I well remember an exhilarating weekend some years ago when I had decided to hol;d another of my 'Huntsman Weekends' at, unsurprisingly The Huntsman a hotel at Shirenewton on the outskirts of Chepstow.
Lee and I used to organise one of these weekends about twice a year based on a two day 'immersion' with associates mostly garnered from politics who included MPs, MEPs, Doctors, Solicitors, Barristers, authors, Industrialists and Historians - the aim being that each could give of their knowledge and learn from the others, Engineers, military, submariners and scientists - the weekends were great fun and intellectually challenging for all as it took everyone out of their comfort zones ;-)
Andy Martin came one year and was a huge contributor as he vied with Michael Shrimpton for presence and status - his experience gave him the edge by quite some distance but Michael was not easy to curb!
Lindsay Jenkins (author), Ashley Mote MEP (autor), John Moran, Dr, Richard North (author etc.), Harry Beckhough (Author & longest serving Tory member still going strong at 96!), Jean Rowland, Idris Francis (Queen's Award for Industry), Peter Watson, Maj. Niall Warry RA rtd., Harry & Jean Randall, Alastair McConnachie, Andy & Wendy Simpson, Jo White, Brian Gerrish, Donald & Joan Martin, Lesley Brain, David Davies MP, Peter Bowles, Hugh Moelwyn Hughes, Peter Baker, Hugh Jones, Ian Gillman, Robert Francis, Simon Muir, Angela Bradley, Mark Oliver, Stephanie & David Dovey (C.Cllr. & Mayor of Chepstow respectively)Tom Wise MEP, Andrew Edwards, Chris Lees, Petrina Holdsworth (Barrister one time Chairman of UKIP & founder member of UKFirst), David Voelker (Judge rtd.), Jean Jackson and many more have attended the Huntsman Meetings, usually running to 30 to 50 per weekend.
The meetings were relaxed, but intensive, including all meals and late into the night as Phil Moles, the landlord, generously gave us almost total run of his hotel and some memorable and substantial meals - some may remember the lunch we held with deviled kidneys the weekend before I went in for what was expected to be terminal cancer, to buy me some time by removing my kidney in 2001!
I'd really like to thank all who gave me such support and particularly the support given to Lee, her Mum and my parents.
However the discussions when Andy Martin attended took on an interesting and different feel as he had run for the Senate and held office in America.
Middle East expert Andy Martin says the Palestinian-American production "Salt of the Sea" is a vivid portrayal of the complexities and contradicitons of modern Israel and Palestine. He recommends the movie as an amalgam of "Bonnie and Clyde," "Easy Rider" and the "Three Amigos" all mixed into one. Martin, who has lived and worked in the Middle East for over forty years, says the film presents Israel and occupied Palestine as they really are on a day-to-day basis.
Internet powerhouse Andy Martin says "You must see 'Salt of This Sea'"
Andy comments on a dramatic and entertaining new Palestinian film
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Andy Martin says if you want to know what modern Israel and Palestine are like, see this film
(NEW YORK)(August 14, 2010) Friday afternoon I received a desperate email from a woman who was promoting a new film just opening in Greenwich Village. I went. The movie, "Salt of this Sea," is a Palestinian-oriented production filmed on location.
You must see "Salt". I enjoyed it immensely. I love the Middle East and so I have a special affection for the setting. The film is both a sad and loveable tale of a region that is left increasingly barren by the legacy of historical errors orchestrated at the end of World War II.
The movie resonated on many levels. As I watched the opening sequences I thought, yes, the Israelis really are that abusive when you visit Israel. I have stories to tell.
When "Soraya" crosses from the "West Bank" into Israel, the clanking of the bars at the Qalandia Checkpoint is frighteningly real. People are treated worse than cattle. I was there. The film is so real I felt I was back in the West Bank. And in Jerusalem.
Some of my newer readers associate me more with local issues. But for parts of the past five decades I have been focused on Asia and the Middle East.
How to describe the film? It is a Palestinian version of "Bonnie and Clyde," "Easy Rider" and the "Three Amigos" all rolled into one. Although the movie is deadly serious and very dramatic, you can't help but laugh at the Erich von Stroheim accents of the Israelis who have created a miniature replica of the Third Reich on the Mediterranean. "Vhy are you here?" "Vere are you staying?" "Vere is your second passport?" They really talk that way.
People who support Israel should see the film to get a true view of the nightmare that Israelis have created for Palestinians; Israelis have also given birth to a self-defeating, self-destructive nightmare for themselves as well.
The movie is dedicated to the memory of an Israeli massacre at al-Dawayima.
Ironically, while the United States supports "two nations" for "two peoples," and that is the popular mantra, the Israelis have gone us one better and created "three prisons (including Gaza) for two peoples." The Palestinian prisons are more degrading and dehumanizing. But Palestinians have a spirit of survival that will ultimately triumph.
The Israelis, on the other hand, have also imprisoned and dehumanized themselves in the process of degrading their neighbors. The Israeli historical narrative is gradually dissolving as World War II becomes a distant memory.
Soraya is an American-born Palestinian who wants to reclaim her family roots in Jaffa. Her family was pushed out by the 1948 Israeli invasion of Palestine. She visits Israel to see a friend in the West Bank and finds that the Israelis have completely rigged the system against local residents. Palestinians live under a brutal occupation. [Full disclosure: when the Israelis "liberated" the West Bank in 1967, they really were greeted as liberators; so it wasn't always this way. The Israelis worked hard to make enemies of their Palestinian friends, and with typical Israeli efficiency they succeeded.]
