Israel Stories

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Curious Incident of the Nuns Teeth

The UN is infamous for its anti-Israel stance. It is notorious for its bias against the Jews and its absolute and unflinching grasp of everything but reality and the truth. This dysfunctional family of nations has been a world stage for diplomatic anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism since the day it was created. As you may have figured out I am not a great fan of the UN and its not just because of Israel. It’s the appalling way it dealt with Rwanda and Bosnia and anything it seems to put its hand to.

However the UN did shine once, many years ago in the 1950’s not far from the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem in the curious incident of the nun’s teeth.

There is an amazing story, well documented and absolutely true, although several versions of the same story exist, about a nun who was traveling on a bus near no-mans land by the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1950’s. The window by her head was open and she suddenly felt the need to sneeze. Being polite she turned her head to the window and sneezed a very un-ladylike sneeze sending her false teeth careering out of the bus window, over the road, through the barbed wire and into no-mans land. You can imagine that in the 50’s with tensions riding high on both sides of the border, with snipers just waiting for the opportunity for someone from the Israeli side to venture into no-mans land and for the Israelis having better things to worry about, this incident would have been forgotten. Well as you probably guessed this wasn’t the case. Just like the English and German soldiers of the first world war leaving their trenches to play football on Xmas, a deal was brokered by the UN to let a search and rescue team enter unmolested into no-mans land to retrieve the dentures. The Jordanians agreed to call of the snipers and a UN representative, holding a white flag, led a Jordanian officer, Israeli officers and a number of men and women into no-mans land. For some of these people it was the closets they had ever got to the holy city. Amazingly, among all the rubble, the dentures were eventually found. Some of the teeth had melted in the sun, but the nun was happy and the hostilities resumed.

What I love about this story is that I believe this is the first and last time the UN played a positive role in Israel. They managed to bring together three religions in a unified effort. Each group set aside its religious and cultural differences and worked together. The old newspaper pictures show all sides smiling. For one brief moment the war was forgotten, the snipers took a break, Jews approached the Old City unhindered and some semblance of order prevailed. Cooperation and understanding reigned in place of war and destruction.

This story, in my opinion, is worthy of inclusion in all history books even if just to highlight its surreal nature. It shows the Jordanian army being ordered not fire at nuns and the war torn Jews in the shadow of the holocaust, the birth of the State of Israel and the war if independence actually giving a stuff about some nuns teeth.

Of course this incident also shows the absolute depths of insanity the UN can plunge to. The efforts and negotiations involved, the diplomacy, the resources spent to retrieve the nuns dentures only confirms my personal view of the UN as a total waist of time and money. The UNs top priority seems to be anything but trying to understand the real situation, rather concentrating on pointless efforts

Maybe it reflects the wicked son in the Haggadah who sits dutifully at the seder table. The other sons want to learn of be educated but the wicked son just sits there, cynically, stirring trouble through his acidic and accusing questions and his refusal to accept the truth.

Open your Haggadah and see what we are commanded to do to him.


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