Arabic Script or Latin Alphabet: What Gives?

Arabic is a subtle language with a script that flows from right to left one millimeter at a time. Arabic sounds originate from vocal chord to the tip of the tongue, each brings slight variations in tone, in duration — these determine intent, what you seek to share. Meaning relies on accurate spoken and written construction.

It’s also a shape-shifter. Each letter may morph in four ways — a single letter may assume four forms, yet remain as unambiguously and reliably distinguishable as a pattern-matching schema. Examine the Arabic letter nunn (“n”):

nun
Unambiguous after all, is it not?

Arabic describes those slight but significant sound variations with a dozen diacritical marks, then it permits one to double those diacritics when ambiguity threatens to destroy the intended meaning.

Tughra_Suleiman
Tughra of Suleiman the Magnificent

Yes, Arabic has an impressive set of tools. Here are a few:

It sets a meter with musical aspects. Each sound may extend in duration by holding a tone twice or three times as long. It’s really much like reading a piece of sheet music, a musical score.

It has tools for creating calligraphic expressions that allow each writer to break away — to proceed beyond a ceiling-line and below a floor-line. By comparison, Latin-based alphabets seem designed with confinement in mind, something designed with the chisel in mind. Keep within the lines, please. The Romans manipulated numbers borrowed from their alphabet. You can count to 100 in Roman numerals before encountering a curved figure.

malcolm-x-arabic-calligraphy-centre
“Malcolm” by Everitte Gurney Barbee

Did you know that Arabic vocabulary is context sensitive? Language environments are dynamic places, words adapt to merge with the spirit and the moment and the intent — not the other way around. Translations that do not recognize context contort meaning, they must be challenged. Twisting words to serve agendas is a dark art.

The English language uses a different set of tools, different metrics that root into the soil of a different geography.

faltblatt-gleiche-rechte-arabisch
Equal Rights for Women and Men: Self-determined Life in Germany

Language has brought me opportunities to remove borders. A thorough understanding of the German language (my second language) permits me to learn Arabic from a teacher who has likewise learned German as her second language. There’s something breathtaking about acquiring a third language without the unnecessary baggage of my mother tongue. Something very humbling and very satisfying.

Thanks for reading.

Mistranslation as False Witness

Western Civilization celebrates roots that extend to the Eastern Mediterranean, a body of water once surrounded by the Roman Empire. When that empire imploded, the power vacuum filled the remnant structure with fresh blood. One such pulsing corpus was Christianity — one authored by a former Roman citizen: Saul before his metamorphosis. There is no compelling historical evidence to suggest that Peter coauthored with Paul in Rome. I agree with Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby: The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity for the argument that Peter had traveled to the east as far as Baghdad, but he had never ventured west of Palestine. The Roman Catholic Church relies upon an apostolic rock, but she freely admits that its reality anchors on Tradition and the Magisterium — historical facts notwithstanding.

The Eastern Mediterranean coastline describes the shortest path between Africa and Eurasia. An incomparable piece of real estate, not what I would call a swamp, though some have: Unfortunately, It Was Paradise. Palestine is sacred soil for the three monotheistic faiths that declare solemn roots at that Eastern confluence, that Holy Land, that stomping grounds of patriarch Ibrahim. Although Ishmael was Ibrahim’s eldest son, he was also the “illegitimate” son of a slave girl known by Ishmael’s father. Isaac was the “legitimate” son of non-enslaved Sara. Islam recognizes Ishmael as the elder son of Ibrahim.

You can read about it in a Qur’an near you. In fact, you may find any number of interpretations freely available online. However, I recommend that you consider an interpretation carefully. My personal copy is a translation by Abdel Haleem: The Qur’an.

abdel.haleem

I attended an interfaith program that included a local well respected and knowledgeable Imam. A seething attendee slammed his personal copy of “The Holy Koran” onto the table. His question: “Do you know what this book says?” The Imam responded: “It depends upon the translation.” Would you accept a Bible translation that recounts the poisoning of the loaves, the tainting of the wine?

judaism.christianity.islam.venn

Radical Google® Searches
  1. “Radical Christian Terrorism” (About 9,310 results (0.66 seconds) )
  2. “Radical Islamic Terrorism” (About 231,000 results (0.43 seconds)
  3. “Radical Judaic Terrorism” (About 21 results (0.39 seconds)

 

Native Americans, African Americans, and Palestinians share something that Northern Europeans do not: a skin too red, too black or too olive (a characteristic of humans from the sun-rich climate.

That’s an unforgivable crime if racism is your touchstone. Why are Biblical personalities depicted with impossibly Northern European features, such as blue eyes, fair skin, an athletic countenance? Who were the original authors of the Torah, the Bible, the Qur’an? Is that a loaded question? They were Semitic peoples who spoke Semitic languages.

