Hatim, King of the Natufians

Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris (Photo: Gil Nechushtan)

A college friend of mine has a crude sense of humor that belies his academic turn of mind. At one point he reached the rank of top expert on Abraham Lincoln’s economic policy. I still recall my pride at seeing him serving as personal guide to president George W. Bush around Gettysburg before both men slipped quietly into the historical background to the nation’s greatness. Not withstanding such prominence, my friend is capable of posting a story on his Facebook page straight out of our collage days over half a century ago. Please bear with me while I share it here to make a point: It speaks of a farmer who buys an especially fecund rooster to service his large flock of chickens. He advises the bird to take it easy. But the super stud proceeds to mount every hen on the farm including ducks, geese, turkeys and more. By sunset the farmer finds the rooster “dead as a doorknob” with vultures circling overhead. He utters some words of blame and the dead rooster opens one eye and winks conspiratorially at its owner begging him not to scare the tricked vultures away.

That all flashed across my mind as I read Gili Cohen’s first page article in Haaretz entitled “IDF general indicted for rape and indecent acts” about Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris, a resident of neighboring Mitzpe Netoufa. Here are few relevant quotes from the investigative report:

He was charged with three counts of rape, one count of sodomy and six indecent acts against a lower-ranking female soldier, identified only by her first initial, A. He is also accused of six indecent acts against a female IDF officer identified as L.

Neither weather conditions nor the terrain seem to hamper our top rooster’s urges:

Buchris is alleged to have committed the offenses against the women at his office, in his military vehicle, at an army camp, in his living quarters and at several other locations.

The prosecution alleges that Buchris raped A. three times, beginning in April 2011, when she is said to have accompanied him to buy supplies for a weekend stay that he and his family had arranged at a bed-and-breakfast in the north.

It is alleged that on several occasions when A. reported directly to Buchris as a Golani brigade commander, he allegedly called her to his living quarters, undressed her and touched her against her will.

Mind you, all the infractions the prosecutors allege against our neighbor were presumably committed against fellow Jews. If true they were immoral acts. I would add that they were plain foolish as well. After all he could satisfy his urges without violating the accepted rules of the game. All through the many years of our general’s alleged repeated offenses Israel has been at war with the Palestinians. As such, and according to the fatwa issued by the IDF’s current chief Rabbi, “in time of war it is permissible for soldiers to have sex with comely gentile women against their will” to relieve the anguish of war. Besides, some Israeli academicians have advocated the practice as a weapon against Hamas in Gaza. So instead of wasting his energy (and precious seed, one may add) he could have served “our goal” of “the success of the whole at war” while satisfying his “evil urge.”

To be frank, I find Rabbi Eyal Karim’s ruling and Dr. Mordechai Keidars recommendation wicked; they reek of misogyny on two counts: First, the concept of rape as a weapon is repulsive and masochistic. Second, it is discriminatory. Woman serve in the IDF’s combat units despite Rabbi Karim’s express objection. How are they to satisfy their evil urges. Does the rape fatwa apply to them as well? And can we interpret the phrase “comely gentile women” to include comely gentile men? What are we to do about all the ‘uncomely’ enemy folk dying for intercourse with top generals of “the most moral army in the world?” This last thought calls forth an unending litany of worries: Given the weighing of options and of relative psychological pros and cons on each side of the inter-racial and intersexual dual finely balanced in each such case of battle sex, how do we know who would be raping whom? And what would the criteria for comeliness be? Would Ashkenazi or Mizrahi features be given higher marks? Our fighting cock himself may well not pass the selection threshold for participation in the official Sex Hunger Games.

Part of my anguish about the said report is the geographic location of the accused general’s residence; Mitzpe Netoufa is practically in my backyard. The basic concept of a Mitzpe—Hebrew for ‘lookout’—the hilltop-positioned barbed-wire-encircled Jewish-only settlement dreamt up by Ariel Sharon in the 1970s, possibly after battling it out with another comely enemy woman, is to protect the promised land of the Jews from potential ‘goy’ usurpers. Those ‘goys’ turn out actually to be us, the Palestinians who have been ‘squatting’ on the land since the Romans destroyed their second temple and eventually abandoned them to the whims of Christian and Moslem conquerors who have converted them out of Judaism while the Khazari ancestors of Sharon were welcomed into the Jewish faith. Be that as it may, the good general’s purpose in life and that of his fellow Mitzpe Netoufa religious Jewish residents, is to watch over me so I won’t steal my own Netoufa (Battouf) Valley Land. But mind you, I have already sinned against the folks: Let me quote from page 93 of my book of memoirs, A Doctor in Galilee (Pluto Press, 2008) about my father selling his land to put two brothers and me through high school in the city of Nazareth:

For a total of seven years he had to cover our not so negligible expenses. For that entire period he stood the shaming of and the social pressure brought on him by relatives and peers to change his ways and to refrain from selling his land to [put us through school.] By the time I graduated he had only one last piece of land in the Battouf Valley, the village’s fertile source of livelihood. Even that last piece he had to sell to pay for my ticket to travel to the States in pursuit of my own wacky dream [of studying medicine].

In recent years I attempted to re-own that specific last piece of my father’s land. Failing that, I managed to purchase another piece of farmland of equal size in the same vicinity from a fellow villager. With the help of another village friend who is a better farmer than us, my wife and I now enjoy summer vegetables from our little slice of the magic Battouf Valley, our community’s own Promised Land.  That is how we have become intruders on the sensitivities of the residents of Mitzpe Netoufa. Who knows but we may well be the descendants of those Natufians of old who invented agriculture in the first place. It is difficult to prove, I know. But no one is watching so I might as well lay claim to the conjuncture. It is no less valid than the priest Nadaff’s recent claim to being Aramaic is or the once popular slogan of “Sharon, King of Israel” was.

I am sure, our neighbor, THE GENERAL, spots us on occasion in our land from his watchtower whether through his binoculars or through the crosshairs of his automatic weapon. That is not scaring us off of our little piece of heaven. But in light of the man’s indictment “for rape and indecent acts,” and until he is proven innocent or is incarcerated, my wife and I will not be running around picking vegetables from our land in shorts.