Thursday, October 16, 2014

Simchat Torah Thoughts: We have met the enemy and he/she/it is us

It seems to me there is a tendency to project onto the psychiatric establishment, multi-national pharmaceuticals etc etc our shadow stuff...that they are the “baddies” who pathologise deviance and attempt to control the symptoms of deviance with money making drugs administered by a hierarchical system which has the power as gate keepers to define the sane, with all its attendant privileges, and the insane, with all its powerlessness and exclusion.

But this conceptualisation of “the problem” seems to me to be as futile as the war on drugs was futile when it ignored the demand side and only went after the supply side. There is no point in trying to get rid of Afghan growers or Jihadist drug networks or Mexican cartels when you have huge urban markets that demand recreational matter how many producers and distributors are removed, new ones arise to take their place because their is a lucrative demand for the product. In the same way we create the demand that our appointed agents – doctors, psychiatrists, carerers, police – remove significant deviance (illness, old age, madness, dysfunction, criminality, extreme poverty) to the periphery of our vision. When we have soccer world cups we drive all the beggars and homeless people out of town, so as not to stain the eys of tourists with our city's blemishes. When we have V8 motor car races in Australia, we take the animal emblazoned on our coat of arms - the kangeroo - and shoot any of them that may possibly wonder onto the track and stop the mad racing around asphalt which is done in the name of entertainment and distraction.

We – you and I and pretty much everyone - collectively create and maintain the conditions for closed mental wards. In the same way as we banish abattoirs and land fill and sewage farms to the peripheries of our cities, to keep the under belly of our so-called civilization hidden from ourselves, so we banish our “criminals” to jails, our toxic waste to poor developing countries, and our insane to locked wards. As with the butterfly affect, there is a direct link between the numbed out signature which ends most commodified interactions in Australia (“have a nice day”) and the collective hiding from ourselves which gathers like a cloud of numbing anxiety and depression over large swathes of the Australian human landscape (and any other over developed society). 

It is our collective fear of significant deviance and diversity that creates police forces and psychiatrists. We give them permission to act as our agents, they do not derive their power from anything other than the collective permission we grant them to keep us safe by removing significant deviance from the public realm where we may encounter it and where it may unsettle our already tenuous hold on our own sense of ok-ness. Not only do we allow police to criminalize dysfunction, and psychiatrists and psychologists to pathologize otherness, we task them with doing this. They are no more complicit than we are. So let the work of integration begin with me...bring the killing fields, slaughter houses and locked wards back home, into my house. After all, my house is large, and has many rooms.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Some thoughts on the Israel-Gaza war and its fallout in the Western world

Theories of causality are many, and none ever explain any given phenomenon fully, because everything causes everything in a universe where Jah is One. Some proponents of the Bully, Demonize and Subjugate campaign like to imagine that the end of political apatheid in South Africa was caused by sanctions and international boycotts. They then charicature Israel as similar to South Africa, and suggest it can be "transformed" (i.e erased) in similar fashion - through boycotts and sanctions.

However other readings of history would attribute to sanctions against SA only a very minor role. What ended political apartheid were the inherent contradictions of an untenable system, and the impossibility of running a capitalist economy while only utilising a tiny portion of the human resources of a country, and excluding most of its citizens from paricipation in the market as producers or consumers. In the same way sanctions on Israel will not prove transformative - on the contrary they will play into the hands of Israel's right, and harden Israeli intransigence. What could cause the implosion of Israel in its current form is not external. As with South Africa it is internal contradictions, and unresolved fault lines (of identity, vision and purpose) that eventually bring about an "end" (i.e transition) to name and form - be it of an individual or collective.

