ONE of the first aid-planes to arrive in Haiti was Israeli. If the people of Haiti were gazing up, looking for aid from Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, or anywhere in the Arab world, they're still looking up, still gazing.
This is the same Arab world that has refused to integrate the Palestinians exiled from their homeland in 1948, so obviously it has no difficulty looking away when people in another hemisphere need help.
Meanwhile, the Israelis will naturally get no kudos for their goodness. They are perhaps the only people in the world for whom extenuating circumstances are routinely cited in explanation of their charitable deeds. Extenuating circumstances usually occur in mitigation for criminal acts: but for the Jews of Israel they are used instead to explain away corporal works of mercy. That is the underlying and unspoken anti-Semitism of the anti-Israeli lobby: it cannot accept that Jews, as a group, have unselfish, charitable motives.
It is five years since the Asian tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of people. The aid-planes to Indonesia arrived in remarkably similar order to those in Haiti, with Israeli and American being amongst the first. Saudi aid arrived weeks later, and went only to Muslim communities. No doubt this is why the Irish government is allowing a Saudi school to be established in Ireland, in order to promulgate Saudi values (you know, just as Irish schools are flourishing everywhere in Saudi Arabia).
And at this point in our history, it is simply impossible to parody or lampoon the abjectness that allows a special place in our educational system for the culture which gave the world Wahhabism, the 9/11 bombers, stoning to death for adulteresses, and judicially-authorised beheadings and amputations. But instead of erecting barriers to the intellectual barbarism of Wahhabism, we are actually inviting it in to spread its toxins amongst our rapidly growing Muslim communities. How they'll laugh when they talk about it all in Dublinistan in 2111.
By which time, things will probably still be no better in Haiti. It is mankind's permanent ground-zero, a society that is permanently post-Apocalyptic. Sometimes, however, the Apocalypse is worse than other times, such as now. In which respect, the Haitian half of the island of Hispaniola today probably resembles a great many Asian coastal communities five years ago. Go to those communities now, and you will find no trace of the tsunami. The towns have been rebuilt, the roads reconstructed, the schools replaced, almost all thanks to local efforts. Go back to Haiti in five years time, and minus the contribution from the outside world (such as Israel's), what will have been done by the Haitian people?
Or put it another way: to what nadir must a society be reduced if it is dependent on the building-skills of George Hook (and for our foreign readers, kindly, affable George is a broadcaster and rugby pundit, deficient in neither avoirdupois nor pension-eligibility, who recently participated in a house-building project in Haiti). Unemployment in Haiti runs at around 80pc. Is it possible that George's masonry skills could actually fill some natural gap in the labour market? Or has Haiti created a wholly new form of laziness, which we might call "innce": indolence without the dole?
Innce has been a defining characteristic of Haiti since it declared its independence. We've heard a great deal about the horrors of Haitian slavery; and indeed horrors they were, but that is a long time ago. No grown-up today cites the Penal Laws and the Famine to explain what's wrong with modern Ireland. Perhaps voodoo is the great intellectual enabler for innce -- I simply do not know. But I do know that no matter how the world changes for the better, Haiti will not.
YET the recently published International Living index did not find Haiti the worst place in the world. No doubt boosted by George's sterling efforts, Haiti was 16th from the bottom. The countries beneath it, in ascending order, were: Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Chad, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic and Zimbabwe. In other words, two Asian Muslim countries, Yemen and Afghanistan, which have been catastrophically destabilised by precisely the kind of Wahhabism we are allowing into Ireland, and 11 African countries. And to keep it all nice and symmetrical, of the 15 countries above Haiti, 11 were African and -- what do you know! -- three were Asian states, with two of them, Iraq and Pakistan, having been destabilised by Wahhabism.
Of course, we must send aid to Haiti, even though we know that most of it will be wasted. But equally, we must be honest about our motives. We give largely because Haiti is close to US camera crews, and thus to our televisually-informed consciences and self-esteem. But when Haitian innce blends with Saudi Wahhabism, the result is a hellhole called Somalia, and if an earthquake were ever to visit that wretched place, the world would probably do almost nothing. I certainly can't see the Israelis rushing in -- and why would they?
A more serious question, which you should consider very, very carefully before joining in yet another of our loud-mouthed piety-competitions: Why would anyone?