DAY 142: Еден јазик никогаш не е доволен

August 27th, 2015 § 0 comments

A useful phrase for us refugees, it’s the Macedonian for ‘One language is never enough’. And as you get shunted from Greece (which is under the thumb of the brutal Merkel and throws you out) in the direction of Germany (which is under the thumb of the brutal Merkel and confusingly welcomes you), you might feel a) that you needed more languages and b) that you were on increasingly shifting moral ground. Or, to coin a phrase, Моето летачко возило е полно со јагули

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(My hovercraft is full of eels).

How times change! In Arendt’s satirical 1943 article ‘We Refugees’, the point is made that new arrivals (in the US, in 1939) didn’t like to be called refugees. They preferred – ironically, given the present situation – to be seen as economic migrants, who had chosen to settle in the US of their own free will. The refugees of Arendt’s time were hoping to become good Americans; and indeed many of them did. But are such options open to today’s refugees? Not where they are at present. [And not if they are of Palestinian descent and want to visit Israel on a US passport.] This blog is feeling a bit amateurish, having shifted from the familiar destruction of houses, families and 18-08-2015-bethlehem-bir-ouna-speach-of-the-priest-on-the-land-of-uprooted-olive-trees-eappi-k-kozlakolive trees in the West Bank to the different miseries of Syrians, Afghans and Africans in Macedonia or in Calais. As an introductory guide, here’s a first hand report by Cassy Paris: (for the rest see here):

‘If you know me please read this, feel free to share it if it resonates with you.

I think that the running theme that seems to come out of a visit to calais sprawling new jungle migrant camp is that its a place that verges on being inexplicable in words alone.
I consider myself to be a really strong person emotionally and yet my very short visit there to drop off the provisions that many of you kindly paid for has shaken my understanding of myself to its very core.
I consider myself to be compassionate, I am not compassionate enough.
I consider myself to be informed, I am not informed enough.
I believe that I see everyone as equal, 6000I realise it is not enough to just “believe” this.
I think I question everything I read in the media, I now know that I don’t even come close.
I always thought that my values rested firmly in equality. I know now that my version of equality is completely wrapped up in my own little bubble of experience.
I have proudly called myself fearless, yet I am yet to truly know what fear is.
I don’t think of myself as materialistic, yet the safety of my expensive car was predominant in my thoughts as I drove down the dirt road

schoolChemin des Dunes school

of Chemin Des Dunes.
I thought I was fairly worldly, yet I met people who had fled from countries that I didn’t know existed to escape genocides that I didn’t know were happening.
I thought so much and one by one my misconceptions and my pre conceived ideas got knocked down like toy soldiers.

I want to thank every single person who so willingly gave me money so that I could drive over to drop sanitary provisions to the women who are in need. I don’t want any of you to think it wasn’t worth it, it was worth it, I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful but I do not want or expect thanks from people who are there, they should not have to thank their equal who has so much more when they were not to blame for what has happened in their countries.

Where a person is born is nothing but circumstance, luck, a roll of the dice.
For the first time in my life I truly know that we could be them and they could be us, it isn’t like watching band aid or children in need. Its a car crash of realisation that has left me feeling constantly nauseous at my own egocentric motivations and beliefs.

The 3 year old Sudanese girl with the big smile standing in a pile of rubbish who was hungry dirty and cold who still managed a massive grin at me. She could have been my daughter, how did she get here from Sudan? Why did they leave? How many of their friends and family died on the way? I watch video footage of little childrens bodies bobbing in the water and I no longer feel like Im watching something that happened to someone else, with that air of removal from it. For a long time I have chosen not to watch the news because it makes me so sad. I realise how laughable it is as I write that, I chose to stay UNINFORMED because my lack of ACTION about something made me feel uncomfortable.

The sweet and seriously funny man from Kosovo who told managed to giggle with me as he hobbled around on ill fitted crutches typing his name into my phone so I could see how smart he is on his Facebook photographs before all of this happened, with his plastered leg over oil cans, rusty metal, wood, half a shopping trolly. He had nothing but positive things to say about everyone, the doctors at the hospital, the people from the UK, somewhere he called home for over 10 years before he got deported back to somewhere he can no longer build a life.The only time he didn’t smile was when he talked of his friend who got electrocuted and died jumping on the train. “He was so desperate he didn’t think, you have to think first” as he drew me a map in the sand of the Eurotunnels stop points.’

