Wednesday, 20 August 2014


     As the majority of us have flown on, this reunion will contain a large percentage of younger relatives, intent on preserving memory of us.  This is my message to them:

    "It does gladden my heart to see the interest you young and healthy people take in us old fogies for what you imagine we may have accomplished.  May I just say where I would prefer you to direct your energies, remembering that war is an avoidable curse on the human species and hell for the populations that are trapped into quarrels not of their making.
    Yes, we were locked up, some as long as almost 6 years with all the deprivations this implies, but we POWs of the Luftwaffe were very fortunate unlike those taken by other groups.  It was a time we could use for relaxation and education.  
    When we were on "operations" in the Commonwealth forces or on "missions" in the US forces we lived each day and night with fears that ate at our innards.  In my case in Bomber Command our life expectancy was 5 operations and the survival rate of those shot down was only 17%.  Perhaps a little appreciation for the tensions of this period would be appreciated.
   But, when I survived the trauma of being shot down and losing great friends, I was greatly relieved to find my captors, both civilian and military, all respectful.  Then, when the two gates clanged shut behind me. in Kriegieland, I was in a compound of 2,000 boys and men from 23 countries with above-average educations containing experts in every pursuit imaginable..  What a rare opportunity for a free higher education!
    Now, military correctness, stupidly I thought, ordered us to remain belligerents, fighting the enemy in every way possible, but mainly by escaping that would tax his manpower.   This certainly exposed the talent and ingenuity among us as well as harming us more than the enemy, like the loss of the 50 executed by the Gestapo but forewarned by the Luftwaffe.  We were in the heart of a well-guarded country surrounded by 90 million enemy with few of us speaking their language.  Escape was an exercise in futility.  Our captors had a small staff of boys, old men, and those unfit for service on the numerous fronts.   Why not cultivate them as they were a respectful bunch and would be most useful in a post-war world - as we would be with the advanced education we could acquire in our "University of Sagan".  It was not too soon to start preparing for a better world.
     Many of us were convinced that the Nazis had beguiled reluctant Germans into a war they could not win in spite of bravery, talent, sacrifice, and initial successes.  The large land masses of the USSR east of the Urals, China, the US, Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth, allowed the production of weapons and food needed for victory as well as the manpower.  An early indication of this was the humiliation the Germans suffered in having to allow the UK, Canadian, and US Red Cross to feed us.  And, yes, we were too cozy in forgetting the role we played in the rise of Nazism.
     Our compound was no exception to the scary rule that small, energetic minorities can wrest control of any association and force others to do their bidding.  In 12,000 years we have not learned that force begets force and misery begets misery.  While Greed prevails everywhere and is well entrenched here, most humans are kind and considerate of others so much so that they allow themselves to be led by those not so considerate.  Blindly following orders is a terrifying human fault..
     In my compound, like all the others, small groups formed Escape Committees that had us assuming they had unquestionable control and first choice of any assets.  It was our duty to cheerfully comply.    Only a chosen few were allowed, for ulterior purposes, to make friends with our guards.  I disobeyed this rule whenever the opportunity arose, but I did go along and did work effectively for the Escape Committee.  As we had a glut of time I used most of the rest taking courses and seeking long discussions with those of other backgrounds in the impossible task of trying to understand this universe and our species.  
     So, Kriegieland was my Alma Mater.  I need no pity.  Our world is an overpopulated mess and were are, thanks to geography, a privileged minority.  Use your talents and energies to fight injustice and support those organizations that are working peacefully to improve the status of humanity along with other life forms.
     Leave me with your friendship and I will be grateful."