 

jesus.computer.generated
Computer-generated depiction by BBC of the historic Jesus. Click image for details. 

 

 

Why does Islam honor Ishmael? What did he do to deserve exile? The Judeo-Christian tradition honors Isaac. What’s up with that? I’ll check that out and get back to you, I have to get to the dirty dishes first, they’re over there in the sink.

Nota bene: The wilder the spurious translation of the Qur’an, the wider is it circulated, the ever endless is it immortalized by false witnesses.

Making stuff up to stoke an agenda is dishonest. It weakens your credibility. Just saying.

 

 Thanks for reading.

 

Surprised by Arabic

At its largest extent, the Roman Empire surrounded Middle Earth, literally “The Mediterranean.”

inscription_cartilia2

 

In the parlance of social media, the Romans SHOUTED all their written words — minuscules would not arrive to soften the literal commotion until the 7th Century. Latin seems suited for chiseling into stone, mostly with straight lines that run from left to right. It’s not easy to curve while chiseling your way along a flat rock-face. A glance at the English alphabet reveals that individual letters also run from left to right, letters such as B D E F K L P R

The letter “J” is quite the exception. It’s one reason that some school children do this:

printable-letter-backwards-j

That letter never appears in Roman imperial inscriptions, nor did U, nor did W.

K, Y and Z were adopted to accommodate Greek vocabulary. They are not the Etruscan uttering way. Nay, they ain’t.

Let’s look at a language that appeals to my left-handedness. It’s quite a relief to see my writing as I write. Arabic was not designed with a chisel in mind. The language begins with cursive in mind, not a bland sequence of letters imprisoned within imaginary boxes, then proclaimed “words.”

My last post looked at a procrustean camel, an animal led to the eye of a needle by dint of faulty translation. Why are mistranslations carved into stone? Do not allow your metaphors to become stilted, clunky, confusing and hackneyed. That’s what I say.

Well, Arabic comes equipped with a J-sound. In fact, it’s standard equipment. However, the language does not permit a “P” letter, so please apply a “B” for words like Paris: call it Baris and learn to live with it. Palestine never needed a “P” because that name is an imposition anyway: they are the Philistines. Arabic comes equipped with an “F” sound.

 

 

arabic.jim
25+ Arabic Alphabet Letters

 

Instead of imaginary boxes, Arabic allows for up to four ways to write each letter of the alphabet. Learners of this language and readers of the Qur’an receive the gift of ten diacritical marks to aid the learning process in a clean and coherent manner. Should you ever decide to tackle Arabic, this is handy indeed. Those marks reveal the sound one millimeter at a time; however, once you become comfortable and confident with the words you can dispense with diacriticals altogether — you’ll recognize the pattern and you won’t need the training wheels.

Returning to the Romans for a moment: would you ever wish to return to Roman numerals once you’ve learned the efficacy of Arabic numerals? The word “cipher” in English is from the Arabic word for “zero”:صفر

Here is a tip for my readers who consider learning German or Arabic: if you can pronounce Cincinnati you can pronounce  صفر (sifr). Just pedanting.

Learning languages removes artificial separations between cultures and lifestyles. Those separations take the form of borders, walls and prejudice. In their stead you acquire perspectives that remove each border, wall and prejudice. They serve the minions of geopolitical advantage and the clarion to endless war, endless confusion and endless imprisonment. Producing propaganda is criminal activity. Always. Whatever your intention.

And go vegan while you’re at it. No sentient being benefits by closing the book on the Anthropocene 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Threading a Hawser Through the Eye of a Needle

“Those who know Arabic are jinn among humans, they can see what nobody else can.
Imam Shafii

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

— Matthew 19:24 (NIV)

You know this Bible quote. I am certain you’ve seen it countless times. It might be your favorite chapter and verse. But why a camel? Well, ‘camel’ is a misnomer — a mistranslation immortal. The intended object was ‘rope’, specifically a thick twisted rope: a hawser.

camel

Which is the more eloquent simile:
  1. it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…
  2. it is easier to thread a hawser through the eye of a needle…
Why is this obviousity never mentioned?
The Bible Hub, an online resource for Bible scholars, provides English language variants for every chapter and verse, among them Matthew 19:24. Click that link to compare 28 translations regarding a rich guy’s odds of entering the Kingdom of God.
Mistranslations are the coin of many a realm, perhaps this one most appropriately so. I am hardly the first to learn, two millennia after the coin was struck, that the writer intended something comparable to a thread.
What is the camel doing in the sewing kit with the needles and threads anyway? The original metaphor roots in Aramaic language, one of the Semitic languages that use consonantal roots to convey meaning:

 

Gamla-Peshitta bible
Source

https://billziegler1947.com/2017/02/04/arabic-what-gives/#lemon

I also discuss the root system in A Safari into the Sahara

An alternative scripture, The Qur’an, provides just such a footnote. Here is one from the well-respected translator  M.A.S. Abdel Haleem:

The gates of Heaven will not be open to those who rejected Our revelations and arrogantly spurned them; even if a thick rope a were to pass through the eye of a needle they would not enter the Garden.

