In his own words: interviews with Daniel Sharon

The following story faded from the news a couple of weeks ago, but it’s one of the many posts I was thinking about but not blogging about during my long (and gratifyingly lamented!) silence. I won’t bore you with the usual apologies -that gets tired pretty quickly.

Some of you may remember a rather odd story about Daniel Sharon, an Israeli-German citizen who was arrested in Beirut in late September. The media reported that he was accused of involvement in a murder and that he was suspected of espionage. The reports included all sorts of titillating details – that Sharon had converted to Islam more than a decade ago, that he spoke flawless, unaccented Arabic, that he was gay and had a bizarre penchant for Lebanese men, which was why he had visited Lebanon 11 times over the past two years.

Sharon was detained by the Lebanese authorities for nearly a month, while the German consulate worked to obtain his release.

In the days immediately following his arrest, Yedioth Ahronot dug up and re-published an interview Sharon gave to the newspaper in 1996, when he was 19 years old. In that interview he made all sorts of trying-to-be-controversial statements: that he had converted to Islam; that he opposed the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied territories; that he had been jailed five months into his compulsory army service for refusing to follow orders, and then discharged from the army; that he had traveled to Jordan as soon as the peace treaty with Israel was signed, and from Jordan he had traveled to Beirut; and that he loved Arab culture. He was photograped wearing a keffiyeh wrapped around his neck.
Otherwise, the Israeli media was pretty circumspect – probably at the request of Sharon’s parents, who didn’t want the German authorities’ efforts to obtain his release sabotaged by speculation and rumours – but also, I think, because there wasn’t much information to report. Sharon’s biography was mildly interesting, but not really controversial. He was born in Munich to Israeli parents who moved back to Israel when he was two years old. After his parents’ divorce, he lived with his mother in Australia for several years. He had lived and worked for several years in the Gulf region. His father lived with his second wife in northern Israel, where he ran a posh bed and breakfast and owned several assisted living facilities for retirees.

Twenty-two days after his arrest, Sharon was released and allowed to leave Lebanon. One day later, he was interviewed in Frankfurt by reporters for Maariv and Yedioth. I translated both interviews into English for a friend who lives in Beirut. Maariv’s Or Heller interviewed Sharon in his Frankfurt hotel room, and Yedioth’s Eldad Beck interviewed him later that day at the airport, before Sharon flew to Thailand. There are some information overlaps in the interviews, but each one has unique details that complete an interesting picture so I’m posting both.  In his own voice, Sharon sets the record straight – including the revelations he’s not gay, he does not identify as a Muslim and he still loves Lebanon. Read on…

Daniel Sharon/photographed by Or Heller for Maariv
Daniel Sharon/Or Heller, Maariv

Interview with Daniel Sharon

Or Heller for Maariv newspaper, 14 October 2007

When Daniel Sharon opened the door of his small hotel room in Frankfurt, he was wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. With a shy smile, he urged me to take a date ma’amoul. “This is my sweet memory from Beirut. They don’t have ma’amouls like this in Israel.” At that moment I wondered how any Lebanese intelligence officer could suspect this young man of being a spy.

Daniel speaks fluent Hebrew, although he sometimes becomes irritated when he has to search for a word. During our conversation the phone in his room rang constantly. Arab friends from the Gulf States who had heard the news of his release called to confirm that he was really safe, and friends and family from Israel called too. The meal Daniel ate to celebrate his freedom was not exactly what one would expect for someone who had spent 22 days in a Lebanese jail: two tomatoes, bread and cheese. Meanwhile, he is busy dealing with the overwhelming attention from the media. “Look at my hair! How can I be photographed like this?” he asks worriedly, as he commandeers my laptop in order to read what is being written about him in the Israeli and Lebanese media. His brown German passport rests on a table, and Daniel shows me the visas from Lebanon and various countries in the Gulf region. The only Middle Eastern countries he has not visited are Syria and Iran. But after we break the ice, Daniel sits down and tells me about the difficult days he experienced and what, in fact, brought him to Lebanon.

