I swear, I did wonder about this. And whether, if such a catastrophe were to happen tomorrow, the British prime minister's wife would
talk of lack of hope and getting nowhere; and whether the Guardian Media Group would use one of its newspapers to publish our story
as a revenger's tragedy feature; and whether some much esteemed scholar would come forward to declare us martyrs in the eyes of God;
and whether the good Mayor of the open city of London would then praise the man on behalf of all his town folk; and whether Baroness
Tonge of Kew in The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames would suggest that, had she been more fearless and known my father's life,
well, she too may have done what he'd done.
There was no need to wonder though. One day in July 2005 - one month after the publication
of A Place of Gardens and Lilies - four young guys with grievances bought tickets to ride the London Public Transport system. Set
on harming as many as possible, they blew themselves up, slaughtered dozens, maimed scores and, they must have thought, for this selfless
sacrifice of theirs would be held as martyrs in the eyes of God, tragic revengers or, seeing as they weren't that old, youths without
hope. It is possible that, in some houses and societies anyway, they did end up thought of as one or all of these things. Only, no
spouse of any British Prime or any other type of minister mentioned their youth or despair. And the Guardian Media Group newspapers
never dignified their individual or collective story as tragedy, styled them revengers, or remarked on the colour of their lips or
front yard trees. Nor did the distinguished scholar who was also a trustee of Oxford University; instead, this one let it be known
that their death wasn't welcomed as martyrdom in the eyes of God, so possibly shut them out of Paradise. As for Ken Livingstone, the
good Mayor of London, well, on behalf of each and all of his town folk, in a speech any politician would be proud of, he turned all
the way round and unequivocally denounced the death and devastation they sowed. This left Baroness Tonge of Kew in The London Borough
of Richmond upon Thames, but although her thoughts on the event weren't made public, I trust that on this occasion she too must be
on record as condemning the four, and like the rest of the world expressed sympathy for the dead, the maimed, their families, their
friends, colleagues, loved ones and the many of the rescue services. That her voice wasn't heard was probably due to it being lost
in the great chorus of politicians, newspapers editors, pundits and others with opinions to air who united to praise the public for
standing together in the face of terrible adversity, most spelling out in the strongest of terms that there was no place at all for
suicide bombers in the British context.
So, it turned out that these four with grievances, by aiming for martyrdom in the British
context, had erred. They would not be elevated to Heaven, styled tragic revengers or regarded as prisoners of despair or youths without
direction. These four were to blame. Every one of their murders could be pinned on them. These four were stupid, had failed to realize
the danger that, in some minds, there are nuances when it comes to massacring commuters in cold blood. Nobody can say whether one
or the four of them garnered the courage to do what they did from words they read or heard coming from our elected leaders, their
spouses, newspaper editors or university professors, but to be sure, that the same act may be seen as Martyrdom in the eyes of God
for taking place in one place and as plain slaughter for coming to pass in another seemed to have passed them by. Maybe these four,
all primed to die as they were, had yet to grasp the meaning of double standards. What I'd like to know though is, had they, in the
pursuit of Martyrdom, swapped the British context of London for the Israeli context of Tel Aviv or Haifa - just in case, the previous
self-immolations mentioned here all took place in Israel - what legends would have been spun around their farewell, how much compassion
would have rung from our timekeepers and trendsetters' towers. How long would the minute of silence in honour of those they'd sent
into the shadows have lasted? But maybe, charged with loaded dice, this better not be asked.
