Friday, May 26, 2017

Sylvia Plath and I

I just read a report on the discovery of two unknown poems of the poetess Sylvia Plath - whose husband, Ted Hughes, betrayed her with a Jewish Palestinian (Israel had not yet been declared), Assia Gutman Wevill -






via carbon paper hidden in the back of an old notebook. The poems were deciphered from a carbon paper on which Plath had also typed up a table of contents for Hughes’s groundbreaking collection The Hawk in the Rain.

And therein lies a tale.

Some 20 years ago, I was contacted by the op-ed page editor of the Los Angeles Times and asked, for payment, to compose a 750-word column. But it had to be done within five hours.

I agreed.

I sat down and found out that my computer was not at all cooperative.

No problem, I thought.

I went up into the attic and hauled down an old portable typewriter.  I put in paper and began to bang away.  I typed with my head fixed at the keyboard and only at the end of three lines did I look up.

To see nothing.

The carbon ribbon had worn out.

Almost one hour gone.

A quarter of an hour later, I had my solution.

I took out two pieces of paper, placed carbon copy between them and typed, basically blind. At the end of every line I would halt, open up to the second underneath page and see what appeared and make the necessary corrections.

It worked, while a bit slow, but I finished, sent it by fax and received payment after it was published.

Carbon paper can come in quite handy.

^

Thursday, May 25, 2017

IfNotNow is NotReallyNew

The Peter Beinart-spawned IfNotNow's demo * on Jerusalem Day (here, too)





reminded me of Joseph Berger-Barzilai of which this source records.

JBB (original name Joseph Isaac Zilsnik, other form Zeliaznik) was a founding member and secretary of the Communist Party of Palestine.  He later was a victim of Stalin’s purges.

Born in Cracow, Poland in 1904, he grew up in Vienna and was brought up as an orthodox Jew and a Zionist. In 1919 he emigrated to Palestine. There he worked first on road construction and then as a translator in an enginering firm.  Originally a member of the leftist Zionist organization Hashomer Hatzair, he became soon a communist, took part in the founding of the Palestine Communist Party. The party had to operate under illegal conditions since the British Mandate Authority had outlawed all communist activities in 1921 as a result of the Arab riots, partially initiated by a May Day fight between various leftist groups.

His family, that included a son, Joseph, lived in the Arab village, Beit Safafa, then on Jerusalem's outskirts, under false identity.  In the spring of 1929, he was again called to Moscow. There he had a five-hour meeting with Stalin on May 5 and received the order to severe the ties with the Arab Executive Committee and other parts of the Arab nationalist movement. He returned to Palestine to take command of the party after the August 1929  riots in Palestine. In a statement the party had characterized the troubles as a result of colonialism: that Britain, afraid of the unity of Arab and Jewish workers, had instigated racial hatred to divide the communities, and this was aided by Arab effendis and Zionist leaders. According to Moscow’s instruction, Berger had to change this line as an Arab anti-imperialist rebellion against Britain and the Zionists and demanded unconditional support of the party for the “revolutionary Arab toilers,” notwithstanding their nationalist and religious slogans and their subordination under the violent anti-Jewish policy of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin El-Husseini. Following the ECCI directive, Berger helped to reorganize the party to include an
Arab leadership. See, too, here. And here:

Within the Yishuv, the Jewish community of Palestine, the party devoted itself to a continuous fight against Zionism. This was the main concern of the party, as Berger frequently explained in his meetings with Comintern officials in Moscow or elsewhere. Karl Radek told him that the slogan “The success of the party depends on its becoming an Arab mass party” should become the guiding principle of political action. It was soon called “Arabisation”. Berger, the liaison between the ECCI and the Palestine Communist Party, was told frequently that “the center of gravity of the PCP’s activity must be among the Arab toiling masses.”

In a statement of Berger, on behalf of the party after the riots, it was

claimed that the riots originated from the protest of expropriated and exploited Arab toiling masses against their deteriorating social conditions. It also stated that it was the British mandate administration that was able to succeed in transforming what was originally a radical anti-colonial movement into an anti-Jewish pogrom. Jewish and Arab reactionary leaders had contributed their share to what turned out to be a religious struggle by turning the Western Wall into a symbol of power.