The quiet coercion of delegitimization and dehumanization: As a child growing up in Apartheid South Africa, in the 1970s, largely because of the attitudes I imbibed from my family, from around the age 11 or 12, if someone in the circles I moved in - neighbourhood kids, school, Hebrew school - ever used the word "kaffir" I would upbraid them, and at the least ask them not to use the word in my presence, because I did not want to be guilty of a crime of ommission or comission. IIt is the very same impulse now that leads me to resist the use of the word "Zionist" when it is flung about as some kind of pejorative term whose negative connotations both speaker and listener mutually agree to.


It seems to me in terms of Israel putting out the clear message that it will not accomodate or appease any Palestinian entity which has not made peace with the idea and the reality of the existence of the State of Israel as a territorially and economically viable nation state, it must balance this firm and unambiguous stance with the firm and unambiguous assurance to the Palestinians that when they demonstrate by deed they have shifted internally (for example changing their school curricula to reflect co-existence rather than a staged triumphalism, not trying to harness anti-Semitism as a "useful beast" that will further their cause....wild beasts are unpredictable and often turn on their "owners") Israel will not obstruct the creation of a territorially viable state which also (depending upon what the Palestinians and their backers do with it) has the potential to be economically viable. 

This means that Israeli schools need to show Judea and Samaria as “disputed territories” not as an integral and inalienable parts of the State of Israel (even if they are inalienable parts of the land of Israel). It makes it more difficult to request Palestinian maps reflect the reality of Israel if Israeli maps do not reflect the reality of a nascent Palestinian state. At the moment the stick is clear, but the carrot is not, and this is perhaps a crucial omission from Israeli foreign policy and the public discourse about the conflict.

Those “Jews” who are the poster boys/girls of the “radix malorum Israel est” brigade (the “Israel is the root of all evil” cult) generally do not participate in Jewish communal life in any of its manifestations, do not consciously contribute to Jewish thought or culture, and their children (if they have children) do not identify as being Jewish. These people only claim their Jewishness when they think it gives them a platform from which to attack, devalue, malign and misrepresent the things that the overwhelming majority of practising, affiliated Jews hold as dear and central to their communal identity.

To those who talk of "genocide" in Gaza: Don't debase the word "genocide" by flinging it about, just because you believe it will help you enroll others to your cause. Save it for real genocides, and hopefully people will not have grown inured to its weight because of overuse.

 Those who demonize Israel (as opposed to merely criticising Israeli policies) have forgotten that we have met the enemy and he is us: "When we allow ourselves to be persuaded by speech that seeks to draw evermore entrenched lines between one set of people and another, we tacitly accept apathetic prejudice as an acceptable means to justify our feelings of injustice. This usually results in the demonizing of otherwise well-meaning people, forcing them into positions they did not themselves wish for, and from which they can only be expected to fight back, sometimes vehemently. Listen to just about anyone react to the outbreak of violence in Arsal (Lebanon) [or Israel / Gaza], and you can hear this dynamic at play."

One of those historical ironies: Zionism, which was meant to end anti-Semitism, by 'normalising' the Jewish people so that they became a rooted localised people like "every other nation" instead has provided the excuse and pretext for 'new' and virulent forms of anti-Semitism, which in turn bolsters the Zionist narrative that Jews will never be unconditionally accepted outside of their homeland; (that Jews who think differently are not necessarily accepted in some parts and strata of Israeli society is another matter...) Jew hatred of the sort we are witnessing now turns disinterested Jews into potential candiates for aliya (going to Israel). So Zionism, rather than resolving anti-Semitism, now, in some ways, needs it. But if anti-Semitism is the price for Israel to grow and consolidate itself, it is a very hefty price indeed...

