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Sons and daughters of Edward Said and Hanan Ashrawi

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BY Kusum Wijetillake

Benjamin Netanyahu is on the brink; a centrist party and Yamina (right-wing coalition) are reported to have agreed to a strange alliance. A former journalist, Yair Lapid and Netanyahu’s (former) protégé, ex-Defence Minister Naftali Bennet lead the coalition partners; the latter is likely to be PM. Of course, never count ‘Bibi’ out.

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, a public intellectual, political scientist and former Sri Lankan Ambassador has observed the conflict closely for decades and played a key role in the successful battle for the admission of Palestine to UNESCO. He shares some thoughts on where the impasse might be heading.

KW – Israeli politics is in flux. Netanyahu is unable to form a coalition. Naftali Bennet is to the right of ‘BiBi’.

DJ

– “It is my hope and indeed my bet that Israeli society will not wish to be out of sync with mounting Western opinion. Netanyahu may hope that his friend Trump or someone with his views may make a comeback, but there’s been a seismic shift in consciousness which will never snap back. Jewish values are no longer preponderantly represented by Bibi Netanyahu and Benny Naftali. Three American figures of Jewish origin have contributed to this new, justice-centered consciousness: Noam Chomsky, Bernie Sanders and Richard Falk”.

KW – A number of resolutions and agreements on the two state solution do exist. How do the various resolutions, Oslo for example, affect the current status of the peace process?

DJ –

“On the face of it, the Israeli-Palestinian question is structurally intractable and irretrievably deadlocked. Note that I say ‘on the face of it’. As a formula the two-state solution is the best there is… builds on the logic of the original UN resolution of 1948, of two states, Israel and Palestine. It is the most reasonable solution. However, it was called into question from the beginning.”

“The Arab armies opened hostilities and the Israelis having beaten them soundly, did not stop at the borders traced by the UN resolution, which, with certain modifications due to strategic imperatives, would have been the most just and rational action. Instead, there was not only annexation but also eviction of Palestinian Arabs after the war had been won”.

“The Arabs erred by refusing to accept the UN resolution (which even Stalin’s Russia was an enthusiastic proponent of) and the legitimacy of the creation of the state of Israel – which was morally and historically irresistible after the Holocaust”.

KW – The two-state solution is under attack. Even during the Oslo Accords there was skepticism towards an acceptable two state solution.

DJ –

“The two-state solution has been rolled-back by cynical, systematic building of illegal Israeli settlements in the land that should belong to a future Palestinian state. In order to make the two-state solution viable again, those settlements would have to go, or there should be compensatory land-swaps. However, with each passing day, the Israelis leave less land to swap. It is difficult to envisage that the US will be able to mount enough pressure on Israel to roll-back the settlements”.

This leaves the one state solution. That has an interesting history. In recent years, the whistle was blown on the unviability of the two-state solution and a clarion call was sounded for a one state solution, firstly by Prof Richard Falk (Princeton University) the former UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine. He is Jewish. I am proud to have him as a friend”.

KW – Writing as recently as 2019, Prof. Falk stated: “the zombie maneuvers of the past 20 or more years with continued advocacy of long-moribund two statenegotiations must end: the only question is what kind of state will emerge – secular or apartheid”.

DJ –

“The one-state solution was initially the slogan of the Palestinian Marxist Left, notably Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, though it was termed a ‘bi-national” state of Israelis and Palestinians possessing/exercising equal rights”.

“Given the apparent unviability of a two-state solution, the one-state solution is the only available default option. But that too is problematic. As President Barack Obama pointed out to the Israelis, who weren’t really listening, time is not on their side, because of demographics. Unless a surgical separation is effected by means of a two-state solution, Israel will be unable to exist as a democratic Jewish state. If it is to continue to claim to be the sole democratic state in the region and therefore the natural ally of the USA, it has to give citizenship, voting rights and equal rights in general, to all those who live within its borders. This would mean enfranchising all the Palestinians in the annexed territories. This in turn would change the demographic ratio, bringing into view the possibility that Israel would be democratic but no longer Jewish. Conversely Israel would remain Jewish by maintaining the status-quo but would be increasingly disqualified as democratic”.

KW – Oslo 1 was criticized for making unnecessary concessions without concrete proposals for a structure of a Palestinian State. The Status of Jerusalem, control of land and population registries, all postponed for later. The PLO legitimized itself as the representative of the Palestinians.

