Born into Hebrew, born into Jewhood…

Nitza posted this today, A portrait of both of us, on the background of fragments of the Hebrew biblical text on the moving & powerfully symbolic story of Abraham’s binding & almost-sacrifice of  his “only” son Isaac (Genesis 22.1–18).

n bornintohebrew
“I was born into Hebrew / & that, it becomes clear, is fate”, she wrote in Hebrew.

She indeed was born into Hebrew, in Tel Aviv, Palestine, in 1943. I wasn’t. I was born into Polish, in Warsaw, Poland, in 1936.

But we were both born into Jewhood, which, like a language, is something you’re born into — even more than a language, my own experience tells me, for I stopped thinking in & speaking Polish even before I arrived in Australia in 1947 as a refugee, but haven’t stopped feeling Jewish since I learned I was a Jew, in Shanghai. & though not born into Hebrew, I learned a lot of it during my teens & early twenties, and much much more after I “ascended” to Israeland in 1959 & lived there for close on four decades.

& today, here in Australia, we both live in two languages — English & Hebrew, thinking & speaking in one as often as the other & sometimes both in the one sentence, & reading & writing both from right to left & from left to right…

& we are both enriched by this bilingualism, which is also a biculturalism, for in & by means of Israeli Hebrew the Zionist nation-building project in Palestine has engendered a rich culture that transcends & sometimes critiques & opposes Zionism — a culture that connects to (& sometimes critically deconstructs) works from all periods of Hebrew & Jewish culture & also, through translations, to works from countless other cultures, periods and languages.

The biblical story that Nitza relates to in this work has in fact been taken as a motif in numerous works in Israeli Hebrew literature and visual art, often in bitter protest at the nation’s sacrificing its sons “for the nation”, & sometimes relating it to the story of Abraham’s casting out his first son, Ishmael.

Here’s a sonnet I wrote on this theme quite a few decades ago (in English):

unsacrificed (2)
And here, for reference, is the chapter from Genesis, in English, & in Hebrew, followed by a further remark.


Well, so far, if this mythical Abraham represents a primal ancestor of all Jews, in some of his “offspring” (the ESV’s euphemistic translation of “seed”, a word that emphasizes the patriarchalist genetics of Judaism) “all the nations of the earth” have indeed been “blessed”, but in or by others that is not exactly the case. Ask those who live under occupation, or who are forced exiles from, the country where this story is said to have happened.

12 articles I’ve recently shared etc on Facebook

To read on in my longer intros to these articles, click “See more”; to read the articles, click on the picture or the headline,



I saw the headline of this article by Paul Mason in The Guardian, earlier today, but for some reason thought it wasn’t serious. Then I saw it again in my Facebook newsfeed, shared by my FB friend Paul Norton, whose opinion I esteem. So I read it. Click on the picture or title to read it too.

& I think it’s a brilliant analysis of how information is corroding the neoliberalcapitalist market economy, & is — for our world’s social future — the best news ever since capitalism began , & essential reading for everyone on the “left” everywhere in the world.

(& Postcapitalism’s a pretty good name: you can post, i can post, we can all post…)

Of course it could be a brilliant sinister spin to keep us (we the majority of today’s working class, everyone who works to stay &/or keep others alive  [today they call it the workforce]) consumerhappy, complacent & complicit in keeping neoliberalcapitalism’s heartless global control & austerity going (Mason tells us the true meaning of the word “austerity”. ‘Austerity is not eight years of spending cuts, as in the UK, or even the social catastrophe inflicted on Greece. It means driving the wages, social wages and living standards in the west down for decades until they meet those of the middle class in China and India on the way up.’

Is it a spin? I (ever the optimist, & seeing much evidence around me of what Mason writes about, & a firm believer in the power & importance of the imagination  — like Mason: ‘The power of imagination will become critical. In an information society, no thought, debate or dream is wasted – whether conceived in a tent camp, prison cell or the table football space of a startup company’) don’t think so.

‘New forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past 10 years, which the media has dubbed the “sharing economy”. Buzzwords such as the “commons” and “peer-production” are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this development means for capitalism itself. / I believe it offers an escape route – but only if these micro-level projects are nurtured, promoted and protected by a fundamental change in what governments do. And this must be driven by a change in our thinking – about technology, ownership and work. So that, when we create the elements of the new system, we can say to ourselves, and to others: “This is no longer simply my survival mechanism, my bolt hole from the neoliberal world; this is a new way of living in the process of formation.”

There’s also a fine excursus on how ‘Marx imagined something close to our information economy. He wrote its existence would blow capitalism sky high’. & a glimpse of the future:

‘With the terrain changed [by the growth of the postcapitalist economy], the old path beyond capitalism imagined by the left of the 20th century is lost. / But a different path has opened up. Collaborative production, using network technology to produce goods and services that only work when they are free, or shared, defines the route beyond the market system. It will need the state to create the framework – just as it created the framework for factory labour, sound currencies and free trade in the early 19th century. The postcapitalist sector is likely to coexist with the market sector for decades, but major change is happening.’

& in the meantime — apart from developing the postcapitalist sector however much we do or don’t, &, as much as we can, working to influence the state to create the necessary frameworks, which also means spreading information about the information economy & its hopes, so that politicians will need to consider these matters — do we stop opposing global neoliberalcapitalist profits-before-people&environment projects & treaties & nationalist, ethnic, racist, or religious preneoliberalcapitalist exclusions, exploitations, discriminations, and devastations? I don’t thnk so.

guardianmason endcap

& yes, i’m stoned. so — is this less so? the best news ever since the beginning of capitalism?

& if you like &/or agree with the article, how about sharing it? (& if you like & /or agree with this post of mine, why not share it that way?)