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riding an elephant to kill a grasshopper—Thai Proverb
After living for a while in Bangkok, one would be told about Thailand’s war declaration on the USA while it was under Japanese occupation.
On January 25, 1942, the American Ambassador was summoned, and a formal declaration of war was handed to him by the Thai authorities, a move forced by the Japanese occupiers. The American Ambassador refused to accept the letter. After all, how can you be at war with the kindest people on Earth?
Bay of Thailand, Near Bangkok
Picture by Roi Tov
The Cross of Bethlehem
The picture in the background www.roitov.com belongs to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Most people know about the Bridge over the River Kwai,* where Japanese used POWs to build a railway connecting Thailand with British occupied Burma. The cemetery is near the bridge
Eventually, Kanchanaburi became the main area in the country with memorials and sites related to WWII, though also Bangkok features a few.
Cross of Sacrifice
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery
Picture by Roi Tov
Next to the railway station in the town (tourists’ trains travel from there to a bit after Hellfire Pass), was placed a museum commemorating the war. It is a Thai Museum. Some of the explanations appear also in English, though most of them are featured in what probably is the most beautiful alphabet humans had seen. Thais are graceful even in their writing.
One of the greatest absurdities of Western Democracies is that while preaching pluralism, they expect everybody to adopt their values and views. It doesn’t work in such a way. When I visited the site, there was a mural showing Albert Einstein. The English explanation said that he was a Jewish scientist that had married his cousin.
Thais place at the center of their lives something known as “sanook,” fun. They try to find the funny angle in every disaster they face in their soap-opera styled lives. Here it was the same. “Same, same,” as Thais like to say. They focused on Dr. Weirdo’s funniest detail, diminishing the moral weight of one of the terrorists who developed the American nuclear bomb; the scary freak! Those Westerners!**
Chulalong University Bangkok
On July 13, 2013, the Times of Israel published the picture above and the subsequent reaction of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. It claimed that the image is a mural, but it is not difficult to see that it is a backstage curtain. Note the Thai letters on the cement wall behind. Moreover, this is not the first time I saw that drawing. Located at the commercial heart of Bangkok, Chulalong is a popular stop because surrounding it are some of the best Thai snacks in town, including a few serving the extraordinary blend of coffee, tamarind, palm oil and condensed milk that Thais favor as a morning drink.
The notion of “superheroes” is Western in nature. I would call them “drawn-movies,”+ and classify them as unsuitable for everyone older than five. Unrelated to our world, probably they account for much of Western worldwide violence (Hollywood Goes Jewish).
Western readers looking at the image with a bit of attention, would probably comment on one single feature of the complex creation: a figure resembling Adolf Hitler is hailing. A Thai girl is photographed while mocking him.
“Goodie!” said the manager in shift at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and went out riding a Jewish elephant to kill a Thai grasshopper.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center was established in 1977 as “an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to repairing the world one step at a time. The Center’s multifaceted mission generates changes through the Snider Social Action Institute and education by confronting antisemitism, hate and terrorism, promoting human rights and dignity, standing with Israel, defending the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.”
As an example of its “humanitarian principles based on tolerance,” the center decided to destroy the Muslim Cemetery in Mamilla and to build on its location “The Center for Human Dignity” and the “Museum of Tolerance.”
The construction of the center began in June 2005 and was frozen by an Israeli Supreme Court order on February 2006. However, in November 2008, the same court allowed the construction to proceed, noting that this corner of the cemetery had been transformed into a parking lot as long ago as the 1960s and that Jerusalem has been inhabited for roughly 4000 years, and thus many ancient sites have been built over.
Jewish definitions of “tolerance” and “human dignity” do not extend to Muslims.
The Israeli Administration, through its Supreme Court, and Jewish international organizations, through the Simon Wiesenthal Center, agreed that building on a cemetery is acceptable. Does that apply to any cemetery or memorial?
