Herald Sun columnist Alan Howe was a member of DPM Gillard's entourage to Israel in June. So unbelievably awesome did he find the World's Most Vibrant Nation that he decided to stay on to chart its Epic Struggle against the Forces of Darkness bent, as usual, on its Utter Annihilation.
Alan's latest column, Stone-age ambition (20/7/09), is a Searing Expose of the Pain & Suffering of the Heroic Inhabitants of "the world's most bombed city," Sderotingrad [Move over Stalingrad, Hamburg and Dresden!], as they stoically endure Wave after Wave of Gazanazi rocket attacks: "On most corners there are simple concrete bomb shelters, smaller versions of the ones in their schools where the shelters also serve as playgrounds, a prime Arab target, of course. No one in Sderot [and Alan's interviewed all 20,000 of them!] drives around listening to CDs or the radio. They are permanently tuned to the possibility they'll hear a calm, disembodied woman's voice announcing 'Tseva Adom' - Code Red. Because they have got just seconds to get from their vehicle to a shelter, seat belts are never worn. No one has a shower unless there is someone else in the house, no point in smelling like roses with a homemade missile about to reshape your roof... Almost a third of the people of Sderot are being treated for psychiatric illness." The horror! The horror!
As for the Evil Roof-Renovating Gazanazis, Sderotingrad's elevation to the status of "world's most bombed city" is the least of their vile accomplishments! Did you know that these Spawn of Amalek have also been "the first to bomb themselves back to the Stone Age"? Pretty fiendish, eh? Alan reveals that, in the "festering malevolence" that is their Gazan Lair, they had actually been "praying for" Operation Cast Lead, knowing that if only they could "goad the Israeli army into an indiscriminate response," they'd reap a bountiful PR crop of..."dead schoolkids." The dirty bastards!
But hang on, surely the Awesome Israelis didn't fall for that, did they? Fraid so. The Cunning Gazanazis, of course, got just what they wanted, a bumper crop: "[T]he most insightful moment of [the conflict] was captured on film: a Hamas hero, trying to evade Israeli fire, picks up a small child by the scruff of the neck as 'cover' as he runs from one side of the street to the other." The dirty bastard!
But hang on, didn't Alan just say something about an "indiscriminate" Israeli response? Yes? So here we have the Godawful Gazanazis goading the Awesome Israelis into an indiscriminate response - but using their own Gazanazikids as human shields to guard against same. This didn't quite add up, I twigged. Surely a mere human shield's not going to stop an indiscriminate response. So I googled for that film clip Alan had found so insightful. No trace. Alan, please? I typed in "scruff of the neck" but all I could find was a reference to an Israeli colonel testifying before an Israeli court that "a slap, sometimes a punch to the scruff of the neck or the chest, sometimes a knee jab or strangulation to calm somebody down is reasonable." (The truth walks into a court in Jaffa, Michael Sfard, forward.com, 10/6/09). And I typed in "human shield" only to find out that Amnesty International had not only cleared Hamas of this despicable practice, but fingered the IDF instead. (Amnesty: Israeli troops used children as human shields in Gaza, antiwar.com, 1/7/09) Blimey, was I confused!
But then, I thought, who am I but a mere blogger, one given, in the words of Alan's boss, John Hartigan*, to "the trivialisation and corruption of serious debate." Who am I to cavil with a Quality Journalist like Alan? I should have been a pair of ragged claws... etc, etc. [*See my 2/7/09 post Corrupting serious Debate]
Truly, Alan's Israeli handlers should be proud of the man. He's a credit to them. Still, if I may venture a criticism - not of him, but them: Why, if they wanted Australians to gain the maximum insight into the Trials & Tribulations of Sderotingrad, didn't they put him in touch with Yad Ezra V'Shulamit. That's right, Yad Ezra etc etc. You see, Sderotingrad is not only bigger than Stalingrad, but bigger than Stalingrad and the Ukrainian famine combined: "What are people feeling in southern Israel today? Fear. Tension. And hunger. The Jewish residents of Sderot, Netivot, Be'er Sheva and Ofakim are literally starving, afraid to risk their own lives to go in search of food and, just as likely, not finding it. 'Shops are closed, businesses are closed, and more than 200,000 people don't know where their next meal is coming from', says Ariel Lurie, founder and executive director of Yad Ezra V'Shulamit, which is trying to ease the humanitarian crisis in Israel's southern cities under fire... Yesterday, as a Yad Ezra V'Shulamit volunteer handed out bread, groceries and chickens in a Sderot bomb shelter, a man told her the conversation he had overheard between his wife and son. There were only 2 pieces of bread left, and a little soup. 'You eat the bread', his wife had said. 'No, you eat it', the boy replied. 'No, I want you to eat it', the wife insisted. The argument went on for some time, as neither wanted to risk his life to go get more food. In the end, they decided to eat the soup and to save the bread for the next day." (Yad Ezra V'Shulamit feeds hungry residents of southern Israel, Haaretz, 13/1/09)
See what I mean? Mark Regev seems to be losing his touch.