Untitled (1)

How, why, wherefore, what for, title
what’s starting here, now, & going
who knows where or when?
or maybe nowhere, nowhen,
& ending now, here
or maybe not.
Pauses are good.
I can feel the sun rising
up the back of my neck,
hear the sometimes separate
& sometimes chorusing
chirpings & chirrupings
& repeated whistlings & cawings
of several birds, with soft sequences
of snores occasionally providing
both a slow beat & some bass
as the shadow of my head extends
further over the table edge,
until my neck feels too warm
& I turn & arise & draw the curtain
behind me
So many paintings by so many artists,
some so great, some not so great,
come to mind, & go again
to where all past things go
until they’re remembered again
& anew, always anew, never only
as seen or remembered before
because any title could only limit,
diminish, detract, confine,
all that is & that isn’t there in the painting,
or because the artist wasn’t very verbal,
or was lazy, or was merely following
a fashionable mannerism. Who cares?
Pause again. Or end here. Or not.
We’ll see. Let’s get up, walk about a bit,
step outside into the sunshine.
with the iPad.
& sitting outside
I take some pics, sunbeams streaming
onto lilac jacaranda leaves strewn
on the drying mown grass that remains
on the stone-packed earth still awaiting
some good rain, then rise, take a pic
with the tips of my slippers showing,
look at them, take a selfie, then walk around a bit
& take some more, with the sun behind me,
the still-young poinciana that we planted starting to leaf,
the older jacarandas in their still-early blossoming,
a part-shadow of the photographer-me
beside one of the many dandelions rising & flowering
throughout the paddock, or amidst a shadow arch
of poinciana branches & views towards & above & around
our little house that was once a “bales” on this property
once known as “The Old Dairy”, where they used to milk
the cows they grazed on totally cleared rainforest land
in what was once Bundjalung country.
I’m here now, I think, walking back inside.
I’m here now, & glad to be here, now, still breathing,
if not always easily, at least not yet with a need
for bought oxygen, glad no longer to be there
where the terrible things are still happening
& getting more terrible from day to day,
glad too that I’ve written & published
all I feel I needed to say on the subject,
& even if only a few people have seen &/or read any
or all of it, I needn’t keep coming back to all that again.
I’ll publish this later, with some of the pics,
then breakfast, while viewing today’s online newspapers,
& maybe some Facebook, where I might
like or share or comment or ignore,
whatever I feel then, then take morning meds & then
do whatever else needs doing, none of that matters now,
in this good space & time I’ve titled
Untitled (1).

What is really called for: an ultimatum to the State of Israel

If they weren’t most of them hypocrites,
the governments & the parliaments
of the nations now recognizing
or being called on to recognize
the State of Palestine
(for how can a State subsist
without viable living space?)
they & the entire United Nations
would do what is really called for:
issue an ultimatum to the State of Israel:

People make mistakes
Parliaments make mistakes
Governments make mistakes
The United Nations has made mistakes
Mistakes cannot be undone,
Their consequences cannot be undone,
But mistakes can be admitted,
apologized for, & the needed work of
mending, compensation, reconciliation
can begin to be begun.
The UN General Assembly created
what would become the State of Israel
when on November 29, 1947 they voted
overwhelmingly for an unequitable partition
of Palestine into a Jewish state & an Arab state,
& when the State of Israel was proclaimed
on 14 May, 1948, it was soon recognized
by a large number of the world’s nations
& is today recognized by 160 of the 192
(83%) of the other member states of the UN.

People can make promises,
can commit themselves to good causes.
Parliaments can & have done this
Governments can & have done this
The United Nations can & has done this.
& sometimes they remain committed,
& sometimes they don’t.On December 10, 1948
The UN General Assembly adopted
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“the most universal human rights document
in existence, delineating the thirty fundamental rights
that form the basis for a democratic society”.
Sadly, it cannot be said that all those thirty
fundamental rights are truly available to people
living in the member states of the United Nations,
even in those that call themselves democratic societies.
But it can definitely be said that for the past 47 years
at least, the State of Israel has violated, & continues
to violate almost every one of those
thirty fundamental rights.

