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.







so (series 2, no. 1)

is there a point in sharing posts or links no-one else gives likes to &/or comments on?
yes, if i want to have a timeline of the things I felt to share when I felt to share them
in between the things I myself composed & posted when I felt to post them
why i’d want to do this isn’t yet & may never be all clear to me
but i’m glad it’s happening & know i still want to do it

I was thinking this about my Facebook shares & poists & then came this so:
i can’t embed my Facebook timeline in my WordPress blogsite
but I can offer this to my blogsite readers: request me as a friend
(if you’re not on Facebook, you can just sign in, & then choose only friends you want
& no-one you wouldn’t want to would see your page – perhaps some mind&heartless
monitors serving political or economic interests, & what interest could they find in
words about lines of words, so don’t be afraid of Facebook).
ok, so if, or once, you’re on Facebook, send me a friend request
& a private message with at least your name & the codeword dikfla

I’d still have two timelines, one in the Archives here, one there
but now with blogsitereaders with access to the other.
that should be enough for me

the blogsite has few viewers
a few of these give likes
no-one’s made  a comment
now averaging 7 views a day
& that too is enough

even no views
as long as i want to put it out
it’s enough for me

Babbling on from Babylon 101

A fragment of an ancient Babylonian "star calendar"

A fragment of an ancient Babylonian “star calendar”

how much we owe to Babylon
we hardly ever own
how little we think of Babylon
together or alone
so much that is of value
so much that we confuse
so much we never think of
when we view our daily news

I’ll start today with one thing
still real in East & West,
for Muslims & for Jews
be they secular or religious,
& all who relate to the cycles
of the moon above our skies:
the Babylonian lunar calendar,
with its Sabbath day of rest.

I need add no more than the following link
which is a real eye-opener
(& is why I’ve added the 101 to my title)
In English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_calendar
In Hebrew: http://he.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/הלוח_הבבלי

With best wishes to all for the coming full moon of Tishrei/Muharram/Libra
two nights from now, & also as a follow-up to my earlier post
For a good year, spaces, scabs, forgiveness & healing

Composed & published today, 13 Tishrei 5775 / 13 Muharram 1436

טאטוש’, טאטוש’ו – כך קראתי לאבי בפולנית: תרגום לעברית של שורות שהרגשתי צורך לכתוב אותן בפולנית, ופרסמתי בפוסט שלפני התרגום לאנגלית שפרסמתי בפוסט הקודם

bf passport bw crop 400 (3)


טאטוש crop_Page_1

טאטוש crop_Page_2

טאטוש crop_Page_3




Tatuś, tatusiu: (What I called my Dad in Polish [I never got to call him Dad] : An English translation of Lines that I had to write in Polish & published in my previous post)

bf passport bw crop 400 (3)

atuś, tatusiu


Tatuś, tatusiu, I found myself
saying to myself, in Polish,
in a bed in a hotel room
on my first & only
visit to Warsaw, in 1996,
60 years after my birth there,
57 years after our escape from there
on the day the Germans started
bombing our city.

I don’t understand why I have to write these lines
in Polish, I don’t know if anyone will ever read them,
I don’t know how I remember, how I now write
these words, how they come from me
(with some help from online translating sites),
nor do I know if they’re grammatical or not:
I haven’t spoken, haven’t thought, have read
or written almost nothing in Polish
for almost 70 years, since I started speaking,
thinking, reading & writing mostly in English
& later also in Hebrew,
but it was my first language,
my language with my Mamusia & my Tatuś,
with my dear Grandmother, my uncles & aunts
& cousins & friends who remained behind
in Warsaw & were almost all exterminated,
and it’s somehow important to me.
to write these lines in Polish.

About two weeks ago, on the day that was
the 109th birthday of Mamusia, my Mum,
who lived 62 years, I found myself writing
lines about her in Polish, maybe also because
I’d been so moved some days earlier by reading
in Polish Wisława Szymborska’s poem “Any Case”
when a friend sent me an English translation,
and yesterday, on the 69th anniversary
of my father’s death on Yom Kippur 5706 (1945)
in Shanghai, I published a memoir
of my experience of that day (in English)
in a post on my blog, & then most of that day
found myself writing these lines
to and about him in Polish.

Tatuś, tatusiu,
sweet words, sweet thoughts,
sweet feelings for a person
I knew for no more than 9¼ years,
how many times I spoke those words to him
how often he listened to me
how he helped me in Shanghai
to learn English
& later also Russian
so I could read books & newspapers
when English publications became
inaccessible there after Pearl Harbor,
(already then I was addicted to reading)
& I could also listen to Radio Moscow
& follow the Red Army’s victorious
advances westward, & mark
each of them with little red flags
on a map that I stuck on the wall,
with hopes & yearnings for this war to end

& how he took me with him sometimes
when he went to buy stamps
for his personal collection of Polish stamps
or Chinese stamps that might be
a good investment, and helped me to build
a small collection of stamps of the British Empire;
& sometimes he took me along to cafés
where he met friends or others
he may have had business with;
& once or twice to the dog races,
& once or twice to Jai Alai games.

& I still remember how once
he was very angry with me
when he bought some good meat
on the black market especially for me
& I couldn’t eat it, I felt sick,
but he got so angry, he wanted to beat me
with his belt, I hid under the table
& Mamusia didn’t let him hit me.

& maybe there was also always a tension
between us, from his fear that my mother
might love me more than him,
a tension I know myself as a father
of three sons, a tension, I imagine,
that all fathers who’ve grown up
in a patriarchal/romantic culture
sometimes feel, and my father was
a very jealous man, so my mother wrote
in her memoirs.

but all that aside, & also
those many hard memories
of the painful last year of his life
that I wrote briefly about in that post
in my blog & don’t want to repeat here,
I remember him with love and admiration,
& know deeply that I owe my life,
yes, to chance or luck in every case,
but also to him, for his sperm, for his spirit,
for his love & his resourceful support of my mother & me
and also for doing all that he did to bring us
to safety, where we could survive that war,
and to enable me to grow & become who I am now,
still remembering the only three words I actually
remember him saying to me, and quite often:
“Everything is possible.”

[a Hebrew translation will hopefully follow tomorrow]