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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Erich Fried: A Jew to Zionist Fighters ("I want to be a new Jew with these new Jews...")

Intimidation in Gaza | by Robert Croma

Intimidation in Gaza. Israeli Defense Force soldiers interrogate a Palestinian youth in Gaza with a tear gas launcher. The Palestinians were being forced to open their shops, which were closed in protest against the Israeli invasion into Palestinian territory. "The image is a blow-up of a contact print. I don't have access to the negatives.": image via Robert Croma, 18 November 2012

What do you actually want?
Do you really want to outdo
those who trod you down
a generation ago
into your own blood
and into your own excrement

Do you want to pass on the old torture
to others now
in all its bloody and dirty detail
with all the brutal delight of torturers
as suffered by your fathers?

Do you really want to be the new Gestapo
the new Wehrmacht
the new SA and SS
and turn the Palestinians
into the new Jews?

Well then I too want,
having fifty years ago
myself been tormented for being a Jewboy
by your tormentors,
to be a new Jew with these new Jews
you are making of the Palestinians

And I want to help lead them as a free people
into their own land of Palestine
from whence you have driven them or in which you plague them
you apprentices of the Swastika
you fools and changelings of history
whose Star of David on your flags
turns ever quicker
into that damned symbol with its four feet
that you just do not want to see
but whose path you are following today

Erich Fried (1921-1988): A Jew to Zionist Fighters, 1988, from Unverwundenes - Liebe, Trauer, Widersorüche - Gedichte (Uninjured - Love, Grief, Contradictions - Poems), Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin, 1988; English version by Frank Monahan from Return, March 1990 

Enforcing an Occupation #2 | by Robert Croma

Enforcing an Occupation #2. IDF soldiers search the alleyways of the Occupied Territories. "The image is a blow-up of a contact print. I don't have access to the negatives.": image via Robert Croma, 19 November 2012

Israel bristles at U.S. suggestion it used excessive force to confront Palestinian stabbings: image via Reuters Top News @Reuters, 15 October 2015

U.S. 'excessive force' comment touches nerve in Israel: image via Reuters Top News @Reuters, 15 October 2015

Israelis invest in firepower as knife attacks rise: image via Agence France-Presse @AFP, 14 October 2015

Israeli border guards stand at a roadblock set up on a road close to Jabal Mukaber. #AFP @gharabli_ahmadi: image via AureliaBAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 15 October 2015

Palestinian protesters are seen during clashes with Israeli soldiers near Bureij. #AFP @m55baba: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 15 October 2015

#Palestinians Clashes with Israeli security forces near the Jewish settlement of Beit El
: #AFP by Abbas Momani: image via AureliaBAILLY @AureliaBAILLY 12 October 2015 

Gideon Levy: Sleeping beauty has awakened

Fed up and angry, Generation Oslo leads Palestinian unrest
: image via Agence France-Presse @AFP, 14 October 2015

Israelis didn't know about the Palestinians' suffering beyond the dark mountains a half an hour away. For the most part, they didn’t want to know: Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 15 October 2015

What did you think, the Palestinians would sit still indefinitely? Did you really think Israel would continue on its course and they’d just bow their heads in submission?

Do you know many historical examples of that? Is there one example of a brutal occupation that persisted without stoking resistance? Apparently that's what you thought, otherwise there would have been public pressure long ago to act, because who wants terror?

But Israel slid into a deathly silence, with darkness over the abyss, and now it’s acting surprised. It voted for the right, for ultra-nationalism, racism and messianism, and now its feelings are hurt.

After all, what did it ask for but some quiet, to be left alone from the occupation to which it’s not even linked, and from the resistance that has fallen on it like a natural disaster. Sleeping beauty has awakened to the sound of stabbings and car-rammings, and through the cobwebs of sleep it’s asking: How did this happen? How can they be doing this to us again?

You can’t blame Israelis -- they were busy doing other things and knew nothing. Bar Refaeli’s wedding weighed heavily on people’s minds, as did events at the Allenby 40 nightclub. Israelis didn’t know exactly what was going on over there, beyond the dark mountains, half an hour’s drive from their homes -- for the most part, they didn’t want to know.