There are wild places of thunder
where everyone can go wrong. Embarrassing scenes, bad stains, unholy gardens. Dark rolling spaces disagreeable to step into. Lethal
doses. Perverse madness that make the skin crawl. And this business did just that: my skin crawled. That some mothers and fathers
elect to understand cold-blooded mass-murderers is depressing. That educated folks should depict them as revengers with tragedies
and cold-finger their victims is decidedly alarming. But to realize that all the goodwill and understanding for the horror and pain
they deal out is contextual, subject to the nationality of the commuters murdered, well, this is seriously nauseating. It stabs. It's
enough to make you feel so sad and lonely you end up wondering what you're doing here. If there's a name for this take on life and
death - could it be inverted morality, amorality, moral depravity? - I need to look it up in the dictionary. It's the sort of thing
I never thought I'd need to prepare for. The sort of thing nobody should ever be prepared for. The sort of thing you hope, if you
really must go there one day, to meet on another day, but never today.
I only ever wondered for the blink of an eye why my father
never resorted to turning his story into what, had he been who he wasn't, the Guardian Media Group may well have branded a revenger's
tragedy. The truth is, it never entered his mind. Torn shoes on sidewalks and reams of broken dreams, there's nothing to understand
about folks who willfully set out to murder passers-by. Look around, roam past the guardians of opinions and, never mind what some
may hold, being cheated, breathing despair, longing for decency or seeking revenge or reparation doesn't make people turn their bodies
and souls into wholesale killing machines. How many of us would be left if it did? The die-to-kill notion belongs to others, less
desperate, less impressionable, more calculating, profiteers of grief and fear who have no scruple in steering weaker souls into doing
their grim bidding; others with convictions, religion, personal ambitions to attend to. Aspiring to die killing strangers is not an
act of desperation but of self-assertion. It is not defensive but aggressive. It is the ultimate pettiness. Total ruin. The loftiest
fuck-you. The final snub from mediocrities too indifferent to compete or stand up. A cowardly shortcut to whatever awaits in the beyond.
Anyone who thinks otherwise ought to, like Baroness Tonge of Kew in The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames convinced herself she
did maybe, proceed there in spirit and imagine pushing that button. Or, next time it proves necessary, volunteer to pick up the pieces,
find the bodies and see what ghosts come to haunt them.
Some nights, heeding to such horrors, overhearing all the madness engaged
in understanding it, it's hard not to take fright. To rage or cry at the dispatches. Some nights it drives to anger, on others to
looking away, and some days to visions of getting used to it, anything to sidestep sinking into despair; give up, give in and learn
to love death.
Sometime in 2004 I put aside a thriller I was working on - a story set in London's film world that was going to
be the second Lombard novel - and set out to write A Place of Gardens and Lilies. I needed to do something. To find a way to remind
myself of that "we did it again, son" moment. I needed to go back there, to have the sun in my eyes, feel the air full of diamonds.
And Al Winston turned up for the ride. He is a diamond, too rough to have certainties, too lost to do good, too scared to do well,
but shining too bright to succumb to ugliness. He is water from a well, too healthy to subscribe to the proposition that context justifies
everything, even that which cannot be seen. But maybe, while spinning out his wings, I failed in telling his journey, lacked clarity,
took it too far or not far enough. Some way into writing the novel, hoping to get it properly published and distributed - unlike what
had come about with my previous book, The Lost Son - I remember writing to about seventy British publishers and agents, offering to
send an outline of the story together with the chapters I had already completed. The way these things go, I found just two takers,
the others all declining even to take a look at the outline. Still, when a few months later I chased up these two, each passed citing
their failure to identify with Al Winston or understand his motivation. I think I wrote back only to one of them, explained it hadn't
been my intention to write Al as a beast for all men and women to identify with; on the contrary, the idea was to ride an alienated
good-for-nothing shooting star, to shine and burn with it. I never heard from him again though, but afterwards promised myself to
spend more time reading the works of successful contemporary novelists. The likes of Nick Hornby, James Meek, Zadie Smith, Julian
Barnes, Louis De Bernieres, JM Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Sarah Waters, Salman Rushdie, Will Self, DBC Pierre. These guys
clearly have their fingers on the pulse. They know their craft, how to sell their wares. It occurred to me that maybe I had much to
learn, a lot of catching up to do, some way to go before reaching the heights they're at. I figured I had better take a good look
at what they were doing and how they were doing it before trying agents and publishers again.
