Whilst on my daily perambulations through our town centre today, at the top of the High street I passed some students handing out leaflets. Out of courtesy and curiosity I read their leaflet. It was headed "Marks & Spencer Humiliates Palestinians". My first thought was - how do M & S, a european based retail chain humiliate a group of disposessed people in the Middle East? Do they loudly and pointedly refuse to serve them in the food hall, whip them out of the stores in full public view? Disallow them from using the changing rooms? How do they humiliate Palestinians?
Not one of the demonstrators had what I considered a coherent answer so once home I dug out my dog eared copy of "The Idiots guide to Middle East Conflict" (This is a real book and very useful.). However, it failed to shed any light on the subject, short of the fact that Marks & Spencers have Jewish, possibly Zionist, owners.
Having, albeit briefly, read up on Zionism, I found myself thinking "So whats so bad about purchasing otherwise useless land and establishing a community that makes the desert bloom?" For the uninformed, one of the fundamental tenets of Zionism is that they (Zionists) should not take territory by conquest but purchase to practice their faith and their way of life on. You don't even have to be Jewish to be a Zionist!
From what I can make out, the original problem comes from the early days of Islam in the 7th century AD, when for whatever reason, after apparrent years of peaceful coexistance with various Jewish communities, Mohammed fell out with them because they would not accept the superiority of his faith. Okay, so what? Thirteen centuries later I couldn't tell an Israeli from a Palestinian on pain of pain.
To me the situation seems to be like one of those legendary Ozark mountain hillbilly feuds. No one really understands why it started but everyone, Israeli, Palestinian and sympathisers alike, are busy getting in their revenge for the last revenge upon their revenge, if you see what I mean. I'm still none the wiser. How does Marks and Sparks humiliate Palestinians? Do tell.
I couldn't work out why these white middle class kids were so fired up about a cause they could have no real depth of understanding about, being neither Israeli nor Middle Eastern. Being neither, I contented myself with issuing their VW Camper Bus with a parking ticket for not having a valid pay and display ticket.
Got to stay in character haven't I?