Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Shoah and Waltz with Bashir

Yesterday morning I met a Shoah (Holocaust) survivor who had been in Theriesenstadt and several other camps. He was clutching an old red book which commemmorated the systematic murder of the Jews in the small Polish town he had originally come from, Przedecz. The book was written in Hebrew and Yiddish, and I skimmed through some of the chapters written in Hebrew.

What amazed me, and stirred up old anxieties and unease, was the descriptions of the extraordinarily persistent, methodical and "dedicated" way in which the Germans went about their killing business even in the very last months of the year. I can understand how murderous rage can overwhelm one so that one lashes out and destroys in moments of madness. But from my knowledge of myself this is quickly followed by a shift into a different mode of being, where one emerges from the rage, looks around at any destruction caused, and experiences regret or fear, and the desire to do things differently. To sustain murderous rage requires an unnatural and difficult feeding of that rage long after the rage, having been acted out on, wants to settle and dissipate itself.

How could these German people keep on, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, with the killing, the shooting, the herding into barns and churches and setting the people inside alight, the gassing and the burning of bodies, the stealing of the valuables, the shoes, the glasses, the hair, the fillings???

I toy with several notions: that it was not murderous rage at all then, but a perverted sense of duty, of mission, so that long after the inebriating effects of the power of death over others had worn off, the "work" of ridding Europe of Jews was continued with out of a desire to complete an important if burdensome (as in boring, not morally oppressive) task - an extension of the supposed German work ethic and desire for precision and a job well done. Perhaps this kept them going with the routine of rounding up, clubbing, supervising the digging of pits, the shooting in the nape of the neck, the forcing of writing of postcards to family about how they were relocated and clearing up rubble in German cities, the stripping naked, the setting alight....

Or perhaps it became an addiction, that more and more was required to feel anything - screams and blood and bodies mutilated with bayonets gave a mad rush which had to be repeated over and over again?

All we know is that they (chose?) to persist with it to the very end.

And the contrast with Waltz with Bashir is very striking in this regard, where Israeli soldiers are haunted by the mere association with a once-of massacre they did not commit, and need to repress the memories, and then work through them, be it in therapy, or by making films to extirpate the guilt and unease. Are, or were, the Germans capable of a degree of disassoiation Jews/ Israelis have by and large not been capable of?? And what would that imply? That there are racial / national types?? The losses of such a theory may be bigger than any gains in terms of a sense of moraql superiority.

At bsome ppoint would like to discusss the unhealthy, somtimes adictive / pathological fascination with some aspects of the Shoah displayed by some Jews - this was first brought to my attention by a conversation with Shirly firths brother that must have ha[ppened in South Africa at her house in Linksfield in the mid 1990s. (To be continued im yirtze HaShem, Inshallah)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Miscellany - to be sorted

The economics of being Jewish - higher school fees, higher house prices, if yu're kosher higher food prices - who can afford it???
Sex is better than alcohol


My secret life as a resenter
Some causes are more equal than others...

some causes are sexier than others....much easier to hand ou leaflets to "free Palestine" than to stop the genocides in the Congo or Darfur - because those don't have an audience

Its so comforting to read about things I already know, whether its tarantino's filmography or Dinasours or great bridges or the second world war or the human body

Unexamined belief: My talents handicap me as much as some other people's lack of talent handicaps them. see Baudelaire's "The Albatross"


Idea for my year 9s. A website focussed on philosemitism which tracks and celebrates philosemitic incidents past and present.


For some old age is a descent into the trivial


Next year the world cup comes to South Africa, and will provide a great boost both to the sex tourism industry, the hunting "industry: (the I was-brutalised-in-boarding-school-so-now-I-shoot-animals- to-convince-myself-my-dick-isn't-too-small industry), and perhaps even the mugging and hijacking industries, while also providing many mostly honest people with many memorable moments and perhaps some extra and much needed cash as well...


