From the Left



The Children of Buddha

Marc Munroe Dion on

Buddha says don't fight back. Christ says the same thing. Both are widely ignored.

In Israel, on the border with what may or may not be Palestine, there is red war and yellow flames and humanitarian aid because war requires the camouflage of charity.

Israelis have been killed. Palestinians have been killed. Israelis have been taken hostage. Some of the hostages have been released after negotiations because war requires the camouflage of negotiation.

And around 14 Thai hostages were taken and released by Hamas. Maybe a few more or less. The number is a little cloudy.

I became aware of the Thai hostages when I read a news story saying that, although the Thai hostages had been released, there hadn't been any specific negotiation on their behalf.

I am always on the side of the people no one can find, the people for whom no one speaks.

Cloudy sources figure maybe 20,000 Thais do agricultural work in Israel, along with some people from Nepal and maybe some Filipinos. Those are long miles to travel for a job pulling salad out of the ground, but there is no job so miserable that someone won't do it for short money.

Many Israelis, like many Americans, have elevated themselves above the toilet-scrubbing, salad-pulling end of the economy, but the dirt-smeared business of agriculture and the foul business of toilet-scrubbing hold up the jobs in IT and human resources and market research.

Asking the Palestinians to do it is not only risky but inconvenient, since your Palestinian toilet-mopper is often locked on his side of the border due to security concerns and cannot come to work. So it is with any Palestinians you might hire for your construction crew. The Thais are a handy substitute, being big on desperation and short on ideology.


The Thai agricultural workers live way out in the country because that's where the farms are, and work with the short-handled hoe cannot be done via Zoom. The great truth of the 21st-century workforce is that, the worse the job, the more likely it is you'll have to show up every day.

So, the Thais, the children of Buddha who have no real chance of winning this fight, are going to die in the fight and not make it back to the poverty-stricken villages they left to become manual laborers and moppers of floors and pickers in the fields.

It'd be damn sad if anyone cared.

The newspapers and the wire services haven't failed to report the deaths and the tribulations of the Thais and the others trying to make a buck so far from home. As soon as they found out they were there, newspapers went into print with modestly sized stories about the Lost Thais of Israel.

At the colleges, the fired-up sophomores carry placards with the pictures of Israelis held hostage, "Free Uri!" Others cry, "Freedom for Palestine!" It's a pleasantly romantic way to crank your emotions up for the Christmas break. I have yet to see rocks being thrown at the campus police on behalf of the Thais who work in the fields.

Scientists have spent more time living with apes than they have with the migrant, laboring poor, who go country to country for work, knocking on the front door or sneaking over the back fence. It doesn't matter how you get in if there's work on the other side.

If only for the sake of old-time newspaper duty, I'm going to keep an eye on the Thais of Israel. They've been so many years in the desert, rough-handed and far from home.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Dion's latest book, a collection of his best columns, is called "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from, and for Nook, Kindle, and iBooks.




Joel Pett Adam Zyglis Andy Marlette Joey Weatherford Walt Handelsman Eric Allie