Saturday, May 7, 2005

How To Turn The World Upside Down

A. Now: Olive Trees

I should have known.
I didn't know.
I have not seen.
I didn't hear.
I stayed silent.

Here and there I saw large signs
No nursery name mentioned, no address provided - just a mobile phone number.

Olive trees seem to be multiplying, in the boulevard opposite my place and right throughout the city. They are almost like the papaya trees: it is enough to toss the seeds on the ground and they grow all by themselves.

I got to the "Kibush" web site and it was almost like a movie. The turning over [1] of olive trees. They get turned over and turned over and then they get transported to some place, by the authority of so and so, with not-so-anonymous people turning a blind eye.

Journalist Meron Rapoport (now at Haaretz) had his investigative feature on the subject published at the Yedioth Ahronoth daily back in January 2002.
He won a prize for it.
Not in Tel-Aviv. In Italy.

You can't love all the people all of the time.
But trees - how can you not love them, all of them and all of the time?
There are greater lovers than me. Their love breeds blindness.

I wrote in my Hebrew blog at the "Notes" web site:
"Let's see you, Agatha [Christie], solving my cryptic riddle."

Answers started arriving from far-flung places like the Technion in Haifa, a mansion in mighty Savion [2], a boulevard in Ramat Hasharon, town squares and village squares, rural communities and kibbutzim.
It's spread like cancer.
I had a second go: "Agatha Christie is not silent."
Then I had a third go:
"An interim report: the Truth Situation.
Along with explanations and clarification in response to readers' comments.


Here and there someone wrote about the supply of olive trees; their point of origin.
People tsk-tsked about the heartless uprooters and oppressors. So distant from us. So much not like us. What are you on about, Corinna?

Who we forgot along the way? Who should we not avoid considering? Who should we raise hell about, till they blush?

We have to keep going till "An ancient olive tree" will no longer be a expensive fashion statement that dropped like a tendril into our lap, out of nowhere. It has to be acknowledged as to what it has really become: a symbol of blind or feigned innocent collaboration with an evil deed.

B. The First Victory

Strom Thurmond was a leading opponent of desegregation between Blacks and whites in the United States. Even though he was a member of the Democratic Party (sounds familiar) he stood against Harry Truman and won only in the southern states (such were the Democrats there). He lost but didn't give up. In 1956 he initiated and wrote the Southern Manifesto opposing the Supreme Court's ruling for the abolition of segregation. He topped it all and excelled himself in a filibuster of non-stop 24 hours and 18 minutes speech against the USA civil rights legislation in 1957.

Obviously, he never made it to be President. He did make it to his own hundredth birthday party, on December 2002.
On that occassion, Mr Trent Lott, then Senate Majority Leader, raised his glass in admiration: "I want to say this about my state [Mississippi]: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

A statement praising racism made by the Senate majority leader 45 years after equality of citizens was enshrined in law.
You would have expected a political storm.
It was mentioned as a two-second, light-hearted, item on the news.

By 2002 there were nearly a million bloggers in the United States. One after another the bloggers grabbed the story and didn't let go. The whole thing spread like a bushfire in the blogosphere.

Journalists read blogs. They had no choice but to invite the honourable Trent Lott to the TV and radio studios and ask him the inevitable questions.
He apologised more than once.
It didn't do him any good. He had to resign.

Then a loud voice was heard from the forty corners of the blogosphere. Yes!
And I, who was watching from the sidelines, said to myself: when can We do this here in Israel, when?

C. Hear this word [3], oh nation of bloggers and readers in this holy land:

There is one of me and many of you.
Arise you people from your slumbers! [4]
Go write in your blogs.
Raise hell, write to your city and shire mayors.
Call on your neighbours and on the mansion owners.
Ask them: where is this tree from?

Have you checked the wandering path that it traversed to get to your garden or boulevard?

If you find out that it is indeed stolen, would you be willing to return it to its owners, as you should by law?

Go and check: Is there a brave editor who would publish interviews with Savion residents who are paying 25,000 shekels for "a truly ancient tree"?
Go find out how far are newspapers and TV channels willing to disengage themselves from the wrath of the rich and powerful.
More than 100,000 olive trees have been uprooted and stolen from the Occupied Territories.
In the Savion mansion and at our town boulevards, the olive tree is a brand name - an instrument for displaying a pretend authentic Novo-Israeliness.
For the Palestinian olive grove owner, the tree is his/her life and soul.
Sad is the matchstick. [5]

"Ancient olive tree for sale."

Translated by Sol Salbe from the original Hebrew;
Translator notes:
[1] The word can also mean a revolution in Hebrew.
[2] Savion is just about the most prestigious address in the whole of Israel.
[3] Hear this word, ye king of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink. (Amos 4,1)
[4] "Arise you workers from your slumbers..."(The Internationale).
[5] "How fortunate is the matchstick which flared up a fire..." famous poem by Hungarian-born 2nd WW Jewish heroine, Hannah Senes, symbolizing selfless courage.