Rod Kersh
Person-centred physician

Holy Week

Thistle, Gamla, July 2023, photo by rod Kersh
Thistle, Gamla, July 2023, photo by Rod Kersh

A sleepless night.

Good Friday moving into Saturday.

The road outside my house is silent.

Even the owl is dormant.

Claudius is meditating and fasting.

And what of me?

I am fracturing.

Coming apart.

The narrative is shifting.

As the deaths mount,

The destroyed innocents

The punished militants,

My position becomes less tenable.

All-out support for the Israeli position,

becomes harder to maintain.

My steadfastness quickens.

A just war,

Jus ad bellum they say.

A three-quarter moon reflects the sunlight through my window,

In the distance, the silence is broken by geese flying north.

I stifle a cry.

My children have been pulled-in to this fight.

Caught-up in the battleground that is Pro and Anti-Palestinian and Zionist propaganda.

This is Holocaust, this Genocide, this a weapon of war.

Last night I read of the recent appointment of a Palestinian Plastic Surgeon to Rector of Glasgow University.

As a child of ten or eleven I remember my family discussing the Antisemitism inherent in the campus life where my brother was a student.

I recall the Joseph Heller quote, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

Just because you are a Jew does not mean they are against you, that their disapproval is based on your religion. Perhaps they just don’t like you.

Maybe you didn’t get the job or the promotion not because of the colour of your skin, the shape of your face or head or the belief of your forefathers, rather you were not the one.

Bias. Institutional racism. Words that are key to our understanding of class, gender and race contain their own distortions.

Israel can represent both good and bad.

The actions of Netanyahu’s government are not a representation of the Israeli people any more than the UK government’s plan to deport refugees to Rwanda is of me.

My beliefs and actions conflict with the doings and don’ts of the party in power in Westminster. I am not Rishi, Rishi is not me as much as Ben Gvir or Smotrich are not the Israeli people and yet, when I walk into Sheffield tomorrow and the protesters are banging their Easter drums, their angry shouts will not contain nuance, they will be river to the sea, a desire to scrub Israel in all its delicacy from the map.

Just because the hostages have been forgotten by the media does not justify the refusal of aid to the people of Palestine.

Just because the terrorists raped, tortured, and murdered those of the kibbutzim and Nova does not provide succour to a philosophy of limitless retaliation.

Before October the 7th, up to five hundred aid trucks would enter Gaza every day.

It takes a lot of food and supplies to support a million people.

Now the citizens are lucky if 200 pass the checkpoint.

No, I don’t justify this action.

No, a campaign of destruction is not one of winning hearts and minds, it is instead a strategy of alienation of expanding the haters, of increasing the militants. Every missed meal, every act of hunger is a benefit to the extremists, is a process of enhancing the hate.

I have protested the need to understand both sides of the war; Israel’s actions and reactions, and in doing so, I have become blinded to my own biases.

The shouts of those protesting the righteousness of the rebellion have positioned me in a situation that can only be defensive.

I have forgotten my own philosophy.

My own dharma.

Blindsided by the tabloid headlines my head is on fire.

Tinnitus is roaring.

The silence I betray is merely a representation of the extent of the frustration I feel.

Silence. Prayer. Contemplation.

When the sun rises my fast begins.

I recall the image of a Philippine penitent, hand nailed to the cross.

People will do anything for religion, for belief.

Faith distorts understanding.

In the name of the father,

In the name of the ceremony.


Watch where you tread. Over there are dragons and monsters.

I have sinned.

We have sinned.

Our collective ignorance has allowed suffering.

I think of baby Bibas.

He has fallen from the news.

I imagine he and his family were lost in the bombing.

Who else is gone?

What hope has been lost?

The infinity of the human spirit extinguished.

Created is God’s image, destroyed by man’s actions.

Can you acclimatise to war?

Is it akin to the adaptation I experience swimming in the frigid waters of the lake? My body, like that of the boiling frog oblivious to the shift from body temperature to ice-death cold.

I plunge.

A baptism of Yorkshire water.

Every swim I perceive the microscopic particles of fish, duck and swan dander, dead scales, feathery squames entering my mouth, my eyes, my body.

I become one with the depths.

A religious experience.

A conversion.

I am not who I was, I will never again be that person.

Anoint me.

Forgive me.

Forget me.

About the Author
Dr Rod Kersh is a Consultant Physician working in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. He blogs at
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