Thursday, 23 September 2021

Hamsin

Mornings in the desert can be long, especially if you start at dawn. Lunch is the main meal of the day.
Only mad dogs and shepherds go out in the midday sun.

I took the early bus to Beer Sheva for a morning course on sheep. This is around 50 years ago, so my memories are somewhat vague.

We were a small group of people standing on a lawn. There was a man who had a goat with him. Why he had a goat and not a sheep I cannot remember.
Perhaps goats were cheaper than sheep.
He was going to cut the goat up to explain its anatomy.
The goat seemed oblivious to our presence. All it was interested in was eating grass.

He laid the goat on its side on the ground.
The goat stretched its neck, trying to continue eating grass with the side of its mouth. 
Then the man slit its throat and opened it up.
I remember noticing undigested blades of grass in the goat's gullet.

It was very hot in the bus back to the kibbutz. It was a Hamsin day and the windows were shut to keep out the hot air.
There was no airco in the bus.

After lunch I started an afternoon shift with the sheep in the Hamsin. It was a lazy afternoon because of the intense heat. The sheep were not interested in moving much and neither was I.

People can be just as stupid as goats and sheep, except we are more diverse in our stupidity.






Sunday, 15 August 2021

The power of the perception of power

I was an arrogant, bigmouthed teenager. I talked a lot because I found listening to myself less boring than listening to others.

Every now and then I had a bit of bother from these attributes. One time my big mouth got me into a fight with the school bully.
We had a verbal altercation at a bus stop; bully angry, “tomorrow, lunchtime, in the school playground”.

I had interfered with a perceived power relationship and had to pay for that. He was the bully and ruled. I was perceived to be weaker and supposed to appease not oppose him.

The next day I was in the playground at lunchtime (I may have been reciting poetry to myself or taking part in some other worthy intellectual activity, as was my want). 
He had not forgotten his threat and walked over to me, flanked by his followers.
They started chanting: fight, fight, fight. Soon all the kids in the playground were chanting the same thing.

A large circle was formed with the bully and me inside at opposite points.
I looked over at him and, surprisingly enough, he seemed somewhat apprehensive. After all, we had never met before the altercation and he usually did not have to fight people his own size.

We rushed at each other. I tripped him and then sat on him. There was not much he could do after that.
Some teachers came barging through the circle and the fight was over.
I had won.

Nobody at the school ever physically confronted me after that.
My tripping him was a fluke, but it created a perception of strength/power.

Some five years later I had a visit on my kibbutz from Dennis. He was the younger brother of a Jewish schoolfriend from my class. Dennis was three years behind us at the same school. 
I had hardly ever spoken to him before as I did not mix with the lower years.

Dennis thanked me. I asked him, why?
He said before my fight he had been bullied for being a Jew.
After I won he was left alone. They knew I was a Jew and friends with his brother, and did not want to mess with me.

What a difference a lucky trip can make.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

The woke fig leaf Jew

Arrogant, woker than woke, in a constant state of hysteria, a Dutch caricature of a smart ass, a perennial foot-stamping adolescent. 
Her name is Rosanne Hertberger, a microbiologist, writer and columnist. She is also Jewish, her middle name is Yente.
I can't stand her.

She writes a whatever comes to her mind column for a national newspaper that, since it was bought by a Flemish investment company, oozes wokeness with special emphasis on hostility towards Israel. 
And that is the one blot on her woke CV: she supports the existence of the state of Israel.
Well just about, she is always distancing herself from the policy of that country.
For her employer this is great. She is their fig leaf Jew.

I wrote a story about an old Jewish schoolfriend who wanted to be accepted so much that he ended up being buried in a Christian cemetery.
So I understand her predicament of not being completely accepted by her peers because of her "aberration" from their norm of vitriolic hate of the state of Israel.

I think it is this longing for acceptance that is behind her recent hysterical attack on other Dutch Jews.
An abysmal slander in a column with the title: "Sometimes you do have to say nasty things about Jews".

In the column she writes about child sexual abuse by a Jewish teacher in an orthodox Jewish school. The school and a rabbi tried to cover up the abuse and delayed the investigation. Eventually the court case against the abuser collapsed.

I also think the actions of the school and rabbi were beyond the pale, deplorable and unacceptable.
However, like I said, she writes in a constant state of hysteria. Therefore, she does not stop at the actual case. 
She goes farther.

Prejudice is often the extrapolation from one negative case to a whole group. An example: saying all Black people are murderers because there is one case of a Black murderer.

