Yuri Drexler’s first thought was, “how did this parcel ever manage to get through to me?” upon examining the markings on the parcel. He was surprised to see that it had come from Gaza. Within the parcel he had just received was a well-crafted hourglass, set in a cedar frame with the word Palestine carved into the upper orb. Great care had been taken to insure the artefact would survive the journey as it arrived tightly packed in balls of polystyrene.
He wondered why anybody would send such an artefact to him. Picking up the note accompanying the hourglass, he discovered to his amazement that it contained some of the ashes of his Palestinian friend Ashraf Al-Jamal and it read, “A gift to you from the Al-Jamal family. These are the remains of our beloved son killed by a sniper’s bullet while engaging in an unarmed demonstration for Palestinian human rights. If you have an hour to reflect on the life of Ashraf Al-Jamal it would mean a lot to us, it will take exactly an hour for the ashes to run through, not a second more, not a second less.”
Yuri felt that he needed time to adjust to the package he had just received and to comply with the wishes of the Al-Jamal family. The information that Ashraf had been shot in the back by a sniper left him devastated. They had been in close contact for decades, with lulls in communication occurring whenever Gaza’s siege turned to outright ethnic cleansing.
Yuri had met Ashraf Al-Jamal in 1965 at the Eurovision RAI Song Contest held in Naples. Coincidentally, they were both there to sing a folk song that connected them to emotions expressing love of place in relation to an ethnic context. Yuri Drexler’s song was about the joy of a homecoming and Ashraf Al-Jamal’s was about the loss of his homeland.
Yuri was 19 at the time and living on a kibbutz under the spell of a false flag cheering in Zionism per medium of Jewish religious folk-myths promulgating Israel as the mother-of-all-beneficence to those in need of a country of their own, when he heard Ashraf Al-Jamal’s song, a lament for lost identity and loss of connection with ethnic sensibility. It so revealed to him, the straight line that exists between art and articulateness, that he felt an instant rapport with its’ creator. He subsequently sought out Ashraf and a deep friendship that lasted for decades came into existence . . . that was four years before Yuri Drexler left Israel to move to California, and two years after the 1967 war which succeeded in grabbing the lion’s share of Palestine for Israel, thus consigning the indigenous people to a state of permanent paucity.
Throughout the March 2018 demonstrations, Yuri Drexler, ever fearful that something could happen to his friend Ashraf Al-Jamal, an anesthetist by profession and now living in the open-air prison called Gaza. Ashraf was employed with the Gaza Health Authority. He had followed the latest unrest in Gaza nervously watching the graphic events on wifi and the Internet, where explicit images of the victims of violence were immediately broadcast to the world with devasting effect.
Yuri recalled the revulsion he felt when he first bore witness to the gung-ho gun-toting Israeli Military deploying their might and right to demonstrate their licence to kill. A video from the first day of the march showed a protester being shot in the back by an Israeli sniper as he walked away from the fence separating Gaza from Israel. In other footage, Palestinians are killed or wounded as they pray, walk empty-handed towards the border fence, or simply holding up a Palestinian flag.
Yuri remembered a report that had sickened him, “Nothing was carried out uncontrolled, everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed,” claimed a tweet from the Israeli military the day after the mass shooting on the 30 March 2018 at the start of 45 days of what Palestinians call the “Great March of Return” to the homes they had in Israel 70 years ago. The tweet was deleted soon after, possibly because film had emerged of a protester being shot from behind.
Yuri was unable to sleep that night as the thought of the fate of his friend, a man of sorrow, now reduced to ashes in an hourglass. His friend Ashraf Al-Jamal sang songs about the savagery of internecine warfare and the myths that enabled ethnicity to cloud the judgment of men of righteous obsessions. His songs were about the cost that sacred scriptures in the hands of the zealous Zionist enterprise had on Palestinian life and culture.
Yuri, unable to rest, or find release from his sorrows rose as the sun came up. He now felt that his Jewish ethnicity was beholden to an Old Testament loadstone capable of absorbing the talents of the entire tribe in mission impossible . . . a mission designed to infuse identity with a belief system and singularly capable of capitalizing on its’ own narrative by corporatizing influence in general, while adopting the assertion that any particular criticism of Zionism should be viewed as an expression of anti-Semitism. In Yuri’s mind, Zionism had added an extra dimension to its colonial enterprise . . . it had weaponized its narrative after gaining disproportionate influence in the United States of America. It would do as America had done . . . colonize per means of genocide!!
With the right hardware, Zionism could replicate the colonisation of America. If the good-guy-bad-guy narrative worked in the case of the genocide of the American Indians by inferring that the natives were savages because they applied poison to the tips of their arrows . . . chemical weaponry no doubt . . . it could be argued that the Palestinians, by analogy, were an obstruction to the Zionist dream, therefore shooting unarmed demonstrators was justified so that progress would come with resettlement . . . they should be mown-down by weapons of mass destruction . . . such as heavy artillery (canon) as used against the bow and arrow.
