Thursday, January 18, 2007
Hebron is my Wailing Wall, a not-so-ironic appeal to Robbie Williams
There is at least one site on Internet where a person can look at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem at any given moment of the day or night through a sort of closed circuit television camera that sends its signal to any computer that might want to have it. It’s all live, they claim, but every time I try, I get a freeze-frame image. But, that’s enough, I suppose. It is clear that in the daytime the plaza is full of black-garmented people who pray to the wall or who sit together in small groups on white plastic chairs. In the night time, you don’t see much of anything, but the camera never abandons its vigil, and those who are devoted to the Wall, are able to never lose sight of it for a moment. There even seems to be a downloadable version (no Spyware, they say, but would YOU trust such a claim?) It is obvious that such a thing serves those who feel an attachment to the place, the actual place itself, and not some celestial or symbolical version of it.
This got me to thinking about some other places not so far from Jerusalem. Beautiful places where people who are devoted to the wall do horrible things to other human beings who aren’t. On peacepalestine documents I saw a photographic essay of one typical day in Hebron for children who are attempting to simply go to their classes. I think anyone would be horrified to know that there is a constant risk of children being killed, maimed and humiliated by soldiers and civilians just moving down the street to get to their school. Soldiers point guns at small girls! It is a chilling sight, but apparently, the man pointing the gun thinks he is doing a good thing. In an article entitled Hebron Horrors, written by a Zionist, there is the description of how the Zionist settlers who live in this town in the West Bank of Occupied Palestine co-exist with their Palestinian neighbours. What we have to remember is this: there are 400 settlers who came from someplace else, 30,000 Palestinians whose families have lived there in an uninterrupted way for centuries and 2,000 Israeli soldiers who are there to “protect” the Jewish settlers.
If one loves accuracy, rather than soldiers pointing guns at little girls with copy books, there would be more need of sanitary maintenance crews to clean up the filth that the Jewish settlers dump out of their windows. Disgusting habit, isn’t it? Well, if someone does this to a place they love, there must be a good reason for it. Let’s take a look at why they do it (as always, description by our Zionist reporter):
“But the most striking thing is the steel mesh screens that the Arabs have installed just above the heads of pedestrians to protect them from the garbage and excrement routinely dumped by the settlers from their second floor windows. The screens catch all sorts of disgusting stuff and lethal objects like cinder blocks, although liquid debris does make its way to the ground or on the heads of anyone below.”
Yes, the settlers who came to Hebron for the Zionist call of reclaiming the land they love, dump this filth out their windows and out into the streets so that they can make daily life a horrible experience full of violence and humiliation for the Palestinians. In the intensity of their hatred for the Palestinians, to make them get fed up and leave, the Jews treat the town of Rachel’s tomb as if it were a sewer.
Now, I asked myself a few questions. I know I am stating the obvious when I am shocked by the violence of the settlers, but it’s not only the settlers who trouble me. I have profound and disturbing problems accepting the idea that all of this can go on without people being shocked and disgusted by it. I think there might be a problem that goes back to the nursery. We are still under the spell of the bully.
We all have had experience of the bully who is only satisfied when he is hurting someone else, and the weaker the chosen victim, the easier it is for him to be gratified. What does a bully want? He wants to be feared or appreciated. I don’t know if it is a desire for power, because a bully operates best when he has a captive audience, and people who work on his behalf (they don’t have to be his friends to expand his myth) to tell the story, spread the word that you don’t mess around with Bully Boy unless you want to pay! In private, Bully Boy might be capable of love and affection, but with the applause or approval of others, he gets much further, and this is the tendency that he develops.
So, now that we have the memory in our minds of the kind of person he is (each one of us can put a face to him without any difficulty) let’s look at how he “gets away with it”.
He finds his target. Obviously, if he is outnumbered, the target has to be weaker in other ways, and most of all, the target has to know he will not be protected. No matter how loudly the victim protests, there isn’t much one can do if Bully Boy has the upper hand socially and, of vital importance, will not be punished for his bad acts. Let’s imagine a situation where a family is setting the table for dinner, the doorbell rings, and perhaps thinking it is an uninvited but still welcome friend of one of the children who habitually drops in at that hour, someone smiles, runs to the door and throws it open.
