THE ANGRY DOVES
By Dorian Scott Cole
Copyright 1980, 1987, by Dorian Scott Cole
This book is copyright material, not public domain, and all rights are reserved. This book may not be reproduced in any form, in any media. This book may not be sold or included in any collection. The reader may make a printed copy of this book for his personal use.
All characters in this book are a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental
Over breakfast coffee, Kenza again asked, "How did it really go?"
"I have this gut feeling that we're making progress, but proceeding is going to be complex. One thing is certain, I've used force as much as I can with him. He will not be controlled."
Kenza saw some good in that. "Good. You didn't want a spineless politician to control, you wanted someone you could respect and influence."
"And somehow we need to get closer to the people and get them incorporated into our plan." William thought over the previous days contact with Ismail. He knew force wasn't the answer, and charm wasn't going to work either. "He needs to see the good in our way of doing things."
"Will he listen to you? Can you convince him?"
William shook his head. "La! Definitely not."
"Then what are you going to do?"
William rose and began pacing, formulating a plan as he talked it through with Kenza. "I've got to... keep throwing obstacles in his path so he can't gain anything pursuing the course he is pursuing. And then somehow I have to make him have the right experiences that will make him recognize the value of our ways... molding him into what we want."
"Don't you think he'll know he's being manipulated?"
"Oh, of course, if I ever let him find out who is doing all this to him. But he will never see me in the positive side of this - not in molding him to our way of thinking."
"You don't want him to see you preventing him from reaching his goals either, do you?"
"I've been thinking that through. Yes, I think I do. It's something for him to wrestle with, and that's good. It makes strong opinions once he has come to a decision."
"This sounds like fun," Kenza said, her eyes sparkling. "Do you have anything specific in mind?"
"I thought abot it while I was rubbing your shoulders and you were sleeping."
"Two timer," she chided.
"If I can arrange for Ismail to be under close government observation, he won't be able to carry out his plans for fear of being caught."
Kenza liked the idea. Beaming with delight, she asked, "How would you get him under observation?"
"If his life is threatened, publicly, they'll post around the clock surveillance and maybe even tap his phones to listen for threats. A couple of attempts on his life should do it."
Kenza stopped smiling. "You're not serious. You're not going out there and shoot at the man."
William stopped pacing. "Of course not. I'll arrange a meeting with an intermediary who does such things. He won't even know my name, so it can't be traced back. And then he'll hire someone to do the shooting."
She sighed impatiently. "Go on, and then what? How would you go about shaping his experience?"
"I want to build up his public image - make the people aware he's on their side and a strong man to fight for peace. We'll make it very realistic that he should work for peace and speak for the people."
"That sounds better. How will you do that?"
"Find a vulnerable reporter and make him write some really good articles on Ismail."
"Oh, William!" she said hotly. "Are strong arm methods the only way you know? Isn't there a more positive way? Be resourceful and creative. It's time to quit playing CIA games. People are getting killed here and you're supposed to be working for peace. It isn't a war game, it's for peace! Your methods should be the epitome of that."
"Quit lecturing me!" he shouted back. "I know what my job is. Now quit blowing me out of the water and start helping me." He stomped angrily toward the door. "Let's go for a drive," he growled.
After a few minutes of driving he cooled off. "I'm sorry I shouted at you."
Kenza moved closer and put her hand on his leg.
He continued, "Ismail said we don't have the right answers because we don't even understand the problems. He said we needed to get to know the people and understnd their situation. I think it was just a stalling tactic, but let's meet him halfway. Let's go meet the people."
They spent the day discovering Lebanon as tourists. The people were friendly, but the city looked like any other city with typical Middle East battle scars, and their attempt to get to know the people and understand them was ending in futility. They realized they needed to live there for years and be part of others lives in order to understand. And even then they would still be considered outsiders.
By late afternoon they were entering the Palestinian refugee area south of the airport. They immediately noticed the increased military presence, the destruction, and the poverty.
"Do you think it's safe to park the car?" Kenza asked.
"I don't know, why?"
"I want to walk the streets. We're not learning a thing inside this car."
They parked, and walked past the few small shops, mingled in with the residences, which were nearly barren, containing essentials only. A few children played in the streets, scantily clothed and underfed. Their parents watched or worked, their faces somber as their shacks.
