Hold It All

Category: Palestine

The Path of Sympathy in a Time of Plague

Tarrou was swinging his leg, tapping he terrace lightly with his heel, as he concluded. After a short silence the doctor raised himself a little in his chair and asked if Tarrou had an idea of the path to follow for attaining peace.  “Yes,” he replied. “The path of sympathy.” Albert Camus, The Plague, 225

 

The best part of Camus’s novel is the theme of commitment.  In a time when there is plague (HIV/AIDS, empire, military occupation, to name three contemporary plagues people suffer from), what options do people exercise?  Tarrou, Rieux, Grand, and eventually Rambert all take in one way or another “the path of sympathy,” the way of “comprehension,” which is Tarrou’s word for his code of morals.

Tarrou, who wanted to be a saint without God, is a hero, even with all his contradictions (and don’t we all have our own?):  he looks unflinchingly at the plague and works to combat it, and risks his life. Ultimately, he dies. He is like Rachel Corrie: This must stop – but he couldn’t stop the plague, he could only accompany the victims.  And not be condemning or judgmental.  

And what is true religiosity in a time of plague? It is praxis, it is the path of sympathy, and you can take the dogmas, doctrines, and rituals—who needs them? It is Yitz Greenberg’s anguished cri de coeur: No theology talk is credible; pull the children out of the burning pits!

This means knowing that children are being burned alive (recall Steiner’s  refusal to sit still). This means going near to where the children are, you’ve got to see it.  And then doing something.  But we keep our distance; we offer solidarity from afar, which alas isn’t much. Or is it? I myself said that “the real work” on behalf of Palestine was back in the US, what were we really doing to fight the plague there, in Gaza? It may have seemed heroic and risky from the stateside perspective. But I was convinced that we have more to contribute here, working to cut off the source of the funding and ideological support for the occupation, than doing accompaniment work.  But it’s ambos: Both/and: I had that opportunity then, I have this opportunity now, to be vigilant.  Here’s Rieux’s critique of distance:  “…sometimes at midnight, in the great silence of the sleep-bound  town, the doctor turned on his wireless before going to bed for the few hours’ sleep he allowed himself. And from the ends of the earth, across thousands of miles of land and sea, kindly, well-meaning speakers tried to voice their fellow-feeling, and indeed did so, but at the same time proved the utter incapacity of every man truly to share in suffering which he cannot see. ‘Oran! Oran!’ In vain the call rang over oceans, in vain Rieux listened hopefully; always the tide of eloquence began to flow, bringing home still more the unbridgeable gulf that lay between Grand and the speaker. ‘Oran, we’re with you!’ they called emotionally. But not, the doctor told himself, to love or to die together—and that’s the only way. They’re too remote.” [124] Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Bob Suberi: A Delegation to Palestine

Growing up as a Labor Zionist in the 50’s and 60’s instilled a sense of community and pride in being a Jew. Although I grew up in a predominately white Christian suburb of Los Angeles, I spent my childhood summers at Habonim, a Labor Zionist camp where my mother worked as the camp cook and “mother.” At the tender age of 10 or 11 I was introduced to Socialism, Zionism, liberal politics and the inspiring folk songs of the labor movement and its impact on the settlement of the Jewish homeland. We sang and danced in celebration of the liberation of the Jewish people and the establishment of the State of Israel. Throughout my life I viewed Israel through this lens; a haven for a persecuted people in an otherwise vacant land. The problem, of course, is the fact that the land was not vacant. And the rationale for displacing the Palestinian occupants, a process that continues, has become more difficult to justify. 

Our delegation to Palestine was sponsored by the Center for Jewish Non-Violence, a group of Diaspora Jewish activists committed to defending the human rights of Palestinians. We call it co-resistance and we work at the direction of Palestinians along with other concerned groups within Israel. We also acknowledge the moral injury inflicted by the Israeli government upon its own citizens by their mistreatment of Palestinians. I quote Carlos Mesters, the Carmelite liberation theologian:   “If I hit you, I am dehumanizing you, but much more than that, I’m dehumanizing myself. The moment I mistreat someone I’m hurting myself more.”