He was then ordered to arrange the appointment of a Central Committee that would constitute an Arab majority.

He later was arrested as a Trotskyite and spent some 20 years in the Soviet Gulag.

The lesson of Berger-Barzilai (p. 10) vis-a-vis IfNotNow?

Arrival in Palestine for some leftist Jews brought the realization that the Zionist project was in fact colonialist rather than socialist. When seeing that the land was not empty, as they had been told, but in fact was very much inhabited and cultivated by Arabs deeply opposed to their “project,” many Jewish communists and socialists left.

In the next phase of the anti-Zionist struggle of 1936-39,

The Comintern continued to support the Arab Revolt with relative consistency until early 1939, when the fascist threat against the Soviet Union began to overshadow other considerations. When the momentum of the revolt was fading and the AHC leaders adopted more “terrorist” methods, the Comintern denounced them as “traitors.” The new policy was declared in January 1939 in the Communist International, the central organ of the Comintern, which wrote: “Eli Chusein [Haj Amin al-Husayni] and his mysterious men . . . are wreckers and traitors to the true national movement of the Arabian people.”

IfNotNow is basically following in the the footsteps of those on the far left of over 80 years ago.

Only now, the Arab terror is not that much a problem, it would appear.



* Update: According to Leanne Gale, the spokeswoman for the protest, three organizations took part: IfNotNow, its Israeli counterpart All That’s Left, and Free Jerusalem, which describes itself as a solidarity group of Jewish Israelis working with Palestinian partners to combat the occupation in East Jerusalem.

^

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No, Ivanka Is Mislead By Israel's Government Policy

Being petty:

Ivanka [Trump]...posted about what was undoubtedly a moving personal moment on her social media channels:

I am grateful to have experienced a deeply meaningful visit to the holiest site of my faith and to leave a private note of prayer.</

Unfortunately for Ivanka, or whoever runs her social media accounts, she gave expression to a common misconception about the Western Wall. In actuality, the site only draws its sanctity from the adjacent Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism where both Jewish Temples once stood. (The wall is called the Western Wall because it surrounded said Temple from the West.) 



And Rosenberg gives two reasons:


One reason that some mistakenly believe the Wall to be the holiest site in Judaism is that many Jews refuse to step foot on the Temple Mount due to its sanctity, though a minority of religious authorities permit the practice. Another reason for the misconception is that even those Jews who do visit the Mount are forbidden to pray on it by the Islamic Waqf that controls the area, leaving the Wall as the world’s most conspicuous Jewish prayer site...

So I responded with the real reason:

It's Israel's 'holiest' site. As gov't won't let us do anything 'holy' on the Temple Mount, @IvankaTrump has been fooled by our gov't.

It's actually Israel's government policy that is at fault.

Friday, May 19, 2017

When the Mufti Had a NYTimes Problem

Who ever said the New York Times was always pro-Arab?



Jerusalem Grand Mufti Makes Sensational Attack on American Press
Jerusalem (Oct. 16)

The Arab newspaper “Felestin,” controlled by the Jerusalem Grand Mufti, made a sensational onslaught on American newspapers yesterday, singling out the “New York Times.” The paper asked: “Is there no honesty in the American press?”

The Mufti denied interviews with Joseph Levy, “New York Times” correspondent, Ketchum of the “London Daily Express,” and Pierre Van Paassen, representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The Mufti charges misrepresentation and distortion, but makes no specific references. Of his interview with Mr. Van Paassen, the Mufti wrote in the English edition of the “Felestin” that it was merely an informal talk.

Mr. Van Paassen stated before his departure that when he called on the Mufti for the interview, the head of the Moslem Supreme Council offered him inducements, including women, if he would take the Mufti’s side and color the news according to his personal views and ambitions.

