Most people, excepting of course Zionist deadenders, 'get' Palestine. It's hardly rocket science after all. However, our politicians and their clones in the media, so many of whom seem to be slow learners here, generally struggle with the issue. But really, when all is said and done, if a chap from the Old Dart back in the 30s, a simple Dorset farmer actually, can 'get' it, surely anyone can.
What follows is part of his story as told by British writer Douglas V. Duff in his book, Palestine Unveiled (1938). The event described was a mere blip in the great Palestine Revolt of 1936-1939, when the Palestinian people rose up against the British Mandate authorities' attempt to transform their homeland, through mass immigration of European Jews and Jewish land purchases, into a National Home for something called 'the Jewish people'.* It's a tale that spans some 16 pages in the original, but I've reduced it somewhat by omitting parts of Duff's text and replacing them with brief, linking summaries. Oh, and another thing: you'll notice as you read that the British war crimes committed against the Palestinians in the 30s are today routinely committed by their Israeli apprentices:
Our farmer is visiting a monastery on Mt Carmel, overlooking the coastal city of Haifa when his conversation with one of its monks, Father Elias, is suddenly interrupted:
"Fra Elias talked away, giving me the details of the view, and I turned from one to the other, recognizing how aptly the historical narrative of the Bible fitted into it all, when there was a sudden shouting in the dip below the peak upon which the monastery stands. We stood up and looked in that direction; in a few minutes some very tired and blown British soldiers and police came toiling up the steep path to the monastery door. A man in civilian clothes, tweed shooting-jacket, breeches and khaki shirt, was holding two dogs. He, with a couple of uniformed officers, came up to us as we stepped to the door.
'Good evening, Father,' said one officer, who had a couple of metal stars on the shoulder-straps of his tunic, 'we're sorry to bother you, but I wonder if you could let us have some hot water to make tea? The men are pretty nearly all in, but with some hot tea, and a rest, they will get their second wind.'" (p 48)
Father Elias obliges and the following conversation ensues:
"'You look very tired, gentlemen,' said Fra Elias. 'We have several bedrooms. We could arrange quarters for you and your men. Will you not stay the night?'
'Sorry, Father, said the police-officer. 'I wish we could, but we've got to push on. The trail's hot, and with a bit of luck we'll come to the end of it up here on Carmel.'
'What has happened?' the monk asked in his careful English. 'Nothing terrible, I trust?'
'Bad enough,' snapped the policeman, grimly. 'An English officer shot dead near Athlit, and a couple of Englishwomen badly wounded. We got there 20 minutes after the shooting occurred, and my dogs picked up a fresh scent at once. We've been following it now for 7 hours, and as soon as we're rested a bit we must push on. I only hope that the murdering devils belong to some village up here and have not doubled all the way round just to throw us off the trail. There's no help for it, though, we've got to follow their trail whichever way they went.'
'How terrible,' said the monk, aghast. 'The officer, you say, is dead? And the ladies, are they in any danger?'
'Yes, he's dead,' they answered. 'His wife is only slightly wounded, but the other lady has had several bullet-wounds. I don't know if there is any hope for her, but she looked pretty bad when I saw her being put into the ambulance.'" (p 50)
Our farmer enquires as to whether the dogs "get good results":
'Yes,' he replied, 'on the whole we are fairly successful. Recently a very famous man, Starkey the archaeologist who unearthed Lachish, was murdered by an armed gang. The dogs led us straight to the house of one of the killers, and the criminal confessed his guilt before he was executed.'
'You've got a pretty dangerous job, haven't you?' I asked. 'I don't mean only at the end of your hunts when you've got the vermin bottled up, but from murder attempts when you're off duty.'
'They certainly don't like us,' he answered with a grin. 'These 'wogs' would very much like to see me planted in Bishop Gobat's cemetery on Mount Zion.'
'I asked him who on earth, or what on earth, were 'wogs', and made the discovery that this is the generic term used by British Police and military for all non-Jewish Palestinians - Jews were simply 'Yids', or 'Ikey-Mo's', generally the former, though they were also referred to as 'Four-by-Two's'." (pp 51-2)
Despite the reservations of the patrol, our farmer is allowed to join the hunt:
"As an ordinary plain Englishman my blood was afire for vengeance. The herd instinct, perhaps. Someone had injured members of my own herd; the murderers were coloured men, and therefore had added sheer impertinence to their callous killing. To be perfectly honest, their impudence in daring to strike at one of the sacrosanct whites was worse, in our estimation, than the fact of murder. Of course not one of us, officers, soldiers, nor myself, admitted or, perhaps fully realized that point. We believed ourselves charged with extremely righteous indignation - so did some of the people who burned Joan of Arc." (p 54)
On and on they plough, eventually nearing a Palestinian village:
"The police officer spoke. 'We are close to the village of Ijzim,' he said. 'I thought that the trail would lead somewhere near to Haifa, though I expected that we should be taken to Tireh down on the plain. You know the orders, don't you? Surround the place, challenge anyone attempting to leave, and shoot to kill if they refuse to halt. I'll need an escort to enter the houses to which we are led. Now let's get started, the sooner this is over the better.' He turned to me. 'You'd better stay outside the village in the cordon, for you never know what these brutes will do when they are cornered.'
