A rather depressing mud fight

Why can't the Israelis use their own mud to make beauty products, rather than Palestinian mud?

Last weekend my friend Clayden went on an anti-Ahava demonstration. Quite right, too. I should have gone with him, because Ahava makes beauty products from Dead Sea mud, in an illegal Israeli settlement on Palestinian land, and pretends it's made in Israel, so the demonstrators considered it stolen mud and were demanding a boycott.

At least the anti-Ahava, pro-Palestinian lot were, but some opponents had turned up: the pro-Ahava Zionist lot and the English Defence League (EDL), Croydon Division, with bullet haircuts, camouflage jackets and a very large dog, supporting the Zionists – because although they're probably not all that keen on Jewish Israelis, they're even less keen on Muslim Palestinians. And there was Clayden, in a small contingent from the Big Red Band, playing the Internationale and other socialist tunes in the rain, which he reckoned perked things up a bit. Then the sun came out and shone on the banners and flags. There were some Palestinian red, green, white and black ones waving about, then some blue-and-white Israeli ones, right next to the great big red-and-white fascist EDL flag. So it all looked rather jolly, but startling. Who would have thought it – the Jews and fascists united?

Preferring discourse to a punchup, Clayden chatted to a nervous young Zionist. What did he feel about demonstrating alongside the EDL? "We wanted them to move away," said the Zionist, "but they wouldn't go."

In 1967 I visited Ein Gedi on the Israeli bit of the Dead Sea coast, where I used a public lavatory from hell and swam in what felt like warm snot. In blazing heat I would stagger from shower to sea, but it wasn't refreshing at all. It didn't seem to be working well as a holiday resort, and using the mud for skincare products seems like a more sensible option, but perhaps the Israelis could stick to the mud in their section, and leave the Palestinians' bit alone.

"All we want is peace," said the young Zionist, trembling, which rather surprised Clayden, seeing as Israel has bombed the crap out of Gaza. "Do you expect them to love you?" Clayden asked sensibly, but he got no reply.

Contributor

Michele Hanson

The GuardianTramp

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