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Wednesday, November 2, 2005

How safe from Vandals is your computer?

Just back from Mark Russovich's blog , completely shaken.
Planning to buy a Sony or Sony related CD?
Mark, the ultimate detective, has just discovered that those CDs come with a piece that goes straight to the heart and brains of your Computer.

Just go read it, even if, like me, you're not a master of your PC intenstines.

Meanwhile, my moral dilema re which Notepad/PC to purchase, only grows heavier.

I feel like going out with a candle, to search for Honesty.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

"I write, my wife does everything else."

What Mario Vargas Llosa found here is no news to me.

Yet there was one sentence in this interview with Mario Vargas Llosa:
"I write - my wife does everything else."

I do everything, writing included.
True, nowadays, with children grown up and on their own, I have, in theory, the freedom to do just the writing.


Except that - how can one write when hungry.
I get up and do the cooking.
How can one cook, when the kitchen is empty.
I go out and do the shopping, bills have to be paid and settled on time, money has to be raised - to buy food and cover the bills, too much dust is bad for your lungs, the floors must be washed...

I can stop all activities for a whole month - I cannot stop the sense of heavy burden.

Dacia Maraini, whom I've visited with in Italy for my "Noffey Haneffesh" (Once She Was a Child), does have a secretary, agents, help. Yet she did the cooking for the fourteen guests at the party in the evening.

Even before a woman takes a pen in her hand, she's, most of the time, handycapped.

The only place where a measure of freedom exists, or rather responsibility is for a while lifted - is at the artists' colony. It's called a retreat, only that one finds it hard to retreat while surrounded by twenty or fifty energetic writers and artists day and night.

No doubt - having a wife to do "everything else", is a good idea.

I won't exchange my full freedom for anything else.

The sense of responsibility feels like a great burden only in memory. It shouldn't be that terrible when one is responsible only for one's own life.

Like a freed slave, the greatest task is to erase the imprint left by years of slaving to responsibilities.

This book I've been writing since December 2000, am still working on - my fifth - brings new revelations daily.

Writing is such an irresponsible adventure!

Take Note, Chopin, Shubert, Sharon,

When concerts are free and people are less than free:

Piano against the Wall
report by Beate Zilversmidt
just received in the mail from Gush Shalom


The idea of "a protest recital" by pianist Jacob Allegro Wegloop on one of the Friday happenings in Bil'in came about in August, in an Amsterdam cafe: "I would gladly come and offer my music to Palestinians as an expression of my sympathy."
There happened to be already a piano in Bil'in. It had just been donated by the Pollak family. Without it, the whole idea may have evaporated. And Zamir Barlev - activist & piano tuner -had been so kind as to come on Thursday and repair some broken keys.

Friday Sept. 16, a minibus arrived in Bil'in already before dawn. It had been decided to go to the West Bank village straight from the airport - as to arrive before the army would close the access roads - as has become its new practice on Fridays. Gush Shalom had hired a van for the occasion, and Uri Avnery was there, too.

The ground floor of the Abu-Rahme house has been transformed into a kind of youth hostel, with matrasses spread out, and a self service kitchen corner. Apart from the more permanent internationals, it hosts every week a group of Israeli activists who come on Thursday in order to be in Bil'in at the weekly event.

"It's nice to be woken up by piano music, and not by the army megaphone imposing a curfew" said one the guests.

From where all the kids came was not clear, but they surrounded the miracle - the piano had been moved meanwhile into the front guarden. And when Allegro could not decipher the handscribbled notes of the Palestinian anthem - given to him at the spot to be added to the repertoire - the children sang it for him enthusiastically.

Jacob Allegro played and played - melodious pieces of Schubert, and some Chopin - as to force the somewhat stubborn instrument to open itself up. "What is your message" was a question asked by different interviewers who started to appear: "Sympathy for the suffering." "You are a Jew, a holocaust orphan" -- "That did not make me blind to the injustice done to others." "What do you say to the building of the Wall right through the middle of our lands?" "It's a shame! A big shame."

It's not easy to say where the preparations stopped and the concert began. Several times the crowd of the front guarden ran to the street at rumours of army patrols arriving. But the invasion of this day was of TV crews: several Palestinian stations, Al-Jazeera, Reuters, Egyptian TV , the Israeli Second Channel, etc. They had all been invited by Mohamed al-Khatib of the Bil'in Popular Committee to come at 10.30am and shoot pictures inside the village, as it was expected that the army would be far from helpful when a truck, and on it a piano, would arrive to the site where the wall is being prepared.

On Israeli TV the scene appeared after all not on Channel-2, but on the respectable first channel, using Reuters material. It was one more amazing report from Bil'in, from people who now already for months capture the headlines with their imaginative, non-violent ways of protest, undeterred by army violence.

There is still much struggle ahead; there is an appeal on the way to the Supreme Court, which this week created a precedent not without hope in the Qalqilya region. But one achievement already stands and is visible from the faces: this struggle, and the support shown for it is strengening the people in Bil'in in times where one either becomes stronger or sinks down.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was not there in person, only in spirit, yet I'm gladdened.
I admire those courageous people:
Their gestures tell me that the world is not empty of humanitarian support.

Yet a world in which it takes courage to attend a peacefull, non violent rally, is not a good place.

