Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Pain delivers pain

file photo: members of "world central kitchen" prepare food for palestinians, in the location given as gaza
FILE PHOTO: Members of "World Central Kitchen" prepare food for Palestinians, in the location given as Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in this picture released on March 21, 2024 and obtained from social media. Courtesy of @chefjoseandres via X/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES./File Photo


Why wasn’t Joe Biden’s ‘Outrage and heartbreak!’ at the brutal death of seven foreign aid workers the reaction of a man who suffered family loss to the death of thousands of innocent Palestinians? As the West’s clamorous response to whose deaths counted more became obvious, those who failed to insist he, and arms-assisted Netanyahu, stop abruptly realised such widely publicised deaths could make them complicit in his crimes.

Israel’s high-tech army, given routes and coordinates of Hi-Viz aid convoys, acted on a pattern-established way to prevent vital aid movement: starvation by obstruction. Israel’s silent allies whose outdated loyalty to its perceived democratic status, surrounded by undemocratic rulers, for decades mutely sanctioned its openly undemocratic oppression and illegal settlement, and by omission let Netanyahu’s self-serving Gaza rampage evolve. He’s even willing to risk Iran’s ire to avoid prison and keep tensions high, the misery of unfortunate hostages not a priority.

History, via all media forms, logs the West’s disgraceful inaction. Palestinian child survivors will become adults holding mental and physical pain having witnessed yet more betrayal. Had past Western powers been just, Palestinians would have a free, self-governing state instead of forced dispossession, and the word ‘terrorist’ applied to an entire people wearily seeking justice.

Modern Israel, dissatisfied with the gift of a created state, grew progressively oppressive when allies turned a blind eye to illegal actions that led to frustrated, Western-condemned revolt. The tormented became the tormentor, the victim the victor. Pain endured delivered more pain on both sides.

At an English holiday resort visiting relations, thrilled at the newness of my surroundings, the very young me was happy in a warm outdoor pool. Suddenly, a woman in our group grabbed my ankles and shoved my head underwater, held me there. Being underwater wasn’t a frightening experience, I grew up by the sea, swimming from an early age – until that day. I held my breath, thrashing to escape as I panicked, lungs bursting.

Someone who didn’t think her (later) expressed idea of a ‘joke’ was funny, intervened. Terrified, I looked at my adult tormentor, she was coldly smiling, my distress had given her pleasure. If it had been a bullying youth, it might have made sense. Only when I was older and knew more about the world, did her reason dawn on me, the adults had passed it off as a silly prank and I had no apparent trauma. She had.

Stored memories she’d let loose on an innocent who had no idea of her past, no role in what she had endured. I only knew then her husband had been a British soldier in war-torn Europe, her people occupied by Hitler’s armies. He was among the men who sent those armies scurrying. He took her to England, gave her a good, safe life.

My crime against her? She had quizzed me after I mentioned a young German friend in a family that had moved to my hometown after a war of which I had scant knowledge, Nazi war crimes unknown to my young mind. Rosemary and I shared meals at each other’s homes, I’d a kiddy crush on her handsome big brother. To us, her schoolmates, the family were foreign, different, fascinating. I liked their language, wanted to learn it, I’d innocently told the woman.

Ireland was, at times shamefully, neutral during WWII but then, Germany had supplied Irish rebels with guns during the liberation struggle. Some Irish men, like Cypriots who enlisted, hated what the Nazis were doing and joined the British army to fight them. These Irish men were reviled for taking the uniform of a former enemy. It took decades for Ireland to exonerate their stand against the Third Reich’s horrendous actions. I’ve no idea if the family were fleeing Nazis, Jews or simply people bombed out seeking a new home, they moved on. The woman’s embedded hatred, by association, punished a blameless child.

Her memory lives in me. How much greater embedded rage will survive for children caught in today’s murderous wars. Children starving in the Holocaust, children starved by Jewish extremists. Hitler must be laughing in hell.


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