Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Whistling a Happy Tune

"Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
I'm afraid."
Rodgers & Hammerstein,
The King & I

Some travel writers are so incredibly courageous for going where they go and doing what they do.

Take the Sunday Telegraph's travel editor, Brian Crisp, for example. He recently risked life and limb going to the world's most dangerous place and, against all the odds, he emerged unscathed to tell the harrowing tale. No mother, surely, was ever more thankful for her son's safe return than Brian's:

"Israel is complicated, and not just politically. When we arrived in Tel Aviv, Iran was threatening to launch a nuclear attack against Israel, saying that the Jewish state had no right to exist. Israel's ambassador to the UN asserted that his country would never allow a second Holocaust... To outsiders like me, who have not lived under the threat of war, it is an uncomfortable back story. To my mother, it was a nightmare. Before I left Australia, she organised a family lunch. She wanted photos of us together, perhaps for the last time, she thought. She didn't want me to go to Israel. She couldn't understand why I would go or even want to go." (Wary & wonderful, 10/6/12)

Rabbi Ralph Genende too, is if anything even more fearless, seemingly quite oblivious to the existential dangers of which Brian Crisp is only too aware. Here he is, writing in The Australian Jewish News, about his recent foray into the same ground zero. I did say seemingly oblivious. Because there is one point in his narrative at which I sense the rabbi's need to look away, so terrified is he at the prospect of 'going there' as they say:

"Not far from the shul [of Yemin Moshe] stands the relatively new Begin Museum, which takes you through the life and political contribution of prime minister Menachem Begin. We joined a group of young soldiers who were being guided through the mainly audiovisual displays. Standing with these young men and women, most of them born after his death, one couldn't help but reflect on how Begin had contributed to the identity of this generation. Regardless of what you think of Begin and his politics, he was a crusty, courageous and charismatic leader who helped restore Jewish pride to a post-Holocaust people." (Travel enriches the Jewish soul, 8/6/12)

See what I mean? That regardless of what you think of Begin is a dead give away. Notice how, at the prospect of recalling the King David Hotel, the Deir Yassin and the Sabra & Shatila massacres, to name but the better known ones of Begin's career, the good rabbi resorts to whistling a happy tune - A crusty, courageous & charismatic leader who helped restore Jewish pride to a post-Holocaust people - so no one will suspect he's afraid?

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