No, I’m not an Arab / la, ana la 3arabi / لا، أنا لأ عربي / לא, אני לא ערבי


The determining cause of the ongoing occupation: ISRAELI JEWS’ BASIC FEAR OF LOSING THEIR CONTROL OF ACCESS TO POWER – & “I have no other country” … / הסיבה המכרעת להמשך הכיבוש: פחדם הבסיסי של יהודים ישראלים מאיבוד נגישותם לשלטון – ו”אין לי ארץ אחרת” …וכ”ה

The words in capitals in the title are drawn from Ran Greenstein’s comment copied below:


(Ran’s comment [& the other 2] are on Sol Salbe’s sharing  of
הערתו של רן (ו2 האחרות) הם מהלינק הראשון המסומן בתכלת לעיל. תרגום לעברית של הכתוב מטה מופיע מיד אחריו

Kudos to Ran Greenstein for expressing it so incisively. To my mind, there really can be no question that the determining cause for continuing the occupation is Israeli Jews basic fear of losing the access they have to power & to what  it affords them (access  that they have gained & continue to maintain & reinforce through brutal military force & with the support & complicity of the US, the “international community”, & proponents of Zionism in the Jewish diaspora). All the other “reasons” are stories the occupiers buy into & endeavor to sell to others.

& since the underlying  determining cause is a basic fear, then the issue is more than political: it  also has an emotional, psychological dimension, of what looks like a collective psychosis. In using this word I’m not suggesting that what is feared is a delusion. If the occupation ends, & a reconciliation brings about a just compromise acceptable to both sides,the Israeli Jews will lose their exclusive & exceptionalist control of access to power etc. The collective psychosis is in the delusion of privileged entitlement, which allows them to feel justified in continuing to be the real “Neigbborhood Bully” (Dylan really got that so wrong!) & treating their fellow countrymen as they do.

We need to talk about both the practical & the psychological dimensions of this fear.  The majority of Israeli Jews have no other citizenship, or as they often say (& there’s even a popular song with this title & opening line) “I have no other country” (clip of Gali Atari’s rendition, & lyrics + my translation below; the darker & braver aspects of the late Ehud Manor’s lyrics are generally ignored).


One thing that would help allay this dimension of the fear would be for democratic countries where all citizens have equal rights to offer citizenship to Israeli Jews who choose to emigrate from Palestine. I would even argue that it is the responsibility to do so of all those countries that have given recognition to the unilaterally declared State of Israel since 1948 & that have continued, by their support &/or their default, to be complicit in the occupation . & the sooner they do so the better.

I don’t know how many Israeli Jews would take up the offer, immediately or later. I imagine there are many that won’t, because of the emotional, psychological dimension. Home is home, even if you’ve been a villain in it. &  then there’s the collective psychosis, the whole Zionist meta-narrative. But then they will need to accept the alternative, to remain in a Palesrine where non-Jews too have full & equal rights, where they are no longer the masters. To talk about this,  perhaps we need more input from psychologists, anthropologists & historians, especially social psychologists, anthropologists & historians, on how to “alleviate” or “cure” it.

I also think this basic fear of the Israeli Jews is not unique: surely it has existed & still exists in all settler-colonialist regimes. The experience of the transition in places like South Africa, if analyzed from this perspective, may be invaluable.

Thoughts on this will be welcomed.


Lysistratan Women’s Power in Palestine?כוח נשי ליסיסטרטי בפלסטין (א”י)

Hebrew follows / עברית בהמשך
These women are wonderful. They march & demonstrate for Peace, & for Hope.
& Chaim Pessah is right in introducing his Facebook sharing of the post & video below with this comment & quote (my translation of his Hebrew & Yaakov Shabtai’s Hebrew translation of Aristophanes’ Greek):

Women’s power: Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women are marching for a peace agreement.

 “All of Greece depends on us, the women, saving it.”

Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, a play in which the women forced the men to stop the war between Athens and Sparta.

