Friday, October 25, 2013

Castrate Them All

This morning’s portion of news articles collated by Dorothy Naor of Newprofile is alarming: Palestinian physicians are officially maligned in Israel. Take a look at Haaretz:

Channel 10’s main news broadcast last Wednesday evening reported that the National Civilian Service Administration had ordered its religiously observant women volunteers not to work after 9 P.M. According to the news broadcast, this decision was made by the Lehava anti-assimilation organization after “reports were received about intimate relationships between young women performing their national service and Arab physicians in the hospitals where they volunteered,” as reported on the Nana 10 online portal. The website quoted one of the rabbis as having said in the past, “I’m hearing horrible stories about good girls.” The head of the National Civilian Service Administration made sure to mention that the decision was made with the blessing of the minister in charge, Naftali Bennett.

And Palestinian lawyers are targeted for detention left and right in the OPT.
Of the classic elite triad in Palestinian society only architects go scot-free. Here is the likely plot for snaring the sneaky buggers (Pardon the vulgarity, but I am a physician and it irks me to see lesser professionals escape Israel’s dragnet):
It all started in the city of Sakhnin where the regional planning committee is located. It is made up exclusively of Arab representatives of the Arab member communities. Thank goodness the Interior ministry had appointed a Jewish head for the group with all the attendant arbitrary powers to restrain their freakiness. Someone has to hold the reins lest these scums of the earth with degrees in architecture from sundry East European make-believe institutes despoil our women and sully the purity of our virgin girls. Haven’t you heard of Arab physicians on night duty luring Jewish nurses to bed so often that the responsible ministry had to issue an edict banning those innocent girls from working night shifts? It is a shame we have to resort to such self-punishing steps to guard the purity of the race in this specific case. At least in Yehuda and Shomron, where our female lawyers and judges are at risk of being lured by Palestinian imposters that call themselves lawyers, we can put them in preventive detention forever or, at least, till our women drop from their excited hormonal highs.
And now we have these fake architects. Look at all the mini minarets and domes that so many of their planned palaces have. If those are not phallic symbols I don’t know what is. Look at a village like Arrabeh! Not one but eight mosques, for Gosh sake! And each with its own pointed high minaret or two. What is that all for if not to spite us? Every time I drive by I experience the pain that they surely intended to cause us. Personally, I am not sure if I find it all that exciting. But think what an imaginative young woman could feel. And what Arab village home doesn’t have those suggestive multiple arches. Look at the fancy sweep each pillar between the arches fans out to hint at in the deeply suggestive sexuality of their entire architectural style. What does the upward flare of each column say but ‘climax!’
Speaking of which, think of the three consecutive earthquakes that shook Tiberius over the week. What is that if not the work of Palestinian architects and engineers. They are digging their tunnels from the basements of their homes in Gaza clear across to Iran. Who said it doesn’t shake the foundations of our vulnerable country? Palestinian engineers and architects are an existential threat to the Jewish state in more ways than one. Something has to be done about all of that. It has to be stemmed at source, nipped in the bud, in the filthy minds of their jihadist architects. The Knesset should be able to pass a law to castrate all Arab architects and civil engineers. Period!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Preparing The Way For Truth And Reconciliation

A Review of Beyond Tribal Loyalties –Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activities.
Avigail Abarbanel, Editor; Cambridge Scholars Publishing; 2012.

