Posts Tagged ‘Occupied Palestine’
Once the muezzin’s morning competition in praising God is over calm returns except for the melodious singing of blackbirds in my garden. By then I have prepared my morning cup of coffee and switched my computer on. I start with a quick glance at my email inbox for any special messages, loaf around cyberspace for a few minutes, and then proceed with the morning’s writing assignment for the next few hours.
On Saturday, April, 09, 2011 I connected to The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice to check if the website had acknowledged the piece of bitter sarcasm I had just added on my blog about the last two sessions of the Corries’ court case against the State of Israel. Bam! Rachel’s glorious smile went right through to my heart. I was devastated. How could I have such emotional crush, fatherly as it was, on a young woman I never met in person? I craved for a hug from that beautiful woman to quench my longing for her. It was two months since the last time I had held Rhoda, my daughter, in my arms. I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes. Here was Rhoda being run over by the blade of that D-9 Caterpillar. Oh, my God! How can they do that to my sweetheart? I held Rachel closer to my heart to protect her from the biblical cruelty she sacrificed herself to protect other humans from. I squeezed hard and broke out crying. I was afraid I might wake my wife. I gulped silently for air and let my tears flow quietly down my unshaven face. What kind of man was I? I had to take control of myself. I gave Rhoda a tight hug and kissed Rachel on the cheek before I opened my eyes and walked over to the washbasin to splash some cold water on my face. I refilled my coffee cup, went back to my computer and wrote a couple of emotional pages in my novel about Galilee, Palestine and Israel.
After a breakfast of fresh citrus fruits and fried eggs from my two surviving free-range chickens I puttered around in the garden for a while. By now I felt exhausted. I took a rest. [How did He manage to slug at it for six days straight before taking a rest? Perhaps He didn’t have much on His mind. Bad thoughts are more exhausting than ditch digging; take it from one who practices both regularly. It must have been before the Internet and all its disturbing tidings.] Soon I was up again with my laptop. I saw another video, this one posted by Kate on Mondoweiss, the online periodical that proclaims itself as the locus for “The war of ideas in the Middle East” and hence the place where I occasionally give expression to my frustration and bitter protesting. April 9th is the memorial day of the Deir Yassin massacre. [He simply couldn’t have seen this video and kept quiet. Please, don’t be upset with me. I am giving Him the benefit of the Doubt. After all, He must have slept on the job and didn’t see the actual event in 1948, just as he did earlier when the holocaust was in progress. But at least, later on, when He found out about the holocaust He tried to do something about it; He compensated His favorite children politically and financially. Never mind that He screwed us, the Palestinians, in the process.] Here is the link for it should you want to rid your body of excess salt and accumulated fluid. I for one cried my eyes out: http://mondoweiss.net/2011/04/63rd-anniversary-of-the-deir-yassin-massacre.html
The over-half-an-hour-long video opens and ends with the saddest o‘ud music. In between it maintains a balance between Arab and Jewish narrators and covers a range of relevant information, from the three existing Deir Yassin memorials in New York, Scotland, and Wales to the orphanage and school established by the grand Palestinian philanthropist, Hind el-Hussainy for Deir Yassin’s children. In an entry in her diary she specifies 138 Palestinian liras as her total savings at the time. But she had the goodwill and the moral reserve to make a go of it after she found the 55 lost children let loose by the Irgun and the Stern gangs at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.
I am pleased that Hiam Hussein, the proud daughter of the neighboring Galilee Palestinian village of Deir Hanna, has done Hind justice in playing her role in Julian Schnabel’s controversial new film, Miral. It is a film based on the autobiographical novel by the same name written by his girlfriend and former Dar el-Tifl el-Arabi resident, Rula Jebreal, another proud Palestinian with local roots, Haifa to be exact. Also I noted with displeasure that the video producers gave no credit to my own brother, Prof. Sharif Kanaana of Beir Zeit University, to the best of my knowledge the first researcher to document the actual number of Deir Yassin Palestinian residents murdered by the Zionist armed gangs and the Haganah and to stipulate that the numbers previously quoted were inflated by both sides of the conflict for their own convenient ends: by the crime perpetrators to sow panic among Palestinians and by the victims to maximize the blame for the crime.
