DAY 43 – Nakba

May 17th, 2013 § 0 comments

This lazy, or overextended, blog (depending on how you see it), missed getting out its intended edition for Nakba Day, May 15th; and the Nakba – as commentators agree – continues week by week, day by day.176

The Nakba

However, a strange incident in celebrity culture: – Stephen Hawking finally brought the existence of the boycott movement (and its respectability) to the attention of many who were probably unaware of it.blackhole

A black hole

Comment from the Jewish Daily Forward (so as to ensure balance):

WASHINGTON — In the battle between supporters of Israel and those calling for a boycott of the Jewish state success is measured to a great extent by symbolic victories. And nothing makes for more of a symbolic victory than getting the most prominent living scientist to boycott Israel’s most prestigious gathering.

Such was the impact of British physicist Stephen Hawking’s surprise withdrawal from Israel’s Presidential Conference at the request of pro-Palestinian activists.

For supporters of the BDS movement, who call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel, Hawking’s decision was cause for unprecedented celebration. Not only is Hawking a world-leading scientist who succeeded in making theoretical physics and cosmology accessible to laymen, he also demonstrated, in his struggle with a debilitating nervous system disease, the strength of mind over body. The event Hawking chose to boycott — an international gathering celebrating the 90th birthday of Israel’s most well-known leader, Shimon Peres — added to the BDS movement’s triumph.

“This is a fantastic move, a sort of watershed moment,” BDS activist Sami Hermez said in a May 10 interview on Al Jazeera TV. “When someone like that boycotts Israel, you have the possibility of a snowball effect and it speaks to the growing nature of the BDS movement.”

Supporters of Israel did not dispute the significance of Hawking joining the BDS camp, but they did question the significance of the move for future attempts to boycott Israel. Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, called the decision “a PR gift to the movement,” but noted at the same time that putting Hawking’s move in perspective would require acknowledging that “for every high-profile person who acquiesces to those demanding a boycott, there are dozens of others who do not succumb to this pressure.”

Reaction in Israel and around the world to Hawking’s move helped enforce the notion that Hawking was more than another name on the list of celebrities refusing to visit Israel. The chairman of the Presidential Conference, Israel Maimon, responded angrily, calling the decision “outrageous and improper.” Maimon added that the imposition of such a boycott is “incompatible with open, democratic dialogue.” The British press, which covered the Hawking affair closely, devoted lengthy articles to the decision, voicing opinions both favoring the boycott and opposing it. In the American media, usually known to lean more in favor of Israel than the European press does, the mainstream Boston Globe stood out by publishing an editorial that labeled the Israeli response an “overreaction” and called Hawking’s move a “reasonable way to express one’s political views.”

Having just started reading Little Women (out loud, to granddaughter – which may take even longer than Nostromo), I find myself irresistibly reminded of the moment when Rachel commits the worst plot-spoiler ever by telling Joey that Beth dies. (Apologies to any of you who didn’t know it – now I’ve spoilt it for you. And while we’re on the subject, here’s

primary_Peanuts_Kane-thumb-500x346-18059-1
Lucy playing the same trick on Linus. Is there a gender stereotype, I wonder, setting these stories side by side?

On a completely different subject, the weirdest/stupidest/most unbelievable story of the week (or longer) suggested that scientists, who are increasingly mad, were now reckoning that they could solve the problem which has eluded us all so far of predicting when we’ll die  - except (and this seems to be the point)  if we’re depressed. One naturally wants to disprove them by asking for a prediction of one’s date of death based on genetics and then walking under a bus; but it would probably be concluded that this behaviour was the result of depression, so confirmed the theory. Anyway, the report (in the Independent) says:

‘The researchers found that they could estimate a healthy person’s time of death to within a few hours by analysing the activity levels of a set of genes – whether they are switched on ‘high’ or ‘low’ – within certain regions of the deceased brain.

However, this correlation broke down when they analysed the autopsied brains of people who had suffered from depression. Their gene activity bore little relationship to the hour of death, which indicated they suffered a severely disrupted sleeping pattern, the scientists found.’

Does this mean what I think it means? Please help restore my faith in Enlightenment rationality by posting a quick explanation.

 

I’ve been looking for a poem by famed Indian poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, having heard enough of his son Amitabh for the time being. There are plenty of them posted, but not with a translation and my Hindi really isn’t up to reading them even if yours is, gentle reader. However, here’s one.

अग्निपथ

वृक्ष हों भले खड़े,
हों घने, हों बड़े,
एक पत्र छाँह भी
मांग मत! मांग मत! मांग मत!
अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ!

तू न थकेगा कभी,
तू न थमेगा कभी,
तू न मुड़ेगा कभी,
कर शपथ! कर शपथ! कर शपथ!
अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ!

यह महान दृश्य है,
चल रहा मनुष्य है,
अश्रु, स्वेद, रक्त से
लथ-पथ, लथ-पथ, लथ-पथ,
अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ!

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

Vriksh hon bhale khade,
Hon ghane, hoh bade,
Ek patra chhah bhi
Maang mat! Maang mat! Maang mat!
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

Tu na thakega kabhi,
Tu na thamega kabhi,
Tu na mudega kabhi,
Kar shapath! Kar shapath! Kar shapath!
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

Yeh mahaan drishya hai,
Chal raha manushya hai
Ashru, swed, rakt se
Lath-path, lath-path, lath-path,
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

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

Agneepath – English Translation

Even if there are mighty trees all around you,
Let them be shady, let them be huge,
But, even for the shade of a single leaf,
Beg not, beg never, ask never!
The path of fire you shall tread! The path of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

You shall never tire,
You shall never slow down,
You shall never turn back,
This oath you will take today!
This oath you will fulfill in your life!
Take this oath!
And walk the Path of Fire, every single day!
The oath of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

What greater spectacle,
Than to see such a man walk,
Who in tears, sweat and blood,
Is soaked, covered and coated;
And still walks on in the Path of fire!
Walks the path of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

Agneepath (अग्निपथ)

A poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Translated into english by Riku Sayuj.

Leave a Reply