Skip to comments.Conversation in London
Posted on 01/08/2004 5:39:55 AM PST by SJackson
In the early sixties I enrolled at Sir John Cass College for captains and mates in London. It was considered an excellent school for officers and I was glad they accepted me for the course. After Israels War of Independence in 1948, I served as a seaman and later as a second officer with the Israeli merchant marine. The course at Sir John Cass College was to advance me to the rank of chief mate and eventually to captain. Most of the officers who participated in the course were young men from middle and upper class families, considered by the British to be good officer material.
The officers considered me an odd bird, as I was a Jew who came from Israel, and not too many Jews served in the British merchant marine. But, all in all, they were quite friendly and very sympathetic towards Israel, which was considered the underdog at the time. Most of them later became captains serving with the British merchant marine. I made quite a few friends among the officers.
One of them, Randolph Smith, was my studying mate. After we passed our examination, I went back to Israel. In the beginning, we would correspond, and even meet when I happened to be in London, but as the years passed, we drifted apart.
In September of last year, I was visiting London and ran into Randolph Smith. He was now a retired captain and lived quite comfortably on his pension at his family estate. He still retained his boyish looks and wavy hair, which turned white with the years. He wore an expensive suit, fancy boots and had an aura of wealth about him that only the British know how to display without being overly ostentatious. He was very glad to see me and invited me for a drink to a very chic new hotel full of palm trees and overstuffed armchairs.
At nearby tables sat several Arabs in traditional garb drinking tea and reading Arabic newspapers. When he saw my looks, he laughed: "You dont have to worry about them. They are rich Saudis with suitcases full of money, probably paying a thousand pounds a night for a room in this hotel. Hardly terrorist material."
I wondered about that.
After ordering drinks and sandwiches, which came to fifty pounds he said: "Remember John Collins? He is coming to join us."
John Collins was with us on the same course back then. I remembered him as a rather introverted, religious man.
Randolph told me a little of what he did since we saw each other last, and I was surprised to learn that after retiring from the merchant marine, he made his doctorate in political science. He had hoped to start a new career as a diplomat, but it didnt work out.
After a while John Collins showed up. He had aged rather more than Randolph and walked with a slight stoop. We shook hands warmly and settled down to reminisce about the old days at school, and ended up telling sailors jokes.
I say, do you still live in that God-forsaken Middle East? You seem to be treating those poor Palestinians quite shabbily, John Collins said after we ordered a second round of drinks.
I was a little surprised by the shift of topic and his sudden change of tone. I remembered how John was staunchly pro-Israel in the days when we studied together and I asked him what happened to change his mind.
All fair-minded people in this country think that your army behaves abominably against the Palestinian civilian population. Tanks and helicopters against kids with slings and rocks. You cant deny that, can you?
Where do you get your information from? I asked, while Randolph was trying to change the subject.
Our news papers and television reports are full of what you are doing to the Palestinians, and far as I know, our newspapers and the media were always fair and neutral in reporting news.
Well, they are not fair and neutral anymore, as far as Jews and Israel are concerned. They are giving you a totally distorted picture of what is really happening. By now, you should be aware that it is they, the Arabs, who always start the wars against us, and the present war was no exception. When you start a war you have to suffer consequences. By the way, the same Palestinians you are so concerned about, towards the end of the thirties, waged an intifada against the British Mandate. Would you like to know how your soldiers treated your poor Palestinians?
The British army always acted in a civilized manner, no matter what you say, John said in a proud voice.
Did they, now? Let me relate to you how many Palestinians they hanged every day, and how they mistreated the civilian population. In comparison, the Israeli army is a very humane army indeed. So far, we didnt hang a single Palestinian, no matter how much Jewish blood he had on his hands, and how many children he murdered.
Let me quote to you some of what the British officials wrote about the Palestinians and what they did to punish them.
In the late thirties the Arabs staged a revolt against the British authorities, killing officials and attacking British soldiers. To suppress the rebellion the British Chief Secretary Battershill made the following suggestions: I doubt whether any Arab has really any ethical feeling against murder and I am sure Arabs look upon murder as a justifiable weapon. We shall never get them to change their fundamental belief on this point. Our only way to deal with them is to make them see that it does not pay.
And how do you think the British achieved that goal?
To start with, they condemned over a hundred Palestinians to death and hanged them without mercy. On one occasion, the British hanged three Arabs the same day. Northern District Commissioner Alec Seath Kirkbridge was complaining that he had to view three bodies lying on slabs with purple faces. Young boys, some of them seven years old, were often sentenced to lashings. During the uprising the British demolished two thousand houses in Jaffa, Jennin and Nablus.
Sometimes, whole villages were driven from their houses and placed in open fields. The British doctor Elliot Forester wrote in his diary that on May 1939, in the village of Halhoul, near Hebron, the Arabs were put in open pens, one for men and one for women. They were kept there for days without food and water. After two days, the British allowed the women to return home, but the men were retained.
After that action, more than twenty people were lying dead on the fields.
As for the hue and the cry about the security fence we are building to keep out the murderers of our children, let me tell you that you, the British, built such a fence in Palestine way before us.