Mind you, I am beating around the bush here. I am speaking of tangential issues to avoid crying again: The mere sight of the serene stone homes, now housing the Givat Shaul Mental Health Center, released a flood of tears. When I got to the part where a former Deir Yassin resident, likely the wife, the daughter and the sister of the village’s stonecutters of old and the descendent of seven centuries worth of stonecutting toil and sweat, was aided to walk next to her villages current barbwire perimeter and she reached to touch a tree branch to her face, I nearly collapsed stifling my urge to sob and to scream out my pain.
The next morning, Sunday, April 10, I rose before the muezzins. By the time the village regained its morning quiet I was scouting the Internet for fresh news. A mailing from a friend contained a title that piqued my curiosity: “Juliano Mer Khamis Predicted His Assassination,” it said. I clicked and followed the link to a half-minute long English language You Tube video that said it all exactly as it would actually happen to him. Here is that link. See for yourself what raw courage is. For some ten minutes I shook with silent tears of outrage and disappointment. How could someone be so stupidly misguided? And to kill such an enlightened bright promise presumably in the name of Islam! Seven guys in Arrabeh alone had just finished noisily shouting the praises of God’s mercy and justice to be totally discredited by the bullet of a “fucked-up Palestinian” as Juliano had put it! . And the guy is not only insightful. He is a good actor; you can see it even in the half-minute video. And his blonde wife is reportedly pregnant with twins. Oh God! Now I am sobbing for the orphaned unborn twins.
That indeed was the ultimate conspiracy. Juliano was literally the embodiment of integration and understanding, himself the product of interracial love and idealism. I had met his parents, the Russian Jewess Arna and the Christian Palestinian Saliba, both protesting commitment to higher ideals of revolutionary justice, humanitarianism, and internationalism, all under their communist convictions before that pipedream turned sour. And I had met Juliano on more than one occasion. I remember him informing an audience in New York that, as a parachute trooper in the IDF before he discovered peaceful resistance, he took it for granted to carry an extra handgun in his backpack to plant on any civilian Palestinian he may kill. He was an acquaintance, not close enough for me to claim him as a friend. Now I was crying for having failed to open my heart wider for this former soldier, this brave comrade in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
The weekend before his senseless murder my wife and I had planned to travel to Jenin to see his adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland performed at the Freedom Theater, his life’s unique project and answer the world’s barbarity, to occupation and to apartheid. Alas, a friend dissuaded us from taking the trip with the explanation that on Saturdays it would take several hours to clear the checkpoint at the border. There were that many Palestinian shoppers from Galilee making the trip on their day off to take advantage of the cheaper prices in the depressed economy of the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Now I was crying for the poor Palestinian brothers and sisters who toil endless hours to wind up with worthless produce, not intrinsically worthless but rendered so by the imposed boundaries and regulations. That was what Juliano tried to tear down. Why didn’t I bother to know him more closely? Why had I never hugged him or kissed his handsome face? I had to hear him posthumously on You Tube to fall in love with him! What a rotten deal we both have had.
Saturday, the 16th of April I slept late. The night before I had stayed up past midnight at a nephew’s wedding celebration. Juliano would have felt at home at the banquet hall: a mix of village locals and communists from across the land, Arabs and Jews. The groom is one. My sister, mother of the groom, had spent the better part of a week dancing the local feminine style, alternatively clapping her hands and twirling them over her head. Finally her rheumatism kicked in and her wrist swelled up with an acute flare of inflammation. We call that “repetitive motion injury.” Doctors are striking. I had to rush over at three in the morning to put her arm in a splint and give her a painkiller. Was she crying in physical pain or for her last gosling abandoning the nest?
