2013 Book Report 2 – Extreme Rambling – Mark Thomas

Another Tuesday, and I have reached the end of another book. Yeah for me. I read this book on my Kindle, the book is available here.

Mark Thomas is a stand up comedian who has also written a fine line of books on subjects ranging from the arms trade to Coca-Cola.  As a left wing comedian his stage shows are often a virtual diatribe, but delivered with, in my opinion warmth and humour. Of course, I tend to agree with his politics, so I enjoy the content.

This new book is an attempt to combine Mark’s love of that peculiarly British pastime, the Ramble, with an investigation into the impact of Israel’s ‘security barrier’.

Israel’s wall is, according to the Israeli government, purely about security. But Mark makes a strong (some would say irrefutable) case that the wall is actually more about crushing the idea of a Palestinian state by cutting off access to farm land, water and jobs.

Not for the first time while reading one of Mark’s books I felt a mixture of sadness and fury. Sadness at man’s inhumanity to man, and fury at the way that Israel has de-humanised and degraded the Palestinians while aided and abetted by America.

Mark Thomas manages to walk with activists from both sides who oppose the wall, he even meets activists who are open in their desire to crush the Palestinians. Understandably, given that his sympathies do not lie with the pro-wall, Palestinian hating activists, these people get short shrift. The fact that he talked to them at all must be considered a positive. I felt sullied just by reading the reports of the encounters, I think I would have felt moved to the verge of violence in a face to face meeting with them.

Having finished reading I decided to have a look at the Amazon comments on this book. I was interested to see that there were almost no votes in the ‘3 stars’ range, but lots in the 4 and 5 star categories  There were also large numbers in the 1 star. Reading the 1 star comments it was clear that these were comments that were made, not because of style, or, in most cases language or grammar. These were comments where the reader had disagreed with the political stance taken in the book. Fortunately such people are in the minority, with all the governments of the world, with the exception of America (and occasionally their smaller proxies) recognising both that the wall is illegal and a massive hindrance to any sort of long term peace. Unfortunately, with the USA bank-rolling this genocidal project it is unclear where the region will go from here.

I did find myself, rather simplistically, I admit, horrified at the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel. If any group of people should be wary of labels which allow you to dehumanise and degrade people, then surely it should be the Jewish peoples of the world. But seemingly, the politicians and extremists on the Israeli side willingly use this tactic to allow collective punishment of the Palestinians. And of course, at the end of the day they call upon their ancient book to justify their actions. Yet another reason to decry religion and the religious.

In summary, an excellent read, well paced and informative. On a Kindle the maps and pictures weren’t very clear, but I know from long experience that I never really keep map information in my head, so I tend to skip over such things, returning to the text instead.


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