“If in the past year you didn’t CRY OUT when thousands of protesters were killed and injured by Turkey, Egypt and Libya, when more victims than ever were hanged by Iran, women and children in Afghanistan were bombed, whole communities were massacred in South Sudan, 1800 Palestinians were starved and murdered by Assad in Syria, hundreds in Pakistan were killed by jihadist terror attacks, 10,000 Iraqis were killed by terrorists, villagers were slaughtered in Nigeria, but you ONLY cry out for GAZA, then you are not pro HUMAN RIGHTS, you are only ANTI-ISRAEL.” — Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, July 15, 2014

Syria's conflict has killed 170,000 people, including more than 9,000 children, according to the Observatory, and forced nearly half the country's population to flee their homes." Why are networks not showing images from this conflict every night? What makes the death of a 100 children in Gaza more newsworthy than 9000 in Syria? Is it because there is a pre-existing audience ready to thrill with rage and horror at "Israeli agression" while there is only indifference and apathy re fatalaties from civil wars and sectarian conflicts within the Arab/Iislamic world? Or is it because the Syrian conflict has been going on for two years, and the fickle media just gets bored and moves on to exacerbating conflict somewhere else? Or is it because its to dangerous to cover, so they cover conflicts which are relatively safe and easy to access?.

 Strange parallel reality: when I read some news sources they report not only Palestinian casualties, but also from the bomb shelters which Israelis have to run to several times a day. They report on the thousands of projectiles fired into Israel. They report on the foiled series of terror attacks from tunnels dug under Kibbutzim and villages in the South of Israel, attacks designed to massacre Israelis and in some cases , to take Israelis captive to use as "trading" cards. They report on the terror off residents of the South, traumatised by missile explosions and the sounds of digging (sometimes real / sometimes imagined) below their rooms. They report on Hamas videos calling Israeli and Jews "cockroaches"and urging their extermination. They point out that in most conflicts between Western style democracies and dictatorships casualties have been lopsided in favour of the democracies, because the democraceis tend to be both technologically more sophisticated (because, for example, of the free flow of information and the inclusion of women) and because democracies tend to invest in the protection of their citizens, rather than using them as canon fodder for PR "gains". And they point out that a score card of casualties has only been lovingly kept in the Israeli - Palestinian won't easily find one for Desert Storm, or the Iran-Iraq war,or Xianjeng province in China, or for ISIS, which last week and this has killed more than 700 people. But when I go to the Sydney Morning Herald all of this has been vanished and the only representations allowed are Palestinian suffering....

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The poisoned lancet

Recently the British "medical" journal The Lancet, which is infamous for its demonization of Israel, Israelis and by extension, Israeli doctors carried an "open" letter lambasting Israeli doctors for all sorts of imaginary crimes:

The Lancet's editor Dr Richard Horton has a pathological preoccupation with caricaturing Israel, and providing BDS proponents and conspiracy theorists with a platform (of course no right of reply usually allowed by him). 

Here are two responses to the apologists for Islamic supremacist terror featured uncritically by Horton: 

Response to “An open letter for the people of Gaza” which has been sent to The Lancet. The response was authored by Professor David Stone (emeritus, Glasgow University)

Like your correspondents Manduca et al (An open letter for the people for Gaza 22 July 2014), we too are appalled by the tragic situation in Gaza. Unlike them, however, our letter has been written on behalf of the people of both Gaza and Israel.
We take strong issue with both the factual and the ethical content of their letter. First the facts. Israel left Gaza entirely in 2005, removing almost 10,000 Israelis and all of its armed forces, with no intention of returning. The response from Gaza was escalating and unprovoked violence, mainly in the form of rocket attacks indiscriminately aimed at Israeli civilians in the south of the country.

Following the Hamas coup in 2007, the attacks intensified and the threat grew steadily more serious as the range of the missiles extended towards the densely populated centre of Israel. Israel acted to defend its citizens (as all countries are entitled to do under the UN charter) in two ways, first by imposing a partial military blockade to try to halt the flow of weaponry from Iran and elsewhere into Gaza – a policy that has since been fully vindicated by subsequent events – and second, by a calibrated and limited military response. Note a key point in the above timeline of events: the military blockade imposed by Israel did not precede Hamas’ rocket attacks but followed them.
When those measures failed, Israel again sought – as is her right and obligation – to defend her people by launching two larger-scale operations: Cast Lead in 2008-9 and Pillar of Defence in 2012. Ceasefires were repeatedly broken by Hamas who, emboldened by the lack of international reaction combined with increasing demands on Israel to relax the blockade, grew increasingly reckless as their military capacity and firepower increased.