— Quran “The Garden” 7:40 M.A.S. Abdel Haleem translation 2004

Haleem inserts this footnote for 7:40:

Not ‘camel’. The roots of the words for ‘camel’ and ‘thick twisted rope’ are the same in Arabic and ‘rope’ makes more sense here (Razi).

 

Thanks for reading.

Please Don’t Slam Islam

Lisa and I celebrate 25 years together this very year, remarkable marks we have made together: 7 years in the 20th Century and 16 years into the 21st Century. So, two millennia and counting 🙂

We met online at the speed of a dial-up: 1200 baud via a Unix powered bulletin boarding system called TriState Online, a public service of the local phone company. One anniversary I printed a long set of conversations and placed the matrix-dotted leaves  in a binder — it’s in yonder armoire.

1200.baud

The sound of a dial-up

Human shadows grow long and weary over time. Consider this, consider this: Ibrahim the Patriarch and his family. Lisa knows more about that soap opera than do I, and she knows her sources. She is well versed in Biblical affairs involving affairs, being one who believes the actual teachings of Jesus, something long lost in trampling, trampings and rumors of war) lost or defiled in the translation. Once you die there is no telling how your follows will bend, fold and mutilate the spoken word become Word.

Lisa:

I am always moved by my husband’s compassion for the “underdog.” I know the Palestinians have religious customs we may find archaic. I had a close friend whose belief was performed daily with 5 prayers from the 5 aspects surrounding her, the knowledge that God’s eyes were on her always.

Allow me to quote a descriptive text from the pen of John Walton, a soul seeking balance rather than judgement, understanding rather than divisiveness.

John Walton:

…please be patient and take the time to read — realizing that as Christians we share in the same salvation offered to the Arabic people whose religion grew up around that God — with their own Prophet to guide them in the dogma — the same as as with Pauline doctrine… Later, Hagar bore a son to Abram and named him Ishmael, as the Lord had told her to (Genesis 16:15). Hagar’s story resumes fourteen years later when Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 21). Shortly after Isaac was weaned, Sarah saw Ishmael taunting him and took the matter to Abraham: “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac” (Genesis 21:10). Although it grieved Abraham to do so, he gave Hagar and Ishmael some provisions and sent them away, and Ishmael and his mother wandered in the desert (verse 14).

When Hagar’s food and water ran out, she did not know what to do. She put Ishmael under a bush for shade and then went a few paces away so she would not have to watch him die (Genesis 21:16). As Hagar wept, the Lord called to her from heaven with words of comfort (verse 17); God then gave her a promise: “Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation” (verse 18). The Bible says that God “opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” that she had not seen in her distress (verse 19). God rescued Hagar and gave her hope and direction. God was with Ishmael as he grew up in the desert (verse 20).

BethlehemChristmasSmall

Abraham’s sin with Hagar has resulted in centuries of sorrow and bloodshed, as the descendants of Isaac (the Jews) and Ishmael (the Arabs) have been mortal enemies since Bible days. Mohammed, the father of Islam, is said to have been from the line of Ishmael, which is one reason Muslims claim a right to the Promised Land, Israel. Hagar is a revered woman in Islam since Ishmael is the father of the Arabic people. The Qur’anic version of the Genesis account twists the story to make Hagar the heroine of the story and her son, Ishmael, the child of promise instead of Isaac.alhamdulillah

The apostle Paul uses the story of Hagar and Sarah to teach a spiritual truth concerning our salvation. In Galatians 4, Hagar represents the Old Covenant, based on the Law (given at Sinai in Arabia) and human works. Sarah represents the New Covenant, based on grace and the saving work of God. In Paul’s analogy, believers in Christ are like the child born of Sarah—we are free, products of the Spirit. Those who try to earn their salvation by their own works are like the child born of Hagar—they are slaves, products of the flesh. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (Galatians 4:31). Paul counsels believers to “get rid of the slave woman” (verse 30)—that is, cease trying to earn salvation, because the inheritance of the children of promise can never be shared with those who live under the dictates of the flesh.

