The Far Side

New on the Jewschool ‘board of posties’, this one is beamed from Cambodia. And no, there isn’t a synagogue yet; actually even Hebrew menus are yet to be etched on the tourist trail… I wish to thank Mobius for the invitation to this circle. It is quite possible that my views are off-beat for some of the regular attendees (though by no means I hold them in solitude – thanks God for that), so I hope any argument or discussion born herewith will stream in good spirit and generous celebration of differences, and want to profess I only mean to get to the bottom of things to the best of my ability and that I come in peace and for peace of mind. To err is human, and to argue is Jewish no doubt.
“Things that you see from there, you cannot see from here” was a song I grew up with, never thought it would be my daily reality. I spent my later teens and army service as part of the great Zionist expansion of the late 70th and 80th. During my army service, my Nachal Gar-in was destined to one of the two kibbutzim later uprooted from Sinai; and we were one of the first groups to set up the settlement of Bdolach near Rafah (of course, we called it by the Hebrew name – Raffi-ach and saw no irony in that). We used to go down, quite casually armed and dressed (part of the unit’s pride those days) and stroll like the Paritz downtown on our way to buy a falafel, or a baklava. 18 year old royalty in full and shabby regalia: what I find most baffling, in light of the years and the distance travelled since, is not that it did not occur to me I should question my right to stroll thus, but that it did not occur to me I had the right to question at all.
This picture has landed in my cyber door step few days ago. These are young monk-novices, most likely in Thailand, and the Hebrew poster says – “We are against the eviction as well”. (better translation anyone? – I can’t find a good word for âéøåù). It is probably a little too late to comment. Water under the bridge, or maybe sand under the bulldozer’s tracks is more appropriate a phraze. But to me it is a symbol of one of the tenets of this later fundamentalism setting into our collective spirit. We could, should and would use anything to justify our position. We don’t ponder to deeply, and never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
The Buddhists monks in the picture are unsuspecting partners in this autosuggestion of persecution and strife. I doubt that any of their Buddhist values would have prompt them to take the Israeli side in justice, though their training would have emphasized compassion to all those who are troubled, be their angst real or construed. From here, the one that really stood out as incongruent and abusively false, were the teenage girls, orange patches pinned to chest, walking with raise hands and shrieking hysterically.

11 thoughts on “The Far Side

  1. The proper translation of “girush” is ‘exile’ or ‘expulsion’.
    But let’s not quibble with your vocabulary – you’ve acquired some fine, smooth, intellectual sounding words like “autosuggestion” and “regalia” with which to cover up your still-confused attitudes.
    Let’s try it this way: after 2,000 years of living on other people’s sufferance, the Jews finally regained the right to defend themselves and pursue their own self-interest as every other nation.
    This sort of freedom never comes on a silver platter (well, except for the Palestinians, who have been begged and bribed to form such a state, but instead chose violence…) and so you, like any other self-respecting citizen of a self-respecting country, fought for your place on earth – and won.
    That is why you didn’t question your “right” to walk into a village unmolested – the Israel you grew up in still bestowed on you a modicum of self-respect, which you seem to have subsequently lost.
    Obviously for the monks – raised on the smoking embers of recent Cambodian history – the story of the Jewish struggle to regain independence still resonates. They understand and cherish the freedom you once fought for – even as you’ve become too, uh, *sophisticated* to value the basic self-respect you seem to have discarded.

  2. um, actually, that text is totally photoshopped onto the sign they’re holding. if you examine the large version in photoshop you can see crusties around the text (aka “artifacts”) that are not present elsewhere in the image. ie., they took it from a lower res JPEG and imposed it on the sign which they cleaned of text.

  3. The photo is not edited. Looking at the shadows of the print and a few other evidences, the picture can be confirmed as legit. Especially as others like it are available to anyone who cares to look for them.