In the wake of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June of this year, Operation Protective Edge was launched. Hamas unleashed an unprecedented and sustained barrage of missiles – 2000 since the start of the current hostilities - at Israeli towns and cities as far north as Hadera and Haifa creating fear and havoc across the country. Every one of those missiles constitutes a war crime. The purpose of this reign of terror was clear: to disrupt normal life in Israel, bring the economy to its knees and, above all, to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible. The last of these was only thwarted by the huge investment by Israel in civil defence measures – early warning systems, bombproof shelters and the Iron Dome missile defence system – that have proven largely effective. That is the reason for the imbalance of casualties between the two sides rather than any disregard for civilian safety on Israel’s part.

Israel’s defensive precautions contrast strikingly with the activities of Hamas, who have spent vast sums of money not on civil defence but the opposite – on an elaborate infrastructure of tunnels, weapon stores, missiles and rocket launchers. This was created with the sole aim of harming Israelis but that has, as a result of Israel’s obligatory defensive measures, inevitably brought death, injury and suffering to their own people. None of this human misery would have occurred had Hamas chosen to develop Gaza as a healthy and peaceful community following Israel’s departure in 2005 rather than as a renewed launching pad for violence directed at Israel. And a large number of casualties resulting from recent events would have been avoided had Hamas, like Israel, accepted at least four ceasefire proposals before and during the ground operation.

Throughout the entire period, including the current intensified conflict, Israel has permitted the continuous transfer of essential supplies such as food, clothing and medicines to be transferred from Israel to Gaza, has facilitated the entry of Gazan patients to Israel for specialist medical care, and has established a field hospital adjoining Gaza to enable injured Palestinian victims of Hamas’ war on Israel to be treated by experienced Israeli trauma surgeons. Those are not the actions of a country determined to inflict “collective punishment” or “siege” on a neighbouring people.
Neither the “siege” nor the “occupation” (Hamas’ code for the State of Israel) is the root cause of this latest conflagration nor indeed of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. That is to be found in the Hamas charter and similar violently rejectionist positions – backed by actions – of extremist groups and politicians over many decades. We are disappointed, though not surprised, that Manduca et al, while claiming to be scientists, are oblivious to this verifiable reality even if it conflicts with their preconceptions. We are even more dismayed at their completely unsupportable allegations about “massacres”, “targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children”, the “use of gas” and “denial of entry for international humanitarian convoys.” Even by the standards of anti-Israeli rhetoric with which we have become all too familiar in recent years, the viciousness of this kind of demonization has surely sunk to new depths.

Manduca et al, while harshly criticising Israel, appear to offer understanding and even endorsement of Hamas’ extreme policies and behaviour. This is an extraordinary position for healthcare professionals to adopt. Most readers will be well aware of the true nature of that organisation. It is far from being a “political party” seeking to promote “resistance to occupation and siege.” It is a repressive and anti-Semitic group of religious fanatics, backed by Iran and Syria, which is committed, with chilling openness, to Israel’s destruction and the murder of most of her inhabitants. These aspirations are far from mere rhetoric but have been pursued with merciless cruelty over many years, in the process murdering over a thousand Israeli civilians, injuring many more and traumatising an entire nation. Nor does Hamas baulk at sacrificing its own civilians, by using young children as suicide bombers or instructing people to remain on rooftops, despite Israeli warnings of an impending strike. Little wonder it has been declared a terrorist organisation by the US and the EU as well as Israel.