The story of Hagar is full of God’s goodness, and we can learn from the way God worked in Hagar’s life. She was a nobody, a foreign slave girl. Yet the Lord of Heaven saw her in her distress, provided for her need, and blessed her son because he was the child of Abraham. Hagar gave us the term El Roi, which means “the God who sees.” And her story reminds us that, no matter who we are or where we are, the Lord God sees us.

mashallah

 

Thank you for reading and I hope the desperation of a people being forced into a ghetto, with dwindling resources and constant raids by military police may remind you of something the current Israeli government seems unable to recognize as the same forest they survived — for its blind focus on the trees. God bless all of us and may we share the security and peace we enjoy with those less fortunate, at home and abroad.

alhamdulillah.meme

Whisper Alhamdulillah softly and reverently in an aircraft, or suffer slings and arrows. Speaking at a conversational volume and you may find yourself immediately and roughly removed from the company of some very nice people. Very nice indeed.

“Is Islam a religion of peace?”  91,400 results (0.36 seconds)
“Is Christianity a religion of peace?” 5,970 results (0.44 seconds)
“The Rosary is an assault weapon with a 50 round clip.” Philosopher Dave.

Thanks for reading.

May the Meek Inherit Al Quds

The persons most affected by a decision are always the last to be informed of that decision. The Palestinians are the persons most affected by Trump’s nod to Netanyahu. But:

Jerusalem has always been the capital of Palestine. 

“There’s no such thing as a Palestinian,” said Mark Levin on Monday, while broadcasting from Israel. “They’re Arabs. I’m sorry, they can call themselves Palestinians, or Palestinian Arabs – I don’t even know what that means.”

By 2020 there will be more Palestinians than Israelis inhabiting the same geography. Israel didn’t even exist before May 14, 1948.

“The May 19 Metro article ‘Judge: Terror suspect’s words can be used at trial’ stated that a terrorism suspect’s parents “immigrated from Palestine.” Last I heard, there has been no peace accord between Israel and the Palestinian Authority resulting in a country called Palestine. For people who immigrated after 1948, it is factually incorrect to state that they “immigrated from Palestine.”   Herbert Chubin, Bethesda
In 1948 700,000 unarmed Palestinians were driven by well armed soldiers into a diaspora that continues to this day. Palestinians only possessed arms inherited upon the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire — pretty much all the armaments they have today.

what.it.is.to.be.palestinianDe facto Israel is America’s 51st State, or at least its second District. Puerto Rico is a territorial island inhabited by a people with skin too brown for racist tastes. The Israeli ideal appears to be Northern European, fair of skin and akin to the skin favored by most empires.

Where do the Palestinians stand in Trump’s estimation? Well, what grabs his attention? Trump is as decisive as he is incompetent. POTUS 45 is every bit as racist and corrupt as POTI 12, by any ethical measure.  Each president denies the racism behind their actions. Trump envies Netanyahu’s wall and Israeli engineering firms bid for Trump’s dream barrier. Ethiopian Jews try to attain Aliya but can’t get past detention centers. Both blame Islam: Radical Islamic Terrorism but ignore White Supremacists’ terror aimed at Muslims and the survivors of slavery: America’s Black population.

Netanyahu uses his intelligence, and the intelligence at his disposal, to remain in office. Trump doesn’t have enough intelligence to function as an adult. He knows what corrupts absolutely and he grooms it. He’s far closer to a Caligula than any previous President.

I doubt that Trump could find Jerusalem on a world globe, but he has Fox and Friends to cover that from behind their coffee table. They have his ears and the dark matter between those ears. F&F spur him on to spurt his soul-deadening tweets, his talking points.

latuff.2017

The last two empires to make global choices for Palestine have been English-speaking realms with world-counquering ambitions. In 1948 the former imperious spoke the Queen’s English. They passed the baton to the next imperial deciders, the ones who speak English American style.

The United States had already ethnically cleansed indigenous Americans who stood in their way since the arrival of Columbus (notable racist) to today. The 50 states carved into North America arrived by dint of legally sanctioned genocide. Manifest Destiny squeezed life blood from sea to shining sea — State by flagged-star State.

History is always written by the conquerer. Of course “mistakes were made,” but their monotheistic God did favor the features of the Northern Europe didn’t he? Jesus, Mary and The Father depicted with European features and a skin lightened by many cloudy days.

Let’s take a look at how the English speakers ordained the ancient land of Palestine, home for three aspects of a monochromatic God in situ. Each find a place in respective scriptural scripts for the characters at play.

The sons and daughters of Ishmael find themselves at the crosshairs. 1.8 billion gentle worshipers are either “Radical Islamists” or they support “Radical Islamic Terrorism” because they honor the Quran. Is that beyond all possibility in 2017? No, homo sapiens are ever capable of reaching to any depth of depravity to attain greater depravity. Venture capital is always available to fund decadence, be you a Drumpf or a Caligula.