The media gladly succumbed to their wishes. They hid the crimes of the occupation from people’s sight -- such pictures don’t buoy ratings. The image of a Palestinian as a human being doesn’t sell newspapers. The media never reported what those people go through and what they really desire. It sufficed with diversions, incitement and propaganda. That pays better.

Politicians promised that everything would be fine, rabbis incited, settlers torched, the whole world is against us, just leave us alone. Then out of the blue those knife-wielding youngsters with murder in their eyes descended upon us. The quiet dissolved, security fizzled, businesses collapsed, dreams of jeep tours and quick vacations became uncertain.

The government blames the Islamic State and the left blames the lack of “peace talks.” Experts on Arab affairs — the southern branch of the Shin Bet security service and Military Intelligence -- say it’s because of “incitement.” The wise sages of security issues say, as is their wont, that this time the other side must be hit hard. Everyone agrees that the Arabs are to blame because they were born to kill. Through this stupefying haze all connection to reality has been lost.

In the meantime, Jerusalem has become the capital of apartheid. No other city so discriminates and dispossesses or is so violent. Gun-toting Mayor Nir Barkat, who’s largely responsible for the discrimination and dispossession in his city, incites against a third of its population -- an unbelievable phenomenon in its own right.

And you thought 300,000 people would acquiesce? That they’d watch settlers invade their homes as city hall denied them minimal services amid maximal property taxes? That they’d look on while the occupier arbitrarily denied them residence status, as if they were migrants in their own city?

That they would put up with Jewish gangs beating them up in full view of policemen and forgive? That a young man growing up in this reality -- with his neighborhood a Soweto -- would spend his life washing dishes and building homes for Jews with no chance of escaping his ghetto?

Did you really think right-wing provocations on the Temple Mount would pass quietly? That the burning of the Dawabsheh family would pass with no response -- even more so the defense minister’s arrogant claims that Israel knew who the perpetrators were but wouldn’t arrest them?

That their children would be burned helplessly with Israel not punishing anyone and they’d remain silent? That the response to all this would be more of the same: We’ll demolish, detain, dispossess, oppress, torture and kill more than ever -- and (Jewish) Zion will be redeemed? Did anyone really believe that?

Gideon Levy

Haaretz Correspondent

View of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. #AFP Photo by @gharabli_ahmad: image via AureliaBAILLY @AureliaBAILLY 15 October 2015

Palestinian communities and Israeli settlements in
#Jerusalem: image via Agence France-Presse @AFP, 15 October 2015

Israel sets up east Jerusalem checkpoints after violence spikes: image via Agence France-Presse @AFP, 14 October 2015

Israel sets up checkpoints in Palestinian east Jerusalem: image via Agence France-Presse @AFP, 14 October 2015


Lally said...

thank you for posting this Tom

TC said...

Thanks, Michael. Erich Fried, a Viennese Jew exiled to London after 1939, became a fierce critic of Zionism. He wrote from a unique vantage, with particular authority, and his poems are marked with the sting and bite of painful truth.

Barry Taylor said...

Powerful post, Tom. I read Fried (for the first time, here) and think yes, there are truths, and they're straightforward, and they can be stated clearly. Why is that so difficult and rare? Naive of me, I know.

Unknown said...

Yes, this poem of Fried has just the right bite of heartstrung lyricism and silver backing to mirror to the complacent Jewish public what israel has become, the victimized child become heartless victimizer in turn. It so perfectly expresses what we can barely bring ourselves to write... not ourselves viscerally in the thick of it. Now it only seems right and proper that it should (if Auden's wrong) bring some sanity about. Your sainted duty (Tom) hammering (as in a tuning fork) doggedly (but of an elegant pedigree) on.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Re photo 4: For the new Jewboy not in full regalia, it looks like the operation was just another ho-hum workout at the local gym—no sweat, mensch—but for how long?

Stephen Baraban said...

