Jack Cohen – Counting Coup and China and Israel
It was the practice of the warriors of the Plains Indians (or indigenous peoples) of North America to “count coup.” This consisted of warriors when in battle to actually approach the enemy and physically touch them, even fight with them hand-to-hand, and then withdraw unharmed. Each incident of this was recorded in stories after the event and so the number of times a coup was attained was counted. The warriors carried a coup stick and each incident was notched on this stick. Each time a warrior managed a coup they would receive a feather to wear, so the braver a warrior, the greater the number of feathers. Hence the word “brave” to describe an Indian warrior. If they were injured in carrying out a coup attempt the feather would be colored red. If they were a very brave warrior and became a Chief they could wear a feather headdress.
This practice or tradition was an unfortunate factor in the interaction of the Indians with the “white man,” because the white men came with guns that killed from afar. This killing at a distance was considered ignoble by the braves in their culture, and so they considered the white man cowardly. Of course, eventually the Indians were forced to adopt the use of guns, as well as bows and arrows, in order to survive. A similar attitude pervades the interaction of the Japanese with the West, where reliance on the sword among the samurai was paramount.
In a humorous way I count coup with my wife, every time I approach her, especially when she is mad, and I touch the tip of her nose, that is considered a brave act. I have managed to do this many times, although not without sustaining personal injury. Needless to say I do not wear feathers, but I do carry the scars of these brave acts. Nevertheless, one might consider the passing of this brave act by the Indians as a loss. How noble to count coup rather than actually killing the enemy, although the Indians did in fact kill each other with great zeal, which helps explain why there were relatively few of them throughout the North American continent.
China and Israel
Israeli PM Netanyahu visited China last week, accompanied by a prestigious group of Israeli business leaders and hi-tech experts, and had meetings with Premier Xi Jinping and others. They are spoke about trade and technology. China doesn’t have any strategic problem with Israel because Israel is not going to complain about their human rights issues or their island-building in the South China Sea, like the US, the Europeans and Japan would.
But, what possibly could China and Israel have in common? China is so huge and has an enormous population, while Israel is so small and has a population that could fit into one of several Chinese cities. Yet I would submit that there are two things the Jews and the Chinese have in common. First is an entrepreneurial spirit. Second is a desire for stability. Even though China is a Communist dictatorship, some might argue that it had to be in order to unify the country and make material progress. The cost of course for this was tremendous suffering and privation of the masses. But, hopefully this is past now that China has embraced capitalism and the natural entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people is flourishing. In that respect they can gain a lot from sharing in the amazing technological advances coming out of Israel’s innovative high-tech sector. For example, milk production has gone up significantly in Vietnam and China as a result of Israeli hi-tech milk production methods.
Meanwhile Israeli President Rueven Rivlin was visiting Vietnam, where he attended a show of Israeli military technology. These visits to Asia are all part of an Israeli effort to forge bilateral ties with countries other than the USA as a result of the antagonistic policies of former President Obama. These have included Netanyahu’s tour of African countries and recently visits to Singapore and Australia. Meanwhile the Israeli economy continues to strengthen and the Israeli shekel is one of the strongest currencies in the world. It is ironical therefore that the current Coalition Government might fall due to a stupid dispute over the Israel Broadcasting Authority.