Children as young as 12 enter the Israeli prison system if they throw a single rock, or an IDF soldier merely states that the youth threw a stone.

israel-children-cages

Were it not for the United States of America (and the Marshall Islands) the Palestinians would already have a homeland, one recognized by the world community.

May the meek inherit Al Quds.

Thanks for reading.

Israel/Palestine/Israel

This is the second segment in a continuing dialogue between an Israeli (Mike) and an American (Bill) — it is an ongoing email conversation, dialogue text is copied verbatim. The first segment appeared here as Palestine/Israel/Palestine.

July 29, 2017 (Mike to Bill)

Was talking to my wife this morning on what I was trying to explain and her comment was that it is impossible to have a dialogue with people that believe they are victims. In our neck of the woods that would definitely mean what children are taught in kindergarten and school. Then I suppose to compound this we have families marrying first cousins to keep family control of their wealth. This has indeed caused some deterioration in IQ and introduced birth defects that are not helpful specially when no pre-natal screening is available. Or as in the case of America religion doesn’t allow veterans to get pain relief by using marijuana extracts that are specially formulated for pain without the buzz. In Israel they are very successful at isolating parts of hemp and marijuana to deal with many health problems that “normal” medicine cannot help. Actually talking to you has created a sort of introspection that wasn’t around before.

If you can’t solve problems what are you supposed to do? Maybe there is a higher power and karma was created to interact on a planet that was like the locked room game. Maybe we are looking at things the wrong way?

Sorry for all the posts but it is like a ball of wool unravelling before your eyes.

Sunday in Israel is a normal day so enjoy yours

July 30, 2017 (Bill to Mike)

I have indeed followed coverage on Sergeant Azaria. Hebron is a hell on Earth, particularly for the Palestinians who still live there. I watched a John Pilger documentary “Palestine is still the issue” on this town, filmed about a generation ago now. Shuhada Street is fenced right up against Palestinian homes. Looking through caged windows they get to see settlers, soldiers and holy land tourists glaring, shouting, tossing things, punching into doorways. Surreally dystopian. Shuhada was Hebron’s main street.

I listen for mention of Palestine on a range of news media, but virtually nothing outside official government channels is reported. I listen to any number of pitches for holy land tours. How can any of them not mention a word about the Apartheid Wall. The independent street artist Banksy does a good job though. There is that.
Imagine being evicted from you house in the Palestine of 1948, then being occupied where you sought refuge in 1967, then to have your house in the occupied territories rehabbed or razed by a tsunami of settlers. How about children looking through a fence to see settler children playing in a yard they once played in, to read “Gas all Arabs” graffiti everywhere, having your bedroom door broken down at 2:00 in the morning by IDF soldiers and then brought in for questioning, wetting your pants in the process.
Despite all that humiliation, their population will soon outnumber non-Palestinians in what was formerly a colony of the British Empire. Despite regular bombing, the population density in Gaza only increases. There are no places to hide and invoking the all-explaining five letters H A M A S does not justify it. Would you not resist?
Here’s my question for a Sunday — What’s the truth on white-phosphorous bombs on Gaza?
But I still wish you, and all you hold dear, the very best in these rapidly approaching days of August, be they august or not.
July 30, 2017 (Mike to Bill):

Hi Bill – there is some truth in what you say but a bit one-sided. I used to know Hebron pretty well and if you are interested let me tell you about my monthly stints in Hebron when I happened to be there. My recollections are sharp but the when is a bit muddled. 
In 1929 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Hebron_massacre I have an interesting story. The first time I was in Hebron we were encamped on a hill near Hebron. We were waiting to go out on patrol – the weather was amazingly good. One of the soldiers told us that his grand-father and grand-mother was one of the few Jews to manage to escape the massacre. Fast forward to 1967 and one day a convoy of cars from the West Bank pulled up outside his parent’s house on aSaturday morning when the whole family was at home. One of the Arab guys introduced himself and explained that his grand-father had rented out their home the left in Hebron and brought him the rent in Jordanian Dinars. Seems his grand-parents helped the soldier’s family to escape. Some history (I didn’t know a lot written here) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebron in Israel the land deeds are kept in the Tabu office – Tabu is a Turkish word and written is who owned what and when. For example Tel-Romeda next to the very large Jewish cemetery. One of the most intelligent people I loved to have coffee with actually two – one was a rabbi that lived in a caravan home there as the land was owned by Jews and his next door neighbour a very smart guy that owned a shoe shop in town. The rabbi was murdered but the other guy – his family owned the Jewish cemetery and often we would sit on the wal drinking coffee and we would joke about what is he supposed to do with the land as the 99 year lease had expired a long time ago. At my time the mayor of Hebron Jabori – had a grand-child that converted to Judaism and married a French woman (arranged) in Jerusalem. He later became quite a famous rabbi. There were Israelis that married Arab women and had to live in Israel as they could have been in danger. Lots of Arab men married Jewish women. Love is love.