At this point Yuri sat down on a couch directly in front of the hourglass situated on a coffee table a mere three-feet from him. Looking at the hourglass, which was now totally visible in the morning light, he lamented,” my friend, the move from Israel to the U.S.A was an inhouse move . . . alas, the colonial pedigree is bereft of universal values . . . the colonists wouldn’t recognise Leonardo da Vinci if he or she fell over him. Ethnic identity is no substitute for universal values and we Jews are no less racist than anyone else.”
Yuri reached out and turned the hourglass over at exactly 7am. He noticed the word Israel carved on the second orb. Below it, a wispy stream of grey ash commenced to drop into the lower chamber.
As Yuri observed the gentle flow of ash, he imagined that every tiny particle contained a fleck of light transmitting the truth that Ashraf Al-Jamal in particular, and his ethnic class in general, were gerrymandered, or air-brushed out of history because another group possessed the political and economic means to generalize . . . sell . . . an ends-over-means enterprise vis a vis old scripture Babel.
Yuri was aware that once Zionism had gained a foothold in America, it soon availed itself of the opportunity to exploit the extremely shallow understanding of Islamic culture . . . orientalism to most Westerners . . . that existed in the mind of the American public. He had observed how racists have a penchant for believing themselves superior as a group and often regard those who are not of their ilk as less than human. Yuri firmly believed that the West was in the process of falling on its own paradigmatic sword, as it continued to regard the rest of the world as an extension of its own stock market mentality.
He was witness to the fact that his own ethnic group, after giving the Palestinians the status of a lesser pedigree, imagined that a shithole like Gaza to be their natural habitat . . . and for entertainment, some of the ‘superior race’ even occupied ringside positions to enjoy the one-sided gladiatorial spectacle of their military pounding defenceless civilians with everything at their disposal . . . the agenda being to dispose of the Palestinians!
America, in never having had colonies in the Middle East, was almost totally ignorant of Islam and what it meant. It was more interested in the oil the region possessed than the people who lived there. With Jewish immigration into America, it was not long before the AIPAC -bought U.S. two party system came to take possession of American foreign policy and opened up a new colonial front in Palestine. Concomitantly, it acquired disproportionate influence in mainstream media, thus enabling it to release a veritable arsenal of propaganda demonizing Islam. The rest of the story deals with the destruction of much of the Middle East per medium of regime change. Regime change for the tail that wagged the dog of war . . . America doing it for Zionism!
Half way through the experience of watching Ashraf’s ashes, he made the decision to return to Israel with the intention of gaining access to Gaza. Reflecting on the fact that both he and Ashraf shared two things, a love of folk music, plus taking the same career paths, made him decide there and then that he would become Ashraf’s replacement anesthetist in Gaza.
As the ashes continued to descend, his mind dwelt for a moment on the fact that only states or organisations, media, religious believers were allowed the privilege to generalize willy-nilly. They were virtually impervious to criticism. They had control of the past by virtue of the authority invested in them by previous authoritarians. Particular opinions were but small change in the archives of history. Benjamin Netanyahu and his gaggle of henchmen-and-women were proxies cloned in the catacombs of a European narrative specializing in a form of ethnicity and racism that was relevant when the world was still flat, thought Yuri.
As a Jew, he didn’t like the direction the anti-Semitic issue was moving in . . . you are either pro-Semite or anti-Semite . . . It had become the paradigmatic elephant in the room generalising existential exceptionalism that excludes all alternative thinking. When he thought about how little response there was in the West to the cynical actions of the Israel Defence Forces . . . cyclical destruction . . . he knew that it was time to escape from the theatre of banality. Reflecting on racism, Yuri thought that racists like to pinpoint their virgin identities . . . like how many angels can occupy the point of a needle?
Enlightenment culture had yawned in the face of the stereotypical indifference to murder as revealed in numerous videos of Israelis cheering as their military shot unarmed Palestinians as one might shoot fish in a barrel. Steeped in an orientalism of its own projection, the West has assumed that chaos must be a feature of Islamic culture by virtue of their reluctance to take up a subaltern role in the hegemonic theatre of market role-playing as designated by the masters of the universe. Therefore, they must be primitives or animals in the minds of the pathologically righteous who subject those of a different stripe to HOLYCOSTS.
As the last ashes departed the upper chamber of the hourglass on time . . . not a second more or a second less . . . Yuri exclaimed, “I’m taking you back to where you belong dear friend, soon we will be up-up and away and on our way to Palestine.”
It was at that moment that he saw a plume of smoke commence a return journey to the upper chamber of the hourglass which seemed to indicate that Ashraf’s ashes were still smouldering. It was a signal . . . it was time to find a shithole country! . . . as far from the mono-focus wrought by American-Israeli corruption and occupation as possible!
Denis A. Conroy is a freelance writer residing in Australia.