Try to see it from the other guy’s point of view. He may be wrong. He may be, at least partly, right. Today, I am trying hard to see life from the point of view of an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank. I have known a few, including one named Benzion Gruber, whom I liked. Benzi Gruber was the kind of man you would want beside you in a fight. It was not because he was a good fighter, which I suspect he
was, but because he wouldn’t desert you.
Benzi was a colonel in the armored corps. Many of the men under his command told me he went out of his way to support them. More than one remembered sitting in a bunker somewhere in the West Bank, cold and in the dead of night. To make matters worse, it was their birthday.
Suddenly, out of the dark, they would see Jeep lights approaching. Out of the door came little lights from birthday candles on cakes hand-delivered by Benzi Gruber.
Benzi, whom I have not seen in about eight years, lived in a settlement on land expropriated from its Palestinian owners. He had decent and intelligent children, and his family was hospitable when I had dinner at the house. It happened to be January 23, 2002, when I turned fifty-one. I’m not sure who told Benzi, but he came into the house with a birthday cake that had five candles plus one. I try to see the world through Benzi’s eyes.
When I covered southern Africa in the late 1970s, I tried as well to see Rhodesia from the white settlers’ point of view. They had a lot to lose, although they had stolen the country from its inhabitants, enacted laws to exclude blacks from the most fertile land, kept the indigenous population from power, and went to war to prevent granting the vote to the majority.
When I look at the crimes committed now by Robert Mugabe – and they are many – I recall that rule by violence was also paramount to Cecil Rhodes’s conquest of Mashonaland and Matabeleland in the late 19th century. Mugabe has continued the system, mistreating not only the whites but also most of the country’s blacks.
Read the rest at Taki’s Magazine.