& this fact needs to be exposed
& the State of Israel should be held to account
as should all countries that are signatories
to the Declaration but continue to violate its articles.
& this will need to be addressed in all those countries.
But it seems only just to begin with the State of Israel
because it has the chutzpah to call itself a democracy,
& to call itself the “national state of the Jewish people”,
while it tramples underfoot the lives of people
living within its undefined borders as second-class “citizens”
& makes unbearable the lives of others in its occupied territories.

so if they weren’t most of them hypocrites, afraid of
being called on their own violations of the Declaration,
the governments & the parliaments of the nations
now recognizing or being called on to recognize
the State of Palestine, they & the entire United Nations
would do what is really called for, & issue such an ultimatum.

ppp (previously published poems) 1: The Other, In the Pardess

Today I’m opening a new section &/or “category” on this blogsite, in which I intend to republish previously published poems of mine.
This morning I felt that this might be a good one to begin with.
pardess crop
This poem was published in arc: Journal of the Israel Association of Writers in English, 1 (Tel Aviv, 1982).

Anat Rimon-Or Responds to Attacks After Her Status on ISIL

John Brown is the pseudonym of an Israeli academic and blogger. Many of his articles have appeared in English in +972 Magazine & elsewhere. I read this article in the Hebrew original in Local Call, was very moved by it, & I identify with its spirit, but didn’t find any English translation in +972. I messaged John Brown on Facebook, told him I felt it was important that it should also be published in English, asked him if I could translate it, & received his permission to do so. So here it is:

Anat Rimon-Or Responds to Attacks After Her Status on ISIL

by John Brown |  Published in Hebrew in Local Call | 20.10.2014
Translated by Richard Flantz | 23.10.14
Is there a difference between bombing thousands of innocent Gazans or Iraqis and the beheading of a Western person? Dr. Rimon-Or became the object of a media offensive after publishing a status in which she called for a halt to the demonization of ISIL, and for thinking about other ways of acting. Now she responds.

A week ago, on October 12, “Columbus Day” was celebrated in the USA. In other parts of the continent it was celebrated as the “Day of the Race” and in Spain it’s called the “Day of Hispanicity”. It marks the day in 1492 when Columbus arrived at the shores of the Bahamas, as every child who went to school on the American continent knows very well.What is less known is that the day when the “West” “discovered” America was the first day of methodical genocide carried out on the natives of the continent. The murder and subjugation of millions, trade in women, mass rape, wholesale killing of children for amusement, or merely to test the sharpness of the Spaniards’ knives. This does not prevent the states that arose on the ruins of this oppression to annually force their native inhabitants to celebrate the day on which their holocaust began. The conquistadores who headed the campaigns of murder were and still are heroes of Western culture.

Today it’s already possible to carry out mass killings while the person executing it sits safely, very far from his victims. The rigid departmentalized and hierarchical structures of modern armies make it possible for the direct executioners to evade responsibility with the excuse that they were carrying out orders, and that this is the only way to conduct matters in an army. True, to bomb a house in which there are 20 people, even if it’s known that 11 of them are children, is one thing, while to murder them with your own hand is a different matter altogether. It turns out that it’s also a very different matter to bomb thousands of innocent Gazans, Iraqis and Afghans than to behead a Western person. It’s almost madness to imagine that the occupation of the West Bank of the Jordan could have continued since 1967 had its inhabitants been decent Europeans. It’s hard to think that the State of Israel could have come into existence in such a situation.

Actually, it almost a trivial argument to say that killing, no matter how it is done, is morally unconscionable and is not very different from one case to another. And if we are shocked to the depths of our souls by killing of one kind, like the shocking killings executed by the Islamic State, and not by other killings that are executed on a much larger scale, and with means that are more violent (in my opinion) – we should at least examine well why this is so, and if this is a desirable situation & not a two-edged sword that condemns us to cycles of bloodshed.

"Prayer". Photo: Islamic State

“Prayer”. Photo: Islamic State

Dr. Anat Rimon-Or recently expressed an argument along these lines on her Facebook page. This argument was pounced on by the right as if they’d found a great haul. Most was made of it by Sharon Gal, a talkbacker of the lowest kind, when he broadcast an interview with her that even by the standards of the Israeli media may be called shameful, and deliberately didn’t allow her to explain her thoughts because his only aim was to revile her in the ugliest way possible. Gal was of course afraid that Dr. Rimon-Or might ruin his fun with her explanations, so it seems to me reasonable to give her the opportunity to explain what she meant.

