DAY 118: Black

January 22nd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Back to Gaza,with the publication of a report from “Physicians for Human Rights – Israel’: About 200 pages, very full, recommended. Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 10.16.26Conclusions:

‘• The attacks were characterised by heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighbourhoods in a manner that failed to discriminate between legitimate targets and protected populations and caused widespread destruction of homes and civilian property. Such indiscriminate attacks, by aircraft, drones, artillery, tanks and gunships, were unlikely to have been the result of decisions made by individual soldiers or commanders; they must have entailed approval from top-level decision-makers in the Israeli military and/or government.

• The initiators of the attacks, despite giving some prior warnings of these attacks, failed to take the requisite precautions that would effectively enable the safe evacuation of the civilian population, including provision of safe spaces and routes. As a result, there was no guaranteed safe space in the Gaza Strip, nor were there any safe escape routes from it.

• In numerous cases double or multiple consecutive strikes on a single location led to multiple civilian casualties and to injuries and deaths among rescuers.

• Coordination of medical evacuation was often denied and many attacks on medical teams and facilities were reported. It is not clear whether such contravention of medical neutrality was the result of a policy established by senior decision-makers, a general permissive atmosphere leading to the flouting of norms, or the result of individual choices made on the ground during armed clashes.

• In Khuza’a, the reported conduct of specific troops in the area is indicative of additional serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.’

The report is detailed and punchy> I really hope it makes some impact.

Other news

Meanwhile, two Bedouin have been shot by police in the Naqab/Negev. On the other hand, it seems to have stopped raining in Gaza, quite warm in Nablus. If you’re in Mosul, I don’t suppose the weather is your main concern.

A reader (‘Zorg’) from a remote galaxy (not that remote, he or she or it lives in M87, about 16 million parsccs away, and so does take some time to get our posts, even with superfast broadband), writes:

‘I find your blog most entertaining and informative. I recently completed a Ph. D. in Earth Studies concentrating on the early 21st century C. E., so I can understand most of your references. But I’m puzzled by

Stephen Hawking aliens

Hawking and aliens

this character ‘Stephen Hawking’ whom you mention more than once, but who isn’t in my library? Can you tell me how I could put a tentacle on him or his work?’

Well, Zorg, this is a sad story and I’m not sure how I can help. Stephen Hawking is, or was by the time you get this, a brilliant and hugely famous theoretical physicist at Cambridge (England, not Mass.). However, unfortunately he became known as a supporter of the academic boycott of Israel; and this naturally attracted the wrath of Mossad, the israeli secret police. They decided that the most appropriate way of punishing Hawking for his actions would be to ‘lose’ all information about him which emanated from Earth in a black hole somewhere near what we call β Cygni, or Albireo – I don’t know what you call it, a double star about 130 parsecs away. [I recommend Wikipedia’s discussion of the star’s name if you want to get thoroughly confused about medieval Latin translations from Arabic.]606px-Cygnus_IAU.svg

Cygnus – with β at the bottom right

Given Hawking’s role in developing the theory of black holes, this was nicely ironical; and I’m not a good enough physicist to know how you can work around the problem. Having constructed the separation wall, I suppose that monkeying about with the large-scale geometry of space-time was a natural next step for the Zionist entity. It might be that I could consult Edward Snowden on how to construct a secure encryption for his (Hawking’s) book ‘A Brief History of Time’, whch would break the blockade. All the same, this is a worrying development for those of us who hope that our memory will outlive our puny bodies.


Many years ago, I wrote a couple of novels – actually one and a half. No one ever showed the slightest interest, but it’s occurred to me that at times when I’m short of material to fill these pages up I could insert some bits from these effusions. The problem, as the intelligent reader may have guessed, is that I wrote them around twenty years ago on antique computers whose hard drives had to be written off, and the material is comprehensively lost. I might have a hard copy somewhere, but given their dubious quality, is it worth resurrecting them?

The first, and more inventive, concerned a collection of characters in California’s Bay Area who had, or acquired, the ability to change sex unpredictably or at will; this naturally led to a great deal of fun and games although the plot was complicated  a bit by the intrusion of the Mob, crashed cars,

car2Crash at Ashley and Telegraph

the death of Princess Diana (that dates it) and a Croatian asylum-seeking prostitute. It ran itself into the ground in the Nevada  desert as I was ignorant of the geography, and the characters had their own concerns.

The second one, more conservative,  had as its hero an English estate agent called Charles based in Mèze (Hérault), who was naturally occupied in finding Languedoc village houses for his compatriots. He was a bit of a Hugh Grant figure I now realize – slightly rescued by his girlfriend Marie-Françoise (Marion Cotillard?) who was writing a thesis, obviously, on Paul Valéry; and by a half-hearted lesbian episode involving his mother. Good descriptions of food.

mezeMèze beach

I tried to include some murders and other violence, but they always turned out to be accidents or mistakes – Quaker roots do get in the way of free invention, which is why Jimi Hendrix wasn’t a Quaker, see my article on the subject in Studies in Media, Rock and Theology. But I digress.

Anyway, I would offer these masterpieces to the world to develop, sell the film rights or whatever, but they seem to have disappeared into the Information Age’s equivalent of a black hole. Which is where we came in.


It’s been a while since we’ve heard from dissident Chinese poets in these pages (have we ever?). So here are some words from Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned Nobel prizewinner Liu Xiaobo; who is herself under house arrest, and described as becoming depressed. Not surprisingly.

I don’t think this poem is the one she’s writing in the Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 11.57.29picture, but perhaps someone can enlighten me.