When I started this, I thought
I'd write a few lines clarifying that A Place of Gardens and Lilies does not concern itself with the Israeli/Palestinian situation,
or conflict, as some prefer to call it. That if the plight of these two peoples finds its way into its pages, in however much of a
twisted way, it is only as a means to an end since the proper business of the novel is to concern itself solely with Alan Winston's
universe: his fears, his questions, his sense of alienation, and, eventually, in an awe-induced moment of clarity, his disastrous
spur-of-the-moment decision to defer to the ugliness that repulses him as a way to win freedom from further fear, pain and responsibility.
Again, the book is about hope, and losing it. Only, since all this ought to be obvious to anyone who's read the book, and of no concern
to anyone who hasn't, I can no longer see the sense of going there.
Seeing as I also brought the presently elected good Mayor
of London into all this - the same Ken Livingstone, who some see as a cheeky chappie maverick of a man whose virtue cannot be doubted
on account of the untold number of hand-picked good causes he champions; in fact, had God and sobriety found a way to his heart, there'd
be little to distinguish him from the old thundering self-righteous missionary preachers of bygone days - I also thought I'd try being
funny. Try irony even. Remark that, were he and my father to cross paths some day, at least there is one Jew he wouldn't be able to
liken to a concentration camp guard on account of his working for others for money - be it as a restaurant critic or well-remunerated
politician. Or that, next time the fancy takes him to judge, or preach or speak on justice, human rights or dignity, he might do well
to hang his head and remember his begging cap-in-hand charm-offensive trip to China. In the end though - having heard the man is also
prone to slip into telling Jews he frowns on to go back where they came from - the good Mayor of London failed to inspire much laughter.
After all, dubious wares and drunken politicians aren't rare, new or funny, even if, at times, you'd think it ought to be a riot.
finally, given whose child I am, I thought I'd end this with a few words for my father's people, the Jews, and that country of theirs
called Israel. The idea was that, armed with history, rich with truths gathered from days and nights spent exploring, analyzing and
plain looking around the treasures of information and opinions available to all everywhere, I'd come up with at least a handful of
salient killer sentences that would kindle the generosity of those who find it so easy to damn Israel, find it seemly to understand
the slaughter of her people and question her right to self-determination, never mind her right to exist. After all, to wish to live
and die with your head high is a universal desire. And every land meets the sun, the hottest and the iciest, and every nation needs
a place to raise their children and bury their dead, and some place to shelter from nature and man-made storms. And where is the house
ringed with enemies that keeps its doors unguarded? The cursed father who welcomes those set on murdering his children? And where
are the nations, from China to Italy and the USA and Britain and Peru, which aren't built on conquered land? The great cities and
Londons and Jerusalems which aren't sitting and thriving on vanquished soil, blood and bones? The nations, young and old, that know
no sins? Why the Israeli exception?
I'd have liked to go there, come up with something salient, killing words sharp enough to
ignite the generosity of they who damn Israel. But about this too I changed my mind. Those heights were never going to be mine. The
days and nights looking around for treasures of information and opinions harvested everything I'd hoped for. And more. A lot more.
So much more that it dawned on me that everything there is to be said about Israel has already been said. Many times over. It's all
there, everywhere, on the Internet, in books, newspapers, on TV, on some faces. Everything anyone needs to know about who and why.
The nuts, the bolts, the good, the bad, the lies that ring true and the truths that don't sound like truths. People can look at it
all all of the time. Past distorted facts and twisted maps and diagrams. Past fears for sale and politicians' mischief and games.
Past selected effigies. It's all there, a galloping stealing stallion, and, no matter how hard I'd work at it, there's nothing for
me to add. Or to deny. Or prove. What I realized is that, when it comes to Israel, history is adapted into theatres of illusions and
reality spun into threads used to weave the sinister coats of new and ancient self-serving myths. The good is made bad, the bad exemplary.