One woman was sitting on her doorstep, washing clothes in a bucket. They hesitated as they passed. She wrung the clothes and threw the dirty water into the street, looking hostily at them.
"What do you want here?" she asked in Arabic.
They didn't answer. Anything William could think of sounded corny.
"I'll tell you. You're Americans and you want to help, but you don't know how. Any moment now you're going to ask why we don't make peace with the Israelis and move back to Israel."
"Go on," William replied. "I'm willing to hear what you have to say."
"It makes no difference what I have to say - what any of us have to say. The Israelis don't want us back. They drove us out because they didn't want us occupying their land - land that was ours. So we moved here... or anywhere we could. No one wants us, not even the Lebanese."
"I'm sorry," Kenza said, feeling her plight.
"So am I," she replied. "Sorry puts a lot of food on the table."
"How do you live?" Kenza asked.
The woman waved them away and started to go in.
Kenza stopped her. "Please," she said to the woman.
The woman saw the kindness and concern in Kenza's face and shrugged. "We survive. Money comes from things we make, and we have made a few businesses. I have a garden where I grow a little food."
"May I see it?" Kenza asked.
"No," she answered flatly.
"I love to garden. Let me see what you grow," Kenza pleaded.
"Let's go," William said to her in English, afraid she would stir up trouble.
"It doesn't grow very well and most of it isn't much good. It's nothing to look at," the woman replied.
"Maybe I know some things that will help you," Kenza said.
The woman shrugged. She picked up her bucket of clothes and led the way. "It isn't my garden only," she said as they walked through the one room shack.
William counted three adult men and two other women. He knew they must also have children. All slept, ate, and lived in the confines of a twelve by twelve room.
"The Americans want to see the garden. Hah!" she said as they walked through. The five adults sat on cushions on the floor and stared at them sullenly as they walked through. William saw no other furnishings except trunks which probably contained what little additional clothing and house wares they had between them. Outside there was a spicket for water. The toilet, obviously by the smell, was a nearby area behind the house.
"You're house is crowded," Kenza said.
"Allah has blessed us, we no longer live in a tent, all of us together." She pointed to an area behind the house. "There," she said. The area was nearly as barren as the rock hard earth with trompled tufts of grass around the
house. In the garden, the tufts were in rows, as a few daring plants broke through the soil, trying to produce. Kenza walked toward them. She looked at many of them, then turned to William with a look of despair.
"It's horrible," she said in English, "like their lives." She looked back at the woman. "Can I take just a few samples of the soil? I want to test it."
The woman shrugged. Kenza took William's pocket knife and dug into the soil at several locations, taking samples of the dirt and putting them into compartments in her clutch. "I'll test the soil and tell you what it needs to make it produce enough food," Kenza explained.
"We won't be able to afford what it needs," she replied.
Kenza looked at her, speechless, unable to grasp such poverty.
The woman continued, "Our problems are unsolvable. Allah blessed us in Palestine, but the Israelis chased us from our homes there. They will also push us from Lebanon. They will not allow us to have a home anywhere. They know they have wronged us and we are a burr to their conscience. They will not rest until we are dead."
They only half believed the woman, whose name they learned was Shahad, but the poverty and loss of homes tormented them as they continued to walk through the area. They learned of their makeshift hospitals and their aid organizations and that they even had financial organizations. They had scratched from nowhere, the beginnings of a society, however faltering and deprived, that cared for its own through organization. They returned to their cars deeply moved.
As they drove off, Kenza said, "I'm glad Mike was away all that time and left me plenty of time for gardening."
"Organic chemist, aren't you?"
"Yes. And I loved to apply it to gardening. I was addicted to it. I was
constantly testing my soil for minerals and ph balance. I can pick up the chemicals I need locally and get right to testing her soil."
"And then what?"
Kenza looked down, and said lowly, "I don't know... but this has been a bad day for answers. We didn't have any this morning, and I suppose we still don't know anything more about the Lebanese people."
