Of mice and men – thinking outside the box

I never really liked the folksy drawl of John Steinbeck’s novels. But I think that it was somewhere in his novel of the same name that Lennie says to George ‘I remember about them rabbits, George’ to which George respond ‘To hell with them rabbits Lennie. That’s all you ever remember – dem damned rabbits!’ Sometimes it’s difficult to deflect someone from whatever they are fixated with, and the conversation has a habit of returning to the well trodden mantra.

Some of you may have listened to Nicky Campbell on the Big Questions on the 1st of May if not you can listen to it on http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007zpll/episodes/player . The discussion supposedly answered the question is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic? It’s currently very topical with the Labour Party tying each other in complete knots over the issue. Now I had just got back last week from a tour of duty in both Israel and Palestine for a UK charity so I was hooked as it was bound to produce totally impassioned uncompromising positions. It didn’t disappoint in that respect. It wasn’t until bishop John Lowe declaimed quietly that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, with commentators here totally stuck in their narrative. He rightly said that dissolving into a totally positional rant simply devalues anti-Semitism, demonising many who might otherwise have perfectly sensible opinions about finding solutions to an otherwise seemingly intractable problem.

If I can say outright that I am appalled by both the Israeli government’s outright colonisation (howls from the back about the land not being owned by anyone) and the complete failure of Palestinian politicians to deal with either the reality of Israel as an entity and those self same politicians’ profligate inefficiency and corruption (howls from the back as to how I would feel if my village and land had been nicked). The attached picture shows me holding a certified copy of the chap on the right’s grandfather’s title document to a farm underneath the second runway of Tel Aviv airport taken in 1948. That needs acknowledging at least even if that wrong may never be correctable.

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After 1948 the facts on the ground were accepted for years by the international community bar some Arab countries. At that stage somehow Zionism seemed to be containable. The facts on the ground after 1967 and now are largely not accepted by anyone bar a couple of basket case island states in the Pacific.

This isn’t the place to enter into a discussion on the application of the fourth Geneva Convention as it applies to the fruits of war. Put it this way I have my views which I would gladly share with you in a separate forum. Certainly here putting parties into the limelight with diametrically opposite views turned this TV programme into a shouting match so the quiet voices of reason and self reflection were drowned out in dogmatic rants between Zionists and anti-Zionists, with anti Semitism rather sidelined as the B side of a very important debate. Whilst I respect the genuine and heartfelt views of some but not all of the shouters, the loudest ones were really the mice, and the ones that brought logic and above all humanity to the table were the real men.

There’s a lesson there for anyone wanting to sup with those they would otherwise seek to demonise.

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