Chapter Forty-Five Plus


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          “Now, if you want to know why Israel and Jews in general can be so wary and defensive? Let me recount the ways,” said Reese Paulen. “Exhibit A: Setting my French and Italians aside for the moment, take the British, they’re the absolute worst…”

          “Brits?” I replied, noting the gangly holiday brood, gathered beside a pasta-bloated Italian guy—a Bruce Bossy type redolent of the Jersey shore, sunning and sweathogging on the beach with his pair of overfed Newfoundlanders in tow, huge matching blobs of matted black fur panting and slobbering in drippy, dangling gobs. “What do the British have to do with…”

          “Remember all that ‘boycott Israel’ business we talked about? The BDS Divest and Sanction Movement that is spreading all over the campuses? The trade unions and all? Where do you think it took root?”

          “I don’t know—Damascus, Tripoli, Venezuela, Budapest? Take your pick—the four corners, all the ships at sea. Could be anybody anywhere these days. Actually, I thought I read where it was product of the French Englightenment, or Danish School.”

          “Merely bit players, my friend,” Paulen wagged his finger, that curious blue-stoned ring ablaze. “Great Britain, is where, after Durban in 2001 and the World Court’s anti-Israel decree in 2004. That beacon of Western Civilization has been undercutting Jewish aspirations since well before Balfour, long waging soft, biting warfare against the Jews dating back at least to the League of Nations in 1922.”

          “Yeah, well, get in line behind the Irish at that complaint window.”

          From the Haas Memorial footbridge on, wind-blasted sand permeated pockets, zippers and any exposed orifices and cavities, pinging like a grain gun off the resuming trailside cordons of thematic EcoGlobes, which came  biofanatically fast.

          Planet by colorfully earthy planet, the message rang through clean and clear. These linked balls were teed-up like on a big-sky driving range, nearly as uniformly big around as a Tatooine orbiter or Kirsty Ally robe—the conceptual target was global warming, but seemed the further along we got, the chillier it got.

          “Ahem,” Paulen heaved. “The point is, you have a putatively civilized country hating on Israel, from the Crown on down, reviling the Jews— always have, always will. Disraeli notwithstanding, Jews were massacred in York in the 12th century, stripped of their properties. They were expelled from Britain altogether in the 13th until grudging readmission in the 1650s. It’s positively Marlowe, Chaucerian, MercoVenetian Shakespearean.”

          “Bit of an overreaction, don’t you think,” I grudgingly followed the ball trail of a wader-booted woman playing fetch with her wave-jumping mongrel Lab. “C’mon, David Lloyd George loved the Jews, didn’t he? And I’ve read somewhere about this banger stock exchange guy, for instance, who went to Czechoslovakia in 1939 to help evacuate like, 700 Jewish kids on ‘kinder transport’ trains out of Prague. Now, there’s a Brit who personally saved Jews from the Nazis…kinda like Schindler. When he was 29 years old, at that.”

          “Be that as it may, today certain of his countrymen are accusing Israel of racist segregation, of misusing U.K.-sent armaments, demonizing it as the dastardly ‘bad actor’ of the Middle East when it’s simply struggling to survive,” doc huffed, over the squawking and flapping of ducks and gulls on the long Tidal Marsh to our left. “Some are even urging the negation of the ‘alien Zionist implant’ institutions altogether—this very day.”

          “But haven’t British authorities ruled any boycott like that de-legitimate?”

          “Someone tell OxBridge. Nevertheless, what sort of people would even contemplate such unmitigated bigotry?”

          “Dunno, ask the Gazans about that,” I shrugged, in close lockstep. “All I know is Roger Waters isn’t happy. But then neither are Elvis, David Byrne, Susan Sarandon or Jane Fonda, for that matter—just about calling Israel a renegade state.”

          Out here, these uniformly sized EcoGlobe spheroids on steroids extended along either trailside like strands of pearly wisdom in a ceramic tchotchke glaze. Climate. Warm it. Cool it. Stop it. Start it. Dig it. Trash it. Retrash it. Steam it. Chill it. Open it. Put a lid on it. Do it. Don’t do that anymore. Stir up. Shake up. Wake up. Just save our blessed planet, for cryan out loud! The collective themes were aesthetically compelling; the cartoon tone charmingly urgent, globe after globe. Absent this trail flow of speed walkers and bundled-up Bay gazers, we might have studied each and every cautionary pedestal caption placard along the way.