William doubted that. He was beginning to see clearly what he knew all along. "These Palestinians were forced out of Israel by the Israelis. They lost their homes, their land, and control of their lives. Now look what is happening to the Lebanese. The Palestinians are settling here, taking their land and bringing violence. The Syrians and the Israelis are both camped on their front yard, both saying they would like to incorporate Lebanon into their own territory. There is war all around, every day. I think I can understand why people like Ismail are fighting to be their own people."
By the next morning William had developed a better plan for Ismail. He discussed it with Kenza as she tested the soil samples. "What we want to do is create in people a very deep seated positive image about Ismail."
"How can you do that without years of his doing positive things for them? You can't just say, 'look what a fine man he is!' and expect people to trumpet him."
"It's said that if you tell people something ten times, they'll believe it. There's some truth to that, but they'll believe it wholeheartedly if they have strong emotional feelings tied with it. In fact, what they feel is more important than what they think - that's what controls their behavior."
"Do you have a pill to make them feel good about Ismail? Some Arabic love potion from the desert? You had better take it back to those bedouin camel
traders, because you've been taken."
William laughed. Kenza continued working quietly. William could see something was bothering her as she tested sample after sample. When she finished she dumped the waste into the sink and plopped down into a chair at the kitchen table beside him.
"What's the problem, isn't it working?"
"It works fine."
"So what is it?"
"The soil is too poor to grow much of anything. I think it has never been used before - it's barren. It needs tons of potash, for a start, and then nitrogen. The ph is too alkaline, and the list goes on and on. It's hopeless. I know what it takes to raise good vegetables, and they could never afford to do it right." She threw up her hands in despair, and then settled into a chair, looking very frustrated. "I want to help them," she said, deeply disappointed.
William moved to the counter and poured himself another coffee. Disappointment seemed to be the key word in helping the Middle East. One more hopeless snarl in a hopeless tangle of warring humanity.
He didn't have the answer, but he could pull it a little closer for her. "Have you ever seen the desert bloom after a rain?" he asked.
After a moment, Kenza began to smile. Deserts appear deceptively barren and miserable, but when that rare event, rain, happens, and supplies the missing element, water, the desert springs to life and blooms beautifully. "I guess they don't need prize winning plants, just adequate food. Maybe, if I can just tell them the major things their ground needs, they can buy what they need most instead of wasting money on fancy mixtures."
He winked at her.
* * *
Three days later, William had carried out phase one of his plan. He had placed an ad in the paper, bearing Ismail's name. That evening he picked up the tape recording of the various bugs in Ismail's house and listened to it.
First the telephone bug came to life at 6:15 AM.
"Hello, Ismail," Ismail answered in a groggy voice, having been woken up.
"What is this thing in the paper? What are you trying to pull?" Hadid demanded in an angry voice.
"What?" Ismail sounded confused.
"The paper! The morning paper! What have you done?"
"Done? Nothing. What are you talking about? Make sense, Hadid."
"This ad in the paper! What is it? Why didn't you tell any of us you were doing this? Does this mean our plan is finished? Is this your way of telling all of us?"
"STOP! Stop! What ad? What are you talking about, Hadid!? I don't understand any of it."
"I'm talking about this ad in the morning paper," Hadid replied through his teeth, "where you outline a three point plan to pull this nation together and throw out the armies." He finished in a shout, "That's what I'm talking about!"
Ismail shouted back, "I don't know anything about it. Bring it to me!" He slammed down the receiver.
No sooner had he hung up than it rang again.
"Ismail," he answered gruffly.
"Congratulations! This is Kahlil. As a fellow parliament member, I wanted to be the first to say I'm behind you one hundred percent."
"Thank-you," Ismail replied graciously. "It's good to know I have strong
support. Excuse me, you've caught me at a bad moment. Can I call you back?"
Ismail hung up then took the phone off the hook.
The room microphones picked up Hadid's entrance minutes later. He didn't knock, just stormed through the door, paper in hand. "A full page political ad in the front section, and you don't know a thing about it? What do you take me for, an idiot?"
"Let me see it," Ismail said with agitation. He read it aloud. "Fellow countrymen, too long have we stood by patiently and let our beautiful Lebanon be a battleground for the world's troubled. Our patience and kindness are exhausted. We are weary to death of our people being killed and injured, and our homes destroyed while others solve their problems. We have been unwise in our broad knowledge, too tolerant in our understanding, and too weak in our strength. We have let these outsiders divide us and cause us to make war on each other.