Rather than see a friendly and familiar face, there is another family on the doorstep. They are unfamiliar, but they insist that they are hungry, see that there is enough food on the table, want to sit down and eat, and shove past the child at the door. They squeeze their way at the table, they gobble up everything, (it’s not necessary to compliment the cook, actually, a few insults are made on the strange taste of a few of the dishes), then storm through the house. They make themselves at home, without respect for the home itself.
I don’t think many of us would tolerate something like this, but for some reason, the initial shock leaves us powerless. The father somehow manages to get the people to leave, while wondering how this absurd situation ever came to pass. He tells himself it won’t happen again, but the situation has been installed in his mind. He will never forget it and will be prepared should it ever occur again.
You don’t need to guess where I am taking you, reader. Already, we realise that now, once the intruding family has gotten away with it, they try again the next day. This time, they don’t bother with the food, knowing that there will be preparation for this eventuality, so they barge in and start going through the objects that are in the house. The children’s room is where most energy is concentrated on, because children have more talents than adults do, and they invent new solutions more often. Bully Boy has figured out in a moment which toy is the most loved one. It is the shabbiest, because it accompanied the first haircut, the loss of teeth, stitches from a cut, falls off of bicycles and climbs up hills. It shows everything on its skin. That is the toy Bully Boy sets his sights on and must have. He takes it, coyly asks if he can play with it, and after a moment of deliberate hesitation, and perhaps infantile hope, the owner grants permission. Yes, reader, you are swift and you got there before I did! Bully Boy takes the toy and runs off with it (he will throw it into the nearest sewer as soon as he finds a wet enough one). All the tears in the world do not move his soul. Save your tears for yourself, kid, he won’t ever let you have it back, not that he will love it, but you can’t have it, and that is what matters.
The invading family, having advanced another step on their aggressive approach to relations, storms out of the house, and they take the key to the car off the hook on the wall. The car! They are driving off with someone else’s car! The neighbours at this point step out of their houses, (they had been peeping from the curtains all the while), raise their shoulders in a gesture that expresses their powerlessness, and they tell the family to resign themselves to this fate. “What?” You may ask,” the NEIGHBOURS? Aren’t they supposed to help you out? Don’t they see what has been done?”
All of this might have been too elementary of an analogy, but the point is, Israel has acted like Bully Boy for so long, with lessons of the best way to do it passed on from generation to generation. The neighbours say, “oh, that is too bad,” but they don’t lift a finger to help. No one wants to say they approve, but no one is defending the rights of the persons who have been victimised. This is the paradigm of Israel, and the examples number in the millions, if not tens of millions. Acts of humiliation, arrest, violence, robbery, deportation, assassination. Crime upon crime is committed against Palestinians, and neighbours say they are powerless to do anything about it. This means neighbours near and far, in a country just across the river, and in a place a million miles away, but where one can see Jerusalem at any moment of the day “live on webcam”.
So, if it takes a webcam to make people care, I got to thinking, there are thousands of places in Palestine where one could put the webcam. Locations where people feel love and attachment for the physical place. But, it would be too complicated to set up thousands of cameras, maybe just one in Hebron would be enough.
Ah, but then, Bully Boy has his headquarters in Hebron. He would destroy the camera in an instant. It won’t do as a solution.
Hm… I got to thinking some strange, disconnected thoughts. What if there was only one camera, and it was doing a video. A video that someone sees on You Tube, or MTV or in a club or coffee shop. I remember Madonna and her Qabala wristband. She wore one in a video, and all of a sudden, people were interested in this esoteric branch of Judaism. Hm…. What if someone bigger than Madonna (I could only think of Robbie Williams, but there are certainly others, and you know who they might be better than I do) wore a T-Shirt during the filming of a music video? One that had this image for instance, the picture that accompanied a campaign of commitment to Palestinians. People like to copy what famous people wear. All it would take was someone like Robbie Williams to dance to his song wearing a smashing T-Shirt. I’d have one printed up. I’d send it to him, no trouble at all. What do you say Robbie? Do you think you could make a silent statement?
I know he won’t be reading this, but, with neighbours like we’ve got, only absurd propositions seem to make sense anymore.