The Mideast’s butcher market [Archives:2002/52/Focus]

December 23 2002

By Hassan Al-Haifi
“Can you imagine it?” said Jamil to his buddy Fadhel, as the two customers crowded around the butcher shop window. “US President George W. Bush wants the whole world to wage a war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, yet cares the least about all the bloodletting and terror, which his bloodthirsty buddy, Ariel Sharon is enjoying in Palestine night and day.
“Oh come on,” Jamil. “How can you expect us to talk regional politics when we cannot even get to our favorite butcher shop for tenderloin cut,” remarked Fadhel, as he noticed a little boy trying to make headway for the butcher or for the butcher’s pocket. He wasn’t sure which goal the boy had in mind, but he was not taking chances.
Keeping an eye on the seemingly mischievous kid, Jamil responded, “Night and day, all we hear on television is: ‘The inspectors are coming, the inspectors are looking at a shoe shine polish factory today; George Bush is adamant that Iraq is in violation of the Bush Resolution, Iraqi scientists must come outside and talk to the UN inspectors.’
“It all seems like the games children play in neighborhood fights. What has international diplomacy turned into?”
“No, Jamil, you mean the United Nations Resolutions,” Fadhel corrected his friend.
The boy switched his pickpocket victims.
“What United Nations resolutions? Jamil asked somewhat cynically. “The United Nations is nothing but an echoing rendition of American foreign policies.”The butcher took a moment from the merciless strikes on the carcass he was working on.
“Come on you guys, this is a butcher shop, not a qat session. Hey, Fadhel! Watch out for that little punk, he is notorious. He already scored from seven victims, right from where you are standing. I swear if I ever get a hold of him, he will have this knife cut through the marrow of his wrist!”
On hearing that, and seeing the butcher lift his big, fat knife, and seeing it come down like a guillotine on the poor carcass, cutting the thigh bone of the bull with relative ease, the boy ran away from the crowd. Everyone laughed, and then went on calling: “Sa’ad! Sa’ad! Come on; how long do we have to wait?”The butcher then commented: “Why don’t you try to cut up this monster then?””We got enough butchers as it is in the Arab World and the sad part is they probably cut more human flesh than livestock flesh!” quipped an intellectual nearby, still trying to make sure that the mischievous kid kept away from his pockets.
“You mean the Zionist gang in Israel?” said another customer looking rather amused by the skill shown by the butcher who systematically cut up the carcass into more manageable smaller parts to dole out to his customers.
“No!” said the butcher taking another slight pause from his cutting, which now had taken a more rapid pace now. He happily looked at the crowd, now the size he likes it to be. He knew he didn’t take a risk slaughtering this bull, “He means our Arab leaders, who have spent billions on weapons, they have used against their own people more than they have used against our Zionist enemies.”
“Just imagine this,” Jamil returned to his discourse, while not forgetting to move up closer to the butcher’s window ledge, so not to lose his turn. “The Zionist systematic slaughter of the Palestinians has taken a back page in most newspapers and is now after the weather report, even in the Arab satellite channels, while all this coming and going out of Iraq is front page headline news and the first item on satellite channel newscasts. There is blood being spilled night and day in Palestine, with Sharon and Netanyahu are having the time of their lives, raising their Zionism achievement score card points with the international Zionist establishment. Meanwhile, Arab leaders and the Arab public is getting suckered into believing that what is going on in Iraq is for real.”The butcher came out with his bombshell: “I am telling you the Arabs will someday wake up to find that they will only be able to buy meat with a coupon stamped by the Jewish Defense League or the Untied Jewish Appeal. Oh sure, Bush will get elected for a second term. That is the reward for his coziness with his Zionist pals and making suckers out of all of us, as well as the American people.”