Monday, January 20, 2003

Once upon a time, Bish and I met a man with a wonderful smile and light in his eyes. He told us how he had cured his cancer by positive thinking.

Because I’m interested in Buddhism and I used to wear a lot of Indian clothes (I stopped because they’re all have to be hand washed and they tend to fall to pieces very quickly) people assume I’m into alternative medicine. Different types of alternative medicine are very popular in Israel and there are a lot of schools and practitioners. People often ask me if I can recommend a doctor that practices Chinese medicine or a reflexologist and that sort of thing. I can’t.

After one very expensive bad experience whereby Bish exposed a charlatan homeopathy practitioner to whom we took eldest (our friends who so warmly recommended her refused to believe us and continued to be taken in), we’ve more or less steered clear, besides “fun” things like massages and so on. The charlatan homeopathy practitioner died of cancer about a year or so after our partaking of her services, if you could call them that, and the ensuing unpleasantness of Bish telling her what he thought of her. A case of the shoemaker going barefoot, perhaps? [You may think this is a callous thing to say, but I'd say scaring a sensitive, impressionable eight year-old into thinking she has all sorts of imaginary illnesses is a pretty mean trick to pull to get her parents to fork out, don't you?]

Sadly, chemotherapy couldn’t cure my mother’s cancer, but I know a lot of people who got a second lease of life as a result of modern treatments for cancer, horrible as they may be, such as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation. There may be many more men and women with wonderful smiles and light in their eyes who have cured their cancer miraculously without the benefit of modern medicine. I just don’t know any of them.

It has been suggested to me that instead of being a modern western country, sending astronauts (er.. astronaut) into space (Have you seen the NASA site, by the way?), a prominent innovator in agricultural technology and contributor to scientific research, Israel should be a bit more like her Arab neighbors in the way of life of regular people, a bit more humble and simple. We should try and fit in better. Bish says he regularly had this said to him on a European pro-Palestinian forum he used to frequent.

Maybe they have a point, I think. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all live more modest lives, with more of us making our living simply, off the land? This would serve two noble objectives: Not making our neighbors jealous, and saving the environment. I would love to live a life of self-sufficiency.

Then I look out of my window. I live on the second floor of a sixteen-story building. The view from my window includes some trees, a lawn, a lot of sky, a busy road and quite a few other high-rise buildings (Oh, and what is that I see over there? A large Meretz banner, no less!). I ask myself how we are to feed all the people who live in all these buildings, if we decide to put a stop to technological research, stop the tractors and send the farmers out with their oxen to till the land.

It’s all very picturesque, all this back-to-nature stuff. But back-to-nature people I know can hardly feed themselves, never mind the whole country. Maybe we do have to starve to fit in, in the Middle East.

If we were all starving, I wonder, would they accept us? We’d still not be Moslems, and we’d still be controlling a part of Dar-a-Salaam (but for how long?).

I am reminded of the Jewish pioneers a hundred years ago. They were poor and hungry. They lived off the land and died of malaria, just like their Arab neighbors. And they weren’t even controlling the country. I don’t remember them being very popular round here, either.

But wait a minute. We do have people who live like this today, ideologists who have left the cities for a more natural way of life. They live like our forefathers did, in the mountains in shacks, living humbly off their small family farms. Take the late Netanel Ozeri, for instance. Until Friday, he lived over on Hill 26 near Hebron. He had a little organic farm there, and lived simply and humbly with his wife and his five children. His neighbors apparently didn’t appreciate his back-to-nature approach to life very much.

Isn’t it ironic that the very people who do see the logic in living simply, and strive to live like the Arabs, are the very people who are perceived by many, if not most, as the main obstacle to peace?

[By the way, have you read how those crazies handled the funeral? God help us all!]

Update: It seems that, based on this post, people have got the impression I support those fanatic outlaws on the hills. Well I don’t. I think they should be in prison.