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.

sign.hebrew.Jerusalem
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.

A-boy-with-the-word-PALESTINE-written-on-his-face-takes-part-in-a-protest-against-the-Israeli-blockade-of-the-Gaza-Strip-in-Amman-December-5-2008-Reuters

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.

quote-every-empire-however-tells-itself-and-the-world-that-it-is-unlike-all-other-empires-edward-said-85-49-00

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.

Synchronicity Gone Wild: Karavansara and Me

It has been some time since I’ve engaged in a conversation that simultaneously included Clutch Cargo, Pat Novak for Hire and Frank Herbert’s Dune series but the Déjà Vu may conjoin: much as a solar eclipse occurring concurrently with a lunar variety.

Carefully tear the brown paper wrapper, such that you do not also tear the cover. Most fortunately I did not tear it and it's still here.
Carefully tear the brown paper wrapper, such that you do not also tear the cover. Most fortunately I did not tear it and it’s still here.

Yes, billziegler1947 is referring to the latest of waking hours in a longish sized day, when a last second neuron fires a memory segment while reading Karavansara. There you may find coverage on the deservedly famous Sand Worm cover by John Schoenherr on a March 1965  Analog Science Fact – Science Fiction.

As noted by Davide Mana this is a first printing. Mine arrived at 315 Glenroy in a brown paper wrapper. Now it’s preserved in a mylar sleeve. Yellow hues on a stone-like sand swirl. Too close even for discomfort. I can’t imagine it took that behemothic beast much time to scare its way out of arid surface and into a more than unforgiving Arrakis’ afternoon.

To make a short description yet shorter, I tuned in to Karavansara on the WordPress dial and submitted “Frank Herbert.” Frequenters of the Karavan and its Sara will know now that a non-ending journey into the possibilities of Herbert’s inimitable mind wash over into the impact of an introduction to Frank. Dune spice. 17 year-old self discovering that no one could better spark a science fiction journey

That trek began in 1964, while I gazed at another famous Analog cover (Schoenherr of course) for Randall Garrett’s alternate history series, another Sherlockian look at roads taken this time/not this time in the same year on the calendar: 1964 modern times. Not like the other magazines, it was not.

Looking at the calendar to discover that it is the present year. Modern telephone on the wall.
Looking at the calendar to discover that it is the present year. Modern telephone on the wall.

Back to 2015.

Veganism: What Gives?

veganism.sacrifice
http://veganismisnonviolence.com/category/veganism-vegan-abolition/

Treading lightly upon the Earth is at the heart of veganism: a choice so odd that WordPress does not recognize “veganism” in its rather large dictionary.. Somehow that makes me feel important, centered and focused.

What did you do that for, Bill? Like the über odd man out, boat rocker tree hugger? If you like fruit salad so much why don’t you marry it?

fruit.salad.pee.wee

Fruit Salad Wedding

Well it’s more like finding a life. Being or not being a vegan? There’s an interrogative! And here is a declarative: inimitably skilled pharmacists in anticoagulants  Amanda and Rachel are now following my progress, and have been since I gradually began improving my food-chemical choices.

 

I guess it really is odd: the one not eating chicken when there are twice as many chickens on Earth as there are people, and with the planet not running low on the homo sapiens at the moment. Will check on this and come right back.

I’m back. Right, there are a few billion or so consumers as of this evening on the sun’s third planet.

http://www.fusenet.eu/node/164

Yeah, but you’re not going to make a difference so what’s the deal then?

Feeling important, centered and focused I realize that it’s only me twisting my own arm here, not yours. Just saying.

Meat and meat byproducts, mechanically separated or otherwise, start to deliver chemicals to your body at first chew. They combine with other chemicals in your system to produce a replacement body.

mechanical-chemical-digestion-2-728

Nutrition Digestion Chemicals

Reuters sent out a press release on a new stance by the World Health Organization WHO today, noted in The Guardian. WHO proposes including processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen, a group shared by asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco. I’m going to listen for a response from the meat industry. This opposition may relate to sales volume. The economic significance of products derived from the sale of animals is far from negligible. There could be economic repercussions caused by negative publicity. Jury is still out on that one, they may look at the same data as the WHO and agree with them. Your guess is as good as mine. Or they may torture the data until it produces the desired result. We’ll just have to wait and see.

That’s nice Bill but I wanted you to write about nut butters. When are you going to write about nut butters?

 

The Matrix of Control: Jeff Halper

What happens when you deny reality indefinitely?

Anthropologist Jeff Halper and the geography of the matrix.
Anthropologist Jeff Halper and the geography of the matrix.

Making the inexplicable explicable, anthropologist Jeff Halper has authored an expression for a phenomenon: The Matrix of Control. I’ve sought to study both sides of the Palestine/Israel conflict; I find Halper’s well documented publications insightful and pertinent. And “The Matrix” is already in our cultural lexicon.

