Is there any country on earth that relishes a natural disaster (somewhere else, of course) quite like Israel?*
"In a city of broken hearts and broken buildings, the blue-and-white flag of a foreign country has become a symbol of kindness and compassion. 'When I got here I didn't know whose hospital it was and couldn't figure out what language people were talking,' says Beli Madar, waiting on a bench as her father has his leg amputated, after getting caught in earthquake rubble. The big-hearted military field hospital, for most Nepalese here, is the first they have seen of Israel. It's a place where the Israeli army uniform worn by all staff stands for something very different to the fighting it's become associated with, and where hospital directors who are used to valet service and standing ovations at conferences slum down in tiny tents to perform frontline medicine..." (Israel: Saving lives, bringing hope to Nepal, The Australian Jewish News, 8/5/15)
OK, OK, OK, enough already!
That, of course, is how Israel tries to distract us from "the broken hearts and broken buildings" of the Gaza Strip, broken - again and again and again - by those wearing the same army uniform and flying the same blue-and-white flag flaunted in post-earthquake Nepal.
And when the world's 'most moral army' has had its fill of breaking hearts and bones and buildings in Gaza (or kicking heads in the West Bank), many from its ranks choose to roam the world, 'letting off steam', and giving the rest of the planet an inkling of what it must be like for the Palestinians of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
When even nice Australian Jewish girls like Nicola Lipman feel they have to take their Israeli 'brothers and sisters' to task for their behaviour abroad, you know something's rotten in the state of Israel:
"I am a Jewish backpacker from Australia traveling through Israel as a part of a round-the-world adventure... However, now that I am here, I would like to have a heart-to-heart conversation with you, my backpacker friend from Israel. Yossi, Yonni, Yael... I'm not sure of your name, but I think you know who you are... Maybe you have just finished the army and are feeling tough enough to take on the world. At least, I hope you are, because you might not like some of the things I have to say. But what I am going to tell you, I assure you, is out of love... With tens of thousands of you out there backpacking at any one time and interacting with countless other backpackers (who are all writing home to their friends), a lot of people are getting the wrong impression about this country.... And those travelers may well go on to be the next politicians or business leaders of their countries - people who we all hope will adopt a positive stance towards Israel. So, Yossi, Yonni, Yael... or whatever your name is, next time you walk over to someone else's hammock, or open your mouth to yell at someone else out there who is just trying to make a living, please think about the impression you are creating and the potential impact on your country. There is enough negative press out there without Israelis giving themselves a bad reputation." (A message to my ugly brother, Nicola Lipman, ynetnews.com, 28/5/06)
Now you'd think Nicola might have twigged to the bleeding obvious connection between Israeli troops throwing their weight around in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the same mob, after swapping guns for backpacks, throwing their weight around in places such as South America and India. But no, she's obviously been inoculated against the bleeding obvious by a good, old-fashioned Zionist upbringing and/or education.
At any rate, what I really found interesting was not so much Nicola's 'message' to her fugly Israeli 'brothers and sisters', but some of the comments in the thread which followed it, so revealing are they of a society which has lived with its boot on the neck of another people for almost 50 years now:
"Working in the Israeli hotel industry in the past, I can relate to the article. Many Israeli tourists staying in Jerusalem hotels often leave enough trash in their rooms to fill 5 large trash bags (this is only after a weekend stay), steal countless towels (that were taken from the maid's cart).Anything on the maid's trolley is fair game: soap, shampoo, anything the maid found (even if left in the chambermaid's closet), sheets, pillow cases, pillows, bed covers, remote controls, even silverware from room service. The Israeli guests usually stay in the room till 11 or 12, hindering the cleaning process, then arrive back at 2 or 3 expecting everything to be cleaned 'tip top', or let you clean while the room is still occupied and instruct you on how to clean. The list goes on... and to top this off not one tip is left! (12. I can relate, Jerusalem, Israel)
"Yet again, another reason why I left Israel. A country totally devoid of human decency. It's nice to hear that they're bringing their special brand of hospitality to the rest of the world." (16. Israelis are nightmares, Jennifer, New York)
"Hate to make generalizations, but the behavior of most Israelis was the major reason why I didn't like Israel when I first went to live there, and I'm going back quite a number of years ago. That feeling never left me. Most of the Israelis I had met in New York were darn obnoxious, but I decided that should not deter me. After all, it couldn't be that these people represented Israeli society in general. How very wrong I was. It was this air of superiority that Israelis were better than everyone else, and in Israeli society, most Israeli Jews do consider themselves better than those who are not Jews. Israeli Jews even have the attitude that they are better than any Jew from anywhere else, especially Americans. I recall how Americans were typically called lazy, that they didn't have to work hard etc. I've traveled a lot and Israel was my great disappointment, also because of the racist attitudes that went along with their obnoxiousness. Yes, there are certainly decent Israelis who are not obnoxious or racist, but very few that I know of. (27. Hate to make generalizations, but, Marlene, New York)
OK, it's one thing for non-Israeli Jews to complain about fugly Israelis, but what if a Palestinian tries it?
"To the author, why don't you come and see how Israelis treat the native Palestinians? Why don't you come and visit Palestine and see the ugliest occupation on earth? Why don't you check on us and see how [Israeli] soldiers humiliate us? We are human beings, deserving to live with dignity in our own homeland. I've dealt with Israelis all my life. Good ones when [they]exist [are] afraid to stand up to bad ones. In all of the places I've visited, whenever I bargained [for] a deal, someone would say sh*t are you a Jew? I heard it many times in the EU and US." (36. Sad but true, Atmawi, Historic Palestine)
OMG, Atmawi, now you've done it!
"The day when you will not feel 'humiliated' anymore is coming soon. It is coming - the day for you to go and live in your right place, among your own, far from Israel. It is coming, the day when you will leave our Land and finally finish your ugly occupation of it. It is near, this day, B"H!" (37. Atmawi, Keren, Sao Paulo)
"Oh, because your brethren are so refined and civilized with your honor killings (don't like lil sister's boyfriend - 'humiliates' your pathetic male penial pride in your crap patriarchal society because she won't marry your mate, Ali - strangle her and shove her down the well), and firing guns in the air at weddings, shooting a few people together. And that is not to mention suicide bombs and wandering around jumping up and down like lunatics after 9/11 singing Ya Osama Ya Chabib. But I suppose I don't understand your culture. Mind you, lots of things can have culture - including rot and mould." (38. Atmawi, The Rational World)
Now what was the AJN saying about those wonderful Israelis in Nepal?
[*See my posts The Company He Keeps (13/10/09); Israel's Best Kept Secret (25/1/10); Me, Myself & I (26/1/10); **The Backman Beat-Up (23/1/09)]