Of late, the atmosphere in The Middle East has been murky; indeed murkier than usual. Violent weather systems and desert sandstorms have replaced the once promising Arab Spring. Forecasters predict hurricanes brewing out of control with more death and destruction for all of us. All around, sanity is ebbing fast. So it was no small matter for me to find a refreshing reservoir of lucidity in the midst of the mass mania. I chose to retreat from the raucous media incitement to this humble attempt at collective enlightenment initiated and overseen by my psychotherapist friend Avigail Abarbanel. The war mentality reigning all around us lent a sense of unreality to the straightforward 25 individual accounts of awakening to the lure of peace, justice and equality in Palestine/Israel. These together with a Foreword by the philosopher Sara Roy and an Introduction and Afterward by the editor, constitute this unique contribution to modern peace literature in the Middle East.
In her introduction, Abarbanel admits to having a hidden agenda. In recruiting the significant list of Jewish peace activists as contributors to her project, she outlined for them the task at hand: Each was to cover his or her background, the evolution of their views, what caused them to move in the direction they have chosen, and what price they have paid for their exceptional choices. She wanted to “know what is different or special about these activists that they are prepared to do this [peace activism] when the vast majority of Jews do not.” In the afterword she follows up on her set agenda delving into the contributed material with an ambitious plan to discover the magic factor that unites all of her fellow Jewish peace activists. She attempts to determine a single explanation, a shared turning point or a pivotal event common to all. As appropriate for a psychologist, she discovers the answer within the realm of the psychological makeup of the activists:
I realized that there is in fact something that all the activists in this book have in common: they all have the capacity to tolerate difficult emotions. I call this “emotional resilience.”
Then Abarbanel proceeds to expound the subtleties of such a psychological trait.

As I went through the book, I first jumped around enchanted by the pieces of the half dozen contributors I knew in person before attempting to read the book in an orderly fashion. By then I had set a private scheme of my own. I wanted to construct a model Jewish peace activist, the average character that would emerge from adding up all 25 contributions and selecting for common attributes that a clear majority if not all of them do have. I decided to fall back on my limited but good founding in mathematics and came out with the following average character, the representative Jewish career peace activist:
The figure that emerged is akin to the proverbial horse designed by a committee: She is usually a woman who grew up in a liberal Jewish family. Her parents were mostly of the PEP (Progressive Except on Palestine) variety with solid WIZO and JNF credentials, accepting and propounding their dominant communal mythology and undisputed gospel, both that of the Old Testament and of the Zionist doctrines with all the required founding ‘truths.’ These included the Promised Land being “a land without a people for a people without a land,” the Palestinians’ placid departure in 1948 despite their ill will and violent nature, and the benign and peaceful nature of the state of Israel. The family’s constricted constellation has a multitude of missing segments, often larger than the remaining ones, due to the atrocities of the Holocaust, facts that justify faithful solidarity with Israel as the homeland for all Jews in the face of the ever-present threat of genocide against them by the hateful Goyim and with the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) as the protector of all Jews.
So far the figure is hardly distinctive. She also follows the standard routine of most Jewish youth born and raised abroad of visiting Israel for a vacation, for study, for a summer camp or for a volunteer service experience. Then our woman goes on to higher education and is exposed to the wider world. Somewhere along the way she is exposed to a different point of view about the Israel-Palestine conflict: She meets Palestinians and is surprised to find that they are human, she reads a book by the likes of Edward Said or Avi Shlaim or is otherwise exposed to an alternative source of information with ‘subversive content.’ That blows the cover off of her former solid Hasbara world. The cognitive dissonance within her cries for resolution and she commits to finding the truth for her self. From there the descent into pro-Palestinian activism is inevitable leading even to espousing the right of Palestinians to speak for themselves and  to following their lead in such campaigns as BDS. Punishment for such a sin is not long in coming in the form of exclusion from the tribal fold and the loss of former friendships.