By sunrise I was up but not fully alert, still dazed and in a contemplative mood. A dove was romancing another on the red bougainvillea bough sweeping across the full width of my view through the window of my study. I opened the window to hear their melodic chatter. An announcement on the mosque’s loudspeaker lamented the death of a young man in another car accident. It ruined my joyous repose and I decided to check the news. Quickly I reached http://mondoweiss.net/2011/04/gaza-mourns-vittorio-arrigoni.html/ Another stab in the heart of solidarity, freedom and moderation. I read and reread all the standard platitudes: “One of the most passionate supporters of justice for Palestine.” “Full of the joy of life.” “The man with the big smile and gentle nature.” I never met Vittorio Arrigoni, but he had a cause: “Stay Human,” he was known to admonish all concerned. Why would anyone kill such a refreshing soul? And why the torture and willful cruelty?. Who stands to gain from this or from the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis? Or from the murder of the settler family in the outpost next to Awarta in the occupied West Bank for that matter? Not who the press reports say it is, I am sure. Check with me in fifty years when the secret documents are released and I will score another I-told-you-so point, I am sure. Or else join me in signing the appeal to keep the Wikileaks founder free.
I run the video, a collection of photos of the Italian freedom fighter set to music: He is handsome, muscular and imposing with a disarming smile and a big tattoo. Just like my son, Ty, nearly of the same age. I haven’t seen my boy for four months. What keeps me away from him and his kids, God damn it? Then I reach Carlo Latuff’s cartoon portrait of Vik holding the hand of Hanthala, Naji El-Ali’s immortal symbol of Palestinian diaspora, dispossession, resistance and survival against all odds. The floodgates open again and I cry my eyes out, not only for Vik but also for Hanthala who lost another friend and protector and for all those among us who have not learned to heed those two friends’ admonition to “Stay Human.”
I wanted a fruit. I headed to the citrus side of my garden. On the way I walked over with the key and opened the cage for my dozen new chickens. I had learned a lesson: Freedom may cost a chicken its life. Only in the security of the full light of day can my chickens be safe from the murderous mongooses. I rummaged through the navel orange branches for the last fruits of the season. The perfumed scent of the flowers was overwhelmingly pleasant. Still, picking the very last orange of the season on my tree saddened me. Unexpectedly, the pleasure of admiring my citrus trees in full bloom in the rays of the rising sun evoked sadness in my heart. And my flowering apple trees and ripening kumquats and all the red poppies underneath them. How long will I have the pleasure of connecting to my chickens and trees and to the poppies in my field? Avigdor Lieberman and his fascist followers claim them as their sacred property. After all, geographically, I live in Israel and he thinks it is his exclusive property: “Israel Beitainu –Israel is our home,” he proclaims victoriously.
How many times must I repeat: “Stay Human!”
“Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.”
From Politics Unspun
Posted: 25 Jan 2010 03:05 AM PST
“Good evening, and welcome to WTFN’s inaugural Oscar preview show. I’m your host Lance Boyle coming to you from Los Angeles. The ceremony may still be weeks away but there’s a lot to talk about. Joining us in The Cutting Room is veteran movie columnist and critic Miriam Kale.”
(Lance Boyle turns to face Miriam Kale. They are sitting in high-backed upholstered chairs across from each other. A black coffee table is between them and all around are enlarged stills and posters of the nominated movies.)
Before we get into the movies themselves, Miriam, what’s your opinion on the Academy’s decision to include 10 best-picture nominees instead of the usual five.
Miriam Kale: “In a word—embarrassing. It amounts to handicapping the big Hollywood studios because their movies can’t compete with the best independent and foreign films. In contrast to inventive, entertaining films like last year’s winner Slumdog Millionaire (a British film shot in India), Hollywood churns out an insipid diet of zombies, vampires, cartoonish action, angels, devils, torture, comic books, teen sex farces, sequels, prequels, remakes and bastardizations of TV shows. Recycling may be good for the planet, but in a creative medium like movies, it’s an admission of intellectual bankruptcy. All the Academy did was debase the award.”LB: “Surely, you don’t think all Hollywood films are recycled dross.”
