Monday, April 30, 2012

But poor thing it has no speech….

I took out Isabel Fonseca's book "Bury me Standing" about the history of European Gypsies. I'll explain my particular interest perhaps at a later date.  This morning I just went over the book very quickly. It is a remarkable work And I have the impression that when I finish reading it I will understand even less about the Gypsies than I do now, though perhaps I will know more.

Two short excerpts:

"Papusza lost more than a hundred members of her family during the war. But even this was not the tragedy that would shape her. She wrote at a critical moment in her people’s history, in Poland and (unknown to her) everywhere else- life along the lungo drom, life on the road-was coming to an end and nothing recognizable or tolerable looked like taking its place.

O lord, where should I go?
What can I do?
Where can I find
Legends and songs?
I do not go to the forest,
I meet with no rivers.
O forest, my father,
My black father!

The time of the wandering Gypsies
Has long passed. But I see them,
They are bright,
Strong and clear like water.

You can hear it
When it wishes to speak.

But poor thing it has no speech….

…the water does not look behind.
It flees, runs farther away.
Where eyes will not see her,
The water that wanders.

Nostalgia is the essence of Gypsy song, and seems always to have been. But nostalgia for what? Nostos is the Greek word for a “return home”; the Gypsies have no home, and, perhaps uniquely among peoples, they have no dream of a homeland. Utopia-ou topos- means “no place”. Nostalgia for utopia: a return home to no place. O lungo drom. The long road." (pp. 4-5)


"At fifteen, Karoly Lendvai lost everyone. From his town of Szengai, seventy-five miles southwest of Budapest, he and his family were rounded up by Hungarian police and forced to walk forty miles north to Komarom, to the notorious Csillag internment camp which was run by the Arrow cross, the Hungarian fascists. Fifty years on, Karoly Lendvai’s memory was undimmed.

“As we marched through, others joined our group, more Gypsies and more gendarmes,” he told a Reuters reporter in the summer of ’94. “Some babies died along the way, and some would-be escapees were shot, left by the roadside. No one knows who they were….  We were in the camp about two weeks with hardly any food…. More people died as typhus broke out, and others were killed. The dead were thrown into a huge pit, covered with quicklime. There were layers upon layers of dead. I do not know when the pit was finally filled because one day we were herded into cattle cars to be taken to who knows where.”

Lendvai was saved by an air raid. In the confusion of sirens and bombings he escaped into woods “for about a year….[and] I never saw the others again.” Lendvai hadn’t heard the word Holocaust and, at sixty-five, he still couldn’t quite believe that all of this happened simply because Gypsies were Gypsies; but he knew that his family had all been been murdered. Prisoners of the Csillag internment camp were transported to Auschwitz.

“Rot you Jew-Gypsy!” Lendvai remembered an Arrow guard screaming at him as he was being pushed onto the train. The curse still troubled him: “Why,” he interrupted himself to ask the journalist, "why did he call me a Jew?” (pp. 252-253)


The Romani word for the (Gypsy) Holocaust is Porraimos, the Devouring. In addition to a haunting evocation of the events themselves, ‘the Devouring” usefully describes the continuing suppression or denial of the Gypsy case. (Appropriately, porraimos is a term even less well known among Gypsies than "Holocausto”)"  (p.253)



""It’s no accident that Lorca came to understand the duende as a result of watching and listening to Andalusian Gypsy singers, whose troubled voices defy virtuosity. The best among them drag a spirit of revelation up into the room, and when this happens, the duende has been wrested from his den. And the songs that make such revelation possible in the first place are always—always—about struggle. They are always a kind of serenade to the resilience and the resistance that struggle creates—and offers proof of its success.

Any poet who is honest with him or herself recognizes a struggle very near the impetus to write. The Gypsy struggle might be described as the struggle to subsist, to resist absorption by a larger more powerful culture. It’s a struggle, literally, not to disappear. This struggle is not exactly the case for most poets in American society. But in one way or another, there is a connection with the Gypsy's plight. There are two worlds that exist together, and there is one that pushes against the other, that claims the other doesn’t, or need not, exist. The duende stirs as a way of saying: you will only stay whole by moving—day after day, note after note, poem after poem—from one world to the next."

