03 June 2016

Sleep my children and may peace attend you all...

This was first published in the Daily News on June 3, 2010, exactly 6 years ago.  It was written just after Israsel attacked a flotilla of aid ships bound for the Gaza strip, killing 10 people in the pre-dawn attack  on May 31, 2010).  The world was outraged, but the expression of outrage was as always filtered through the politics of propriety.  Human rights have colours and so do their violations.  Read on...

I seldom go to sleep before midnight.  Most days I sleep around 1 pm.  I know some people subscribe to the early to bed and early to rise style of sleeping.  Some like a ‘power nap’.  Some are veritable Kubakarnas; they sleep for decades, it seems.  Some sleep like logs. Some are restless; they toss and turn.  Some sleep-walk, some walk-sleep.  Some have sweet dreams and some nightmares.  We are all made differently and so there’s nothing surprising in there being lots of possible sleep-ways. 

My friend Priyantha Wickramasinghe, as an undergraduate, was almost impossible to wake up.  He would vow to study all night after getting back to the hostel but would invariably beg us to wake him in 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, he would be woken up and told that his time was up. He would beg for another 10, then 15, then an hour.  This would go on until the ‘wakers’ tired of the game and went to bed.  Priyantha would literally fall asleep with a book in his hand. He would be on his side, book held up and from certain angles one might think he was deeply engrossed in it.  The book, I mean.  He was engrossed.  In slumber. 

People have strange sleeping habits and I have not had reason to lose any sleep over this issue.  This morning, however, I wondered.  I really, really, really, really wondered about how some people sleep.  I am thinking about a man called Ban Ki-moon.  I am thinking of a woman called Navi Pillai.  And another called Louise Arbour.  A man called Chris Patten.  In happier times I might have wondered about Gordon Brown and David Miliband, but these poor gentlemen have lost too much sleep in the past few months for me to wonder about possible shuteye-pattern. 

I wonder because I heard that Israsel attacked a flotilla of aid ships bound for the Gaza strip early Monday morning, and that 10 people had been killed in this pre-dawn attack.  Ban Ki-moon has woken up from a stupor.  He’s outraged.  He’s called for an investigation.  I love this man.  He’s called for investigations in Sri Lanka. He’s thrown the book at Israel. I am checking the internet every few minutes, waiting for a statement from Navi Pillai, the woman who loves to hate Sri Lanka and who got her knickers so twisted by listening to Tiger propaganda that she would fight a war to get things un-twisted. 

This is what she has said: ‘I am shocked by reports that humanitarian aid was met with violence early this morning reportedly causing death and injury as the boat convoy approached the Gaza coast.’

Shocked?  Just ‘shocked’?  What’s the lady done with her moral high horse?  Sold it to Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister?  I am surprised she didn’t get on the phone with Chris Patten and draft a letter for the International Crisis Group to release to the world, demanding that Barak and his Prime Minister drop their pants, bend down and be caned for being naughty. 

Was she sleeping, this lady, when those 10 people died? Did someone wake her up?  Does she have on her computer several word templates, one for each country; one for ‘shock’, one when she’s ‘appalled’, another for ‘investigations’, and so on? 

Chris Patten. Where was he? Why is he so silent?  We are not talking about a ‘first’ here. Isreal, Palestine, Gaza, West Bank…these are not place names we are hearing for the first time. We heard them all long before we knew that Ban was the first name of a man whose surname was Ki-moon, long before Navi Pillai started sucking up to terrorists and started believing anything and everything that they said, and long before Chris Patten had to leave Hong Kong. 

Forget Gaza. How about Abu Ghraib? Guantanamo Bay?  How about investigations in and of these places?  Does Ki-moon fall asleep automatically when such names are mentioned?  Does Pillai? And Patten?  Louise Arbour…what does that lady have to say?  We are talking here about elaborately planned and precisely executed crimes against humanity, ladies and gentlemen. Not once in a blue moon.  Frequent attacks. For decades.  We are talking about repeated and in-your-face violation of UN Resolutions by the State of Israel.

I am imagining Chris Patten waking up to this bit of news from Gaza.  I don’t know what he would say or think, but since he’s said and done nothing, I would like to put some words into his mouth and some action into his hands.

‘Gaza?  What’s Gaza?  Some kind of sweet, some Turkish Delight?  Who is the aggressor?  Israel? Nooooooooooooooo…….can’t be.  They don’t do crimes-against-humanity.  They are our people.’

Chris Patten then does some ‘doing’. He gets on the phone to the British PM and says, ‘You may have heard about some Zionists chewing some Turkish Delight, but that’s all baloney. Didn’t happen. Will not happen.  If you are pushed, say “concerned” and nothing more.’

Chris Patten then has breakfast and calls his pals in the International Crisis Group and briefs them: ‘Palestine is not a country, and is therefore not our concern.  Israel is a Holy Cow.  Don’t touch it.  It’s Sri Lanka. Get it? Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka.  Gaza Smaasha. Israel Smeashrael.  Palestine Shalestine.  All bunkum.  Let me repeat.  There are things we can chew and things we cannot.  And things we will not even if we could.’

Something was murdered yet once again on Monday morning.  Integrity.  Pillai must sleep well.  So too Ki-moon.  And of course Arbour and Patten. All good and healthy sleepers.  I am sure they have differences, but in this they are similar: sauce for the goose, according to them, is not sauce for the gander.

Sleep tight ladies and gentlemen.  There’s a bug that’s biting you.  Take a few pills called Sri Lanka and you will sleep well. All through the night. And, if necessary, through the day as well.

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer who can be reached at malinsene@gmail.com