Some make wind and others bend with it. People are killed because of this, it should matter, but tomorrow, in the morning, or at half
past three in the afternoon, next time some primed young guy or girl with a grievance decides to become a martyr in the Israeli context,
it will signify nothing. Docile minds will already be made up, whatever those who shout the loudest say; soft minds will already have
yielded, self-interest justifiably served; indignant minds already made out the guilty ones, the ones they like least. And some newspapers,
TV news editors, politicians, pundits, novelists and self-styled historians and intellectuals will readily go on promoting the messages
that sell best; increased congregation makes for increased circulation makes for increased remuneration. And increased influence.
After all, there's only ever been one game in town, and the winners have always been those who keep their eyes on the high numbers.
in houses and courtyards all across the world, all sorts of wild rumours are spreading about Israel. Most are nasty. Easy-to-spread
dirt, contagious lies, charges of ugliness, bargain basement scolding reports. Her contours are being chipped. Her body reviled. Zionism
is a dirty word. Her children's title to her land is questioned. Their need for it discredited and right to defend it the subject
of dinner table conversations. Singled-out among nations, it's also being suggested that her right to self-determination should be
the subject of other nations' "informed debates". Half close your eyes, prick up your ears and, hisses drifting through a maze of
haze, you might find yourself thinking that Israelis are not only neither saints nor martyrs, but bloodthirsty racist fiends. Devoid
of humanity. That for sixty odd years now, they schemed to do to the Palestinian Arabs what was done unto them for two millennia?
That for sixty odd years they also plotted to conquer vast swathes of land and keep millions of hostile neighbours on their toes just
to feed their own children with wars and blood and have them build vast walls and barbed wire fences to live within. Their ancestors'
ordeals are past-history. Their cries for peace trickery. Their aim is world domination. Behind doors, blessed polite society speaks
of boycott. Here she is labeled a cancer, there threatened with being wiped off the map. Her people are painted as unfeeling child
killers, her friends as controlling the western media, and respected university professors pen papers alleging her supporters command
the inner workings of the US of A's political, economical and military machines, so, aside from everything else that is bad, also
implicating her in many of the world's troubles.
Undertakers looking for bodies, if you could gather all the crimes Israel is
charged with, there wouldn't be enough graveyards to bury them all. Still, year-by-year, month by month, martyrdom-by-martyrdom, like
chapters from an inexorable prayer, as the temperature rises, instead of defending her or turning down the heat, many among the so-called
Western liberal classes have been joining in the hysteria, capitulated to fear, numbers, easy-pickings and old habits. Writing from
their unmade beds, looking away from their own wastelands, stitching it all with words about policies and using-too-much-force, they
indict Israel for every calamity that befalls her. Heading for work, trying not to notice the badlands on all sides of their own conscience,
they plough their heads to accuse her of complicity in crimes committed in far distant lands. In their offices, leaning out their
windowsills gazing away from their own reflections, rather than crying for all the people drowning everywhere you and I don't know
about because their newspapers don't care to look there, as if running out of poison with which to paint the present, they take to
shouting across the street lists of Israeli wrongs from times gone by, and grim warnings of how much it's all going to cost us. And
then, if anyone asks why, ponders out loud whether the singling-out of one nation and vilification of its people may in some way account
for the rising number of attacks against Jews around our streets, or findings such as that in today's Britain almost forty percent
of Muslims see all Jews as legitimate targets, they puff pious grins, smoke up the air with virtuous whiffs, tell you they give to
the sick and poor, and, trying not to show you the door, pull out graphs proving the streets see more attacks against non-Jews than
Jews. And if, instead of taking the door, you then (having let it slip by that the angry guys with grievances who killed thousands
crashing planes in New York city in 2001 never said much about Israel or Palestine) you then let it be known that you find their graphs