MK: “No, of course not. Last year’s The Devil Wears Prada from 20th Century Fox was a deserving nominee, especially because of Meryl Streep’s performance as tyrannical magazine editrix Miranda Priestly. My point is that so few award-worthy movies are being made that the odds of one being nominated for, much less winning, the Best Picture Oscar are slim to none. Unfortunately, rather than rely on the studios to improve the quality of their movies, the Academy changed the rules to give the illusion that such movies are worth consideration, which is kind of fitting for an industry based on presenting illusions.”
LB: “What happened to Hollywood?”
MK: “The same thing that happened to the big U.S. automakers: it fixated on short-term profits, became afraid to take risks, and lost respect for its market. Hollywood studios still think that the average 12-year-old boy is its key demographic. On the other hand, independent and foreign filmmakers are more willing to make intelligent movies that have the grace, wit and sophistication to attract an adult audience. Such thinking does not compute in Hollywood where studios have gone to great lengths to inure filmgoers to such things as grace, wit and sophistication. Let’s face it: where else but in Hollywood could Adam Sandler have a career, or great films like Carrie, Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate be remade into inferior knockoffs?”
LB: “The Academy said the doubling of the Best Picture nominees is just an experiment. Do you think it will continue past this year?”
MK: “Sadly, yes. Once you handicap an industry it’s nearly impossible to get it to stand on its own two feet.”
LB: “Well, we’ll have to wait until 2011 to see if your prediction comes true, but right know I’d like to move on to the Academy’s newest category, one that should be getting more attention than it has so far—The Leni Riefenstahl Award for Excellence in Propaganda. First, Miriam, tell us how this award came about.”
MK: “Two years ago, the Academy came to the belated realization that holocaust movies and documentaries are getting a disproportionate amount of nominations just because of their subject matter. Moreover, many of these films are thematically repetitious, stereotypical and historically dubious. They don’t so much present historical entertainment as they do historical dogma. As such, they constitute propaganda. Of course, you can criticize any film genre, but since the U.S. movie industry is dominated by a hierarchy of Jews, many of whom support Israel, the Academy felt that holocaust movie genre was compromising the aesthetic and moral integrity of the awards. Therefore, it decided to create a special category for holocaust-themed propaganda—‘The Leni’ for short.”
LB: “Leni Riefenstahl, for those who may not remember, was a great 20th-century German filmmaker, but because she portrayed Hitler and the Nazi Party sympathetically, her movies have become scorned as fascist propaganda.
MK: “Sad, really, because her films were otherwise excellent, as evidenced by her numerous awards.”
LB: “So Miriam, what’s your pick?”
MK: “Inglourious Basterds—no contest!”
LB: “I had a feeling you’d say that, but…”
MK: “Uh, just one thing first, Lance…”
LB: “Sure, go ahead.”
MK: “The Academy created The Leni precisely to avoid the kind of tasteless spectacle we saw at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. By honouring Inglourious Basterds SAG enphasized the image of Hollywood as a holocaust propaganda factory. To all intents and purposes, SAG seems to be forcing us to respect Inglourious Basterds as a legitimate film, rather than the Grand Guignol schlock it really is. I have had to sit through scores of World War II/holocaust films in my career, and none can compare to this one’s reprehensible dishonesty. Shame on SAG!”
LB: “On the surface, it seems that Inglourious Basterds is a strange choice for The Leni, since one of the award’s defining criteria is to serve Israel by promoting sympathetic or even pathetic images of Jews. It shows Jews committing torture and dehumanizing their enemy with unapologetic, sadistic glee. Does this film not debunk the Jew-as- victim stereotype and therefore undermine its propaganda value?”
MK: “Excellent observation, Lance, and I share your ambivalence, but the needs of Israeli propaganda have changed. The Jew-as-victim shtick is still important, but Israel can no longer rely on it alone. The Internet has exploded the illusions of Israel as a poor, victimized state and bastion of democratic virtue. Israel has been forced to recognize that it can no longer pretend to be something it’s not and expect to be believed. Inglourious Basterds depicts the changing face of Israeli propaganda.”