And here is a second reply from Edgar Pick, M.D.,Ph.D, Professor Emeritus, Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University

Dr. Richard Horton
The Lancet

Dear Dr. Horton,

My first scientific publication was a "Letter to the Editor" published in The Lancet vol. 279, p. 487, 1962. I was, at the time, a fifth year medical student at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem, and my pride in having a 27-lines Letter printed in such a prestigious journal, had no limits. This "feat" was repeated, when a second Letter was published in vol. 283, p. 833, 1964, at about the time of my graduation as an MD. Soon after these "contributions", I decided to pursue a career in basic bio-medical research and studied for a Ph.D. degree at the University of London under Professor John Leslie Turk (1967-1970). The Ph.D. Diploma is on the wall of my office, at the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University.
It is with an uneasy feeling that I resume my correspondence with The Lancet, after a fifty years hiatus on a non-scientific subject.
I read with dismay the "An open letter for the people in Gaza", by Manduca, Chalmers, Summerfield, Gilbert, and Ang + other signatories. I shall not enter into a discussion concerning the truthfulness of the letter. I am quite sure that the medico-scientific community, all over the world, will react to the claims made in the letter.
I would like to protest in the most emphatic manner against the use of one of the foremost medical journals for the promotion of a political platform, independently of the nature of this platform.
It was your duty, as Editor, to either reject this attempt to use the pages of a scientific journal for promoting a political agenda, or submit it to objective review. I hope that you will agree with me that the chances of this article to pass honest review successfully and be recommended for publication were zero.
In addition to the blatantly nonscientific nature of the letter, the signatories of the letter have provided false information by stating that they have no "competing interests". The most elementary search for the political affiliations of all the five main signatories will reveal to the most unexperienced "googler" that these are long-time pro-Palestinian and pro-Hamas activists. An indication for their extremism is that one of them (Dr. Mads Gilbert) was a justifier of the killing of innocents at 9/11.
It is simply unbelievable that the Editor of the Lancet was not aware of these partisan associations. I am an experienced scientist, who spent most of his life to find answers to questions. I, thus, have to conclude that you, purposefully, ignored these associations. This is a grave infringement of the most basic rules of scientific publishing.
My research into the reasons for your thoroughly unacceptable behaviour revealed that your political sympathies coincide with those of the authors. These heavily biased views were expressed repeatedly in the past. A good example is the essay, entitled
"Palestinians: The Crisis in Medical Care", by Richard Horton, The New York Review of Books, March 15, 2007. I have distributed to hundreds of colleagues, all over the world, the content of this biased, vitriolic anti-Israel piece of writing, for all to judge.
You are, of course, entitled to your views and to publish these in The New York Review of Books. However, you are not entitled to let your political affinities influence your decisions as an Editor.
In the light of the grave infringement of your duties as an Editor, the only correct definition of which is perversion of scientific objectivity for the pursuit of a political agenda, I am asking that you resign your function as Editor of The Lancet, the prestige of which you have gravely tarnished.

Sincerely yours,
Edgar Pick, M.D.,Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Julius Friedrich Cohnheim Laboratory of Phagocyte Research
Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology
Sackler School of Medicine
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv 69978

cc: Mr Wisia Wedzicha, Ombudsman 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The hatred that cannot (yet) declare its name:

Thank you to author Fiona Snyckers for sharing the article below by Booker prize winner Howard is an unfortunate description of the largely unconscious reactive processes unfolding in many Western societies, as people find a "respectable" way to wallow in all the short-term payoffs of prejudice, resentment and hate all wrapped in the Orwellian newspeak of concern for human rights.

I think any fair-minded person who has some insight into their own dynamics will realise that a lot of the reactivity swirling around the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (and I use those terms deliberately, to "localise" it, although for obvious reasons the conflict is played out in the minds of Jews and Moslems around the world, as well as in the minds of many others for whom it has assumed symbolic value) is to do with projection, with people not owning their own "stuff" and displacing it onto the other. This would obviously include me as well, to some extent. But I am self reflective and regularly pull myself up by my shoelaces to examine what is happening internally as well as externally. But what is emerging under the broad church of anti-Israelism is an arational emotional dynamic not dissimilar to the affect cultivated by fascist groups across Europe in the 1930s, which lacks any self reflection, any ownership of its own murderous is all projected outwards onto Israel and, inevitably by association, onto Jews anywhere and everywhere, irrespective of their orientation, affiliation or degree of identification. It is a dynamic which needs to be discussed, because it significantly impacts on all the societies where it is left unattended to to manifest.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A decalogue (decablog?): ten upwellings

 1)Ask yourself at any given moment: "what would love do now?" Quite often the answer will be "the dishes."