How it all began

“My trip to Beirut was not unusual. I travel frequently to Beirut because I have friends there and I really love the city and its nightlife. In general I love Lebanon because it has something that is difficult to describe. It’s a beautiful country – the food is fantastic, the girls are beautiful and so is the sea. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best country in the world. I am an Israeli citizen but my case is different from that of the average Israeli. I did not serve in the army and my Arabic is completely fluent – perhaps even more fluent than my Hebrew. I lived in the Gulf region for several years. I usually fly to Beirut from Dubai or Cyprus; this time I flew from Cyprus. I just had a free weekend and I wanted to travel to Beirut for three or four days. To my sorrow someone was murdered or committed suicide, and I knew the guy who was his flatmate, and that’s what put the whole series of events in motion.”

His 22 days in jail began, according to Daniel, with an afternoon out in the company of a friend. “I went out with my friend, Mohammed, to eat at a very well-known restaurant called Barbar. It’s like Aboulafia [a popular Tel Aviv eatery], where you eat pita with labneh and zaatar while sitting outside. It was Ramadan so we went out to eat at around 11 or 11.30 in the evening. There were tons of people, but there was no waiter who could identify us. Suddenly Mohammed’s mobile phone rang and someone informed him that there had been a murder or a suicide, so I immediately accompanied him to the police station in order to testify that we had been together, because there was no-one else who could provide an alibi.”

At the police station, Daniel was compelled for the first time to reveal his Israeli identity. “They asked me if I was a citizen of any other country so I said yes – that I have Israeli citizenship, and I told them that I had visited Lebanon for the first time with a visa that I acquired at the Lebanese consulate in Amman, Jordan. What happened is that the guy was murdered with Mohammed’s gun, and that’s what made them suspicious. Mohammed was a border guard at the airport, which is why he had a gun. Because he was a policeman with the border guard he’d committed a crime because he’s forbidden to allow anyone access to his weapon and he’d simply left it at home. The thing is, I just went to the police station in order to protect my friend.”

The first week

“When I first arrived at the police station I didn’t realize that I had screwed myself big time, because I simply did not believe that the Lebanese government would interrogate me the way they did, or that they would try to frame me. I believe in Lebanon and in its democracy. It never occurred to me that they would treat me the way they did; I thought they would ask me a few questions in a courteous manner. When I began to understand that I was in a place where people were tortured and beaten systematically, I began to be afraid. The first week was a nightmare. They took me 20 meters underground and I saw horrible things there. I saw people on the receiving end of murderous beatings. Luckily I am a German citizen and the German embassy helped me enormously. That is why they did not hit me; they just interrogated me intensively.

The interrogation

“At first the interrogators thought I was an agent of the Mossad. Then they accused me of being an agent of Jordanian intelligence. Only after that did they move on to the issue of homosexuality. “They said, ‘Ah, you’re connected to the mafia that tries to expose homosexuals and murder them.’ They decided that I knew the guy who was murdered, even though I’d never seen him in my life. But I didn’t even know that homosexuality was a criminal offence in Lebanon. How is it possible to think I’m a homosexual? I have a Thai girlfriend and I’m going to marry her soon in Thailand. But it didn’t matter what I said – they didn’t believe me, and they covered my eyes so I wouldn’t see the person who was interrogating me. Afterward they shackled my wrists, as well. For 24 hours I was kept in a corridor where they were torturing people. People were being beaten and pleading for mercy. The routine was very difficult. We went to sleep at 1 a.m. and were woken at 6 a.m. and given breakfast – pita and halvah. After that I just waited. I sat against the wall with my eyes closed and just waited for someone to talk to me.”

The army prison

“But those difficult conditions only lasted for six days. After that they moved me to a military prison for 12 days and it was just like the army jail I served time in in Israel. The Lebanese there were very nice. I wasn’t allowed to buy food from outside, but I ate very well because the guys there were incredibly nice about sharing the food they received from their families with me. Overall, it was a really good experience.”

Daniel even had political discussions in the army prison. “We were Sunnis, Shi’a, Druze and Maronites, and I contributed the point of view of someone who is both Israeli and Arab. The subjects we discussed included the Second Lebanon War. For the Lebanese it’s very painful that so many civilians were killed during that war. The war caused a lot of damage to their beautiful country, which they are trying to rehabilitate.”

“Overall, those 12 days in the army prison were restful. The prisoners there were soldiers who were serving sentences for drug use or being AWOL from the army, and they were all very nice to me.”

“After that they moved me to the Lebanese border police, and that’s when I realized that I was going to be released. The German embassy was very helpful. They sent me food and a lawyer and did everything in their power to obtain my release.”

