Sunday, 15 July 2018

I do not give a faecal matter

There were many political differences in my unit.
However, when push came to shove we trusted each other completely.
We had to, our survival depended on it.

Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the Forward, has never had to worry about survival. She is a liberal Democrat who lives in New York.
She has never really had to fight for anything.
Wrote an article, "Should We Celebrate The 50th Anniversary Of The Six Day War — Or Despair?". It sounded like she was sorry we won.

During a lull in the fighting, someone turned on a transistor radio. He tuned it to a Syrian station in Hebrew. They were boasting about how they were going to exterminate all the Jews.
We knew why we were fighting.
Women and children on my border kibbutz were not evacuated. Where could they go?
This was an existential war. We won and the people of Israel survived.

And I don't give a s**t about what Jane Eisner and her friends think.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Teenage Rocks

"Like a rock, I was strong as I could be
Like a rock, nothin' ever got to me
Like a rock, I was something to see
Like a rock"

In 1963 I went to Paris with two schoolfriends. A third schoolfriend was already there, selling the New York Herald Tribune on the Champs Elysees.
The newspaper flogger had a student room. We resided in a small room in a cheap hotel. My two friends had the bed.
I slept on a camp bed next to a bidet that smelt like it was connected to a sewer.

I did not like Paris then.
People used to stare at me because my hair was a bit too long for their comfort zone. 1963 was the very beginning of the musical and cultural revolution, and the frogs were not yet into it.

Everything was so expensive. We used to buy food and water at a supermarket whose name for us was pricks unique ("prix unique"). Then we would sit outside eating our bread and cheese and drinking our water.
Quite a few people commented on that. Fortunately, my French was not good enough to understand the finesses of what they were saying.

I stayed on after my two friends returned to London.
On one of my walkabouts I met an American who was a few years older than me. Nice chap from Connecticut. He was travelling around Europe on his own.
We teamed up for the rest of my stay in Paris.

After Paris he was going to stopover in London for a few days. I offered take him on an evening tour of the Big Smoke's hot spots. He accepted my offer.

A week later we met up at Piccadilly Circus tube station. I then proceeded to show him Soho, London’s nefarious den of iniquity and moral turpitude.
We went into a coffee bar for a drink. There were no free tables, so we sat down at a table where a man was finishing a salad.
He was an American in his late forties who was also travelling around Europe on his own. A friendly middle-aged man who wanted to chat.

The "old man" said he had once been young and idealistic. As strong as a rock. However, life had destroyed his youthful ideals and strength.
Then he started to give us advice about women. One remark he made has stuck in my mind. It was, “you are lucky, you can get it for free. I have to pay for it”.

After he left, we laughed about him. What a silly old fogey who talked too much. We would never be like that. 
Nowadays, I think his remark may have a deeper philosophical significance.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Falling over a reminiscence: meet the tough guys

I did the night milking of the sheep as my shift for the following day.
After I had finished, it was off to the truck that would take us and the Swiss volunteers on a trip to Masada. It was one of the perks they received for coming to our kibbutz.

The truck set out before dawn. On the way we joked and flashed our Uzis to impress them.
Then it was rushing up the difficult side of Masada. We pushed and pulled them, laughing and showing off.
Not much to see at the top except old stones. So we all ran down to the truck.
Last one down is a wimp, and I can assure you it was not one of us.

Next stop, the springs of Ein Gedi and finally the Dead Sea, our camping spot for the night.
After a sober meal we built a bonfire and sat round it. Gidon strummed on his guitar and the Swiss and the Jews sang gospels and folk songs together in broken English.

The poor dears were completely exhausted and turned in early to sleep under the stars.
They could dream peacefully about their cheese fondues and clocks, because we guarded them.
Not all of us at the same time, but one after another. Even we needed some sleep.

Next morning, after breakfast everybody piled into the truck and we went back to the kibbutz.
I was on time to do the afternoon shift for that day. I had not missed a day’s work.

Why did we do it?
Why? Because that is what tough guys do.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Linda Sarsour hotchpotch

I am reading that some of my American Jewish sisters are disillusioned/upset/shocked because the leaders of the Women’s March have refused to condemn the manifest anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan.
Actually, it would have been out of character for them to condemn Farrakhan.

The basic idea of these modern “feminists” is simple and does not begin with women: there is a overarching global struggle between the good guys (the oppressed) and the bad guys (the oppressors). 
This is garnished with a sauce of anti-white “identity politics”.

The bad guys are “right-wing”: racist, sexist, fascist, Nazi, capitalist, imperialist, colonialist, Zionist, white supremacist, etc., etc.
The west is full of bad guys, especially in America and Israel.

The good guys are “left-wing”, even if they do not know it.
Hamas is an Islamist organization that oppresses women and calls for the genocide of all Jews in the world.
Yet Judith Butler supports Hamas and says it is part of the “global left”.
Why? Because Hamas is fighting the Zionists, represents oppressed Muslims (identity politics) and is being hounded by the imperialist regimes of the west.

In this superficial hotchpotch of global “intersectionality” and “identity politics”, the perpetrator is more relevant than the deed.
The anti-Semitism at Charlottesville was bad because it came from “the right”, the oppressors. The anti-Semitism of Farrakhan was not condemned because it came from an ally, a representative of the oppressed Muslims and Blacks.

