‘Israel has the right to defend itself’.



Welcome to Life in the Bizarro World

If this is self defence, then what exactly is attack? Please advise. Welcome to life in the bizarro world. The Orwellian world where black is white, bad is good and war is peace. Not double speak, triple speak. Where the fourth biggest military in the world feels the need to defend themselves, by wiping out 113 people, in less than a week, many of whom are children. Because those pesty little Palestinians don’t like being occupied. They don’t like their embargo. Every now and again they rattle their cage. How dare they complain in this way.

Hands up who actually knows the chronology of events leading to the latest conflict? Why did those erratic little peasants in the Gaza strip decide to fire rockets in the first place? Isn’t it silly to just relentlessly fire rockets, for no reason? Why do they always provoke the poor Israelis and their gigantic military? The Israelis are just trying to obtain peace, (through occupation and attrition), so what is wrong with these strange people? Answers, anyone?

‘Because they’re Palestinians, and it’s in their nature to be terrorists’.

Thanks, Binyamin Netanyahu. But I think, actually, it was because on November 4, when an unarmed Palestinian civilian dared to wander too close to the border (i.e the dog chewed off his leash and strayed too far from his kennel), the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers yelled at him ‘Bad dog!’, and killed him. Even though he was absolutely no threat. And, mentally ill. But that’s obviously ok. They’re only Palestinians, they die in this fashion all the time. We just don’t hear about it, because they’re only Palestinians.

Strangely, the Palestinians didn’t like their people being unnecessarily killed. Not sure why they didnt just accept it and say, ‘Too bad, only a Muslim’. Strange. So they fired some rockets. This was all after another Gazan had already been killed by the IDF, for firing mortars. Then a 13 year old Gazan was killed when Israeli tanks and helicopters entered Gaza. None of this was newsworthy, none of it is part of the current script. The script says that Israel is defending itself against Hamas rockets. The script never changes.

The jostling went back and forth, luckily there were no casualties. By casualties I mean IDF soldiers. There were Palestinian casualties, of course, but luckily they don’t count. Palestinians die all the time, but they’re lesser people. They’re caged animals. So, there were no casualties, none at all, and a ceasefire was about to be signed by a member of Hamas. Game over. But wait! The Israelis need to defend themselves. But how? Ah, let’s kill one of their political leaders. Which one? The one who was about to sign the ceasefire, of course. Really? Why? Isn’t he being an obedient little Muslim? Yes he is, but no-one will know, plus, we have an election coming up, and if the people talk about issues other than national security, we’re fucked. It’ll be good… politically that is. So this will be a political attack? Isn’t that the definition of terrorism? Yes, but we’re Israelis. They’re Muslims. Isralies and the West fight terror, see? (pointing to news). Ok let’s do it. Splat, he’s gone. Now, gloat on twitter, ‘Eliminated’ like it’s a video game. 

Wait, what exactly do we think Hamas will do now, surely they’re going to retaliate. Of course they won’t! They’ll just learn their lesson. They’ll bend over and take it. Any country who has a political leader assassinated will obviously take it graciously. They will be thankful that we only killed him and not the whole population. They’ll accept what we’ve done.

Curiously, once again, the Palestinians were upset, and… retaliated. I personally didnt understand this. Are they crazy? They should be thanking the IDF for killing their people, after all, it’s just fewer mouths to feed. The rockets start to fly in. The IDF smirk as 99% of the firecrackers miss their targets, ‘Nice try guys. Sigh. Guess we better defend ourselves. Guys, we need to defend ourselves’. Cue 75,000 soldiers who just happen to be around the corner. And warships, drones, tanks, helicopters. Yes! We get to defend ourselves!!

