We spent our last Memorial vacation day on the beach before I went back to Mars. It was splendid weather. Sue and Pete unfolded our beach chairs and Kathryn opened her picnic bag. The surf was rolling softly and we thought it was going to be a quiet afternoon. But not so. Taher and Aaron came strolling down the beach and, when they saw us, immediately joined.
“How are you,” Taher said jovially, extending his hand.
“It’s our last day here,” Aaron announced, looking sorry.
“Ours too,” Kathryn said, smiling sadly. “Please sit down. Want a sandwich?”
“If it’s no ham,” Taher said.
“Yes, no ham,” Aaron echoed.
“Gouda cheese would do?” I asked, handing them one each.
“Great,” Aaron said, and they chewed on it hungrily.
“Funny you both don’t eat pork,” Kathryn chuckled, giving them a coke, “about the only thing Jews and Muslims seem to agree on.”
“Your boarding that Flotilla didn’t go that well, did it?” Pete asked sarcastically.
“They came armed with sticks and knives, those peace loving pigs,” Aaron growled. “Wearing hoods.”
“They were given ample opportunity to call on port and deliver their stuff peacefully but refused,” Taher added. “Of course, they had an ulterior motive.”
“As we predicted,” Aaron said, “world TV broke loose in a bludgeoning attack on us. Nobody’s giving a damn about what Hamas and Hezbollah are concocting in the meantime to destroy us.”
“Yes,” Sue said, “I read in the papers that European countries condemned the boarding.”
“Next time shoot their rudder and propellers and stay under water,” MIT Pete suggested.
“Agree,” Taher said, sucking his coke. “We could’ve done better, but the issue of the double standard remains.”
“You know,” I said, “European countries have that luxury of making their hollow screams about being shocked by what they call harsh Israeli treatment because when push comes to shove they know you can take care of yourself. They don’t want to give you open moral support because it upsets their Muslim populations while they comfortably know you don’t need it. But I’m sure internally they talk otherwise.”
“The danger is,” Aaron said, “that if they don’t speak up, they may not be able to rein in the growing monster. It’s a risky game talking out of both sides of your mouth.”
“The tricky actors in this war game are Turkey and Egypt.” Taher explained. “A few years back, Turkey was a friend of Israel and we taught them a lot. They are a NATO alley, of all things! Their new Government seems to be drifting away to the radical jihadists, who were behind this flotilla. They may need another military coup to set them straight. This is not reflecting Ataturk’s mindset. And Egypt is another unreliable kink in the cable. They are part of the blockade, but lots of arms are smuggled into Gaza from the Sinai and they seem unable or unwilling to do much about it.”
“Meanwhile we have to keep afloat with a feckless administration that wants to have its cake and eat it,” Kathryn said. “Oil spill in the Gulf they can’t handle, a stubborn sluggish economy despite all the taxpayer money they threw at it, political corruption all over again, a president unwilling to assert himself internationally, it’s depressing.”
“The Israeli case is not a minute matter,” Sue said. “As a lawyer, I can prove the Arabs they don’t have a leg to stand on. Jews have been there as long as they have. They were friends and foes of their Mohammed. And surely not Iran. Look at Persia’s history. They have been all over Arabia before they were chased back. Shiites fighting Sunnis. It’s religious war. Secular states should put an end to this nonsense, but they are too afraid of the fanatics in their midst.”
“Well spoken, young lady,” Taher said, approvingly. “It shouldn’t be the Middle Ages anymore, but it still is.”
“Don’t forget Protestants and Catholics continued fighting each other in Northern Ireland not so long ago,” Kathryn said, mockingly.
“What is it with religion that makes us fight in the name of God?” Sue asked.
“It’s because you earthlings don’t know the universe,” I said. “Here, everybody made up his own God to fill the gap of the unknown and believes theirs is the only right one. Whole systems are built on these parochial perceptions. We in Mars have long understood that the Universe is God, that we are all part of it, and that we don’t need to fight about it. On Mars, we apply a similar legal framework as your Ten Commandments that many here want to throw overboard. But that’s all you need.”
Taher and Aaron stood up.
“Thanks for the cheese sandwiches and the coke,” Aaron said.
“Yes,” Taher added, shaking my hand and staring me in the face. “We don’t have your wisdom yet, Mr Mars. I didn’t know you were from there, but you have those funny eyes.”
I saw Pete and Sue exchange furtive looks at each other.
“Don’t worry, Taher, “you’ll get there one day.”
We embraced each other and waved them goodbye.
That same night I changed into my Mars costume, mounted my space scooter, and spurted back into the universe rom the beach, leaving Kathryn, Pete and Sue behind on their wicked little quarreling world.