Talking of ethics, and I suppose in a way we were (who is my neighbour, and how can I behave less badly to her?), I’ve become increasingly worried about people whose professional work requires them constantly to lie, or dissemble. (Those whose professional work requires lust or avarice have only themselves to blame.) What stress such people must suffer, what torments at the end of each day! Having spent much too long worrying about Mark Regev

skeptical-regevwhose condition must indeed be dire, I have recently turned to the announcers on Radio 3. These unfortunates are forced as part of their terms of employment to use the same bright tone of anticipation for a nondescript madrigal, a Bach cantata, a Mozart quartet, the Flying Dutchman, a Nielsen symphony, ToscaSatyagraha, a newly discovered 19th century Belgian organ work… It stands to reason that they can’t like all of these works, so they must be being dishonest half the time if not more. And making rude comments off-mike (as they probably do) doesn’t count, as it’s what you communicate that counts; or Regev could salve his conscience by editing an undercover Youtube channel called, say, ‘I work for a gang of murderous war criminals’.

But for further suggestions on Regev’s arguments see a site apparently called ‘Islam and Evolution’, which quotes Regev as saying: “The postmodern critiques of language and existence itself are well-known. While these casualties are heartbreaking, we cannot be absolutely certain that our phenomenological experience of the events are not a sheer mental construct.” I don’t know if this argument would work for the Radio 3 announcers.

In my grandparents’ time (in the restricted world of Anglican England, let’s say), you had something called your ‘besetting sin’ – weak point, to put it more tolerantly. Mine is not lying – well, I do sometimes bend the truth but for excellent reasons. Rather, it is, and always has been laziness, particularly about getting mylaziness own work done. Faced with the urgent need to write 5000 words on the application of mathematics to class oppression (with special reference to mobile phones), or to learn a hundred more words of spoken Arabic, I turn to making plum crumble or doing a crossword; neither of which is going to earn me much merit or advance the condition of the toiling masses. What I need is the equivalent of a confessor or psychoanalyst who could advise me in my moral turmoil. I suppose that’s the point of Facebook friends, you write down your  guilts and miseries and they give an opinion and absolve you; but from observation, Facebook friends are about as much use as eels (to return to them) when it comes to ethics. For every one who admires your stand there’s another who despises it, and they are generally more interested in discussing last night’s consumption of prosecco and this morning’s hangover (their own).

Refugees and genetics

Yes, it must have occurred to you, as it has to me, and certainly to the rank and file of UKIP, that all these refugees are going to cause a major fuckup in the British gene pool. And here we might as well return to the vexed question of whether the Jews (Ashkenazim, Sephardim, or Mizrahim) are more related to the Palestinians than to each other. This one (I’ve been searching the Internet) is certainly going to run and run. A theory favoured by some and considered worthless by others is that:

1. After the Temple was destroyed, the people of Palestine remained as Jews, or converted to Christianity, and/or later to Islam or Quakerism, or remained agnostic. They are the ancestors (broadly) of the Palestinians.

2. Independently, some other guys, the notorious Khazars, in the Ukraine, who lived in shtetls and played klezmer music, Traditional Klezmer band original gouache by Sarah Hagay - Copyconverted to Judaism. They are the ancestors of the Ashkenazim and have a ‘significantly higher frequency of the R-M17 haplogroup’ than Sephardic and Kurdish Jews (Almut Nebel, Dvora Filon, Marina Faerman, Himla Soodyall and Ariella Oppenheim, ’Y chromosome evidence for a founder effect in Ashkenazi Jews’, European Journal of Human Genetics (2005) 13, 388–391.)

This doen’t really help us with the Sephardim let alone the Ethiopians. Why not have a conference on it and invite me? (Just a suggestion.)

I’ve always taken the traditional socialist view that you can’t trust genetics as a guide to how someone is going to turn out, although Damien in The Omentumblr_mbtpsyEU1Z1qb2xtyo1_400 suggests that if your father is the Devil, the Y-chromosomes are going to be pretty determining. But those of us who are trying to put what’s left of our brains to work so as to imagine how the children of Abraham can coexist in a single secular democratic state had better make a start on finding ways of coping with the genes. I suggest beginning with the Cohanim, who surely can deal with the Devil if only by ignoring him.

The Refugee

 By Hanna Saadah

I leave with barren arms that used to bear
The fruits of life with young, unmindful air
I flee with years upon my heals and drought
Within my eyes; where do I go, oh where?

Of life I am a restless wandering breath
Romantic, final, intimate like death
Why do I shed my leaves in spring and waste
My ancient wine upon this heedless earth?

Cities are mourning, robed in smoky skies
I hear them coughing bombs and bloody cries
From heaps of pregnant rubble, quickening
With mothers’ arms and little children’s eyes.

But refugees can hardly mourn their dead
Too many die each day, nor home nor bread
While all the silent world sits watching
Justice of the bombs engulf the meek and spread.

I am the hunting thorn of truth they heed
The faith, the goal, the dream my people need
And I persist a sore upon their eyes
And more, a rose upon our tombs that bleed.

I will not hate, I love, I will not hate
I am the noble son of earth and fate
Nor will I yield to justice of the bombs
I am the patient truth and I can wait.


Inevitably, we have a track from some Syrian musicians at Calais, from November last year.

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