And then it’s game on. The Israelis defend themselves. 10 fatalities. 20. 40. 60. 80. 100. 110. Many of whom are children. Three Israelis die too, but the ratio is even: 3 Isralies is worth at least 113 Palestinians. As Gaza burns, Israel continues to lament the Palestinians daring to resist. Daring to fight back. How dare they?! Eventually, the Palestinians learn their place. They lie down on the ground, roll onto their stomachs, lift their backside up and take 6 inches of the Zionist dream from behind. They don’t dare complain anymore. They’ve learnt their lesson. They’re heads are pulled up, so they can watch their country burn, while another 2 inches of Zionist dream digs deeper. Watch the fourth biggest military in the world occupy your country. Watch a 6 year embargo cripple your economy. Watch 1000’s of political prisoners rot in Israeli jails, without trial. Watch settlements built in the West Bank, in defiance of international law. Don’t dare complain though. Never wander too far from your cage. Drink the contaminated water and know your place. Watch the Israeli military grow bigger and bigger, watch the billions of dollars pouring in from the US. Watch Egypt honour the ‘peace’ agreement. Watch the world sit back and do nothing. Don’t dare fight back. Don’t dare resist. Just take it. Watch 1400 die in 2009, in time for the election. Watch the toll rise again, right on cue, for these elections, as the Israelis defend themselves.

When the rape is finally over, the Palestinian rat is thrown back into his sewer, and told to never defy the master again. Cue the worlds media and photographers to capture it all. But they’re not capturing the Palestinian rat, just yet. First the real story: the distressed Israeli, as he laments his need to defend himself. As he speaks, a Palestinian throws a firecracker. The Israeli sighs, apologises to the the worlds media and says, ‘One minute please, this wont take long’. He pulls out an assault rifle and blows the rat’s head off. Someone taps him on the shoulder, ‘Ah, that was a kid’. ‘What else was I to do, sulk, I though she was a terrorist. There, there (consoling pat on the back), poor Israeli, we understand. Your hands are tied. It’s an impossible situation for you. Go on, keep occupying. Keep humiliating. Keep killing. They’re Palestinians. We get it.

Back To the rape, which is now everywhere. The world watches. Obama chips in and says, ‘Binyamin master, may I please speak? I think you have the right to defend yourself. But, it would be ‘preferable’ if you didn’t. Please?‘ No response, just a death stare from the salivating Netanyahu, who snarls his teeth. ‘Yikes. Sorry master, carry on’. The UK comes out with a radical statement, ‘You may, um, lose some support, if you keep raping everyone. (Not really though. And by the way, sorry, I have to be seen to be in some way impartial. Carry on)’. And then the Australians chip in, with their statement. Hold breath, drumroll please, Gillard and Abbot, the inspirational leaders at the forefront of Australian politics, say their piece: ‘Wait, what did our American masters say (taking notes). Right, we say… Exactly what Washington said’. If ever you needed evidence that Australia didn’t have a foreign policy, and that it just followed that of its American masters, then this was it. They even went further than the US, by using less double speak, proving they are more loyal to the US than the US is to itself (which is Israel).

Back to the Israelis defending themselves. When they’ve made their point, when they’ve finished punishing the Gazans for existing, they’ll accept a ceasefire. The hawks in the rightwing Likud party will be reelected. The American taxpayer will dump another eye watering bag of cash on their laps. The Australians will be looking to the Americans, like a dog looks at it owner, for clues on what to do next. The Gazans will wonder the fuck just happened. The next generation of radicals will be born out of the debree, joining the radicals born out of the 2009 massacre, and the next generation rising out of the Iraq invasion and America’s child killing Drones.

The dance will continue.

We’ll watch the BBC and read the New York Times, and think we’re getting liberal, balanced news.

Then we’ll close our eyes and go to sleep. In the bizarro world, ignorance is bliss.