In 1998, a Polish developer was granted permission to build a parking lot near the Auschwitz concentration camp. The developer, Janusz Marszalek, originally wanted to build a shopping center and fast food outlet, but was forced to change his plans after a wave of international protest, mainly by Jewish organizations. Ever since the topic re-appears on the news after developments on the area are approved or rejected. The development project was not in Auschwitz, but outside the complex. Why do Israeli and Jewish leaders discriminate between the two memorial sites? Do they claim that Jews are better, and thus worth of special treatment? Or, do they claim that Muslims are worse, and thus can be desecrated? (see Ghosts of Jerusalem)
Locked in their anti-pluralist view of human culture, Westerners stop analyzing the image after spotting Hitler. Yet, there are other Western atrocities pictured there. Stop saying irrelevant names and performing non-relevant analyses. Unless you are an English-speaking Westerner “Superman” means nothing, it is just a noise depicting an inexistent entity created by Uncle Sam. On the image, one can see a clear Communist symbol, a superhero dressed in red and featuring a yellow, five-pointed star. One can see a clear American Superman. The poster protests against Western violence; Communism came from the West. Without a clear German superhero symbol, they used the closest thing they knew. They added another white-monster on the right.
In its spectacular ignorance, the Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned Thailand’s Chulalong University and its Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts building, where the image was placed.
“We are outraged by those who created this travesty, at the young person posing using the Nazi ‘Seig Heil’ salute and appalled and disgusted by the total silence of the University’s elite for the apparent failure of anyone demanding its removal,” said Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Last winter, he brought the Wiesenthal Center’s Courage To Remember Holocaust exhibit, translated into Thai, to Bangkok’s UN Hall. Due to his spectacular ignorance of how this was seen by locals (I am sorry, it is not my place to educate him), he fails to understand the reaction towards the unending Western violence.
Thai people were among the first to protest against the American attack on Iraq in 2003. I was in Bangkok at the time. The protests took place in a place near the UN Hall, at the Democracy Square, a main landmark of the city, which has been a central spot in the formation of the Thai Democracy. The Western hall was unfit. Think about that “Rabbi” Cooper. The university’s elite is teaching you a lesson that you better learn.
Simon Wiesenthal, why do you want to force your views on others? Is it out of love of Democracy? Simon Wiesenthal, why don’t you care about non-Jewish victims? Simon Wiesenthal, why do you promote eternal hatred and violence? Simon Wiesenthal, why do you promote the business of war? If you instigate violence, don’t cry when others condemn you and yours. Shame on you, and your cousin-weddings!
full version and subscriptions at http://roitov.com/articles/chulalong.htm
* The name of this famous film was an error. The bridge was above a stream that later becomes the Kwai River. Too kind to offend others and unwilling to destroy what became a symbol, Thais renamed the relevant rivers so that they would fit the movie.
** I have also published extensively on travels. Let me reproduce part of a piece I wrote a few years ago about Westerners in Bangkok:
Walking properly along Bangkok’s streets is less trivial than it seems. More than ten million people live in this metropolis. During the rush hours, car can be seen to be oddly parked on the avenues themselves, in lines that run for miles. In every direction, thousands of people can be seen. Yet, while walking in this mayhem, no physical contact is done. No matter how dense the traffic is, graceful Thais would find the way to move around without bumping into others. If paying attention, one would easily discern a few rules for proper walking in Bangkok. The most obvious thing is the way Thais move their arms. They are no less expressive than Westerners, but they are more delicate, moving in subtle and sophisticated ways. They won’t wave their arms wildly around, pointing around unnecessarily at every flying dragon crossing their way.
One of the horrors Thais face daily is watching Westerners attempting to hail a taxi. The tourist would raise his hand as high as possible—sometimes even a bit beyond this point, standing on his stressed, sweaty toes—and wave towards the taxi as boldly as he can. Invariably, the tourist won’t check if someone would be hit by the stray arm. A local urban legend tells that many Thai eyes were lost in such a fashion. Instead, when hailing a public vehicle, Thais extend their arms sideways, while keeping their hands below the waist line, and wave gently downwards. There is no chance of harming innocent neighbors in such a way, yet the gesture is clear enough. There is a Thai proverb that that clearly defines the Western waving: “To ride an elephant to catch a grasshopper.”
+ “Sratim Metzuyarim” in Hebrew, literally, “drawn ribbons,” referring to the ancient times when films were printed on long ribbons of celluloid.
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.