Oh, my beloved country and region, Wake up.
Enough is Enough.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bush, Sharon and the UN: since then they lived happily together

Reuters ©

"What Ariel Sharon and you have going:
Analyze your relationships with Ariel Sharon - in mathematical terms - for presence and strength of mutual commitment, intimacy, passion, and synergy."

© Top Synergy Corp.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Is it Hurricane Symbol, or Just a Shadow?

Do you remember 13 September 1993?
The day The Oslo Accords were officially signed in Washington DC before our mostly thankful.
Twelve years to the day.

Today, the very politicians who had denounced and stomped upon it - its very fierce opponents - have now led the exodus from Gaza.

Still every drama has a farce. Bathos is following in the footsteps of Pathos.
True to life Shakespeare was.

After the demolition of all the settlers' houses, at the very end were left the synagogues.

Time after time there were appeals to the court to leave them intact.
The State solemnly explained to the High Court of Justice that it is out of question.
The judges left the final decision to the government.

Overnight, at the last minute, on the eve of the final withdrawal, the Minister of Security, Mr. Mofaz, solemnly changed his mind.

Overnight, Sharon and all his Ministers except two, have changed their mind.

What happened?

The Head Rabbis decreed the synagogues are to be left intact.

A very good decision: Now, not one of the politicians fearing the approaching elections will be held responsible.

So what if the Palestinian had refused again and again to take responsibility?
Their hooligans will burn our synagogues?
Ours might burn their mosque of mosques.
So easy, so simple to incite the mother of all wars.

Here we are with those buildings: What for one is a holy symbol of Jewish suffering throughout generations - for the other is the leftover symbol of the sufferings of occupation.

That's what happens when symbols turn sour and become taboos.

This disengagement was planned ahead for two years. There was plenty of time to think ahead.

Ours is The Only Democratic Country, led by nose by Chief Rabbis, and a complying government with a straight face.

From now on, In Fear We Trust.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Niam el Baz, Cairo, Egypt

27.5.94 Friday

Niam is a big woman. Stood up to greet us in sandals on thin heals, and immediately sat down, freed herself from the sandals and touched the floor with her bare feet, taking pleasure.

Niam:

When I was born there were already two sons, and a daughter. My parents wanted another daughter, so my sister had a friend - so when I came, my mother and
father were very glad. But my grandfather was very unhappy, so my father said, "Girls are Niam, the good things that Allah sends us. I will call this girl Niam."

I come from the delta, near the forking of the Nile, in the north, so I love the Nile very much. I've put it in my eye. We are not peasants, but in my childhood I was
simply glued to a family of peasants there. I look for the peasant's bread everywhere and I can't find it.

I used to go down and play with the children of the peasants who worked for us. My parents didn't want me to play with them, they would pull me by the hand like this
back home. I would take off my shoes and walk barefooted.
Until now, everywhere, if I'm around plants and grass, right away I take off my shoes. I can feel belonging only if I'm walking barefoot on the ground.

I really loved playing with their children. So much so that if they were having a joint meal, because they are poor there so each would bring with him to work some pita and onion, I would bring a plate full of rice and vegetables and meat and share with them. I would gather them around me and tell them what I had seen in the
cinema, it is a very distant thing for peasants' kids.
We would wash every day. Not like the peasants' children, who would maybe go down to the Nile every now and then.

Not because of the mother's neglect, it's just that the mother would go out to work in the field.

The children in the village itself would wash before holidays, one after the other, in the public baths, pour some water and a little soap. I would say to my mum, You
wash me, it takes you an hour, and there -- hundreds of children are being washed in an hour.

I want to ask you if you have any stories from childhood, something special like that.

I like listening to yours.
Atidaal: (to Niam) Let her enjoy your stories.
Niam:
It interests me very much. About Romania. When you were a girl, did they ask you whether to come to Israel or not?
OK. I have a memory that I am three years old --
Niam:
These are the signs of writers. Not everybody can remember.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The Downfall: Der Untergang

Coming out from among the Berlin ruins to the luxury of a high scale mall in Tel-Aviv - only then composure sheds and pain pushes tears to my eyes.

The memory of the days in the shelter, the exit to the light and the sight of the saviors. All of a sudden our enemies are waving and throwing flowers at the Russian army.

"The Downfall." In Hebrew, "Hanefilla". Yet from the same root we have the "Han'fillim" - the huge immortals visiting us as they have fallen from above.

The Nazis aspired to be seen as N'fillim. They forced their way into so easily addicted minds of millions. Fallen they had, yet the seeds of and evil and mass induction are sprouting everywhere, as they themselves have been sprouted from earlier seeds.

As long as there is on the face of this planet even one single soul willing to sell itself to blind obedience, to regard Obedience as the Basic Law, above all human rights, as long as Obedience is not unmasked for what it is, the obliteration of the human spirit - then Tyranny will keep visiting us under its modern disguises.

As I walked among the well dressed people, passing past shops and huge modern buildings, a clearly named shiver groped my heart.

But tomorrow I'll be speaking at the Activism Festival, so here is something to look forward to - a glimpse of light.

Monday, June 6, 2005

When do you realize something was lacking?