2)Kindness which is only practised within your own belief community  is not necessarily kindness at all

3)In order to get free of the person you first "have" to have a personhood (personality, i.e a set of relatively enduring and characteristic responses)

4)The five most important needs of the body-mind:

5) Money will go
Money will come
Adonai natan ve Adonai lakach
Yehi Adonai mevorach leolam vaed

6) Whether you dig down deep or climb up very high, either direction takes you back to where you started and never left: everywhere

7) There are many corrupt religions inside me: most of them teach that things and people are wrong the way they are; perhaps I should question my clergy

no aclaim

is poetry lame?

9)suffering is like a ball
tossed from being to being
no sooner has one left the game
then a fresh pair of legs
comes on and runs with it
but no one gets to hold the ball
for ever


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Love that Cannot Declare Its Name

In some blighted places
people are trying to make Israel
into a love that cannot declare its name
but in fifty or sixty years time
I am convinced there will be Israel pride marches
down every street that matters
(assuming Israel doesn't self destruct
in the interim; a mythical regional peace might well
bring fault-lines in Israeli society to the boil)

And to paraphrase Ben Gurion: we choose to fight the delegitimization as if there were no inequities in Israeli society, and fight the growing inequities in Israeli society as if there were no delegitimization

at the fleamarket:
love, peace and conspiracy theories

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Identifying and D-Identifying

What do I care if people lie about Israel? People (including myself)  lie about all sorts of things, every day, but I don’t get upset about it. Men lie about women, Hindus lie about Moslems, Moslems lie about Jews, Jews lie about Christians, Moslems lie about other Moslems, Jews lie about other Jews, Catholics lie about Evangelicals, Protestants lie about Catholics…indeed this is olam hasheker, the world of lies, maya, the world of smoke and mirrors which masks the hidden reality …so why do some lies get perceived as personal threats to me? Obviously because I am identified.

The first thing, I suppose, it to de-identify, and to do so non-selectively, but I suppose that will only happen when I can see that to do so is both truthful and liberatory....otherwise I will always wait for you to go first and show how its done.

Neither adult nor child
neither Jew or Goy
neither minority or majority
neither white or black
neither South African or Israeli
neither male or female
neither success or failure
neither enlightened or ignorant
neither mind or body
then what remains?
what is?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Israel-Apartheid Hate-Fest: Prejudice, projection and group-think

Isn't it strange that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has, for example, a vibrant and open gay scene, media which vigorously critique the government of the day, where prime ministers and presidents are impeached for corruption by an independent judiciary, where human rights organisations operate relatively unhindered, where women and members of non-Jewish minorities are in the Knesset, in the High Court, and in the Executive. (Go find a Christian or Jew or Bahai or openly gay person or woman in a position of real power in Iran or Saudia or Egypt )

Yet some resentment filled people looking for a cause (and a few misguided fellow travellers)  brand  Israel as an Apartheid state. Of course Israel does have some Apartheid like features, if Apartheid is understood to be a metaphor for state backed inequity and discrimination...there are the two million stateless citizens of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria (which is Jordan's problem as much as Israel's), there is underfunding of Israeli Arab and Druze municipalities, there is a gap betwen wealthy and poor, there is a lack of sufficient separation between synagogue and state, there is the crumbling of the rul of law as fundamentalist understandings of governance gain traction amongst some sectors of Israeli society .

