Some of my best friends are Philistines
ONE OF my Jewish friends (some of my best are) has in his collection a delicious little story about a group discussing their history and their religion. The proceedings were lively but friendly. There was. however, one sour but puzzling note. Each time the name of Moses was mentioned — not infrequently — a red-faced little man sitting in a corner either booed or hissed or both. The volume of his protests grew as the proceedings continued. Finally, the Chairman could stand it no longer.
"Friend" he said. "it is distressing to hear you make those noises each time the name of the great Prophet is mentioned. Why do you do it?"
"Because I despise him" was the alarming answer.
"You despise Moses? Why'? Why'?"
"Because," said the man, almost spitting in the process, "if Moses had turned left instead of right after he led us through the Red Sea, we, we are the ones who would have had the oil!"
It makes the world seem very small and time seem very. still to read now, more than thirty centuries later that an archaeologist in Jerusalem's Hebrew University believes he has found evidence belying deductions made from the Old Testament account of the Exodus that Moses. had taken the long inland route to avoid the Philistines. Now our latter-day expert says he has dug up information from the Gaza Strip indicating that the Israelites went into the desert to elude not the Philistines but — wait for it — the very people from whom they were escaping ... Egyptians!
Milk of human kindness
I HAVE grown up enough to realise at last that, even if I were to become President of the United States of America, or even the Transport and General Workers' Union. I could not, with a wave of my pen. eliminate either armaments or war.
Nevertheless, I still suffer, as I'm sure you do, a footstamping, infuriating pang at being so helpless to influence world affairs for the better, Whether the World Health Organisation succeeds fully or not in preventing multi-national firms from marketing in the Third World powdered milk in a way that risks the health and lives of the children likely to be involved, they have, at least, waved a very important red flag. I salute the anonymous people, who must have risked their jobs or forfeited rewards to speak up and influence this usually uninfluenceable world.
Death wish for other people
I REMEMBER, some five or six years ago. interviewing television call-boy turned film director Michael Winner about brutality in his film Death Wish with Charles Bronson playing the part of a one-man killer taking on the task of clearing the city's streets of' hoodlums. 1 hadn't seen it at the time so, when a couple of weeks ago ITV billed it. I cleared the room of juveniles and sat down to watch.
Once you got over the first brutal shock, you found yourself sharing the comfort of the Police Commissioners at the dropping crime statistics. Bronson began to look like a hero. Those louts were better dead. Worse than that, you could see the change in the selfappointed vigilante. First time he killed he was sick. Soon he was enjoying it. Bang, bang, you're dead. The thrill of the chase. The surge of adrenalin at hitting a target. I don't have to draw either analogy or moral.