The release

“I was with the border police for three days but I would like to make it clear that I was not expelled from Lebanon.” Daniel insists upon showing me that he entered and left Lebanon honorably. “See, I entered the country on 18 September, was arrested on 20 September and left on 11 October. I was not served with an expulsion order from Lebanon and I was not convicted of any offence. At the border police I simply waited. Suddenly I was told that my flight would depart in two hours. It’s impossible to describe my feelings. All at once you understand that that’s it – you are no longer in danger, no one is going to accuse you of anything anymore. It’s a feeling of security, of being reborn. On the other hand, I had a moment of deep sorrow over the fact that a country like Lebanon, which is so unique, and is a democracy despite all its problems, had come to the point of subjecting me to that interrogation. They took off my handcuffs when we arrived at the airport. I was allowed to go shopping at duty free, although a policeman escorted me at all times. From there I flew to Bahrain and then to Frankfurt. And here I am.”

The rumors

At this point in the conversation we moved on to discuss Daniel’s responses to the rumors that spread in Israel, and about the concerns caused by the news of his arrest. “I am not a Muslim,” says Daniel. “My conversion to Islam 10 or 11 years ago was a childish, in-your-face expression of opposition to Israeli government policies. I believe that our country should be a part of the Arab world, while maintaining its unique character. I do not believe in the Jewish religion, but I am proud of my Jewish roots. I have a lot of sympathy for Islam, and I read about Islam just as I read about other religions. But I am not a Muslim and I did not identify myself as a Muslim during the interrogations.”

“I am connected to Israel just like every person who is an Israeli citizen, and my place of work is in Israel. I own a home for old people in Nahariya. But I also feel very Arab and very Anglo-Saxon because I lived in Australia for many years. I make an effort to avoid defining myself with a single identity. I try to be a good person, and to take the best of every place I travel to. But it’s important to me that Israelis understand I was never looking for adventures. I have been living in the Arab world and doing business in the Gulf region for five years, so it’s impossible to claim I was some adventure-seeker who decided to take his foreign passport and travel to an Arab country. That is not my story. I have been traveling in Arab countries for 12 years with my Israeli name. If anyone had wanted to interrogate me – tfadal. But until now, no-one asked me and I didn’t volunteer any information. I feel for everyone in Israel who was worried about me, but it seems that I became a little complacent because for so many years no-one asked me any questions.”

***

 

Interview with Daniel Sharon

Eldad Beck for Yedioth Ahronoth, 14 October 2007

“There are those who think that I’m some crazy thrill-seeker. I am not just some eccentric guy. My travels to Lebanon and the life I led in the Arab world were a statement. I chose to live in Arab society, which I love very much. My only mistake was my frequent visits to Lebanon.”

“In Beirut, if you are in the safe neighborhoods, there is no reason to be afraid as long as they don’t recognize you. No-one knew that I was Israeli until I informed the police of the fact. In Lebanon there is a Druze village that is called Shaaron. Many Lebanese thought that I was named Sharon because my family came from that village. It never occurred to them that I was Israeli.”

The arrest

“I have a friend who works for the border police at the airport in Beirut. We met at a well-known bar during one of my trips to Beirut. He shares an apartment with another guy, who committed suicide or was murdered. Either way, his death was caused by my friend’s gun – which is why the police suspected that he was the murderer. He asked me to be a witness to the fact that we had been together at the time of the guy’s death. I was my friend’s alibi, because on the evening of the murder we went out together to eat at Barbar, a restaurant in Hamra, after the breaking of the Ramadan fast.”

“At the police station they asked me what my religion was and I said ‘Jewish.’ It’s true that I converted to Islam when I was 19, but that conversion was a childish, in-your-face act that was meant to re-define my identity. It’s like the Israelis who decide that they’re Buddhists.”

“They asked me if I had another passport, and I answered that I have an Israeli passport in addition to my German passport. This was a murder investigation, and I didn’t want to play games. I told them nothing but the truth. I wasn’t afraid to tell the truth, because I received my first visa to Lebanon in 1996, at the Lebanese embassy in Amman.”

“The police station was in a Shi’a neighborhood, the Dahiyeh. The senior officer who did the initial investigation was a Christian, but the rest of the officers were Shi’a. When they heard that I was an Israeli Jew, that’s when the party started. They tried to bear pressure on the senior officer in order to have me transferred to Lebanese Intelligence. There was a huge argument about what to do with me.”