of questionable taste, that these things that are happening aren't dreams and all they're saying makes your ears ring with all sorts
of madness, well, if they decide you're still bearable company, they tell you you're no good, and to prove it pull out yet more graphs,
these showing that, actually, quite a few Jews are listed among their friends. That, as a matter of fact, they married one or two,
and moreover, many even work with them and publicly share their views, so there's no point in asking more questions, let alone making
allegations. And if after that you still aren't worried about making a nuisance of yourself, still want to get some answers, and again
point to the questionable nature of what they just said, because, surely, Jews aren't all the same, aren't different from him or her,
also count cowards, poets, opinionated fools, gifted ones with wings, souls looking for riches and informers who wind up traumatized
among their number - as well as, feasibly, some minds who, seeking the spotlight or moved by a lofty desire to disprove the age-old
rumours about clever, conniving Jews, could well have become determined to cunningly come up with all sorts of fatuous things about
Israel to make their point (or is that too strange?) - presuming you get that far, and that someone's still around when you get there,
the chance is you'll get an eye-full or another, be made as a Jew perhaps, or a Zionist apologist, for form's sake be blamed for something
else too, then told they understand and feel sorry for you.
If you're still haunted with all sorts of madness ringing in your ears
after that, or the ground begins to groan under your feet, don't say another word. And if you can't kid yourself that you don't know,
don't let it get you down. Don't fold with the evening. Try being a lover, reading a book, finding something gorgeous to look at.
There's nothing special going on. The story is old. The script much the same.
The angry marking out of one people among peoples
happened before. In past times, the Jew was the mark, his alleged crimes the killing of Christ, ritual murders, usury, duplicity,
world domination through the Elders of Zion, and cowardice, as in not fighting back when persecuted or herded to gas chambers. Today
the mark is Israel, her alleged crimes the wanton killing of Muslims, land grab, duplicity, world control through the Zionist lobby,
and cowardice, as in standing up for herself and exercising retribution when attacked or threatened with annihilation. Some folks
reckon that no connection exist between old moods towards the Jew and new moods towards Israel. That it's all some coincidence. It
could be, but I'm not sure. Sometime during the first half of the twentieth century, one of the most advanced and enlightened nations
in Western Europe took it upon itself to address what became known as the Jewish Question, moved on to talk of a final solution and,
for "the better of humanity", soon proceeded to exterminate millions of Jews. One of the slogans they used to soften their scruples
at becoming mass-murderers was "Die Juden sind unser ungluck!" - "The Jews are our misfortune!", a tag-line coined in the sixteenth
century by Martin Luther, the German leader of the Protestant Reformation. Today, seventy odd years on, in a brand new millennia,
some sections of Western Europe's so-called liberal press and educated classes have taken it upon themselves to focus their attention
on the Israeli/Palestinian question, moved on to devote heaps of angry space and time to it, progressed to making allusions to Israel's
cost to the international community and nefarious influence on world affairs. Of course, no "final solution" is being proposed yet
- not as far as I know anyway - but, to be sure, Martin Luther's old slogan, which I understand became the motto of a popular weekly
Nazi magazine, wouldn't be out of place today on some European liberal newspaper banner. Only it'd be re-worked as "Israel is the
world's misfortune"; altered wording for an altered reality. Different context. It's all for the love of thee.
Some say nothing
of the sort is ever going to happen. Not soon not here anyhow. There's no telling, but I guess they may be right. There may be the
likes of Ken Livingstone, but, nowadays, liberal Western Europeans are sophisticated animals. There are so many ways to write a tune,
such frequencies of nuances, ways to play what's good to do with life, user-friendly methods to dish dirt and treat what hurts, that
a lot of time is spent hanging on the phone playing history-don't-repeat-itself or hitting on new ways to explain blocked chimneys.
I think it's a shame. I think it'd be good to play it straight. To know where we all stand. Where we all belong. Or don't belong.