Linda Sarsour and friends do not organize marches in support of suppressed Iranian women, because Iran is also part of Judith Butler’s “global left” and fighting the Zionists, imperialists and white supremacists.

It is a very simple ideology. Not really feminism, but an attempt to harness women to a “global struggle”. Of course, if you are a Zionist woman you will not be accepted by this movement.
You are an enemy, one of the oppressors.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

We all love a dead soldier

I have two different scenarios for my new film.

Scenario 1.
A young soldier is guarding an airport.
He sees a bearded man, who looks North African, approaching the entrance of the terminal building.
The man is wearing too many clothes for the time of year. He is sweating and only has a glove on one hand.
He is constantly looking around furtively.

The soldier approaches the man and asks to see his ID.
The man blows the soldier and himself up. He was wearing a bomb belt and the detonator was taped to the hand that was covered by the glove.

The dead soldier is a hero. He is lauded in the media. His brave action forced the terrorist to detonate his bomb belt early. 
Many lives were saved.

Scenario 2.
The man does not blow the soldier and himself up. He just hands over his ID. The soldier asks him to come to a room in the terminal while they check the ID.

It later turns out that the man has the flu, that is why he was wearing too many clothes and sweating. He has a rash on one of his hands, that is why he was wearing the one glove.
He suffers from involuntary muscle contractions, that is why he was constantly looking around furtively. 
They keep him in the room for about an hour. He almost misses his plane.

A few days later the story is headlined in the media: “Racial profiling at the airport”.
Left-wing politicians and columnists are indignant. They bemoan this latest example of systemic discrimination of Muslims and Islamophobia. They call for a change in policy and the sacking of those involved.

Many Muslims and their left-wing supporters take to the streets in demonstrations against racial profiling, discrimination and Islamophobia. An internet petition is started that receives tens of thousands of signatures.
The government apologizes. The Prime Minister goes on television to say that he was also outraged when he heard the story.
He says that he has taken the necessary measures to make sure that this type of abuse could never happen again.

The soldier is given other duties. He is told that he should not expect to ever be promoted.
Shortly afterwards he leaves the army.

On second thoughts, I will write a blog instead of making a film.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Hine ma tov, the bitter and the sweet

I was allowed to rest for a couple of days after my travels: London, Paris, Marseille, Haifa, Negev.
Then: why not go and pick oranges until you decide what work you want to do?
So I started picking.

One of the women picking oranges was from the Romanian group who had started the kibbutz. She worked very fast and hard. I kept my distance from her when working, did not want to be shown up by some wisp of a woman who could work much better than me.

Her name was Hagit.
When we took a break she was the last person to stop, and after a break she was the first person to start again.
She was, literally, always smiling and had a very expressive, friendly face. Yet she never spoke or joined in the singing.

I asked someone from my group why Hagit never spoke. The answer was, they experimented on her.
That was enough answer for me. I did not need to know more.

The swarm of young women with whom I picked oranges were a happy, touching lot.
Always giving me a touch, a push, a stroke, a hair tousle, a peck on the cheek, a squeeze or a hug. It was the equivalent of sibling affection. A "hine ma tov" kind of thing.
At the time, very un-British and foreign to me.

They were inclined to sing a lot as well. Hebrew and partisans’ songs.
Do not get me wrong. I have nothing against “Bella Ciao”.
Except, I do not appreciate hearing it at the crack of dawn, when the sun has not started shining yet and it is cold, and I am lamenting the fact that I did not go to bed an hour earlier the night before.

I was relieved when I managed to escape to the sheep.
Much harder physical labour, but a paradise for einzelgängers. Sheep keep their distance and they do not sing.

Nowadays, I smile a sad smile when I think of my happy Jewish sisters picking oranges. With their songs they were celebrating our rebirth: Am Yisrael Chai.
I miss those touches, pushes, strokes, hair tousles, cheek pecks, squeezes, hugs and hine ma tov feeling.

I should have hugged them back more.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The cat in me

There is a tall tree in one of my neighbour’s gardens. A young, male cat keeps on climbing into the tree and getting stuck there.
It is the way cats are. They like to climb up trees so that they can look down and oversee everything.

1970, I am 24, living in Amsterdam, have no money and I need a job.
People said try the docks in the north of the city.

I had some painting experience, so I went to the site hut of a company that painted ships.
They were working on an oil tanker for Shell. 
I took my girlfriend along for support. I thought that might help, as she spoke Dutch and had the kind of looks that turn men’s heads.
When we walked in the men stopped work and came over to talk to us. I was not used to such a positive reception
My girlfriend flashed her smile, fluttered her eyelashes, and I had a job.

Two groups of workers were employed there: the Dutch and “guest workers” from the Rif region of Morocco. How much you earned was determined by a differentiated pay scale. Only the Dutch were given the higher-paid jobs.

During a break, I saw two Dutchmen and two guest workers sitting opposite each other on crates. One of the Dutchmen had a map.  He asked the guest workers to show where Morocco was on the map. They could not. The Dutchmen said they were dumb and laughed at them.

As I was standing, I was looking down at all four of them. I smiled and thought to myself, all of you are dumb fuckers to me.
Over the years I have developed the same looking down attitude to much of Dutch society.
You may think I am arrogant.
So be it. It is the cat in me. The way I am.