          “You mean, ol’ Hamas Jane,” Paulen asked, fixing on a global blue-water screed. “Honestly, Herbert, how can you quibble so, ignoring the fact that Britain’s moral blindness on this all starts at the top? For one, there is a special place in hell for a London mayor who compares a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard, then accuses Israel of apartheid or ethnic cleansing?”

          “Who was quickly flamed on and suspended,” I sighed, still not prying out of him the goods I needed to be getting.

          “Or bonny Prince Harry partying in Nazi drag on the very brink of Holocaust Memorial Day? This, from a royal family whose Duke and Duchess of Windsor entertained Hitler in the late 1930s? Whose current queen wouldn’t be caught dead on Israeli soil.”

          “Hey, far be it from me to defend the British any further…”

          “Well, then I should hope you would carry no water for the likes of Vanessa Redgrave, Lord Haw Haw and his blackshirt BUFascists, Oswald and Diana Mosley, let alone David Irving. Holocaust denial, my behind—make that scoundrel come to grips with the actual blueprints for Auschwitz-Birkenau! So is it any wonder anti-Semitic attacks have soared in Great Britain over the past several years? Swastika graffiti, vandalized synagogues in Scotland. Verbal assaults like ‘dirty, stinking Jew’, ‘kill all Jews’ hate-mail—downright Shylockian limely bateseman…”

          “Rank hooliganism, no doubt, or the BNP. At least no fatalities, though, like on the continent,” I said, taking mild offense, at the same time flashing on those partying Glasburgh skinheads mug bashing outside Linlithgow on that Scottish revival night of mine so many years ago. “Still, if you ask me, it doesn’t have to be this way. If only the Mandate Palestine legacy finally got resolved for Israelis and Palestinians both.”      Crissy Trail

          This far along, the crosscurrents seemed to undulate between ecosystems and egosystems—even in the face of this sudden microclimate shift, which was separating the weak from the merely chapped. Clearly, some of the former winced and walked away from this fusillade of overblown enviro-beachballs. But for many of the latter, there was just no stopping cold. Fleeing were the AHA Yoga classes, the holistic wellness gang, those lightly practicing their Asian bodily flow. Tailing off closely behind them were the vacationing auditors and sleep dentists—back eastern dudes and dandies buttoning up their poplin and pincord mix and mismatched casuals and khaki floods, pulling black-quilted vinyl motorcycle jackets and wraparound scarves from Mulholland duffels and RL Rugby gym bags enroute to some idling livery town cars in Crissy’s extended parking lot.

          Passing us were the retreating Vedic chanters back in town from some Arizona sweat lodge, happy-skippy neophytes working out any sciatica and cankles, several Chi Kung walkers ambling by at a soft, fleshy gait, taking in on long, last look at a Princess Cruise Ship gliding out toward the Gate Bridge, already in full deck party mode, just as they themselves were so soberly heading in.

          “Hmph, tell it to the Palestinian Authority, to Khaled Mashaal, to Barghouti—the Orientalism of Edward Said,” Paulen said, seemingly all the more determined to keep us moving forward. “And of which continent do you speak exactly? Egad, where to begin: In our own hemisphere alone, we’ve had Nazi-infested South America for decades, Hitler dances in Rio, temple attacks in Caracas—then the dastardly 1994 bombing of that Jewish Mutual Association in Buenos Aires, its terrorist thugs acquitted in an Argentina still reeking of Adolph Eichmann and Juan Peron.”

          “Well, there was Trujillo accepting refugee Jews into the Dominican Republic throughout the war, right?”