The geography of the occupied territories
The geography of the occupied territories

Not for the first time do I refer to hasbara (from the Hebrew “to explain”). WordPress’ auto-correct database is large but hasbara is not yet there).

The following is at the Palestine Poster Project. You’ll find some worthy media. A great project, timeless work:

Multiple cards permitted
Multiple cards permitted

Both the Arab and the Jew are semitic. Why limit antisemitism to anti-jew? What then is the word for anti-arab? How about “antisemitism.”

From the blog Displaced Palestinians

Hate speech
Hate speech

Where did the inhabitants of the world’s largest open-air prison come from?

Graphic below from: Gaza’s Untold Story

This infographic visually represents the untold story of Gaza’s refugees. Created by Visualizing Palestine in collaboration with four Palestinian human rights organizations, Al-Haq, the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, the Palestine Centre for Human Rights, and Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, who launched a joint campaign to document Israel’s attacks during the 2014 offensive against the Gaza Strip. http://visualizingpalestine.org/visuals/gaza-refugee-deaths

Visualizing Palestine

It appears that the proclamation “A land without a people…” is misleading.

As ever, comments (opposing viewpoints as well) are welcome.

The Logical Fallacy of Comparing Gaza to Greece

 

Expressing opinion in public
Expressing opinion in public

I found an obscure op-ed dated 9 July 2015. The opinion by an editorial board: Gaza and Greece are comparable. Offhand I can think of two points for comparison: both border the Mediterranean, both begin with the letter “G.”  GAZA NEEDS WHAT GREECE IS GETTING. thePretty much published on the first anniversary of the 51 Day War, also known as Operation Protective Shield.

The fantasyland of eternal bailouts. The fantasyland of eternal hatred.

The ultimate lesson about Greece is not economic, it’s about Fantasyland. Greece has lived in Fantasyland — just like Gaza.

Greece’s fantasyland is the free lunch. Gaza’s fantasyland is the attitudinal free lunch: hatred without consequences.

The Greek fantasy is the supply of money as automatic as the laws of nature.

The Gaza fantasy is the end of Israel despite the laws of nature.

The Greek fantasy is pensions, wages, holidays, insurance, subsidies, welfare, all based on funds from outside Greece, without limit.

The Gaza fantasy is the destruction of Israel based on  random missile fire and terror tunnels.

The Greeks fight the laws of production. The Gazans fight the laws of decency and self-interest.

The Greeks are finding out the hard way that big bailouts are not forever.

The Gazans need to find out that hatred forever will not destroy Israel.

The Greeks are finding out that there is no way to economic strength other than work, discipline and the end of ridiculous policies, such as huge pensions tied to early retirement.

The Gazans need to find out that there is no path to social achievement other than tolerance, political pluralism and religious freedom.

The Greek bluff was called.

Excellent symbol.

Now the Gaza bluff needs to be called: no more “humanitarian assistance” when it is basic humanitarianism, i.e., the end of the hatred of Jews and Israelis, that Gazans need to cultivate.

Greece banked on the fear of others to let Greece fail. For this, Greece is failing.

Gaza banks on the blindness of others to the true cause of their suffering: themselves. For this, Gaza wins sympathy around the world, yet continues its suffering.

Greece is now getting a dose of reality. Gaza is long overdue for a dose of reality.

Greece turned its good people against the necessary pain and pleasure of hard work, economic reform and national self-reliance.

Gaza turns its people toward the unnecessary pain of dead Gaza children as the inevitable consequence of placing them in harm’s way.

Greece is learning: It is not someone else’s job to fix the mess it created.

Gaza needs the very lesson that Greece is learning: Its poverty is of its own making, not someone else’s responsibility to fix.

Greece is learning: Fantasyland cannot last forever. The day of reckoning inevitably arrives.

Ditto, Gaza.

Greece’s fantasyland is the free lunch

Gaza’s fantasyland is the attitudinal free lunch: hatred without consequences.

Greece is learning: It is not someone else’s job to fix the mess it created.

Gaza needs the very lesson that Greece is learning: Its poverty is of its own making, not someone else’s responsibility to fix.

No. It's not OK to place Greece and Gaza in the same headline
No. It’s not OK to place Greece and Gaza in the same headline

 

Palestinian Independence

I am a supporter of Palestinian independence and a foe of apartheid: the dramatic separation of “the other” by a privileged people. A de jure and de facto status quo is brutally enforced upon the other.  I have followed Palestine and Israel for a long time. I stand on the side of justice and human rights as defined by the United Nations.  Palestine is a people whose culture is constantly threatened. Israel enjoys independence, Palestine does not.