In Tel-Aviv you cannot tell who is who anymore. Back to Hebron. I was once the sergeant in charge of the Patriarch’s tomb. Of course prayers was a problem with different rooms at different times and being a bit naïve I started to become blonde. Early morning prayers were conducted with the Arabs in the big hall and the Jews were allowed to use a small room with a connecting door to the big room until 7am. Of course both sides drove me crazy by opening the door before7am and anything else they could do to make my life miserable. They were all like kids. So one morning I visited the local hardware store and bought a hasp and staple plus medium sized lock and a few screws and a screw driver. That night I installed the hardware and waited for the morning. The lock was by the way  on the Arab side because there was more light there. Next morning both sides of the door started talking to each other and complained about me to the military governor no less. He came over and I couldn’t believe my eyes the Arabs and the Jews were kneeling on the floor with little brushes and were collecting the wood dust (I couldn’t see any) from the floor. So when they decided they had it all I had to remove the hardware and with prayers in bot Arabic and Hebrew these crazy people so called replaced the dust with some glue. I was severely reprimanded for destroying the door and they all grudgingly agreed to drop this serious – whatever it was. Now forgive me for telling you in my mind the people there deserve each other and would be heart-broken if either side upped and left. Another thing when I was street patrol sometimes young girls would invite us to tea (not coffee) and they would sit inside the garden gate and we sat on the pavement. That is how I prefer to remember Hebron not the throwing Molotov cocktails at our jeeps nor some of the Jews that thought they owned the place. But Bill there is not only one side to this story. Once there was no wall and my daughter’s bus was blown up twice (no 16 in Jerusalem) both times she walked instead. How many time times I had to go and look for my daughter at the hospital as I didn’t know she walked home. Israel specially asked the Jordan king to stay out of the war – but he shelled Jerusalem. Anyway in 1948 he invaded the place.

So much more but I think I may have lost you J

The following response originally appeared in a comment thread here.

August 3, 2017 (Bill to Mike):

…your firsthand personal experience in Hebron is of great interest to me and I look forward to hearing more. To every extent possible I try to follow this maxim: listen to “the other” before formulating a response, mull the other’s words before responding, then speak truth as you know it. I do not often succeed, but the maxim is still wise.
In my opinion, Wikipedia is better at topics that are not “hot button” ones, ones that do not serve agendas. Here is a single example:

type in “Hasbara” and you are not taken to a page titled “Hasbara.” Rather, you are taken to a page titled “Public diplomacy of Israel.” Before that it was “Public diplomacy in Israel.” Before that it was “Public diplomacy — Israel.” Why does it not take you to a page titled “Hasbara”?

Shalom,
Bill

This is a developing dialogue, additional conversations will appear in a future post.

Thanks for reading.

 

where.is.palestine
From a Holy Land Tour Brochure (circa 2015).

Palestine/Israel/Palestine

The events of May 1948 in Palestine have sparked trillions of conversations that have droned on in parallel for seventy years now. You may find a few thousand meaningful uncommon conversations post Nakba (the Catastrophe). They are exceedingly rare. Most “conversations” parrot propaganda mills (hasbara in Hebrew).  Below are concerns of an individual Israeli citizen. I have not redacted a single word.

Bill hi, I would suggest you come and visit Palestine – you know Palestine was Israel before 1948. If you come I would be only too happy to offer you coffee and you can tell me what you think about Israel and answer any of your questions if I can.

Even though I live here and spent hundreds of hours at lectures my memory unfortunately is not what it used to be as I am now 76. I live in Netanya and would be only too pleased to help you find answers from history lecturers to any questions you may have. My opinion on Israel seems a bit different to yours but I am sure we could have interesting chats.

I must tell you I am fascinated with BDS and how so many people really do have a problem with facts here and there but I always believe you have to visit a country and speak with the locals so as to make up your own mind.

I keep hearing from members that there is a Genocide in Israel and the disputed territories yet their own statistics show this to not be true.

How many members know that an Israeli president was sentenced to jail by an Arab judge. That Arabs account for 20% of the population and that is their representation at Universities and hospitals where they are professors and famous surgeons.

Please don’t mix up Israel and politicians – I would swap Bibi for Trump in a heartbeat. I think we should keep our correspondence private as I really do not want to cause anyone any grief.
Looking forward to your reply
Mike Altman, Netanya Israel

Hello Michael, Thank you so much for the very kind comments, they are gratefully received. In the two years I’ve been writing this blog, yours is the very first remark from an Israeli perspective — a succinct and thoughtful set of arguments as well. I certainly respect your wishes to maintain an off-blog conversation; however, I would also like to share your views with my audience. Please know that I am quite willing to make your comment visible — again, I understand your concern.
Here is one proposal: I am eager to write a post that addresses your points and to respond on each concern you express. An open conversation between viewpoints is sorely lacking, but desperately needed.

