Shifting Sands

by Peter Wyton

When I was young, we sympathised with them,
They’d had a ghastly time in World War Two
And earlier, when dreadful pogroms meant
That Russia was no place to be a Jew.
So many flooded into Palestine.
The earth lay barren. There was ample room.
The Diaspora channelled money through
And presently the land began to bloom.
They got their State. A lot of blood was spilt,
Some of it British, whose support had been
Vital — Balfour — the Mandate — then we lost
Influence and departed from the scene.
The Six Day War. Topol coming off stage
From ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ so as to catch
A plane to join the fray. Moshe Dayan,
Appealing swashbuckler in an eye-patch.
Small, plucky Israel against the rest,
Running rings around the opposition.
Our television crews delivered us
Front line footage of every mission.
Entebbe Airport, almost flawless strike.
“You’ve got to hand it to them,” people said,
As nearly all the hostages were freed
And fat old Idi Amin mourned his dead.
Further on down the road, I don’t know when,
Public opinion did a double take,
Focused on ragged Palestinians
And asked, “What’s this about, for goodness sake?”
The aura of invincibility
Had sand kicked in its face in Lebanon,
It’s hard to land relentless knockout blows
At a contest which just drags on and on.
Allegiances are altering, ringside,
Former supporters have begun to boo,
The Star of David flutters doggedly,
This isn’t end-spiel, but it’s something new.
Those who fought in Warsaw’s sewers perished
No less cruelly than kids in Gaza’s slums.
Everyone says they want to live in peace.
Everyone fights for peace on their own terms.
They transplant hearts routinely nowadays.
Most work. Some don’t, and this one never will.
Nor can it be ripped out. The future lacks
A cure, prescribes a lifelong, bitter pill.