Saturday, August 05, 2006


Epiphany - a sudden revelation or insight.

I can remember the room, the table setting, the tea lady. Most of all I can remember the newspaper heralding the Israeli victory in the six day war. I can remember the grins of my co-workers as we joked about the Arab soldiers who, we were assured, retreated so fast they left their shoes behind. I was 19 years old. I was proud of the Israelis. My earliest introduction to horror had been the grainy photos of Auschwitz and Belsen. I think it was the first time I had ever seen a picture of a dead body. Only it wasn't a dead body, it was a pile of them. There were pictures of the living as well. Eyes too big for their stick thin bodies.
In the fifties and sixties it gave me pleasure to read about how the survivors had been given a desert, a wilderness that nobody wanted and they made it flourish. Another picture comes to mind. A Time-Life glossy of orange groves on the edge of the desert. Israeli oranges. Oranges were still a treat in New Zealand. I got one in a Christmas stocking. The Israelis were producing them by the bushel. In the desert that no-one wanted.
Now it was 1967 and plucky Israel had been attacked and, against all odds, sent the Arabs packing. Minus their boots.

Why then, you may ask, have I just spent the past week arguing the Palestinian cause on every blog I can find? Why, at 57 years do I feel that strange mix of energy and exhaustion that I begin to suspect is common to those who become radicalised. Why do I now understand the emotion that drove so many young persons to enlist in the Spanish Civil War? Why indeed do I want to go to Palestine? Why do the names Ben Gurion, Begin, Sharon, Eitan, Dayan now fill me with disgust? I would like to tell you but first let me warn you that what happened to me could well happen to you. Having ones long-held beliefs overturned is for some, a disturbing experience.

Jesus of Nazareth had his Epiphany out there in that desert. I had mine right here in front of this computer. Jesus had his visions, I had the internet. The internet had a chap called Bidstrup.
Bidstrup is nobody special. Just a blogger. He can write though. I recommend that you read this piece.
Be sure to check all the facts. Please post comments but this is my blog and I will delete posts if I think the poster has not read the piece.
Keep your hand on your tram ticket. The ride can get rough.

1 comment:

earlaiman said...

I,too, remember that day so clearly.

I was riding atop an Armored Personnal Carrier, an M-113, munging up rice padis in SE Asia, holding down the seat of, and assisting, a US Army Colonel of Cavalry, Military Advisor to a Corps of local Light Armoured Cavalry.

The good Colonel? He was up in the air in his helicopter, miraculously patched through to a classmate and contemorary Military Advisor who was also in the air in his own helicopter flying over a desert in the Middle East as he reported, blow by blow, how his advisees were kicking ass and running an entire Army of Heavy Cavalry out of gas, while pursuing them across the desert.

Total victory. Surrender of an entire Armored Army, executed without a single major confrontation... "we ran their ass out of gas."

Out of fuel, and lost in the middle of a strange desert, they lined up for water, and a trip to the nearest POW camp.

Our good Colonel rejoiced, and rued the day he had chosen this post instead of the one his contemporary landed. He had missed participation in the "textbook victory" taught at Armored School, in whatever Fort it was that both Colonels studied their trade.

I recall the admiration and good feeling among our own men, and those of those we "advised," at the way the IDF pulled off such a major and relatively bloodless victory.

In the "profession," they were looked upon as the best, and the most worthy of members of the brotherhood "Armored Cavalry."

And, our world was proud of a small new nation which had so vigorously and gallantly "defended itself" against the oncoming hordes.

Looking back today, from the persepctive of almost forty years, it is incredible to consider how Israel, in such a relatively short period of time, historically, has squandered all of that support and goodwill.

I also recall a mid-September day, almost five years ago, when a young Muslim man approached me on the street in a Muslim country and roughly, in broken English, demanded to know if I was an "American."

He was big and rough looking, and I was no longer the lean mean warrior I once thought I was. I must confess I hesitated and tried to call up my best Canadian or Kiwi accent before I responded.

When moral conviction eventually prevailed over my fears, I shifted balance to my rearmost foot, tensed my fingers into eyeball grabbing curves, braced and allowed,
"...yes, I am an American,"

He lunged at me, and before I could defend myself, wrapped his arms around my head, pressed me to his breast, and sobbed, "Oh, I am so sorry for you and your people."

I marvel even more how America and it's "leadership" could have squandered so much of this goodwill, the only small bit of goodness which dripped out of all that blood from those towers, in such an even shorter time.

"What fools we mortals Be."

Like the Israeli Armored Corps victory of so long ago, a "classic textbook case."