Many of Europe's liberals would say I'm wrong, I know, but then they also say Tel Aviv's really the root of New York 9/11, frame Israel
alone for every dead Israeli and Palestinian, have already implicated her in the next martyrdom or disaster to befall us.
it can be hard to get things right, but how hard can it be to get it all so wrong. Not long after finding out whose child I was, I
asked my father what could the Jew have done to win such venom from so many for so long. He didn't know, he said, probably started
with something to do with trusting in one God when the trend was to invest in multi-deities, but that was a long time ago. So I asked
him about pogroms, what was done to him and his family. He spoke of fever. About the world now and again getting the fever, letting
rip on the country-less Jews the way beggars and stray dogs get it when folks feel put out or helpless. Said something about taking
the heat, about the worst bouts of that fever usually occurring just before or in concert with terrible calamities; like when a storm's
brewing, the air pressure builds up, the sky itself fills with a sense of foreboding and tempers flare and dogs get kicked. Someone
or something's got to pay or get the blame, always. I can't say I understood what he was on about. A few years later we spent some
time in Israel together, and I remember him looking around the bustling streets in wonder, all the young gun-bearing soldiers in their
uniforms that were everywhere, and saying "They'll never forgive us." I asked what he meant and he just said "Jews bearing guns. The
world will never forgive us." I must say, I didn't believe him.
More recently, by chance, I came across an old TV program on
a Belgian satellite channel. For whatever reason, they were rerunning a 1960's documentary about the perception of Jews in 1960's
Belgium. Near the end, they asked an old Belgian guy his thoughts about the place and role of the Jews in the world as it was then.
He explained he'd been a submarine crewman in his youth and, as those were early days, they used to take birds down with them during
dives as a means of warning of carbon dioxide build-up; the birds would flap their wings, grow agitated or distressed as the air became
poisoned and the men would know to surface and open the hatch. That's how he saw the Jews, he said. Like those birds. They're the
world's warning system, start flapping their wings when poison builds up, like some kind of barometer that shows the world's mood
Thinking about it later, I feel that maybe I now understand a little better what my father was trying to say with his
talk of fever. Yet, seeing the agitation in some Jews' and non-Jews souls today, the flapping of arms, the stormy skies, I hope both
he and that old Belgian guy were wrong. Otherwise, the way it all sounds and looks on the news, this submarine may well have sprung
a leak and, this time, not get back up, drift to the bottom of the sea.
Morning light. Some are guilty for not taking sides;
some side with lies or cover their eyes. As I've been living in Britain these past years, and have made much of the so-called "liberal"
take on Israel above, I guess it would be right, before ending this, to mention The Guardian, the flagship publication of the Guardian
Media Group, a prestigious, influential newspaper that I'm told was once hailed as a home of fine journalism - some still think it
blessed that way. It may be wrong to single it out - with slight variations, it isn't alone in Britain in its opinions, only, the
way this goes down, it did play some part in A Place of Gardens and Lilies, proved a source of visions I had no idea existed. For
that, it deserves its place in this nausea.
If I thought it mattered, could amount to doing someone a good turn, or unseat them
from the monster they're riding, I'd suggest gathering in one volume all of their reporters' past six or seven years collective output
on Israel and giving it to scan to anybody who's never heard of Jews, Palestinians or the Levantine. In fact, to save time, the output
of just a couple of Guardian experts on Israel might do - say Chris McGreal and Conal Urquhart - and no mention need be made of their
industry being reprinted many times over in places hostile to the Hebrew state. It wouldn't matter though. The chances are, long before
reaching the end, our reader would find it hard not to see Israelis as mean and scheming stereotypical Jews (with guns), Palestinians
as wretched revengers, the Levantine, pins and needles, as all of our troubles' cradle. No doubt McGreal and Urquhart would say they're
reporting the truth; if you don't like the message, find another paper. I think of what they do as something else though. The distortion
of information, careful selection of facts, methodical badmouthing of one people and sugarcoating of the sins of another does not
add up to telling the truth. They could call it taking sides, peddling propaganda, acting as Public Relations, serving self-interest,
laughing at God even, but not reporting the truth. Even if they only do it for money, or, as their editor would have it, on account
of "giving a voice to the voiceless".
