DAY 87:

May 4th, 2014 § 0 comments


The blog returned from a week’s hard work in the Languedoc to discover that, to its surprise, Fatah and Hamas had agreed to form a unity government. (Yet again, I hear you say.) No hint of this had appeared in the pages of the Midi-Libre, which was more concerned with the disgrace of Montpellier in the First Division, with the dubious figures appointed by the new Front National mayor of Béziers, and the outlook for the vendanges following the recent drought. So I had to do some hasty catching up with the analyses which had been thudding into my mailbox, from Rashid Khalidi to Amira Hass. What can I add?

I’ll simply note that those who (like Ali Abunimah) claim that a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation can’t work because the parties hate each other and have diametrically opposed principles are confused about what politics is about. Remember Hitler and Stalin in 1939, or Stalin and Roosevelt in 1941? I expect you’re too young.

In totally unrelated news, Zochrot is launching a new app for refugees, ‘iNakba’, which will enable you to locate 1948-era destroyed Palestinian villages and, I think, add your own and your family’s information. 8 p.m. in Tel Aviv if you’re there.

Human Rights Law

My old friend Slavoj Zizek’s observation that human rights lawyers are the modern equivalent of rock stars (no, maybe he didn’t say that exactly, but he has said many things along the same lines) found eloquent confirmation with the news that Amal-Clooney-Rexv2long-term bachelor George Clooney is engaged to the London-based Lebanese HR specialist Amal Amaluddin of Doughty St Chambers. (She’s represented  Julian Assange, but also Yulia Tymoshenko et al. Have they been meeting for dinner at the Ecuadorean embassy?) This blog hopes to open a dating column in which the defenders of the downtrodden and dispossessed can meet the rich and glamorous to their mutual advantage. I’d also like to point out to readers (I hesitate to say friends) in the more moderate wings of the jihadist movement that the kidnapping of a top Hollywood star while at an intimate date with a top Amnesty representative could be a double ransom opportunity.

As a sideline, I imagined a plot – could even be a West End musical. Lazy Jack is long-term unemployed, and his Jobcentre advisor requires him to do voluntary work at an asylum-seekers’ centre or lose his benefits. While working there, he runs into glamorous filmstar Scarlett whose agent has advised her to do similar work to boost her image. They sing duets, the asylum-seekers sing choruses, they click. I just need a villain, a composer, and a lyricist.


Returning briefly to the Languedoc: I was lambasted in the pages of Facebook for admitting I could only identify five birds from their song. No marks for honesty, then. Now I come up with a different problem: I can hear a hoopoehoopoe (one of the five) somewhere in the neighbourhood; it’s going on all the time driving me crazy. But I can’t see the dangblasted bird so as to get a fix on it with the old airgun. Is there, I wondered, an app for my phone which would locate the bird from the song? Of course there is, and as you might expect it’s a spinoff from the admirably advanced technology the military use to locate folks discussing plans for meetings in Tottenham or Kabul.


Having seen Canada’s Karen Solie highly praised in the LRB, I thought it best to take a look; and offer this for you to admire…

Gratitude toward the houseplants, shame
for what they must endure. Of particular concern,
the azalea, flowering like the gestures and cries
of someone off the trail who sees a
helicopter. And a long cold night is coming on.Is it dying or being killed?
When I’m 100 percent on what’s happening,
there’s still that niggling five. Too much
water, neglect, information. Decisions
made at the executive level.

Science tells us plants emit signatures and responses
on yet another frequency we cannot hear.
That’s all we need. When we were little we were
told our heads were in the clouds.
Now we suspect it is the opposite.


Today’s contribution is from the hugely popular Latvian postmodern folk group Iļģi (you may wonder how I managed to type that, or how you’d pronounce it). It’s a boppy, easy-listening number. Recommended.

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