Mostly, when it re-appears.
For instance, in Spring, when you organize your cupboard and move up the winter clothes - and there all of a sudden you see a long forgotten blouse, a letter, a hundred shekel bill.

What I'm finding nowadays, and has been long forgotten, is the re-appearance of Smiles.
It has taken only a few quiet months to bring those back to people's faces.

Like today, on the bus, the driver was asking people to get off at the rear door.

A senior lady rings the bell and comes to exit at the quite narrow front door.
The driver says, "Why from here, why not from the rear door?"
The lady answers, nonchalantly:
"So I could say Shalom (good-by) to you."

The driver and all of us laugh heartily. She gets off and leaves us her gift of smiles and good humour.

It took only a few months of quiet. Driver and passengers are no more tense with suppressed worry, Will we arrive home in one piece?

Sanity should be the norm. Is it now, can we be indeed content?
No.

As long as on the other side of this horrible Wall, a million and a half people of all ages are brought to lead insufferable anguish - we are still on the mouth of a volcano which might and will erupt upon us.

Our Spartan generals want us believe there is no option but endless war.
Can we overcome this brainwashing and build here a Culture of Peace and Equality for all and each human being?

I'll rather smile with a clean conscience.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

On Gratitude

I love this medium - so much in apposition to my, mostly lyrical, prose. Direct, immediate, keeps me in touch with the outward world. Enables me in Commentary and Satire to react right away to the daily political and social upheaval and have an immediate impact on my community, instead of boiling inside helplessly.

People write to ask, "Do mention my work at your blog."

I say, Take the fishing rod. Start a blog of your own. The technique is as simple as a.b.c. The content makes all the difference. As long as you have something meaningful to say.

Most of the time they do open their own blogs.
Most of the time, most of them remember to express their thanks, online, and with a link to this blog, or to the Hebrew one, entitled: "Writer, Publisher, Trouble Maker".

To-day I had for lunch an impressive young lady. She's organizing my meetings with readers. The upcoming one is scheduled at the Festival of Activism (site in Hebrew), this coming Friday at 13:00.

Israel is brimming with people active in building a culture of peace. I feel grateful.

Still, the question nags, especially at this late hour: Do we stand a chance?

Saturday, June 4, 2005

What a nice day was yesterday

And what made it so nice?

A tentatively new Flower Market. In a central garden in town, Flower Growers from around the country exhibited and sold their flowers and even some plants, at low prices. For a few weeks, on Fridays. I went there yesterday for the first time.

The garden was full of smiles, people of all ages, flowers with their multitude arrays of colors, and full of smiles was, still, the sun.
It seems that we are like people out of shelters, happy and grateful for the small joys of life. Or are we like the dancers on the Titanic?

Ayalon, the Army departing Commander in Chief, has some grim message for us.
To sum it all up in one sentence: "It's not Us, It's Them - we carry no responsibility."

Let's hope he'll never be a Prime Minister here.
One Ariel Sharon is more than enough, as far as I am concerned.

Concerned I am, indeed.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

How To Turn The World Upside Down

A. Now: Olive Trees

I should have known.
I didn't know.
I have not seen.
I didn't hear.
I stayed silent.

Here and there I saw large signs
No nursery name mentioned, no address provided - just a mobile phone number.

Olive trees seem to be multiplying, in the boulevard opposite my place and right throughout the city. They are almost like the papaya trees: it is enough to toss the seeds on the ground and they grow all by themselves.

I got to the "Kibush" web site and it was almost like a movie. The turning over [1] of olive trees. They get turned over and turned over and then they get transported to some place, by the authority of so and so, with not-so-anonymous people turning a blind eye.

Journalist Meron Rapoport (now at Haaretz) had his investigative feature on the subject published at the Yedioth Ahronoth daily back in January 2002.
He won a prize for it.
Not in Tel-Aviv. In Italy.

You can't love all the people all of the time.
But trees - how can you not love them, all of them and all of the time?
There are greater lovers than me. Their love breeds blindness.

I wrote in my Hebrew blog at the "Notes" web site:
"Let's see you, Agatha [Christie], solving my cryptic riddle."

Answers started arriving from far-flung places like the Technion in Haifa, a mansion in mighty Savion [2], a boulevard in Ramat Hasharon, town squares and village squares, rural communities and kibbutzim.
It's spread like cancer.
I had a second go: "Agatha Christie is not silent."
Then I had a third go:
"An interim report: the Truth Situation.
Along with explanations and clarification in response to readers' comments.

Eclipse.

Here and there someone wrote about the supply of olive trees; their point of origin.
People tsk-tsked about the heartless uprooters and oppressors. So distant from us. So much not like us. What are you on about, Corinna?

Who we forgot along the way? Who should we not avoid considering? Who should we raise hell about, till they blush?

We have to keep going till "An ancient olive tree" will no longer be a expensive fashion statement that dropped like a tendril into our lap, out of nowhere. It has to be acknowledged as to what it has really become: a symbol of blind or feigned innocent collaboration with an evil deed.

B. The First Victory

Strom Thurmond was a leading opponent of desegregation between Blacks and whites in the United States. Even though he was a member of the Democratic Party (sounds familiar) he stood against Harry Truman and won only in the southern states (such were the Democrats there). He lost but didn't give up. In 1956 he initiated and wrote the Southern Manifesto opposing the Supreme Court's ruling for the abolition of segregation. He topped it all and excelled himself in a filibuster of non-stop 24 hours and 18 minutes speech against the USA civil rights legislation in 1957.