That is what she does to Dutch Jews in the second part of her article. She uses the case of the child abuser at the Jewish school to attack the whole Jewish community and its representative groups.

And then she crosses the line to antisemitism. She maintains that the culprits behind the cover up are also running the Jewish community. She does not use the same words, but portrays them as the "puppet masters" of the antisemitic libel. 

She must have been having a bad day, because after the attack on the Jewish community she starts scattering her hysteria around at more groups. 
From a tirade against Christian parties who are pro-Jewish she proceeds to an indictment of all politicians and elected officials who are not in her political bubble.
Then out of the blue, she interjects a sneer implying that Jews are better treated than Muslims.

Her friends are surely proud of her. Perhaps she will feel more accepted now.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

A high-quality country

“Health providers nationwide began to vaccinate citizens over 60 against the coronavirus Monday, as Israel’s immunization effort reaches the general public for the first time…."
Monday 21 December, 2020, Times of Israel.

I live in the Netherlands which will be the last country in West Europe to start vaccinations. I think the over 60s will be vaccinated here at the earliest over 2 months.

All Western European countries will vaccinate old, vulnerable people with the first batches of the Pfizer vaccine, except for the Dutch.
According to the Dutch government, it is logistically impossible to distribute the Pfizer vaccine around the country in a high-quality way.
Therefore, vulnerable old people in the Netherlands will instead receive the later Moderna vaccine, which is some 10% less effective for older people than the Pfizer.

Other countries were ready to distribute the Pfizer vaccine once it was approved.
The Netherlands was ready to start the deliberations with the sectional interest organizations involved with the vaccination process, in order to ensure a careful strategy for the high-quality distribution of the vaccine and high-quality eventual vaccination of some of the Dutch population.

The tardiness of the vaccinations does not worry the government or the sectional interest organizations. They say that careful planning and high-quality are more important than speed. Some have also said that a week here or there is not important.
It will make no difference to them, but it will have a negative effect on the death statistics.
However, for the Dutch government and sectional interest organizations, these excess deaths are an inevitable consequence of a careful and high-quality process intended to stop excess deaths.

There are a few who have had the audacity to question current policy. They point to mediocre leadership, no accountability and a culture of unnecessary constant deliberations as the reasons why the Dutch are so late with the vaccinations.

They were answered succinctly by the director of the Dutch area health authorities.
He said, people who think it could be done faster in a careful and high-quality way do not understand vaccinations.

A damning indictment of the rest of the Western world or an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Joe Biden, echoes of Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump

The United States is imploding.
This is the result of "psychic epidemics" (Carl Jung). No, not comparable to the benign flower power of the1960s but comparable to the malignant, tribalist hate of the interbellum years.

The major psychic epidemics in the US started before Trump, but the present manifestation centers around his person.
On the one hand, the zealots who worship Trump, adoring him as if he is a Messiah-light.
On the other hand, the zealots who think Trump is the incarnation of the devil.
Both are destroying the country with their tribal fanaticism.

Biden says he wants to "heal"America. 
Yes, he can isolate the Trumpist zealots with an outreach to more moderate Republicans. His expertise in wheeling and dealing makes him very suitable for this purpose.

However, it is his own zealots who are the biggest problem for him.
A “Squad” who want a McCarthy-type purge of Trump supporters from “polite society”; the thuggery of Antifa and BLM on the streets; the thuggery of a mob media that cancels those who do not toe the politically correct line; the thuggery of campus mobs who want to expel anybody with a dissident meaning and want to ban every dissident speaker from universities.

I doubt Biden is willing to take on his own zealots. I do not think he will “heal” America. 
He failed the first test: when Antifa recently attacked Trump supporters, he refused to specifically condemn their violence. Instead he condemned “all attacks of violence”. 
Echoes of Jeremy Corbyn condemning "all prejudice" and Donald Trump's "there are good people on both sides". 

Sunday, 15 November 2020

The Trials and Tribulations of a Hitchhiker

1969.
My girlfriend’s mother gave me a lift in her Citroen Dyane to Hook of Holland. From there I was going to take the ferry to England.
I had not seen my parents in 6 years.

She dropped me off at the entrance to the port. I walked the rest of the way to where the ferries left for Harwich. Unfortunately, I had missed the day ferry and would have to wait all day for the evening ferry.
I decided to hitchhike down to Ostend in Belgium.
It was a shorter, cheaper crossing, there were more ferries leaving from there, it was not that far and it was better than just waiting around for 10 hours.

It took me all day, and I ended up in Zeebrugge, not in Ostend. Townsend had a morning and evening ferry service between Zeebrugge and Dover.