Droning on in parallel from differently selected events, statistics and perspectives proceeds without hope of resolution, and indefinitely.

I have been following the “conflict” for many decades now. I was born eight months before the events of 1948, so it is possible for me to relate each event. For example, I was a student in Germany during the Munich Olympics of 1972. So I was 25 years old and so was Israel/Palestine Palestine/Israel.

Perhaps a point-by-point response that does not reveal your name or location might be a worthy compromise between private and open dialog.
It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Michael. I look forward to learning from you 🙂

I try and reply to posts immediately but your reply was different to what I somehow expected. I do not at all mind our conversation being viewed online I incorrectly assumed it would be you that would rather have an offline chat.

Since I am blessed/cursed with a very over active imagination I manage to see things from multiple angles and standpoints. When I think of BDS my mind is flooded with so many questions of why does one well funded organization with ardent followers choose a basically one sided view of just one of the many obviously urgent problems on our planet. Reading articles I do understand that people are writing from their viewpoint but like I am colour blind I expect people to try and see what is there but maybe not visible to them. The thing about being colour blind is that the mind can force oneself to see the missing things if you think they should or could be there.

I have a childhood friend that adamantly believes that we should not intervene – like invading Iraq – we are obliged to do nothing and wait for evolution to choose a path for everyone. Maybe Obama also believed in doing nothing and the result was half a million people killed more wounded and displaced causing hardship and misery for millions more. Never mind the other millions migrating to Europe from Africa to find a better and safer life for them and their children.

The reason I mention this is because with all this abject misery surrounding us I would think that such a well-funded and run organization would not be focusing on just one problem amongst all others. I have always been able to analyse what I see and read and imagine the many directions things could take and how effective they could be. In my humble opinion I cannot see why BDS could succeed as it has already “solved” this complex problem without understanding too much about it.

My father would not have won many “father” awards but he was smart and instilled in me to never judge anyone until I have walked in their shoes. As an example, the last time I visited the Western wall myself and everyone else including tourists passed through metal detectors – like we do at airports today – thank goodness. After arms were taken onto the Temple Mount and used to kill two policeman.

The head of the police promised their families who happened to be Druse that they would take steps so it would not happen again. Maybe even to foreign visitors on this holy site. The police themselves decided to install metal detectors at the entrances and this is what caused the current serious problem. People prayed in the streets instead as they would not pass through the machines and dispersed after prayers with very little problems but in some parts of town young people rioted and people were injured and killed.
Please forgive the over long post but there is so much to say.
May you all have a very good week, Mike

Hello Michael, Thank you for your kind comments on my About page. Dialogues on this topic are as desperately needed as they are rare, and misinformation is the coin of the realm. I think it’s a good sign that both of us responded with consideration for the privacy of each. Would you mind if I wrote a new posting that contains your comments without redaction on my part? In other words, a genuine open and civil dialogue.

Shalom,
 
Bill

I have no problem whatsoever – in fact would welcome it.

A very strange time of year here as more than 4 million Israelis leave to spend a greener cooler holiday all over the world. Amazing when there are only 5,600,000 Danes in Denmark.

 Have a good week Bill

Mike

 

You are a kind soul, Michael. Our exchange already contains enough grist for the mill to inspire quite a few conversations. Actually, that observation on climate, travel and Denmark is sufficient for an entire post. 🙂

A superb week to you, Michael.

🙂 an interesting thought – if we can get the mill to spin faster it could take off – imagine that, flying windmills. Something to think about while trying to sleep.

Thanks for reading.

Languages, Escape Velocity and Bigly Lies

Learning a second or 3rd or 4th language is like escaping the gravity of your native land. You probe about in another way of being, of thinking, of observing. Better still — if you’ve the inclination — learn another tongue via a second or third language. Meet the stranger in a place foreign to each.

I am so grateful for my Palestinian student who decided to learn German via English, without recourse to his native Arabic. He inspired me to do the same — learn Arabic by way of German. “arabisch lernen”

arabisch.lernen

German from the baby steps to fluency. The magic of YouTube brings me teachers who speak their mother’s Arabic in a German-speaking land. I studied in Germany for a year and a half. The other international students joined me to prepare for lessons conducted in German. Japanese medical students already knew anatomical terms, because their forefathers carried it back to Japan — including decades as fellow Axis members. Gray’s Anatomy with German body parts

Some lessons I’ve learned

Iranian students taught me about Savak and their Shah many years before the Revolution of 1979. Krupp established large industrial site in that Persian land. An industrial giant since the 16th Century. A family tradition, Blut und Eisen.