Obviously, he never made it to be President. He did make it to his own hundredth birthday party, on December 2002.
On that occassion, Mr Trent Lott, then Senate Majority Leader, raised his glass in admiration: "I want to say this about my state [Mississippi]: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

A statement praising racism made by the Senate majority leader 45 years after equality of citizens was enshrined in law.
You would have expected a political storm.
It was mentioned as a two-second, light-hearted, item on the news.

By 2002 there were nearly a million bloggers in the United States. One after another the bloggers grabbed the story and didn't let go. The whole thing spread like a bushfire in the blogosphere.

Journalists read blogs. They had no choice but to invite the honourable Trent Lott to the TV and radio studios and ask him the inevitable questions.
He apologised more than once.
It didn't do him any good. He had to resign.

Then a loud voice was heard from the forty corners of the blogosphere. Yes!
And I, who was watching from the sidelines, said to myself: when can We do this here in Israel, when?

C. Hear this word [3], oh nation of bloggers and readers in this holy land:

There is one of me and many of you.
Arise you people from your slumbers! [4]
Go write in your blogs.
Raise hell, write to your city and shire mayors.
Call on your neighbours and on the mansion owners.
Ask them: where is this tree from?

Have you checked the wandering path that it traversed to get to your garden or boulevard?

If you find out that it is indeed stolen, would you be willing to return it to its owners, as you should by law?

Go and check: Is there a brave editor who would publish interviews with Savion residents who are paying 25,000 shekels for "a truly ancient tree"?
Go find out how far are newspapers and TV channels willing to disengage themselves from the wrath of the rich and powerful.
More than 100,000 olive trees have been uprooted and stolen from the Occupied Territories.
In the Savion mansion and at our town boulevards, the olive tree is a brand name - an instrument for displaying a pretend authentic Novo-Israeliness.
For the Palestinian olive grove owner, the tree is his/her life and soul.
Sad is the matchstick. [5]



"Ancient olive tree for sale."

Translated by Sol Salbe from the original Hebrew;
Translator notes:
[1] The word can also mean a revolution in Hebrew.
[2] Savion is just about the most prestigious address in the whole of Israel.
[3] Hear this word, ye king of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink. (Amos 4,1)
[4] "Arise you workers from your slumbers..."(The Internationale).
[5] "How fortunate is the matchstick which flared up a fire..." famous poem by Hungarian-born 2nd WW Jewish heroine, Hannah Senes, symbolizing selfless courage.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

There is a BlogRunner in your cup!

Blogrunners collects and links to blogposts on specific themes and even from NYTimes.

I'm game, so I went to NYTimes to see what they have to say today and was astonished to find out that their main concern is not the Middle East, neither the Disengagement from Gaza, nor the growing poverty here and not even the last gem of this or that rabbi now submerged in politics.

They are still relating to Pope Benedict XVI, known before his anointing as Cardinal Ratzinger.

An interesting article, with some astounding revelations, which made me once again realize why I could have never become Catholic:

"Once, about 10 years ago when I was visiting him in Rome, he told me, 'I have my personal sense of freedom, my sympathy for freedom. I have to keep it to myself. I have to obey the pope. The pope told me that it is my biggest religious obligation not to have my own opinions.'

"Ratzinger told me this after I hadn't seen him in a long time and he felt the need to explain to me why he is so strict," Professor Seckler continued..."


"Kill" me, but my biggest religious obligation was/is/will eternally remain, to have my own opinion.

So, sadly, I had to give up on Catholicism. Or, for that matter, any institutionalized religion whatsoever.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

International Action Alert and The Greatest Enigma

I've just received in the mail this disturbing message from Gush Shalom.
It touches me in person, as I well remember the time when Rumanian soldiers presented my mother with a similar letter back in 1943.

I well know that some people, instead of confronting the issue at hand, will jump to evade it with: "Do you compare to the Holocaust?"
No, I do not compare to the Holocaust. Does it translate into belittling suffering which does not reach the Holocaust magnitude?
No, and never.

Does it, should it translate into sensitivity to The Other's anguish?
Yes, and always.

In my eyes, the greatest enigma remains: Why have we come to be divided into two groups - the ones who close their eyes and hearts and go forth unheeded and the ones who wish all those deeds done in our name were just a nightmare, and then wake up, frustrated, to send another e-mail, like passing on a glimmer of hope that none of us is ever alone.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Sharon and the Amazones

A group of Likud Ministers and Knesset members, nicknamed "the rebels", are threatening to vote down the proposed budget, which might bring down the government and at least postpone the "Disengagement" - the army withdrawal from the Gaza strip and the evacuation of settlements from the Gaza strip.

Never mind. Sharon had a solution:
Acknowledging Women's immense capacity to influence men, on March 8, The International Women's Day - a day to celebrate Equality - our mighty PM came to speak to a gathering of the only Israeli real women - Likud women activists.

Facing the only important section of our world, at the Amazones conference, he states that women's place is not equal to that of men but much higher, high above of even plain Knesset members and simple Ministers:

Women, at least in the Herculikud - and how have you not noticed this until now - women are those who dictate to men for what to vote.

