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  • Writer's pictureNikko Norte

Shalom …

Moos the German shepherd is dreaming. She barks softly in her sleep, and I wake up. The sky is dark. No clouds, hardly any stars. Around this time, Heidi and I had planned on leaving Spain, where we live. This afternoon, we would have arrived at a campground in Burgundy, in France, near the village of Merry-sur-Yonne, not far from where we are now. Tent up, a walk along the river to Mailly-le-Chateau to do some shopping for our dinner, coffee in a café, and back to the tent. At leisure, we would tomorrow have continued our journey to the Netherlands. Last night though, we realized that we have to be in the Netherlands tomorrow morning, which prompted us to cross the Pyrenees into France only an hour later. At half past three last night, just past Clermont-Ferrand, we decided it to be enough. It was too dark to easily find a place to sleep in a forest or in a meadow, so we stopped on this square in this village, and I rolled out our mattresses between a hedgerow and the car.

Heidi, even less charmed of sleeping outdoors in villages or cities than I am, decided to sleep in the car. I handed her a pillow and a sleeping bag, put my pillow on one of the rolled-out mattresses, took off my shoes, pants, socks, and sweater, crawled into my sleeping bag, and discovered that Moos, who had taken Heidi’s mattress, was shivering with cold. Not surprising, maybe, because Moos goes through a molting period. Tons of hair we combed out of her coat the last few weeks. Resignedly, I unzipped my sleeping bag. I waited until Moos had crawled up against me, put the sleeping bag over us like a duvet, put one arm under Moos’s head, put my free arm over her torso, and fell asleep.

Now, Moos is also awake. She stretches lazily as I drink water from a flask and reach under my mattress for my phone to check the time. Seven minutes past six. Three missed calls. Two Israeli acquaintances and an American journalist. An invisible hand squeezes my throat ...

October 7, 2023. Struggling to keep my calm, I watch Heidi and Moos go in search for a lawn where Moos can pee, and the words ignorance is bliss come to mind when I call the American journalist whose call I missed. The phone rings and rings. No answer. The first Israeli acquaintance I call back does not answer either, but the second one does, and she makes me realize that ignorance surpasses bliss.

A large-scale, coordinated attack on Israel from Gaza but possibly from the north as well, which means both Hamas and Hezbollah could be involved. Hundreds, if not thousands of rockets and mortars are being fired at Israel. The border between Gaza and Israel has been breached at several places, drones are dropping explosives, and Hamas fighters are attacking individual Israeli in their settlements along the border with Gaza. Other fighters, under motorized paragliders and in pick-up trucks, are pushing deeper into Israel, massacring Israeli. Still other fighters carry out amphibious landings north of Gaza. A few days ago, I learn, and it unsettles me even more, Israeli troops have been withdrawn from the border with Gaza to be sent to the West Bank, and I mentally add that the Sabbath continues until tonight, which should have led to more vigilance but clearly has not.

After I have broken the connection, I prepare Moos’s food and grab under Heidi’s chair for what I need to brew coffee. Moments later, our gas stove is whirring under a kettle of water, the sun still under the horizon, the village in which we slept still asleep. With the sliding door open, I sit in the trunk of our car on Moos’s cushion, my elbows on my knees, my head in my hands. Everything I just heard is wrong. I’m familiar with the situation at the border with Gaza, and I know too many people within the Israel Defense Forces to … ‘What’s wrong?’ Heidi asks. I have not noticed her return and look up as Moos throws herself on her food.

‘They’re pushing for an all-out war now,’ I mutter.


‘Israel …’

‘Are you …?’

‘Not yet. Israel is under attack from Gaza, maybe also from Lebanon. Nothing squares about that attack. There must be a ton of information on the internet by now. Brilliant distraction.’

It only takes a few minutes to pack the car, and in silence, we continue our journey north. From our Stanley thermos, Heidi pours the coffee I just brewed into two mugs. Then, she grabs for her phone. Ten minutes later, still in silence, one eye on her phone, Heidi pours more coffee, and she is still engrossed in that phone when we drive into Pouilly-sur-Loire. The village looks deserted, but opposite the mairie, the townhall, I spot an open café. I park, we let Moos out of the trunk of the car, and the three of us walk to the café.

After having returned from the restroom, and after our coffee has been served, Heidi asks, ‘How is this possible?’

‘It’s not possible. That’s the problem.’

‘Is this related to the refugee madness in Europe?’

‘Afraid it is, but like with covid, I think, they’re too soon.’

‘Too soon?’

‘When covid was launched, as it being a deadly pandemic, the technology for digital passports and digital money was not yet sufficiently developed. Now there’s not enough unrest among the people who have been lured to Europe as refugees.’

‘But who …’

‘Who,’ I interrupt Heidi, ‘is called globalism, and it functions like a mafia family. No one knows the capo di tutti capi, but everyone knows the capi and desires to be on good terms with them because something shiny could fall off the truck at any moment. People like Rutte, Trudeau, Macron, Sunak, and Netanyahu are the capi. Unscrupulous, mendacious, and more depraved than the capo di tutti capi himself, who pulls the strings like a puppeteer.

