Saturday, August 12, 2006

when in war, do as the...

Israeli Arab columnist Sayed Kashua writes in Haaretz,

no comment

What a mess, ya'allah. And I was one of those who believed the people who said the war would end by this week. Wow, you have no idea how much I hate wars. Depression is not the word. Now I think the phrase "The war will be over this week already" is permanently true, like the idea that messiah will always come.

"Quiet now," I shout at my little girl, who is bugging me incessantly and not letting me lie on the sofa like a human being and watch a little news.

"Daddy, daddy!"

"I swear, if you're not quiet, I'll lock you in your room," I shout. "What kind of way is that to talk to the girl?" scolds my wife, she being involved in the field of education and whatnot. "She's not letting me watch television. War, damn it, war." "So what?" my wife shouts. "Why are you letting her see these scenes anyway?"

"Do you want me to switch to Al-Jazeera Kids? Fine. There, between Tom and Jerry and Power Rangers, they show clips with children's bodies."

My daughter cries a little and I feel even worse. "Come here, sweetie, come here. I'm really sorry. It's because of this movie. Remember I told you that movies aren't real, that there's no way the cat can fall from a 100-story building and still keep running after that? It's the same thing. A movie, only they call it war. See the red? That's ketchup, they wash it off later in the shower."

"That's not true, Katyushas are falling in Haifa and Safed, we were there on holiday," the girl adds, weeping. "You promised a holiday, sea, hotel, after day camp, and you didn't do a thing. You lie all the time."

"It's not nice to talk to Daddy like that. Daddy never lies. As soon as this movie that they're making in the north is over, we are going on holiday."

"Daddy, look," she shouts with enthusiasm and points to the screen. "Take me there, Daddy, that's where I want to go." The image on the TV screen is of small children playing with inflated things, children in bathing suits and a lot of games. "There, Daddy, take us there."

"That's Gaydamak's tent city."

"Yes, Gaydamak, take us to Gaydamak."

"There's no way. We can't go."

"You're a liar."

"You can't talk to Daddy like that. Get going, off to your room."

"What kind of way is that to talk to the girl?" my wife says, getting up from the sofa and taking her by the hand. "Come on, sweetie, don't cry, come on, you should be asleep already."

What nerves, ya'allah. There's no end to it. What am I going to do? The girl is right - I've been promising her a holiday for half a year already, sea, pool. What can you do - war. "What happened to you with her?" - my wife has returned to the living room - "Do you have any idea what you look like?"

"How would you like me to look, exactly?"

"All right, we're all on edge, but there's a limit."

I go back to staring at the war. Ya'allah, how do you get out of this mess? Of all the options in the world, I had to be born an Israeli Arab, what shit it is. I don't have many choices. No matter how I look at it, I have only two options: kowtowing or militancy. There's no middle ground. I checked out all the possibilities, thought of a million different formulas. Nothing. I don't have a lot of time and I have to decide what I am: an ass-licker or an extreme nationalist. It's a hard choice.

I tell you, in a desperate attempt to find a way out of this trap I watched all the Arabs who were interviewed on television, I read everything they wrote in the Israeli papers, I followed their shouts in the Knesset, but none of the precious Israeli Arabs delivered the goods.

If you come and say that we are all in the same boat - the fact is that people are being killed in Nazareth, in Haifa and in the Arab villages in the Galilee - that there is an alliance of life and an alliance of death with the Jewish people, and at the end of your remarks express the hope that the war will end, people will say it's because you are looking after numero uno, that you don't want to offend your boss, and above all because you're afraid to lose your National Insurance. If you attack the government's policy and the military way of thought and call for an end to the bloodshed on both sides, people will say that the sea is the same sea and the Arabs are the same Arabs and that they all want to throw the Jews to the sharks and have done with them.

True, there are also a few Jews, not many, but there are some who speak against the war on television, but that doesn't mean under any circumstances that they support Hezbollah. They fall within the legitimate framework of the Israeli internal debate, and you don't. So what do you do, damn it?

I didn't see even one Arab who made a good impression. I watch them on TV and have pity. Why do they accept every offer to be interviewed, the fools? You can understand politicians who want to impress their voters, but people from all kinds of organizations and bodies - don't they get it? Don't they understand that they will look ridiculous no matter what? The fix is in. There is no way to come out looking good.

When they are asked, "So what does the Arab public think about the developments?" the meaning is actually: admit it, admit you support Nasrallah, say you abhor the state, you fifth column, you, every one of you. There is no room here to be against war as such. Hey, who are we kidding ? Arabs have suddenly become pacifists? Vegetarians? Hey, tell us another one.

When it comes to the Israeli media, the best thing an Arab can do in wartime is shut up. Abstain, not appear, not write. Because the Israeli target audience will treat what they say with more than a grain of salt, if at all. You don't really wield influence. No one listens to you. And if they do, it's only to reinforce positions they already hold, most of which are against you.

Attempts at self-defense and citing concern for coexistence are useless slogans, most of which will go down within the framework of the response, "Yeah, yeah, sure, why not? Coexistence. We'll show you what coexistence is."

The only way I can think of that can satisfy the interviewer and after him the Israeli viewer is to appear in a Kach movement T-shirt and pound on the tank in the backdrop, while screaming, "Pulverize them, don't leave a stone standing, pulverize."

"Tell me," I ask my wife, "what's better, kowtowing or militancy?"

"What do you want from me?"

"No, nothing. I think I'll go on holiday until the war ends."

"That could take time, no?"

"Noooooo, they said a week."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What're we goin' to do with the ...ers?
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