          “Mere tokenism, when ‘nobody else wanted them’. Mighty humanitarian of a brutal dictator, that,” he sneered, a liberated headscarf flying by. “In any case, perhaps you are rather referencing Asia, where a Malaysian despot holds that Jews rule the world by proxy, conniving others to fight their fights. To the synagogue bombings in Istanbul, the Casablanca cultural center, the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania. Or the Chabat-Lubavich House assault in Mumbai, India—those innocent Hasidic kids. Grab a world atlas, Herbert, pick your poison…”

          “Originally from Brooklyn, a Mumbai rabbi couple, no? And about 29 years old, as I recall reading,” I reached to tweak my stiffening back. “Still and all, I was thinking more like, Europe…”

          “Hmph, Euros—quite another kettle of gefilte fish altogether.”

         sr dingbats

           “Hey, look out, would you?!”        

           “Uh, Deborah…”

          “Do you mind? You think you can just run into people, knock them around…Je-sus!”

          “Deb, hon, might want to ease up on…”

          “Watch—the chick’s about to throw up all over herself. Hercules there doesn’t have a prayer…”

          The young mother spun around, attitude cocked and loaded, her hubby standing by her with their child in gender-neutral pink and blue Baby Bjorn infant carrier. Her kid began bawling uncontrollably as father Jeffrey bounced him up and down, bending at the knees like fixing to toss an underhand roundball free throw, gesticulating for their retreat. He, one of those late-blooming parents, had apparently morphed into a doting dad who conducts third-party conversations through his offspring. Otherwise, the trail was getting more crowded with many in bounders…two headlands hiker dudes looking on in passing and commenting in existential jest.

          “Ease up? For what,” she asked in a panic, protecting her first born. “The moron veered right into us, with that mangey dog, yet…”

          “Guide dog, Deb…the man’s blind, cautioned mild-mannered husband, Jeffrey.  There, there, son, we don’t cry, now do we…”

          “Huh? …Ohhh, sir, my mistake. I’m sooo very sorry! Here, can I help you with…if there’s anything…I’m so mortified I could… Jef-frey, help me here!”

          “See, not cool, lady…for a gentrifier like you, that’s totally rude.”

          Deb finally noted the dog’s rigid leather seeing-eye harness…as the blind young man’s minder rushed over in panic to straighten his sunglasses and guide him away. Onlookers had just wandered by after abandoning the last of the way cooler Promenade benches, a stoner peanut gallery that had been glad-handing, grab-assing the wet suits of boardsurfers passing them by, cheering them on as they grappled with their sail booms—as athletically lacking, jock-sniffingly wanting as the golf groupies clapping down at Compass Point. Shooed off by some real-deal surfer girls, the smart-ass hiker duo resumed floating in toward the Marina Gate.

          “Jesus Christ, what a…oops, pardon my French.”

          “Really,” I seconded Paulen’s reaction. “That’s a pretty damn gauche of her, all right…”

          “No, Herbert, I’m referring to the fount of so much Judeo hatred: A rabble-rousing Jewish carpenter, born in Judea and Samaria no less.”

          “Crucified there, too,” I stumbled into more disputed territory. “Said to be King of the Jews, freeing them from the yoke of Roman rule, money changers at the temple, Pontius Pilate, all that…”

          “Deemed treasonous for his trouble—that was the Romans’ doing. Try telling it to the Vatican, however, or all the other stations of the cross throughout Europe,” Paulen continued ex cathedra. “To a Spain that has assailed Jews since the Inquisition over 500 years ago, now hugging Iran. Clear up to Scandinavia, where Norway sweeps its Quisling Nazi collaboration under the rug while divesting from Israel. To a Sweden that plans to glorify suicide bomber art and accuses the IDF of grotesque body harvesting.”

          “But what about Cordoba? Or the Belgians, their Orthodox diamond markets in Antwerp, plus they had all kinds of Nazi resistance fighters,” I asked, dancing around two feuding full-size schnauzers. “And the Dutch? Anne Frank and her tree, remember?”

          “Well, they’ve been Jew-baiting soccer players in Amsterdam of late with ‘bring back the ovens’ chants,” Paulen countered. “So Dutch insensitivities fester on, enabling Websites that urge a finishing of Hitler’s job.”

          “Aww, that’s probably just the radical Muslim immigrants in their midst…”

          “Would that your postulate were true. Alas, Europe’s Hebrophobia runs deeper, my friend—far, far deeper. Those soccer matches are getting to be the Nuremberg and Black September Munich of our day.