I’m glad she has chosen to do so despite the media slander she has experience, and here are her words:

A little before Yom Kippur I published a post which presented ISIL in a somewhat favorable human way, and suggested that Obama might do better to replace his bombing plans with an apology, an offer of compensation, and an attempt to arrive at a political arrangement. Responses claiming this was insanity and loss of moral direction were not late in coming, and aroused further responses in the printed media, on the web, and on television. Since then, threats that reflect (so it seems to me) on everything that is dear to me today and will be in the future, have been flooding all the channels that connect me to the net.

The verbally-violent responders aren’t responsible for their situation. For many years now the norm that has been dominant in the media states that any expression of support for anyone whom ‘we’ have defined as ‘our enemy’ is a sign of the speaker’s mental deficiency. This leaves only one mode of expression open to critical speakers: they must prove that they are sane. What has completely disappeared from the discourse is the possibility of discussing arguments, and of presenting a complex world picture. The ‘we’ is merely a public that has developed a form of behavior that meets any criterion for definitions of herd culture, and for those of a fascist public. This phenomenon in itself should have shaken the foundations of academia and especially those of the colleges of education, but like processes that preceded it, regrettably, it continues through their criminal silence. This is the very bottom of a moral abyss that numbs the senses of an entire public, and allows the denial of rights and the indiscriminate murder of anyone who is defined as an ‘enemy’. This abyss also makes it possible for the government to have total control over the people, and there is no way out of it, except the one that leads to collapse. There are people who are guilty for this path: intellectuals and members of the society who remain silent and journalists who speak the diseased discourse and nothing else.

ISIL has been defined as an enemy with demonic qualities that have nothing behind them but the drive to kill and murder. Like Hamas before it, in July-August of this year. This image of the murderous demon should be exploded, because it never has any connection with the people or the organizations that it is stuck onto. Its sole function is to legitimize unjustified murder. It’s possible that the people or the organization referred to are very cruel, but what creates the demonic image is not the cruelty, but the intention to exterminate. This can apply to Jews, to Hamas, or to ISIL. That is why we need to reject the image of the murderous demon. We have to find, behind it, the human statement, which is always there (even if the organization, for its own reasons, conceals it well), and to point it out as a basis for an arrangement that will stop the bloodshed.

People ask me: “Do you justify the beheaders? The traders in women? The enslavers of children?”. I’ll come to each of these further on. In the meantime I’ll just say that when someone seeks revenge and murder he positions himself as a judge. When someone seeks peace, he positions himself as a listener.

When ISIL becomes a murderous demon, with no motive other than murder in the name of Islam, every Muslim in the world becomes potentially guilty, and the discourse that remains open to him is the one that deals with the question: ‘Is this Islam, or is not this Islam?’ This is again a dangerous discourse, which encourages more young people to join extreme groups, and not because murderous imperatives are inherent in Islam, but because this is a discourse that does injustice to Islam.

What, actually, did I say in that post that became so provocative? I said that there was something captivating in the way an organization armed with butchers’ knives, vans, and advanced editing programs to turn the power relations and to remonstrate towards the entire West. It’s true, regrettably. If it weren’t true ISIL would not have attracted young people from all over Europe. And precisely because it is true, we need to understand it. We need to understand it by understanding the cruelty of how the Third World is exploited by the West every day, and every hour, and by understanding the West’s patronizing attitude, which demands gratitude, towards migrants to it from the Third World.

The prevalent view is that those who join ISIL are ‘mad’. That’s correct, if you insist on identifying the organization as a murderous demon and nothing more. That is a position that leads those who take it to no place other than the one that leads to more bloodshed.

As for the public beheadings: it is indeed terrible and horrible because it is the murder of innocent people committed in order to frighten. But  on that basis, it’s evident that that the bombing of neighborhoods and villages from the air is much more terrible, because many more innocent people die, because its purpose is to spread terror, and because the media act to conceal this, instead of exposing it. And we haven’t yet counted the number of starved people in various parts of the world in the process of producing airplanes in comparison to those in the processes of producing knives. This is true, regrettably, also with regard to murders by means of rifle bullets.

The trade in women for purposes of sex: I personally am for the bombing from the air of everyone who trades in sex, and of each of its consumers. The realization of my fantasy would lead to the murder of half of the men in Israel. We don’t have to go as far as ISIL.

