I've never read anything by 'renowned' Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami - except his reasons (The novelist in wartime, salon.com, 20/2/09) for accepting Israel's Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society.
Jerusalem Prize? As in Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan? Surely not? Hang on. Breathe in, breathe out. Apparently, G(JP)S got a different Jerusalem Prize, the one awarded annually by the State Zionist Council of NSW to "someone who fosters and supports the state of Israel and its ideologies, the concept of the Jewish homeland and the Jewish community, particularly in Australia." (Honoring Israel's apologists, Sonja Karkar, electronicintifada.net, 7/5/07) So glad we sorted that one out! Any other Jerusalem Prizes hanging around out there?
Anyway, back to the "great author" (salon.com) Murakami-san, and his 'reasons'. In the business of hosing down Zionist propaganda, I don't need to tell you, one comes across some quality crap. Now while Murakami's 'reasons' can't be pigeonholed as Zionist propaganda, by God, they're up there with the best of the latter.
He opens with "I have come to Jerusalem today as a novelist, which is to say a professional spinner of lies." Well, hasn't he come to the right place! Move over, Mark Regev. It seems that for Murakami, being a novelist and being a human being are two different things, not to be confused: I'm sorry, Your Honour, I was wearing a different hat when I did it. Strewth! But old Murakami's a subtle one, because, as he explains, "by telling skillful lies... the novelist can bring a truth out to a new location and shine a light on it." So he's a liar, but not really... Gawd!
And just when he's left you completely in the dark, he changes hats: "Today, however, I have no intention of lying. I will try to be as honest as I can." And here's "the truth": "In Japan a fair number of people advised me not to come here to accept the Jerusalem Prize. Some even warned me they would instigate a boycott of my books if I came. The reason for this, of course, was the fierce battle that was raging in Gaza. The UN reported that more than a thousand people had lost their lives in the blockaded Gaza City, many of them unarmed citizens - children and old people."
He needed to be warned? He actually needed to be warned? Did he only become aware of Gaza's pulverising (thanks, Phillip) when he got these warnings? Could it be that he really had no idea what was going on there? Or only the faintest? What's this "fierce battle" shit? What battle? There was no battle, Bozo, just the boots-and-all slaughter of a defenceless people by a deranged military machine set in motion by equally deranged politicians. So what the hell was Murakami doing when the literally bleeding obvious was pushing its way into our living rooms and newspapers last month? Smashed on sake? Asleep? Looking for his novelist hat so he could sit down and knock off a few more lies on his computer?
And what's this "blockaded Gaza City" nonsense? Murakami's clearly clueless, and quite possibly doesn't give a damn anyway. But that's fine - why not just say so: Look I was just too damn busy and quite frankly couldn't give a stuff anyway.
Heedless of Pablo Neruda's "blood in the streets," Murakami's only concern is this: "Any number of times after receiving notice of the award, I asked myself whether traveling to Israel at a time like this and accepting a literary prize was the proper thing to do, whether this would create the impression that I supported one side in the conflict, that I endorsed the policies of a nation that chose to unleash its overwhelming military power. This is an impression, of course, that I would not wish to give. I do not approve of any war, and I do not support any nation. Neither, of course, do I wish to see my books subjected to a boycott."
That's right, even if the blood is too far away to concern him, there's still that nagging question: Will I be seen as supporting the "nation that chose to unleash its overwhelming military power"? Well, if he knew anything about anything, the answer's gotta be yes, no? But, like Manuel of Barcelona the guy clearly knows nothing - nothiiing - about said nation or its PR machine - where, you can be sure, the champagne corks were popping like fireworks as soon as they knew they had the bugger in the bag. I mean, he's been on the planet for 60+ years but still doesn't know what's going down in the Middle East? Strewth! Then there's his bloody novels: Will my books be boycotted? What can I say? It's really all about number one now, isn't it?
OK, he's effectively demonstated his ignorance, but you really want to know why he's accepting this prize? "One reason [actually the only reason he gives] for my decision was that all too many people advised me not to do it." That's it! That's his reason for going to Jerusalem! "Perhaps, like many other novelists, I tend to do the exact opposite of what I am told... Novelists are a special breed. They cannot genuinely trust anything they have not seen with their own eyes or touched with their own hands. And that is why I am here. I chose to come here rather than stay away. I chose to see for myself rather than not to see. I chose to speak to you rather than to say nothing." Oh, please! Not the 'I'm a novelist' routine again: I'm a novelist, so I tell lies, but they're not really lies... know what I mean? I'm a novelist, so I don't take advice. I remember at school when I was told to look both ways before I crossed the road, but dang it, I always ran across with my eyes closed, and I'm still alive to tell the tale, so there!
As I've said, quality crap. Cop this: "Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg. Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be? What is the meaning of this metaphor? In some cases, it is all too simple and clear. Bombers and tanks and rockets and white phosphorus shells are that high, solid wall. The eggs are the unarmed civilians who are crushed and burned and shot by them. This is not all, though. It carries a deeper meaning... each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: it is 'the System'. The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and causes us to kill others - coldly, efficiently, systematically."
Oh, the irony, the irony! Here's this scrambled egghead before an audience of eggs so rotten you can smell the sulphur dioxide in the air. Their armed forces in Gaza have just been cracking thousands of the world's most fragile eggs and making bloody omelletes of them, while just over the way, in the occupied West Bank, a "high, solid wall" is busy cutting some equally fragile eggs off from their land, their water, and their livelihoods. And, as he speaks, some of these fragile eggs are being chipped and even cracked trying to prevent this illegal structure from ruining their lives. All this and Murakami's babbling on about some abstraction he calls "the System" - as though it's something that just comes over us every now and then: Goodness me, I don't know what came over me! Ah yes, the System again! And, of course, this "System" thingie has absolutely nothing to do with the state which has paid for his airfares and accomodation and held him tight as yet another propaganda fig-leaf to hide its nakedness.
You like slapstick? How's this for a conclusion: "We must not allow the System to exploit us."
I swear, if ever this clown makes it to these shores, he should be greeted not with shoes, but eggs.