Posted in Analysis, Israel, Palestine, Politics Post Comment



If you are going to have a 24 hour stomach bug, I’d advise against having it in Hebron. I’d done a lot of reading on this place, but nothing prepared me for the intensity and beneath-the-surface-anxiety that was in the air. Hebron is home to a mixed community, 80% Arab, 20% Jewish settlers, i.e. Israelis who, in the recent past haven’t lived here, but decided it might be a nice spot to settle. This isn’t an easy process though, they need to uproot Palestinians from their shops and homes in order to camp here themselves. Palestinians, being the intruders and inferiors they are, are required to accept this and obediently find somewhere else. That’s only fair. There are roughly 500 settlers in total. The soldier population protecting the settlers in Hebron, however, is 4000. What did you say? 4000. Many of the settlers are extreme orthodox and unagreeable to say the least. I wondered what exactly they were angry about? You are the ones who gate crashed this place, you are in the West Bank, in an Arab neighbourhood. Yet you are angry with the Palestinians, for… Existing? Oh right, yeah, gotta hate those people that exist. How dare they exist, the audacity! But I exist though, does that make me bad? The answer, as I found, was yes, if you exist parallel to a Palestinian. Israel and its tourist groups do what they can to discourage travellers from going to the West Bank, because apparently Palestinians are dangerous, but really it’s to stifle their economy, ensure travellers don’t see the reality and to perpetuate a myth. The Australian government does its part too, by advising against travel to the West Bank. The British Government, to its credit, doesn’t scaremonger in this way, it only advises against travel to Gaza, which right now is fair enough.

Anyway, back to the settlers and Hebron. These settlers have swathes of land in which to settle comfortably in Israel, but they choose here, out of political provocation rather than necessity, and are somehow angry about it. And angry at me for having an interest in it. The Israelis/Jews I spoke to about Hebron either, a) loved the fact a small portion of settlers had based themselves here, as some sort of perverse act of defiance, or b) as with the Israeli soldier with whom I shared a room one night, lamented the fact that so many Arabs were here, making it dangerous for the settlers. Lamenting the fact that so many Arabs are in an Arab neighbourhood, is like lamenting the fact that so many Australians are in Australia.

Walking through the souk one day, a lady invited me up to her home and the terrace above. From here you get a bit of perspective. In each direction there is a military station with armed soldiers, flood lights and barbed wire, all surrounding her home. At all times, from this residential terrace, a soldier with a machine gun is watching. Below is Israeli settler territory, formerly made up of Palestinian shops, above is Palestinian territory. As her kids showed me some horrible things, like their water tank having bullet holes in it from the Israeli machine guns stationed opposite, a group of settlers congregated below, looking up in disgust at this westerner conversing with scum. The soldiers were quite interested too. One of them was within earshot, listening and watching everything we did. How dare I. To say i was anxious is an understatement, but I can leave at any time, this is their life.

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The underlying anxiety was everywhere, another example of which arose when I was having tea with a merchant, and pointed to the mish-mash of buildings above and asked, ‘So is an Israeli soldier stationed up there?’ The guy jumped up out of his chair, ‘Soldier, where?!’ We needed a translator to calm things down. And another example, I spent a couple of nights with another family while I was sick. One day, needing some space from the mayhem I climbed the steps in their yard and sought a bit of time to myself, reaching the top, and surprise surprise, who was nearby? A soldier. ‘Oh for fucks sake, can I not just have a moments peace?!’ I sat for a while, thinking, ‘Bugger him, I’m allowed to sit here’. We had a staring contest for a little while before I conceded that I wasn’t relaxed and retreated downstairs. Again, for me, this is temporary, for them, it’s their life.

But for all anxiety and overbearing military presence, the city refused to be saddled by depression, somehow managing to be one of the most energetic and friendly places I’ve ever been. Walking the streets, I was a celebrity. Everywhere I went people approached me to shake my hand, ask my name and where I was from, and say ‘Welcome to Hebron’.

Short stories
Arabs, well, those in Hebron anyway, tend to yell a lot. At any given time I’d hear what was either a massive argument or merely a very, very intense conversation. Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference. With my desire to fit in and assimilate, I thought, when in Rome… And randomly started yelling at people in Arabic as I walked down the streets, flailing hands with dramatic facial expressions. I don’t know Arabic though, so it didn’t quite work out.

