Achilles didn’t have a Motorbike

by Nikos Akritas (July 2024)

Priam begging Achilles for the body of Hector, Henry Fuseli


Both ankles pierced and threaded through, along the plain his head trailed sending up clouds of dust; the sand smeared purple. Deformed and dishonoured, in full view of his parents, his corpse by chariot dragged.

This grizzly scene is paraphrased from the Iliad, a poem telling of Achilles’ wrath during the Trojan War. Achilles takes his revenge on Hector, not only killing him in front of his parents but desecrating his body. Even then (the poem is dated to around the 8/7th century BC), Achilles’ actions were seen as shameful; an abomination to human decency even in the bloody tumult of war.

Fast forward 3000 years and Hamas is carrying out similarly gruesome acts, only this time updated with modern technology, dragging the bodies of Palestinian ‘collaborators’ through the streets of Gaza tied to the back of motorcycles. But the barbarity of these scenes, set three millennia apart, are dissimilar in two major respects. The first is the targeting of non-combatants by Hamas. Regarding the second, after drawing attention to the shameful actions of Achilles, the poem relays how even this bloodthirsty warrior relents when his victim’s father comes begging for the corpse, beseeching the killer to allow him to conduct proper funerary rites for his dead son. In Gaza, however, desecrating corpses of ‘collaborators’ and Jews draw scenes of jubilation and celebration, as did the defilement of Jewish captives on October 7, 2023, who were paraded—brutalised, raped, terrified—through the streets amongst a rejoicing people; beaten, spat on, laughed at and ridiculed by ‘ordinary’ Palestinians. The depth of depravity and sadism that has become a dominant part of the Jew hatred in this part of the world is reminiscent of the dehumanisation and resultant cruelties meted out by the Nazis. The same irrational hatred, borne of ideology.

Achilles releases Hector’s corpse so his family can grieve and honour him with a proper funeral. Hamas has no such humanity. The dehumanisation of Jews in Gaza proves more barbaric than a violent warrior from a bronze age civilization. Muslim and left wing supporters of Hamas’s actions are more than just apologists, they provide sustenance to a hatred of hysterical intensity. Claiming Israel brutalised the people of Gaza over the previous twenty years by closing its borders and making it an open air concentration camp is a sign of wilful ignorance.

Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza did not result in closed borders. That was a consequence of Hamas being elected to power. Why would any state with a neighbouring government openly vowing its destruction keep its borders open? No attention is drawn to Gaza’s border with Egypt over the same period.

And what were the first acts—aside from the brutal murder of its opponents—of this abhorrent regime which calls for genocide? The throwing of homosexuals from the tops of buildings. The populace, rather than take advantage of the businesses left behind by Jews, chose to smash and destroy them. They would not be tainted with anything associated with the Jew.

What hope of survival then but to rely on international aid. Except the aid money was spent on constructing an elaborate system of tunnels from which to kill more Jews, rather than build a sustainable state. For Arab Palestinians, Jews have no right to even an inch of land in the Middle East—and yet many Jews are Palestinians. What ires them is that Jews not only have a land but have a successful state that has managed to fend off repeated attacks by its Muslim neighbours. The majority of Muslims side with the Palestinians by default; antisemitism is part of Muslim culture. It is part of the Muslim faith, written into the Koran and the hadith.

The only Jews with which Muslims find common ground are antizionist Jews such as the Neturei Karta. But this, when one becomes aware of the implications, is a very sinister association. For the Neturei Karta only endorse a return of Jews to the Holy Land as part of their messianic end times. The end times, according to Islam, is an apocalyptic reckoning which will result in the annihilation not of non-believers but Jews. The genocide of Jews is a key element of the Muslim faith. Jeremy Corbyn is a good example of how the left, similarly, courts anti-Israel Jews (a good Jew is a Jew against the state of Israel).

In 1936, Zionists agreed to accept a tiny piece of land—much smaller than the state later proposed by Britain and the UN—which Muslims objected to. No Jewish state. Although there were Jews living on this land, they were denied any right to self-determination by their Arab neighbours, who themselves demanded the same right after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Since then, Muslim countries of the region have sought to annihilate Israel repeatedly.

But it is Jews who are called the warmongers, the imperialists, the racists. Labels befitting their attackers, but not Israel. Israel does not seek, and has never sought, to expand its borders. This has been forced upon it by violent hatred, which is not mere ideology or words but has resulted in repeated attempts to annihilate it.

Islamic culture is a religious culture. It is not one of reason but blind faith. A faith dictated by a man who hated Jews and so his followers, following his precepts, hate Jews. Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, Borat, parodies this hysterical antisemitism perfectly. Not for nothing, Islamic countries produce next to no Nobel prize winners; Jews produce inordinate numbers. Jews offer something to the world. Muslim preoccupations lie elsewhere.

The intellectually wanting left, driven by ideology, are not interested in examining facts. They have their own myths of the vile Jew; maybe not drinking the blood of babies but intent on world domination—harbouring adolescent notions of conspiracy. The West, in its attempts at objectivity or neutrality, has lost sight of right and wrong. When one murders or assaults out of ideological depravity or for gain there is no middle ground between victim and assailant. To take such a stance will always end in rewarding violence and wrongdoing. Those hostile to the West take advantage of this perverted confusion. The West has lost its moral compass; siding not with right but appeasing aggressors through its convictions of relativeness.

Could it be the scale of the problem which frightens Western politicians? In any case, their moral ineptitude serves as accomplice to the antisemitic violence once again rearing its ugly head. The Gazans are as Achilles but without remorse, whilst the rest of the world does nothing—at best. The consequences of interceding frightens liberals so much they convince themselves, as always, blame lies on both sides. And so Jews, like Hector’s body, are free game for violation, violence and, by logical conclusion, annihilation.


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Nikos Akritas has worked as a teacher in countries across the Middle East and Central Asia as well as in Britain.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


2 Responses

  1. “Could it be the scale of the problem which frightens Western politicians?” Now that is a question. I think that you are on to something.

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