Thursday, 17 June, 2010

Palestines and Poles

When one read the FT’s reports and editorials on Israel’s attack on the high seas on the Turkish ships headed for Gaza, one is reminded of another mercy mission to a besieged population: The airdrop of arms and supplies to Warsaw when the city rose against the Nazis in the final months of the Second World War.

The Red Army was, as every Western commentator faithfully repeats, at the doorsteps of city, but did nothing to help the Poles. Nor did it allow the Americans and English to use airfields under its control to drop supplies.

In fact, one account has a Red fighter attacking an English plane, flying all the way from Africa to help the Poles.

The obvious is never mentioned. Like, being on the doors of a city is not the same as having it. Now knew the difference better than the Reds. The Nazis were on the doors of Leningrad for 900 days. And were kept out of Moscow and Stalingrad too.

Like, the Russians were at the end of their tether and were in no position to attack an entrenched German citadel.

Like, they had refused help to the Poles before they rose.

Like, everyone knew those airdrops were worth only propaganda, which the Russians could not have wanted.

Like, no matter how despotic and terrible Stalin & Co were morally, they were militarily right on this one.

The parallels with Gaza are obvious (the Reds are the Israelis, Hamas the Nazis, the Palestines are the Poles and the English speaking nations, Turks), except the ready sympathy and pragmatism the Israelis enjoy has been conspicuous by its absence on Warsaw over the last 70 years.

The English better learn English

A few months back I read an article warning Indians that if we wanted any tourist money we should learn English. Maybe they should do some research in their own backyard.

Because I couldn’t make anything of what bus drivers, waiters and hostel managers were telling me when I was down to Oxford last week, and fared little better with my English classmates.

Yes, it’s their mother tongue, but it’s not modern business English and they know that. Flabbergasting others is one thing; being hospitable is another.

$ 20 billion vs nothing

This is in no way to say that what’s happening due to the BP oil spill is not very bad, but as an Indian I couldn’t help noticing how quickly BP shelled out $ 20 billion and how long it has took for Union Carbide to come up with anything, and the thousands of cruel, callous, illiterate remarks Western business journalists and judges made in between – and continue to make.