Gam begil 45 lo matzati nekudat achiza, velo yadati mi uma lehiyot.

I find Australian call centre personal to be unapologetic, but helpful. I think this is a useful way to be.

How can I contribute? What piece of the puzzle do I have?


The mountain of autonomy is reached therough the valley of dependence; the fertile fields of depend dance are reached via the mountain pass of autonomy

Feeling overwhelmed? Just because you can't do everything doesn't mean you can't do something. And often some-thing, just a single thing, is more than enough. Rest now in that.
Never underestimate the (self-inflicted) anguish that (the idea that we have agency and make) decisions can cause. Better to believe that everything happens by itself


I said “yes” and I keep on saying “yes” – ken bakodesh chaziticha...


Sir, I’m afraid your wife has been washed out to sea.
Oh my G?d – she had the car keys with her.


When I see every person as myself
then a busy street, the veins of the city
with people rushing to and fro
are like the red and white blood cells
doing their thing in my veins
that I do not worry about
or urge to get on with their work
and perhaps the collapse of bio diversity
is like someone who has taken too many antibiotics
and killed of all the helpful flora
in their guts

I am afraid to go back to Israel until I am firmly established in the Self, because the madness in Israel, and amongst its Molsem enemies, is so pervasive, the collectivist thinking, the identification with particular identities so convincing in that context, the fear so great, that I do not believe I would add anything of value and simply become part of the problem myself – in other words I do not trust myself…I can imagine being In Israel and squandering any resources I had accumulated in fultile doomed relationships that might be destructive, instead of nurturing relationships where I live my courage rather than my evasions…

I want to be competent and I also want to know I’m competent, for if I am competent, but don’t know it, then I continue to live out my assumption that I’m incompetent


Teaching Jewish Studies in a high school like Emanuel, with its synthetic 'do as a I say, not as I do' ethos is enough to ruin anyone's relationship with whatever Judaism they were in relationship with. (Albeit temporary ruination)


The filmic representations of Israelis – even by many Israeli filmmakers, often seem to me to be strangely distorted. So in the Lemon Tree, where a wife says of her defence Minister hsband, he has killed many Arabs – which seems unconsciously to be pandering to some magnetic pull towards unuanced massly held ways of representing the conflict…and projecting onto the conflict…I have often felt that pull myself, to dumb down my discourse and use terms I imagine will be familiar to the thought patterns of my audience, merely because they have heard them many times. How to become a “free man” free of all these made up dramas to please, to appease, to defy etc etc….how to shed them all like a snake shedding its old skin, a penis shedding a condom and standing erect and naked like a lingam…

7th day of Hanukah, Tashsat, 28 November 2008,

As a post holocaust Jew living in a Western democracy I am pulled between two different consciousnesses. The desire to participate fully in all the opportunities offered by the open culture around me – to participate in it and build it and contribute to it – but a voice which also says live defensively and prepare for the “inevitable” hatred which, like blinds coming down in the eyes of once friendly neighbours – will inevitably resurface, especially in times of economic hardship like the ones we are now entering. So there is a war in my soul between the optimism that calls me to contribute and become part of a broader narrative – and the pessimism which says “look to your own as a survival strategy” – of course these kinds of thoughts ignore the fact that all survival is relative and that no one, no matter what strategy they adopt – survives. The theoretical world I live in is probably very different from the world of the stony giant slav we met in the British museum, who photographed his toddler son’s struggles and misues of an interactive exhibit with stoic indifference – but even my assumptions about the gap between my mental constructs and play play universe abnnd the “real” world out there (which I assume is cruel and destructive and indifferent) is also a made up mental construct….

All I want my published books to do for me is to create a platform for me so that I might have a measure of safety and be treated with a measure of dignity…so I “must” publish because this is how “the world” (my projection??) measures one

Show man on wire to one of my classes – what a film

Alas, no time at the moment to sort and refine, I am forced by life to prioritise. They are
a) to turn away from my morbid thoughts and to build and build and build – this must be my enduring priority and unshakeable commitment
b) to always see the opportunities in the challenges around me
c) to register for the degree
d) to create a CV as a writer in residence
e) to send more poems to Australian literary magazines…including some translations of Alterman’s.

