A complex problem

The gates to the complex had jammed shut and the residents were getting jumpy. People were late for work and I was late for a surf. Through the trees, beyond the electrified fence, I could see the ocean. The onshore wind was picking up. Much more of this malarkey and the best part of the day would be ruined.

We milled about shaking our heads, muttering darkly, pressing our remotes, tugging futilely at the intractable gate. Something heavy hit a roof and ricocheted into the undergrowth. Probably a coconut. Or a drunk monkey. Mrs Cohen from number nine screamed. I laughed.

“It’s not funny!” she shrieked. “We’re trapped here! Anything could happen!” I gave her the lazy eye. “Just relax,” I said. “This isn’t Gaza.”

It was as if I had pressed some sort of panic button embedded in her brain. She went pale, clutched her jewellery and began making a sound identical to the Israeli sirens that follow the firing of a Hamas missile.

“We could tunnel our way out,” I suggested helpfully. The wailing kicked up a notch. Somewhere in the complex, a dog began howling. Mr Pillay from number six shook his head. “Probably best not to mention tunnels,” he said. I nodded towards Mrs Cohen. “Maybe you should go and comfort her,” I said. He shook his head. “I’m a Muslim. She will have a heart attack.” I shrugged, went back to my simplex and turned on the television for another hit of horror.

“A child is being killed every hour in Gaza,” intoned a Sky reporter. In other news, Prince George has celebrated his first birthday. I fetched a beer from the fridge. In times like these, it’s never too early to start drinking.

What does a Hamas fighter even look like? It’s important that people such as Mrs Cohen know these things to avoid mistaking one for a gardener emerging from the shrubbery.

Rebels throughout the ages have generally possessed well-developed egos. Che Guevara went to extraordinary lengths to get his face on a T-shirt. Spartacus had a movie made of his life. And don’t even get me started on Jesus and that whole cross business. You might think at least one of the Hamas soldiers would have taken a selfie by now and leaked it to the press. I certainly would have. Not on one of those cameras with a built-in GPS, obviously. Click! “Hey guys, I …” BOOM!!

The good news is that our government has sent a team led by Aziz Pahad to Israel and Palestine “to convey our growing concern with the escalation of violence there”. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper and just as effective to send an email? No, that’s too impersonal. Maybe a phone call.

“Shalom, can I speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu?”

“Of course not. There is a war on. Who are you?”

“This is Aziz Pahad from …”

“Pahad? You are Arab? Hold on …”

“Actually, I’m representing the South African …” BOOM!!

Just kidding. Not even Israel has a missile powerful enough to reach us. We should all sleep better knowing that.

I barely remember Aziz Pahad. Then again, I barely remember last weekend. Wikipedia reminded me that he was once our deputy foreign minister. Apparently he played a prominent role in South Africa’s attempt to stop the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003. That went well. I imagine after Pahad’s visit, Israel will agree to implement a two-state solution – the state of Israel and the republic of Israel.

I hope he at least gets to have his picture taken with Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas. Did you know that Hamas is an acronym? I didn’t. It stands for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah, which means: “Silence! I kill you!”

Meanwhile, in parliament last week, MPs of all stripe and size called on the government to play a more active role in trying to broker a ceasefire between these rebarbative Jews and Arabs. I think President Zuma would be very good at negotiating a settlement, even if it is of the out-of-court kind.

DA MP Stevens Mokgalapa reminded everyone what they already know. “Israel and Palestinian leaders must return to negotiations, all hostilities must be brought to an end, and all strategies employed that result in the death of civilians must cease immediately.”

Or else what, Mokgalapa? If you’re going to state the blindingly obvious, at least follow it up with some sort of threat. Like, “We won’t buy any more Israeli tomatoes at Woolies if you don’t stop.”

Even UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who is about as threatening as a harp seal, has issued a warning. “If more than, say, one million Palestinian civilians die, we will be forced to ask Israel and America for permission to hold some sort of meeting.” He then apologised and had a bit of a cry.

The EFF’s pin-up girl for the revolution, Magdalene Moonsamy, said her party was calling for “an immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and not to leave for hours but recall without return”. I’d hate to know what that came out as after being translated into Hebrew. I wouldn’t have thought the situation stood to benefit by sending Israelis back to Israel.

Comrade Moonsamy continued: “We demand the end of Israel’s illegal occupation and further instruct the South African government to end all business with companies that continue to perpetuate terrorism in Palestine.”

The EFF is instructing the government? Way to get them to do the exact opposite. I predict a lot more kosher food appearing in parliament’s cafeteria soon. And don’t be surprised if you see Gwede Mantashe wearing a yarmulke the next time he makes an appearance.

Apart from the overarching apartheid theme, there are many similarities between us and them. Nkandla is roughly the size of Gaza with fewer people but more goats. The Nkandla goats are better off than the people in Gaza, though, in that nobody bombs them. However, they do on occasion get eaten. What they lose on the swings, they gain on the roundabouts. Not that goats care much for playgrounds.

Eskom could learn a lot from Israel. For instance, Israel drops leaflets in a particular area advising residents that there will be load shedding in their area. This gives them thirty seconds to move to another area where load shedding isn’t due for another hour. The load being shed, in their case, mainly constitutes 150mm artillery shells.

Eskom doesn’t even bother with leaflets. They simply shed their load, regardless of whether or not you’ve had time to flee to a neighbourhood that has power. You can do yourself a nasty mischief stumbling around in the dark looking for the matches. Sure, it’s not the same as losing an arm or a leg, or your entire family, but a barked shin at my age is no joke.


4 thoughts on “A complex problem

  1. Susan says:

    I don’t feel guilty at all!! Thank God for a bit of levity in this otherwise horrific situation!
    Facebook is filled with nothing but devastation and horror in photographs, and words filled with hatred from so many of my friends on both sides. I’m not sure who to be friends with anymore! I agree with posts from both sides, but cannot take sides.
    I’ve “unfollowed” a whole lot of my friends, so that I don’t have to see or read what they post (it’s hard to resist when it’s in your face!) That may be a head in the sand type of reaction (I’ve never been know for that), but I don’t know what else to do. It’s just too distressing.
    Even my son is angrier than I’ve known him. And my daughter is dating a ;lovely Jewish man. What would my Muslim friends think!! My son is happy he wasn’t invited to Shabat, as he says he wouldn’t have kept his mouth shut!!! I haven’t dared bring it up with my daughter. Damn, even in my family……
    I don’t mean to be dismissive in any way shape or form, but seriously!! This is a dreadful situation and we always need to find a way to laugh, even if it is just for a moment!
    Thank you, Mr Ben Trovato from the bottom of my otherwise very sad heart! You are a light at the end of a tunnel…….. no, not one of those!! 😉

  2. Dot SChwarz says:

    I always feel l guilty when your pieces make me laugh

  3. I’ve never understood this phrase ‘What they lose on the swings, they gain on the roundabouts.’ Was my childhood one big obstacle course that I never even realised I was on?

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