Soon after the rebellion began, the British sent a terrorism expert by the name of Charles Tegart. Charles Tegart had a security fence erected along the northern border to prevent the infiltration of terrorists. He built dozens of police fortresses around the country that are standing there to this day and are known as Tegart fortresses. He also imported Doberman dogs from South Africa and established an interrogation center in Jerusalem to train interrogators in torture. It is recorded that suspects underwent brutal questioning, involving humiliation, beating, and the Turkish practice of hitting prisoners on the soles of their feet and genitals.
If you would like to know more of how the British quelled the Arab rebellion, against the Arabs, I gathered that information from a book called One Palestine, Complete by Tom Segev, who made a thorough historical investigation on the subject. Besides, all the information is available from British official documents.
Of course, the British claimed that it was self defense, that they were simply defending themselves against the Arab terrorists, who were out to murder their soldiers and officials.
So, before you accuse us of mistreating the poor Palestinians, you should examine what the British did under similar circumstances. But even that is not quite accurate. You were not subjected to brutal suicide bombers who blew up your civilian population, especially targeting young people and children.
Yes, I can state in all fairness that in comparison to the British, the Israeli army is humane indeed.
After I finished my long speech, I calmly drank my single malt whisky and ate the thinly sliced cucumber sandwich.
John looked at me in astonishment, while Randolph smiled.
I say, you dont really believe all the rubbish you told us about the way the British treated the Palestinians?
Randolph, I remember you told me that your uncle served as an officer in the Palestine police. Didnt he speak about what happened there?
Randolph laughed. Sure he did, and the things that Solly just told us were just a small part of what we did to stop the rebellion. What my uncle thought of the Arabs could fill a dictionary of foul words. I think that what the Chief Secretary Battershill had to say about the Arabs was very accurate and if you Israelis would follow his advice, you wouldnt be in the predicament that you are in now.
As part of my course for my doctorate, I studied the Middle East very closely. The problem with you Jews is that you are trying to please a world that is basically anti-Semitic. Whether you are right or wrong doesnt really matter; no matter what you will do, you will always be wrong.
I followed the story of the battle in Jenin, where you practically sacrificed many good soldiers to appease worlds opinion, and what did you get? The world accusing you of a massacre that never took place. On the contrary, you sacrificed so many good men to prove that you are being fair. Ironically, the Americans almost at the same time, bombed the hell out of villages in Afghanistan, killing all the inhabitants, who were suspected Talliban supporters. They didnt even bother to defend their actions. It took months for the prejudiced UN to admit that there was no massacre in Jenin and that the Arabs simply lied, as they usually do, to serve their cause.
You know, and we all know, that the media focuses on the struggle between you and the Palestinians out of all proportion to the rest of the worlds news. Unless there are dozens of Israeli civilians, women and children flying through the air by some suicide bomber, you are always presented as the bad guys.
Let us for one moment assume that Israel does not exist and that king Abdullah is the ruler of the whole region. Now, let us further assume that the Palestinians stage an intifada against the king. What the king would do we know from the past, when his daddy, King Hussein, killed thousands of Palestinians and chased Arafat and his lot out to Lebanon. The Palestinians mark that day as the Black September.
And how the media reacted, we also know. They hardly mentioned it, and if they did, they were sympathetic to King Hussein. Now, imagine that the Jews ruled Jordan and massacred the Palestinians the way King Hussein did. What would have been the worlds reaction? These two scenarios show you how prejudiced the media and the world is against the Jews.
So why dont you just do what you have to do to survive there, because you will be damned if you do and you will be damned if you dont; so just do what has to be done. Remember the words of the British Chief Secretary Battershill: I doubt whether any Arab has really any ethical feeling against murder and I am sure Arabs look upon murder as a justifiable weapon. We shall never get them to change their fundamental belief on this point. Our only way to deal with them is to make them see that it does not pay. Follow his advice and you cant go wrong. For a while, there will be an outcry against Israel, but soon they will forget about it, as they usually do, and the Arabs will only respect you, because the only thing they respect is force.
For a while we sat in silence sipping our drinks. Then John Collins said: You know, Randolph, I never heard you give such an elaborate speech about the Jews and the Arabs. I guess there are many things I simply had no idea about. You watch the telly and read your paper and they form your opinion for you. But, in a way, I am disappointed, because, as a religious man, I somehow expected that the people who gave us a Jesus and the Bible would act differently.
Well John, perhaps after two thousand years of turning the other cheek, the Jews got tired of it, Randolph said, ordering another whisky.
We drank in silence and after a while said goodbye to each other. John Collins left first.
Randolph smiled as he shook my hand. Anybody who bothers to learn the facts, unless he is an anti-Semite, would be on your side. Its the ignorant ones that you have to persuade. You know, there is an old Roman saying that applies to you Jews: Que licet Jovi, non licet bovi. What is allowed to the Gods, is not allowed to the oxen. Algerian Islamic fanatics can kill a hundred and fifty thousand of their own Moslem brothers, and no one gives a damn. Millions of Africans die in wars against each other and who is to blame? And so on, and so on. But if a few Palestinian terrorists are killed in action against the Jews, the world media immediately goes into action denouncing Israel.
On the way to the hotel, I thought about what Randolph said. He actually gave me some useful insights for my next conversations in Europe.
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