Twilight of the Gods

About 10 years ago I read an amazing book, PALESTINIAN TWILIGHT, that was a dramatized documentary about the murder of an American Lutheran pastor who was Professor of Archaeology at Bir Zeit University in Palestine. Ultimately his death was blamed on the Palestinians because he was rumoured to be having affair with his deputy, a beautiful young Palestinian woman.

It was and is an unlikely scenario given the man’s advanced age, and fundamental Christian values, and the Palestinian man convicted of the murder made his confession under torture. Shortly afterwards he was assassinated himself, so he was never interviewed by anybody other than the Israeli authorities. And there was strong evidence to suggest that it was the Israelis who assassinated the professor because his archaeological digs were undermining the Israeli narrative that they had first claim on The Holy Land. And since the Israelis control all archaeological findings the professor’s results were never published.

Whatever! These sorts of brutal shenanigans have become irrelevant. With the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, supported by the Americans, it seems certain that the Israelis will soon annex the West Bank, with the support of the Americans. If that happens all dreams of Palestinian statehood will be snuffed out.

And Arab support for the Palestinians is falling victim to the theological and geopolitical battle between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran in The Arabian/Persian Gulf. For obvious reasons Saudi Arabia is supporting America’s determination to destabilize Iran. Unfortunately HEZBOLLAH, funded and backed by Iran, was and is the most effective opponent of Israeli expansion. They fought the Israelis to a standstill on their last attempt to invade South Lebanon. If Iran falls then so does Hezbollah, and so do the Palestinians.

It seems that God the Father of Christian Palestinians and their Western supporters has abandoned them, and Allah the God of Muslim Palestinians has too. As the Lutheran pastor himself noted “I always end up on the losing side.” It is like the Norse epic Ragnarök – the Twilight of the Gods.

I used the story line of the Professor’s murder to begin and end my book of short stories, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. But I changed the characters to an elderly and childless English couple who ran a Church of England orphanage in Ramallah. The feeble and diabetic man was murdered either because of his close relationship with his young female Palestinian assistant, or because the orphanage was seen by the Israelis as a breeding ground for a generation of confident and independent and well educated Palestinian youths. This was symbolic to me of the ruthless way the Israelis’ have taken control of every aspect of Palestinian life.

All the other stories in my book are also dramatized documentaries. They are based on events I myself witnessed, or were reported to me by reliable sources during my 40 years working in and around The Arabian/Persian Gulf.

You can review and buy my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” and its fictionalizations of real events in the Middle East in Kindle format at:

amazon.com

Or in paperback edition on my publisher’s website:

feedaread.com

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Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Australia’s bizarre decision to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and reserve East Jerusalem for the Palestinians, pleased no one, and succeeded in antagonising everyone.

The Israelis claim the whole of Jerusalem as their own, and of course the Palestinians oppose this. And thinking of William Blake’s anthem JERUSALEM, that holy city resonates just as strongly in the Christian ethos. Think The Crusades and Richard Coeur de Lion.

Who would have thought that a remote desert oasis, whose reason for existence was a freshwater spring that never dried up, would become the focus for so much intellectual debate about the meaning of life and death – and brutal physical strife and the hatred of religious intolerance.

The background to my current work in progress, THE GULF “The Beginning of Sorrows” concerns itself with the long history of the Middle East, the Fertile Crescent, the cradle of our civilization, the Sumerians invention of writing and establishment of written law. And later the Silk Roads that brought exotic goods and ideas from the Far East. My current book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is set on Bahrain as it transformed from a sleepy backwater of the British Empire into an independent nation state that acts as an interface between The West, and insular Saudi Arabia.

You can review and buy my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” and its fictionalizations of real events in the Middle East at:

amazon.com

Or on my publisher’s website:

http://www.feedaread.com

Tomorrow the World?

 

“See you in Jerusalem . . . tomorrow,” was a greeting by Zionists expressing their desire to see Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

 

            Now that they have all but achieved that ambition – hiding behind the swagger of Donald Trump, and the influence of his Israeli son-in-law Jared Kushner – what is next?

 

             When I worked in Saudi Arabia, even the moderate Western educated young graduates I mentored said that the Israelis would never be satisfied until they controlled the whole of the Middle East – and its oil. At the time I thought that was extreme. But now with Trump cancelling the nuclear treaty with Iran I have become a believer. 

 

In exactly the same way as the build up to the deposing of Saddam Hussein, they are setting up to depose the Ayatollahs. The lies and deception about Saddam’s WMD, and his “yellow cake” nuclear weapons program are being replicated by Netanyahu and Trump recycling old – and discredited – data about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

 

           Saddam was the most credible threat to Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East – and so he was removed by Bush, with the shameful collaboration of Tony Bloody Liar. Now Iran – and specifically the Iran back Hezbollah – are the most credible threat to Israeli expansion and control. The last time Israel invaded South Lebanon they were soundly beaten back by Hezbollah – and Israel lost control of South Lebanon.

 

 What baffles me is that the US, and other Western governments, never mention Israel’s stockpile of 400 nuclear weapons, or its refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Agreement. Does anybody doubt that Israel would start hurling these weapons at anybody and everybody if they were losing their battle?

 

While Israel has nuclear weapons I think it is permissible for Iran (or Saudi Arabia) to also have them. The situation is the same as Pakistan and India developing them to neutralize each other. It’s called a balance of power. 400 to nil is not a balance of power.