New Times, 2005 splendor.

See for yourselves: If women won't be behind men, but, God forbid, Knesset members and Ministers - they'll lose their power for nothing.

There'll be no one left to influence.

You girls know exactly what he has in mind.
Don't tell me Hercules does not read Greek. What, at his native Mallal village they did not teach the Amazones story?
At least part of this word*** was in use in the Army (In Hebrew the plural is Amazonot; for the rest, see the dictionary).

Pay attention, you mighty Herculikud Women:
By all means, the Budget must not be voted down!
The men rebel against their king?
You must rebel against men!

Put on Brave Hyppolita's belt and sing out loud and clear:
Bring the Budget! Bring power and hunger - or you'll see soon some disengagement! Day and Night there will be no one to influence you!Well said, Hercules?
Where is he?

Shhh! He's counting eyes, on the knitting needle.
Who gave him wool, who?
He dismantled the old woman's sweater, the one in the hospital's corridor.
Oh. What's going to come upon her?
Shrouds.
Rightly so. Who could she influence anyway?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

read it in Russian;

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I'm going to a Fortune-teller

1.

Most of the time I have no problem telling the future.

You're saying, "That's not such a difficult trick. No difference here between Past, Present and Future. Our Time is linear, following a straight line, like the cardiogram of a person unilaterally disconnected from the world.

The second law of thermodynamics claims Time is irreversible?
You're making Time laugh, baby. Turning back could be achieved only when you're moving.
Telling the future in our world is really a child's trick."

2.
I'm going to the fortune teller, and tell her straight away:
"Listen, usually I have no problem foreseeing the future. Suddenly - I'm in the dark. I see nothing."

She's gathering her skirts around her, mixes her cards, swallows her coffee, divines the residue at the bottom of her cup,
and faints.

I wipe her face with my dainty muslin handkerchief (the laundresses is for sure raising an eyebrow) and softly say,
"Maritza, don't put up a show. What is it you're seeing?"
Answers she, "Corinna, sweet lady, Nothing. Pit endless darkness, I swear."

Now I'm real scared. "You too?!"
I push the megaphone into her face and scream, "What is it you're seeing?"
Says she, scared and crying, "I see nothing, I swear by the black angel of terror and vengeance, I see nothing."

I plead with her, "Maritza, please do give me one glimpse of future. I'm not a lady, I'm the baby you've breastfed from day one. What is it I'm asking in this desert? Just one drop of future, sweet and pure.
Tell me what is it you're seeing."

Says she,
"I see a silent movie. The Future is watching, asleep, quietly waiting for a Rabin on a white horse to wake her up with a loving kiss."

read it in Hebrew;

Monday, February 21, 2005

Human Anguish in a Manly World / Ma'ariv, September 3, 2004

"I was thinking: So many books, so many women writers, Who are they?" asks Corinna in her words on the back cover of Noffey Haneffesh ("Intimate Landscapes").

Noffey Haneffesh (Once She Was A Child), written as in answer to this question, is a collection of intimate conversations with women writers, linked by the author's journal and responses as she follows their tales with her own.

"Women Writers". Is there an unifying element to help us define "Female Writing"? Had Corinna meant to describe here an entity of "Female Experience"?

The writers whose life story fragments are disclosed to us are so different, almost all over. In "Once She Was A Child" you'll find Barbara Frishmuth from Austria; Amelie Nothomb - A Belgian born and raised up in several Asian countries; Leila Sebbar - born in Alger to an Algerian father and a French mother; the Israeli Karen Alkalay-Gut, the Dutch Marion Bloom, Leena Lander in Finland, Venus Khoury-Ghata, Amina Said and Michelle Grangaud in France and Hanne Marie Svendson in Denmark. They mostly relay the story of their childhood, yet do talk also about their youth and adult life.

Those are memories' glimpses of women who on the surface seem to have nothing in common - and yet they share so many similar facets.

The most prominent one is Absence - an experience of emptiness, of want. Many times this experience appears linked to a father's disappearance: Barbara Frishmuth's father was killed in the 2nd World War - she remembers nothing of him; Svetlana Vasilenko's father (Russia) never married her mother - he comes and goes, leaving behind him a trail made of big holes.

Sometimes the origin of the spatial emptiness is different, as in the death of a child, Dacia Maraini's (Italy) - whose death is mentioned in passing, in just one sentence, almost unsaid.

Many things are left unsaid. They are absent from the book's pages, yet exist in-between the lines, in the space the writing itself opens - paralleling life's story.

In total apposition appear and reappear in the book experiences of brutal intrusions and invasions. Such is the breaking into Anisa Darwish's house at Ramallah 2002 and the doubled helplessness she feels while facing the Israeli governing powers as well as while facing her Israeli friends, to whom she cannot describe her lot in their language - the language of occupation; or the helplessness expressed in the story of the penetration into Karen Alkalay Gut's body, doubled by the inability to talk about rape in a Men's World and in a language whose meanings and borders are defined by a male's worldview.

Other themes, such as the relation to one's name or to one's native place, resurge throughout the book, linking the diverse stories - as if hinting to us in Corinna's name: These are the matters which being female build.