DJ –

“Edward Said, who had campaigned for and supported the recognition in the PLO Charter of the right of the state of Israel to exist also opposed the Oslo Accords but for a reason different from most critics on both sides. He opposed the calling off of the First Intifada (which unlike the second, was not an armed Intifada) by the PLO so as to arrive at the Accords. History has proved him right and today the Palestinians are back on the agenda precisely because of the recent uprising… Hanan Ashrawi was also a critic of the Oslo track as distinct from the Washington track in which she was the key PLO spokesperson. The Said-influenced discourse of Ashrawi, helped the PLO make headway in Washington, but the PLO hierarchy preferred the Oslo track and pretty much abandoned the Washington track”.

KW – There are some 500,000 settlers in the Palestinian Territories; illegal settlements per international law. Much of the Israeli political right supports expansion of these settlements.

DJ –

The Israelis sought to square the circle by accelerating settler-colonization and evictions, while remaining a western-style democracy within its core. That model was called out firstly and most audibly by former president Jimmy Carter, who defined Israel as increasingly an apartheid state—symbolized by its infamous walls and tight controls of every aspect of Palestinian life.

 

With Israel in no mood to dismantle its settlements or agree to land swaps (if those were possible anymore) so as to make for a two-state solution, or to extend democracy and equal rights to all the Palestinians within its self-proclaimed borders, the deadlock appears absolute.

KW – Could you comment on the ultra-religious, reactionary elements? Likud, while overtly secular, is linked to Herut who propose a ‘Land of Israel’, including present-day Jordan. The Shas Party, third largest in Israel, is ultra-religious and opposes a settlement freeze.

Hamas grew out of the Cairo based Muslim Brotherhood, is cloaked in Islamist ideology and explicitly calls for Israel’s destruction and the replacing of Palestine with an Islamic state.

DJ – “The Israelis erred by never accepting in their actions, the UN resolution and by succumbing at first covertly (under Labor Governments) and later overtly (under Likud) to an Old Testament notion of its borders”.

“Thus, secular, strategic and security imperatives, which were justifiable given the traumas of the holocaust, were overlaid by a Biblical mandate as it were, which made for expansionism and annexation. This zero-sum thinking on the part of both sides in 1948 was the Original Sin. It continues today, with the non-zero-sum political leaderships being marginalized on both sides. As for the Palestinians and the danger of a theocracy, Hamas will also have to evolve to retain the support of the new generation (which includes kids rapping in the rubble, in English!) and to win elections in the more sophisticated West Bank”.

KW – The mainstream media (MSM) is criticized for alleged one-sided cover age of the conflict. Palestinian activists say Israeli acts of aggression; evictions, settlement expansions, go unreported or that the Palestinian struggle is conflated with Hamas rocket fire.

Prof. Chomsky in a 2001 essay: “As in the rule of properly sanitized history, Palestinians carry out terrorism, Israelis then retaliate, perhaps too harshly. In the real world, the truth is often rather different” pointing out that Israeli terrorism is barely criticized in US media.

DJ – “The last time Israel fought a war against Gaza it went on for over 50 days. This time it stopped in 1/5th the duration. It was the first time ever that the mood on the Arab street coincided with the moral outrage on the American streets and in the US Congress, putting pressure on the US Government. From Gaza to New York and Chicago, from Jerusalem to Sydney, Palestinian flags are ubiquitous. One could not distinguish the coverage on CNN and the BBC from Al Jazeera. Israel lost the war of public opinion in the West, most significantly in the USA, and still more significantly, among the young American Jews. Another factor at work is the easy identification of Trump and Netanyahu in the minds of young Americans and young people in general the world over. The discourse and behavior of the Israeli rightwing mobs and the US Far Right which stormed the capitol on January 6th, are on a continuum. The ideology of the US Confederacy, revived by the US Far Right, and that of the Israeli religious Right, is easily recognizable as belonging to the same family”.

KW –In 2018, journalist Marc Lamont Hill was removed as a political commentator on CNN for a speech that was deemed anti-Semitic. Journalist Abby Martin’s event at a US University was cancelled because she refused to sign an anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) pledge. She is currently suing the State of Georgia. Emily Wilder, a journalist at the Associated Press was terminated last month due to complaints from alumni at Stanford University regarding her ‘past activism on Palestine’.