Slavery: I’m definitely against it. At the same time I refuse to see the slave trade of ISIS as a pretext for war. I know lots of smartphone owners who know that that the horrible and terrible slavery of children, which takes many victims in Africa and Asia, is the basis for their mobile phones. This doesn’t prevent them from complaining that the phone is ‘too flexible’ (yes!), and it doesn’t prevent them from confusing the refugees from Africa with the phone makers, from claiming that the refugees are migrant workers and demanding their expulsion. Here we have a much graver form of slavery, and a much graver attitude to laborpower: work for me for a dollar a day, throughout your entire childhood, and all your children too if you reach adulthood, and then get out of my territory for which your enslavement produces its wealth. This attitude is shared by all consumers in the West. I’m against child labor, and against slavery altogether, but bombing ISIL is not the solution to this problem.

What this means is that we shouldn’t confuse the different use that ISIL makes of cruelty with its degree of cruelty. And anyone who bombs people in the name of humane ideas would do better to take a good look at himself before sending weapons to exterminate masses of people in the name of those ideas. This message aroused the impression that I’d gone out of my mind: after all, the norm is that anyone who deviates from the rules of the discourse that glorifies ‘us’ and freely permits shedding the blood of the ‘enemy’ us not sane. This is a very sick discourse that is a symptom of a dangerous reality.

A Call to Awakening: An Open Letter to All Jews in All the Diasporas

(I write this in English, which can reach many even beyond the diasporas in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia & South Africa, but wish I could also translate it into French, Russian, Spanish, German, Arabic, at least (perhaps someone else will?); I can & will later translate it into Hebrew, where it can be read by Jews who live in what seems to be the largest of the Jewish diasporas today – yes, still a diaspora, in a land they have colonized & taken from its original inhabitants, exiling the majority of them & brutally occupying &/or harshly restricting & repeatedly wreaking devastation on those who remain there.)

Jews, Jews, Jews, this is a call to all Jews, to every Jew,
be you a religious Jew or a secular Jew, a Jew who’s proud
to be a Jew, or a Jew who doesn’t give a shit that you’re a Jew
but still know you’re a Jew, either because your parents were Jews
or because others call you a Jew. & it’s a call to an awakening,
to a responsibility, to, above all, human & humane compassion

Jews, Jews, Jews,
we who complained how the world stood by silent
while the Nazis methodically and “legitimately”
assaulted, humiliated, violated, incarcerated, tortured,
bashed, booted, shot, gassed & exterminated
six million Jewish souls & stole or destroyed
who knows how many precious possessions & buildings
& art works & communities, crushing a thriving Jewish life
in almost of all eastern & central Europe

how can we stand silently by
while the country that dares to call itself
the national state of our people, that dares to call itself
by the name of the mythical father of our people
continues to oppress millions of Arab Palestinians
under a brutal occupation that can breed nothing
but violent resistance that this state then can respond to
by massive & devastating & practically genocidal assaults
like the latest campaign of carnage in Gaza,
which also earn billions of dollars
for armaments & other corporations
in that state & others?

how long can we continue to allow
the Jewish organizations in the countries we live in,
who claim to represent the Jews in our country,
to continue supporting whatever that state does?

I know it isn’t easy to awaken from the dream
most of us shared when out of the horrors of the Shoah
the State of Israel arose. I know how much strength
& pride & encouragement Jews in all the diasporas gained
from seeing a proud Jewish spirit arising in the aftermath
of that worst of the many holocausts our people have known.
I remember how gladly & generously diaspora communities
donated money & gave support to the Zionist endeavor.

I myself in my youth was drawn by the romantic dream
& made aliyah & joined a kibbutz & later lived in Tel Aviv
& married & raised a family there for several decades,
but I saw that this was a state in a state of war
in a conquered & occupied land, & I realized that this war
was not & is not my war, not a war I can support
with any conscience. I live again in Australia now,
the country I left in my youthful romanticism for that
false dream of a just earthly Zion, where we could be
as the anthem of hope falsely says, a free people
in our own land.

But a people cannot be free
if it robs others of freedom, and the land, the land,
whether bought at one time from absentee landowners
or conquered by force, is not & cannot be our own.
Not when so many of those who lived there before us
are barred from it. Not when the existence of the state
that calls itself Jewish depends on the continued
lack of freedom of almost six million Arab Palestinians
in the Occcupied Territories & Israel, & the continued
exclusion of almost another six million elsewhere,
more than four million of them in refugee camps
in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, & Saudi Arabia.