‘The capo di tutti capi controls the media and thus our opinion. Anyone using the word globalism publicly, is labeled a conspiracy theorist by the capi, who have the exclusive rights to the use of the capo di tutti capo’s media to spread his gospel and to silence his opponents. Still, chances are good that people start wondering how Hamas is able to carry out this attack, why it is being carried out now, why thousands of young people are dying every day in Ukraine, and why, three years ago, we had to believe that humanity would perish because of a flu variant that did not even cause any excess mortality.

‘Man, I hope I’m wrong, but I think Netanyahu will force Israel to hit back hard, which would be stupid. Every head of state proper must understand that restraint, however things play out today, is the only option, considering the geopolitical crossroads we’re at, just as every head of state proper must understand that sending weapons to Ukraine only leads to the destruction of Ukraine, and ...’ Heidi holds up her hand, shakes her head, and says, ‘Slow down. I like your mafia metaphor, but I’m aware of what’s going on in the world, as you know, and your rambling doesn’t answer the question I wanted to ask. Can’t even remember what that question was, but what troubles me now is that your capo-whatever has been organizing our history for hundreds of years on end without us noticing. Why the sudden haste and the mistakes?’

‘Not quite sure, but it feels like the new money among the globalists is in a hurry. The old money doesn’t care whether it brings the world’s population to its knees today or in three generations’ time. They’ve been patient for centuries. New money’s hurry could possibly save us, but not if we stick to the polarization dogma.’

‘New word?’

‘We have been taught the last few decades that we must choose a side in a conflict. It no longer matters what underlies a conflict, and it certainly no longer matters who instigated a conflict for what reason. That kills every discussion and encourages us to get at each other’s throats. The globalists, meanwhile, are laughing their socks off. Moos was shivering with cold last night. She reminded me of that greyhound that didn’t want to do military service.’

‘Oh, no …’ Heidi moans, holding up two fingers in the direction of the bar.

‘March 1982,’ I continue undeterred, ‘I had to take my army physical in the city of Delft, close to Rotterdam. When I entered the waiting room, a greyhound and a polar bear discussed ways to fail their physical to hence be exempted from military service. The greyhound says he’ll pretend to be a junkie. He is called into an examining room to return shortly afterward, jubilant. “They believed me! Exempted!” he cheers.

“Then that’s what I’ll do too!” the polar cries out. Everyone in the room bursts out laughing, and the greyhound says, “You? A junkie? Nobody would ever believe that. But wait, I’ve got an idea. Let me grab something from my car.” The greyhound runs out of the waiting room and comes back with a baseball bat with which he gives the polar bear a horrible beating. Polar bear’s fur is covered in blood, teeth out of his mouth, one eye swollen. “Now you look like a junkie,” the greyhound says. Some moments later, the polar bear is called into an examining room. Silently crying, he stumbles in. When he stumbles out, shortly afterward, everyone shouts, “And, and … did they believe you are a junkie?”

“No,” the polar bear lisps past a split lip, “I’m too fat.”’

‘And you’re the funniest,’ Heidi says, but I notice a suppressed grin and ask whether she knows the story of the man with that harelip, who knocks on the door of a youth hostel. ‘Not now,’ Heidi sighs, ‘It’s nine in the morning, and there’s a war going on in Israel.’

‘And in Ukraine, Central Africa, Libya, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria,’ I add, ‘and only if we forget all drug-related wars, which are raging because the globalists set us up with a war on drugs. But if Muslims in the West keep their calm, which I’m somehow quite sure they will do, and if Putin convinces the Middle East to not overreact, then maybe this Gaza scheme won’t pan out, and ... do I sense street theater?’

‘Yes. Some uh… some Moos commotion, I’m afraid,’ Heidi answers. I look sideways at the first of three dismounted cyclists in the doorway of the cafe and raise an eyebrow. He points at Moos, sleeping next to my chair, and says, ‘Le chien n’est pas en laisse the dog is not on a leash,’ to which I reply, ‘Moi non plus neither am I, et je suis plus dangereux que le chien and I am more dangerous than the dog.’

‘Oh, Nik,’ Heidi pleads, leaning over the table, ‘just let it go.’

‘Just let it go! Three men, half my age, who surely believe in world peace, but who pick a fight over a sleeping dog that’s not even remotely in anyone’s way, and who would never have picked that fight had they walked into this café without their friends. Look at them. Electric mountain bikes, helmets, phosphorescent vests. Are they on an expedition or just out for a ride? Not even a mosquito moves through Gaza without the Israeli government knowing it. Do you think Huey, Dewey, and Louie care about that? If Macron, this afternoon, calls on the Israeli government to bulldoze Gaza into the sea, those idiots applaud.’

‘Nik, stop it! You don’t know what they think.’

‘I don’t, don’t I? Watch this,’ and I turn to the three men still in the doorway. ‘Écoutez-moi, Riri, Fifi et Loulou listen, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Qu’est-ce que nous allons faire what are we going to do? Bombarder Gaza bomb Gaza? Plus des avions de chasse vers l’Ukraine more fighter jets to Ukraine? ‘Donnez-moi votre avis ...’


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