DJ – “The international media is no longer ‘manufacturing consent’ for Israel. That is the biggest change that I have seen in the recent Gaza conflict. There has been a major shift in the consciousness of Western journalists and anchors, as a result of struggle against Trump and Trumpism, and the coverage of the George Floyd murder, Police shootings and the Black Lives Matter protests. While Western journalists have shifted, so also have the TV channels because their own audiences (apart from FOX) have shifted left. The Israeli-Palestinian question is therefore covered in a far more balanced way. Today, the headway made in positively impacting the international media and world opinion is because of the sons and daughters of Edward Said and Hanan Ashrawi, in terms of their discourse: they know how to address young Western audiences”.

KW – The US and UK share a ‘special relationship’. Given the military aid, diplomatic cover, intelligence sharing, perhaps it the US and Israel that have the really special relationship. Israel has certainly utilised US foreign policy to further its own objectives in the region. The Trump Administration shifted the US Embassy to Jerusalem, suspended aid to Palestine, unilaterally disengaged from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and assassinated General Qasem Solemani. The US also recognized of Israeli sovereignty over the water-rich Golan Heights while President Trump directly supported the re-election campaign of Mr. Netanyahu.

The Trump peace plan was criticized as one-sided. Obama did not make any headway and arguably further entrenched the US in the region. The new President has a history of support for Israeli objectives and has maintained the Trump position on the JCPOA. He is also under pressure from the progressive caucus of Senator Bernie Sanders.

DJ – “I remain an optimist… What we have seen around this Gaza war is something that would not and did not come as a surprise to Prof Richard Falk, who had long argued that Palestine can win a ‘legitimacy war’ while Israel can lose it– and therefore that Palestinians should wage such a legitimacy war on the battlefield of justice. That is what happened this time around. Two factors coincided. Firstly, the emergence of Generation Z Palestinians fluent in English and social media-savvy. Secondly, and most importantly, the change in the global zeitgeist, starting in the USA, with the fight against Trump and Trumpism, morphing into the massive mobilization led by Black Lives Matter, around the George Floyd murder. As Noam Chomsky noted, this was the biggest movement ever in American history and drew in as many young whites as it did blacks”.

“If Obama had the same favorable social consciousness on Israel-Palestine that exists now, he could have made more headway, but he didn’t. Though Secretary Kerry was progressive, Obama had to deal with the strong pro-Israeli lobby which included Hillary Clinton. So, all in all, I wouldn’t blame him too much”.

As for the Biden administration, it cannot but be sensitive to shifts in the Democrat base. But far more significantly, it cannot step up its competition with China while leaving itself open to criticism, even from its own ranks, for double standards on human rights, democracy and racial justice as exemplified by its stand on Israel/Palestine. This time, in the Security Council, China clearly stole a march on the US”.

“The impact of the George Floyd protest and Black Lives Matter on the Biden administration is best evidenced by the fact that US Secretary of State Blinken instructed US Embassies to fly the Black Lives Matter flag on the first anniversary of the George Floyd murder”.

KW – So, a possibly new coalition in Israel with Mr. Naftali as PM versus a

new US President out of step with his own party on the issue. Will the US actually utilize its considerable leverage over Israel? Will the media dynamics force the hand of Mr. Biden?

DJ – “The issue will finally be decided not by an abstract discussion over ‘two states vs one’, but by the real dynamics of history. Would Israel even have thought, that after the Abraham accords and the self-assurance, that the Palestinian issue had been peripheralized?… After exercising its military might, and despite the old propaganda magic wand of ‘terrorist rockets from Gaza’: the words Palestine and Palestinian are back in the consciousness of the world”.

“What is decisive is the moral-ethical factor and Israel has lost the moral high ground. I am certain that Israeli society will halt that drift someday, sooner rather than later, by evolving.

“My hope and belief is that Israeli society, culture and politics will change for the better, bringing Israel more into congruence with the West which it has contributed so much to. That, together with the emergence of an articulate younger generation in Palestine, the real vanguard of the struggle this time and the global voice of the Palestinian people, will break the deadlock”.

“In History, miracles do happen, and Israel/Palestine is the most obvious place for it”.