 Where fatigue is great, the mind
Will invent entire stories to protect sleep.

Dark stories. Deep fright.
Syntax of nonsense.

(Tracy K. Smith)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

AbuKhalil's Delight

Prof. AbuKhalil shares his delight in the sight of Moroccans burning an Israeli flag.

Strange how he doesn't seem to notice that no Moroccans, nor Egyptians, nor any other Arabs in any Arab country ever seem to be slightly outraged or even perturbed, by the mass massacres in Syria which by some reports already account for over 10,000 Arab Muslim dead.

I can never begin to fathom the shallows of this person's hypocrisy.


Update: Via Snoopy the goon, here is another illustration of Arab moral priorities

Once out of the pit

Norm Geras is in his best Obi Wan shape as he easily pokes an effective saber at Antony Lerman's  article in which the latter discusses "whether or not Günter Grass's recent poem, 'What must be said', was an instance of anti-Semitism."

With his usual acuteness, Norm hits the nail right on its head when he identifies the gaping hole in 

 Lerman's argument:

" He doesn't neglect to refer to that element in the poem which is most problematic in the context of his central question: Grass's suggestion that Israel claims the right to a first strike that could snuff out - or destroy - the Iranian people. But, then, at no point in what follows does Lerman relate this element to the issue which his piece purports to be about."

Lerman's polemical sleight of hand reminds me of a story I once read about a nineteenth century British rag that used to publish sensational novels in weekly serialized instalments. The story was written from one week to the next and only the author knew how he was going to resolve the knotty problems that he himself had set up in the week before.

On one such occasion, the author ended his weekly chapter with a breath-stopping situation, his protagonist hanging with both hands from the rim of a pit, snakes snapping at his feet, on one side of him a roaring lion, on the other - two crooks with their guns trained on him.

Then he failed to submit the next week's chapter. As he was a known lush, everyone suspected that he had gone on one of his drinking binges. The editor asked other writers to provide the necessary installment but they were all stymied. They had no idea how to get the hero out of the pit, and away from the menacing snakes, roaring lion and would-be killers. The paper was issued with an apology to the readers for missing that week’s episode.

Finally the author showed up. Everyone pounced on him, yelling and angry and predictably, demanding to know how he was going to resolve the situation.

No big deal, shrugged the author. He inserted a sheet of paper into the typewriter and started the next chapter:

"Once out of the pit, our hero ..."

Singing Israel       

Miriam Makeba - Erev Shel Shoshanim 

Twilight of roses

Let's go into the garden

Myrrh and frankincense

a carpet under your feet

Night is descending

and rose wind blows

In your ear I'll whisper

a rose melody love 

Shimon Israeli - Stam Yom shel hol (Just an everyday day) 

Just an everyday day

A bright blue morning

No special fete or dance

No trumpets or violins 

But a young girl smiled

as she passed by 

on her way to the beach

A flower in her hand

Matti Kaspi - Hine Hine (Here, here...)

Here here here is a melody

that starts low, in Mi-major

but wants to grow, wants to grow 

to La-major


Looking for an outlet

And here she is, 

climbing up up

I had no idea that she'd thrive and spread her wings

That she would soar, and get away

become cheeky and answer back...


Sixty years old

Someone painted red
Mount Gilboa’s head
The rooster’s call
Proclaims the day is here

Sixty years old opens her eyes
And puts on her shoes
A big day at the door
Coming up, her own day

At the door the big day,
Young and fresh
Irons her wrinkles
Erases the years

She is real, not a symbol
Not just a banner, or an emblemThe past is behind her
She looks to the future

She is a grandmother and mother
A grandchild and great grandchild
In short, she is a self-renewing cycle
Like the seasons

A summer wife, a winter wife,
A loving wife, a contentious wife
But deep in her heart
Always it is spring
Her callused hand
Rough like dry parchment
Gently caressing
Infinitely tender

Sixty years the calendar says
But in all the rest
She is hardly sixteen
Or even six years old…


Ofra Haza - Eli, Eli (A walk to Caesaria)

My God, My Own God
Let this never end
the sea, the sand,
the whispering water
the splendour of the sky
a pleading in the human heart


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy birthday, Israel 

64 years and going strong ... 

