Some of my best friends are Jews

It is a cliché, but in my case it is true. What has reminded me is the passing of my friend Rusty Coppleman a few days before Christmas.

Rusty’s story is typical of the 20th Century. His parents fled from persecution in Central Europe and settled in impoverished circumstances in the East End of London. But Rusty, by hard work, intelligence and talent, carved out a career in the UK film industry as a leading sound editor.

He worked on films such as ZULU, FAME, and MIDNIGHT EXPRESS and worked with Stanley Kubrick for a while. In the process he moved to a nice suburb West of London close to PINEWOOD and SHEPPERTON studios. Yet in spite of his struggle to better himself, and his success, Rusty never became hard, or bitter, or flashy and loud.

In a moving tribute by his son Daniel on Face book, he was remembered as a loving father, devoted to his wife Sylvia and his two sons, whose morals and decency were never in doubt.

It is that word decency that resonates with me. My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” was dedicated to my Father “A thoroughly decent working man.” Just like Rusty he was dedicated to my Mother – and to myself and my sister. And his morals and his high ethical standards were never in doubt. And he never ever raised his hand to my Mother or my sister and me. He lived a quiet and modest life.

Doesn’t that seem quaint and old fashioned in this narcissitic age of dysfunctional, blended and single parent families – and domestic violence?

It is heartening to read Donna Leon’s series of books, set in Venice and featuring Commissario Brunetti, a decent loving family man. Such a break from the American detective ideal of an omniscient, violent, cynical, hard bitten, alcoholic divorcee that started with Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and continues through Harry Bosch etc.

Perhaps the pendulum is swinging back to an age of decency? I really hope so. It seems that an impoverished background as a child either produces a saint, or a sinner. My Jewish friend Rusty, or a Harvey Weinstein or Bernie Madoff – or that “man of peace” Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahoo.

And so to the Israelis, or the 50% of them that keep the right wing parties in power. Undoubtedly the Jews of Central Europe suffered unbelievable hardship and repression during the 1930s – but you would think that those lucky enough to escape and find safe haven first in Europe and the USA – and then migrate to their Promised Land – would understand the need for compassion in dealing with the downtrodden – the untermensch that they were themselves.

Israel now occupies more than 70% of the former Palestine, and in so doing has driven almost 1 million Palestinians into exile and destroyed about 400 villages. And they have killed untold numbers of Palestinian men, women and children in this process, and with incursions into South Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Of the remaining 20 odd percent of the former Palestine, the West Bank, supposed to be the site of any future Palestinian State, the Israelis control 30%, and are building settlements at an accelerating pace.

It seems that the Israelis, with the complicity of the USA, are intent on obliterating Palestine from the maps – and maybe obliterating the Palestinians themselves.

My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, begins and ends with the plight of LAYLA, a young Palestinian woman trying to care for children orphaned, innocent victims of conflicts caused by the greed and arrogance of zealots. And the protagonists in my short story collection, expats washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, are veterans of arrogant and greedy politicians’ wars like Viet Nam, the battle for the BURAIMI Oasis, and the DHOFAR Campaign.

You can preview my book on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

www.amazon.com www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my UK publisher:

www.feedaread.com

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It’s not all about oil anymore

The tagline to my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, set in the context of the recent past of the Persian/Arabian Gulf, states:

It’s all about oil . . . “

and I still believe that holds true for most of the 20th Century  Iran – and it was certainly true from 1936 when the Americans discovered vast reserves of cheap crude oil in Saudi Arabia.

But the Americans, having discovered vast reserves of shale oil and gas at home, are no longer dependent on Middle East crude oil. They have shifted their geo-political focus onto the Far East. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the Syrian civil war are disappearing from the headlines. And what about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that drove most of the 20th Century chaos in the Middle East?

Flying under the rader, the Israelis have taken possession of more than 70 % of the former Palestine. Of the remaining 30% (the West Bank, supposedly set aside for the Palestinian State) the Israelis continue to build settlements in strategic locations, linked by settler only roads. Effectively they are now in control of the West Bank, and the two state solution is dead. How long will it be before they annex the West Bank – and then what next?

If you believe my Arab friends, the Israelis will never be satisfied until they control the whole of the Middle East. They will, under the pretext of national security, attempt to annex Jordan – the home of so many displaced Palestinians.