Will you at least criticize the person who used the word "Jewboy" in his comment, or is that slight bit of decency beyond you, Mr. Cark?

TC said...

Barry, Abdal-Hayy, Vassilis, many thanks, among other things for having the courage to actually hear what Erich Fried was saying.

Mr B, the name's Clark, not Cark, to start with. It appears you have not understood that our good friend Vassilis, a great poet and man of principle, is quoting Erich Fried's poem. And Erich Fried was quite serious about all this, as a matter of fact. His father was killed by the Nazis. The "option" of resettlement to Israel was later available to him, he declined, and subsequently expressed his revulsion concerning Israeli Zionism more than once, in writings that make almost everybody uncomfortable, right down to this moment.

TC said...

By the by, the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, the other half of today's mesmerizing double feature -- the half that wasn't dying of cancer when the text posted here was writ, the half that's a senior editor at Haaretz -- appeared yesterday on Democracy Now! in a discussion of the current (and seemingly, now, permanent) troubled state of things in Israel and Palestine. Presuming you'll have missed that, here's an interesting bit of the exchange between the show's co-host and Levy:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In an appearance at Harvard University, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to draw a link between the wave of violence and increased Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Unless we get going, a two-state solution could conceivably be stolen from everybody. And there’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years. Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing -- and a frustration among Israelis, who don’t see any movement. So, I look at that, and I say, you know, if that did explode -- and I pray and hope it won’t, and I think there are options to prevent that -- but we would inevitably be -- you know, at some point, we’re going to have to be engaged in working through those kinds of difficulties. So, better to try to find the ways to deal with it before that happens than later.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Secretary of State John Kerry speaking Tuesday. Gideon Levy, could you respond to what he said and give us a sense of what the mood there is?

GIDEON LEVY: Unfortunately, I must say that John Kerry’s declaration is rather hypocritic[al]. The Americans could have prevented long time ago; the Americans know exactly how to prevent it. If they really wanted to put an end to the occupation, the Israeli occupation would have come to its end long time ago. This policy of only serving carrots to Israel, of flattering to Israel again and again, is now decades long and never worked, never, ever worked. And the Americans never really tried the alternative path of putting pressure on Israel in order to bring Israel back to the international law, back to legal and order, back to morality.

And now John Kerry is saying that this can be prevented and should be prevented? Where were you in the last 67 years, in the last 48 years, when Israel is so much depending on the United States like never before, and you just gave Israel a carte blanche to go wild in Gaza, in the West Bank, again and again, build settlements, go for wars, and never tried to push Israel and to put an end to all this? So, really, with all the respect to John Kerry’s good intentions, this is not the way to deal with Israel after all those years.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But Israeli government officials, Gideon Levy, if you could give us a sense of how they’ve responded to remarks made by U.S. officials? The defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, for example, accused Washington of completely misreading the situation on the ground in Israel-Palestine. The public security minister called the U.S. remarks "foolish."

GIDEON LEVY: Yeah, they got all the same message from the prime minister’s office: now to condemn the United States. In the last years, they found out that condemning the United States doesn’t take any price. Israel can talk to and about the American administration as if Israel is the superpower and the United States is just like one of those small countries which depend on Israel. They allow themselves what no country in the world allows themselves vis-à-vis the United States, going and trying to sabotage an international agreement with Iran in the American Congress against the American administration. Things which are unheard of by any other country, Israel learned in the recent years that they are possible -- and not only possible, they are productive, and they are working. So, sure, Israel will attack now the Americans for any kind of criticism [...] -- because, you know, the Americans will not punish Israel for this.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Mr. Baraban—in lieu of Mr. Clark’s refusal to criticize my use (via Erich Fried) of the detestable (to you) term “Jewboy”, all I have to say is this: Though you sound like a decent enough fellow (I mean, “mensch”), shouldn’t you have focused more on Israel’s atrocious occupation of former Palestinian lands and the resultant devastation of property and lives rather than engaging in sophomoric linguistic “politically correct” horseshit? Or is that beyond you, since you seem to prefer putting the cart before the horse?