LB: “Which is?”
MK: “A country that commits torture and dehumanizes other human beings with unapologetic, sadistic glee. This is why Inglourious Basterds is so deserving of The Leni. Even though it is yet another unnecessary remake, it normalizes Jewish cruelty to make it easier for the world to accept it in real life. I’d like to show a brief clip from early in the film that makes this point. The leader, Aldo “the Apache,” played by Brad Pitt gives orders to the basterds: (They turn to look at the film screen behind them.)
Aldo: “We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. They will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. Every man under my command owes me 100 Nazi scalps.” (The screen retracts.)
LB: “How does depicting and celebrating Jewish cruelty aid Israeli propaganda?”
MK: “If we can feel nothing for Germans who are tortured, because we have been brought up to view them as ‘evil,’ then it is easier for us not to feel anything for Arabs who are tortured, because Israel spreads the propaganda that they are ‘evil.’ For propaganda to succeed, it must control and politicize language to make independent thought impossible. Israel cannot expect to get away with an atrocity like Cast Lead if the world persists in viewing Palestinian Arabs as human beings with inalienable human rights. Inglourious Basterds helps Israel do this by making a cruel mockery of human compassion. As it is the Western world has done virtually nothing to punish Israel for its unprovoked slaughter, or demanded that Egypt stop building a wall to prevent humanitarian aid from entering the Gaza Strip.”
LB: “Let me read to you the following statement from Quentin Tarantino: ‘When you watch all the different Nazi movies, all the TV movies, it’s sad, but isn’t it also frustrating? Did everybody walk into the boxcar? Didn’t somebody do something?’ Isn’t Tarantino trying to show compassion for the Jews who are about to be murdered?”
MK: “That’s what were supposed to think, but in fact Tarantino cares far less about the Yiddish victims of Nazi Germany than he does about slaking the atavistic bloodlust of his zionist producers. Here’s what Lawrence Bender said to Tarantino: ‘As your producing partner, I thank you, and as a member of the Jewish tribe, I thank you, motherfucker, because this movie is a fucking Jewish wet dream.’”
LB: “What a horrid, perverse thing to say! How could anyone take pleasure in torture! What did Bob and Harvey Weinstein have to say. After all, it was their production company that made the movie?”
MK: “They also got off on the Jewish revenge theme. Significantly, though, many Jews were deeply offended by it, and some even walked out of screenings! But this fact should not be seen as a failure on Tarantino’s part; rather it shows how he has evolved—or devolved, if you like—from being a self-indulgent filmmaker into a willing propagandist for Jewish fascism. Then we have to look at a possible motive for the Weinsteins. Their company is such dire financial straits that they need a major hit in the worst way. What better gold mine than a farcical Holocaust story where Jews are shown to be sadistic ‘heroes’ who go medieval on Nazis. This illustrates what I said earlier about holocaust movies getting unfair, automatic recognition.”
LB: “Clearly, this a perfect example of why The Leni is necessaary, but I’d pick up on a point you just made: How do you make the leap from Jews fighting Nazis to Jewish fascism?”
MK: “Remember Aldo’s speech? Tarantino wants us to believe that the holocaust might not have occurred if Jews has been as cruel as the Nazis. First of all, this idea monstrously stupid. You might as well say that unarmed Palestinians deserve their own fate because they aren’t as murderous and cruel as the Israeli military. Second, it is blatantly anti-Semitic, to use a pet phrase of zionist propaganda!”
LB: “You’ve lost me.”
MK: “If we take Tarantino’s mission statement at face value, then he declares that Jews, not Nazis, were ultimately responsible for the holocaust. He stands the Jew-as-victim image on its head to give us the Jew as moral coward.”