In the meantime I grieve for the characters I created to tell the turbulent story of the oil rich Middle East. The flotsam and jetsam that washed up in The Gulf for a variety of reasons. Archetypal expatriates. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, driven to the fringes of Western society trying to survive.

Poor old Uncle Tom, diabetic and obese and impotent. Unable to give his wife Hettie the child she wanted so desperately. His foster son Ray, the brave SAS trooper whose fiancee cheated on him while he was away fighting in the Dhofar campaign – a hidden politicians war.

And the equally brave Dudley, a young cavalry lieutenant leading desert patrols in the Trucial States, fighting tribesmen in the Battle for Buraimi Oasis – a proxy war between Britain and the USA.

And Captain Bob who, when he lost his command of a supertanker, lost his command – and submitted to the ferocious attacks of the shrew of his social climbing Glaswegian wife.

And my narrator Mick, a journalist of the old school, grubbing around in all the darkest corners exposing corruption and hypocrisy regardless of the personal cost. It cost him the love of his life – Leila – the lovely young Palestinian woman from the refugee camps trying to pass as a Lebanese flight attendant because she just wanted a husband, and a normal life.

And it almost cost him the friendship of his life-long friend Pete Moore, a talented geologist and succesful businessman who was too high-minded and naïve to withstand the blandishments of Natalya, a 19 year old Kosovan whore, and the threats of her brutal Albanian pimps.

All of this is fading into history as international attention shifts to the Far East, and the maniac who is running North Korea. Here in Australia, even that story takes second and third place to the debate about gay marriage – and the citizenship requirements of senators. Both subjects rank somewhere between 0 and 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. How low can we go?

THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, deals with the effect that fabulous oil wealth brought to the region after the quadrupling of crude oil prices in 1972. You can preview my book on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

www.amazon.com www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my UK publisher:

www.feedaread.com

Marie Antoinette’s cake

Maybe, finally, what I have been writing about for the last 30 years is beginning to enter the mainstream.

At a recent conference of the political elite in Sydney, Peter Varghese, the former Head of the Australian Foreign Affairs Department said:

“ . . . I wonder whether this is a gathering of the Ancien Regime and we are all eating cake at Marie Antoinette’s party. One day we might wake up to find the peasants are revolting.”

The only thing he got wrong is that the peasants have already revolted, hence Trump, Brexit and here in Australia Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party.

The political elite/progressives agendas are based on the ideas of the 1960s Permissive Society, outmoded ideas that have failed catastrophically to meet the needs of Western societies. Every indicator of civilized life is going backwards: divorce rates, drug abuse, violent crime, home ownership etc.

For the first time in many generations the present young adult generation will not have as good a life as their parents. This is all the consequence of laissez faire capitalism, and laissez faire neo-liberalism.

Maybe a sea-change is on the horizon? On TV the American series MADAME SECRETARY, and in books the successful Inspector Brunetti series of Donna Leon, are based on successful marriages and happy families – and not the usual divorced, recovering alcoholic, omniscient and frequently violent protagonist that is the noir norm these days.

The only disturbing factor for me is that MADAME SECRETARY still clings to the 19th Century attitudes of American exceptionalism and its divine right to re-create the world in its image, ignoring the realities of its own violent, drug crazed, money obsessed and fractured society.

Donna Leon, who is herself an American, but expatriated to Venice for many years, has a much more realistic view of the world as it is, and not as we wish it to be:

“ . . . how to persuade the Romanians to stop picking pockets, the Gypsies to stop sending their children to break into homes . . . in Venice. And on the mainland . . . asking the Moldovians to stop selling 13 year-olds and the Albanians to stop selling drugs . . and the possibility of persuading Italian men to stop wanting young prostitutes and cheap drugs.”

And, in the same vein as Donna Leon, I try to present the Middle East (or more precisely the oil-rich Arabian/Persian Gulf region) as it really is, and not as The West wish it to be.

In my first book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, I dealt with the effect that fabulous oil wealth brought to the region after the quadrupling of crude oil prices in 1972. In the book I am writing now, GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”, I am dealing with the ongoing effects of that wealth which lead to the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

You can preview my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

www.amazon.com www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my UK publisher:

www.feedaread.com