In a "Bonnie and Clyde" escapade, Soraya, her chaste new "guy" and a third friend decide to stage a bank robbery to reclaim the money her family left on deposit in 1948. From there we transition into "Easy Rider" as the three amigos pretend to be Israelis, dress like Israelis, steal Israeli license plates for their van and head for Jerusalem and Jaffa. Good Morning Jerusalem!
At the premier on Friday star Suheir Hammad, who portrays Soraya, was there to describe how the film was produced. The "Israelis" were all genuine Israeli actors. And yes, they do talk with that faux Germanic accent over there. The abuses Israelis inflict on visitors I have personally witnessed. The film is as real as real can be.
Parts of the film are so real they were recorded as they actually happened. When helpless Palestinians were climbing a fence to cross another barrier between Jerusalem and the West Bank, right in the middle of a shooting sequence, the cameraman captured the indignity as it was actually unfolding. That is why I say if you have not seen Jerusalem and Israel today, see this film.
Israelis themselves have freedom of movement, and a much more open society (which is why gay Arabs covet a pass to Israel). But no one can ultimately live free in a police state, and Israel is becoming the ultimate police state, controlled through political propaganda, military force and bogus "democracy."
I have never seen a more vivid snapshot of the sadistic reality of modern Israel. "Your papers, please. For your own security, of course" could be the Israeli national motto. But the film also portrays Israel's freedom and prosperity, for some of the inhabitants. Even if their Israeli government is evil, most Israelis are not. It is a great tragedy that Israelis and Palestinians have dissipated their energy and creativity in perpetual war. There is no winner.
Israelis will retort that as a result of the Arab backlash to the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews who had lived peacefully for centuries in Arab lands also experienced the same expulsion and displacement as the Palestinians. One of my former girlfriends was Jewish, born in Alexandria, Egypt, forced to become a refugee.
And in case you didn't know, Baghdad was once the greatest center of Jewish life in the world.
Bottom line. I love all of 'em. I do not hate the Israelis (although I condemn their government) and I love the Palestinians (although I am deeply concerned by the increasing fundamentalism that has crept into their society).
One of the most racist, Nazi-like propaganda statements ever uttered was Israeli Prime Minister Golda ("who was born in Milwaukee") Meir's claim that Palestine was a "land without a people, for a people without a land." The movie dramatizes how Palestinians retain the memory of their homes in what is now Israel. Many of these residences have survived since 1948 and are still there. Joseph Goebbels could not have created a bigger lie and a grosser historical injustice than Israeli Prime Minister Meir's false claim that Palestine was "uninhabited" when she arrived.
I'm not Jewish, of course. But I grew up in a very philo-Semitic home where the Holocaust was a topic of regular discussion. My father helped train the Jewish Brigade in the British Army. A London newspaper editor once described the Middle East conflict as one between "two wronged peoples." But historical truth always triumphs in the end. Palestine was not a "land without a people." You see the descendents of the people who actually lived in Palestine in 1948 portrayed in "Salt of this Sea."
Where is the Israeli Gorbachev to make peace with the world? Israelis are mired in their own lies, a nation living on borrowed time. The hourglass is getting closer to empty.
Only when Israelis admit the injustices they inflicted in stealing their homeland from the indigenous population can they begin the process of reconciliation and permanent peace. That is what Soraya demands and what she does not receive.
The current householder of Soraya's ancestral home is a sympathetic pro-peace Israeli. In a twist, when Soraya can't stand the frustration of confronting the present, she leaves. But one of her copains stays behind with the Israeli girl, proving love knows no checkpoints and no ideologies. Or was it sex? Who knows?
Before departing Soraya vehemently demands that the Israeli occupant of her family home "admit" to the injustices of 1948 as the price of remaining in possession. But the Israeli is not mired in the surreal past. She has erased her history to avoid the painful reality of how her country was founded.
Still, the Israeli girl gets the Palestinian boy in the movie. That's probably closer to the truth than either side wants to admit.
Don't go to see "Salt of this Sea" to get angry or be hateful. Laugh a little, or even a lot. Remember that for one couple in the movie love triumphs over all. Reflect on the likelihood that if Israelis persist with their racist policies they will ultimately fail to establish permanent roots for their Reich-in-the-Desert. Palestinians may ultimately prevail, after enduring decade-after-decade of unspeakable and unnecessary abuses and injustices. All subsidized by your American tax dollars.
Time is not on Israel's side.
This is a great little film. It conveys the sad truths of Palestine with a light touch and an occasional smile. Think Bonne and Clyde, Easy Rider and the Three Amigos all mixed into one.
[If you see the movie, whichever "side" you believe in, send me your comments and we'll do a follow-up.]
ABOUT ANDY: Andy Martin is the legendary New York and Chicago-based muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He promotes his best-selling book, "Obama: The Man Behind The Mask" and his Internet movie "Obama: The Hawai'i years." Martin has been a leading corruption fighter in Illinois for over forty years. He is currently sponsoring www.AmericaisReadyforReform.com
Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of the "Internet Powerhouse," www.ContrarianCommentary.com. He comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of investigative and overseas experience. He has over forty years of familiarity with Asia and the Middle East; internationally he is regarded as one of America's most respected independent foreign policy, military and intelligence analysts. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York (LaGuardia CC, Bronx CC).
Andy's columns are also posted at ContrarianCommentary.blogspot.com; contrariancommentary.wordpress.com.
[NOTE: We try to correct any typographical errors in this story on our blogs; find our latest edition there.]
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