On 16/8/08 The Australian published a wonderful opinionated piece by Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic. It was called Blood of their blood. I was so impressed I asked Marty to expand on the following extracts (italicised), and he kindly obliged:
"There are so many more important issues in the world today than Palestine that I wonder why I am so obsessed with it."
Yes, and I've listed some in my article: there's Darfur and Bosnia and Cambodia and Rwanda and the Central African Republic and Chad and "other venues." Go and google them! Forget Palestine! Look into my eyes, not around my eyes, but into my eyes. There is no such thing as the Palestinian issue! Noooo Palestine! Right. When I snap my fingers, you'll be successfully diverted.
"Well, of course, what I am obsessed with is Israel, and it's a personal obsession relating to the catastrophe that befell my people in a way that no catastrophe had previously befallen any other people."
My people's past suffering is greater than any people's past, present or future suffering - and will remain so for as long as "my people" and I find it expedient to say so.
"So let me say outright that what wrongs the Israelis may have done to the Palestinians are, in the contexts of history and of our time, actually... let me not say trivial. How about banal?"
If "my people" were the victims of genocide, it is, of course, a catastrophe like no other. If the Palestinians, however, were and continue to be (as they allege) the victims of 60 years of ethnic cleansing, occupation and land theft, hey, it's a mere scratch on the knee.
"For them every loss (an olive tree, an orchard, an uninhabited hill) is a challenge to the divine order of things. In that sense, the world of Muslim Arabs is unchangeable and untouchable, including Palestine."
Frankly, I can't understand why anyone (except of course "my people" and I) would object to having their homes and livelihoods bulldozed, or their sons and daughters murdered, maimed, abused, jailed and tortured, especially by such a swell and deserving bunch as "my people" and I. I can't for the life of me understand why the Palestinians (or "Muslim Arabs," as I prefer to call them) are so damn touchy. Can't they see how perfectly peachy progress is?
"How do I say this? The Palestinian national movement is a fraud... You can judge the reality of Palestine by the travels of its leaders. Yasser Arafat went everywhere."
Just compare. The Zionist movement is the real thing. And you can judge the reality of Israel by the smoting of its leaders. Begin and Shamir smote Deir Yassin. Begin smote Lebanon. Sharon smote Qibya, Kafr Qassem, Sabra & Shatila, and Jenin. And we'll go anywhere for a good old-fashioned smoting - even Iran!
"How could Yemen be so important? Divided by tribes upon tribes, nearly half of its population is under 15 and one of its primary products is qat, chewed into oblivion. It is nearly equally split between Shia and Sunni. One of its last legislative reforms was to eliminate the age qualification of 15 for girls to marry."
"Last week, Palestinian functionaries were in Yemen," so, forgive me, I know sfa about Yemen, but just couldn't resist slagging off at it. Oh, and BTW, Israel is uniquely free of tribes, children under 15, drugs, and splits of any kind. And our girls (all over 15 of course) are simply too busy writing 'To Lebanon with love' on our shells and rockets to get married.
"After all, there must be many men, women and children, too, who want an ordinary life. It is not just Israel that denies it to them by checkpoints and other humiliating routines. It is the very perfervid character of Palestinian society that substitutes fantasy for the commonplace."
You'd think so, wouldn't you? But let me illustrate with an example of just how out of touch these sooks are. Only the other day I was reading this whinge in the Syrian Morning Herald by its Middle East correspondent Jason al-Koutsoukis: "Khalil Hanun's 35-year legal fight to prevent a Jewish settler group from taking possession of his home in disputed East Jerusalem will enter a critical phase this week when an Israeli court decides whether to keep him in jail for disobeying orders to vacate his property." (Crunch time as family fights to keep home from Jewish settlers, 18/9/08) What a sob story! According to al-Koutsoukis, Khalil Hanun and his family "were made refugees by the 1948 Arab-Israeli War" and "were granted possession of the home in 1956 by the United Nations Relief & Works Agency," but hey, they're Palestinian, aren't they? And "My people" and I have decreed that it's time for them to move on. No, Hanun's problem is not Israel, it's his "perfervid Palestinian character" and reliance on the "fantasy" that he has a place to call home within cooee of Israel. If only he could accept that the Israeli takeover of Palestinian homes and lands is "commonplace" around here and just get over it.
"[Muslims] are engaged in the hyper-drama of Palestine."
Listen, my friend, those Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, call 'em what you will, are such drama queens! "My people" and I, on the other hand, are so damn cool (and hot!) you wouldn't believe.
Thanks, Marty. I'm writing to The Australian for more.