فلسطين (Palestine)

+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. Today (22 Nov. 2015) it reports that Israelis are removing Arabic language from signs in Israel.

An Israeli road sign that omits Jerusalem’s Arabic name (‘Al-Quds’), instead using the Hebracized Urshalim.


It’s consistent with other measures taken to effect ethnic purity in the Levant. Traditional hasbara students are educated in a set of arguments that proclaims Palestinians  unpersons. I have read handbook-quality materials that seek to “explain” that the first Palestinians came into being on a single day in the 1967 war. It is easier to control a people when that people does not exist.

Arabic does not have a “P” sound in its alphabet, Romance alphabets do; for example, Paris in Arabic language is ‘Baris.’ It would not be phonetically logical to expect to hear the word ‘Palestine’ spoken in Arabic. It makes sense to acknowledge that the English equivalent Philistine begins with an “F” sound. Filistine.


Image from Palestinian Arabic

There are efforts to force (or phorce) the history of the Palestinians into a more convenient geography that better serves their argument by employing the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. It’s a method that has been effective ever since Homo sapiens lived in a land without a people.

The British Empire efficiently ran their worldwide enterprise by employing a divide and conquer strategy. Sometimes overlooked was their ability to impose the imperial language upon the occupied. The Palestinian scholar Edward Said, in his seminal work Orientalism published in 1978 described the dynamic. From his birth he found himself split between cultures, with a juxtaposition of the English name Edward and the common Arabic surname Said. This caused some difficulty in the multicultural multi faith city of  Jerusalem. In thought he would begin a sentence in English and end it in Arabic, or vice versa.


The same British Empire used a puppet mechanism for control of The Raj in India. It’s not always wonderful to live in a culture that writes in the language of the conqueror. English has become the principal  medium of the written word in Indian literature: English is an unfortunate medium that replaces Hindi, a tongue with deep roots.

Aatish Tameer

Under the British Mandate many worked fiercely to have Hebrew included along with English on public signs, as a signal for their cultural and ethnic identity. The irony of witnessing removal of Arabic on signs is not lost on this author.




The Rock of Three Planets

What to look for, text to accompany this post, great read to share
What to look for, text to accompany this post, great read to share

Lisa and I share an interest in the long-lost and the newly lost novel of prized genres: science fiction, circa 1911 American popular culture, Bobbsey Twins and the like in the unexpurgated original, pulp mysteries of the 1940 and 50’s written by forgotten giants, such as Cornell Woolrich. I could continue the inventory categories but you’re better served by stopping by to browse our bookshelves, to discover the unexpected titles on book spines with faded or striking illustrations. Should you encounter a loose copy of Penrod and Sam let us know. But let’s consider a recent emergent from the stacks, a youth-oriented novel (part of a trilogy even) from 1963 by A.M. Lightner: The Rock of Three Planets.


We frequent a library discard sale of the best-kept-secret-kind: the bimonthly  Campbell County Library Friends of the Library Discard Sale. This volume lay undiscovered among its fellow book travelers in the youth section of the sale. As is material for legend, Lisa’s eye is ever alert for the unrecognized endangered species of collectable. You’ll want to clamor for her secret power, but its a day for Ms. Lightner.

You may already wax familiar with an internet niche site that offers used copies of The Rock of:

The Amazons

You don’t always expect to find a jaw-droppingly good cult classic text among your 50-cent purchases, but this one does drop such a jaw. 1963 cover art of rare device, circulation pocket holding a card for dated rubber stamps, another page for more rubber stamps. Hey, this is the property of the Third District School Library in Covington KY and it was rebound by New Method Book Bindery. Library volume 5944.

OK Bill, you pedant. What about the story, tell us about the story.

I’ve just reread this book blurb and now realize that the last sentence contains an enormous SPOILER ALERT. If you don’t want to have the ending irrevocably spoiled, consider this a cautionary.

