Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Too Bad They Were All Fascists

Futurism was an international art movement founded in Italy in 1909.

It unleashed the Future and had it run fast, leaping from the 19th century straight into the 20th.

All of a sudden so much mechanical noise - factory machinery, cars. airplanes. The artist and the poet, unable to fight those, unable to listen to the birds anymore, decide to join and herald the New Era, redefine the concept of Beauty and Truth.

A bunch of young Italian men, headed by F. T. Marinetti, declared war on the Past.

Went overhead and over the scale of ethics and values.

"Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice."

In the end, were they the ones who heralded fascism, or were they proponents, sensors of that submarine of war and destruction?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"Be Realistic"

Well, I assume by now everybody has left the class, so I can speak my mind silently and no one will cry, "Fire!"

Ok, but what do I think?

The problem is, I will know it only when I hear it with my own ears, so whispering won't do.

I'm ready! No one is here so what am I to be afraid of?

So, Corinna, you seem to imagine you're talking to the wall.

Oh, may I digress?

Of course, get it into your head, no one is listening.

So here is the digression:

Someone, (was it Bush? Bin Laden? Peres? Martin Luther King? Jesus? Moses.

No, not Moses, he saw the place only from the top of that mountain).

Anyway S/HE came to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem the Holiest, and asked the host, "What are all those people doing here?"

"They're praying. You may pray as well. Say your wish."

"God," said S/HE, "please grant the people much health."

A booming voice thundered: "Granted!"

"God, oh God, Please kindly grant the people riches and happiness."


"God allmighty, do grant the people peace and no more wars, please do!"


Then came the final answer:


So, who were you people been talking to before you retired to look into your refrigerators?

Oh, another digression. Hear this story: (Corinna! It's turning into a post this semi-comment).(So what. No one is listening, why not have some fun).

It's past midnight in Tel Aviv...

(Oh, forgot the story, you sidetracked me, C.)

Here in the dark, I'm whistling. If I lose hope...

Oh, now I remember:

A few years ago I was on a train heading from Hamburg to Amsterdam. Two young couples were with me in the cabin, sitting opposite each other and leading a lively happy conversation.

"What language are you speaking?"

"Oh," they tell me, "we talk Dutch and they talk German, but we understand each other perfectly well."

I remembered so well that such a conversation couldn't even have been imagined fifty something years ago.

I hold on to this memory and many similar others. Here in the darkness, if we lose hold of this ray of hope, evasive as it might seem nowadays, then what future am I entering?

There are two major issues:

1. What is the present reality?

Grim, for sure, we all agree.

2. Is it a constant?

Here the opinions and attitudes differ.

If I'll get to consider it a constant, as some "realists" claim, then there is no choice but live as the Stone Age people.

Whenever I talk to Anissah Darwish, the Palestinian poetess in Ramallah (and one of the participants in my book of conversations with international women writers on Childhood in times of upheaval, Once She Was a Child), she says,

"Yah Corinna, I wish you knew Arabic and understood my words."

"I can feel them."

And she says, "Yes, I know you can and do."

Monday, October 20, 2003

A Glimpse

Saturday. I have the three first chapters of Once fully edited.

One chapter a day and the book will be ready to go to the

printer before December leaves us.

Yesterday I worked a bit in the garden. Half an hour a day

and the garden will look so beautiful before the rains overcome us.

Today I managed to do some ironing. One hour a week and the

ironing will be done with, and the wardrobe will be so tidy.

Tonight I had a full load in the washing machine. Two loads a week and...

Such a waste of time. One of my friends' grandmother used to say,

"I we didn't have to eat, we could all be rich."

Without all this chores I can be so time-rich.

Like it was at Yaddo. There even eating felt like a waste of time.

And the challenge is: Live as if you were at Yaddo.

As if.

Niam el Baz, in Cairo

The conversation with Niam el Baz was done in Arabic, with Atidal, an Israeli Palestinian, translating for us.
A full translation of the tape was done in Israel.
The following is an excerpt.

Ni'am: Why have Israel come to this plot of land? Why haven't they taken a different plot for themselves, why haven't they conquered for themselves an empty plot?
There is an answer to that.
Ni'am: I promise you that if there had been an empty plot on the map and on it the Israelis had built a state, then I would have admired, and forgiven them. And then I would have worked and done anything. Why have they come to this plot of land?
There is an answer.
Ni'am: Tell me.
It's a joke.
Ni'am: I don't want a joke. I want an answer.
I will give you an answer as well. But first the joke.
Ni'am: All right.

