Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Deb Reich, "The renegade lexicographer," Arab Media Internet Network, March 16, 2008.

from ePalestine

Israel / Palestine
People continue to refer to Israel as Israel, no matter onto whose land it expands or how far, as if Palestine could be made to disappear by neglecting to mention it, ever again. In fact, at this writing (March 2008), Palestine is alive and well, if excruciatingly battered and beleaguered, just beneath the surface of Israel, and is rising up all over the place, through the cracks in the sidewalk, in the most unstoppable manner imaginable. Palestine will not be suppressed. Whether we stand for it or against it, Palestine is unsuppressable. However new or not new the Palestinian identity may be, however indigenous or imported the name itself, Palestine is a fact, and Palestinians likewise. We Jews are not the only ones here. However long we have been here, in numbers large or small, we have never been alone here! Get used to it! I deal with this problem by referring to the country as Israel/Palestine, for now. Sometimes (for parity) I call it Palestine/Israel. Not a perfect solution, but not bad.

Aliya / Yerida
Incredibly, Jews around the world still sometimes decide to “make aliya to Israel.” An “aliya” is literally an ascent; the same word is used when a Jew is honored with the chance to read aloud, to the assembled congregation in a synagogue, a text from the Torah. For a believing Jew, immigrating to Israel is also deemed an ascent in spiritual terms. Meanwhile, the actual Israeli land mass is gradually sinking under the weight of its own grotesque moral dilemmas, combined with all that heavy ordnance, the giant home-razing bulldozers, the grim forty-foot Separation Barrier slabs of solid concrete, and the despair in Gaza, a burden too heavy for even geology to bear. To come here these days from Boston or Cincinnati or Buenos Aires must certainly involve descending, not ascending. “Yerida” (descending), which in Israel hitherto meant “emigration from Israel,” is what we should be calling immigration to Israel nowadays; and “making aliya” (heading for higher ground) should refer not to the new arrivals in Israel but to the tens of thousands of Israelis who decamp every year for saner havens abroad. If we don’t get our act together soon, the whole country will finally sink below sea level like the Jordan Rift Valley, and we’ll have to import Dutch experts to help us build dikes along the entire Mediterranean shore. (Won’t the guild of foreign labor import contractors have a field day with that one!)

Devout Jews will doubtless insist that immigrating to Israel is still an ascension in the spiritual sense, but - to put it as courteously as possible - they are utterly, absolutely wrong. Basic Jewish values are under severe and continuing assault here by the dark powers, and as of this writing, the dark powers are way ahead. You have to hunt heroically to find a public figure not accused of, or under indictment for, or about to be indicted for, some gross and sleazy act of corruption or moral turpitude (attention, younger readers: that means, like, you were caught stealing the taxpayers’ money or raping your secretary, or maybe starting a cruel and futile war with the neighbors, while holding a high public office). The military’s mismanagement of its outrageous power in this land has lately given rise to an organization called “Combatants for Peace,” a group of Israeli (and Palestinian) former soldiers and commandos who understand that force is never a permanent solution. They know that two peoples are going to have to live together here and that shedding more blood is not going to teach them how to do it. I wouldn’t be surprised to read one fine day that the saner generals and admirals in the USA who are appalled at the Bush cabal’s Dr. Strangelove-like scenarios for Iran, etc., have invited Combatants for Peace to teach them how to rebel against their own gang of power-crazed politicians drunk on the fantasy of imperial dominion via military adventurism. [link added -jlt]

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