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Stalking the Average Man


Where the Syrians treated the P.L.O. like their little nephew Abdul, and the I.D.F. treated
Americans like Cousin Nancy, the P.L.O. were overtly indifferent to the Lebanese Army and their
breakaway faction of the Christian Phalange. They could afford to be because, if push came to
shove, their Hezbollah brothers could ra lly enough temporary support from all Palestinian factions
to smack the Christians back into the Bronze Age.
Practically speaking, this was unlikely because it would give America reason to come out of
their trenches when Israel rushed to the aid of their de facto allies, the Lebanese regular army,
whose alignment with Israeli forces was an unavoidable affront to the P.L.O., who also
distinguished a friend from an enemy by the company they kept.
That said, taking on the Lebanese army would be to, in effect, invade the country that wasn‘t
officially giving the P.L.O. sanctuary, which would have been unconscionably poor form in a
culture where manners are practiced as an art. This is also what made the P.L.O.‘s indifference so
insulting to the Lebanese regulars, an attitude that applied to the Christian Phalange for a while, but
how that changed into acidic hate was a story for another time. It was enough for Bonnie to know
that a click of the tongue from a commander could put into play a scrupulously designed
misunderstanding between factions, which would be accepted as a reasonable mistake within the
convoluted nature of relationships in the area.
-That‘s the overview, | I said when I felt I was finished. -Do you want to know specifics, like
how to deal with roadblocks or firefights? |
-That‘s not necessary. My people wouldn‘t change what they needed to know to stay safe,
regardless of having that knowledge. |
-Which is what? | I said, settling back for the long haul.
-They wouldn‘t have been drawn into that cauldron of destruction. |
-Pardon me? |
-My people would have seen how a number of countries had passed the point of change
where logic could prevail, so they would let them battle it out until they came to understand what
they were doing. |
-That‘s it? |
-That‘s all there needs to be. It‘s all about energy. |
-You‘re harsh. |
-Not at all, | she replied seriously. -You can‘t make anyone believe anything they don‘t want
to believe until they‘re ready to see it, | she explained, -and my people knew that doing anything
else could only delay the combatants moment of understanding, and eventual reconciliation. My
teachers employed the same principle of using their student‘s own standard of behavior as the most
effective way to teach them anything. |
-You‘re really saying they would do nothing if they were neighbors, trading partners or even
the Red Cross? | I said incredulously.
-I‘m saying they would do nothing as a proactive choice. Every circumstance you described
would not have camouflaged the nature of those events. |
-Which is? |
-We just talked about it—murder. Mass murder, actually. |
I took a lengthy sip to help me swallow the idea that she had summarily dismissed the
circumstances I had toiled to list so well. Cautiously, lest I had somehow hallucinated her surreal
reply, I said, -This would include no press coverage? |
-To what purpose? |
-You know as well as I do that accurate information allows people to make better choices. |
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