Moses Our Teacher had a stammer --
Ni'am: Do you know why? Because he was the only one who God was talking to. It is a special thing that has never happened, only to him. God marked him with a sign to testify for that. In Arabic he is called Kareem Allah, Beloved of God.

OK. Here is what happened when God spoke to him:
He went up to God in the mountain and God told him, Take the people of Israel to Canada!
He went back down to the people, and the people were impatient, so he started saying, We should go to C-C-C-C-,

Atidaal: (in Hebrew) He stammered...
Yes. So the people said -- To Canaan? All right. We'll go to Canaan.
Atidaal: (laughs, and translates)
Ni'am: (laughs as well, and says with a regretful voice) Look what this
joke has done. (The three of us laugh).

Ni'am: I'm blaming the Palestinians as well, since they sold the land. And
it can happen to me in a hundred or two hundred years. In my opinion, I am protecting my legitimate rights, because it has to do with heritage. Look, you have in the Knesset a map of Israel from the Euphrate to the Nile!
Where did she take this from?!
Ni'am: What, you don't believe that Israel should stretch from the
Euphrate to the Nile? No? Are there many people in Israel who think like you?
Atidaal: There are many.
Ni'am: No, ask her.
Atidaal: No, I know that there are many members of the Knesset who think
like her.
Ni’am: Ask her.

An Apple For My Name

A telephone call from a morning show on the radio. Asking me to prepare 150 words for the item "The Male-Chauvinist of the Week: The male-chauvinist of the week is the Hebrew Writers' Association."

I started writing the introduction she had dictated to me.

'Hello, this is Corinna. I am a writer --'

And then the same assistant called back:

"You forgot to tell us your family name!"

"I don't use one."

"No, you can't do it without a family name. How are people going to know you."

"If I give you a family name, I'll be totally anonymous."

"We have to introduce you. How can I introduce you without a family name?"

"You can say, 'Hasofferett. The writer Corinna'."

"Listen, it's a very important program, very prestigious."

Now I'm listening to this program and the editor-interviewer says, introducing her guest: "The wife of Minister such-and-such."

The guest says, "You can introduce me as the chairperson of The N. Institute."

When the assistant called me in the morning, she asked how much time I needed to prepare the item and I said, "Ten minutes," and she said, "Fine," and that someone named Edna will call to record me. And after about two minutes I get a call from a young woman who introduces herself as Edna and I say, "Hold on, can I get a little more time? It's only been two minutes," and she says, "No, first I have to tell you that you must introduce yourself with your full name, first name and family name, that's the rule, the instruction. From the editor."

They have a quiz on the show and someone guesses that the answer is a certain female writer, and that editor-presenter-interviewer says, "Yes. By the way, she's the wife of so-and-so who was just in the news."

And she says, "Why did I have to say that, such an insignificant detail."

But twice during the broadcast she introduces a woman as the-wife-of and if that's why she needs my name, to map ownership like you mark sheep in the flock, who the proprietor is...

Esther Eilam, the woman who founded the first hostel for battered women and a personal friend, phoned them upon my request, and heard the same 'spiel' from the assistant.

I ring Ariel Shemer and talk to a lawyer in his office without telling her which program I'm talking about, until I tell her the whole story and when I say, "for the item Male-Chauvinist of the Week," she bursts out laughing, "Male-Chauvinist of the Week, huh? It's The Others who are wrong..."

That week there was no male-chauvinist to be found in our midst. The Writers' Association held its biannual conference like in all the seventy-five years of its existence, in which the association’s monthly literary magazine has been edited only by men, and on the stage, like it said in the invitation, stood only male writers and lectured words of wisdom to an audience of mostly female writers.

An actor read from a poem by Mr. Tchernichovsky, after whom the Writer's House is named:

"A queen awaits her bridegroom -- "

and the well known poem by our one and only national poet Mr. Hayim Nachman Bialik:

"Take me under your wing and be a mother and sister to me..."

Two weeks after the radio incident, I approached one enlightened newspaper with an article on the professional discrimination of women writers.

The editor called to say that she would like to print it, but,

"You forgot to write your family name."


"I don't use one."