Friday, 8 August 2014


     As I write this there is yet another truce whose outcome is preordained to satisfy neither side.  In the past  few days the Israeli Right, led by Benjamin Netanyahu who believes he is the chief and best Advisor of the US president, killed 1,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, by terrorist air, land, and naval attacks.  Hamas used the same number of firecrackers, called rockets, to kill 3 Israeli civilians and other means to terminate 63 Israeli soldiers.  In comparison its attacks were more nuisance than terror and born in frustration.
    Hamas is not noted, like Israel, for its ability to acquire lethal weapons.  Sure, the 20-pound payload in each firecracker will kill you if it penetrates the room you choose to remain in rather than use the nearby bomb shelter, but even if you are in the open and fall flat you have an 80% survival chance.  Most impact on open land or between buildings.  The Iron Dome is highly over-rated.  Its interception rate is dismal but it does provide profit for Raytheon and the Israeli inventor and builder.  It also garners handsome funds from the US in addition to the annual grant of $3 billion.
     Is this not the land that once welcomed, then killed, the Prince of Peace?  What happened to cause human insanity to prevail?  Well, we could go back 25,000 ya (years ago) when populations grew to exceed the capacity of the land to support.  Starting 5,750 ya climate change, this time created by Nature not Man, was causing migrations southeast from the Danube, south from Ukraine, and north from the Arabian peninsula and Sudan, home of the Semites who were to include Arabs, Hebrews, Phoenicians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Eblaites, and Carthaginians.  A larger surge came about 3,500 ya.  Semite ancestors of both Palestinians, Israelis, and others fled to the Land of Milk and Honey, more of a promise than a fact, and competed for land, building scores of associations, and smoting competitors.  A prize of war, arable land goes from 3% in Jordan, 13 in Iraq, 16 in Israel, Lebanon, West Bank, 25 in Syria, to 29 in Gaza giving Gaza a current human density almost six times that of Manhattan and just under London’s.  Some ten tribes, loosely associated as Hebrews, wandered for 40 years before establishing temporary safe havens by force of arms.  Their female gods went by various names including supreme Ashtoreth.  Then a guy called Abraham who worshiped a male god, Yahweh, left Ur in Iraq and with his entourage infiltrated one of the Hebrew tribes and slowly turned their female gods into inferior characters like Eve.  This led to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of whom fought each other.  Yet more Christians have been killed by other Christians and more Muslims by other Muslims that by outsiders.
     For thousands of years the area saw many occupations that included Philistine, Amorite, Hittite, Hyksos, Egyptian, Israeli, Mongol, Seljuk and Ottoman Turk, French, British and ANZAC with only the ANZACS staying briefly and going home, down under, shortly after WW1. 
     During WWII, I was a POW with several Jews who had flown with Commonwealth Air Forces and who were treated by the Luftwaffe with the same respect they gave us.  One of these, F/Lt Cantor, a good friend and roommate, graduated from the University of Toronto in 1949 then was killed helping Israel create an air force.  I was saved by the Luftwaffe from being gunned down by the SS, a different breed of men, when I was with a small group one 1945 day in the Munich train yard following a night Bomber Command raid.  We were giving what food we had to starving Jews en route to Dachau, packed like cordwood in box cars.  Our train engines had been disassembled into their component parts by RAF/RCAF mosquito bombers.
     In 1948 I was happy that the UN was starting to set up a Jewish state but disappointed to see it would come at the expense of Palestinians who had no part in the Holocaust in which 6 million of the 13,750,000 undesirables executed by the Nazis were Jews.  This would re-establish a Jewish state, demolished in 70 AD by the Romans, on lands grabbed from the Ottoman Empire after WW1 and being administered as a British protectorate. There were no vacancies then as it was populated by Arabs, Jews, Palestinians, and what-have-you all living in peace.  I hoped the Jews had learned, what humans have still failed to learn, that oppression begets oppression, so would set up a model state with fair play to all.  But I was dismayed in July 1948 when Haganah militants rolled into Lydda and Ramle, killing many en route, then destroyed 30 Palestinian villages to ensure added land to what the UN planned.  The columns, including Moshe Dayan, massacred 170 in a mosque then killed the 70 Palestinians they had forced to bury the dead.  Ben Gurion then authorized the forced evacuation by foot of 55,000 Palestinians to a refugee camp in Ramallah, setting the stage for the horrors to come.  North America has much more room but, instead of giving them any, we assumed other Arab countries, already over-populated, would absorb millions of refugees.  Naturally the locals objected to a richer, Western-backed, country being established in their midst so resisted but were no match for the military (some of it stolen from the British Army) and economic aid available to the new Israelis.
     While fault lies everywhere and the new implants did do a monumental task of building a new Israel, Greed took root and the Israelis embarked on a long streak of acquiring more arable land than the UN had granted them and treating what they called Arabs as inferior beings.  They divided themselves into half a dozen political parties and established a cast system with the far right, Western, rich, the Ashkenazi, being top dog and the Russian working-class Jews the lowest.  Like the rest of us Hamas also has its faults but does not deserve the bad press it gets.  It is needed if only because we pay no attention to moderates like Hanan Ashrawi or Mahmoud Abbas.    
     As a reaction to occupation and oppression, Hamas was founded in 1987, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.  In 2006 it won a decisive victory in the Gaza polls for the aid it was giving common people.  In 2007 Israeli imposed a smothering economic and physical blockade.  In 2009, Netanyahu’s Likkud party, the furthest right of all, was elected during Operation Cast Lead that left much of Gaza in ruins.  Avigdor Lieberman had formed, for secular Russian Jews, the Vidrael Beiteinu party, also far right.
     Netanyahu, born and educated in the US of Lithuanian ancestry, has been a good salesman, enlarging every excuse to avoid working with Hamas as this would destroy his dream of a Greater Israel.  He has been also, if somewhat obnoxious, good at convincing the US and Canada to accept his views.   Hamas is willing to accept the illegal 1967 borders but insists on the right of displaced Palestinians to return to their original family homes and for East Jerusalem, stolen by Israel, to be the capitol of the Palestinian state.  It is also loathe to accept Israel as an exclusive Jewish state.
      Fair Play gets little consideration when we refuse to talk to Hamas, calling it a terrorist organization.  Israel murders its leaders and jails its supporters.  We slap sanctions on Iran for the low possibility it might enlarge its nuclear capabilities to the production of weapons and on Russia for inferred interference in Eastern Ukraine, yet do nothing about Israel’s well-established nuclear arsenal, its apartheid rule in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza, or of the hundreds of times it has ignored UN resolutions.
     Come on, Israel, your best critics are fellow Israelis.  You have the wealth, talent, and financial backing to do well for all the inhabitants of that section of the Middle East that lacks the size and natural resources to remain one nation.  Your current prosperity has come from Europe and North America.  Be grateful and do unto others.  Perhaps a Common Market for a start to greater unity?  Where is your proof that a God (Yahweh?) made you his chosen people?