The terrorist attacks in Paris have unleashed the expected avalanche of comments. Should one add to the confusion or be silent? Or is silence fear, or apathy? So here is my addition to the “noise.” Once upon a time, one dreamed about a situation in which comment was democratized, rather than left to the pen and print of professionals, journalists, writers, politicians, revolutionaries, “activists”. That time has arrived, as we all know. Considered thought is not a value, instant comment, the “conversation,” is all. Very good. Now what happens if everything gets straightened out along an endless line of good and bad, smart and stupid, humane and vicious, humanistic or racist, the “talkback” world where anything goes? Do you need to be knowledgeable about your subject, or is that an immaterial add-on? The basic question is “what do you think?” not “what do you know?”

So, an event took place, a set of gruesome murders, by a group of Muslim fanatics. They are now familiar to us, “jihadists”, formed according to the latest brand – Al Qaeda, ISIS, take your pick. They are either self-motivated, madmen, psychotics, “marginalised youths,” indoctrinated, brain-washed, etc. They have nothing to do with Islam. They have everything to do with Islam. You know the drill. Information emerging now tells us that the attackers were born in France and formed by the derived quarters of Paris, gang wars, drug dealing, prison, radicalised by the wars in Iraq and Syria, the blowback of western intervention and Middle East failures. This is becoming a familiar story.

The act itself is not a new syndrome. Back in the day, in the late 19th century, when Europe was convulsed by “Anarchists”, this was known as “propaganda of the deed.” Assassins, mainly immigrants, in France, Britain, Italy and the U.S., bombed or shot or tried to assassinate kings, prime ministers, industrialists, the moguls of the ruling class. You can look it up, there are informative websites. Sometimes these bombings also killed “civilians,” passers by – though these were not normally their targets. An undercover war was waged between the perpetrators and the secret police of various nations, most notedly the Russian Tsarist “Okhrana,” who so successfully infiltrated their enemies that they were running their show, controlling their newspapers and so on. This legacy runs on in the numerous conspiracy theories that accompany every modern outrage, from “nine-eleven” onwards. This is evident with the Paris killings too, every police error analysed as a deliberate ploy. One becomes lost in the chatter, the twitter, the instant messaging, the Youtubes…

So, what do I think? On Sunday, 11 January, I watched the TV images of two interlinked events: One – the mass uprising of a city, the population of Paris, and other French cities, united in a loud call for the rejection of hate. This was and will remain the most potent voice of the public, of people of all walks of life, origins, faiths, ethnicity, against the act itself and against the internal war and conflict and revenge that the perpetrators hope to achieve. This “Je suis Charlie, Juif, Ahmed!” is a potent and magnificent cry. At the same time, and at the same event, I saw an undignified and frankly repulsive scramble of politicians, “world leaders,” to climb on the bandwagon and grab some credit from the company of millions to position themselves in accordance with their own prepackaged agendas. This was a digusting sight. Why do I need to be assailed by the sight of Mr Binyamin Netanyahu offering his own bloodstained hands in “solidarity” with an anti-racist, anti-hatred, anti-vengeance call that is the exact opposite of his own life’s work of preventing any meaningful solution of our perennial Israel-Palestine blood-knot? Why should he be allowed to sully the call of Parisians for an inclusive French identity against the murderers by telling French Jews that now is the time for them to abandon their anti-semitic surroundings and emigrate to the “Jewish” state? (Let’s not go into the kind of Judaism that Netanyahu’s creed espouses… that would take me into a long family digression…) Why do I need to see the representative of the sheikhdoms of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, whose own creed has fed the current “jihadi” creed – the rejection of any Islam that does not follow the Wahabi/salafist version and demonisation of all other historic Islamic tendencies – and who have invested billions in mosques and schools that preach this divisive, arid creed, taking a ride on Paris’s inclusion? Not to speak of other world “leaders” who hate press freedom as much as the current assassins.

So there is a moral clarity, among the many, and a moral pollution, from the ruling few. This is our world. And therefore, my current feeling is one of sadness, pessimism, and a strong sense of despair. Like the writer Hari Kunzru, in one of this week’s “Guardian” comments, I feel that I have reached an age where I am no longer young enough to wait this phase out, and see its future demise. I have spent the last 30 years or so writing books, some of which have been published, others not, reflecting a satirical chaos in the Israel-Palestine sphere. I have thrown my anti-hero, Avram Blok, into the whirlpool. I felt that I was chronicling an inevitable chaos. But here’s the rub: I now realise that I under-estimated the chaos, even when I thought I was exaggerating! I could not foresee, and find no-one who foresaw, among world pundits, writers, even poets, the complete and rapid collapse of the Arab world, immediately following the Great Hope of the so-called “Arab Spring.” Entire states have collapsed: Syria, Iraq, Lybia. Egypt is worse than before, the Saudis more entrenched, and the “Islamic State Caliphate” is beyond the wildest and most savaged satire. And, in the middle, Israel-Palestine, my essential subject-matter, sinks in the mud, forming a tighter cordon of concrete and steel around a terrified population that still trumpets its ideal as a “place of refuge.” Blok, where is thy sting??

One ends with oneself, like everybody else. My democratic ounce of comment weighs the same as anyone’s. I know a little more than the most ignorant of the twitterati, part by experience, most by reading. (Reading that old fashioned thing: BOOKS!) But I feel myself as totally devoid as anyone else of a crystal ball in which to glimpse the coming future. All hail the young, who have that precious commodity – Time! Please use it properly. Someone, something, God, biology, gave humans a brain. Use it or lose it! Sift the chatter! Question all ideologies! Question your certainties and the whisperers who tell you they know what it’s all about. (And weigh the conspiracy theories in the light of logic – “Occam’s Razor”: the simplest explanation that fits the facts is usually the correct one – the assassins are the assassins, they mean what they do). Fuck the right! Question the left!

I got to stop now, I found myself down on the carpet, coughing up furballs… time for the pills… oh drat! I stopped taking `em! Ah well, I’ll have to cope with reality, after all…

Je suis Charlie, but not sure just what kind of charlie…

The above modified on January 13, more modifications to the rant in due course…