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How rebirth takes place

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(from THE BUDDHA AND HIS TEACHINGS by Venerable Nārada Mahāthera)

“The pile of bones of (all the bodies of) one man
Who has alone one aeon lived
Would make a mountain’s height —
So said the mighty seer.”
— ITIVUT’TAKA

To the dying man at this critical stage, according to Abhidhamma philosophy, is presented a Kamma, Kamma Nimitta, or Gati Nimitta.

By Kamma is here meant some good or bad act done during his lifetime or immediately before his dying moment. It is a good or bad thought. If the dying person had committed one of the five heinous crimes (Garuka Kamma) such as parricide etc. or developed the Jhānas (Ecstasies), he would experience such a Kamma before his death. These are so powerful that they totally eclipse all other actions and appear very vividly before the mind’s eye. If he had done no such weighty action, he may take for his object of the dying thought-process a Kamma done immediately before death (Āsanna Kamma); which may be called a “Death Proximate Kamma.”

In the absence of a “Death-Proximate Kamma” a habitual good or bad act (Ācinna Kamma) is presented, such as the healing of the sick in the case of a good physician, or the teaching of the Dhamma in the case of a pious Bhikkhu, or stealing in the case of a thief. Failing all these, some casual trivial good or bad act (Katattā Kamma) becomes the object of the dying thought-process.

Kamma Nimitta

or “symbol,” means a mental reproduction of any sight, sound, smell, taste, touch or idea which was predominant at the time of some important activity, good or bad, such as a vision of knives or dying animals in the case of a butcher, of patients in the case of a physician, and of the object of worship in the case of a devotee, etc…

By Gati Nimitta, or “symbol of destiny” is meant some symbol of the place of future birth. This frequently presents itself to dying persons and stamps its gladness or gloom upon their features. When these indications of the future birth occur, if they are bad, they can at times be remedied. This is done by influencing the thoughts of the dying man. Such premonitory visions of destiny may be fire, forests, mountainous regions, a mother’s womb, celestial mansions, and the like.

Taking for the object a Kamma, or a Kamma symbol, or a symbol of destiny, a thought-process runs its course even if the death be an instantaneous one.

For the sake of convenience let us imagine that the dying person is to be reborn in the human kingdom and that the object is some good Kamma.

His Bhavanga consciousness is interrupted, vibrates for a thought-moment and passes away; after which the mind-door consciousness (manodvāravajjana) arises and passes away. Then comes the psychologically important stage –Javana process — which here runs only for five thought moments by reason of its weakness, instead of the normal seven. It lacks all reproductive power, its main function being the mere regulation of the new existence (abhinavakarana).

The object here being desirable, the consciousness he experiences is a moral one. The Tadālambana-consciousness which has for its function a registering or identifying for two moments of the object so perceived, may or may not follow. After this occurs the death-consciousness (cuticitta), the last thought moment to be experienced in this present life.

There is a misconception amongst some that the subsequent birth is conditioned by this last death-consciousness (cuticitta) which in itself has no special function to perform. What actually conditions rebirth is that which is experienced during the Javana process.

With the cessation of the decease-consciousness death actually occurs. Then no material qualities born of mind and food (cittaja and āhāraja) are produced. Only a series of material qualities born of heat (utuja) goes on till the corpse is reduced to dust.

Simultaneous with the arising of the rebirth consciousness there spring up the ‘body-decad,’ ‘sex-decad,’ and ‘base-decad’ (Kāya-bhāva-vatthu-dasaka).

According to Buddhism, therefore, sex is determined at the moment of conception and is conditioned by Kamma not by any fortuitous combination of sperm and ovum-cells.

The passing away of the consciousness of the past birth is the occasion for the arising of the new consciousness in the subsequent birth. However, nothing unchangeable or permanent is transmitted from the past to the present.

Just as the wheel rests on the ground only at one point, so, strictly speaking, we live only for one thought-moment. We are always in the present, and that present is ever slipping into the irrevocable past. Each momentary consciousness of this ever-changing life-process, on passing away, transmits its whole energy, all the indelibly recorded impressions on it, to its successor. Every fresh consciousness, therefore, consists of the potentialities of its predecessors together with something more. At death, the consciousness perishes, as in truth it perishes every moment, only to give birth to another in a rebirth. This renewed consciousness inherits all past experiences. As all impressions are indelibly recorded in the ever-changing palimpsest-like mind, and all potentialities are transmitted from life to life, irrespective of temporary disintegration, thus there may be reminiscence of past births or past incidents. Whereas if memory depended solely on brain cells, such reminiscence would be impossible.