Contemporary movements arise in unexpected but nevertheless appropriate ways. So they blossom in the same era. Fine parallels.
Contemporary movements arise in unexpected ways. They blossom in this era as related hashtags: #OneStruggle

Olive trees are an immortal theme in the land of Palestine.

olivetree_grandma
A Palestinian grandmother or mom and her children protecting their olive trees from demolition

Metaphor: olive branch in Genesis 8:11

genesis_811
When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.

South Africa was another victim of British Empire. It was divided and conquered. Upon attaining independence from Britain, the State of South Africa adopted the divide and conquer technique. It was called Apartheid.

Apartheid (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ɐˈpartɦɛit]; an Afrikaans word meaning "the state of being apart", literally "apart-hood") was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP), the governing party from 1948 to 1994.
Apartheid (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ɐˈpartɦɛit]; an Afrikaans word meaning “the state of being apart”, literally “apart-hood”) was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP), the governing party from 1948 to 1994.
separation wall

This painting on the separation wall dividing Israeli and Palestinians employs the vehicle (metaphor) of art. Simple but powerful. It reminds me of all the graffiti that adorned the west side of the Berlin Wall (some might have called it the Berlin Fence between 1961 and 1989) until both the west and the east sides of that wall finally fell in 1989.

August 17, 2015

News item:

The Defense Ministry resumed construction on Monday of the separation barrier near Beit Jala, south of Jerusalem, even though the High Court of Justice had invalidated the building of the barrier in that region and ordered the state to reconsider it.

(August 17, 2015 Haaretz)


India gained its independence from the British Raj in 1947.

British Raj (rāj, lit. "rule" in Hindi) or British India, officially the British Indian Empire, and internationally and contemporaneously, India, is the term used synonymously for the region, the rule, and the period, from 1858 to 1947, of the British Empire on the Indian subcontinent.
British Raj (rāj, lit. “rule” in Hindi) or British India, officially the British Indian Empire, and internationally and contemporaneously, India, is the term used synonymously for the region, the rule, and the period, from 1858 to 1947, of the British Empire on the Indian subcontinent.

The British relinquished their imperial hold on Palestine the following year. In 1948 truth became a victim of war.

british_mandate

There is a worn  slogan: “a land without a people for a people without a land.” But Palestine was not an uninhabited region.It was the home of three (3) cultures in 1948: three adherents of a monotheistic faith, secular and others, such as Bedouin nomads.

When the British left the three cultures remained. 700,000 Palestinians began a diaspora (67 years so far) that relocated them to the West Bank of the Jordan River, a small segment along the Mediterranean known as Gaza and throughout the world.

Many Palestinians lived on the Mediterranean coast in 1947. Certainly this would be my choice too, the climate is that of Southern California. Californians prefer the coast, but they also live elsewhere in their state. They live in Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego, i.e. all over the state of California. Many Israelis enjoy the Mediterranean coast, but some prefer Jerusalem, a divided city similar to the previously divided Berlin: capital city of the German Democratic Republic and largest city of the German Federal Republic at the time of Nakba.

During the 1947 creation of the state of Israel, the homeland of the Palestinian people for more than a thousand years was taken from them by force. All subsequent crimes–on both sides–inevitably follow from this original injustice. Yet a peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued over the years despite the ongoing violence which has prevailed since the very beginning.
During the 1947 creation of the state of Israel, the homeland of the Palestinian people for more than a thousand years was taken from them by force. All subsequent crimes–on both sides–inevitably follow from this original injustice. Yet a peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued over the years despite the ongoing violence which has prevailed since the very beginning.

Sams Life in Jeddah A WordPress blog

Was the event of 1948النكبةم Nakba Catastrophe) or Israel Independence Day יום העצמאות‎ (Yom Ha’atzmaut)?

Catastrophe number two: the event of 1967: النكسة‎ يوم (The Naksa World Turned Upside Down).

Below, Moriarty as metaphor for the poorly understood victims of great crimes: the Palestinian people:

Picture to yourself the pilot fish with the shark, the jackal with the lion—anything that is insignificant in companionship with what is formidable: not only formidable, Watson, but sinister—in the highest degree sinister. That is where he comes within my purview. ‘You have heard me speak of Professor Moriarty?’

‘The famous scientific criminal, as famous among crooks -‘

‘My blushes, Watson!’ Holmes murmured in a deprecating voice.

‘I was about to say, “as he is unknown to the public”.’

‘A touch! A distinct touch!’ cried Holmes. ‘You are developing a certain unexpected vein of pawky humour, Watson, against which I must learn to guard myself. But in calling Moriarty a criminal you are uttering libel in the eyes of the law…

from A. Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story The Valley of Fear.

