Should Americans, as part of their school curriculum, learn Arabic numerals?
“Civic Science” a Pittsburgh-based research firm, put that question to some 3,200 Americans recently in a poll seemingly about mathematics, but the outcome was a measure of students’ attitudes toward the Arab world. Some 56 percent of the respondents said, “No.” Fifteen percent had no opinion.
In the ancient days(the years between 1971 and 1973), I was an exchange student at Justus Liebig University, a small (80,000) town north of Frankfurt. German was the lingua Alamannia spoken by fellow students from Iran to Japan. Learning an unfamiliar language breaks barriers in unexpected and humbling ways.
German and English are close lingual relatives. They share familial bonds with Proto-Indo-European (PIE). Persian, although it hardly looks the part, is a branch of the PIE tree. Persian borrowed Arabic script, but its grammar and vocabulary roots place it among most European languages.
A wall between two once and future German-speaking occupied lands had been erected, enforced, and thought eternal ten-years earlier. Politik: Real. Of course, English has long become the international language. But languages offer a way out, an outlet, an escape. I often go to YouTube in order to learn Arabic from people who also learned German as their second language — people like me, people like you.
Visit a local mosque (masjid). I’ve visited ours dozens of times and have always left with hope in my soul. Don’t allow a propagandist, an ideologue, a demagogue, a polemicist… to monger your mind.
Arabic is a beautiful artful language.
It’s not from the Protoindo-European family.
It is a friendly language.
has an intensely intuitive grammar.
is the language of the Qur’an.
Arabic is a fun language.
Thanks for reading.
Below, a draft I wrote in German to organize my thoughts. FWIW.
In den alten Zeiten (zwischen 1971 und 1973) war ich Austauschstudent an der Justus Liebig Universität. Deutsch als eine zweite Sprache musste ich ohne Computer und ohne Internet lernen.
Natürlich ist Englisch schon lange die internationale Sprache geworden. Aber Sprachen bieten einen Ausweg, einen Auslass, einen Escape. Oft gehe ich zum YouTube, um Arabisch zu lernen. Jede Menge von Videos stehen zur Verfügung. Da finde ich Lehrer und Lehrerinnen in Deutschland, die, wie ich Deutsch als ‘ne zweite Sprache zu lernen. Leute wie ich, Leute wie du. Eine kleine Clue: sie sind keine Monsters.
Resultat: Arabisch finde ich eine ganz logische dritte Sprache. Na klar! Fabelhaft.
ist eine wunderschön kunsthafte Sprache.
stammt nich aus der protoindoeuropäischen Familie.
Arabisch lerne ich um Verständnis und Mitgefühl erreichen zu können. Auf der anderen Seite, Propaganda ist Verfälschung. Übersetzungen sollten nie verschmiert werden. Arabisch lerne ich um die Wahrheit zu erkennen. Übersetzungen können grosse Lügen werden, giftige Lügen. Sprachen sollten Verständnis bauen — Propaganda zerstört die Wahrheit mit Absicht.
“Hamas is no rogue militant group, with anonymous, shadowy operators. It will not disappear or shirk its leadership responsibility. It remains an authentic and powerful part of the Palestinian people, for over thirty years… much older than some of the current Israeli political parties in the Knesset. While many of its founders, all those years ago, have been killed by Israel, Hamas continues to speak on behalf of the dignity and hope of millions of Palestinians worldwide. Like them, it carries the kindle of resilience and self-determination of a People rendered stateless but neither hopeless nor powerless by a European colonial project. Like them, it will not cease to exist or fade into silence.”
The Islamic Resistance Movement began more than thirty years ago at an historical moment in time which it knew to be fraught with absolute peril for their people. The founders of this national liberation struggle examined the overwhelming military capabilities of Israel, fostered by its global superpower sponsor, the United States. They looked at Israel’s expansionist programs… the Zionist project of illegal settlements erasing their homes and villages, dispossessing mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers… and at the failure of the international community to stop them. They knew then, that within a generation Palestinians would lose it all … their motherland and patrimony and their nation… leaving them homeless captives to the whims of another man’s door. In that moment, resistance was not a lifestyle choice or a revolutionary pose. It was existential necessity, just as it is now.