          “Bit histrionic, don’t you think? This is the 21st Century.”

          “Hmph, colleagues over there tell me the hatred is palpable,” doc  followed the twisting flight of some shoreline diamond and box kites. “To the point where Jews are anxious about going to their own religious and social centers—fearful of sending their children to school. The EU even attempted to suppress its monitoring unit’s study showing an alarming surge in anti-Semitic attacks and propaganda.”

          “That the one where Euros see Israel as more of a threat to world peace than any other country?”

          “Need I say more,” Paulen shook his head. “One newspaper even ran a cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian baby—outrageous, the hated Christ-killing monster returns, all right—only this time with oily Arab bankrolling. Salacious, inciteful—and so much of this newfound anti-Semitism is from the elite left. Little wonder many Jews in Eurabia are voting more conservative for support.”

          “But isn’t that the wing where the rectionary neo-Nazis are recruiting and marching?”

          “All the better to keep your haters close, I suppose,” doc said, oblivious to a rental trail bikes skirting us with the ring of their handlebar bells. “Indeed, the enemy of my former friend is a friend in need.”

          “Or a card to play, as the case may be…”

sr dingbats

          As for those EcoGlobes, to our immediate right stood a green hand-knit sweatered sphere that urged programming home thermostats to conserve energy and cut greenhouse gasses. Simple enough, said one cotton-top couple pausing hand-in-hand amid their daily bayside cardio stroll. The next globe took more of a macro approach: A fireball dramatized the heating of our planet; a cratered brown sphere warned of the droughts resulting from an overheated Earth. An icy white and blue one depicted the melting of the polar ice caps—bear of a notion, between the two. Where was all this cautionary creativity coming from? Next Globe

          “Yes, quite,” he said, paying little heed to them all. “But in every generation, people have tried to exterminate the Jews. So all’s fair game when one is facing the specter of a second Holocaust, the very obliteration of  the state of Israel and the Jewish people. Which simply cannot come to pass.”

          “Now that’s really over the top. I mean, I never said it…could, er should, did I?”

          “So you say…well, wise up, Herbert. Many Europeans not only hate Israel, they hate Jews everywhere, even here. And they hate Americans because we’re about the only true friend Israel has in the world. But better to be hated and alive than loved and dead, no?”

          “Maybe the price Israel pays for going from a ‘plucky little socialist utopia’ to a perceived nuclear Goliath gobbling up Arab land. Euros do always champion the underdog…”

          “Nuclear nothing—they’re hooked on Arab oil. And pay through the nose in Palestinian aid to keep it coming.”

          Chill factor or not, there was just no stopping some people out here along the trail. Bioenergetic case in point: companion job-bra runners doing high-knee, scissors and flatfoot skip warm-ups in a nearby trail cut-out, as if everything currently weatherwise were just peachy beachy. A totally buff duo with marathon glutes and push-up pecs striding through gale force walls, dabbing sunscreen and Dri-blok against the wind burn. That buzz-cut personal trainer dressing down his weighty charge to pick up her gasping pace all the way back to the shower room. And these were among the mellower exercises, in relative moderation, at that.

          “So,” I sighed, “how does this all square with your, you know, other genetic self?”

          “You mean, the darker side,” Paulen noted one particularly hyperandro-gynistic multi-miler—all legs, couldn’t beat the breasts. “Look, I derive no pride or pleasure from evils perpetrated in my father’s fatherlands.”

          “As opposed to your…motherland,” I asked.

          “Precisely. Who could countenance Italy’s ugly neo-fascist soccer spectacles, or the desecration of Rome’s Jewish gravesites? This after Italian insurance companies cheated Shoah survivors out of their rightful policy payments?”

          “What did your dad ever have to say about that?”

          “Nothing, nada—the great unspoken,” doc said forlornly. “But even he couldn’t entirely evade his Franco ‘file’ should mother ever broach the subject.”

          “Your personal French connection, huh?”