Propaganda relies upon endlessly repeated mistranslations, designed to obfuscate. Weaponized language to serve hidden agendas, to move geopolitical stakes through sabotage, bigotry, racism, straw men, false flags, pacification, liquidation; in other words, chicanery of any convenient kind. Whatever works. No questions asked.

Walls visible and invisible. Sow the seeds of discontent to ignite anger. Divide and conquer. British imperialists deliberately provoked Sunni and Shia rivalries by locating them within an arbitrary borderline. Think of it as double solitary confinement. A technique that works wonders: encourage each to fight the other over differences deep as the empire gathers spoils of conquest, to the victor go the value subtracted.

History remembered is myth created by the most talented liars. Every American recites the same short soundbites: flag-shaded collective memories. Memorized lies to mask disquieting truth. 1,000 memorized lies. Cherrypick and pass on. Manufacture your destiny as something somehow manifest by a deity for your outrageous fortune. Cloying spoilings.

shadid_lewis
Kresta and Spencer find a convenient fool

Conduct experiments on war fodder soldiers and increase your “intelligence.” Handbooks written by Chinese military master torturers were translated verbatim and reapplied in Guantanamo — word by evil word.

Accuse Cuba of human rights violations while torturing prisoners on Cuban soil. Announce bounties — turn in someone you hate, an enemy or a randomly selected person, a stranger. Get paid for lying about an innocent neighbor. Extraordinary rendition is spuriously twisted language designed by twisted authority to mask torture by proxy. Look the other way. Justify everything. Celebrate the patriotic art of bigly deals. Endless war for endless profit. Drop MOABS and cut a purchase order for replacement MOABS.

This morning I read a piece from Mark Chmiel’s blog — Mistake. Dark serendipity in the same tone and key. Thank you, Mark.

And

Thanks for reading.

Palestinian Animal League

When you announce your vegan beliefs expect incredulity, perhaps not visceral, perhaps visceral. Make public your support of Palestinians to self-determination and expect raw nerves to flare — it comes with the territory. Or am I tilting at windmills? Why must Palestine be a verboten topic?

pal

Misunderstanding happens to “the least of these, my brethren” (Matthew 25:34). I mentioned recently that I am the green sheep in the family. Do I hold a lightning rod aloft, inviting impending doom? I guess.

I live in an area of the country noted for its borders — political, racial, climatic, geomorphic, social: there are others.  Our planet does not need more division and more rancor. Welcome the green, the black and the rainbow. Welcome the stranger.

 

sudfeh.vegan.cafe
Sudfeh Vegan Cafe

Languages fascinate me intensely. Learning them lightens my spirit and dispels an illusory separation. We are all one. I lived and studied in Germany, a country that knows something of borders — their erection and their dissolution. Loving languages is a joy that requires patience, but it rewards that patience by several orders of magnitude. Or is it a waste of time, a conceit if you already speak THE international language — one dipped in the blood of imperious arrogance. Just saying. Colonialism is not dead. Were that it were.

 

berlin.wall
Berlin Wall

My intense interest in the Middle East began in 1967 when I began to seriously study its physical, cultural and religious geography. Study makes friends of pain and joy. I was living in West Germany in 1972, at the time of an ill-fated Olympics in Munich. Stasi was still going strong in East Germany. That same year I learned about Savak and the Shah of Iran from my fellow exchange students of the University of Tehran — a full seven years before the revolution in their ancient land, one with the longest continuous civilization in history, one that started with Cyrus the Great. Many cool people are Persian. Yes they are 🙂

Perhaps this is an overlong preface to my topic. I hope not, but please accept my apology if it is.

 

PALlogo
Source

Let me meld two curiously similar joys and pains — veganism and Palestine. Mix them together and you have The Palestinian Animal League. That kind group of animal activists knows that “acting like an animal” is an expression to deflect misbehavior of a specie with an overdeveloped ego that imposes their self-righteous “superiority” to the innocent fellow sentient beings possessing inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, though it be inexpedient to the self-described exceptional.

We’re not the top dog, we are the arrogant yapping selfish being that always takes advantage. Are we not a part of the cycle of life? Who made us the boss? What is the difference between cannibalism and meatism? I suggest that the difference between eating the flesh of your own and eating the flesh of an other is as trivial as the difference between apples and oranges — both are fruit. Human flesh and the flesh of any other sentient being — both are meat.

Let me now lighten the burden of writing. I yield the pen to The PAL. They know more about themselves than I. Expect joy.

arabic-public-art-qma
Arabic public art

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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