I think of Proto-Indo-European as a linguistic continent comprised of many languages — geographies mapped by language. Though PIE has left nothing in writing for her descendants to examine, a process of reverse engineering points to a hub at the greater Ukraine vicinity.
All homo sapiens came from East Africa, the shortest and most easily traversed paths have gone through what is now Palestine. Those who took up residence in the fertile bread-basket of Western Asia stopped to create PIE before proceeding to various points of the compass.
My first steps taken outside the world of English were in German, where I wrestled her complex set of inflections — function signals developed over the millennia on the Northern European Plain — an easily traversed topography as well. The shortest distance between two points takes longer if you must scale mountains along the way.
Arabic doesn’t look three-quarters of a smidgeon like PIE.
Saxons brought German across the channel, The English. Along that path, the “b” became a “v”, the “t” became a “d” and a few other things I shall leave unexamined right now. Vikings made short work of inflections when they occupied Isles, The British. The “t” latched onto the “h” to do something not done in proper German society — sticking the tongue out. A native German-speaking friend once told me that her mother would scold her at any spoken breach, such as allowing your tongue to extend beyond the teeth. “It’s what the Englanders do. Tut tut. The very idea…”
One of my German students, a Palestinian, introduced me to the Arabic alphabet. I accepted his interest in German as a challenge to learn Arabic, at the time I hadn’t known that Arabic was not one of the PIE tongues. The excerpt of the Qu’ran included below might alert you that Arabic doesn’t look three-quarters of a smidgeon like PIE. Peruse this image for a long take at nine English words. It’s a color-coded snapshot of those nine that elucidate many aspects of Arabic grammar. The Quranic Arabic Corpus provides detail from the hair strands to the toenails.
Search any translation, interpretation, analysis, mistranslation, misinterpretation, or spurious analysis in any Qu’ran 67:1. Take it where you will or where you won’t. Languages should always offer a means for removing barriers, not exacerbating them. Weaponizing translations for propaganda value is a kind of false witness that literally obfuscates communication for a hidden or unstated agenda.
A few closing thoughts:
Arabic language has
a script that makes many alphabets (alpha, beta…) based on Latin look hammered and chiseled by comparison.
a root system that works as precise architecture — form follows function. It combines beauty with linguistic precision.
some amazing flexibility. German, my second language, can concatenate nouns, can use entire prepositional and adverbial phrases to function as adjectives. However, Arabic can incorporate entire sentences into a single word.
a different look and feel that distinguishes it from Proto-Indo-European language. Farsi is a PIE language, it’s not based on a root system — even though its words look like Arabic.
something for the left-handed student. Arabic allows me to see what I am writing as I write, to sweep a pen across a piece of paper. To pull along a sheet of paper rather than to plow into it.
Nota Bene: Criticism of Israel does not constitute antisemitism.
Matti Friedman argues that “There Is No Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” — from the perspective of a Canadian-Israeli, a soldier-poet, an apologist for Israeli rightwing family values: a kindred spirit for those who think of Palestinians in terms of cardboard cutouts, and a considered belief that they are a waste of cardboard. He works words with great economy, clarity and imagination — a Western writer living in a Middle-Eastern geography . Mr. Friedman is currently residing in Palestine’s capital city: Al Quds.
…a kindred spirit for those who think of Palestinians in terms of cardboard cutouts…
Friedman’s opinion piece “There Is No Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” is a study guide on how to look through both sides of a pair of binoculars in order to begin understanding that non-conflict. The article uses fifteen paragraphs to house fifteen straw men. I had intended to critique each, but have discovered that it might take a multi-part series to adequately address them, so here are the first couple straw men.
Matti Friedman (@MattiFriedman), a contributing opinion writer, is the author of “The Aleppo Codex,” “Pumpkinflowers” and the forthcoming “Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel.”
JERUSALEM — If you are reading this, you’ve most likely seen much about “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” in the pages of this newspaper and of every other important newspaper in the West. That phrase contains a few important assumptions. That the conflict is between two actors, Israelis and Palestinians. That it could be resolved by those two actors, and particularly by the stronger side, Israel. That it’s taking place in the corner of the Middle East under Israeli rule.
They brought house keys along, planning to unlock their doors upon their return home.
