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Sunday, June 02, 2013

Myths We Die By

King David Hotel, 1946, After Irgun Bombing

One of the most shockingly memorable experiences of an intelligent entity must be the realization that the myths we learned as children are mere fluffery... and often iniquitous, to boot.

In particular, myths about situations where at least two parties are in dispute, or what we may call the Bipolar Separation Myths, wherein one party is thoroughly good, the other thoroughly vile.

We spend much of our adult life learning that "it takes two to tango", and attempting to overcome our Edenic visions of hero myths about family, state, and nation.

There were myths of particular salvation; we learned that people of our faith would go to heaven, and people of other creeds were doomed.
We also learned that certain nations were saintly underdogs, veritable Davids fighting against villains that were the worst of Goliath and Saul.

Yet in our heroic myths of Israel, never once did the bombings of the King David Hotel enter in, a disaster where the Zionist terrorist group Irgun had planted bombs at the busy hotel and killed many people on July 22, 1946:  91 deaths and 46 injured.

Wikipedia: King David Hotel bombing
The hotel was the site of the central offices of the British Mandatory authorities of Palestine, principally the Secretariat of the Government of Palestine and the Headquarters of the British Forces in Palestine and Transjordan.
In July 2006, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center organized a conference to mark the 60th anniversary of the bombing. The conference was attended by past and future Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former members of Irgun. A plaque commemorating the bombing was unveiled, stating "For reasons known only to the British, the hotel was not evacuated."
The British Ambassador in Tel Aviv and the Consul-General in Jerusalem protested, saying "We do not think that it is right for an act of terrorism, which led to the loss of many lives, to be commemorated", and wrote to the Mayor of Jerusalem that such an act of terror could not be honoured, even if it was preceded by a warning. The British government also demanded the removal of the plaque, pointing out that the statement accusing the British of failing to evacuate the hotel was untrue and "did not absolve those who planted the bomb."
 (the mention of "evacuation" refers to a part of the story that Irgun telephoned the British beforehand to alert them to the coming blast. Awfully sporting of Irgun, what?)

I never learned of the slaughtered British and Arabs in my myths, and I believed my heroes hands unsullied.

What do you say to such murderous nonsense? I made up a song in 2006:

Hello, Central, Irgun calling,
are the Britsh there?
Get them out - but leave the Arabs! -
down the old back stair.

It is hardly as thoughtless and nasty and 70 years of ongoing conflict in this Hundred Years War... and counting.


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