Tomorrow night will mark the beginning of the celebrations. In my household we feel the holiday by listening to Hebrew songs, of any kind.

This year I chose to post a love song, written by Nathan Alterman, one of Israel's greatest poets. It's called: ZEMER SHALOSH HATSHUVOT, which means:  SONG OF THE THREE ANSWERS. One comment following the youtube vid characterized it, most appropriately, as a psychotically totalitarian love song. If you read the lyrics you will understand why. Read as an allegory, it could also be an expression of the abiding love that the house of Israel bears for the state of Israel, in the Biblical tradition exemplified in Jeremiah 2:2, when God said to his  long-suffering "chosen" nation:

"I remember your youthful grace, your bridal love, when you followed me in the desert, in a waterless sterile land..."

When Paula Ben-Gurion passed away, it was said that her husband stood next to her bed and whispered these words to her.


   Rivka Zohar sings:

He said if you follow me
there will be no fine velvet or silk gowns,
Our life will be bitter to exhaustion perhaps
She said slowly, "I have strength
If need be, I will walk in rags
as if they were priceless velvet
if need be I will wash floors
and regard myself a queen  

All that you will request and ask,
I will do and continue joyous
all will be well, my beloved, and easy
I will never run out of strength

So he said "what if I cheat
and I leave you, unwanted,
for long nights, waiting, waiting,
until I return from another's arms?

"if I need to wait, I'll wait"
she said, and her face all lit up
"if I must not cry, I won't cry,
 so long as I know you'll come back
 All that you will request and ask,
I will do and continue joyous
All will be well, my beloved, and easy
I will never run out of strength

So he said: "what will you do if I tell
you to pack up and leave
and to forget all about me,
never to return or you'll be thrown out?

She was momentarily silent and smiling
And then she spoke her face frozen
"If you tell me to go, I will go
If you tell me not to return, I won't return
but don't ever ask this one thing
don't tell me to forget you
for this, my beloved, I cannot do
for this I will not have strength.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Egyptian Re-assurances

Following a severe travel warning by Israel's anti-terror bureau issued to Israeli tourists, updated in light of information indicating terrorists stepped up efforts to attack Israeli tourists, 

 "South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda said  Israel was "trying to spread panic with rumors and irresponsible statements" that have a negative effect on the area's robust tourist traffic".

Israeli tourists are safe and can travel in peace, he reassured the would-be tourists. 

No need for such anxiety. Because, as "South Sinai security chief Mahmoud Hefnawi added that Egyptian security forces were "escorting tourists from the moment they enter the district and until they leave. Security forces are present in all tourist attractions to ensure the visitors' safety."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just Look Who's Talking!

I. "I n 9 September 2011, several thousand protesters forcibly entered the Israeli embassy in Giza, Greater Cairo, after breaking down a recently constructed wall built to protect the compound.[3][4][5] Later, after the protesters broke into a police station and stole weapons, the police fired tear gas in an attempt to protect themselves. The demonstrators eventually broke through the security wall and entered the offices of the embassy. Six embassy staff, who had been in a "safe room", were evacuated from the site by Egyptian commandos, following the personal intervention of US President Barack Obama.[6][7][8]" (wikipedia)

Prof. Abukhalil (Angry Arab) was overjoyed:


Matthew sent me this from Cairo: "i just drove by what used to be the israeli embassy in cairo. it's now completely empty, the staff has fled. there is no longer an israeli flag hanging in cairo or anywhere else in egypt."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Egyptian Flagman

"An Egyptian provincial governor has rewarded a protester who tore down the flag from the Israeli embassy in Cairo with a job, new home and honorary shield, newspapers reported on Thursday. Ahmad al-Shahat shot to fame after scaling the tall building, removing the Israeli flag and replacing it with Egypt's national colors as hundreds demonstrated outside the embassy on Saturday night. Thousands cheered and encouraged Shahat as he climbed and jubilation broke out as he ripped the flag from the pole. Video images of Shahat clambering up the building swept the Internet and set off a flurry of “Flagman” postings on social network." (thanks Karim)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The new Egypt: tell Zionists to mourn Mubarak's fall some more

"The scene outside the Israeli Embassy in Egypt turned into a massive celebration of hundreds of Egyptians dancing and singing after a young man took the Israeli flag down and pinned an Egyptian one in its place early Sunday morning. People chanting, cars honking and others carrying Ahmed al-Shahat on their shoulders in joyful expression of the absence of the flag were seen shortly after the incident."

