I. JC is a newly- added (but not addled) Elder to Simply Jews. I have read some of his contributions and found his voice fresh (no disambiguation here), friendly and funny. I confess that I don't quite get all of the nuggets concealed in his words, but I do get some of them some of the time. So, with Casaubon-like hubris, I tell myself that with due practice and diligence, after reading enough of his writings I may yet find the key to his mythologies...
Here is one story written by JC in which he tries, with some admirable success, to describe what Israel is like. This is the "piece de resistance":
Now I have seen some surreal things in my life but this was just plain weird. On one side was a car load of Arab kids blasting out some very load Arabic dance music and on the other side was a woman using a breast pump. In the middle, eyes straight forward and looking very bewildered was Mr Hire Car. In front of him, just to add some variety was a large trailer with some sort of tank on the back, the canon facing Mr Hire Car’s windshield.
But I suppose that just about sums up the madness of the ‘matzav’.
"Matzav" to the uninitiated in Israeli jargon is a euphemistic, catch-all term designating what is known outside Israel as The I/P conflict, the occupation, Qassams landing in Sderot, Ahmadinejad's daily prophecies of doom for Israel, the price of oil, etc etc. It means quite simply: (the) "situation" and it's been in service ever since I can remember. I'm looking forward to the time when the Hebrew language will no longer need this word in its present meaning and "Matzav" will shrink back to what it is supposed to be: a word for situation like any other word for situation in any other language: ситуация κατάσταση situación situação situazione, etc etc you get the point.
II. And on a more sombre note, here is - not an unrelated - story about an exiled Iraqi writer, Najem Wali, who travelled to Israel in 2007 and what he discovered:
... Since the declaration of the state of Israel on May 14 1948, Israel has been the official enemy number one for the Arab states.
But even as a child I found the rhetoric didn't add up. How could this somehow "all-powerful" country so successfully "let the Arab nations sink into lethargy", as the official speeches would have us believe? And why, at the same time, were they so confident that the "small state of Zionist gangs" would inevitably "disappear from the map"? I never found a convincing answer. Nor did I ever make the connection between the "Jew question" and the "Palestine question", between the victims of the Holocaust and the victims of Israel's foundation.
... Why do our leaders fear this truth? They are scared that their countrymen would recognise that the only link between the standstill and devastation of Arab societies and the Arab-Israeli conflict is this: peace with Israel would bring an end to the opium high with which Arab leaders keep their nations in a state of inertia. This is the cause of the problems for which Israel is being blamed.
... Israel has not overturned democracy even under the pressure of war. But the citizens in Arab countries are worth nothing to their leaders.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Thursday, May 22, 2008