A thumbnail sketch of our characters. You'll get to know them well by the end of the book. Count them among your friends and join the cult following.
A thumbnail sketch of our characters. You’ll get to know them well by the end of the book. Count them among your friends and join the cult following. Keywords: rock, three, planets.

This book was published at a time in my life when science fiction opened avenues of wonder upon discovering science fiction magazines in the year it appeared. Lightner’s perspective appeals to me on just such a personal level. Lisa read it first, she kept encouraging to just read the dang thing and see how great a book we owned. Well the cover struck me right away, only upon reading though did I discover how well the illustrator captured the essence of this novel. It takes place at a crucial point in the plot. As Lisa noted the action only really gets underway in the second half, but does it get going. Yes, it gets going. The rock as character bonds with the reader, becoming a real pal upon introduction. This is not something you expect immediately from a rock of several origins but the creäture residing within its shell stays in memory. The author balances her characters deftly and with ingenuity. The book is peopled with characters you care about. The language does not condescend to a younger audience, it challenged my vocabulary. A whole-heart approval, worth the sticker shock.

Cult classics arise from the grass-roots, no exception with Rock since genuine enthusiasm is contagious, so if you’ve ever visited Google you might find points of departure and encouragement from Lightner’s fans. I offer a single warning: beware the spoiler.

Now that your appetite is whet consider that trilogy I mentioned earlier, or explore the internet, your local or non local library perhaps. We may just see you there. Just saying.



George Orwell and Stanley Cohen

The William Kunstler of our time, defender of the super-underdog, has been in prison since January 5, 2015. Human rights attorneys are a rare breed. Perhaps an endangered species.

Q.What do lawyers and sperm have in common?
A: A one in a million shot at being human.

-Stephen Fry

So Stanley Cohen is one in a million.

I follow Caged but Undaunted under the byline Marion Heads on WordPress. It maintains focus on the downtrodden, where the exploited live on the edge of existence. The views expressed on the blog are indeed undaunted, opinions often missing in what could be spirited spontaneous political discourse. What does a prison serve? What is the purpose of a jailer? To prevent escape. Pure and unexpurgated arguments should flow with freedom and abandon: you can tell when an author’s thoughts tether to a strict follow-the-line agenda or protocol.

First letters of STANLEY L. COHEN covered by the cage. The freed bird over the last letter. Send a letter to the caged: http://freestanleycohen.xs2.net
Send a letter to the caged: http://freestanleycohen.xs2.net

There are three words most associated with Stanley Cohen: Up the Rebels. His editorial on Prison America is as forcefully expressed as it is true. It’s the pulse of the USA in 2015. The prison-industrial complex beats to its tune. Much there is to know but the last thing the planet needs.

George Orwell as a soldier in Burma knew he was a tool of empire. He knew the imperious every day spent there, but he lived to tell us what happens to the human soul when twisted and contorted. His short stories “A Hanging” and “To Shoot an Elephant” reflect endless empire, endless war. Orwell chose the title 1984 as the simple inversion of the year of publication: 1948. The empire was in the state of dissolution. At a time of personal privation following his British Empire years he informs his readers of being  Down and Out in Paris and London. It is a memoir of the time he worked on the other side of an exclusive restaurant’s swinging doors. Orwell is synonymous with a vision of how the present may know a future.

Stanley Cohen is now in prison, his speech muted. Until January 5th his voice was available on Twitter. Hope we hear from him soon. Defending the disenfranchised is the bulwark of fair and decent society, though it’s safer to join with the tyranny of a majority.  While writing this post coverage of the events in Paris encompass news media. And as a small but vocal voice I continue to write about daily life in Palestine and Israel, where such deaths administered by agents of civil authority are hourly occurrences. Were I to sport a keffiyeh in the local supermarket would I draw attention? Or to wear a Palestinian flag?

Richard Leiby published an article in 2002 on ‘Behind the News in Israel‘. It provides perspective from a dozen years ago.

Thanks for reading.

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