All throughout the stories the book links strongly to the Israeli existence. Two major Israeli narratives correspond with each other: One is the Holocaust, which keeps popping up in the first part of the book - the voyage to Europe and the conversations with European writers. Yet in the second part of the book, that of writers from the Arab world, where the Holocaust seemingly disappears entirely, the Holocaust is present in it's denial and oblivion. When this denial becomes outspoken (in the Egyptian Niam El Baz's narrative), Corinna, via her travel journal, brings us back in time, to her childhood in Romania of the 2nd World War.
As if she meant to say: It really happened.

But maybe she wants to create a link to that other Israeli narrative - our relations with the Palestinians, the "Peace" and, mainly, the war. When the memories from Romania emerge - military governing, soldiers entering home at midnight to search for her fugitive father, the home confiscation , the wire barbed camp of imprisoned refugees in Cyprus - there echo pictures as if taken from Anisa Darwish's story of her life in Ramallah. There is no explicit statement on the relation between the two narratives, but the way they engage and disengage opens to the reader a new vista enabling re-consideration of the various links between them.

Slowly the book has invaded me. So much strength it contains. Women's strength to confront traditions, religion, Man's World Laws - and yet, so much pain and anguish. Female anguish and human one as well. Not always I am able to discern between the two, between what might constitute a human experience and what is unique to women's life in a world run according to Men's Laws.

This pain cuts through especially when it surfaces repeatedly in attempts to find happy memories. It's just then, when it steals its way through the back door, stubbornly re-affirming its presence in the lives of those women, it is then that it presents itself, eternal, compelling with the utmost power.

Hagar Kotef-Sekund
The Literary Supplement, Maariv 3.9.04

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
read it in Polish...in Hungarian...

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Duet: Sharon and Abu Mazen

(Standing at the two corners of the stage, while tearing one by one petals of red carnations):

"I'm very tired to-day, what with all this hand-shaking, and more handshaking - to the last photographer and cameraperson. My hand has grown soft and delicate from being that unused.

"Now, does he really mean it, or is it again another game, to gain time for another not-surprising surprise?

"Am I going to get killed, Rabin style?"

"What's the name of that Egyptian who started all this commotion. Hah, Saadat. Yes. They shot him. That was not a nice thing to do.
Well, he was skinny.


The very irony: they did not want Rabin and got their own Sharon forced to perform his job - same Sharon who prior to the assasination was so heated and heating. Now the whole world can see that the guy was just upset for not being invited to the regal Nobel Prize dinner."

"Ha-Ha, laughs who laughs last: and who was Not invited to the sumptuous Sharem summit dinner?
little peres.
I left him in Tel-Aviv with his Nobel diploma."


(turning to each other, hands outstreched):

"Shall We Dance?"


read it in Farsi;

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Twice Ariel Sharon

Each Meeting Was More Fantastic than the other...
a long title for a short story, with no moral

Israel not being a kingdom it's not rare to meet some of its knights.
Yet for an Israeli humble writer to meet Sharon would be rarest than meeting the royalty in UK.
For where could she meet him?
At a rally against the invasion (we're talking Lebanon)?
No chance.

But even much earlier, here's what happened:

How I Met Ariel Sharon, #1

On the evening preceding the 1973 Yom Kippur Eve, some relatives from South America came to tour Israel.
Remember, a few days earlier Dayan, then Minister of Defense had declared, "Never before was Israel's situation safer!"
(Another reason why we feel so safe and trustful).

On the night preceding the 1973 Yom Kippur Eve - a time when the weather is still unbearably hot - we came to pay our respects to our wealthy relatives, dressed in our best attire, which in my case consisted of a long dress with a great decollete.

There we were, at the palatial Hilton Tel-Aviv, waiting for the elevator. And very soon indeed the click and ring and light flashes signaled it's arrival,the doors opened, and out comes, who if not Ariel Sharon.
He was already quite large and hence impossible to ignore.
I looked at his face to read what it says and indeed it spoke, actually his eyes alone, not to me but straight to the depths of my decollete.

How I Met Ariel Sharon, # 2

A few years later - cannot recall if it was before or after Sabra and Shatila, The Lebanon War - the exact date was not put on record among the multitude of dates assaulting us daily.
We were invited to a colleague's son Bar Mitzvah.
As an event, a Bar Mitzvah, when a son reaches the age of thirteen, is second only to a wedding in its importance.
If it's a colleague's son celebration, you better attend it if you fear for your life.

But what if
this colleague happens to be a member of the central committee of your party?
Indeed, he might be only one of some two thousands, but still, these people are the ones who choose the leaders.
If you fear for your political life, you better attend it. So the word spread out: Arik Sharon is amongst us.
I went to the buffet, put a few things on my plate, and turned to go back to our table.

Rest assured I was still young and beautiful and so was my decollete.
I turned from the buffet with my plastic plate in my hand, and who do I see heading straight to the crowded buffet if not, again, the same Ariel Sharon (almost, yet much greater in stature).
I looked straight at his face and again his eager eyes spoke eloquently.

He was staring straight into my hands, at the borekas on my plastic plate.