It is worth repeating that the above is a composite character that lacks an exact fit to any of the 25 contributors. In fact it differs distinctly in several details from the editor herself, evidence, if such is needed, of the uniqueness and individuality of free spirits and revolutionaries. Yet the contributors sharing in this celebration of humanitarian activism seem not to break out of the narrow mold of their pre-enlightenment Zionist condition: They seem to share an unconscious tethering to Israel as the focus of their activism with little attention to other worthy indigenous causes even when the similarities to the Palestinian condition scream for attention. Tossed on many shores by the tsunami of the actualization of the Zionist colonial project, the indigenous Palestinians are acutely aware of the commonality of their cause. Many strive to join forces in their struggle to other disinherited indigenous groups. Thus, despite the presumed focus of the volume on Israel and Palestine, and Hazel Kahan’s casual mention (p. 231) of Australia’s Aborigine policies, I find it strange that none of the American, Canadian or Australian contributors addresses the issues of Native Americans and the Aboriginals in conjunction with the dispossession of the Palestinians. Peter Slezak (p 82) reflects on the subject of the “unreflexive, self-celebratory group affiliation” of the Jewish people at large and brings up the debate about Hanna Arendt’s exceptional deviation from such standard narrow focus. And Lesley Levy wonders (p. 87) “why I am spending so much time and energy on this issue when there are so many other desperate causes in the world.” She seems to conclude that the answer is to be found in her “yearning to cry out: ‘Not in my Name!’” Still, the narrow focus of attention of the entire group on Israel-Palestine to the disregard of the many valid associations one can make to other disinherited natives leaves a gaping hole in their mantle of humanitarian concern and bars them all from true sainthood.
Zochrot, the Israeli leftist peace movement, is currently organizing a unique event in a nearby pine forest and recreational park known to most Israelis as South Africa Forest located halfway between Nazareth and Tiberius. The plan is for a group of Jewish former JNF activists to meet in person with a group of Palestinians. What is unique about the JNF former supporters is that they are South African and that they had formerly contributed to planting and maintaining the forest and park named proudly after their country. The Palestinians are internal refugees from the destroyed village of Lubya on whose remains the forest stands and whose existence and heritage the forest is meant to hide. The repentant former contributors to the crime of ‘communicide’ will offer an apology to the refugees of Lubya for desecrating their village with the JNF camouflage and ask for forgiveness. This is an example of the required Truth-and-Reconciliation style process required for laying the foundation for a single secular and democratic state in Israel-Palestine. “Beyond Tribal Loyalties” is a preliminary step towards such a process.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Some five years ago I wrote disparagingly of Shimon Gapso’s open racism.
At the time he tried to woo his constituency, the residents of the city of Upper Nazareth, on the occasion of the last mayoral elections by resorting to venomous diatribes against the city’s Arab citizens. His main competitor at the time, Ronen Plut, used  the same scare tactic of warning the electorate of the danger of Arabs sullying the purity of their Jewish city. When he lost to Gapso, Plut apparently gave up, sold his home to Arabs and moved to a purer locality. He had expressed his discomfort at the fact that those same Arabs had not forgotten that till the 1950's they had owned the land on which Upper Nazareth was built. So, I presume, he told them and Gapso to shove it.

Gapso is at it again. But now I feel I owe the man an apology. He has exonerated himself in the most logical of arguments. In an op-ed piece in Haaretz  he writes:
“Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city and it’s important that it remains so. If that makes me a racist, then I’m a proud offshoot of a glorious dynasty of “racists’” who started with the “Covenant of the Pieces ...”
He then proceeds to list a long roster of Jewish historical figures and of Zionist heroes to whom he wants us to compare him. I find it difficult to argue with the man.

To start with, my last name, “Kanaaneh,” is the Arabic version of the biblical “Canaanites.” Apparently it was my ancestral land that his (and perhaps the reader’s) good Lord promised to Moses, commanding him to cleanse it of its then current inhabitants. You, kind reader, will understand why He and I never really got along after that. And I don’t mean Shimon Gapso; he is too powerful for me to take head-on: He belongs to the dominant political stream which is working diligently in the Knesset in the most democratic of ways to obliterate my cultural identity as a Palestinian and to outlaw my obscene secret thoughts, such as feeling sad on Nakba Day. It is the good Lord that I have a bone to pick with. If Gapso’s Yahweh orders him and his ilk to “cleanse the land of its current inhabitants,” Allah commands me and my crowd to “kill them wherever you meet them and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for persecution is worse than killing.” (Chapter 2, verse192.) And mind you, there are more of us, Allah’s fans, than there are of you, Yahweh’s clique. I am discounting the Christian Zionists, of course, since they want to convert or slaughter all of us, but especially all of you, Gapso!