^

Victory is in the Brainpower

Here's is the great historian Barbara Tuchman in an article she published, "Israel's Swift Sword" in November 1967:

“A people considered for centuries nonfighters carried out in June against long odds the most nearly perfect military operation in modern history. Surrounded on three sides, facing vast superiority in numbers and amount of armament, fighting alone against enemies supported and equipped by a major power, and having lost the advantage of surprise, they accomplished the rarest of military feats, the attainment of exact objectives – in this case the shattering of the enemy’s forces and the securing of defensible lines – within a given time and with absence of blunder. The war, which taken as a whole was the greatest battle ever fought in this area, shook the world, leaving local and international balances in new focus, incidentally rescuing the United States from a critical position, and, not the least of effects, exposing a profound failure of Russian calculations and presumably of military intelligence.”
“What furnished capacity primarily was that the brain power with which this people was endowed was channeled for the first time since the Exile into the military art in defense of their own homeland,”

And now consider this parallel, excerpted from the speech Menachem Begin broadcast on Saturday night, May 15, 1948, having not been invited to sign Israel's Proclamation of Independence the previous Friday afternoon:

...even after emerging victorious from this campaign — and victorious we shall be — we shall still have to exert superhuman efforts in order to remain independent, in order to free our country. First of all, it will be necessary to increase and strengthen the fighting arm of Israel, without which there can be no freedom and no survival for our Homeland. Our Jewish army should be, and must be, one of the best trained and equipped of the world’s military forces. In modern warfare, it is not quantity that counts but brainpower and spirit are the determining factors. All of our youth proved that they possess this spirit – those of the Hagana, the Lehi, the Irgun, youth that no other nation has merited. Indeed, no generation since Bar-Kochba and until the Bilu pioneers has seen such spirit.

As for brainpower, after 120 generations, the creativity of the Hebrew mind is one of the most developed and unlimited. Our military science will be built up on the Jewish mind and will be the world’s best. We will yet achieve strength for we possess the power of the brain. In order to free our country and maintain our state, we shall need a wise foreign policy. We must turn our declaration of independence into a reality.  Secondly, we must establish and maintain the principle of reciprocity in our relations with the nations of the world. There must be no self-denigration.

^

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jabotinsky is Not on That Wall

This is at the main entrance square to the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The institution's founders:


From right to left is Judah Leib Magnes, Albert Einstein, Chaim Weizmann, Berthold Feivel, Martin Buber and Zvi Hermann Shapira.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky is not included.

He was a member of the Preparatory Commission established by the Zionist Congress in 1913 to move the project to fruition.  He was in charge of the work in Russia: canvassing, lecturing and raising funds.  He demanded not a research center but a real school, especially for the Jews suffering from the policy of numerus clausus and an education institute with a very practical-oriented course of studies.  

Oh, he objected to high salaries.

Rewriting history.

Excluding any one right-of-center.

^


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Leo Strauss and Ze'ev Jabotinsky

From this article by Samuel Goldman, assistant professor of political science at The George Washington University. (thanks to MP)

Yet there is something missing from Howse’s portrait of Strauss as a liberal internationalist. That is a detailed consideration of the role of Zionism in Strauss’s thought about violence.

In his intellectual autobiography, Strauss describes his earliest political decision as a commitment to “simple, straightforward political Zionism” at the age of 17. Throughout the 1920s, he was active in the Revisionist movement led by Vladimir Jabotinsky. In the 1930s, Strauss endorsed the “the principles of the Right, fascist, authoritarian, imperialist principles…” as the only basis for defense of Germany’s Jews. In the 1940s, he offered a moral defense of the British Empire partly because of the mercy it offered to the vanquished—including the Jews settled in Palestine. In the 1950s and 1960s, Strauss lectured and wrote extensively on Jewish themes, rarely failing to voice his admiration and gratitude for the foundation of the State of Israel.

These facts are barely mentioned in Leo Strauss: Man of Peace. In fact, the only explicit reference to the State of Israel that I have found comes in the conclusion, when Howse mentions Strauss’s 1957 letter to National Review defending Israel from accusations of racism. As part of his polemic against the neoconservative appropriation of Strauss, Howse assures readers that, “This was an act of loyalty to the Jewish people, not to the political right.”

