Untangling The Mideast For A Martian

by Deck Deckert

July 1, 2002


"Yes!" I said enthusiastically to my Martian friend, Yyuran. "Bush has finally said that Arafat has to go; that he's irrelevant. It's about time Bush laid down the law."

"Has to go where?" he repeated doubtfully. He's gotten a lot better with our idiom, but he still gets confused sometimes.

"Go. Leave office. Give up his leadership of the Palestinians."

"But the Palestinian people elected him, didn't they? Doesn't democracy mean you can choose your own leaders? That no one else can tell you who your leaders should be?"

"Well, yes, usually," I admitted. "But he's a rotten leader, and he supports terrorism. Do you know how many Israelis his suicide bombers have killed?"

"A terrible thing," Yyuran said. "But the Israelis have killed three times as many Palestinians. That's terrible too."

"Palestinian propaganda!" I said indignantly, but indulgently. There's so much about humans he just doesn't understand, even though he thinks he does.

"Amnesty International is run by the Palestinians?" he said with apparent confusion.

"Unh, no," I said.

"Well, Amnesty International says 150 Israelis have died in the past 13 or 14 months..."

"Exactly!" I said. "See what I mean?"

"But almost four times as many Palestinians have been killed -- 570 of them."

"Yeah, well, most of them are terrorists and militants. Israel has a right to defend itself."

"Many of the Palestinians killed were children, a lot of them babies. They can't all have been terrorists."

He can be so blasted stubborn. "Accidents," I said. "Collateral damage. It happens in war. But at least the Israelis don't target children like the Palestinian suicide bombers do. I'll bet a lot more Israeli children have been killed."

"Well no," he said rather prissily. OK, I know that English is his second language, but sometimes he sounds like a robot with an English accent. "Actually, 30 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians, and 150 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis. That's five times as many."

Before I could answer, he had taken my paper and began skimming the article on President Bush's speech -- at about 1,000 words a second or something like that. Amazing, actually.

"He blames Arafat for everything," he said neutrally. I had him thinking.

"Of course. Arafat should keep his people under control."

"But Arafat doesn't have any real power."

"Of course he does. He is head of his government after all. He's responsible when his people kill Israelis."

"Is Bush responsible when American bombs in Afghanistan kill innocent Afghan children?"

I opened my mouth to answer, but he was already ranting on. "Is Sharon responsible when Israeli tanks blow up children in a marketplace?" Maybe not ranting exactly, but he sure can get on his high horse.

"It's not the same thing," I muttered. "Arafat isn't even trying to control his people."

"Right now his headquarters is surrounded by Israeli tanks. Doesn't sound like he could do much about anything under those circumstances. How can he control his people if he can't even walk the streets?"

Always with the Palestinian propaganda. I don't know where he gets it all. "Israel is just doing what it has to do to defend itself against all the Arabs who want to destroy their whole country."

"Didn't you tell me a few weeks ago that all the Arab nations had just offered Israel peace and normal relations in exchange for giving up the Occupied Territories? The Occupied Territories where the Palestinians live? And the Israelis had rejected that offer?"

I winced. He never forgets anything. "Well, yeah..."

"And that the UN had ordered Israel to withdraw from those Occupied Territories 30 years ago and Israel refused?"

"Yeah, but...."

"But your president didn't mention any of that in his speech. He simply blamed everything on Arafat. Very one-sided."

He sounded a bit smug. He's on the planet for a few months and already he's an expert on humans. "Whatever," I said. "Bush has spelled out what the Palestinians have to do -- elect new leaders, stop all the terrorism. Then they can have a provisional country."

"Provisional," he said. He sounded like he'd never heard the word before. "What does that mean?"

"I don't know," I said, getting irritated with him. "But I'm sure President Bush does. He knows what he is doing."

Yyuran shrugged, turning his whole body into a corkscrew. I guess I'm getting used to Martian shrugs. I didn't even get queasy.

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Related Internal Links: The Yyuran Series

The Wrong Stuff (May 2002)

We Are A Peaceful People (March 2002)

A Famous Victory (January 2002)

Explaining Nukes to a Martian (February 2001)


Deck Deckert has spent nearly two decades as copy editor, wire editor and news editor at several metropolitan newspapers, including the Miami Herald and Miami News, before becoming a freelance writer. His articles and stories on everything from alligator farming to UFOs have appeared in numerous U.S. publications. He has written two young adult novels under a pen name, and co-authored a novel about the NATO war on Yugoslavia, Letters from the Fire, with Alma Hromic.

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Deck Deckert on Swans

Essays published in 2002 | 2001


Published July 1, 2002
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