  4. Edited, or not? Actually – the sign is real, but the monks are three yeshiva bochers only the beards have been removed 😉
    And to my dear fellow human being Ben-David: you might want to check the word sufferance – I think it implies little more tolerance than you would care for…
    And I am indeed relieved to know that I was walking in Rafah unmolested because of self-respect. You see, all these years, I thought the reason I could do it was because I was totting a gun. How silly of me.
    Besides the fact the monks are Thai, the fact is that large part of the Cambodian tragedy is self-inflicted and was born out of a minority with a hard-core ideology trying to force everyone else to ‘live by the book’. If anything, their empathy with struggling to regain independence would come out of their experience with the Vietnamese, who run the country under a military rule for some years. Hmmm, where did I hear of such things before?
    I would tend to ponder why one should pay attention to details if they don’t serve his/her views, but let’s not quibble.
    For your health, and for constructive dialogues.

  5. Sufferance is used exactly as I intended.
    Whether the monks are Thai or Camodian makes little difference – they could very well be Chinese. If the photo is real, then it’s clear that their own experience of religious and ethnic persecution in their own region of the world informs their support for Israel.
    Your attempt to conflate (democratic, religiously plural) Israel’s self-defense with the (communist, dictatorial) Vietnamese program of ethnic cleansing and cultural re-education is further evidence that this is just another Mobiesque shallow attempt to strike a politically correct pose… and YOU are twitting ME about omitting details that don’t fit one’s worldview?
    Mobileh – where do you get them?
    Although there’s some comfort in the fact you had to fish as far as Cambodia (if THAT is to be believed…)

  6. Dear Beb-David,
    I assure you my Cambodian residence is genuine.
    Note that I have no wish to turn this thread into a shouting match, so in advance, I hereby state that if you want this to be about who is right and who is wrong, I have no interest. You win. I have not the impetus to proclaim proverbial truths. If you can appreciate the fact I am curious to get to the bottom of your logic, and realise that the benefits in forging bridges between vastly different belief systems is mutual, than it is worthwhile. However, if you rather strut your superiority, be my guest, the stage is yours…
    So, if you are seriously interested in pursuing a dialogue (as oppose to being right), I request you loose the derisive tone – it does you no service, at least as far as the intelligence goes, it belittles your posture and infantilises the conversation.
    I was not trying to combine democracy with communism (though I do think a Liberal and Socialist governance is a good middle way). I was referring to your dramatic statement with regards to the monks – “… raised on the smoking embers of recent Cambodian history – the story of the Jewish struggle to regain independence still resonates…. “. Your analogy simply does not work in our favour:
    A.because most of the damage in their recent history was self-inflicted – not relevant to the Israelis; if anything, maybe true to the Palestinian choices
    B.because their struggle to regain independence was pursued in the face of a foreign occupying power, which whether you agree or reject the
    notion ‘occupied territories’, the Palestinians are not a foreign military invader.
    C. Because though in both case, the US government has a large part in the play, the rolls are quite of opposing nature – in the Far East it was pursuing a
    cold-war driven battle of strongholds; while in the Middle East their main interest is oil (I don’t buy the democracy schpiel, but let’s stay out of this
    But I realise now where you are coming from, and it is an old argument I have had on these pages few times before. In Hebrew it is called ‘Hakozak Hanigzal’. You seem to think the Israelis are still the victims in the equation of power. Speaking of conflations, this is a superb one – 50 years onwards, we are both the mini-super-power that bow to no foreign dictates and maintains one of the strongest armies in the world, and at the same time we are the poor and persecuted minority; the whole world is against us (except of course, where our “struggle to regain independence still resonates”). It is a bittersweet and self-righteous position. We can hold 3 million people at gun point and still fight our heroic battles of good vs. evil. It is no wonder we are so invested in being right.
    For peace – Komai 🙂

  7. We can hold 3 million people at gun point and still fight our heroic battles of good vs. evil. It is no wonder we are so invested in being right.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    It’s now about 15 years after Oslo.
    Anyone who can deliver up a whopper like this – that the Israelis are no longer victims, that it is WE who are holding the Palis at gunpoint – as if the past 15 years of terror and betrayed hopes never happened – anyone with this simplistic, self-hating attitude is too far gone for rational discussion.
    I have wasted too much time with people – some on this blog – who subscribe to the Bottomless Coffee Cup Theory of Israeli guilt, and Palestinian nobility.
    You can have this merry go round all to yourself. See the pretty ballooons? Weeeee!

  8. where’s da balloon daddy? can i have a balloon? (i like my daddy because he’s big and strong and he can shout loud and make fun of people) bye!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.