I recall so clearly the first season of Big Brother South Africa. It was in 2001 and he series was filmed over the period that the terror attacks of 9/11 occurred. The participants had no idea what was happening in the world outside their cocoon, and I will never forget the shock on one contestants face when in her exit interview she was shown the footage of the collapsing Twin Towers. Her name was Leigh, and she happened to have been an air traffic controller in “real life.”
But there is something else that I had forgotten about the interview. Something that the events of this past week brought back to consciousness. At first, the recollection of the memory was somewhat perplexing to me. I couldn’t fathom why I was now doing so. But on analyses, I understand why it has now shuddered back to consciousness.
Leigh you see, was a bit of troublemaker. She was feisty and cheeky and hardly played by the rules. Which in of itself is non issue. It was reality TV after all.. She was also smart and had the sense that she was about to be voted out the house. This pleased her not at all, and so she devised a plan. She elected to hide an aged piece of fish somewhere in the house. And chose not to mention it to her fellow contestants. If she remained in the game she would simply retrieve the offending material and discard it. But if not, she would leave behind a foul smelling, rotting stench that would impact significantly on those who remained. It would be perfect revenge on those who had voted to see her removed. She laughed when she told the story in the exit interview. And although the ingenuity of her act impressed me on some level, it also disturbed me deeply. What did it say about the person who conspired to sully the environment that she was leaving and what did it say about human nature if this is what impresses us?
Israel and Jewish world have been rocked by the the passing of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that effectively not only blames Israel for the lack of peace in the neighbourhood but also removes a Jewish link to the religion’s holiest site on earth. It makes the UNESCO decision of earlier this year child’s play in a school yard game of deadly consequences. In doing so, the UN has not only discredited itself further, but made a joke of any real suffering in the world. The hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have been slaughtered and rendered destitute by a brutal regime has hardly been worthy of the UN’s time. Never mind that the labelling of the “Settlements” as they have done removes any form of responsibility from the Palestinian bodies. Never mind that there was no peace before Israel “ occupied” these areas (most from Jordan) in 1967. Never mind that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza saw the Jewish State rewarded with more terror than ever before. Only this time, there was a convenient place from which to launch the rain of missiles. Never mind that the simple issue is that the there no acceptance by the Palestinians that Israel has the right to exist at all. That in fact been the crux of the whole mess.
And the United States knows this too.
It is now clear that it was President Obama who facilitated and encouraged the resolution. It is also clear that he is not yet done and that the coming weeks will represent a significant challenge to his so called friend. In an evil game of “Bedikat Chametz”, where it is customary to hide some bread around the house before passover, President Obama has done what Leigh did all those years ago. In his final hours at the House, he has hidden rotting fish as he waves goodbye and smiles knowingly at those he leaves behind.
There is a difference of course. Leigh was a participant in a reality TV show. She was invited to delight and expected to entertain. Her actions had little impact, save but on the few people who would suffer through the stench. And of course, even those of us who knew about the incident have all but forgot it. President Obama’s decision in contrast, will have an impact on millions. It will destroy lives. It will damage the whatever is left of a fragile peace process. But mostly his actions at the end of his Presidency will not be forgotten but rather will always be remembered.