 

 Israel, backed by Trump, claiming Jerusalem as its capital to the exclusion of Christians and Muslims, is yet another act of aggression and destabilization. Israel has no interest in a stable situation. Only instability can be exploited under the guise of national security.

 

 It seems to me that successive Israeli governments (with the honorable exception of Iitzak Rabin) are intent on obliterating the Palestinians. They have no intention of allowing a 2 State solution.

 

In my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, I have a character – Uncle Tom – who is murdered because of his support for a Christian home for orphaned Palestinian children. Like all my stories this is a fictionalization of a true story that concerns a Christian missionary/archaeology professor. He was murdered because it was rumoured he had found evidence that the Palestinians were in the Holy Land before the Jews.

 

 The inspiration for that story was from a brilliant book, ‘Palestinian Twilight’ by Edward Fox.

 

 You can review and buy my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” and its other fictionalizations of real events in the Middle East at:

 

 www.amazon.com

Or on my publisher’s website:

 

            http://www.feedaread.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

And did those feet in ancient times . . .

So begins the William Morris’ poem JERUSALEM, an anthem and an elegy to an ideal city that should be aspired to by all mankind. Jerusalem has never been seen as the capital of an exclusively Jewish State – except by Zionists.

Jerusalem is central to all the monotheistic religions – Judaeism, Christianity and Islam. It is the location of the Stations of the Cross – and the Dome of the Rock – in addition to the Wailing Wall. It needs to be under international control.

Trump’s support for Israel’s grab, and American pandering to the Jewish lobby, shows that the USA is entirely unsuitable as lead negotiators in Middle East Peace Process: a process that is an empty shell.

The UN needs to take control – and the UN headquarters needs to be removed from New York and re-located to the League of Nations site in Geneva. And if America threatens, as the biggest donor, to remove its funding, I am sure China and Russia will pick up the slack. The tectonic plates of geo-political economic power are shifting.

My young friends in the Arabian Gulf (graduates I mentored) always told me that the Israelis were not to be trusted. According to them the Israelis want to own the whole of the Middle East. I was sceptical. But if you look at Palestine it’s a sobering lesson. Israel now occupies 75% of the former Palestine, and controls 30% of the West Bank that is supposed to be reserved as the future Palestine – and they continue to build illegal settlements there, and in supposedly Palestinian controlled East Jerusalem.

There will never be peace in the Middle East until Israel is reined in – and the USA is unwilling/incapable of doing that.

My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, begins and ends with the plight of LAYLA, a young Palestinian woman converted to Christianity and trying to care for children who are always the innocent victims of conflicts caused by the greed and arrogance of zealots. And the protaganists in my short story collection, expats washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, are veterans of 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

Is Fiction stranger then Fact

 It was an Australian journalist who said, “Journalists write fiction, and pretend it’s fact – and novelists write fact, and pretend it’s fiction.” And there is truth in this.

Certainly my book of short stories, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, is based on fictionalised facts. I call it journalistic because every story springs from an event I witnessed myself during my 40 years living and working in the Arabian/Persian Gulf – or was reported to me by a reliable source.

I have just written my first Australian story, THE SENSE OF LOSS, which is a complete fiction, and yet in many ways is as factual and even more authentic than the stories in THE GULF. I say this because the end result was not the story I set out to write. My fictional protagonist, an elderly Australian widow from rural Australia – a person I have never met in a place I have never been – took over, and behaved as an elderly strong-willed Australian widow from rural Australia would behave.

Graham Greene will be spinning in his grave. He believed that fictional characters are merely constructs designed to carry the authors ideas. I have never found that to be true. Once I create a good strong character they behave as that character would behave. They cannot be directed and told what to do. I believe, mad though I may be,that Margaret McLaughlin, the character in my story, behaved exactly as Margaret McLaughlin would behave.

I am English by birth, education, and upbringing, and assumed before coming to Australia, that Australians would be pretty much the same as myself. After all, almost all of the early settlers and the majority of the population is from the British Isles – and English is the official language (although you wouldn’t think so if you spend a lot of time in Sydney). But I have found that Australians are foreign to me.

Maybe because of their beginnings as a penal colony, and the large percentage of Irish Catholic convicts? Maybe because their hard-scrabble pioneering and suffering is such recent history? Maybe because they became (almost) universally affluent so fast that they are more American than British. There is (almost) no class structure and snobbery here (except in Melbourne)? But whatever, we are related – maybe like distant cousins – but they are certainly not British in their thoughts or actions. As my daughter so succinctly put it “They are lovely people, but rough around the edges”.

To be precious about it, those differences and rough edges have subconsciously permeated my artistic sensibility. So when I came to write my first Australian story, from my English perspective it just did not go the way I thought it should go.

“Good on ya – Margaret McLaughlin”,

because I have written a story that is “pure fiction” – and yet it is as authentic and factual as if pulled from tomorrow’s headlines.

The same cannot be said for the stories in THE GULF. Yes, they are authentic. But all of them are told from the perspective of archetypal British expatriates who washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf for whatever reason. People like me. Ordinary people who found trauma in their lives through no fault of their own, trying to cope and make a living in extraordinary circumstances. People I can easily relate to.

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

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