Join us
Sunday 1 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Bob begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Bill Quick and Dianne Lee
7457 Wise Avenue
Richmond Heights, MO
63117

Six Short Chapters from Forthcoming Book, “Dear Love of Comrades”

The Affordable Care Act Won’t Help Me Here

Dear Nima
I have three appointments–

In cardiology, cardiology
Hematology–

In the next two weeks
But there’s no doctor I can see about missing you

“This Is It” by Eileen McGrath Mosher

Shim-dawg (lovingly named),

My mantra this past week, “This is it,” without knowing it, consciously, it has been on your FB wall. I wondered but without a lot of curiosity what that meant to you. Here is why it has been so important to me.

I have to tell myself every minute that this is my new reality… my brain can only seem to recall it for a mere moment that this is it: This is life, this is my home, my job, my kids, my family but not as it has ever been before. It is not my dreams, my forecast, my hope, my desire.

But it is full of love, children laughing, neighbors calling, family supporting, community praying. Moments of pain so deep and literally body numbing and moments of laughter so full that my muscles ache, moments I feel the air leave my body requiring a painful deep breath as if I just broke the surface of the after after nearly drowning. This is it.

Right here, right now, it is all we have. So despite all of it, be kind, live consciously, aware of your breath, the trees CO2 exchange and your neighbors’ inhale. All of us sharing intimately this shared NOW.

This is it.

Eileen (I-dawg)

 

With the Barakats

Last night, Sharifa Barakat and I had dinner at Central Café (along with Imman Musa and Dania Saffaf Atienza). Sarah Dwidar had introduced me to Sharifa her freshman year at SLU on sunny day on West Pine. Later, she took a Social Justice class with me, and we were part of SLU Solidarity with Palestine. I have long been impressed with her humor, love of literature, and keen sense of responsibility. A while back, she led us in a close reading of Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun, and Other Palestinian Stories.

After dinner, the two of us walked to Left Bank Books to hear author Ibtisam Barakat (no relation to Sharifa) share her philosophy and read from her new book, Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine. Someone asked her a question about the political solution to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian people, culture, and land, and she said, point-blank, there’s no solution politically, there can only be a “soul-lution.” Accordingly, her contribution is to tell the story of her life as a Palestinian in Palestine and the Diaspora. She has published two books so far, and she mentioned at least three others to come, insha’allah. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Footnotes

1.

My idea of the ideal text is still the Talmud. I love the idea of parallel texts, with long, discursive footnotes and marginal commentary, texts commenting on texts.

–Noam Chomsky, Mother Jones interview, 1987

2.

Text from Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, p. 386 (South End Press, 1983):

[On the Sabra-Shatila massacres] There was also a reaction from Elie Wiesel, who is much revered internationally and in the United States for his writings on the Holocaust and on moral standards and has been proposed many times for the Nobel Peace Prize for these writings, again for 1983, by half the members of Congress according to the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.* Read the rest of this entry »

Five More Chapters of Forthcoming Manuscript, Dear Love of Comrades

Alive beyond Alive
by Loyola Walter

My friend Loyola works at Mount Saint Joseph (she’s chair of the Art Department) and knew Pete Mosher. We reminisced last night and today before Pete’s funeral. Cab picked me up at Lo’s this morning and we went to Saint Clare’s Church on Cedar Avenue. Lo sent the following to me this afternoon as Cab, Jane, Allison Lind, and I were returning to Saint Louis.

I meet Cab
(when she comes to get Markie for the funeral)
and suddenly I become aware
of all the forms that Pete is taking.
There she is, a new person to me, in her dark blue dress coat and shoes,
thin delicate face with large eyes and a small serious smile “glad to meet you”
and in the muddy cold street, air silver with rain and the melting of snow
I see him, smiling,
see
All the forms he is now taking
All the beautiful, one-of-a-kind forms.
Alive beyond alive.

