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.
Today we look at two nouns rooted in Palestinian history —
1948 N a K B a
1967 N a K S a
Languages based on a root system are dendritic — consider trees, rivers, fractals..
Look at the two letters in blue b (ب ) s ( س )
But now a word from our sponsor:
On the day of Nakba, 700,000 people were exiled from their ancestral homes.
Andrew Jackson’s illegal exile of the Cherokees began in 1838. Jackson may not have said
“Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it,”
but the result was still dispossession.
President Jackson drove the Cherokee Nation into an exile called The Indian Territories until they in turn became Oklahoma. Native Americans now live in rural areas served by Food Desert convenience stores — they get to stay there until a monied interest drops straight edge on a map and calls it an access pipeline, or the equivalent.
We return you to your regularly scheduled program, in progress.
In each case (Trail of Tears, Nakba) people took luggable items, including the house keys. The six days of Naksa happenedin 1967 (imprisonment).
…they chose the word Nakba which, in Arabic, refers to a supreme calamity that happens once in an eon. That is to say, this disastrous collective experience exacted upon the Palestinians is an unprecedented trauma that had to be referred to by a word that communicates to the entire world that nothing can happen that is worse than being uprooted in the manner they were in the events leading to and following Israel’s declaration of statehood.
…the word Naksa does not really mean ‘setback.’ In classical Arabic, Naksa is used to describe an event where a thing is literally flipped upside down. The great Arabic lexicon Lisan Al-‘Arab — The Tongue of the Arab People — says that when a Naksa happens to a thing, its top becomes its bottom and its front becomes its back. It then goes as far as saying that in many cases a Naksa can be so bad that the chances of it being reversible are almost nonexistent and that no good can be found in it.
Arabic dictionaries sequence by root. Hans Wehr assembled the definitive dictionary organized by roots. Here are the roots I’ve generated in Aratools
Arabic affixes a special letter to nouns of feminine gender. The grammatical term is “taa marbuta.” It’s also a handy way to create a new word in that language:
The BDS movement is gaining momentum. Inertia is important when reminding people that the “Universal” Declaration of Human Rights is not limited to a select group of nice people.
Last week I uploaded a link that buoyed my spirit: a marginalized people may yet gain the attention it so desperately needs. It’s an article in Mondoweiss that’s received 503 views so far on the CPSC FB page.
Yesterday the Cincinnati Palestine Solidarity Coalition hosted a taste of Palestine event to celebrate solidarity in electorally significant SW Ohio. About 30 attendees enjoyed a gathering of people from a range of interests, ethnicities and ages to engage in festive spirit.
The dishes were overwhelmingly vegan and a tribute to the healthy aspects of a Mediterranean diet.
Among the gentle people there was a contingent from Dayton OH where an active solidarity for refugees of the longest lasting refugee crisis since 1948, known as the Nakba. Please visit American Support Network for Palestine for some extraordinary links on Palestine after Nakba
Hedy Epstein (née Wachenheimer) was born in the city of Freiburg in the year 1924, a nine-year old kid when Hitler took over. She was one of the fortunate few who left Germany for the United States in 1939 (Kindertransport).
Hedy reported on Israel’s behavior during the 1982 Lebanon War. That behavior brought familiar the memories of childhood in a Freiburg in the 1930’s.
Hedy ist eine Menschln presently living in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2014 she was arrested at a protest in a suburb of Ferguson on a charge of “Failure to Disperse,” a charge similar to “Failure to Communicate.” Both “failures” are euphemisms. A “communication failure” took the life of Mr. Michael Brown.
Fascism is never a good idea, but many fervently long for it every day.
Fascism is never subtle, it’s better at blurting and wallowing.
Fascism proclaims that ethnic cleanliness is next to godliness.
Fascism is proud and nasty, upfront and in your face foul.
Fascism believes that “the others” are impurities and impediments.
Fascism winks, nods and smiles at efficient and early dispatch of undesirables.
Be aware of how well Hedy Epstein is accepted in Israeli society. Beware.
“This diminutive 91-year-old icon of freedom and justice is loved and adored by everyone whose lives she has inspired or touched. As far as many Israelis are concerned, though, she can burn in hell. Some of them have actually said much, much worse about this frail, gentle, loving little Jewish lady who has put her life on the line continually for Palestine.”
Question the plea “We must return to our commonly shared Judeo-Christian values as established by our Christian founding fathers.” What about the other third of the triad of a monotheism rooted in the Levant?
Translations lie. Oft repeated lies lie big-time. Repeat a lie enough and it becomes the stuff of conventional wisdom. Watch out for the fallacy of affirming the consequent when presenting a logical argument.
Joseph Goebbels knew how to lie at world-class levels.
Ignore news cycles, soundbites, repeated headlines, rehashed dead horses.