“This new being which is the present manifestation of the stream of Kamma-energy is not the same as, and has no identity with, the previous one in its line — the aggregates that make up its composition being different from, having no identity with, those that make up the being of its predecessor. And yet it is not an entirely different being since it has the same stream of Kamma-energy, though modified perchance just by having shown itself in that manifestation, which is now making its presence known in the sense-perceptible world as the new being.

Death, according to Buddhism, is the cessation of the psycho-physical life of any one individual existence. It is the passing away of vitality (āyu), i.e., psychic and physical life (jīvitindriya), heat (usma) and consciousness (vinnana).

Death is not the complete annihilation of a being, for though a particular life-span ends, the force which hitherto actuated it is not destroyed.

Just as an electric light is the outward visible manifestation of invisible electric energy, so we are the outward manifestations of invisible Kammic energy. The bulb may break, and the light may be extinguished, but the current remains and the light may be reproduced in another bulb. In the same way, the Kammic force remains undisturbed by the disintegration of the physical body, and the passing away of the present consciousness leads to the arising of a fresh one in another birth. But nothing unchangeable or permanent “passes” from the present to the future.

In the foregoing case, the thought experienced before death being a moral one, the resultant rebirth-consciousness takes for its material an appropriate sperm and ovum cell of human parents. The rebirth-consciousness (patisandhi vinnana) then lapses into the Bhavanga state.

The continuity of the flux, at death, is unbroken in point of time, and there is no breach in the stream of consciousness.

Rebirth takes place immediately, irrespective of the place of birth, just as an electromagnetic wave, projected into space, is immediately reproduced in a receiving radio set. Rebirth of the mental flux is also instantaneous and leaves no room whatever for any intermediate state (antarabhava). Pure Buddhism does not support the belief that a spirit of the deceased person takes lodgement in some temporary state until it finds a suitable place for its “reincarnation.”

This question of instantaneous rebirth is well expressed in the Milinda Pa񨡺

The King Milinda questions:

“Venerable Nagasena, if somebody dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, and another dies here and is reborn in Kashmir, which of them would arrive first?

“They would arrive at the same time. O King.

“In which town were you born, O King?

“In a village called Kalasi, Venerable Sir.

“How far is Kalasi from here, O King?

“About two hundred miles, Venerable Sir.

“And how far is Kashmir from here, O King?

“About twelve miles, Venerable Sir.

“Now think of the village of Kalasi, O King.

“I have done so, Venerable Sir.

“And now think of Kashmir, O King.

“It is done, Venerable Sir.

“Which of these two, O King, did you think the more slowly and which the more quickly?

“Both equally quickly, Venerable Sir.

“Just so, O King, he who dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, is not reborn later than he who dies here and is reborn in Kashmir.”

“Give me one more simile, Venerable Sir.”

“What do you think, O King? Suppose two birds were flying in the air and they should settle at the same time, one upon a high and the other upon a low tree, which bird’s shade would first fall upon the earth, and which bird’s later?”

“Both shadows would appear at the same time, not one of them earlier and the other later. “

The question might arise: Are the sperm and ovum cells always ready, waiting to take up the rebirth-thought?

According to Buddhism, living beings are infinite in number, and so are world systems. Nor is the impregnated ovum the only route to rebirth. Earth, an almost insignificant speck in the universe, is not the only habitable plane, and humans are not the only living beings. As such it is not impossible to believe that there will always be an appropriate place to receive the last thought vibrations. A point is always ready to receive the falling stone.

 

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Dual citizens; shocking rape cases going unpunished

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I have a bone to pick with my co-Friday columnist who writes from across the ocean about the Pearl. In his July 16 column, he writes at length on dual citizens entering the Sri Lankan Parliament while retaining citizenship of another country. He lauds it in no uncertain terms, while most of us natives, living in our motherland, oppose the move that was introduced in the 20th Amendment. He writes: “A Dual Citizen is back as a national list member of parliament. Now, this in a country that passed legislation that banned dual citizens from entering parliament. This of course is something I was and am vehemently opposed to …”