"There's no such thing. How are we going to introduce you."

"You can write, the writer Corinna."

"No, you must write a family name, we won't print it without it."

And they didn't print.

By December 1995 I rang up the Registry of Residents and asked them to send me a name-change form.

The form has a clause that asks you to give reasons.

The clerk looked at the form, read from it out loud, "'I am a writer, and this is the name I have made for myself,'" and gave me back the sheet: "You have to explain, to specify, that's not enough!"

I said, "Fine, if you don't accept it, I'll go to the High Court of Justice ."

Two weeks later I told Esther Eilam, I've solved the problem. I have a family name now, it's registered in the Registry of Residents."

"No way! What name?"

"Hasofferett. The Woman Writer."

Now when they ask me for a name I say, "The Writer Corinna".

And then they look at me, and say,

"O.K., but what's your f a m i l y name?"


Excerpt from Once She Was a Child.

Read it in Polish; in Hungarian;

Thursday, October 16, 2003

A Call to Arms: On Fighting Spam

How many times can you see again and again these criminal intruders asking, as if we come from the same kindergarten or family:

"Do you know what Women like best?"

(No. Tell me. And since I'm empty-headed, repeat, repeat, don?t give up).

"Do you know at all what Men like best?"

(No. And why should I care? What am I, a welfare officer?)

"Enlarge, Enlarge the Holly Name, more and more!"

(What is it, a Bible contest?)

It has reached the magnitude of Chinese torture, endless dripping, dirt, dirt. How to kick them out when they see and are not seen in person.

So many rules I've laid down, more than the rules of any Parliament wherever - yet these horrible creatures, they are transparent, come in with the air.

While those rules affected only my correspondents!

So I closed down both my e-mail addresses.

No mail came in.

The silence scared more than the previous noise of the trash trucks.

I reinstalled my e-mail addresses.

The trash smoothly returned.

My correspondents disappeared, assuming that the addresses are no more valid.

I called my server, "Barak".

The man says, "Nothing to be done."

Sent me a link to a "MailWasher".

The software blocked indeed the content and attachments, yet the subject line continued to show up.

The Enemy couldn't care less.

I wrote Barak:

"A server is like a hotel. I've rented a room. At a hotel the contract is clear: I am the only one who gets the key. No hotel allows strangers to intrude and invade my room, or throw heaps of trash whenever I open the door. The hotel shoulders this responsibility as a matter of fact."

The laconic answer was to the point indeed: "Nothing to be done."

In an interview at an North American newspaper, one of these criminals says: "What's the big deal, all it takes is one click on Delete. But thanks to my ad someone in need for a mortgage is saved!"

Really? I have to read carefully the Subject line of over one hundred e-mails, so as to pick out my mail, not to lose any.

Can you imagine a Post Office offering this kind of service: Go to the trash bin and look through the dirty paper to find your own mail.

It turns out that only 1 in 100.000 is tricked into the Lords of Trash bait.

The rest of us should altruistically suffer, for the benefit of this bunch of no-goods.

I'm learning, especially from some of Eric Olsen's posts, on BlogCritics, that large companies like Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, EarthLink, are suing the trash mailers, and winning in court.

Not enough. The problem is still with us, daily.

While we've been reduced to discussing the problem as we discuss Climate.

What happens to the money won in court? It should go to each one of us. And: apart from the monetary compensation, each court should decree this punishment on the guilty invaders:

Have them seated at a computer for twenty years, and click endlessly on Delete.

Behind a glass wall.

In a Zoo.

Let's raise our voice to demand worldwide Fully defined Laws, Comprehensive action.

We need laws to pronounce the servers as responsible toward their clients. Then and only then we'll see servers unite globally to fight trash mail everywhere.

Before the whole system collapses in dust.

Here is my suggestion:

Let's set a day as our Day of Protest, and on this day let's close down our e-mail boxes: no mail sent, no mail received. Worldwide.

One single day of complete Silence, to exemplify the danger, to express our Just Demand.

Let's make it the 31st of December.

As in the most appropriate Hebrew proverb: "Let the old year leave with it's Curses, Let the New Year arrive with it's Blessings."

Let the Law Makers, the Servers and the No-Goods come up with some Resolutions.

There is a lot to be done.

We can see this action as an experiment in Protest.

Do pass the call on.


