Old Wars, New Battles


            When I walked over to our pub which is still only allowed to serve outside, I couldn’t get the radio interview I just listened too out of my mind. It was about the low number of bankruptcies compared to last year or the year before. ‘It’s a false picture’, the bankruptcy commissioner said. ‘It costs money to file for bankruptcy but thousands of small businesses just closed their doors and walked away: Restaurants, esthetics, fitness, yoga and dance studios, music and entertainment venues, catering and service businesses associated with sports and concerts, small retail stores, hair salons and many more.’

            ‘I’m just glad the bookstore is not one of them, actually we are doing as well or better than in a normal, non-pandemic year,’ my friend Campbell said. 

            ‘We drank our beers and looked out at the Gibsons’ Harbour and the pristine west coast wilderness right at our doorstep. I wanted to know what Camp thought about the recent escalation of an old war in the southern Levant, that’s been going on since 1948: Palestine vs. Israel. I knew Camp would have an opinion.

            ‘Since Hamas is pretty well a discredited political movement, outside of Gaza and the militants in the Westbank, their only way to get attention is to send as many rockets as possible into Israel and practically invite retaliation.’

            ‘You mean to say, they wanted Israel to strike back,’ I asked.

            ‘Yes, they want to be perceived as relevant again. The new co-operation between Israel and many Arab states is devastating for the Palestinians. This latest escalation is a desperate attempt to get back into the game.’

            ‘Something must have triggered this latest round of attacks?’

            ‘It was a recent court ruling about 4 houses in East Jerusalem near the tomb of the sacred Jew HaTzadik, from about 300 BC. In 1875 Jews bought these properties and leased them out to Arabs who paid the rent up to the 1990ies. Then the Palestinian authorities stopped the rent payments and disputed the ownership of the houses. After all these years, the courts now ruled that the properties should revert to their previous owners, which was the flashpoint for the recent riots.’

            ‘All about 4 houses?’

            ‘It’s a microcosm of the whole Middle-East conflict. The inhabitants are just pawns in a much bigger game. Also, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas postponed elections because he feared defeat against Hamas which would have meant expulsion of the entire corrupt elite of his Fatah party, just like in Gaza back in 2007. Hamas is asserting its power with these latest rocket attacks on Israel. They are also backed by Iran, whose leaders want to take revenge on Israel for the hacking of its nuke facilities and the killing of several scientists involved with Iran’s nuclear programme.’

            ‘And now they have the world’s attention once more. And there will be no solution, just suffering, blood, hate and death and then a deal to stop the bombing, once again.’

            We drank our beers and watched a flock of seagulls chase an eagle.

            ‘It’s more than just religion,’ I said, ‘it’s not just Jews against Muslims, is it?’

            ‘It’s about territory, history and religion; evictions, re-settlements and land titles. It’s about old hatreds and new consequences. On the other hand, young Arab Israelis have much better chances of advancement and a good life in Israel than their brethren in all the surrounding Arab states. They can be doctors, professors and politicians and many study at the University in Tel Aviv. The Arab Israeli millennials don’t want these old wars, the wars of their parents and grandparents, unlike the young Palestinians in Gaza who have no hope and no future.’ 

            ‘And yet, Israelis are at the top of the vaccinated populations and life in Israel can return to normalcy,’ I said.

            ‘Yes, extremists trampling each other, ethnic groups fighting and killing each other and the politicians corrupting and lying to each other,’ Camp said.

            ‘Did you have a good weekend?’ Vicky asked while dropping off a fresh round.

            ‘Fabulous I said,’ we had a real vacation.’

            Where?’ she asked.

            ‘At home, right here in holiday country.’

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