The kid pictured below, was many things to me: my wake up call, my company, and my helper. He and I somehow broke the language barrier to strike an historic deal, it involved him carrying my large backpack around for me everywhere in Hebron, because it was really heavy. I, being part of the superior race, was entitled to preserve my strength. His help came with the promise of a single Shekel as reward (less than one cent). All day he would carry my backpack for me, in the sweltering sun, occasionally looking up at me with his hand out for the promised shekel. ‘Uh ah, the day isn’t over yet, don’t be greedy’. Unfortunately for him, when pay day finally came, I didn’t have any change, so I couldn’t give him his shekel. Life can be cruel sometimes.

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As said, the kid was many things, including my wake up call. When sick, I’d dread when the time came in the morning for him to surround my room with his entourage, screaming my name (which was Shouz, apparently), banging on the door, climbing through the window for me to come out (at least I think that’s what he was saying, I didn’t know what the hell he was saying), before eventually making it into the room. Luckily, I worked out the score one morning, and locked the door, window and all points of entry from the inside, before he and his goons arrived. As he banged on the door, I laughed, loudly, insanely, so everyone could hear, staring at him through the window, taunting him that he will never make it through. Eventually he gave up and left, and I could get some rest.

I spoke to a Lebanese girl who was held at the airport for 7 hours because she was, um.. Lebanese. Which means quite obviously, she could be a terrorist. By that logic, the average American citizen entering a middle eastern country should also be held for 7 hours to ensure they do not have plans to invade the country they are entering.

The Wall
As said in a previous post, I was unprepared for how walking the wall for a few hours would make me feel. Seeing this gigantic, intruding structure made me wonder how it could possibly have been allowed to have been be built. Obviously, it’s to block the terrorists that are the Palestinians from entering Israel. Security. It’s an interesting approach and got me thinking that if it’s ok for them, why not everyone else? If the north of England feels threatened by the Tory scum from the south, why don’t they just build a wall to block them? Likewise throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia? For that matter, why doesn’t every country start building walls to keep certain people out? Why don’t we all build a wall? Everyone! If you don’t like the person you sit next to at work, build a wall. If you don’t like the way your neighbours’ house looks, build a wall around it. Everyone, hear me now! Walls! It’s the only way! Walls!! Then you realise that such talk is utter insanity from a psychotic person, and then, the Israeli Defence Forces begins to make sense.

It wasn’t until I travelled through the West Bank that I realised how naive I was. Here’s me, looking at the map, looking at the West Bank, and thinking it’s Palestinian territory. Not so. My first insight to this came during my visit to Ein Gedi beach on the Dead Sea. According to the map, it’s in the West Bank. So I caught the bus, the further we travelled, the more I wondered why I was still seeing Israeli flags everywhere, as well as Israeli people, but no Arabs. Aren’t we in the West Bank I thought? It turns out that Israel has built Israeli highways through the West Bank, for Israelis and non-Palestinians only. It’s a good way to mark territory. Further inspection reveals the amount of land in the West Bank that is actually Palestinian, is tiny, otherwise known as Area A, 3% to be exact. Almost everywhere you go, you see an Israeli settlement. And it all becomes clear, there is absolutely no desire for a 2 state solution. The desire is for expansion. Over time, the Israeli land will slowly encroach further and further onto Palestinian land until it is irrevocable. I read that Benjamin Netanyahu simply considers this to be part of the natural growth of the Israeli population. Interesting take. By that logic, Germanys population growth and expansion means they can naturally start building German towns in Poland and Holland. How do you think such countries would react if German military set up camp beyond their borders and said, ‘Sorry, our population is growing, we need this neighbourhood now’. But Poland and Holland can defend themselves, so it’s a tad difficult. And, Germany is not immune to international law, and not given unlimited funding by a rich uncle, so they’d struggle to get away with it.