______________________

Read the rest of this entry »

Reading Václav Havel I Think of Gideon Levy

Glucksman says the role of the intellectual is to warn, to predict horrors, to be a Cassandra who tell us  what is going on outside the walls of the city.  I share this notion….I too think the intellectual should constantly disturb, should bear witness to the misery of the world, should be provocative by being independent, should rebel against all hidden and open pressure and manipulations, should be the chief doubter of systems, of power and its incantations, should be a witness to their mendacity.  For this very reason, an intellectual cannot fit into any role that might be assigned to him, nor can he ever be made to fit into any of the histories written by the victors.  An intellectual essentially doesn’t belong anywhere; he stands out as an irritant wherever he is; he does not fit into any pigeonhole completely. –Havel, Disturbing the Peace

 

 

Share the Wealth with Shahed Megdal: The Arab Conference at Harvard

About the conference: Arab Conference at Harvard is the largest Arab conference in America, bringing together thousands of students and professionals to discuss key issues with the region’s most prominent politicians, business people, and civil society leaders. The conference focuses on different issues happening in the Middle East as well as to Arabs around the world. Throughout the networking, workshops, and panels, attendees are learning about the ways we can help raise awareness, refugees, and other key issues.

What I did there and how it impacted me: Attending the conference as a volunteer. I represented 2 refugees organizations that they were not able to send representatives. I volunteered in the healthcare track as well as the refugee fundraiser and helped raise > $50,000 for refugees.

Growing up as a refugee myself, having this opportunity was a big thing for me. Being able to help my people, and my community while I’m here in the United States, meant a lot to me. The conference opened my eyes and mind on many issues that are happening in the Middle East such as refugees, sexual assault, LGBTQ+ community assault, and so much more. The conference’s panels and workshops improved my leadership skills and increased my understanding on many things. Read the rest of this entry »

Sara Roy speaks to Germans

Your sense of guilt, if that is the correct word, should not derive from criticizing Israel. It should reside in remaining silent in the face of injustice as so many of your forebears did before, during and after the Holocaust. —On Equating BDS With Anti-Semitism: a Letter to the Members of the German Government

The Essential Edward Said–Summer Class 2019

Edward Said was a voice of sanity and courage for literally millions of people around the world and made a brilliant contribution to modern culture and understanding. He was the most eloquent, knowledgeable, and thoughtful spokesperson for Palestinian emancipation. His death was a loss for international intellectual life, for the suffering and oppressed all over the world, and for universal principles of justice and freedom.
—Noam Chomsky

I began reading Edward Said’s political works in the early 1990s after traveling to the West Bank and Gaza during the first intifada. His writing was an invaluable resource for people questioning U.S. foreign policy with Iraq as well as Israel. Even in the early 1980s he was a lucid critic of U.S. political and cultural propaganda on Islam. His probing work on intellectuals and Palestine informed my first book, Elie Wiesel and the Politics of Moral Leadership, published in 2001. My 2015 novel Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine was an attempt to meet a challenge posed years earlier by Said: “The major task—I say this actually without any qualification whatever—the major task of the American or the Palestinian or the Israeli intellectual of the Left is to reveal the disparity between the so-called two sides, which appear rhetorically and ideologically to be in perfect balance but are not in fact. To reveal that there is an oppressed and an oppressor, a victim and a victimizer, and unless we recognize that, we’re nowhere.”

In this summer class we will make good use of the recently published book, The Selected Works of Edward Said, 1966-2006. We will read one or two essays for each session, discuss with each other the enduring relevance of Said’s perspectives, and reflect on their implications in our journals during class and throughout the week. Primary emphasis will be given to Said’s investigations of Middle East political and cultural issues. But we will also reflect on such topics as activism, the canon, contrapuntal reading, identity, music, remembrance, and solidarity.

Our class will meet weekly on Wednesdays beginning June 12 and finish on July 31. We begin at 6:30 p.m. and go until 8:00. Andrew Wimmer will host us at his home at 4400 Arco Avenue (park around 1077 Newstead) 63110.

Tuition is $175.00 payable to me by check or Paypal.

Email me if you are interested: markjchmiel@gmail.com.

What Rachel Corrie’s work in Gaza recognized, however, was precisely the gravity and the density of the living history of the Palestinian people as a national community, not merely as a collection of deprived refugees. That is what she was in solidarity with. And we need to remember that that kind of solidarity is no longer confined to a small number of intrepid souls here and there but is recognized the world over. In the past six months I have lectured on four continents to many thousands of people. What brings them together is Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people, which is now a byword for emancipation and enlightenment, regardless of all the vilification heaped on them by their enemies.
—Edward Said, 2003

Since You’ll Never Hear This on Fox or NPR Programs, Allow Me to Remark…

The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves
The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves Read the rest of this entry »