Last week at the Palestine Literature Festival, Michael Palin produced some of his funniest material since his Monty Python heyday. However, he probably didn’t intend it to be funny.
Palin told an audience that was rather lacking in actual Palestinians – mainly locally based international aid workers, diplomats and heaven knows who else – that he had seen how Israeli checkpoints worked. He thought it’d be a good idea to “always look on the bright side of life” and see the checkpoints as an opportunity for Palestinians to slow down. It saves them, he suggested, from the kind of frenetic pace that drives people crazy in other places, where there are no checkpoints.
A few attendees were perturbed by Palin’s comments. After all, the point of the checkpoints is less to slow down Palestinians and, more frequently, to prevent them moving about at all. Still he got off lightly. In Palestine, everybody expects the Spanish Inquisition…
I think Palin’s remarks were delightful. He’s trying to find something good about an aspect of life which most people only see as wicked and frustrating. Always look on the bright side of life, right?
It’s not his fault if he mistook the Palestinians for Buddhists.