The military officers issued their instructions to their men, and I saw a new freshness come into the weary faces. I felt that way myself. We were at the end of the hunt - the foxes had gone to ground just ahead - brittle excitement crisped the air.
A few hundred yards farther on we came into sight of the little village, a poverty-stricken place of small stone houses. We must have taken the villagers completely by surprise, for we were quite close, and had a small section of soldiers working round to the far side, before any alarm was raised.
A few Arabs ran into houses. With mad eagerness our men pressed on, their rifles ready, fingers on their triggers.
Suddenly an Arab came running from the cover of the houses, racing, with head up and legs going like pistons, as he made a frantic dash for the shelter of the scrub-covered hillside. A dozen British voices, aided by some of the Arab police, yelled and shouted at him to halt, but he took no notice except to put on a further spurt, and to drive his body forward with redoubled speed and stress of energy.
Two or three rifles crashed, one so close behind me that I thought my ear-drums were split. The fugitive seemed to leap a yard high, then he stumbled, recovered his feet, and started to run again - another rifle shot. The poor devil bounded upright, his head snapped back as his spine curved, and down he went in a smashing tumble. For a moment or two his heels beat a mad tattoo on the rocky earth until, with a convulsive jerk, he grew still. I had seen a man killed by intentional violence - all the excitement and mad exaltation ran out of me like water out of a cracked firkin, leaving me deathly sick for pity of it all.
We ran forward to the limp, prostrate figure. A police constable turned him over - he was quite dead - and searched amongst his clothes. The man looked very disappointed as he ended his search.
'The -- hasn't got a gun, sir,' he growled. 'Not even a -- dagger. 'Ullo, wot's this?' He groped about for a second, and then with the utmost satisfaction produced two empty brass cartridge-cases. 'Ere y'are, sir,' he went on in triumph, 'hexpended cartridges. 'E must be one of the bastards wot shot the officer and the two wimmen.'
My God! That was supposed to be evidence. Arabs will always pick up empty cartridge-cases for the value of the brass, which their village smiths will make up into ornaments or use to cover their dagger-sheaths - or refill them on their home-made cartridge presses. The dead man might have been one of the murderers - that can never be proved or disproved now, but, seeing that he had no weapon whatsoever, naught but these two empty cases, there seemed to be little enough evidence. True, he had run away, but that was proof of nothing but an uneasy conscience. He may have been guilty of some other offence, and ran because he thought the patrol had come for him. Or he might really have been one of the murdering gang. In any case, he has suffered the fate of the guilty. He is dead - and therefore far wiser than any of us who saw him shot down like a bolting rabbit." (pp 56-8)
"There is not much more to tell. The murderers' trail led to two houses; they were not in residence. A message was sent into Haifa. More troops and police arrived, and the village of Ijzim was 'put to the question' in the strictest sense. Later, a party of Royal Engineers made their appearance, and two houses, those to which the dogs had led the patrol, went soaring and rocketing into the clear air, torn apart by the thundering blast of the explosion detonated by the Sappers.
I had read of a Roman Peace - of making a desolation and calling it peace; I now saw what it meant. I am not saying Ijzim men had not taken part in the ambush on the car, most probably some of them had done so, but that seemed a very poor excuse for ruthlessly destroying two homes, for sending women and little children into destitution. Still less for what followed, the collective fining of everyone in the village; and, because the poor devils could not pay, for seizing their small, pitiful flocks and herds and driving them away to be sold.
I may be too imaginative, but I rather put myself in the places of these poor villagers, probably because they are just farmers like myself. Let us suppose that we had an Asiatic army-of-occupation in Dorset, and that they were there to foist negro colonizers on us to farm our downlands on terms that were more favourable than any which we could obtain. Let us imagine that some of our youngsters objected; that, in sheer desperation, they turned out and shot some of the Asiatics; that they were then hunted by dogs; that yellow-faced, slit-eyed foreigners surrounded, say, Cerne Abbas in Dorset, shot one of the leading farmer's sons because he failed to halt; and, finally, suppose that two of our farmhouses were blown up by the foreign Engineers, and all our stock was seized. Try to imagine what we should feel, and then make some attempt to understand what the Arabs think of us. The analogy is complete. Because we had been driven desperate, deliberately driven desperate, we turned on our tyrants in despair - to be mercilessly punished for what we had been driven to do and then left to starve in our destitution because our means of livelihood was snatched away." (pp 59-60)
[*See my 21/3/11 post Jogging Uri Avnery's Memory.]