"It is time to stand up for ourselves and our country before we are destroyed. We must band together in loyal allegiance and dedicate ourselves with unbreakable commitment to new resolutions to guide us through the time of our regrowth as a nation. I believe with all my heart, and feel you will also, that the following resolutions will give us a united purpose and are worthy goals, fair to all.
1. No foreign military has any right to occupy land in Lebanon, including Israel, Syria, and the PLO.
2. Israel must cease coercing Palestinians to leave their homes in Israel and permit former residents to return with full rights of citizenship.
3. We must regain our country by any means necessary."
"Beautifully read?" Hadid stated sarcastically as Ismail finished.
"I had nothing to do with it. I didn't say it, I didn't write it, I've never heard it, and I have no idea who put it there or why."
"Then what are we going to do about it?"
Ismail made coffee for himself and offered Hadid some. Hadid dismissed the offer gruffly.
"I can't deny it to the public, because there isn't a thing in there I disagree with. If I said I didn't say those things, it would make it appear that I didn't support those things, and the public would be on my head."
"You're right. Your enemies would have a ball with that."
"I'm not going to support it either."
"We can't just close our eyes and hope it goes away!" Hadid said in exasperation.
"Yes we can. Give it a week, a month, the entire thing will be forgotten, just like any other political promise. We can just smile and tell people what a wonderful idea it is, and do nothing to make it happen. That's politics."
"We had better have a meeting right away and tell the troops this wasn't ours," Hadid instructed.
"No! Forget the meetings. We're sure to be watched by the government after that statement in the ad about retaking the country by any means necessary. No, just get to a public phone and contact them. Tell them the thing is phony and just to lie low until they hear from us."
During the next five days of monitoring Ismail's conversations, William learned the ad had a much larger and beneficial effect than he had planned. Ismail remained at home during the next five days, and spent most of the time on the phone. The ad attracted attention from every political corner inside Lebanon to nearly every country in Europe, North Africa, and even the American Continent. He was offered everything from monetary aid to being blown off the
face of the earth. He was forced to defend the plan and find all the good in it, until William felt Ismail believed in it himself. By the end of the fifth day, Ismail was fiercely defending the plan as if it was his own. Even Hadid had become a strong proponent of the three points.
* * *
While Ismail was battling the newspaper ad, Kenza purchased some fertilizer for Shahad's garden, and since William had little to do at that moment, she took him along to see her. Shahad was surprised to see they had returned, and was suspicious of them.
"I have brought you some fertilizer for your garden," Kenza said to her.
"No," Shahad replied, shaking her head.
"It won't hurt it," Kenza coaxed.
"No, I don't want it," Shahad replied, and closed the door on them as she went back inside.
Kenza turned to William with a puzzled and hurt expression. "Why? Are they too proud to take it? They need it badly."
William remembered Kenza's mother, and her proud rejection of anything foreign, anything that wasn't Moroccan. "When you depend on the charity of others, and the ways of others, you are no longer your own person."
"Just like the Moroccans didn't want to be French." She thought about that for a moment, then smiled. "I think I know what to do."
Kenza knocked on the door and Shahad came again. "Please don't turn us away. Please give us a chance," she pleaded, changing the woman from the receiver to the giver.
"I can't take your fertilizer."
"I don't want to give it to you..."
"I can't buy it either," Shahad interrupted, thinking they were out for
"I only want to see if it will help. I want to see if this fertilizer is what your plants need. If I'm right, then I will be able to test soil here for others and tell them the least expensive way to raise food. But no one here will believe me unless they can see that it works. Please do this for me and the others around you."
Shahad, glad for a reason to accept the fertilizer, nodded her head for them to follow, and led them back to the garden. Spending nearly an hour with her, Kenza showed her how to prepare the soil and exactly how to spread the fertilizer.
As they were leaving, Shahad asked, "Suppose someone wants their soil tested. Where can they go, and how much would it cost?"
Kenza was pleased. Shahad's questions were a sign she was hopeful it would work and would try Kenza's suggestions. She gave her their address, adding, "The test will cost less than a pack of cigarettes."
Shahad smiled at that, and they returned home with a good feeling.
Next: Chapter 17