West (orientalists): Palestine is in the Middle-East, it was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1918. The League of Nations — a short-lived and long defunct Western (orientalist) attempt at world order — The League unilaterally granted the British a legal instrument termed “Mandate for Palestine.” They colonized Palestine until May 1948, when 700,000 unarmed Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes, their neighborhoods, their ancestral homeland with only what they could cart or carry. They brought house keys along, planning to unlock their doors upon their return home — a right, ironically enough, guaranteed in that same catastrophic year by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 1948.
Not surprisingly, Palestinians lived in greatest number along the Mediterranean Coast.
Particularly by the stronger side: The only armed forces — unless you consider rusty Ottoman-era weapons, unreliable and inaccurate mortars, and rocks from the rubble of demolished homes to be forces rather than farces — has always been the occupier.
Let me be clear: there is no “both sides.” There is a terrorist org that endangers civilians, and there is a state that protects them. Soon, the world will stare reality in the face and finally condemnation.
Let me be clearer: Hamas has no army, no navy, no air force, no tanks, no attack helicopters, no fighter jets, no armored vehicles, no missiles, no bombs, no nothing but rocks and a few crude unguided rockets which land with a thud. From the bottom of my heart, shut the fuck up.
Corner of the Middle East: a feint that reminds me of Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda — Lebensraum defined in terms of population density, where British “living space” included Canada and Australia.
Under Israeli rule: Not surprisingly, Palestinians lived in greatest number along the Mediterranean Coast. See Mahmoud Darwish’s famous poem “Unfortunately, It was Paradise.” Palestine is comparable to Southern California in terms of climate and real estate value. Displaced refugees were driven into Gaza, and the West Bank of the Jordan River. Ironically, again, the number of “settlers” in the West Bank is now greater than the 700,000 granted diaspora in 1948. That corner of the Middle East.
Let me be clearer: Hamas has no army, no navy, no air force, no tanks, no attack helicopters, no fighter jets, no armored vehicles, no missiles, no bombs, no nothing but rocks and a few crude unguided rockets which land with a thud. From the bottom of my heart, shut the fuck up.
Presented this way, the conflict has become an energizing issue on the international left and the subject of fascination of many governments, including the Trump administration, which has been working on a “deal of the century” to solve it. The previous administration’s secretary of state, John Kerry, committed so much time to Israeli-Palestinian peace that for a while he seemed to be here each weekend. If only the perfect wording and map could be found, according to this thinking, if only both sides could be given the right dose of carrots and sticks, peace could ensue.
To someone here in Israel, all of this is harder and harder to understand. There isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the way that many outsiders seem to think, and this perception gap is worth spelling out. It has nothing to do with being right-wing or left-wing in the American sense. To borrow a term from the world of photography, the problem is one of zoom. Simply put, outsiders are zoomed in, and people here in Israel are zoomed out. Understanding this will make events here easier to grasp.
International Left: A political leaning so distasteful in Israel that the Left is nearly extinct. Netanyahu, a perfect storm of a politician, remarks that his opponent Benny Gantz “leans to the left.”
Deal of the Century: Trump is a fellow White Supremacist, “subject of fascination of many governments…” Trump’s interests do not include any measurable intellectual curiosity. Trump is just another convenient tool — Obama was considerably too melanin-rich, but he delivered the 3.8 billion in funding to allow the largest per-capita military prowess to eke along, to scrape a respectable secure “defense” that now includes the ethnical-cleansing maiming marvel: butterfly bullets.
John Kerry: He knows what war is, he knows who Trump is, he successfully completed the difficult negotiations with Iran — a country without nuclear weapons. Israel gets to have it both ways: nuclear weapons? Yes, No, Maybe, Meh. “Hey, what’s happening over there?” No, it’s what’s happening here, we’re picking your plump wallet.
Perfect Wording : Who is your new friend there? I hear he comes from a good Saud family (the only country in the world run by a single family.
… a political leaning so distasteful in Israel that the Left is nearly extinct.
I include myself among those who sense that a long, deep and deadly conflict has extended into the longest and most threatening conflict in at least the last several centuries. I was eight-months old in May 14, 1948, but have only been paying close attention to the conflict/non-conflict since the mid 1960s.