If it was not for Israel, the Holocaust would have never happened,

so declares on Indymedia a person who goes by the name Truth Inthemedia.

I cannot but agree.

Yet the truth goes much further:

If it was not for Israel, if there were no Jews in the world, their (our, for whoever considers themselves part of humanity) Holocaust would have never happened.

If there were no Gypsies in the world, nor would their own Holocaust have happened.

Or homosexuals.

Or those with mental or physical difficulties.

Imagine how wonderfully pure the world could have been, with the Nazis happily tilling their land.

How true.

But then, wait a minute, most Muslims don't mostly have blue eyes either.

Poor Nazis, they worked so hard and diligently on murdering whoever was different, and it only proved to be a Sisyphian job.

The truth and only the truth is that the Nazis gave up not because of the Allies' attacks.

Only out of desperate frustration.

They lost heart.


read it in Russian;

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Name of the Writer

"You should write only if you cannot sleep at night if you do not write."
So said a Yiddish writer to my friend, the poet Karen Alkalay-Gut when she was still a child.

Do you wait to be anointed?
Like Saul, who went to search for the lost donkeys, and found kingdom?
A prophet anoints your head with pure olive oil and then smooth silky writing comes out in a never-ending luxurious flow.

But is it so?

Why had I known always, from the very moment I remember myself: I am a writer?
What came first, the writing that was flowing out of my pen as if of its own will or the praise from the teachers, from a father who wrote beautifully and compassionately.

I do not know the answer. But even if we allow only 50% to the empowering agent or even only to one person in our lives, yet an important one, then I think we do have a partial answer, if not the major one.

There are so many gifted people in this world, so many of them potential writers.

What happens to those who toil in utter darkness with no one to smile lovingly at them, or admire, or offer appreciation, in early childhood or in any latter stage in life?

How many of those unable to sleep at night become prey to illnesses and despair, their life wasted in a world that seems like desert to them?
The world loves books, offers them dutiful respect, yet it forgets that without the writer there wouldn't have been any books.
In this sense the writer is more important than the books.

A formidable writer once said in an interview:
Until the age of forty I was a writer who never wrote a single word on page, only in my head.
So, you are a writer even if you've never yet written a single word.

Now, are Prizes the anointment replacement?

In my experience and understanding prizes serve one function - the monetary one.

I believe that one can fulfill the gift of writing and the vocation only with honesty, only when guided by truth.
You do your best, the best you can, notwithstanding the spouse or neighbor's opinion/dictum.
The writer is his/her only jury, chaired by Old Good Truth and Honesty.

You are a writer even if you've never got a single prize (and so poorer) and in this you are in the good company of some of the most honestly important writers.

Aren't so many of the Nobel prize winners forgotten while the likes of Kafka, Yehuda Amihai, you name them, have never reached that podium? No, Prizes don't make you a writer as much as a Nobel Peace Prize doesn't turn you into the Eternal Peace Guardian - judging from our laureates at home here in the Middle East.

As in the last's cases, being a writer is not like becoming an adult, it's not like reaching a stage in life but rather a life long commitment.

My solution? I work at night and sleep during the day.

Monday, October 13, 2003

The Egyptian Twins

Today, at Blogcritics, Phillip Win analizes the dispute over the Egyptian twins.

It turns out that some people in Dallas think The Selection was not right. There are kids in Dallas itself who should come first.

The relevant issue is not the amount of Time invested, neither is it the financial cost, or The Selection Criteria.

The real issue is moral.

Life is sacred.

A child, even one born to a poor family in a poor country, deserves a basic normal life.

The choice is not between one child or another but between one cause or another.

Is war a better cause?

Could some of the monies and energy invested in wars be more wisely used toward life saving goals and projects?

Instead of letting goverments and fanatics rule by division why not get together and demand the best for all humanity?

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Hanne Marie Svendsen

"...In my childhood I had a feeling that everything that was real fun, that was different from the daily routine -- was connected to him.

He had a desk in black oak with legs like the claws of a lion. I would sit under his desk, hug its leg, and dream. When I was four, five years old.

When I lay in my bed trying to sleep, I was imagining the bed was a boat. I had a swing in the garden and sitting on it I was imagining the swing was a boat.

He died when I was eight years old.

It was a shock.

I felt betrayed. Such treason! Why should he die, how could he do that. I didn't want to mention his name anymore..."