German Grammar in the Everyday Every Day

Fashioning a German Lesson Plan from Anything at Hand

Class topic of the day (des Tages): how picking up a plastic bag off the street and reading the language printed on that bag may help you learn language. The one I have here is your classic bad-news-for-the-environment plastic bag. I retrieved one for each of you, so it’s a handout. Later in the day you can three-hole punch this handout and put it in your binder under today’s date.

handout
Your handout for this class: Let’s say I had snagged this bag from under a parked car in the Kröger lot, before the plastic could pose a wildlife hazard. Now it’s in the lesson plan as an instructional resource. Note: 3 holes have not yet been punched. Please include margin notes using your felt-tip pen. Thank You. THANK YOU.

Today’s exercise allows you to use innate perceptual senses to discern meaning from everyday texts, and to discover potential contexts for your favorite words. Remember that new knowledge is fragile knowledge, so be gentle with yourself and feel free to make mistakes. In this class the student who makes the most mistakes gets the highest mark since she learns from her own mistakes. Also, if the present-moment reader finds an error in this post I get a point.

Use this bag later in your life for sandwiches, knickknacks, sturdy water bottles and items with words written upon them.

Anyway, pick up your red Sharpie and write ‘rot‘ on the handout. Think about how similar ‘t’ and ‘d’ sound: “Ta Da!” and recall the apocryphal tale of Saxons (Sachsen) moving to England to start a new language. On that hypothetical boat Saxons decided to change their ‘t’ to a ‘d’ and say ‘good‘ rather than ‘gut‘ and day instead of ‘Tag‘. And then call it English.

migration routes around 800 C.E.
migration routes around 800 C.E.

Draw a rainbow with your Sharpies and label each color separately in your language of choice or else in German. Gather the things you want to put in your handout. Label that bag with its contents, z.B.:

  • Apfel (grüner)
  • Brot (rotes)
  • Papier (weißes)
  • Banane (gelbe oder grüne oder schwarze oder schwarzgelbe oder oder oder)
  • Apfelsaft (süßer)

Now place each object (each noun) into the bag (in die Tüte) and take a walk (einen Spaziergang machen). Connect the Umlaut dots atop the ‘u’ to form an ‘o’, thus reminding you just how crafty those dang Saxons were (Tüte becomes tote). Those tapfere Sachsen even simplified the ‘chs’ in their former German language to an ‘x’ in the new language (nächste becomes next).  While on this relaxing stroll let your friends (strangers optional) know about the contents of your bag:

Hallo. Hier in meiner Tüte habe ich einen grünen Apfel. Gebrauchtes Papier ist immer das Beste. Glaubst du das.

Let’s say you forget to bring your own shopping bag to Kröger. At least save those plastic hazards in your vehicle or Rücksack and drop them into the fiber recycling drum in their foyer (the place where you grab a shopping cart).

Thinking about Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, Gießen and Savak

The culture where I live does not seem particularly interested in learning foreign languages. But the written, the spoken, and the audible become a part of the soul and a blessing to humanity when civilized thought can gain a foothold.
Nelson-Mandela-on-Language

My interest in German language led to an opportunity for study in Giessen, at that time West Germany, from 1971 to 1973. Upon arriving at Justus Liebig Universität I learned German as a second language with fellow students from Iran, Japan, Egypt among others. German was the tongue we shared, so that we could talk to the brain. Then we could join the citIzenry and talk to the heart.

Abteilung der Uni
Just be natural! It’s important when learning languages

Some people take on an alternate identity to ward off conversation. It was common for Americans traveling in Europe in the early 1970’s to attach a Canadian maple leaf to their person. This to avoid conversations about Vietnam. It was convenient to merge into the background. But such maneuvers may lead to a false sense of comfort: ease and convenience have long-term consequences. It is just as convenient to avoid discussions on long festering Middle East issues today. Are the sound bites you hear from a source without an agenda? Unfortunately, the truth can be hidden, often deliberately by perpetuating lies that simply make life more convenient or comfortable for the liar.

Under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Shah from 1941 to 1979) many Iranians studied at German universities such as Justus Liebig. Our Iranian fellows shared an ability to converse in German about Savak and the Persian experience. Neither Farsi nor English was necessary to bridge a gulf separating us from each other. Who knew that Pahlavi was complicit in dark matters. The Iranian people knew.

Farsi Keyboard
Farsi script is so similar to Arabic!

Guy Wallace explains Savak.

Imagine a monarchy that is 2500 years old, that began with Cyrus the Great and ended with Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s deposition. Might a civilization both ancient and modern have evolved a complex history and culture In 2.5 millenia? Might Farsi hint at subtleties in the Persian soul? What about the country name itself: Persia, Iran? Does its religion suggest potential geopolitical significance? Can we question the translation of the colloquial Farsi into English of the conveniently repeated  Death to America (More accurately translated as Down with America).

Farsi speakers use this invocation to express transitory frustration, perhaps at stubbing a toe. In a future post I want to discuss the nature of curse words in Farsi, Arabic and Hebrew. Stay tuned.