The best (and worst) of Israel
Today we remember Mordechai Vanunu, Israeli hero and WMD whistleblower, who has been a prisoner in Israel for the past 22 years, since his kidnapping in Rome on 30 September 1986. For much of that time he was an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience; then he was released from prison (where he had mostly been in solitary confinement) and immediately subjected to house arrest. He has been re-arrested many times for "speaking to foreigners". (And this in what likes to style itself the Middle East's only "democracy". Hah!) He was sentenced last week to a further three months in jail for that heinous crime. Clearly, in the same way that Israel's constitutional prohibition of the death penalty was conveniently ignored when the time came to sentence that more famous subject of Mossad kidnapping, Adolf Eichmann, the concept of prisoners' being set free when they have served the sentence for their "crime" (in Vanunu's case, telling the world of Israel's illegal nuclear weapons programme) can be ignored where it gets in the way of state vindictiveness.
Nowadays even Israel's Prime Minister admits that it has nuclear weapons, not of course that it has even allowed a UN weapons inspector to look at them. (You know, the ones who had free access to Iraq until the Americans ordered them out.)
Of course, in every democracy (or even "democracy") there are some folks who just don't get it; who yearn for the days when a strong leader could have people locked up forever - gassed even - without any of this tedious legal nonsense.
Those of you who know my nickname for the gloriously ridiculous Mr Kerstein (of that last link) will not be surprised that he still exhibits the same rhetorical skill [/sarcasm] he showed in his attempts to bluster his way out of the egregious factual error I once politely pointed out in his "novel". The terms of abuse he uses when arguments fail him have become, I fear, no more imaginative since then. Though I see that Noam Chomsky (the object of BCK's obsessive loathing ever since he learned that here was someone who dared to criticise those twin pillars of democracy and freedom, Israel and the USA) is apparently a "psychopath... with a Sadean fetish for mass murder, tyranny and death". I would love to see BCK forced to back that up in a courtroom when sued for libel. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that Noam Chomsky has ever heard of him.
Still, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and the (sadly unstopped) BCK gives us this gem: "The great evil of the 21st century, on the other hand, seems to be shaping up to be totalitarian theocratic collectivism." So true. And which country is the greatest 21st century exemplar of that tendency? Why, the one to which BCK fled from the wicked anti-semitic USA. Benjamin Kerstein: no foot knowingly left unshot.
Personally I can't decide whether BCK is still a tragedy or whether he's now repeated himself so often that he counts as a farce. He remains, however, endlessly entertaining as a work of living fiction (even if his own fiction is an unreadable mass of pretension and schoolboy howlers).
Oh go on then, have a laugh. But I warn you, you will ever after have a new appreciation of the splendours of Vogon poetry.