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