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The Road Map of the Harlot
by Steven Plaut
14 June 2003

Reveal to me your true vulnerability, she insisted. So what if last time I used it to entrap you? This time I am sincere.



There are legends about her origins. Some say she is the very snake from the Garden of Eden itself. She reappears in different forms and under different names throughout human history. Many regard her as a she-demon from the netherworld. Everywhere, she has the same Modus Operandi: Come and show me your true vulnerability, she cried, and I promise we will live in peace forever, trust me.

But she is best known to us as Delilah, the harlot of Gaza. It was then that Samson went to her and lay with her. Reveal to me your true vulnerability, she insisted. I will not use it against you. Trust me. We will dwell together in peace.

But he was shrewd. Piece of cake, he teased, all you have to do is bind me up with seven vines that were never dried. And no sooner did he offer her this goodwill gesture for peace, than her Tanzim descended upon him and bound him with the very same vines. Death to the Occupier, she screamed, in fire and spirit we will redeem thee, oh Gaza. But he broke those bindings like thread and launched a reprisal raid for which the entire world condemned him as aggressor.

You colonialist aggressor, she sneered. Make fun of my Peace of the Brave, will you? But Samson was under pressure from the entire world, including the White House to smooth things over with the harlot. Reveal to me your true vulnerability, she insisted. So what if last time I used it to entrap you? This time I am sincere.

Oh, alright, he agreed. Anything for some shut-eye. If you bind me with brand new ropes from Sears that have never been used before, I will be as weak as a newborn kitten.

Rapid-eye-movement-sleep had barely set in when the Tanzim leaped into the boudoir. Death to the Occupier, screamed the harlot, and her militia men attacked the sleeping paratrooper. But he arose and implemented a campaign of targeted assassinations against his tormentors.

What, again you mock me? Where is your sense of trust? sighed the harlot. But now the White House was getting impatient. It figured it owed the harlot and her Philistines some favors for their role in helping defeat the Chaldeans.

I was just testing you, said Samson. Now that I know you are my sincere sweet turtle dove, I will let you in on my secret. Just weave seven locks of my hair into a Valentines card, and I will be as Silly Putty in your hands. She did, but he just got up and walked out.

You cad, she wailed. The White House was really getting irritated now with the obstinacy of the guy and Belgium was going to try him for war crimes having to do with that little business of failing to prevent the foxes with burning tails from ruining the fields of the Philistines. She is sincere this time, insisted the Secretary of State, you must put her good will to the test. That is true, insisted the Euro eunuchs.

Oh alright, sighed the warrior in appeasement, if not exhaustion. If you give me a Marine crew cut, then I will be helpless. But you gotta cross your heart and promise this time, and no more of your tricks. This time, you better be telling the truth.

We know what followed. Samson eventually did get his revenge, but at the cost of his own Oslo-like self-destruction.

But what ever became of the harlot of Gaza? The Bible is silent about that. Was she in that pagan temple brought down upon the heads of the savages? Apparently not, or it would have been so noted.

The she-demon wandered the world, showing up in unexpected places. She married King Ahab and sent out her shaheeds to murder the prophets of God. She tried to lure Odysseus to his destruction. She was almost captured in Salem. She possessed the souls of the world leaders in the 1930s, as they submitted themselves to her charms. Show me your true vulnerability, she cooed. And after each round, her Tanzim stormed in and carried out atrocities, only to be followed by new flirtations and new peace programs based on the same old theme: Trust me, so what if I lied to you in the past, this time I am sincere.

She went into hiding again until 1992. It was then that she crept out from her grotto beneath the fever swamp and once again painted her harlot face. Stepping on shore in her old Gaza stomping grounds, she sighed and taunted. Show me your true vulnerability, she said. Trust me, I only want to know. I would never use it against you. This is my peace offer.

And like Delilah of old, and like Delilahs love-struck gargantuan paramour, time after time she repeats the same strategy and he responds with the same tributes of love. Her suitor never learns from her past behavior, never wises up. After each betrayal, she returns with the same siren call. Just expose your vulnerability to me. Just place your neck in this friendly noose. It is for peace, you see.

But you betrayed my trust every time I trusted you in the past, he protests. That is because you did not truly trust me, she responds with melodramatically hurt feelings. You hesitated, you maneuvered, you hedged your bet, you refused to behave like a true man of love and honor. You never went all the way, placing your very existence in my hands. And until you abandon your suspicions and obstinacy, until you show me your true love, by accepting my Road Map and placing your neck in my noose, we have nothing to talk about.

Steven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa.

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