II. When an Israeli diplomat had to be rushed out of Morocco when thousands of enraged Arabs thronged the streets in protest of his presence on Arab land, AbuKhalil was overjoyed:

"Ha ha ha: an Israeli chased out of Morocco"

III. The same AbuKhalil is shocked, shocked, to his humanistic anarchistic core:

"You want to make peace with those hoodlums?

"Fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team marched through Jerusalem chanting racist slogans, a month after attacking Arab workers at a shopping mall. The fans marched from Sacher Park to Teddy Stadium on Sunday for a game against the Hapoel Acre team. Fans reportedly beat an Israeli woman, 50, for objecting to the crowd's anti-Arab chants, including "Death to the Arabs," Haaretz reported. Police reportedly have opened an investigation into the assault, which included knocking the woman on the head with a pole from a team flag and spitting at her. Last month hundreds of fans from the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team chanting anti-Arab slogans assaulted Arab workers at a Jerusalem shopping mall following a local game. Sixteen fans were arrested; six were banned from future games."

y the way, do Israelis find all this detestation for them in the Arab world overwhelming? They should."

This hypocrite, who can barely contain his delighted excitement when Israelis are attacked by Arab lynch mobs, and then pretends to be outraged by anti-Arab rage in Israel (which is deftly and swiftly dealt with by the police and roundly condemned by one and all) is none other than Prof. AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley. He teaches young American students what is correct thinking, political ethics, how to read critically and think for themselves.


Comment trail:

Beinart, after Snoopy from Simply Jews has finished with him

Choice quote:

"But there is another wedge, where it gets even more nuanced: you see, there are some relatively good Jooz even among the generally bad settlers. It is defined by... the geographic proximity of the settlement to the Green Line:

If moderate settlers living near the green line resent being lumped in with their more ideologically driven counterparts deep in occupied territory, they should agitate for a two-state solution that would make possible their incorporation into democratic Israel.
Could we, possibly, have a map colored by prof Beinart according to the geographical badness (moderation?) of said settlers?

As an aside, I imagine a map of USA colored by the same principle, meaning by geographic proximity of the European settlements to the East Coast, where it all started. By this principle Peter Beinart, being located in NYC, resides in a relatively benign area, while the most progressive freedom-loving folks of California are the worst offenders. I can imagine the echo in the hallowed halls of Berkeley and similar places... "

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sighted on the Internet:

"...Some people steal horses to great applause; others are hung for looking over the fence at the herd..."

(~ a poster on a TNR discussion thread)

Monday, April 09, 2012

From Hebrew Literature:

I'm going to post, for the next three months, short excerpts from Hebrew literary works which I will be reading for a course.

The first one is from a short story by S.Y. Agnon:

From: Agunot (Abandoned wives)

“Dinah, lovely child of Ahiezer, stood by her window, gazing into the trees, and heard. Dreaming, she was drawn to the singer as though-God save us!-a spell had been cast. So she went down, she and her handmaidens, to examine the work of the man. She peered into the Ark, she stirred his paints, examined his carvings, and picked up his tools. All the time Ben Uri worked., singing as he worked, working even as he sang. Dinah heard his song and did not know her heart. And he, even as he wrought, all the time aimed his song at her heart, to wrap it in his rapture, so that she might stand there forever, never depart.”

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Gunter Grass

@ TNR: About Gunter Grass's stink bomb
Page 2
page 3 Page 4 page 5

And the beat goes on, with discussion reaching Page 9

AbuKhalil, as usual, gets it exactly right