“They brought people who knew the dead man, in order to identify me. Of course, none of them knew me. After that they brought things that were found in the dead guy’s room. There were 250 DVD’s of gay porno, as well as sex magazines and photos. They claimed that I gave him those things.”

“Then they called army intelligence. I was in the room next door, so I didn’t hear what happened. I was afraid they would turn me over to Hezbollah. A Jeep arrived. They blindfolded me, and put me in the Jeep. They forced me to stay bent over throughout the journey, and someone sitting behind me hit me occasionally on the back.”

Imprisonment

“At 7 in the morning we arrived at some kind of building and I was taken inside. Opposite me sat the guy in charge, and he was smoking a cigarette during Ramadan. That’s how I understood that I was not in the hands of Hezbollah, and that’s when I experienced the greatest sense of joy during the whole period of my detention.”

“Afterward they took me into the basement. Emotionally, that trip down into the bowels of the earth was very difficult and frightening. I felt though I were being made to disappear, as if no-one would know where I was anymore.”

“There 20-30 people in the basement, most of them young guys, Syrian and Palestinian. The interrogators beat them day and night. I could hear their screams, and when they returned from the interrogations they told me what was done to them: they were strung up from their hands and whipped. The atmosphere there was horrible. But no-one touched me.”

“Every time a new shift came on, the staff was told that Number 19, in other words me, had to be treated specially – they were forbidden to talk to me, to come near or to hit me. That made me feel very safe.”

“Nonetheless, the interrogations were very difficult, at least for the first few days. They told me that I was a Mossad agent, that I came to Lebanon in order to murder people and that they had a lot of evidence to support that fact. I felt as though I had to fight for my life. This wasn’t a children’s game. The truth was my only chance of getting out of that situation.”

“I was subjected to daily, rapid-fire interrogations that lasted for two to three hours. Sometimes I was interrogated twice in one day. They asked me who I knew in Lebanon, if I had ever met Mossad agents, if I had received instructions from them. Five or six men participated in the interrogations, representatives of all the major religions. Based on the questions and the tone of voice, I knew the religious group and political views of each interrogator.”

“For the first few days I was in a pretty difficult emotional state. I thought they were trying to frame me for murder. I understood there were some figures of authority who had an interest in doing so. The government and the Hezbollah are entangled in a serious confrontation because of the presidential elections. The fact that I remained calm during the interrogations drove them crazy. I simply had nothing to hide.”

The release

“After the first three days of interrogation, which were official and tough, they started to treat me with more respect. They let me shower, and we even talked about politics. I told them that I thought the Lebanese government was making a lot of mistakes and putting Lebanon in danger.”

“On the sixth day a representative of the German embassy came to visit me – she was an attorney from the consulate. During my 22 days of detention I met four times with German representatives, who also brought me greetings from my parents. They were the ones who told me that in the end I was going to be charged with homosexual activity, which would make it possible to release me.”

“The reason for this baseless charge was that the Lebanese government had a problem with the Hezbollah, and they didn’t know how to extract themselves from the complicated situation created by my arrest. The solution was to frame me on charges that no-one in Lebanon would understand. They told me to sign documents that I wasn’t given an opportunity to read. Afterward they told me that I had signed a confession in which I declared that I was gay, and that I brought the sexual material to the guy who died.”

“At any rate, after the first meeting with the German consular attorney I was transferred to a special section of the military jail in Beirut, where I was put with soldiers from good families. There was a television there. Families of the prisoners came to visit. There was almost no security, just one guard. I Israel I served time in a military jail for refusing to serve in the army, and the prisoner food in the IDF jail was monotonous and tasteless. In Lebanon they treat the jailed soldiers much better.”

“There were prisoners there from all the religious groups – I used to mediate between them and try to calm them down. There was one soldier from Jezzine who said that Lebanon had to make peace with Israel and shut up Nasrallah. The Shi’a guys attacked him. I didn’t participate in that argument.”

“After 11 days they transferred me to a detention facility in Ba’abda, and brought me before a judge. The trial took place without witnesses, and lasted about 8 minutes. It was amusing. Then they transferred me to a border police detention facility. I don’t know when that was exactly, but by then I understand that I was going to be allowed to leave Lebanon.”

“A Lebanese police officer escorted me as far as the plane. Before I boarded the flight to Bahrain, where I caught a connecting flight to Frankfurt, I had time to buy some Lebanese cookies at duty-free. When the flight lifted for takeoff I felt relief, but also enormous grief. I understood that I would not be able to return to Lebanon for many years – perhaps not ever. And I won’t try to return. Why should I risk my life? But I will miss Beirut.”

“Now I’m on my way to Istanbul, and from there to Thailand, to my girlfriend of three years, Mai. In Istanbul I’ll contact the Israeli embassy and I’ll tell them the whole story of what happened. I feel the need to do that. In hindsight, the whole experience was a good one. A wake-up call. Over the years I became too complacent regarding my travels in the Arab world. It was time for all that to end.”

“I have no intention of traveling anymore to Arab countries. There are hostile elements who might wish to hurt me. I don’t feel safe there anymore. But I do feel Arab, even though most of the Arab countries have become a garbage dump of history due to the absence of democracy. I will really miss the Arab world. Actually, I feel as though I have been cast into exile.”

 

Gift from Gabriel

My sister has an amazing talent for creative birthday greetings. Today she outdid herself. This is my nephew Gabriel…

Last time I saw him, he was still in the womb….

Adina, Red Tea Box

Classy guy…

Imagine that you are interviewing a Very Important Israeli Politician in his spacious and well-appointed Tel Aviv office. A security officer stands near the door behind you, arms crossed over his chest and a little communications device stuck in his ear. There are dozens of framed photos of the VIIP shaking hands with various world leaders and VIPs hung on the walls.

Then imagine that the VIIP, while mulling over the answer to a question, slowly raises his index finger to the side of his nose, scrapes off a piece of dry skin, rolls it between his index finger and thumb and then examines it as he answers the question.

Would you be, perhaps, a little disconcerted?

Sticker schizophrenia and the national food

I took this photo at the taxi stand on Balfour Street where it meets Rothschild Boulevard – just around the corner from my apartment in Tel Aviv. The sticker on the left says, “A Jew doesn't deport a Jew”; the one on the right says, “We must leave Gaza. IMMEDIATELY!”

This is a plate of hummus. Hummus is apolitical.

The Achbar Ha'Ir cover

Remember the Achbar Ha'Ir cover I mentioned in part four of “How Lisa Came to Israel”? Well, I found it in the archives – and it's rather different from the way I remembered it. It seems that I confused two different covers – there's another one that shows the fighting in the background, and I guess they just merged in my memory. I got a few other details wrong, as well. The message is the same, though. So I've scanned it and posted the cover below – as well as another two that I thought were interesting.

achbar hair lying on couch

The words on the rolled up newspapers in the basket beside the television are “war” and “unemployment.” The picture above the newscaster's head on the television is of a gas mask, and the man lying on the couch is reading Amos Oz's novel/memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness.

achbar hair tv shows

The woman on the left is watching an Israeli soap opera. “He's going to find out that he's not her father,” she says, as a tear rolls down her cheek. The man on the right is watching Israeli fighter jets bombing a Palestinian town (identified as Palestinian by the mosque, front and center), and saying (roughly) “When is this going to end?” Note that the television showing the soap opera is much larger than the one showing the bombing.

achbar hair security guard_2

By 2003, when this cover appeared, the presence of security guards at practically all places of business was taken for granted. There was a minor flap when restaurant owners started adding a charge of about 25 cents per patron to the bill, in order to defray the cost of hiring security guards. Later the Knesset passed a law that made the additional charge voluntary, like a tip. There was also a bit of a scandal over the fact that most of these security guards were risking their lives for very low pay, and some restaurant owners tried to compensate them by feeding them well.
The word on the security guard's cap is Hebrew for “security.” The restaurant is called “Beatrice, French Bistro,” the little sign hanging from the door handle says “open” and the menu to the right lists “desserts.”

Getting in touch with reality

Ashley speculates that he might be moving in the wrong circles: despite all the media hoopla and the many blog entries about Arafat's mysterious illness (and possible imminent demise), nobody he knows is talking about the subject.

Actually, he's moving in pretty normal circles.

The truth is that, besides my colleagues at the newspaper I work for, nobody I know is talking about the subject either. The only reason I got caught up in the speculation is because I spent all of Thursday proofing articles about Arafat, Arafat's illnesses, the possible consequences of Arafat's death, yadda yadda yadda. Ad mega nauseum.

So I got sucked in and the result was my previous post.

Part of the reason I started writing this blog was to give readers a non-political perspective on Israeli society. As I've written before, I think it's wrongheaded and (to put it mildly) inaccurate to link every aspect of Israeli society to the political situation here. It bothers me that so many people know Israel only through newspaper headlines and breathless, ratings-seeking reports on CNN. That kind of knowledge is totally devoid of nuance. In fact, it is ignorance. And ignorance is dangerous.

While we were driving to the bloggers' bash, Shai hinted that denial might not be just a river in Egypt – that maybe I was trying too hard to avoid politics.

Perhaps. But the longer I live in Israel, the more politics gets on my nerves. The whole subject seems like an awfully predictable March of Folly, with politicians screaming at each other, leaders behaving cravenly and the international media capturing viewers and readers with dramatic headlines and craftily-edited footage.

Sometimes I wonder if political activism is a form of escapism that is simply the mirror image of Tel Aviv hedonists on the club-and-pub circuit. Both pursuits end up being a way of escaping from oneself. An unexamined life may not be worth living, but examining one's life is pretty damned difficult and scary. It's much easier to proclaim that one has dedicated oneself to achieving a collective, higher good – or, of course, to get stoned and stay up all night dancing – than to examine the flaws in one's character and either change them or learn to accept them.

Have you ever noticed that, throughout history, the most accomplished people, the ones who made the biggest impact, were absolute assholes to those closest to them? Gandhi decided, for himself and his wife, that he would become celibate at the age of 36. The Buddha abandoned his pregnant wife in order to go out and seek enlightenment. Picasso was unbelievably cruel to his wives and mistresses, and indifferent to his children. (I know, strange selection of people – wonder what's on my mind?)

What would happen if we all decided that the best way to make the world a better place was to put our energy into being kind and compassionate to one another and to ourselves (self-acceptance), to be generous partners and loving parents and offspring – instead of channeling our egos into the acquisition of power, immortality and fame, at the expense of those closest to us? I bet the world would be a pretty good place. We wouldn't need a Buddha to teach us about enlightenment – because we'd all be bodhisattvas already.

This evening I skipped the annual memorial for Yitzhak Rabin at Rabin Square, because it seems to be a lot less about Rabin and a lot more about hanging out with like-minded people, listening to David Broza and eating Italian ice cream. Instead I stayed home and watched a beautiful and moving documentary by Danae Elon (daughter of Amos Elon) called Another Road Home.

The film is about Musa Obeidallah, the Palestinian man the filmmaker's parents hired to take care of her when she was growing up in Jerusalem, and from whom she seems to have received more unconditional love and acceptance than she ever received from her parents – especially her rather distant father. For 20 years, Musa spent 18 hours a day at the Elon's home – far more than he spent with his own 11 children. He fed Danae as a baby, and even slept in the same room with her. He worked hard to make money in order to send his sons to study in the USA, where they would be able to build better lives for themselves. But since she left Israel more than 10 years before, Danae has lost touch with Musa. She locates Musa's sons, who are living in Paterson, New Jersey; they remember her well and welcome her warmly, though they speak honestly about their anti-Israel feelings. Eventually Musa, who lives in the West Bank village of Batir, comes to visit her and his sons in the USA. The trip is an arduous one for a 76 year-old man. It involves getting permission to leave his village and waiting hours to get through checkpoints on the way to the airport in Amman, not knowing if he will be allowed through or turned back. But he undertakes the journey successfully and arrives in the USA.

And thus the viewer is introduced to one of the kindest, sweetest people one could ever hope to meet. Here is a man who seems to be made purely of love and acceptance. At one point Danae is sitting in the tiny kitchen of her Manhattan apartment, talking to Musa alone. The love between them simply radiates outward. Danae asks Musa how he felt when he ironed her army uniform during her furloughs from her mandatory service in the IDF. At first Musa is confused by the question, but finally he answers, simply, “I didn't iron your uniform for the army. I ironed it for you.”

Even though every aspect of Musa's sentient life is controlled by politics, he is really free – freer than anyone else in that film. Free of hate, anger, politics… The only thing that is important to him is giving love. And he actually says that to Danae, while they are sitting in a Jordanian hotel room following his visit to the USA, waiting overnight for the border into the West Bank to be opened in the morning – allowing Musa to return to his village, Batir.

The story of Musa's life illustrates why I am sick of politics, and why I am ever more convinced that all we need is…you know, what the Beatles said.