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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Do Those Whom Heaven Loves Die Too Early?

I was going to use this post to air some petty gripes about Israeli life.

There was going to be the mandatory moan about bad manners at supermarkets; that too many native sabrim say ‘yes’ when they mean ‘maybe’; that too often they claim to speak English when really their language skills are no better than my appalling Hebrew.

I was also going to relate how our Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) outing round and about Lake Kinneret shrivelled into petulant dissatisfaction because we felt – er, gazumped - by inflated entrance fees to places which offered little in return and where – frankly – the toilet facilities were bloody awful! This should not be.

Instead I’m writing once more about the quite comic imbalance of perception concerning Israel in international opinion.

During the past two days, we have learned that the once respectable U.K. Co-operative supermarket group has decided both to boycott produce from across the Green Line and to blacklist any suppliers who may purchase it. This reminded me of the  tertiary anti-Israel Arab Boycott of the 1970s when even ‘suppliers of suppliers of etc, etc’ became persona non grata in the Arab world.

As part of a grass-roots, member-owned business, surely the anti-Israel activists who inspired this twaddle at the Co-op are aware that their move will damage the Palestinian employees of the Israeli companies involved? The truth is that right-on, politically correct ‘activists’ don’t  give a P.A.- grown   fig for Palestinian welfare. Instead they care most passionately about their blind-hatred of Jews.

Moti.CristalThis would explain, for example, the nakedly racist antics of the British  UNISON Trade Union in Manchester whose members have prevented  Israeli Moti Cristal, an expert on conflict resolution, from giving a  lecture to National Health Service managers in Manchester.

The twist is rather neat. It is not only that Mr Cristal’s subject is about ‘conflict’ but that he has previously lectured in the U.K.  to the Muslim Council of Great Britain and has advised human-rights organisations and Palestinian groups.

But my blood really boiled over during the hysteria surrounding the death of London Marathon participant, Claire Squires. It is always horrible when a young, apparently perfectly healthy person dies suddenly. But as I did not know Ms Squires I can’t share the grief of those who did.

Moreover, the world forgot several important facts. First, Ms Squires died doing something she loved. Had she been less athletic she could have raised funds for charity by gentler means, elsewhere.Claire.Squires

Second, she was in excellent company. The very first ‘marathon runner’ - the ancient Greek,  Philippides - died after racing from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon.

Third and most important  was that there were two shockingly unnecessary deaths of young people here in Israel last week, both every bit as talented and engaging as Ms Squires.

Hila.BetzaleliIDF Lieutenant Hila Betzaleli was killed when lighting equipment collapsed on her during a rehearsal for an Independence Day ceremony while Corporal Yehoshua Hefetz, who died the same day, suffered heart failure during a trial for entry to an elite IDF unit.

The international news outlets were strangely quiet about these deaths and any effect on their families. When they died these young people had  not been fund-raising in a jolly atmosphere. They had been serving as members of Israel’s conscripted people’s army, helping to protect fellow  citizens from attack by those who hate us. Corporal Yehoshua Hefetz

Why did the ancient Greeks insist ‘those whom the gods love die young’? They most certainly do not love those they leave behind.


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