LB: “But this does undermine Israeli propaganda. The idea that Nazis are uniquely responsible for the holocaust is a fundamental dogma, as is the idea that all Jews were victims of the Nazis. Has Tarantino not given ammunition to those who challenge the official holocaust narrative?”
MK: “In a general sense, yes, but as Bender said, the film is ‘a Jewish wet dream.’ The orgy of cruelty overrides any such thoughtful consideration of what is actually being depicted. This was a major risk both for the Weinsteins and Tarantino, because if people do stop to analyze Inglourious Basterds, they will see that, in effect, it justifies the holocaust! And by justifying the holocaust, the film reinforces the propaganda that Israel is necessary.”
LB: “Let me see if I get this straight: In the old propaganda, Jews are depicted as victims of the holocaust, and Israeli exploits this image to blackmail the world into silence about its treatment of Palestinians; in the new propaganda, the holocaust is downplayed as a historical event and Jews are reinvented as kosher Nazis?!”
MK: “Well, not kosher, exactly. The Jews that supported Hitler were anything but!”
LB: “Jews that supported Hitler?”
MK: “Lance, the great failure of holocaust movies is that they present an absolute moral dichotomy between Nazis and Jews that didn’t exist. A tiny minority of Jews, zionist Jews, actively collaborated with the Nazis because they also wanted to rid Europe of its Jewish population. The only difference was that zionists wanted ‘their people’ to go to Palestine. In exchange for Nazi support, they abetted the suffering of other Jews: they betrayed the Jewish resistance, helped the Nazis sabotage negative press reports, and prevented the vast majority of Jews from fleeing to other lands. The more these non-zionist Jews suffered, the easier it would be for zionists to force the world to agree to a Jewish state after the war. In effect, zionist Jews needed the holocaust, which is why they helped Hitler fill and administer the concentration camps. So, yes, Jews supported Hitler—fascist Jews, that is.
LB: “Still, though, the Basterds are killing Nazis, right? They’re not helping them.”
MK: “True, but the Nazis are mere props. They don’t matter because we’re supposed to identify with the killers and their motives, not with their victims and their suffering. By making torture look slick and morally defensible, Inglourious Basterds perverts our sense of justice, and that’s how it serves Israeli propaganda. Just replace Nazi soldiers with Arab civilians and the film imitates life. Whether he intended to or not, Tarantino has equated the murderers of Jews with the victims of Jewish murder in such a way that the torture and gleeful sadism in each case are contextually identical.
LB: “It didn’t entirely work, though. As you said, many Jews walked out of the screenings. Even if the producers loved the movie, its propaganda value seems weak.”
MK: “Ironically, Jewish alienation enhances the film’s propaganda value because it reinforces the new propaganda. Israel knows that its most effective critics are Jews: Richard Goldstone, Richard Falk, Ilan Pappé, Philip Weiss, Akiva Eldar, Norman Finkelstein, just to name just a few. The film is a declaration that the fascist Jew is superior to the moral Jew, and that the moral Jew is an enemy of Israel. If Tarantino and the Weinsteins wanted to make a legitimate film about preventing the nazi persecution of Jews, here is the film they should have made. (As he says this, the movie screen behind them comes down and a movie poster is shown.)
LB: (He looks at the poster and is a little startled.) “I don’t think Hollywood is ready for that.”
MK: “Of course is isn’t. It would be an indictment of Hollywood’s role as a zionist collaborator as well as a devastating refutation of Israel’s right to exist. Nevertheless, I suspect that Israel’s defenders would find a way to gush over it.”
LB: “We’re almost out of time, Miriam. Any last words?”
MK: “Yes. Appearances to the contrary, Inglourious Basterds is the face of the new propaganda and deserves The Leni. Also, since Avatar will clean up at the Oscars, the Academy could not have picked a more preposterous year to expand the list of nominees.”
LB: “Let’s pick it up there next time. Thanks for coming.”
MK: “Always a pleasure.”
LB: (To camera) Thanks for joining us. For Miriam Kale and our crew, I’m Lance Boyle. Good night!”