favourite focuses these days are human nature and brainwashing. ‘We’re all human beings; we should be able to talk to each other’ often comes up. What a joke. That’s the problem rather than the solution. Robots can be programmed to communicate perfectly. But humans? We may all be equal in the eyes of God, but that’s as far as it goes.


Brainwashing is perhaps the only way to make human behaviour predictable. E.g., the see ‘modern martyrdom’ as glorious is stupidity.(See Gaza conflict).

And, one of my main observations of Cuba, to see Che and Fidel’s images all over the country as a sign of thanks for today’s status is brainwashing to the umpteenth degree.


I have seen poverty (Africa, India, Hicksville USA) and I have seen oppression (pre-change Eastern Europe, USSR, S. Africa and Rhodesia).


What was/is different about Cuba is that it is physically a small island, and that the surrounding water made it possible for a more perfect form of oppression. (Which gives me some hope that the possible thaw with the West could bring good results for Cuba. Africa, Middle East – no chance. But that isolated island….perhaps).


The brainwashing  was/is so deep that it can be interpreted as something mildly positive. Remember Tevye’s words in ‘Fiddler in the Roof’ when he saw the pathetic poverty surrounding his oldest daughter Tsaitel and Mottel, the tailor: “They’re so happy they don’t realise how miserable they are”.


(Trivia: Zero Mostel was the original ‘Fiddler’, but his understudy, Paul Lipson, became he who played the part most often on stage – and Bette Midler made her first real mark when playing Tsaitel).

So what’s this all got to do with things over here? A lot. In my humble opinion, the Arab World is full of oppression – call it brainwashing. This atmosphere reaches into every part of society.


If individuals in a free society, where truth is freely available, develop widely-differing opinions, imagine how easy it is in an oppressed society to do twist the minds in negative directions.


It is perhaps arrogant of me to say that the Palestinians need 2-3 generations of re-education before accepting the possibility of co-habitation with Israel. Who dares say that Israel is ‘right’ or ‘better’? But what is required is 2-3 generations of ‘similar education’ before the 2 societies will begin to understand each other.


I personally prefer a society that lets me make up my own mind, rather than the ‘democracy’ of Mohammad Abbas – not to mention that of Hamas. (One simple reminder of the democratically-elected 79 year-old – he was supposed to call new elections after 4 years – that was 5 years ago!).



Back to that trip of ours. We were 23 persons on the organised tour: the 7 couples and 9 single ladies (single men do not go on such tours) included a group of 9 Iraqi Jews, some of whom were from London, and whose Hebrew was not much better than mine. Their mother-tongue was Arabic.


And such proud Arabs (I happen to be currently reading a book about the life of Syrian Jews after their exile from their homeland, and their new life in post-war Cairo) – similar backgrounds. And also among the group, one extreme left-winger who was involved in the Oslo peace negotiations, and an extreme right-wing couple who are about to move to Ariel, main Jewish town in the West Bank. Led to some very interesting and rather heated discussions.


Did I side with anyone? Of course not. But my centre-left tendency leant more to the open-minded ‘settler’ than the close-minded opinion that we can place our security in the hands of those who trust the Palestinians. That guy actually focused on what we have taken from the Palestinians, rather than what the Arab World has taken from the Jews.


‘Starting wars’ and ‘not accepting original UN resolutions’ seems to be OK by him.

I should have asked this apparently very well-educated gentleman if he knows how to spell ‘ tolerance’.

Again, a very Happy New Year!


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