Rod Kersh
Person-centred physician

It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

Vibrancy. Photo by Rod Kersh, 2024.

Yesterday I listened to a podcast with the Palestinian politician Samer Sinijlawi.

It was a fascinating discussion, with Sinijlawi doing most of the talking.

Born in Jerusalem, he attended a Christian-Arab school before being caught-up in the first Intifada and arrested age 15. He spent the next five years in an Israeli prison learning Hebrew and no doubt gaining insight into different aspects of life as a Palestinian.

He later emerged as a Fatah representative, spending the next thirty years in different positions of authority, touring the world, spreading the message.

Shortly after October 7th he visited the Gaza Envelope and toured some of the sites of the massacre.

He talks about two states. He acknowledges the existence of Israel. He perceives the actions of Hamas as being inconsistent with either Islam or the principles of humanity.

He denounces the rape, torture and murder of innocents in Nova, Sderot and Ofakim. He describes the terror of living under occupation, of the falling bombs, the death of innocent Palestinians.

He is critical of Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, providing evidence of his nepotism and self-interest; he also sees the failures and hubris of Netanyahu and Hamas’ apocalyptic aspirations.

For peace to happen, we need to be rid of Abbas, Netanyahu and Hamas he says.

I couldn’t agree more.

As I listened, fascinated by his words and way of speaking, I sensed a familiarity then realised I had heard him speak on the Unholy Podcast back in February.

I followed up with some research on the Jerusalem Development Fund, Fatah and the Palestine-Israel Journal.

On Sunday, on my long-run I listened to Unholy, Jonathan Freedland and Yonit Levy interviewing the Hebrew University / King’s College professor of international law, Yuval Shany.

He too gave a different slant to the proceedings.

Explaining the actions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the their calls for an immediate ceasefire in Rafah and the arrest of Netanyahu and Gallant on charges of contravention of international law, specifically using blockade, and collective punishment as weapons of war.

Much of their evidence followed the words expressed in the days following 10/7, the Amalek, and complete seige allusions. (Yes, you were traumatised and intemperate, sorry, senior governmental leaders (actually leaders in general) cannot be intemperate, regardless of the situation, these are conditions of the job.)

I don’t admittedly know much about Gallant although he did come-out a couple of weeks ago and openly criticise Netanyahu for his lack of a plan for the end of the conflict.  In the preceding year he had been sort-of fired from his position by Netanyahu for speaking-out against the Judicial Reforms which he said were threatening Israel’s security (how right he was).

He is defence minister and a member of Likud, I guess therefore his politics are to the Right and consequently probably away from mine. Equally he hates Netanyahu so he can’t be all bad.

And, Netanyahu, self-interested despot; admittedly democratically elected yet, in obeisance to the extreme right, Smotrich and Ben Gvir who are now openly portrayed in Israeli media as Kahanists – an allusion to the American fundamentalist rabbi and acknowledged terrorist, whose goal was to rid Israel of non-Jews (especially Arabs). He was assassinated in 1990.

Netanyahu who has, in the words of tens of thousands of Israelis, sacrificed the lives of the hostages, prolonged the war, established Israel as a pariah state and led to an explosion of world Antisemitism.

Shany explained the ways in which the ICC reached its conclusions, considering the legality as well as the politics of the situation.

I know Netanyahu will say the court is being Antisemitic, many people will say that he is playing the ‘A’ card, he might, if pushed also play the ‘H’ card also.

He is trapped in self-interest and myopia. Like lots of leaders. Those who say they are in it for the people when their focus is on themselves, their own egos.

In the world of complex systems, we call this a mess.

It’s the scene from Ghostbusters when Venkman describes the coming of Baal.

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… MASS HYSTERIA!

End of the world speak.

And it isn’t all bad when you have people like Sinijlawi willing to express an opinion.

Those who see both sides of the argument, who understand the locking mechanism. It is interesting that these guys are rarely in charge. I think honesty and openness are not characteristics within the job description of senior political leader.s Duplicity and self-interest maybe.

Nevertheless, the talk gave me some hope.

Hope in the darkness.

A way to navigate the toxicity of Tik Tok, social media, news clips, Right vs Left, fundamentalism and negativity. A way around the roadblocks and potholes.

I sometimes pause and think about the climate, the real challenge of our generation and wonder why the crisis generated by our over consumption and overabundance isn’t more central. It doesn’t sell clicks. As I’ve said before, if only Greta has stuck to the environment.

It isn’t holding two or three or four conflicting ideas in your head at the same time, it is the existence of a constantly changing split-screen universe that flits from black and white to multicolour, infrared and ultraviolet. The perceived and the mysterious, the understood and the mistaken. Up and down, both are relative in time and space.

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