But if Apartheid is understood in this general way, then every country on earth has apartheid like features, and many have far more than Israel.

Indeed many of the members of the laughably named and completely corrupted UN Human Rights Council, such as  China,  Congo, Indonesia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia have far worse track records on a number of key parameters such as:

gender equality
press freedom
religious freedom
persecution of minorities
supression of the aspirations of ethnic groupings within their territory

Chosing to charicature Israel in this way is a profound act of accentuating a few features and ignoring all the rest - the very process which characterices all prejudice, all racial, religious and ethnic stereotyping.

The reasons why people wish to  cast Israel in this light are many; in Europe it sometimes stems from a desire to shed Holocaust guilt; "see, they're not so different from us, they're not so virtuous, they  also do bad things  (maybe they even deserved it a bit....)" It also stems from the disowned parts of self, such as avarice, greed and agression which have been historically projected onto 'the Jews'. Most fundamentally, in post-Christian Europe it stems from replacement theology; the 'anxiety of influence' of a culture (Christianity) birthed from a religion (Judaism)  that must be devalued to reduce the internal tension of simultaneously rejecting the parent while being unable to be completely free of it.This is why European culture  goes to geat lengths to differentiate betwen contmporary Jewry and the "ancient Israelites" - its langaging is designed to attack the notion that there might be a continuous identity.

In the Islamic world state sponsored anti-Semitism is the norm not the exception, and a useful mechanism for collective self avoidance, and sometimes the glue which keeps these societies from imploding (just as the enmity of much of the Islamic world is sometimes the glue which keeps Israel from tearing itself apart)

In countries which have recently experienced transitions to democracy from minority or foreign rule their is an knee jerk identification with the Palestinians as an opressed grouping, irrespective of thekind of fundamentalist and anti-democratic rule the Palestinians have chosen for themselves, and the human rights abuses perpetrated by Palestinian Authorities which are daily practice in both Gaza and the West Bank and Israel. (Where Palestinians have, for the last 80 years, randomly targeted Israeli citizens in acts of terror, beginning with the 1929 Arab pogroms in Hebron and elsewhere, which temporarily ended the at least 2000 year old Jewish presence in that West Bank town ).

"Dam braces and bless relaxes...." (Blake, I believe, talking of Milton). The more one-sided, unhinged, hate filled and vitriolic, the more the basic impulse to make wrong irrespective reveals itself from under the newspeak of human rights, the more it creates an equal and opposite force, as those like myself, complacent, preoccupied with other things, and frequently critical of developments and uglinesses in Israeli society, are pushed back towards identification by the injustice of the attacks...such as this man telling it like it is:


Ever since we emigrated to Australia I have struggled with dysthemia and depression.

At its worst I feel like I am being sucked out of the world, as I find no way to easily engage in anything.

Much of it is to do with my working life, the lack of meaningful work which mobilises the best in me and in which I get validated for my talents, the lack of connection and sometimes complete disjuncture between my own values and reality and much of what I see is normative around me, and the indifference at best of this context to the things that move me and seem important to me.

I tell myself I am irrelevant here, and perhaps everywhere. The ageing of my body and slightly diminished physical capacity also go into the mix. Of course I challenge this mind talk (self talk) else I would not have plodded on for 6+ years, but it can be a daily struggle, and people pick up on my low energy, lack of conviction, passion and engagement.

I create opportunities for myself with hard work, and then do not take them up as they suddenly seem pointless or flimsy or capricious. "What has this to do with me" I ask myself. I could do them but what for?

It is vital to most people that they find ways to contribute. I'm looking to create the structures and vessels for that, so at the moment am very much focussed on the kemach - the flour, the prosaic, the plodding, even to the extent perhaps of ignoring and suppressing the creativity in me, and putting aside the thirst for Torah...for sweetness and excitement and the joy of collaboration and fresh creation. This is because I tell myself/feel that what is most important for I and my family at this point is material stability, i.e been able to pay the bills in some kind of predictable fashion, and thicken our resources.