Being vain I don't want even to contemplate the burning question:
What If I were to go up on that elevator at Hilton in the same dress, yet with a plate-full of food in my hands?
And why, after so many men have peered into my decollete and so many others have eyed the food on my plates, why do I still remember that one above all?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
read it in Polish; in Farsi in Hungarian; in Russian; in Hebrew;

Friday, February 4, 2005

Naive Questions, God-knows-why

I've been wondering lately:



Is the Titan planet in the same state Planet Earth was some one hundred and forty bilion years ago?



Is Titan The New World we'll turn our face to from now on, some of us in terror, some in hope?



Is it going to become - like The New World who beat no bush while hastening to tour with its army in our neighborhood - the criminals' deportation location, the place to transfer over there stubborn nations, or leaders who've lost favor, who've done one wrong too much, who've committed crimes against humanity?



Shall we dare send over there world hugging-to-suffocate industrialists?



Or is there a danger lurking in the invisible future- that ages later they'll lash back to punish us here?



Should we set out for a seven-years exodus, escorted by angels and getting there - proceed to build a strong wall of defense?



Even there?



How should we act so to avoid transferring or, even better, avoid keeping here even one single Trojan virus?



read it in Farsi;in Russian;

Monday, January 31, 2005

A Parliament Member's Confession - February 2065

Sixty Years from Now



1.

Your Honor, The President of Shelterel, esteemed Knesset Members, Ministers, Prime Minister, Honorable Audience - -

This confession is not that easy to make.



Not that easy since - unlike during those dark times - it comes non-coerced, from the depths of my heart.



I was young then - relative to the present - and have grown older, yet the thing does not leave me alone. Her voice echoes inside my head when I go to sleep and as I awake.



Her name in Shelterel was Citizen C.

Very little I knew of her, but of course it is impossible to know all the time all about all the citizens - this is not even our duty. Enough to know that they are naive and alive, that they trust us and that on the decisive day they will know for sure to insert the right piece of paper inside the right box.



Citizen C. did trust me, I had no doubts about it whatsoever. To me she came, here and there, with the stories of citizen-with-no-citizenship Anisa, as-if-citizen Salim, corruption in the small townships and why not have a country-wide publicity against sexual harassment at the work-place - I swear to you that at our Ministry even seventy years ago such things never occurred, for sure, I told her so... etc.



I assume that my assistant took well care of her calls.



2.




Things went on smoothly, me doing my thing, she doing hers. I trusted her.



Then, one day - she'd find the right time to call! - in the midst of a most fateful elections time, really fateful for me as citizen and as chairman of a party so close to it's fall, to mine.



Sixty five years have passed. I well remember and will never forget:

"Do listen, please: Those who were children during the Holocaust times - not the death camps survivors, but the ones whose turn to be sent there had yet to come... they are still alive, here, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, myself included - and they are not young anymore. Sick, poor, robbed of their compensations by The State of Shelterel who'd reached the Reparations Agreement with Germany in our unasked-for name, and undertook to compensate us itself.



"Shelterel had taken hold of those monies!They interrogate each claimant!Come, do come to the Justice House and see for yourself the march of the robbed and dismantled. People in their eighties, leaning on a cane or in wheel-chairs, coming to explain to the eternal judge aligned to the eternal legal representative of the Finance Ministry - explain and prove minutely, have them spread out in the court their bitter fate - all in all just to get a few more crumbs of disability percentage to enable a few additional pennies to their Holocaust Survivors' Disability Pension.



"Come and see how law representatives of the Finance Ministry interrogate at the court: a woman who was raped by German soldiers was asked to say what color the soldiers' uniform was; if it was the color of the local 'legionars' (enabled by the Nazis) then she is not entitled to compensations - that is The Word of the Law in Shelterel!

She couldn't remember the color of the uniforms - and her appeal for that meager Disability pension was denied!

She had no strength to appeal to a higher court, so appalled she was, so shaken.



Come, Come and hear the Legal Representative of The State of Shelterel uttering lightly the sentence frequent in the vocabulary of the Holocaust Denial: "It was war-time, so everybody suffered. At war-times everybody suffers."



It is mandatory to change that law once for all!Now we have Basic Human Rights and Freedom Laws!They are robbing the Holocaust Survivors!Those robbed of childhood are robbed now by The State of Shelterel!"



3.

As if I have not know all along that much.

I told her, this was sixty-five years ago, I well remember and will Never Forget:



"The naked truth is, Citizen C., that people as well as the government and all the bureaucrats are really fed up with the Holocaust.



"Look here, I'm now immersed in the elections. I give you my honorable word that immediately after the elections I'll harness myself wholly to this task of having the law changed. Take my word for it."



4.

The truth is, she gave me more than one day of grace after the elections, more than the conventional ninety days.

Then she called.

She wrote.

The secretary received her calls and letters. Passed them on to me.



I was immersed in negotiations with the Finance Ministry. A Minister of Education has great responsibility towards the children of Shelterel. Faced with that dilemma which I now share with you undisguised, I had to make a selection, to choose between the children living their childhood with us here and between those robbed of their childhood way back over there. It was not us who'd robbed them of their childhood - the German Nazis did it, let their name be erased!



We'd only robbed them of their reparations. Yet we provided them with tents, we provided them with housing and lands taken from you-know-who. We've built a Shelter State exactly as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.