The population of Palestine/Israel has reached parity, there are as many Palestinians as Israelis within the same geography. Israel has managed to eliminate any remote semblance of a two-state solution with a divide and occupy strategy:
Maintaining an apartheid wall
“Withdrawing” from the Gaza Testing Range and Petri dish
Nota Bene Too: The phrase “security for the Jews” has been consecrated as an exclusive synonym for “the lessons of the Holocaust.” It is what allows Israel to systematically discriminate against its Arab citizens. For 40 years, “security” has been justifying control of the West Bank and Gaza and of subjects who have been dispossessed of their rights living alongside Jewish residents, Israeli citizens laden with privileges. — Amira Hass
Esther Bejarano was part of a group that traveled by boat from Marseille to Palestine. “We wanted to develop the country together with the Palestinians,” she recalls. “In general, the Palestinians helped us…We wanted to develop the land together. But it was different with David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir,” she says, referring to Israel’s founding Zionist leaders. “They turned Zionism upside down and then the Zionists said ‘we are the ones who own the land.’ That was not our idea.”
She is appalled that when young Palestinians protest near the boundary fence – as they have been doing regularly as part of the Great March of Return rallies since last March, “They are simply shot” by Israeli snipers.
“But in my opinion, Palestinians have a right to oppose what the Israelis do to them. They have a right to do that,” she asserts. “Or should they just be killed by the Israelis?”
“They say ‘Hamas sent its rockets to Israel and they are responsible for the war,’” Bejarano states, recalling Israel’s excuses. “But who started it? Not the Palestinians. It’s the Israelis who sent all the Palestinians out of the country.”
Nota bene: Palestinians played absolutely NO part in The Holocaust. NONE.
Hamas vs. Likud
Roughly 12 million persons live in Palestine/Israel — half are Israeli, half are Palestinian. They both live within a single de facto state, but only one is a de jure state. That was true in 1948, it is true in 2018.
Resistance is the inalienable right of the occupied.
“When the British ruled Palestine, the underground Jewish army prided itself on hiding arms factories in grammar schools and synagogues. And as we know, in any besieged ghetto there will be ghetto fighters, and they will be treated as heroes by those on the inside, and terrorists by those on the outside. But if there are certainly men of violence among the masses of protestors, let us not forget that alongside the many Israeli soldiers who surely suffer some pangs of conscience, there are some, as we have seen on videotape, who high-five one another for using fancy sniper rifles to put big holes in human bodies hundreds of yards away.”
Gaza is a prison with walls above its perimeter and barriers below those walls. Details available at Israel and Stuff.
Israel officially admits that it officially does not admit ownership of nuclear weapons. Iran is direct and truthful, it has no nuclear weapons.
All secret information eventually surfaces. Recently among them: a plan to set off an atomic bomb on Sinai in the event that the six-day war took more than six days. Just to send a message to the neighbors, of course.
Hamas represents Gaza. If you want to negotiate with Gaza you have to negotiate with Hamas, the elected party of Gaza. Abbas is not even a puppet. The Palestine Authority has no authority. I understand that Israel possesses a tidy panoply of “defensive” military resources.
Danny Danon, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, never hesitates to demonize Hamas. Danny doth protest too much, methinks.
Originally published August 24, 2018 in Counterpunch
As old as war itself, collective punishment has long been the most damning and destructive weapon of all. Not satisfied with engaging combatants alone and directly, historically, it has fueled state reprisal against families, communities and entire populations in a drive to “win” a given conflict, military or otherwise, at all costs.
With roots that trace, literally, to the start of time, reprisal has evolved as modern warfare has became more proficient and popular resistance more prevalent. Nowhere has collective punishment proved more evident and systemic than it has in the West where it has long run the gamut from civil sanctions, to population displacement, to political penalty, to imprisonment, to outright slaughter. Of late, it has grown more subtle, yet no less pernicious, through state censorship that seeks to control the narrative of the day.
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.
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?
Radical Google® Searches
“Radical Christian Terrorism” (About 9,310 results (0.66 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.
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.
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.
De 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.
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.
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.
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”?
This is a developing dialogue, additional conversations will appear in a future post.
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.
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
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.