I don't know much about The Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger. Only that, like any respected
successful newspaper editor, he sits in a position of power and influence, and, I'm sure, for it gets the pick of the cherries. Still,
I know that even in the bad places I come from, aside from sounding like a nice jingle, giving a voice to the voiceless means just
that: giving a voice to the voiceless; not spreading dirt about or vilifying another people. The distinction might be something like
the difference between papering your walls with figures of hatred instead of your heroes. And spending your days and night throwing
darts and whatever else at them; and then, now and again, adding posters of their killers to the wall space left. How can anyone wish
to create or live in such a place? There's so much hatred going round already, you'd think anyone sane would think it senseless to
add to it.
One thing I know about the Guardian editor though, is a newspaper piece he wrote back in 2001. It's titled "Between
Heaven and Hell", concerns itself with the Israeli/Palestinian situation, can be found on the Guardian website. I read it a couple
of times, not liking it, for a while not understanding why. Then I realized it exemplifies the current liberal take on Israel. It
is terribly well written. Precise, lucid, superbly paced, as if beating to the swing of a metronome. The tone is rational, the thinking
appears logical, hard facts and cold numbers are padded with all the right sounds about horror, violence and death. Yet, it is remarkable
for much more than that. But to dissect it to show why would take a while and make for meaningless knowledge. So maybe it's enough
to say that it starts with a mention of a quote by TS Eliot about mankind not being able to bear too much reality, proceeds to drop
lines about warplanes being used on civilian areas and infringements of human rights, describes one side of the two sides as "overwhelmingly
innocent", and ends with a notice to "Jews the world over" to "think deeply about the terrible cost of securing their necessary sanctuary",
underscoring the whole with just one more sentence letting it be known that it isn't yet clear whether Israel knows how to use her
Jews the world over, no less. Two thousand years of persecution, near annihilation at the whims of yesteryear's
refined and not so refined European societies, a mere seventy years trying self-determination ringed with millions of foes bent on
"pushing you into the sea", and the great collective Jew the world over should already be brought together as one and be thinking
deeply about the cost of securing their sanctuary. And Israel has yet to make it clear she can use her power humanely.
first defeat will be her last. If it wasn't pointless, I'd say Israel does the best she can, Mr Rusbridger. She's got the sun in her
eyes, stands on dangerous ground and wonders how many times she'll have to "do it again" while the good people take to wondering aloud
whether she should be burdened with more of a conscience than they themselves clearly possess. And, if I didn't know better, I'd point
out that it may not be appropriate for you or anyone else to tell the collective Jew the world over what he or she should do or think
about - terrible echoes of terrible times. Is there really no foul wind blowing down closer to Kentish Town way? Couldn't Anglo-Saxons
the world over be asked to think deeply about the terrible cost of the wealth and power they secured - and continue to secure - for
themselves over the centuries perhaps? Or, come to think of it, make it clear to the rest of the world how humanely they intend to
use it all one day.
Sometimes things aren't what they seem. Sometimes, things aren't even really what they really are. TS Eliot,
it's true, did say "humanity cannot bear much reality", but to be sure, he also said "half of the harm that is done in the world is
due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them." Then again, could be this
was never meant to be read or interpreted in the British context.
Early this morning, I took this further than I should. I stayed
too long, and, instead of losing more of my ways and time before I'll surely die, I shall remember my father's offering not to "judge
what you're not", draw a line under all this terrifying ugliness, think of all the things that I don't want that I don't have, and
step outside. And, as the sky changes colour, "do it again" while it all shines.
Eric Leclere, London 2006
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