My new friend is Splff from planet Zog. I met him in the bomb shelter of my Jerusalem apartment building. You meet all sorts of interesting people there. He is not lovable to look at: purple with tentacles and teeth that drip some kind of green slime. But he is a very approachable sentient being.
I asked him what he was doing here. He said ‘Sheltering’. I’ve found out since that Zogians are very precise. They have no sense of nuance and emotions puzzle them. I know people like that from synagogue.
I said ‘I mean, what are you doing on Planet Earth?’ He explained that he represents the Intergalactic Commission for Sentient Rights, and he is here on an investigative mission. ‘Ah,’ I said, ‘You drive around in one of those white UN Land Cruisers’. Even I could tell he was puzzled.
‘No’, he said, ‘I have a flying saucer of course, like all civilized sentients’. I decided that repartee was not his thing.
‘OK, Splff, then what’s up with you?’
‘Up is a convention, usually away from the centre of gravity of the largest nearby object.’ You see my problem – he takes things literally.
‘I mean, what is your mission on Planet Earth?’
‘I investigate the existence of massacres and genocide.’
‘You’ve come to a bad planet then.’
‘There are worse. My last assignment was observing the war between the Oomblies and the Squarfs. That ended with each blowing up the other’s planet. No survivors.’
‘Short report then,’ I observed sarcastically.
‘Yes, how did you know?’ he replied. Literalness has its difficulties.
‘How did you find out about Planet Earth?’
‘High reading on the MGM.’
‘The Massacre and Genocide Meter.’
‘So what happens when you come to a new planet?’
‘When we arrive at a new planet we know absolutely nothing. We seek strict objectivity. For example, when I arrived I asked a small brown sentient about M and Gs. He said his name was ‘Dog’, he didn’t know about these things, he just liked chasing balls, and best I asked the two legged sentients. That’s how I found what the dominant species was here.’
‘Where have you been on Planet Earth?’ I asked.
‘Syria. Iraq. Nigeria. Sudan. Tibet. Ukraine. North Korea. Afghanistan. Other places you probably haven’t heard of. I reported back on all of them. I was about to go home when I got an urgent message, investigate Gaza. Gaza wasn’t reading on the MGM so I had to use Waze to find it. Good technology, I’ve talked to Larry and Sergey, they sold me a license for Zog,’
‘How can Gaza not register? The whole world is talking about the massacre and genocide in Gaza. The French Prime Minister says so, it must be true.’
‘It’s very bad there. Israel destroying sentients’ nests would be a war crime for us, but not here it seems, and we recognize local rules and customs.’
‘But all those innocents killed!’ I protested.
‘We have a strict methodology based on 3 measures rated from 0, meaning good, to 12, bad.’ He has 4 tentacles, 3 digits on each, so he thinks in the duodecimal system.
He voice went into pedant mode. ‘First, I measure the gap between what one side could do and what it actually does. My analysis shows that Israel could destroy Gaza in a few hours. It has not, so the score is 2 for the unnecessary damage Israel did. Hamas, on the other hand, scored 12: it did everything it could to kill Israelis.
‘That’s a really cold way to look at it.’
‘But logical. Is there any other way but logical? Second, I looked at the targeting. Have innocents been disproportionately targeted? My analysis showed that Israel was not perfect, a number of mistakes and wrong decisions were made. I have them at 3. Hamas got a high score of 10 since they mainly targeted civilians.’
‘And the third measure?’
‘Intent. Neither side did so well. I monitored hate internet postings and blogs, watched demonstration for and against, listened to political and religious leaders. Israel came out at 4. Hamas came out at 12. The charter and the preachers who called for killing Jews were extreme in my experience. If I a higher score than 12 was available I would use it.’
I didn’t need a calculator to see what his report would say.
‘But no actual massacres or genocide in Israel or Gaza?’
‘Correct. But they definitely are happening elsewhere on Planet Earth.’
‘So what next?’
‘Our rule at the Intergalactic Commission for Sentient Rights is that, if there is proof of one or more massacres or genocides on a planet, we destroy it. We are firm but humane.’
I hope, for the first time in his life, Splff from planet Zog is joking.