There was a kiosk for tickets. I asked the ticket seller when the next ferry was leaving.
He pointed to a ship in the distance and said, “You just missed the evening ferry. The next one is tomorrow morning”.

That was somewhat upsetting.
I walked around for a bit thinking about what I should do next. There was a bench in a bus shelter that I designated as my sleeping quarters.
Then I went into a bar that was just opening for a cup of coffee. 

The proprietor came over for a chat and I told him about the situation.
He said not to worry about food and drink, as pretty soon the bar would fill up with English lorry drivers who were going to take the morning ferry.
They had day money for expenses which they spent on drinks in his bar. He would add a meal and drinks for me onto one of their bills.
They would not care and anyway they would be too drunk to notice.

The bar did fill up quite quickly and I did get a meal and drinks.
Later in the evening the ticket seller came in. When he saw me he waved and went over to talk to the proprietor.
They both came over to my table.

The ticket seller said, “This is a new ship and they are offering perks. Co-drivers can travel for free. If one of these lorry drivers who has no co-driver is willing to take you with him, I will write out an extra ticket for you.”
The proprietor stood up, looked around his cafe and walked over to an inebriated lorry driver who agreed to take me as his co-driver.

Things were looking up. I thought that I had also found a good place to sleep: international lorries have beds.
Unfortunately he had found me a Yorkshire driver who not only looked like an extra from Steptoe and Son, his lorry was also more a rag and bone man’s truck. It had no beds and I had to sleep in the passenger’s seat. 
Still, it was better than the bus shelter.

Early the next morning someone came round to the lorry with the new tickets. Everything went quite smoothly after that. 
We drove onto the ship and there was a man in uniform there checking the incoming vehicles.
“Driver and co-driver” he said in a posh voice. 
“Yes, sir” we both replied. If I had been wearing a hat, I would have tipped it.

Then it was time for breakfast.
One of the perks Townsend offered was a free British breakfast. 
I appreciated that.
Another perk was allowing the drivers to buy duty free cigarettes and alcohol at a reduced rate (the rate for the crew).

My Yorkshire chauffeur gave me money to buy an extra round of duty free goods for him under my name, which I was pleased to do.
When we reached Dover, I gave him his cigarettes and booze and bid him farewell. 
His lorry had to go through customs and there was a long queue.

I was lucky and almost immediately got a lift up to London from a foreign student who was driving a Citroen Dyane.


Monday, 9 November 2020

The man who threatened to shoot Velvella

We had not seen Gidon and Franca in more than 30 years.
You know how time flies. We went up to see them in Nahariya.

Gidon took me round to visit his eldest daughter and family. He introduced me to his son-in-law with the words, “This is the guy who threatened to shoot Velvella.”
I thought, so that piece of shit has become a legend and replied, “No it was not me. That was Kalman Wishingrad.”

Velvella was a short, stocky staff sergeant in the paratroopers. He was also an unarmed combat instructor.
Besides that, he was a sadist and a bully.

Part of our basic gear was a poncho. Two ponchos threaded together were a tent.
Kalman was the other half of my tent.
He was a bit weird and not very sociable but we got on well enough.

When Kalman was doing his basic training, Velvella was a sergeant at the base.
They only met once.

Kalman was coming back from guard duty. He was tired and a bit dishevelled.
Velvella saw him and thought he would have a bit of “fun”. He called Kalman over and bawled him out for being dishevelled.
Then he ordered him to run about holding his rifle above his head with both hands.

As Velvella was enjoying himself so much, he upped the ante.
He ordered Kalman to start walking “like a whore”. This is a punishment where you have to squat, raise your rifle above your head and start walking. It can be pretty tiring after a bit.

Kalman snapped.
During basic training you do not have any live ammunition except when you are doing guard duty. As Kalman was coming back from guard duty he still had a magazine in his FN.

He cocked the rifle, aimed it at Velvella and said, “If you say another word I will blow your head off.”
They stared at each other for a bit, and then Velvella turned around and walked off.

I know the story because Kalman told it to me. Perhaps he embellished it a bit, but the confrontation had been verified by others who witnessed the incident.

Why did Gidon think it was me?
There is another story about my confrontation with Velvella. I was also instrumental in getting him kicked out of the paratroopers.
I think both stories had been rolled into one and I was now the person who had threatened him.

With hindsight I should have kept my mouth shut when Gidon introduced me to his son-in-law.
I do not mind being known as the man who threatened to shoot Velvella.
It has a certain Liberty Valance ring to it.