Saturday, October 4, 2003

On The Eve of Yom Kippur

Actually I was waiting for this day. I live in Tel-Aviv, next to a six-lane road leading to all the northern bedroom neighborhood and cities.

Yom Kippur is the only day when this Sambbatyon, noisy river of cars and pollution, stops still as if enchanted.

The only day when all the roads are free for pedestrians and bicycles.

Everybody is on the street, walking, meeting friends and enemies, all the people who throughout the year hide in their apartments and cars come out of their confinement…

It's Fall, when you don't need any air conditioning.

Pleasantly cool, especially in the evening.

The youngsters don't go to sleep at all, as if to savor every minute, and so do most of the adults, except the ones who fast, a minority in my mostly secular neighborhood.

A community festival.

Now, with the Internet, we don't even miss the silenced radio.

No more the feeling of being cut from our lifeline in this insane climate.

Another Yom Kippur.

Thirty years ago I was writing in a friend's room, lent to me as he went to spent the day with his family.

There was some baffling traffic on the road. I didn't know yet that those were men rushing to their units.

Then all of a sudden I heard The Alarm.

Like in the 2nd WW.

As in 1967 for a short while.

I ran out and all the way to my home.

This is my recurring memory from that day...

Say. Yom Kippur, and all I see is myself running, feeling it takes forever and I might not ever reach home and family in time.

Thirty years to the day later, and still violence surprises us.

One can never get used to death and sorrow.

Today terror came to visit the northern city of Haiffa.


The Maxim restaurant, owned by an Israeli Jew and an Israeli Palestinian.

Of the 19 murdered, four are Arabs.

A whole family erased. Grandmother, father, wife, two kids.

A couple married only a week ago.

At least four children.

More than fifty people wounded, six of them in critical condition.

It's almost 03:00 am and the open radio gives voice to many...

to kill or not to kill Araffat

Then what?

Hunt them down!

Then what?

Build the wall!

Then what?

The suicide bomber was a woman.

29 years old.

A lawyer.

Said to come avenge the killing of her two brothers a few months ago.

Will the death of all these innocent children and parents bring her brothers back to life...

Will it prevent the death of more brothers and by chance some innocent children...

Friday, October 3, 2003


A Cyclopean eye blinking on the answering machine:

This is Shlomi speaking. I'm in your son's unit. You can call me at my parents' house, I'll be there later tonight. Call us, we have a message for you.

Call me, this is Shlomi. This is a second message. Call me.

Pressing on switches, mechanically, with efficiency borrowed from the world of actions. Light and soul focused on the telephone. Leafing through the diary, to find the father's home phone number.

"Yes, I know. I let Robin take care of it. They told her not to make a big stir. Alright, alright, I'll come to the lawyer's."

She punches the pillow like a face; he knew and didn't tell her and she hasn't been told all day. Quickly, she washes the tears off her face, to focus on the actions.

The telephone rings.

"Robin. I want to come to the meeting with the lawyer."

Why such force, as if pushing a foot in through an open door.

From the taxi the street seems full of noisy carefree people, whole families, rushing to get to the shops before closing time. Head leaning forward, like someone swimming with a child on her back, she answers the driver, who wants to know who he's got in his car, this job is always such a danger, who doesn't come into this car, drugs, criminals, whores, I could write a book. And this one, what's the matter with her. Running out of the taxi, disappearing into a stairwell. On drugs?

The lawyer Mr. Fields sees a woman with uncombed hair, burning blue eyes, a body carrying a sign, Mined Area. The woman slides her hand over the counter's polished wooden surface: A new office? Nice carpets.

Yes, after a long service. Know the system well. Still have fresh connections, can exchange informal opinions, leap over the hurdles of military bureaucracy. I can call a friend in the middle of the night, and ask for something. I would be answered. You don't know why he was arrested? We've just spoken to somebody from his unit. They picked him up at a demonstration, because he was wearing his army boots."

Yes, they picked him up at a demonstration because he left his army boots on, she says in the same voice with which she used to recount how when he was two years old he once spread cinnamon on the new upholstery when she was speaking on the phone for too long, and how she hugged him for his cleverness and innocence.

"Not a wise thing to do," the lawyer puts on a judicial robe.

Ah, if we always acted with wisdom, we wouldn't need lawyers.


Excerpt from Sodot (A Minyan of Lovers)