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The more time I spent here, the more I came to the conclusion that the thing that fuels this conflict more than anything, is hatred of Arabs*. Pure hatred. Time and time again. Sounds obvious, but there’s a difference between belief in an ideology or messianic dream, and simply hating a certain race of people because they exist. A French girl told me she overheard 2 French Israelis lamenting Francois Hollande’s election victory in France. Why? Because he is pro-Arab, not anti-Semitic, but pro Arab, i.e. he’s against discriminating against a group of French citizens on the grounds of ethnicity, unlike his rightwing opponents. Which was bad in their eyes. It was a recurring theme, the Israeli soldier with whom I shared a room was disgusted that I planned to enter Arab territory, because they were, um, Arabs. Not because of any suspected links to terrorism, but simply because non-Arabs shouldn’t mix with Arabs. The Australian Jew in the hostel spoke of his delight in seeing an Arab being hit by an IDF soldier. Personal stories, first hand evidence, of deep seated hatred. It’s what fuels the actions of this rightwing government, more than the messianic theology. I don’t know the stats for exactly how many Israelis are pro peace with Palestine versus pro expansion, I’m just commenting on what I saw and what I heard. *Of course, Arabs are ok if their docile to Western/Israeli Governments, or part of a Monarch (see Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc)

In Closing
I could write forever on the experiences I’ve had, but that’d mean I’d need to stay in my room. It’s been an enlightening and memorable few weeks, I came for enlightenment, and that’s what i got. I don’t want to paint all Israelis as xenophobic Zionists, many were friendly to me and went out of their way to help. But, I honestly came with an open mind, expecting to have any preconception about this conflict smashed to pieces by a different reality. Not so. Seeing people who have absolutely no rights/no dignity/no longer being humiliated by humiliation/generational refugees, is a little disheartening. A shrinking land. Unreported atrocities that are just an everyday occurrence. All funded by the rich uncle, over $100 billion since 1948. Republicans consider spending government money on Americans as some unacceptable form of Socialism, but pumping unlimited weapons and military aid to one of the most oppressive machines on earth? That’s ok.

It’s been a great trip so far, and it’s only just begun, ROLL ON RUSSIAAAH!

Posted in Israel, Palestine, Travel Post Comment

Tales from my trip halfway across the world #3

Israel’s Great Wall of Shame

Ive finally worked out how to get WordPress and the iPad to live in harmony, so i’ll try and get Stuff & Shit cooking again, albeit with an identity crisis, one day being a travel blog, the next an anecdotal-humour-mixed-with-vitriol-type blog that everyone is more accustomed to. Firstly, a brief update of where I’m at… I’ve spent the past week in the West Bank (Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah) and have now gone south to the border of Israel and Jordan for some down time by the Gulf of Aqaba, it’s kinda like Australia’s Gold Coast in the Middle East, a bit tacky but so relaxing after an absolutely manic fortnight. I’ll be heading to Petra in Jordan tomorrow before returning to the northern part of the West Bank and a town that has offered some of the fiercest resistance in recent years, Nablus, before calling time on my 3 weeks in the region and heading to Russia on the 19th.

Before all this, I saw the great wall of shame for the first time last week. I was a little surprised at how it made me feel. Not that I thought looking at it would give me a buzz and think, wow, this is great, but I didn’t think I’d feel momentarily depressed. To see this gigantic, man made structure, totally intrude upon the local population in the most coarse manner imaginable makes you embarrassed to be part of the species that constructed it. The most telling example of the reality of it all, is the first pic below. A residential/office block that previously looked out to a typical Palestinian landscape, hills, sunny sky etc. is now surrounded on all but one side by a pile of concrete. It’s actually cruel. So one day you look out your window and see light and colour, the next you see grey. Possibly worse, is that this building is now essentially at the back of a dark alley, as with a lot of the section of the wall I saw. One stretch of the wall has been decorated by artists, my favourite of which is the final photo below.

Also, I’m updating my Flickr page on an almost daily basis, so take a look at the link at the base of the menu to your left.

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Posted in Israel, Palestine, Travel Post Comment