But I remain hopeful especially now with prime minister Netanyahu’s new obsession with genetics and DNA testing to determine who is really a Jew.
If and when one’s rights devolve back to the sequences of his amino acids, Gapso may loose out. In these parts, we determine one’s roots through the female line of genetic evolution. So while his figurative Jewish grandmother stuck to her faith but fooled around with Arabs and Berbers in Spain and North Africa (take a look at him, will you!) my Canaanite grandma converted to the Jewish, then to the Zoroastrian, the Christian and the Islamic faiths but fornicated only with the locals. You can judge for yourself, dear reader, who has the purer bloodline.

Then I check on my man online. Lo and behold, Gaspo is reported to have admitted to launching a campaign against himself with fabricated attacks against his character by particularly unpopular leftist and Arab politicians. I told you I have no desire to tangle with the man!

Then the weekend paper arrives and, as usual, I check the magazine first: The cover story is a 13-page spread about the “Most influential cultural figures” in Israel. I leaf through the piece: Some 17 critics and journalists attempt to encapsulate for us the significant achievements and outstanding public images of ten (actually 13) prominent cultural icons, each with four alternative deputies. I smile at each of the prominent men and women expectantly but none smiles back at me. I fail to discover the name of a single Palestinian/Arab man or woman in the entire list. Perhaps that is to be expected when none of the critics/journalists is Arab. I go on line and check the full list of 100 most influential cultural figures.
I waste another half hour but not a single Arab is to be encountered. And this is in Haaretz, the most liberal and best established paper in the land. I struggle with the existential meaning of this for me, a citizen of a country where I have zero impact on its culture. Finally I settle for a wimpy explanation: “It is a matter of definition,” I reassure myself.

Gapso is a more daring man than I am. He makes a list of all those with whom he wants us to associate him starting with Abraham and Moses, skipping through to Theodor Herzl, and ending with Ben-Gurion. He has one word for the whole lot: “RACIST.” Of course, he must be mistaken or misguided. But if I do the same, and believe me, from where I stand, I am tempted, for the straw man he constructs is very convincing, then I am anti-Semitic. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Enough To Blow Your Mind

photo 1373385332707 1 HD
Palestinian activist Nariman Tamimi (left) and Rana Hamadah sit for the verdict during their trial at Israel's Ofer military court near the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 9, 2013. An Israeli military court formally charged the two Palestinian women for their involvement in a peaceful demonstration in Nabi Saleh last month. (photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
It is Friday morning. I leaf through the weekly Haaretz Magazine and feel deeply discomforted. It is that unfocused panicky feeling that is hard to pin down to any single source. I try to make sense of my state of mind. I study Tal Niv’s one-page article entitled ‘Facing the Future.’ The young woman on the right side of the photo on top of the page with her thick black hair ‘cascading across her shoulder’ catches my attention. I scan the page for her story and think I’ve discovered the cause of my discomfort: She is accused, among other things ‘of interfering with a soldier … by moving her hands when the security forces tried to handcuff her.’ The specific detail disturbs me. A human rights worker recorded the event on video and it so happens that the same human rights worker later gets shot at close range with a rubber coated metal bullet. Could this ‘coincidence’ be the cause of my worry?

Totally out of the clear blue sky I want to run up the hill and check on one of my many cousins. We were classmates in the village school and, like all Palestinian kids, we competed in throwing stones at immobile objects or quails and rabbits in the fields. He bettered me every time. He was born with what I came later to know in my medical profession as a mild ‘varus deformity’ of the wrist joint of the right arm, an inward turn of the palm of the hand at such an angle and in such a manner that he had an advantage in holding and in throwing stones. There must be a law in Israel, or perhaps an amendment of the Anti-terror Ordinance from the British Mandate era that makes this advantageous anatomical variation illegal, I now think in my panicked mind. But then, how serious can such an offense be. Judging by the frequency of my being “randomly selected” for strip searches at airports, all Palestinians must have a mysterious identifying physical variation of the normal that renders them suspect. It sure is enough to instill doubt in one’s mind of the normality of his or her physical mold if not in the competence of Him who invented the faulty design.

