Saturday, March 05, 2005

How Hizbullah almost liberated Wales

The London Times ran a strange, quirky feature yesterday by BBC correspondent Phil Rees, recounting his meals with various terrorists over the years and ranking their cuisine (he gives thumbs up to Algeria's Islamic Salvation Army and the Basque seperatists; Islamist terrorists are hopeless unless their meals are cooked by women; he doesn't rank the IRA because all his meals with them have been liquid...).
The very idea of this article, which trivializes terrorism and terrorists, makes me extremely uncomfortable, and indeed, the author seems to be suffering from a variation of Stockholm Syndrome. After so many meals with terrorists, he will only use the word terrorist with quotation marks, and explains, "I witnessed the personal side of men described in official news reports as mindless killers. The label of “terrorist” is used to demonise political foes." Remember, this is a BBC correspondent -- although this doesn't excuse the Times.
Nonetheless, if you can get over such comments, there was one rather amusing anecdote which bears repeating, from the correspondent's 1993 meal with Hizbullah (ranked no. 6 in the terrorist cuisine tables):
There have been occasions when I was gasping for a beer. During a meal with Hezbollah “terrorists” in Lebanon, a mullah spent nearly an hour lecturing me on Britain’s colonial misdeeds in the Middle East. The table was less than 2ft off the ground and about a dozen fighters were kneeling on the floor; I cannot kneel for long and had to sit cross-legged. A plastic cloth had been placed over the table and men with beards brought in a spread of mezze, including tahina, a sesame dip, and baba ghanouj, an aubergine paste flavoured with lemon and parsley. It was eaten with thin, flat bread that had burnt in places.
While the mezze was appetising, there was little bonhomie. The guerrillas stared as I scooped each mouthful of mezze with my bread. The mullah repeatedly used the Arabic word Inglizi to describe me and after a while I interrupted his monologue by declaring that I am Welsh. In a playful manner, I said that Wales had been colonised by the English for nearly 500 years, much longer than the Israelis or anyone else had occupied Arab lands.
The mullah fell silent before asking: “Do you have a Resistance?” I replied that some Welsh nationalists had burnt holiday homes owned by English families. The mullah seemed pleased but hinted that that was not enough. He suddenly asked: “Do you need any military assistance?”
Rees concludes that once the group believed he belonged to an “oppressed” nation, they warmed to him and the main course (greasy mutton kebabs) arrived. With all the upheaval in the Middle East at the moment, however, perhaps the Brits still better watch out...

No comments: