A Grain of Rice
A Grain of Rice

By Angela Bertz

I wonder if the popular idea of writing your name on a grain of rice has ever been considered by U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

It would be seemingly appropriate, and maybe Dr. Rice even considered this as a novel gift on her recent trip to the Middle East.

This most staple grain, supplies energy, fiber and antioxidant phytonutrients to two thirds of the world's population. It can trace its history almost as far back as Judaism, stemming back over 5000 years.

Rice could actually be used to describe the conflict in this region, and the sometimes strange perceptions people have of it.

In fact, it would be easy enough to believe, that a lot of people could actually write what they know about this region on a grain of rice.

A lot of people are like pre-cooked rice – in the few minutes it takes to prepare it they are able to come up with a solution for the conflict. Like the rice, it will have very little substance.

Some people may see the conflict in more colourful terms, much like adding a little turmeric while the rice cooks to give it a nice yellow sheen.

Other people may have several ways at looking at the conflict. These are probably the sort of people that will boil there rice and then fry it with a scrambled egg and all sorts of added ingredients to make it more tasty.

Some people may wish to look at the conflict only in passing, not with much interest and at a distance. These folks will probably prepare their rice and add just a sprinkling of parsley to give it a very subtle flavour.

Sometimes rice congeals while you cook it and becomes sticky. These people will probably have very strong views and if confronted will passionately stick to their views, however distorted.

Rice will sometimes cook and not every kernel will separate. This is comparable to the ever increasing number of people that are unable to distinguish fact from fiction.

On occasion people forget they put their rice on to boil until they smell the burning pan. This can be compared to people that will see the situation in only bleak and black terms, with no light at the end of the tunnel.

For years the Palestinians have behaved very much like rice. They have been submitted to a daily diet of hatred against Israel.

They absorbed it easily, seemingly had no sensitivities to it and like rice, it was easily digested by young and old alike. Sadly like polished white rice, most of this incitement simply had no fiber to it and was just a good stir fry, with lots of extra ingredients added, to give it more substance.

How many times have we had to watch with disdain, the rheumy eyed Arafat in the doorway of his Ramallah compound. Mr. Arafat would appear pure, much like a grain of whole brown rice. He would be full of wholesome, fiber filled comments on the latest homicide bombing in Israel to the World's media. Once the press dispersed Arafat would dispense with his healthy, bran filled outer husk faster than you could add water to a pot of instant rice, speed out his back door to scream Jihad to his adoring people.

The press has for years behaved like long grain brown rice. They have written hundreds of articles and spoken a million words. They have fluffed up their words to appear firm textured on the side of Palestinian evil, constantly turning it into a noble and justified cause. They have treated Israel like long grain white rice, often appearing bland and dry towards the more than 1000 innocent victims of Palestinian terrorism.

Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, Jack Straw etc have been just as bad as the press. When a pregnant woman was gunned down together with her four little daughters, these esteemed gentlemen turned blind eyes and deaf ears to it. In fact they took about as much interest in it as they would have in five little grains of rice in a 20 kilogram bag. It was of now consequence. If g-d forbid one little Palestinian child sadly gets shot in cross fire, these same biased gentleman will take days to plough through a whole rice field to find one little grain.

These same people are the ones that think the solution to this problem is as simple as taking a cooked kernel of rice and splitting it in two. This is comparable to splitting Israel, and having in real terms two hostile Palestinian states on both sides. Maybe if you had the same principle, but used a grain of uncooked rice you would plainly see that such an idea is as workable as growing rice in Gaza.

Sadly now that Arafat is dead the whole world is seemingly ready to embrace his successor Abu Mazen, like he was a delicious steaming bowl of rice pudding with a heaped spoon of sickly sweet jam thrown in for added sweetness.

Maybe we should consider his magnanimous gestures and past history, in much the same way we would prepare rice before cooking it. The first rinse of the rice will leave the water cloudy with starch. After the fourth rinse the rice water should be reasonably clear. Another tip is to allow the rice to soak for about 30 minutes. This allows the grain to relax and be more digestible. I am sure that most people will not fully relax until Abu Mazen has been through just as many processes. For the time being his cease fire is going to be a lot harder to digest than a bowl of rice.

What is really needed in this region is not a grain of rice, but a grain of common sense.

Angela Bertz - Israel


Reprinted by permission.