In my middle age I have become something I never imagined I would: a Trekkie. I found the first series, which I watched with my entranced older brother, to be rather boring and sexist (even at the tender age of four). But the subsequent series have been more interesting in my opinion, and after seeing the final season of “Star Trek: Voyager” during my pregnancy with Beans (and catching up on the other seasons through reruns), the Cap’n and I are now into the fifth season of “Star Trek: Deep Space 9.”
This may be my favorite series yet. I watched a few “Next Generation” episodes with my (still entranced) brother, but never really got into it myself. “Voyager” had some interesting characters, and it was refreshing to see a woman captain for a change (though Kate Mulgrew’s channeling of Katharine Hepburn was alternately fascinating and irritating). “DS9” has me hooked for its well-meshed cast of principal characters, its humor, and an almost mind-boggling array of enemies: the alternate universe characters who keep kidnapping them to help out in their own nasty struggles; the Dominion (including wily shapeshifters and the killing machine Jem Hadar); the unpredictable Cardassians; and now the Klingons—that time-honored favorite enemy-ally-enemy-again that trumps even the Nazis for sheer staying power—are back.
It’s impossible to watch this show in Israel and not notice the similarities between the Klingons and Arabs. Both peoples value poets nearly as much as warriors. Both societies have an all-consuming focus on honor (of self, of family, of the Empire), glorify battle, and yearn for a death that will bestow glory and a good name on their memory. Klingons employ fratricide as a way to restore lost honor (as when Worf’s brother begged Worf to kill him after dishonoring the family name); Arabs still practice honor killings, with brothers killing sisters suspected of dishonoring the family through breaking strict social taboos.
In watching several episodes that concentrate on Klingon culture, I have been paying close attention to identify any differences between them and Arabs. I’ve found one: Klingons don’t kill innocent civilians. Where Arabs have gleefully slaughtered airline passengers, Olympic athletes, hotel patrons, bus passengers, mall-goers, and pizza eaters, and passed out candy to children on the streets following high-profile attacks like the 9/11 attacks, the recent roadside massacre of four Israelis near Hebron, and other terrorist assaults on civilians, Klingons confine their belligerence to recognized combatants. In a recent episode where a group of civilians were killed and the Klingons were suspected of having carried out the attack, Worf indignantly points out that to attack innocent civilians is not an acceptable tactic. Why? It would be dishonorable to kill civilians.
Le’mi yesh yoter kavod? In the world of honor, the Klingons—one of the bloodiest, most violent, intractable, death-worshipping species in the universe—have it over the Arabs.