Put all of this up under personal notes…not for posting (or reading) yet.

Irrespective of the wicked and obtuse and unconscious anti-Semitism which accuses Israelis and Jews of all kinds of imaginary crimes – the standard ploy of anti-Semites gearing up for a pogram – first you delegitimize the Jews by making them faceless, and by lovingly dwelling on their imaginary crimes, by their unnatural ability to control and influence,…once you’ve built up the enemy in your mind then you go in and pillage and destroy and rape and murder..stealing whatever jews have created and build up by their hard work and initiative and enterprise ….and delighting in a mad orgy of killing and bloodletting, like the British soldiers who described their killing of Zulu people as “pig sticking….”

irrespective of this I must decry the mindset which characterises the Israeli right, and Jewish fascist movements such as kach, because they are as blind and unconscious as anything that gets thrown at us. The biggest threat to the democratic state of Israel is this mindset, who calls those who think otherwise “traitors” that stifles all debate, that calls for a them and us identity, which splits so the bad is always outside of us…yet all of this reactivity cannot be fought by taking a relative position and becoming one more pole of the debate….fighting reactivity with unconscious reactivity…how can it work…as Nisarghadaatta says,…I disapprove of the entire universe, not just a leapord skin.” so while I’d like to fight for so many causes, the burning priority is to understand myself and my own projections…eyze hu gibor..hakovesh et yitzro…not just his desire, but the unconscious creative processes which create a world which seems inimical to us…both the ancient Jewish texts and Nisarghadatta, return me to myself.

Knowing that human beings are thus, what actions can we take on a daily basis…the burden of useless knowledge…for one cannot live defensively 24 hours a day…the desire to relax and celebrate is too strong…better to love openly and die quickly than survive behind concrete walls…or is it??? This is the fears that haunt me.

In five years time
writer in residence or teaching Hebrew or head of informal education at a large congregation
Have published two more volumes of poetry
financially independent
live in a sustainable house somewhere and have created a documentary of its making
boys are happy and excel in some particular domain.

“I handle the Jew as a symbol of the tragic experience of man existentially. I try to see the Jew as a universal man. Every man is a Jew though he may not know it.”

Out of love I leave these musings behind – or at least set them aside for the moment – to create a safe house for my children – and their friends – and my friends…

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Applying Byron Katie's work to thoughts about anti-Semitism

To learn more about Byron Katie's method visit and her blog on . Both she and the More To Life Programme expose the freedom that is already there by questioning habitual and untrue thoughts. Of course there are many many people, north and south, east and west, who practice and live this approach to freedom. Eckart Tolle, Gangaji, Isaac Shapiro, Nisarghadattha Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Brad Brown, and many many other hidden and revaled tzadikim (righteous) proclaim the same truth: nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so - so make it good.

All of Byron Katie's postings and work with people - even on apparently unrelated issues - are relevant, because in terms of 'deep' structures, no matter what the external triggers the thought patterns - the addictive, repetitive, unquestioned, unoticed and unseen patterns of thought - tend to be remarkably similar, even if the triggering issue looks different on the outside. And as Krishnamurti said "the seing is the doing" - seeing th patterns releases them, creates space in which to be - beautifully.

In particular check out her beautiful work in Israel in video postings such as
I'm afraid of war I
I'm afraid of war 2

Fear of a terrorist attack 1
Fear of a terrorist attack 2

and "No one can hurt me but me"

and in particular
Letter from Iran

especially her turnaround (i.e creative rephrasing) of the thought "I keep thinking they have been shot."

