Sunday, August 7, 2011

Travelling Freak Show

"People from Oceania, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, the Arctic - people from all over the non-Western world - were brought to the US and soon formed a separate genre of freak show exhibit... Display of non-Westerners in freak shows was not intended as a cross-cultural experience to provide patrons with real knowledge of the ways of life and thinking of a foreign group of people. Rather it was a money-making activity that prospered by embellishing exhibits with exaggerated, bogus presentations emphasizing their strange customs and beliefs. Showmen took people who were culturally and ancestrally non-Western and made them freaks by casting them as bizarre and exotic cannibals, savages, and barbarians." (Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit, Robert Bogdan, 1990, p 177)

Shades of Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!

Just when you thought the highly politically incorrect freak show had gone the way of the dodo, along comes Mosab Hassan Yousef, aka The Green Prince, from deepest, darkest Hamastan, proudly brought to these distant shores by Bank Hapoalim B.M. & the Women's International Zionist Organisation (WIZO):

"'I could have been a hero and made my people proud of me... instead I became a traitor in the eyes of my people'. Mosab Hassan Yousef, Author 'Son of Hamas'."

So runs the caption accompanying the royal visage which stares out at us from WIZO's advertisement in The Australian Jewish News of July 29.

"'The Green Prince' will be WIZO's guest speaker at their major function on 30th August," it continues. "His remarkable and sometimes harrowing account of his transformation from Prince of Hamas to the Shin Bet's most reliable source will guarantee that there will not be an empty seat. Born in 1978 in Ramallah, his childhood was shaped by conflicting realities. His early development catapulted him between the Mosque and its positive attributes to stone throwing Jihadist rhetoric. In 1996 Mosab was arrested by the Israelis for buying weapons. It was then that the Shin Bet approached him. In the following 4 years unbelievable experiences occurred, many of which he will be sharing with us at his only speaking engagement in Sydney. By September 2000 at the outbreak of the second intifada Mosab had made the transition from wanting to take revenge on Israel to fully activated Shin Bet spy. You will be challenged when Mosab reveals his unlikely journey that has taken him 'through dark places and access to extraordinary secrets'. As proud Zionists and WIZO members we have often come together to celebrate our nation's triumphs. This story is a similar celebration of Israel's profound respect for life and democracy."

Those wishing to ooh & aah at the prince's tall tales & true on August 30 will pay a mere $65 for the privilege. All proceeds will no doubt be going to WIZO's favourite (tax-exempt?) Israeli charities, such as the Day Care Centre at Israel's Hatzor Air Base, which allows hardworking Israeli parents to bomb the bejesus out of Palestinian kids in the Gaza Strip while resting assured that their own little darlings are safe and sound in the arms of WIZO.

And the now 'Christian' prince's schtick? No attendee will be disappointed:

"At the end of the day a traditional Muslim is doing the will of a fanatic, fundamentalist terrorist God... The problem is not in Muslims. The problem is with their God. They need to be liberated from their God." (Although quite how such a sentiment gells with "the Mosque and its positive attributes" in the advertising escapes me.)

But I quibble. Despite being shorn of his bomb belt, Hamas charter, and, indeed, Quran, the princely exotic is guaranteed to send shivers of fear and delight up and down the spines of the WIZO ladies, just as Fijian 'cannibals' once did to their audiences in the freak shows of yesteryear.

So exactly why WIZO needed to gee them up with "If you care about Israel's future, you cannot miss this evening" puzzles me.

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