Rod Kersh
Person-centred physician

Purple sweet potatoes and Hamas in my town.

Sheffield, England, 10th February 2024, Photo by Rod Kersh
Sheffield City Centre, 10th February 2024, Photo by Rod Kersh

Are they representatives of Hamas?

It’s hard to tell.

I suspect their intentions are mostly benign,

The actions of people

Aspiring to do the right thing,

To stand in solidarity

With the oppressed




From the river to the sea…


Yesterday, I visited Sheffield to buy some purple sweet potatoes. Those powerful antioxidant secrets of Okinawan longevity are not available in my local shop.

I had anticipated the usual stall with a dissolute man expressing his despair for Palestine and antipathy towards Israel.

I had planned this time to speak to the man or woman at the stall, to listen to their claims and reveal or not; I was going to decide.

Most times, when I visit Sheffield City Centre, I scowl past, with feelings of despair.

I know this plan was risky, not physically; I didn’t imagine they would point their finger, shout ‘Jew’ and follow-on with blows to my head, no, more from a modern-day triggering perspective; all the emotions, angst and frustration that have inhabited me since the 7th of October.

As I walked from my car, I could see Palestine flags in distance. I realised this was more than one or two old men selling the Socialist Worker.

A group had set-up camp outside Barclays with children’s shoes and bloody handprints, a tent held a poster with my brother’s company, calling for boycott.

This felt a little like the rabble outside Waitrose last year (well before 10/7) who admonished me for buying Israeli dates. (See here).

I hadn’t realised that Barclays supported Israel. I’ll have to investigate. Perhaps change my bank.

Initially I went around the protest, visited Up & Running for new socks then retraced my steps and approached the crowd.

There was a young guy with loudspeaker, shouting. He looked sixteen, maybe older.

I listened for a time, expressionless.

It was then that they started with ‘from the river…’

Not knowing what to do, I called my brother.

I thought, his connection, via WhatsApp from Ra’anana might help.

The line was bad, and he couldn’t hear. Perhaps serendipity, he has enough going-on.

The day before I had listened to Yossi Klein Halevi talking with Amanda Borschel Dan about the war and his perspectives of the present and the future.

He alluded to the river, ‘Most of them, if you ask, don’t know which river and which sea.’

In case you don’t know, the river within the chant is the Jordan River and the sea is the Mediterranean. The attainment of which is the obliteration of Israel. Jew, Christian, Muslim, Bahai. Hamas doesn’t discriminate. The river chant is the real Mc Coy, it is the mainstay of Hamas’ propaganda.

Kill all the Israelis and we will attain our land of Palestine.

It is a delusion that sits at the heart of Palestinian problem (the Israelis, FYI are not going anywhere.) It is the delusion that has led to the Palestine Authority and Palestinian leaders through the decades, all the way back to 1948 rejecting peace with Israel or accepting an independent country of their own.

They refuse to accept a West Bank and Gaza, only the entirety of the land is adequate.

I don’t want to deviate too much into Middle East politics as this is even more divisive and I am not an expert, suffice it to say, when these protesters shout, ‘From the river,’ they for the most know which river and which sea and their intentions albeit stupid are informed.

All this takes me to the Women’s European Basketball match between Israel and Ireland where the Irish players refused to shake the Israeli players’ hands.

As if the Israeli team are responsible for the deaths in Gaza.

Would they have shaken the hands had there been no 10/7?

Knowing the political dimensions of Ireland, they probably would have still turned away.

I remember the account of Blindboy not supporting SodaStream as it is an Israeli company (providing employment for Israelis and Arabs, lost in the narrative), this dissimulation is part of the simplicity of hate, the naivety of black and white; a refusal to learn the history and see the reality, to apportion blame on one side (Israel) and not the other (Hamas/UNRWA/Iran), to see the Palestinians and the Irish and the Israelis as groups representative of the whole, without the subtle determination of individual feeling and emotion.

I don’t hate the Palestinian People, or the Irish; I think the concept is moot.

Neither exist.

My grandfather fled Palestine in 1947, I am a Palestinian.

I am American Irish. My ancestors left in 1850.

The leaders, Netanyahu, Sinwar/Abu Mazen and Varadkar and are not the Israeli, Palestinian or Irish people, just as Rishi is not me. Thank goodness. even though my politics are Left, I am not Starmer.

I am me with all my failings.

Generalising a people as the enemy, as that which must or should be destroyed is antithetical to a meaningful outcome, to dialogue.

This morning, I listened to an interview with Israeli rapper, Noam Tsuriely.

His mother was born in France, his dad, Israel of Yemenite origin. He is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, English and I imagine French. Polylingual.

One of his most famous songs, Nus Nus (נוס נוס) is sung one half in Hebrew the other in Arabic, to represent the duality of Israel, and the challenges encountered by those who only know one or other language and the extent to which can they meaningfully interact. They hear what is said but the communication is lost. A metaphorical pean.


Where are you on the scale?

Where am I?

I hear Hebrew, English and a smattering of Arabic, Yiddish and the various European languages, a mixture, like the analysis of most European DNA.

Little bits of this or that.

‘I have a surprising amount of Neanderthal DNA,’ Announced Cat Bohannon in her book, Eve.

Whether my double helix consists of little bits of Arab, Israeli, Muslim, Christian or Jew, does not really matter, as my spirit, my mens is a creation of all these elements, a goulash of meat and milk (prior to my veganism), kohlrabi (Israeli), purple sweet potato (Okinawa), chilli (Columbia), zaatar (Palestine) and turmeric (India); I could go on. You get the idea.

Let’s enjoy the Potluck and avoid the monoculture.

Stay out of the grass and play in the wild.

We all access the same sun.

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