          “Popeye, briar pipe and all. Nevertheless, how does one outrun Vichy collaboration? Marshal Petain draping Nazi flags over the Moulin Rouge, Louis Darquier’s nationalists stripping Jews of their property, packing them off in boxcars to the death camps. Forget Jean-Luc Godard, forget de Gaulle, frog betrayal as old as the Rothschilds and the Dreyfus Affair—that honorable army officer railroaded to Devil’s Island as a traitor spy by a bigoted militaire.”

          “Which was why Sharon tried to lure French Jews to Israel?”

          “Aliyah? Strictly for safety’s sake. Law of Return for diaspora Jews, particularly in the face of Lyon and Strasbourg’s Jewish cemetery trashing and synagogue burnings, not to mention the Gagny school torching.”

          “So you’re saying Sharon’s invite had nothing to do with bolstering Israel’s demography, huh?” Why the hell were my eyes burning so, from cornea conjunctiva in to my foveas and optic nerves?

          “It had to do with alarming new waves of French anti-Semitism, six-fold alarming,” Paulen huffed, catching his breath. “From Jean-Marie LePen and his daughter to the Arab thugs who butchered young Ilan Halimi near Paris. While the French intelligentsia rationalizes Islamic terrorism and the Palestinian ‘plight’. It’s almost as bad as Eastern Europe. Truth be told, I can’t help but be torn by all this, or taking the wanton hatred and strife quite personally indeed.

          Before long, we hit upon a series of more instructive globes extolling the virtue of environmental volunteerism. To our left, a blur motion-spinning globe called for concerted action on conservation. Across the trail, a more conventional Earth as we knew it was slapped with inky palm and fingerprints summoning hands-on planetary healing.

          Animé children beckoned around a bright blue world of energy efficient green schools; a laminate verdant ball festooned with boot and shoe prints called for teenie weenie steps to solve warming conditions. Listen to children the world over, collaged in a multitude of ‘go greener’ graffiti tongues, take action—and as a Munch globe ‘Screamed’, above all, get involved.

          Underdressed or no, swarms of schoolkids ate it all up, cell phone TXTing to their Friendsters, tweeting away the afternoon outing to networked Twitterheads—giddily snapping glove-framed photos to make their Facebook pages more warmingly cool. On the way, they were said by clinical studies to be frying their soft little skulls with cellular radiation, absorbing the nascentions of glioma and acoustic neuroma.

          “I hear you. But Eastern Europe? Bagging on countries like Poland,” I asked flatly, with a territorial bent. “C’mon, doc—that’s history, it’s been over half a century since the camps and Warsaw Ghetto. I hear they’re even reviving Jewish culture in Krakow…”

          “What’s history is about 10% of Poles were Jewish until 1939. After the war, 90% of those were dead and gone.”

          “B-but 2 or 3 million Polish of all sort died in World War II…”

          “Even so, many of those collaborated on the Judenjagd, as well,” Paulen remarked, his ear jewel blinking in another call. “Besides, after the war, the Polish Peasants Party actually thanked Hitler for massacring Poland’s Jewry. And their post-war pogroms like Kelce were heinous beyond belief. How did Yitzhak Shamir put it? Poles suck in anti-Semitism like their mother’s milk. And as for celebrating things Jewish, they’re doing all that minus Jews themselves. But then what would you really know about Eastern Europe, Herbert?”

          “Uh, just had some remote exposure to the region back in the day,” I said, turning a blind eye to the Illinois tinged globes, particularly inner-city Chicago in plaster of Paris. “Latvia, Lithuania—like that…”

          “Really, I shouldn’t be surprised,” he eyed me anew, sending the call to voicemail. “In any event, then you must also be familiar with Prague’s blank-Czech Nazi complicity. How two-thirds of Hungary’s Jews were deported to Auschwitz with Budapest’s Arrow Cross Party’s blessing, then looted via the Hungarian Gold Train—to where some Hungarians expound anti-Semitism as a patriotic duty, neo-Nazis are hounding yarmulkes. It’s on a par with Russia, the mass executions of Ukraine, Stalin writing Jews off as ruthless cosmopolitans. Little wonder so many eastern Jews are beating a path to the Holy land.”

          “Could be even worse though, huh? Could be Deutschland…”

          “Ah, Uber Alles—the motherlode of massticide.”

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