Monday, February 27, 2017

Chirbet Chizah

Chirbet Chizah, Hebrew: חִרְבֶּת חִזְעָה) is a novella by Israeli writer S. Yizhar (Yizhar Smolenski).S. Yizhar is arguably the greatest Hebrew writer to have emerged since 1948, and his thousand page plus stream of consciousness novel Yemei Tzekleg (1958) is regarded as a clasic which has influenced many famous Israeli writers, including Amos Oz and David Grossman.
Chirbat Chizah was published in 1949, and deals with the expulsion of Arabs from the fictional village of Chirbet Chiz'ah. 

The story was later made into a 1978 TV drama on Israeli Channel 1, and sparked a public debate in Israel on whether it should be broadcast or not.Early in 1977, director Ram Levi persuaded the Israel Broadcasting Authority to sponsor a made-for-television movie of the novella, and filming got underway by spring. During filming, on May 17, Menachem Begin's Likud came to power. When the film was supposed to air, in January 1978, the government postponed the broadcast; but when the new air date neared, the new education minister, Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party, cancelled the broadcast altogether. All hell broke loose. Opposing the ban on "Chirbet Chizah," MK Yossi Sarid declared that "the flag of freedom of speech in Israel has been lowered to half-mast; it's going to take a lot to hoist it back up again."

Supporting the ban, journalist Tommy Lapid (father of Yair Lapid, who today leads Israel's Yesh Atid political party) who a quarter of century later would become justice minister, wrote that, "even if the Fatah Information Bureau were headed by a genius, he couldn't have come up with a better one than this. And even if Goebbels were directing Arab propaganda efforts, they couldn't have had greater success. And even if a fifth column were operating in our television studios, they couldn't have performed a better service to aid the enemies of our state."

In Lapid's scorched-earth prose, Yizhar was a Nazi propagandist. In Sarid's acerbic oratory, Hammer was a book-burner. Even among less incendiary pundits, "Chirbet Chizeh" had become a partisan matter. There were many reasons why this was so. For one thing, the story's 1978 television audience was different from what its readership had been in 1949. Then Yizhar's readers had just scraped through the 1948 war, absorbing the ample tragedy it was for Israeli's ( 1% of Israel's population was lost during the war, equivalent to the UK going to war today and losing 600 000 lives) and for Arabs.
Director: Ram Levi, 1978, Hebrew with Hebrew subtitles, and, amongst other actors, a still young Gidi Gov.

(Most, but not all, of the above notes comes from Zochrot, an Israeli NPO that is so self flagellatory I will not share the link to it....its easy enough to find, if you're thus inclined.) Watch the film on YouTuve via the link below

Samech Yizhar Chirbet Chizah

A Soldier's Story & Pinkas Sheyrut

Been rereading two inspiring autobiographies: The first, called "Story of a Soldier" is by Raphael Eytan (Raful) z"l, who was the chief of staff of the IDF during the 1982 Lebanese war, and head of Northern command during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Egypt and Syria invaded Israel in a massive surprise attack, and were only repulsed after enormous Israeli losses.

The other is by Yitzchak Rabin, z"l, and is called simply "service book". It was published in 1979 by Maariv, and chronicles his early life, military service, and transition into politics. I found his description of the tense period before the six day war of 1967 particularly revealing, in particular his own loneliness and anxiety as the burden of responsibility to make the decisions that would save Israel rested largely on his shoulders. ( At that time he was Chief of Staff of the IDF.) At that time Egypt was amassing huge forces in the Sinai along Israel's border, and Syria was doing the same in the North, in the Golan heights. There was a real possibility that the Soviet Union, which had been equipping and training both the Syrian and Egyptian armies, would get involved in the attacks on Israel.

Israel found itself alone and isolated on the international stage. Because of in fighting between supporters of Levi Eshkol (the Prime Minister) and David Ben Gurion (ex prime minister) the political echelons were not fully functioning, which increased the burden on Rabin. When Egypt closed the straights of Tiran, thus preventing fuel and other supplies from reaching Israel, it was clear Israel would have to act. But first the goverment decided to send Abba Eban (foreign minister) to London, Paris and to Washington to meet with Lyndon Johnson, to see if an American guarantee to open the straights could be obtained, and a promise to intervene should Egypt and Syria invade Israel. This meant delaying a preemptive military strike - and Rabin was well aware that with every passing day the Egyptian forces were more of a threat. On May 25 1967 Rabin collapsed - partly as a result of exhaustion, partly from extreme anxiety, partly from nicotine poisoning...he had chain smoked his way through the endless meetings with the security cabinet and chiefs of staff. 

To be continued....

It aint fair

Me: I'm sorry, I hate this as much as you do
Shirt: Please don't
Me: I'm sorry, but you're filthy
Shirt: Just one more chance
Me: I hear you, and normally I'd agree, but the tomato source stain on your pocket ...
Shirt: It's not my fault you've started dribbling
Me: True. [pause] look I'll cut you a deal. I'll put you in with the delicates
Shirt: You've only worn me nine times
Me: But its been very hot, and the potting soil stuck to the sweaty bits.
Shirt: You wore the blue T two weeks in a row...
Me: That was in spring
Shirt. I'm so threadbare...another wash might finish me off.
Me: Don't make me feel any more guilty than I already do
Shirt: Those detergents....full of nasty poisonous chemicals. I can't breathe.
Me: You'll be fine. I'll look after you
Shirt: You've had something against me since you bought me. Is it because I'm white?
Me: Don't be ridiculous
Shirt: What is is then?
Me: There's nothing....nothing in general....just that, at the moment
Shirt: Go on
Me: I'm not sure how to say this....look, no offense, but you smell
Shirt: And who made me smell?
Me: It was me, I've never claimed otherwise....
Shirt: You of all people should have compassion
Me: I'm sorry, but my hands are tied....I feel terrible about this (gently placing shirt in wash basket), it'll be over before you know it. Be strong my friend.
Shirt: (muffled from in the wash basket) you bastard.