I run away from the paper and take refuge in the morning routine of shaving and showering. The image in the mirror glares back at me ferociously: “Face up to your guilt,” the unshaven, red-eyed, dark face glowers at me from behind the mirror.

“What guilt?” I object. “I haven’t done anything wrong. I spent the whole night in bed. Ask my wife.”

“Identify the deep roots of your fears and you can shed away this undetermined sense of anxiety,” the doctor in me says from behind the glass. “Take courage. Go back to that page you looked at. Study the article closely and you will figure out what is really bothering you.”

“But I didn’t even read the whole article,” I try to wiggle out of responsibility for my sense of discomfort. “You can’t hold me accountable for the hidden nuances of the whole thing.”

“But you are. Go back and look at the article word for word. Let your mind roam while your eyes focus on each word. Let me know how you feel when you are finished.”

“No way! And look now what you made me do! Two cuts!”

“It is your bum skin. The blade must have hit a pimple or something.’

“You can’t blame it on pimples,” I object. “I haven’t had one for half a century. I am long past the stage where my testosterone flow is sufficient to raise a pimple or much of anything else for that matter.”

“Oh, just shut up and do what I say or else you will not be able to sleep tonight.”

I hate insomnia. I go out with blood-soaked patches of toilet paper hanging from my jowls and grab the magazine. The photo at the top of the page I looked at earlier is enough to explain everything, I am sure: I look at the two women in it and I know I am a partner in their crime, a Palestinian like them. They both were caught ‘entering a closed military zone.’  What does that mean? ‘Every square millimeter of Area C (under full Israeli control) can be declared a closed area at any moment, even on a person’s own land, even around his house, even around the person himself if necessary.
I sit up straight in my chair and prepare to argue with the older women, the more ‘battle-hardened’ of the two. When the battle rages around your identity, then the older you are the more battle-hardened you are. 

“Even if they declared your village, Nabi Saleh, a closed military zone while you were already there, you must have heard the declaration,” I tell the stoic more mature woman looking straight at me in total denial of her crime. She is a tricky sort of fighter, using the worst type of deviance in the war manual, disguise. ‘Her eyes are flicked with amber,’ a desperate attempt to pass for European. But whom is she fooling? No one with Tamimi for a last name can pass herself for Ashkenazi. I am not fooled by the camouflage.

“The 49 killed in Kafr Qasim in 1956 were in their fields,” I explain. “They were out of earshot from their village when the curfew was declared. Shadmi and his soldiers executed them for the crime they had committed of being in their fields and not waiting at home to hear the announcement of the curfew. There is a difference, even if infinitely fine, between the two cases.”

The stoic woman looks back at me from the page in total tranquility. She mocks me.
“For that alone you deserve a month or two in jail,” I tell her in the common telepathic mode of communication that all of us Palestinians share. “Israel is at its wit’s end with all your lawlessness. There is hardly enough cells in our prisons for all of you.”

I am going berserk with anxiety. My very identity is up for grabs. Who am I?
“Not to worry,” Tamimi answers in total silence. “Build more prisons and the USA will foot the bill.”
She goes on to remind me of what she told me the last time we met in Ramallah, that the USA had covered the expenses of added checkpoints erected between Jerusalem and Ramallah to relieve the massive pressure on the Qalandia checkpoint. Since this was done to reduce the time the Palestinians spent being entertained by Israaeli soldiers at the border, it was charged to the PNA’s American aid bill.

But the woman is lying. I never met her before. Oh, yes, I have met other Tamimi’s.
Here, in a sudden flash, like an epiphany, I think I finally realize the source of my anxiety.

“Yes, I met a Tamimi or two the day before yesterday,” I admit to my interrogator as I slump my head in the Murga position in which I have been held for hours in my cell.