The previous ban which he ‘vehemently opposed’ he pins on the Kaduwa syndrome – inferiority complex; frog in the well mentality; “fear of intimidation, fear, and revulsion of learning anything new from others”. Cass labels his reasons tosh! He goes to the extreme of writing: “The only good thing that has happened is that a dual citizen is back as finance minister, no less. … Our entire national list should consist of qualified dual citizens who have experience gained from the first world.” The implication here is that all our Sri Lankan citizens holding only Sri Lankan passports are no good against dual citizens who to him are nonpareil, more so legislaters. Thus, he casts aside as useless all those holding higher qualification gained mostly locally and are loyal to the country. They to him are less in ability, qualifications, broadmindedness than those who escaped to foreign countries when the going was bad and now return when it suits them. I present sole citizens like Champika Ranawaka, Eran Wickremaratne and Harsha de Silva and very many medical professionals and agriculturists who have shown they are pre-eminently qualified in their several fields, and loyal to Sri Lanka too.

Dual citizens left the country for whatever reason, mostly escaping a sinking ship for better prospects even as second-class citizens. Then they had the bug of nationalism arising in their breasts. This when it suited them; when it was opportune for them to return to their country of birth. They seize the opportunity to be recognised, elevated, lauded; and return from obscurity in a foreign country to hosannas sung by loyalists and promoters of dual citizenship like Rajitha Ratwatte. If they are so loyal and want to serve their mother country, why don’t they give up the citizenship of the country chosen for emigration and become solely Sri Lankan citizens? Oh no, they keep a safety branch handy for escape – to obscurity though – when things get too hot here. Even Basil Rajapaksa took plane to the US immediately after his brother’s defeat at the 2015 presidential election. Now back with several brothers in high power, nephews included; in short, a government mostly by the Family, it is ideal for Brother Basil to return and to boost his return, such loud singing of hosannas and prediction this Knight with superhuman powers will kill the dragon of economic bankruptcy that is poised to devour poor Sri Lanka. He may even banish the virus that has overpowered the entire world. We Ordinaries will wait and watch.

It is no to persons like medical interns who got their entire education- high school plus medical – at government expense and then scooted slyly to greener pastures immediately after getting their MBBSs. This closed door also to those who fled punishments or change of government or jumped the ship they thought was sinking or scooted for whatever expediency. However, those who felt they had no hope of career development in this country or went for higher studies (when local universities were closed for long or did not accept them) and then decided to stay back in the host countries as citizens are welcome back as even dual citizens since their return is prompted by caring for parents and siblings left behind, or wanting to settle down on birth turf and benefit the country with foreign money and expertise gained. Some highly qualified, medical professionals mostly, revisit Sri Lanka and give immense help free of charge. We welcome them wholeheartedly and are grateful. But not those whose motives for returning are purely selfish.

What particularly irked ole Cass were these two statements of Rajitha Ratwatte writing ‘From Outside the Pearl’. “The only good thing that has happened is that a dual citizen is back as finance minister, no less” and “our entire national lists should consist of qualified dual citizens who have experience gained from the first world.” I won’t deal with the first statement. How can he judge whether it is the only good move of government until Basil delivers the prediction of saving the country? Then the promotion of dual citizens to Parliament – “qualified with experiences gained from the first world.” I mentioned how some of these come back to help us but never as politicians or into politics. Those who come into the political arena so far have not advertised their higher qualifications and some have experience in petrol pumping if not dish washing!!

Rape rears its medusa head

We have been hearing and reading about a 15-year-old girl sold for prostitution by her mother and used by the many including some high persons. The case is out in the open and due punishment may be meted out. Another case was highlighted about a younger girl and I was told that social media highlighted a father who abused his two daughters and is in hiding now. Words fail ole Cass to express how reprehensible these cases are: unbridled perverse sexual desire and greed for money; two conditions rampant now. Cass nearly fell of her chair when she read the first page news item in The Island of Wednesday July 21. “National child protection policy not implemented for 21 years, says COPE.” Rather usual in this Paradise Isle gone rotten. But what followed both inundated Cass’s heart with deep sorrow followed by raging fury, though useless. A beautiful, typically dressed 16 year old Tamil girl – Ishalini Jude Kumar – is featured in the article “who succumbed to injuries caused by a fire in the residence of lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen at No 410/16, Baudhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7.” Stunning. Shocking beyond words. Cass believes the rape and suspects it was continuous but never will accept the self immolation.

This particular MP and former Minister has had two previous allegations against him – the destruction of parts of a forest bordering Wilpattu to build houses for his supporters and association with some Easter Sunday carnage suspects.