Byron writes:
Another turnaround: “I am shooting my brothers.” In your mind, aren’t you shooting them? And are you using their enemies to shoot them? What is the point of creating your brothers’ death (or 'your people's death, or your own death ed.)and using their “enemies” to do it with, in your mind, over and over, when you don’t really know what is happening or even what they are doing right here from where you are, right now? The reality is that they are alive, as far as you can know, until you learn otherwise. When you accept reality just as it is, right here, right now, there is nothing between you and reality that would cost you the ability to serve what you can serve and to change what you can from where you are, right here, right now. This is just one of the advantages of the fearless, loving mind wherever you are. (Does fear feel kind to you when you’re in it? Is that what you use to motivate you into action? Fear is limiting; test it yourself.) As it is, you are superimposing your thought onto reality.

To project your fears and experience them as real is often self-defeating and terrifying. Your blood pressure, your health, your energy, your right to the gift of real life is imagined away and replaced by unchecked imagination. Your physical health and the health of those around you are affected when you are lost in imagination as though it were real, swept away in the dream of what isn’t, right here, right now. Unquestioned thoughts are the root cause of all suffering and can be debilitating.

It is a wonderful thing to question one’s mind, to do The Work and wake up to, be transformed into, what has been referred to as “the peace of God,” “the peace that passeth all understanding,” and be left with “What can I do to help from here, right now?” The Work offers each of us the opportunity to wake up from the nightmare, to wake up into what is real. Thank you, dearest, and let me know what you hear of your brothers.

As it says in Tehilim (the psalms) - harpeyu vedeyu sheanochi Elokim - let go (become soft, be healed) and know that I am G?d

It may not ultimately be "my business" - and Byron advises to stay out of other's business - but when my mind gets to puzzling about things like the 88 year old white supremacists attack on the Holocaust Museum around June 9th, it asks, what are these resenters trying to fix? Obviously they blame 'the Jews' (and often black people) for all the world's ills, and in that sense they say they are wanting to fix these things, but what internally are they really trying to fix? What early failure that turned them into victims? Can it be understood psychodynamically? Was it a fundamental lack of compassionate parenting that is passed down in germanic cultures? Some fundamental abandonment that occurs early in infancy. or the kind of aggressions between father and son I saw sometimes in working class Afrikaners (I remember once at Warmbaths, now called Bela Bela, a father commenting on the largish size of his 6 or 7 year old child's penis, and flicking him with his towel....while the extended family of oupa and ouma and ma (leathery burnt brown skin and blue eyes) looked on and chortled)...

My ongoing "clearing" of my heavy thoughts around anti-Semitism - all responses and true thoughts welcome. Truths in red, unquestioned thoughts in black.

Who would I be without the thought "I / we need protection"?

Freer, more joyful, less unproductively suspicious of people's motives, less cynical

Their hatred scares me

My thoughts about them scare me
My (unexamined) fears (of death) scare me
My belief that I am inadequate and weak scares me
My belief that my inadequacy and weakness will be exposed via some anti-Semitic incident scares me
My lack of self belief and self trust scares me
I scare me
The power I invest them with scares me

I am not up to the task (the task is to be different from those who were gassed in the Holocaust)
I don't know what the task is, or if indeed there is a 'assignments' are usually my own creations

It is humiliating to be killed by someone who wants to kill you
If the malach hamavet (the messenger of death) brings the death decreed by the Holy One, blessed be She, then it will be sent by the messenger She deems appropriate - where is the humiliation in this??? Who decides what humiliates?.

anti- Semites bother me
my thoughts about anti-Semites bother me

Turnarounds (i.e. check to see if the opposite is true)

My hatred scares me
My strength and adequacy scares me, because if I am strong I can't excuse myself from the uncertainties of having to use that strength in the best way possible, without knowing - and ever being able to know - what the best course of action is. I might get it "wrong" - and that's a thought that scares me

To be killed may be a great liberation - as it says in Kohelet

Its OK to make yourself OK with the way things are - although you can never know how things are in the first place - is this a great mystery or what?