“A Tamimi, you admit?” the interrogator dressed in casual genes, his handgun stuck casually under his belt.

“But he is the safe type,” I gasp with what little breath is left in my collapsed lungs, the pain in my broken ribs nearly killing me. “He is a retired professor in an American university. In fact, he still lives there. He is safe!”

“But a Tamimi nevertheless! And we know he left some stuff with you. Admit it. What did he give you? Spit it out. For your own safety. We want to save you from a violent death.”

“My God!” I gasp realizing the trick my presumed friend had played on me. He gave me a necktie, obviously booby-trapped. Once we shared an apartment as students at the University of Hawaii. He knows I like to wear my ties tight. As I pull at it for the last extra centimeter of length it will blow up severing my head off of my body. I look at the two women in the picture and they return my gaze absolutely unmoved by my suffering.

“The Tamimis are all cruel,” the interrogator reaffirms my suspicion. “That is why we sympathize with Baruch Goldstein for trying to mow down as many of them as he found in the Ibrahimi Mosque that morning.”

“Were all 29 of them Tamimi’s?” my severed head on the ground asks.

“Not necessarily,” the Shin Bet man answers kicking the head with his boot. “But the Tamimis are the worst bunch. They lay claim to the whole city of Hebron, the burial ground of our forefathers.”

That brings it all to a luminous point of clarity, closes the circle for my culpability with the Tamimis in their collective sin from birth. In fact I am right in the middle of a book about the Tamimis that I have read to sleep the last two nights. It is written by Dr. Nader Tamimi who has collected historical documents about the known fact that the prophet Mohammad, God’s blessings be upon him, had gifted Hebron and its environs to Tamim Aldari, the father of all the Tamimis in the Middle East, upon the latter’s conversion from Christianity to Islam in the 9th year of the Islamic calendar.

“But the prophet didn’t rule Palestine,” I argue with the Tamimi woman on the page. “Palestine fell under Moslem rule only years later, during the rule of Caliph Omar.”

“True,” the woman answered with confidence unbecoming of a woman, much less a Palestinian Moslem woman. My God! What happened to common decency and the proper order of the universe! “The gift was made on the expectation and full confidence that it will fall to the Moslems later on. The prophet knew what was coming.”

She is right. I have read the account many times over in the book I now keep next to my bed. The prophet also knew that a day would come when non-Moslems would contest his gift. So he was sure to make it valid in perpetuity to the Tamimi heirs. And he saw to it that the deed was recorded on a piece of leather from the cover of his cousin Ali’s shoe and that a group of reputable contemporaries of his attested to its validity with their signatures. I have read the same account with minor variations related by various historians from the era when Arabs were the victors and wrote their own history. In fact I read so many versions in the Tamimi book with minimal changes that I have decided to keep the book on my nightstand as the perfect recipe for the induction of instantaneous sleep. Every time I wake up I open the book to one of the dozens of accounts, read the first sentence then recite the rest of the mantra mainly in the dream phase:

“In the name of God the merciful the compassionate. This is what Mohammad the prophet gave to Tamim and his brothers: Hebron, Martom, Beit Inon, Beit Ibrahim and all that is in it, a final gift to share between them, implemented and handed over to them and to their descendants. He who harms them God will harm; he who harms them will be God-damned.”

Three caliphs are among the witnesses including Ali who wrote it. That means all Moslems, Sunnis and Shias alike, are behind the Tamimi’s claim to Hebron and its environs.  That must be sickening to Zionist Israelis. Turning this all in my head, I am emboldened to take on my cruel interrogators: They have put a noose around my neck to force me to recant. But I will not. I goad them, all three who have been taking turns in torturing me, to come close to me pretending that I want to confess to them. Then, as they move closer to me, with all my reserve of strength, with all my inspired convictions, with all my love for my Tamimi friends, with the imagined moral support of all 1.3 billion Moslems in the world, I jerk my neck back violently exploding that booby-trapped tie around my neck and blowing my tormenters to smithereens.

I open my eyes and the two women in the picture smile at me.