I was busy with a multitude of activities, with the Party needs. There is a limit to the age a Minister of Education can be made responsible for, there is a limit to how much one can bargain and quarrel with the Minister of Finance and his well experienced clerks. I well knew that right away they'll throw into my face: "How much of your budget are you willing to do without?"



Their childhood had lasted three or four years. Their olden days with us weren't long either.



There is a limit to the quantity of pain a heart can hold.



The hour has come to say, without any monetary commitment - True, Mr. Minister of Finance, true? None of them is with us by now, true?



Simply, a confession:



Her voice echoes inside my head, inside my whole being, to this very day:

"Yosiniu, Yosiniu, do not forget who you are!"

The voice, the warm, hugging trust that only a naive citizen is able to express. Lost.

"Yosiniu, Yosiniu, do not forget who you are!"



Even if she is not with us at the Distingushed Guests gallery, she's here, shouting inside my head.

Enough is Enough! Have her Shut-Up! Till when?!



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Any semblance to Reality is not by chance.

read it in Russian; in Hebrew;in Hungarian;

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Restaurant Life (according to Radio News)

"Good Morning! You're early today, it's only 11:45. What will you order?"

"Brunch. May I have a menu? What's up?"

"Here."

"Oh, where are my glasses... Do read it for me."

"Right. Lady, We have a special offer, a la carte, on fire!



"First Course:

"60 years old gentleman. Killed his divorcee. Passionate love. Shot her.

"Son, killed his father. Quarrel over a cigarette.

"8 years old boy. Shot in the back of the brain. At Beit Hanun. Sorry, not at our restaurant. Over there. Pity, brain is most tasteful, ha? Why don't you smile?"

"Enough."



Main Course:

"50 years old father, raped and abused daughters since they were 4 years old. Clean previous record.

"Five young men spent some nights with a girl, then sold her around. For the duration of one year. Happy she was."



"Nothing new at your place. Anything for Desert?"

"Sure! 2 years old baby, found walking alone on the road, in the cold and rain.

"Naked.

"Sweet, ha?"





read it in Hebrew; in Russian; in Polish;

On Trolls, Re-visited

A new blogger has recently joined the Hebrew site "Reshimot" ("Notes") - where I happen to publish my posts in Hebrew. We are a group of some 80 independent bloggers.



Sure enough, the trolls made their appearance.



As a veteran blogger, I wrote her with some words of comfort and advise. The following is my last letter:



Everybody gets visited by trolls, they are not that choosy.

You do not see them at my blog because I erase them as fast as possible.

People know that if they leave an enlightening and to the point comment, it will not get smeared by trash or drowned in it.



Trolls get where there is a crack in the door. When they are kicked out they try the window (like commenting on you at someone's else "Reshimot" blog. When it happens at mine, I erase them on the spot, as common courtesy demands.)



Trolls are especially attracted by the new blogger. Some of them have tried to get a blog at Reshimot and were refused - so they have good reasons to try destroy the site.



People are violent in Israel at a growing rate and in growing numbers.

This is another good reason for me to keep my blog clean of violence and so build my own model of rational, benign, friendly communication.



After all, we are the majority, why let the few take over?

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Tsunami vs. Mechanics

1.

"...Thousands of lives in countries such as Sri Lanka, India and Thailand could have been saved if an early warning system similar to one that exists for the Pacific Ocean had been in place. U.S.A. Officials said that they wanted to warn the countries but that there was no mechanism to do so..."


Maybe there was too much mechanism, too little humanism?



It's December 2004, mind you. CNN is open at all the hotels worldwide. You have TV, the internet, cellular phones, radio - an endless list of communication means.



Has even one of them been employed?



Who are the anonymous "Officials"? How could they have gone on about their lives and work, knowing well that a disaster is about to hit and doing, What?



Save me from the Officials.



2.

Who are those anonymous Officials?

Their heads we know. Loudly and shamelessly they refuse to sign the international accords meant to minimize - not obstruct entirely, just minimize the pollution endangering our Planet.



We know now well that the warming is man made, we know that mechanism.



Time is running yet Bush & Co. Are playing mechanism games.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) -- U.N. talks on climate change ended early Saturday with few steps forward as the United States, oil producers and developing giants slammed the brakes on the European Union's drive for deeper emissions cuts to stop global warming
.


Oh dear accomplished Humanity, where are your bicycles?



read it in Hungarian; in Hebrew;

Sunday, January 2, 2005

An unforgettable New Year Resolution

Technorati challenges us: What is your New Year Resolution?



To tell you the truth, I'm out of resolutions this year.

Except some, not fit for print.



But I do remember one New Year Eve in New York City, back in 1990.

I was invited to a party at a lady's fancy house.

A roof apartment in the SOHO neighborhood.



The living room was lighted with candles.

People sipped wine, talked, each one presenting her or his kind resolution.

We were invited to the roof, or rather slowly people started drifting to it, passing through a little bedroom full with toys.

"My granddaughter's room," said the hostess, proudly.



The night was bright. The roof was rich with plants, actually the same plant everywhere.



People were sampling the leaves, giggling. The air filled soon with this sweetish smell I abhor.



"What plants are these?" asked Corinna.

"Joint! Grass!" said the hostess. "Want some?"



Politely I thanked the resolute grandmother, and went home to my Muse.

Musing.