Its OK not to know what to do

Its OK to respect yourself no matter what happens, including how you affect others and how others affect you

People dump on us because we're weak...we're safe targets
Not all people 'dump' (meaning?) on us. I don't know the ultimate reasons why things are the way they are. Nor indeed, do I know how things ultimately are. I only 'know' very tiny slices of my stories about the way things are.

Jews are fundamentally weak
Who would I be without this thought? What does it give me (i.e. what's the payoff for keeping it running. And what's the cost? ) Was Mark Spitz weak when he won 6 golds at the Olympics? Was Rabbi Akiva weak when he chose matyrdom? Was Hanna Senesh or Eli Cohen weak? Was Sandy Kovacs weak? Was Moshe Dayan or Saul Bellow weak.

The Jews (we) always seem to attract irrational hatred
From who? Am I irrationally intereted in the irrational hatred "we" (I put anything in inverted commas that I have not yet fundamentally unpacked.)

Its inescapable
I'm escaping it right now, sitting in my lounge typing at my computer
whenever I'm not obsessing about it, I've escaped it

Do I obsess about dying by a Tsunami, airplane or car accident? What happens when death is delivered by someone who has chosen to hate their idea of me (not me - they have no idea who I am). Why is that different? Will the dying of the body be different? Or is it only the meaning I place upon it different? Then why do I choose this different meaning?

People are basically murderous and nasty
Many many people, fireman, passers by, volunteer workers, blood donors - and the list can be expanded billion fold - are noble and want to give.

A world in which such nastiness and meaness and implacable hatred exists is not worth living in

I am living in it
I don't know what the worth of anything is, but I want to live
There is much heroism, compassion and caring and nobility in the world, much giving as well as

Either there really is something wrong with us, or there is something wrong with the world.


There is something right with us, and something right with the world

We're flexible and adaptive
we can laugh at ourselves
I can laugh at myself

Things are unacceptable as they are
I can accept the way things are
I do accept things the way they are
Things are the way they are - and even while I'm making up a story about how they are, they've already changed and moved beyong my grasp (or grasping mind)
I don't know how things are - I'm too busy running after my false thoughts

Another turn around:

I want anti-Semitism

Three things that anti-Semitism gives me
a) It is a wake up call, and investigating it and how it lives in me is a gateway to reality
b) It helps me to establish what I am and what I am not

To be continued - hopefully.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Friends and family

uncertainty is my friend
self doubt my brother
longing is my sister
acceptance is my mother

Teaching a child is a delicate thing
it can often be very challenging

Its very difficult to fix something that isn't broken, which is why I found the telephonic requests of my mom -in-law, G-d bless her, for help with her computer , extremely, lets say, challenging

Some problems are relative...and some relatives are problems

Thought about my Dad
"laat hom vrek
in sy eie plek"

(clue: Afrikaans)


We've been watching this documentary about the history
of anti-Semitism, called "The Longest Hatred" and at one point it goes to a church in Austria where the bizarre and slightly macarb mummified remains of a child are preserved, a child supposedly murdered by "the Jews" in the 16th century for his blood, and outside the church an ageing Austrian man nods sagely and tells the camera "Ja, ja its true , they murdered the child for his blood" with the same assuredness and certainty that people trotted out truths such as the earth is flat, or that the sun revolves around us.

A short story where same is systematically stripped off the organs of speaking and writing, to try and discover where the belief is located, and it somehow remains even when the entire body has been removd...a core of hatred and resentment and blame...

The inner dimensions of anti-Semitism - Satre and Erickson and the Charedi idea that it is a wake up call and a summons for Jews to do tshuva...

I voted against the corrupt governmentof South Africa with my feet
a government that has aligned itself with the cruellest and most repressive regimes in the world
China, Iran, Libya, Mugabe's Zimbabwe,the Military Junta in Myanmar...

The Chinese
(and all of us)
turn oil
into plastic bags
into cancer