Rape and molesting children are extra extra-nasty social evils. The perpetrators must be severely punished. In Saudi Arabia it was said that stealing was punished with hands amputated so…

Cass leaves you on that note – to mull over as Sri Lanka is saved by the Hon Basil R and we get back to being Paradise.

 

 

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To all SIRs I’ve loved before!

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In this day and age where the word SIR has so much effect, my mind has wandered back to all the Sirs and of course Madams’ who guided my life through school and the influence they have had. Of course, covering ALL of them will be hard but the first teacher who springs to mind is a lady and her name was Beulah Rosa, she taught me in Grade 4 and first showed me that encouragement from a dedicated teacher can change your entire life. Moving on to Mrs. Monica Jayasekera inGrade 9 at Royal College, who made me feel that my superior knowledge of English gleaned from my private Preparatory school education was not something to be hidden from my peers who had been through the Royal Junior system that had almost no English teachers. Mrs. Jayasekera made us read out loud to the class and thereby teach them pronunciation and alleviate the fear and intimidation that the feared “Kaduwa” brought to my classmates. On the subject of English Mr. Wije Weerasinghe our revered English Literature teacher in the school, where one was supposed to learn or depart, was able to inculcate an appreciation of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the poetry of Dryden and Keats, and also the mystical writings of John Still together with which we also learned to be proud of our history, and the magnificent past of the land of our birth. He taught a Rugby player (and a front-row forward at that!) about the iambic pentameter and the rhyming couplet and that knowledge has helped in the appreciation of this language that has contributed to my livelihood over the years.

Moving on to Mr. Christie Gunasekera that legendary vice-principal of Royal College who actually taught us how to lace our boots on the first day of practice. A practice that is adhered to even today! To who’s wedding a closely guarded secret, a handful of us prefects of the day commandeered the then army commander’s car (the commander’s son was our head prefect) and “gatecrashed”. Mr. Gunasekera was feared but our love for him and our confidence in his decision-making and judgment told us that he would react favourably. After the customary “Come Here” (accompanied by the crooked forefinger), to us who were lurking in the background at Donald’s studio that he had gone to for a photograph after the Church ceremony. He ordered us to come to his house and produced a bottle of whiskey (Old Parr was the brand, I remember it to this day) and give us a drink! Now we were all over the legal drinking age and it is far too late for any legal action to be taken as all my co-conspirators (or is it beneficiaries) will deny this incident and pin it down to the senile rambling of my crumbling brain. However, let me add that even some devout followers of Islam who were with us that day couldn’t turn down the offer of an Alcoholic beverage from their beloved SIR. They had the good sense to realise that if they were going to break the law of their religion this was the one time to do it! Mr. Haniffa (who was alleged to have the first name of ABU) who took pity on me towards the end of my rugby career at school and offered to teach me his pet subject logic, free of charge and on his own time as he said, “What are you going to do when you leave school, boy”. Mr. Nanayakkara (who was also alleged to have the first name Haramanis and was universally known as HARA) knew every bad habit that the players under him had and tolerated them within acceptable limits. With only token efforts made to apprehend smokers and those who indulged in the odd alcoholic beverage.

Our coaches the legendary Summa Navaratnam whose yells of disgust during practice echo in my ears even today, some 40 years later. Mr. Navaratnam, I would never dare to call him Summa and I have come across writings of today when some of his disciples have bestowed an honorary knighthood on his and call him Sir Summa, could never watch our matches (except during that memorable trip to Thailand in 1978) and therefore probably never realised how his words of wisdom revibrated in our ears during some close-run Bradby Shield victories. That ultimate gentleman Mr. Gamini Salgado who sense of humour and ready wit enlightened so many cricket seasons. The list goes on and it is impossible to cover them all. Those were the real SIRS and Madams of our lives and of our country. Maybe, the soldiers and other members of the armed forces have got it right when they address you as MISTER and deliberately don’t call you sir at the checkpoints that we were so accustomed to during my years in the Pearl. Their SIRS’ are their superior officers and a mere civilian does not fall into that hallowed category.

I dedicate this column to all the Sirs’, and Madams’ I have loved before and wish to convey to them that they will always be a part of my life and offer abject apologies to them for having to share the same title as that they carried with so much honour and dignity, with the bearers of those titles today!

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