Rod Kersh
Person-centred physician

The diasporic echo chamber

Banias flower by Rod Kersh
Banias Succisella by Rod Kersh

Yesterday, my daughter enquired as to why I had not written a blog, as has been my habit for the past eight years.

It’s been a Saturday thing.

Up early, dog walk, blog then head to the lake for a swim.


Like the mechanism of a Patek Philippe. Orderly, consistent, steady.

I hadn’t written as I was feeling worn out.

The war and troubles at work had ground me down.

Pestle and mortar, I am the pulp.

The war has been exhausting.

Not the kind of tired the soldiers who are sleeping on their nerves and wit must know and not the fatigue the mothers and fathers of the kidnapped experience, more a weariness that has no outlet.

On my go-to radio, GLZ, they have started to play more music, interspersed with an increasing number of adverts. Those were absent in the first weeks of the war. Normality is returning, an ordinariness that, like the mind-body disconnect that happens to someone in mortal fear, is a safety mechanism to allow life to continue.

In the Diaspora there is no break, it is relentless.

Yesterday I heard that someone had complained about Macron lighting a Hanukkah candle in the Elysée Palace. This was I gather, a deviation from France’s strictly secular code of practice. What upset me was not the person complaining – there are all sorts of cranks out there, more, the need for the BBC to report on this triviality.

I think of my colleagues and friends who hear about the plight of the Palestinians, randomly bombed in Gaza City and Khan Yunis. Israelis murdering refugees is the narrative. How can that be just? I hear of American progressive Jews calling on Biden to order a ceasefire, I see the daily reports of soldiers killed on the front-line. Last week it was the former Army Chief of Staff Eizencot’s son, yesterday it was his nephew. Two young men in the prime of their lives, snuffed-out the narrative.

I hear the cries of Genocide and listen with the same perplexity as discussed by Yossi Klein-Ha Levi and Donniel Hartman in their Podcast last week.

The two analysed the narrative, why, what, wherefrom (Genocide)?

Concluding in their analysis the metaphor that Israel has become.

The imagery sent to us from Iran of the Little Satan, supported by its magus America, the Big Bad Capitalist Overlord.

The twisting of reality, the good is bad and right is wrong that so many have adopted.

In their discussion they consider the way in which Israel and the Jewish People through their transformation from being the damned of history, the victims of an actual genocide, acquired power and in doing so flipped the narrative. From weak to strong. From homeless to homecoming.

Everyone loves an underdog.

The Jews were once the dispossessed, as they boarded the transports, no longer. Now that mantle has passed to the Palestinians albeit in different circumstances and an altogether different situation.

Sometimes, on social media, the numbers of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip or globally pops up alongside the number of Jews living in Syria, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, or Iraq. From ancient populations in their hundreds of thousands to zero. Not one. That is ethnic cleansing.

And the people shouting ‘from the river to the…’ which is genocidal language not realising the perversion of their words.

Be’eri and Nachal Oz were the river to the sea. The campaign in Gaza is an attempt to destroy a terrorist enterprise that rejoices in the deaths of its own innocents.

Even Hamas have acquired the trendiness of the underling.

And where from this logic?

Why are the young and not so progressives and left-leaning liberals taken-in by this ruse?

It’s a human trope.

We can’t help ourselves. We see power as bad and powerlessness as a cause.

There is nothing more pathetic that an overweight man, stripped to their underpants surrendering their weapon. Clad, they are a killer, naked they are a pity.

They remove their clothes and are innocent.

The narrative is precarious.

And within this morass of thought, ideas, and counterfactuals, I was shopping yesterday in Waitrose.

I don’t know why I go back to that place after the ‘date’ encounter of last year.

A week ago, I popped-in with my daughter. We bought some Telma Chicken Soup Mix and a packet of Matzoh Meal.

At the auto-checkout we were stopped for a scan.

‘We were targeted,’ I think to myself but do not say.

Yesterday we did the same, the checkout wouldn’t process our purchases.

All the time I was becoming increasingly anxious about the man in the yellow bomber jacket, Keffiyeh and ‘Free Palestine’ cap who was circulating the store, friendly with the security guys. Was he monitoring the Kosher foods (I bought Avocado Mezze and some Mandels), and manipulating the computers to conspire against me?

This is crazy paranoid thought.

It is thought that would not have happened before October 7.

In a quiz last week Tel Aviv and Haifa were some of the questions.

In a microsecond my mind jumped to alert, ‘Will someone say something?’

This is a diasporic anxiety that has never been part of my experience. It is a ripple of the actions of Hamas. Even in rural South Yorkshire, I am affected by the insecurity.

I learned yesterday that a friend of my son’s had posted a photo comparing Netanyahu to Hitler on social media.

My son was justifiably very upset. He wouldn’t tell me the outcome of the discussion that ensued.

I remember at the start of the war in Ukraine (that has fallen off the headlines, alongside events in Africa, South America, and Asia), Putin claimed the Ukrainians were Nazis. An absurd inversion given the numbers of people in Ukraine who were killed as a direct result of the Nazi invasion, and yet, it stuck, it hovered in the ethos.

And what of a world that sees Iran as good and the US as bad?

The Hartman Podcast rationalises the actions of young people as a cry against the general unfairness of life, of the imbalance that exists in society, either between the one per cent or the Boomer/Gen X’s and the rest.

The older and wealthy Westerners who have misused the planet, taken the money, the capital and are living-up their retirement that the Gen Z’s and Millennials will be forced to shoulder until they are worked into their own grey old age, in a world depleted of natural resources of rising water levels and extremes of weather.

Part of my sitting in the early morning typing (It is three am in Yorkshire), is a result of my not being able to run (and consequently sleep).

As in a Pesach ‘Chad Gadya’ (Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly) narrative, a couple of months ago I was jogging in nearby woods. I summersaulted on the mud and sprained my ankle, this has resulted in my being unable to run, one of my psychological valves is out of kilter.

The mud, part of the increased rain we have experienced in the UK over recent years.

Climate Change.

Greta, the poster child of the environment has taken-up the cause of the Palestinians. She is a fan of Hamas.

Just like the dying dolphins and whales and orangutans, the residents of Gaza are under threat and her inner compass has taken her towards them.

In doing so, in associating with a terrorist cause she has alienated many of her supporters.

If she is wrong about Hamas, perhaps she was wrong about the icebergs.

It’s an easy rationalisation.

Antisemitic or Anti-Israel.

A fine line or so some say.

One and the same.

My ankle hurts and through that skeletal disequilibrium, so does my knee and my back. I feel a physical wreck. And where the body goes the mind follows.

A chaos of thoughts, cascade of feelings.

In Israel they stand by their windows and sing ‘Am Yisrael Chai.’

I don’t have anything to sing.

For me it is a diasporic echo chamber.

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