The text under the video says:

‘At this moment we’re gathering opposite the Prime Minister’s Residence preparing for the beginning of the rally. Thousands, thousands of women and men have arrived and are continuing to arrive. Come along too. Starting very soon.’

Here are some pics & links gleaned from posts on Facebook:


On the march:womenpower-march

At the concluding rally:womenpower-haaretz
“Women Wage Peace” demonstration opposite PM’s residence, this evening. Haaretz / הארץ, 2016/10/19


I admire these women. I admire their determination & their readiness to actively demonstrate it.
& I’m a great believer in women’s power.
& I’m sure they could be the ones who could bring about the necessary change.But what kind of “peace settlement” can they possibly demand? from whom? between whom?They want to bring about peace, & they could.But only if they get their message right, if they make their demand clear. Until then, such marches & demonstrations will certainly continue to show that there are thousands of Israeli women & perhaps thousands of Israeli men who oppose what the millions who elected Israel’s present & previous governments continue to support & defend. They may even also rally more thousands to join them, but they will not, cannot, achieve the true acceptance of the one side by the other that is a prerequisite for any peace between an oppressed nation & the nation oppressing it.

Only when they can say, together: We all, women & men, live in Palestine, whose name in Hebrew is also Eretz-Yisrael [Israeland]. Palestine is where most of us were born, & for most of us it is our only homeland. We are all Palestinians, Arabic-speaking & Hebrew-speaking. The Zionist occupation of Palestine must end. The militarily-maintained privileged status of Israeli Jews in Palestine must end. We demand a Free Palestine, with equal rights for all citizens & equal status for both Arabic & Hebrew cultures & languages.

All of Palestine (including the part still calling itself Israel)
perhaps depends on the women saving it.



The Evil of Banality: A Necessary Corrective by Ada Ushpiz to Eva Illouz’s Reading of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”


L: Hannah Arendt; R: Adolf Eichmann facing trial, 1961

My friend Dov Golebowicz emailed me Ada Ushpiz’s article in Haaretz, & wrote “The Evil of Banality” in the subject line; I’ve adopted it as the title of this post.

& I do stand corrected. Although there are many things that I still agree with in Eva Illouz’s article, which I shared & wrote about in a post in August, this crucial correction needs to be emphasized.

I quote below what I feel are the most salient pars in Ushpiz’s article, & emphasize in bold what I see as the most important corrective statements. From these we can gain a clearer understanding of the banality of the continuing evils being sustained in the world today by various regimes with the acquiescence and complicity of the majority of their countries’ populations & the populations of their countries’ “allies”: the violations of basic human rights implicit & explicit in military occupations of indigenous populations, among them the Zionist occupation of Palestine, the Indonesian occupation of West Papua, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the tyrannical regime in Eritrea, etc etc; the destructive & alienation-causing neoliberal-capitalist global exploitation of people & non-renewable resources; the imperialist military-industrial complexes’ power&profit-motivated destabilization of the Middle East & war-mongering in Syria & Yemen; etc etc.; the inhumane responses of many countries to the refugee crisis & the cruel detention of asylum seekers, etc etc.

Arendt never considered the Nazi evil or the Holocaust as an expression of “an undiagnosed but latent disease of regular, ordinary human beings,” as Illouz wrote. She definitely did not see Adolf Eichmann only as a cog in the monstrous Nazi machine, and she was at pains to emphasize unequivocally […] that she never meant that within each of us is hidden a small Nazi […].

From her mistaken presumption, Illouz then immediately concludes that “if within each of us there is a dormant Nazi, then evil, according to Arendt, is necessarily banal.” That is arrant nonsense, which even many of Arendt’s regular denigrators no longer dare repeat once they have been confronted with her writings. Nor did Arendt ever claim that Eichmann was not an anti-Semite or was not a Nazi idealist in every fiber of his being. It is precisely his absolute and thoughtless symbiosis with the Nazi world, its ideologies and racist norms – despicable and flagrantly immoral but nevertheless legitimate and lawful within the Nazi world, and enjoying the assent of its “moral majority” – that is the embodiment of the banality of evil.