My fear is by the time I have achieved this, I will not want or be able to  do anything else.

What will be will be, as my dad, zichrono livracha, used to say.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The agony of detail

Its not easy to write honestly, to hide nothing from the reader, to not to present an idealised self, no matter how subtle the manipulation...but I suspect the power of the writing is in direct proportion to the honesty.
I have an aversion to detail, I don't seem to have the patience for it, I want to rush into abstractions and the unification of apparently discreet pehenomena. This is why it is highly unlikely I - as I am currently constituted in my 'false fixities' - will ever write a novel.

I have adopted the daily routine of a successful writer; I arise in the morning, drop child off at school, and then spend the morning writing in the library, before returning home and futskering around for the rest of the day with minor domestic duties and inconsequential activity til its time for bed: only problem is I'm not a successful writer, and I don't have the economic base to support such a lifestyle;

Instead of choosing between poetry and pragmatism, I have embarked upon a programme of pragmatic poetry.


Footnote to my WIP: "My life as a footnote" *
* he bestrode the world stage like a crack between the floorboards

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Plausible quotations and statistics

Chief archeologist Yigal Alon-Tamir says that hundreds of two-thousand year old chocolate coins minted by the Maccabees have been discovered at a dig near the town of Shechem. His team have left a few of the coins uneaten, so that expert chocleteurs can analyse them and discover what's changed in chocolate making techniques in the last 2 300 years. "they're not bad" says Professor Alon Tamir, "sure a little stale, but nothing worse than the kinds of things you'll find on the shelves of petrol station shops or 24/7 convenience stores."

One out of five children between the ages on 9-17 has a diagnosable mental disorder....(i.e it is possible to pathologize and pin a label on at least one out of five children, generally as a way of handling the parent's or teacher's unresolved anxieties and blind spots)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Parenting Styles and Politics

Once I was on a plane – a domestic flight I believe – perhaps between Joburg and Cape Town. For some reason the plane was delayed. A toddler who sat next to her young mother became more and more distressed and began (or continued, she may have already boarded the plane crying) to sob and shriek very loudly...even ear piercingly. The shrieks and wailing continued as the mother tried, unsuccessfully, to calm her. Other passengers stared, and a succession of cabin crew offered advice. A dummy was tried, food, the mother held the child tightly and rocked her, but the shrieks just grew louder and louder. The mother, sensing the agitation and hostility of other passengers, and her own helplessness, seemed to me worthy of tremendous compassion.

My natural impulse was to empathise with mother and child, to give them some space, to see if there was anything that could be done to reduce their mutual distress. But not all the passengers, disturbed by the uncontained and persistent shrieking, saw it that way. “Giver her a warm klap” offered one. “She needs a good hiding....I’ll sort her out” said another. These comments evoked my own issues, and in my own timid way I semi-audibly mumbled “can’t you see she’s inconsolable, she needs help not threats.” In my psychologised mind the child was shrieking for all of us, and the disgruntled passengers were responding with however they as shrieking uncontained frightened or uncomfortable children had been dealt with: heard, soothed, contained or beaten into silence.

The real difference in politics – as in everything else – is not between left and right or fundamentalists vs secularists but between those who are conscious about their own process and projections and those who are unconscious about them.

Imagine if there were mandatory ante-natal courses where young parents, instead of been taught all the technical stuff about breastfeeding and latching and nappy changing (not that those are not important) were taught the basics of surviving post natal depression, and how they could advantage their child by facilitating secure attachment, ie, a course training new parents to be effective "interactive psychobiological regulators" through physical contact (touch, feeding and cuddles), eye contact, and vocal tone (comforing sounds and lullabies), play, stimulation (arousal) and rest and disengagement, all in an intuitive rythm and dance between mother and child, and father and child. Yes a lot of input up front, and costly, but a stitch in time saves nine...and (as Mr Indivar Bilenko points out) lives.