Howse may be correct about Strauss’s intentions. But Strauss’s personal relationship to the American conservative movement is not the most important issue. Strauss’s lifelong commitment to Zionism tells us something important about his views on political violence. In this decisive case, he endorsed the politics of national self-assertion that Howse contends he had rejected by end of his career.

Strauss makes this point obliquely but unmistakably in the “Note on Maimonides’ Letter on Astrology” that he composed in 1968. In the letter, Maimonides attributes the destruction of the Second Temple to the fact that the Jews relied on magic to provide their defense, rather than practicing the art of war and conquest like the Romans who defeated them.

Strauss describes the remark as “a beautiful commentary on the grand conclusion of the Mishneh Torah: the restoration of Jewish freedom in the Messianic age is not to be understood as a miracle.” The Mishneh chapters that Strauss cites clarify this statement, explaining that the only difference between between the current age and the Messianic era will be “emancipation from our subjugation to the gentile kingdoms.”

For the mature Strauss, in other words, the redemption of the Jewish people was not mystical event. It is a political condition, defined by the reestablishment of Jews’ sovereignty in their own land. The achievement depended on much the same unsettling principles that Strauss endorsed in the infamous letter to Löwith. It may not be a coincidence that they were written almost exactly one year after Israel won control of the Temple Mount.

Strauss may have hoped the Jewish State could eventually become a respected member of a peaceful international federation. Nevertheless, this passage suggests that t’shuvah may not have been the central theme of Strauss’s career. Rather than enacting a return from extremism to moderation, Strauss’s thought about political violence was remarkably consistent concerning the nation that he cared most about. When it came to the Jewish people, Strauss felt that he had nothing to repent.

^

I Received a Cruel Answer

I attended this week a lecture at the Hebrew University presented by a visiting academic dealing with the future of the territories [Judea and Samaria], Israel's administration of the same and the need for a shift in the way problem-solving is perceived within the context of the failure of the "two-state solution" for decades.  The academic wanted to progress to a new construct and paradigm.

At the outset, he presented several examples of how scientists have made presumptions only to realize that they were totally wrong.  One was the ether experiments that were predicated on the assumption that there actually did exist such a thing. Another was the move from Newtonian physics to the theory of relativity.

The lecture included terms such as negative as well as positive core heuristics, paradigms, anomalies, theoretical apparatus, construct, gestalt, colonialism, Kuhnsian shift, categories of coherent theory, etc. and at the end, there were questions and comments. One person stated, inter alia, that the two-state solution was an Arab initiative.  Poor Peel Commission or, for that matter, the division of historic Palestine in 1922 and the creation of Transjordan. The opinion was voiced that actually the Arabs of the Gallil were treated worse prior to 1966 than those of Judea and Samaria since.

I ventured a question and asked: is there any assumption underpinning the framework that you are suggesting that cannot be touched?  Puzzled he, I added: for example, Palestinian Arab nationalism.

The answer, he half apologized, would be cruel.  If this was a class of advanced physics and a student came in, he said,  and asked what that symbol on the blackboard meant, he would not be allowed to continue in the class.

That was it.

Of course, he could simply have replied that everything is open for discussion and study and experimentation.  Or that Jewish Zionism and a specific Arab Palestinianism are a given. But that, I fear, would have opened up a new front: if the Arabs have consistently rejected a Jewish  national identity since 1920, and doing it quite violently, and rejected every diplomatic initiative this past century and following that up with, yes, violence, and if Zionism is assumed to be colonialism as was intimated in the talk, then obviously, some fundamentals are sacred and cannot be touched while others can most definitely be challenged and whittled away or belittled.

In any case, I am glad that scientists discovered the world is no longer flat.

^


Friday, May 12, 2017

Amos Schocken and I and Friends Tweeting

Over at my twitter feed, we had a doozy today.

The beginning is almost lost, but archived somewhere, but after I tweeted a dig



got a response:




and then it basically really took off with this:




And here it went on:




and on




and on




and on



and on



I appreciate Amos Schocken being probably one of the most accessible newspaper owners/publishers.

And the conversation may still be going on in some form still (it is). And more.

And on:






Thank you, Amos.

^