Illouz’s attempt to diminish and simplify the idea of the banality of evil and cast it as a commonplace, all-too-human tendency “to obey, to accept authority unquestioningly, to be susceptible to group and peer pressure, and to display a special kind of forgetfulness – of the humanness of the human being they destroy” – represents the commonplace distortion of Arendt’s thought. Although Arendt does address the question of obedience, she does it within the broad and deep context of the individual’s collaboration with the world to which he belongs and which he adopts thoughtlessly (for thought is by definition critical). That symbiosis is sometimes appalling and phantasmagorical, when it leads to genocide, at times appearing to us as inevitable when it produces evil that is commonplace, familiar and acceptable to us personally, irrespective of its severity.

What unites all types of evil, which are created in the different worlds of national and social interest groups, is that the “decent citizens” of all the worlds always require a semblance of self-evidence, normality, ideologies, ethos, the legitimization of a majority of some kind, laws of nature and man-made laws, and above all a sense of morality and mission to validate the evil. To that end, the “decent folk” create an abundance of “normative morality” that suits their egoistic group needs, but whose connection to morality that is measured by criteria of universal applicability, according to Kant, and of the existence of a “common world,” according to Arendt, is scant if not nonexistent. This tangled web of maintenance of evil and the ramified modes of the individual’s thoughtless collaboration with social and national evil, are recruited to normalize evil and create an arena of the banality of evil in the life of individuals, groups and nations.


This is the reason, according to Arendt, that the battle against evil must be waged in the recesses of the individual’s morality and of thought, which by definition constantly challenges and questions consensual world orders. It’s a personal struggle of each person against social and historical fixations, patterns and legacies – what Arendt calls “the burden of mankind” that rests on man’s shoulders. The same mankind, which, along with humanism, also cultivated and justified for generations a history of evil in all its forms – imperialism, colonialism, racism and group, national and private egoism – always aimed at excluding and trampling the other.


The question that Illouz puts forward as a major issue supposedly ignored by Arendt – “What must happen in a society for a large group of people and its representatives to transform violence into a form of moral behavior?” – is also phrased problematically. It’s not my impression that Illouz is a pacifist who is trying to sweep under the rug the complex question of social and political violence. The question should be – and this is the question that Arendt posed in all its acuity – “What needs to happen in a society for some majority to transform evil into morality?” That is the question that spawned Arendt’s insight about the banality of evil – a concept that, if we read Arendt closely, encapsulates the totality of evil’s strategies to penetrate into the world and present itself as acceptable, logical, as the voice of the majority, as a mission.



& there’s also (I posted this on Facebook yesterday):

So people are saying Dylan got the wrong prize, what he does isn’t Literature, which is Fiction & Poetry & Essaysl & he’s neither an Author (of Fiction or Essays) nor a Poet.
So I’m asking: if a poet sings (& even composes music for, & plays music with) his poetry, does he stop being a poet? Is he disqualified?
Here, read this poem (technically called “lyrics}. & listen.

“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon,
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying.

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fools gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proved to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.

Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover
That you’d just be
One more person crying.

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to you ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing.

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their marks
Made everything from toy guns that sparks
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the President of the United States
Sometimes must have
To stand naked.

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it.

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

You loose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand without nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despite their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platforms ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God Bless him.

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in.

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him.

Old lady judges, watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes
Must get lonely.

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me ?

And if my thought-dreams could been seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only.

(& the fact that he also wrote & sang “Neighborhood Bully” etc, takes away as much & as little from his greatness as a poet as Ezra Pound’s pro-Fascist WW2 broadcasts take away from his.)

La scelta / The choice / הבחירה / الاختيار / Le choix / La elección / Die Wahl / Выбор: A sentence by Natalia Ginzburg in the original Italian & 7 translations

With an invitation to submit translations into other languages.