How much longer will we keep silent?
In the USA, “Open Hillel” has opened a way,
so have other Jewish organizations, in other diasporas too,
but ways must be found to reach Jews who are not yet aware,
or who have not thought enough about it to care,
or don’t realize that they should also beware,
because what that state is doing in the name of our people
will yet breed more hate for our people everywhere & anywhere
Though I need to say that our response needs to be motivated
not so much by such fear, as by reconnecting to values we as Jews
should hold dear, such as humane compassion
especially for persecuted peoples, for this is something we know,
if not in our personal histories, then without doubt in our genes.

I wish this call could be heard & read by as many Jews everywhere
as possible, but know no other way than to publish it here,
on my blogsite. I hope someone who reads it may want to share
it, I wish it could go viral, I wish Jews everywhere would make their
voices heard too, so that those living in that state & continuing their
occupation policies & practices may know they no longer
have the support of most of the Jews in the world

& then maybe they’ll start thinking about some practical way
to create either a viable state with equal rights for all Palestinians,
Arab or Jewish, with cultural autonomy for both, or two equally
viable states for both nations, the Arab Palestinian nation
& the Israeli-Jewish Palestinian nation, both of which have
developed cultures that are distinctly their own.

But what they do & decide is their problem. Ours is to tell them
we no longer support you in whatever you do that continues
the continuing injustice. If you move towards a just solution
we will support you. But you can’t take our support
for granted any more. & what we need to do is to
make them hear this. & to do that we need to awaken
from our long, far too long, silence.

We, I, you, every Jew everywhere, be you a religious Jew
or a secular Jew, a Jew who’s proud to be a Jew,
or a Jew who doesn’t give a shit that you’re a Jew
but still know you’re a Jew, either because your parents were Jews
or because others call you a Jew. This is a call to an awakening,
to a responsibility, to, above all, human & humane compassion.

An Englishing of Shlomi Shaban’s song “An Exercise in Awakening” (Israel’s Channnel 2’s Top Song for 2014)

I’m republishing here my first draft translation of Shlomi Shaban’s song “An Exercise in Awakening”, which is referred to in my previous post where I embedded my Facebook share & translation of the main points of Nissim Calderon’s article “On the Flowering & on What is Beneath the Flowering” & the conversation that has developed out of it so far.
Apart from the version that can be watched on the video accompanying the article, you can also hear the song sung as a duet by Shlomi Shaban & Chava Alberstein on
http://shironet.mako.co.il/artist?type=lyrics&lang=1&prfid=16195&wrkid=37035 (where, if you can read Hebrew, you can also read the original lyrics that I translated).An_Exercise_in_Awakening

A Hebrew-Jewish-Israeli, an English&Hebrew Jewish ex-Polish-etc+ex-Israeli Australian, & a non-Jewish erstwhile-Israeli-resident Englishman walk into…. no, create, a “thread”

I’m embedding here what I feel is a fascinating & illuminating conversation on the painful Israel/Palestine issue that has developed so far since I shared a post (on Facebook, two days ago) by Nissim Calderon , to which I added an introductory preamble & a translation of its main points. The three participants mentioned in the title above are Nissim Calderon, myself, and Brien Assiter. I’ve known Nissim, who’s a noted writer & a Professor of Hebrew Literature & other interesting subjects in Israel, since my years in the 1980s & early ’90 as a lecturer on English & American literature at Tel Aviv University, & I’ve known Brien, who’s a free-spirited free-ranging multi-media artist & writer,  since the time he was part of the now-so-called “first hippie commune in Israel” that was centered around our house & several other houses on or near the “Upper Street” in Rosh Pina in the Galilee in the early 1970s, & I’m glad to have both of them as friends, & even gladder that this conversation has developed as it has.
To read the entire conversation, you will need to click the little “conversation” icon with a “9” beside it underneath the embedded Facebook post – & each time to click “See more” wherever that appears in the post.

If anyone wishes to join the conversation they are most welcome. Since this post will also be publicized on Facebook, I hereby notify anyone who chooses to post their comments there rather than here, that at a certain point I may also embed those comments in another post here on this blogsite.