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 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.
Miaow.