Is it a tree?

It’s me, alone.

Is it a winter tree?

It’s always like this, all year round.

Where are the leaves?

The leaves are farther away.

Why draw a tree?

I like how it stands.

Aren’t you tired of being a tree your whole life?

Even when exhausted, I want to stand.

Is there anyone with you?

There are birds.

I don’t see any.

Listen to the sound of fluttering wings.

Wouldn’t it be nice to draw birds on the tree?

I’m too old to see, blind.

Perhaps you don’t know how to draw a bird at all?

You’re right. I don’t know how.

You’re an old stubborn tree.

I am.


Nor do I know what the old stubborn tree thinks of manic fellow-dissident Ai Wei-Wei performing ‘Gangnam Style’. A bit old, but I hadn’t seen it; and a further contribution to the Chinese dissident theme. (?)

DAY 117: Je est un autre

January 13th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

As famed French poet Arthur Rimbaud used to say, though I’m not sure what he meant by it. If you’re like me, reader (probably not, I picture you as a tough old black policewoman or a willowy young PLO militant – what a rich fantasy life I lead -) you’ll have been bombarded by endless emails with all sorts of messages, anything between ‘Charlie were racist and had it coming‘; and ‘Charlie refuses to mean anything’; and ‘what about Anders Breivik and all the Christian mass murderers, not to mention the governments of X, Y and Z’; and ‘wasn’t it embarrassing how Bibi behaved on the march‘ and

6a00d83451b71f69e201b8d0be34ca970c-400wiPhotoshopped picture of world leaders from a Haredi newspaper, with no females

(most recently) ‘did you see how the photo of the world leaders marching is a complete fake as there’s no crowd behind them’. So that finally your moral compass is like spaghetti – how’s that for a mixed metaphor? – and you stop reading emails at all. Which might be the most moral and rational response.


Haaretz cartoon comparing Charlie deaths with the deaths of 13 journalists in the attacks on Gaza – which, not surprisingly, has itself attracted death threats.

Myself, I tend, in a spirit of caution, to avoid attacks on world religions, although attacks on the state can be equally hazardous. God, who in my view is the most dangerous character of all, I did criticize for various actions like the Boxing Day tsunami – see my poem ‘God reads theodicy’ which you can find at, by scrolling down a ways.This was written back in 2004 as I say, and God hasn’t yet sent anyone to shoot me, or even – as with Job – smitten me with sore boils. (But he smote Job – or rather, allowed Satan to smite him – for being blameless.

Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils c.1826 by William Blake 1757-1827

Typical.) It’s true I haven’t portrayed him in cartoons, can’t draw and better things to do with my time.

I should get back to Rimbaud and the problem of identity, but that might lead us into Lacan, the mirror stage and schizophrenia and disturb my sleep even more.

In other news, Kim Sengupta writes of 500 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean, largely because of European racist exclusionary policies:

‘They were four boys, cousins, killed by Israeli missiles while playing on a beach in July. The lethal attack took place next to a hotel where journalists were staying and received international media coverage, a dreadful and poignant symbol of the terrible suffering of Gaza’s people during last summer’s savage war.

The funeral of the Bakr boys, sons of fishermen aged between seven and 11, took place against a background thunder of more bombs landing. It was then that Mowfaq, another cousin, decided that he must get his family away from a land which had been repeatedly visited by conflict. “Even if we don’t lose anyone else this time, who knows what will happen the next time,” he told his brother.

Two months later, Mowfaq took his family of eight on a journey which they hoped would lead to new lives, new opportunities away from death and destruction. After slipping across the Egyptian border under the cover of darkness, they were taken on a secret voyage from the port of Dalmietta.

pg-29-gaza-3Ayman Bakr is trying to find out how his relatives died

Four days later, near Malta, their boat was sunk by the traffickers, ramming it with another one.

Around 500 people, 100 of them children, drowned when the smugglers rammed the boat with another one after a violent row with the passengers. Mowfaq and his family, including a one-year-old granddaughter, Malak, were among them. They were not the only members of the Bakr clan to die. There were 28 others, who had moved to Syria seven years ago and were trying to escape the bloodshed which had engulfed the country. The overwhelming numbers of those killed were from Gaza, the first time that Palestinians, apart from a few individuals, had been on the illicit route to the southern shores of Europe.

Thousands had made it to land, some rescued after being abandoned by the smugglers, as happened with a ship left drifting in the Ionian Sea, off Corfu, last week. But around 2,500 have died or gone missing at sea, Many had been victims of the traffickers they had paid to take them on the journey. Just 10 people, among them a two-year-old girl, survived from the boat carrying the Bakrs. They were taken, separately, to Italy, Malta and Crete.

Some of the passengers from Gaza had paid the traffickers the fee of $2,500 each by pooling together the money given to them and their relations to repair homes destroyed in the Israeli attacks or rent property.

Which brings me back, as usual, to proportionality. How do you compare 500 drowned Gazan refugees with ten shot journalists? I’d like to know.

As we’re on drowning, here’s a short fragment from David Dabydeen’s poem ‘Turner’, which takes off from the currently very fashionable J. W. M. Turner’s painting of slave drownings:

“Nigger,” it cries, loosening from the hook

Of my desire, drifting away from

My body of lies. I wanted to teach it

A redemptive song, fashion new descriptions

Of things, new colours fountaining out of form.

I wanted to begin anew in the sea

But the child would not bear the future

Nor its inventions, and my face was rooted

In the ground of memory.


I’ll try to find some more of this; but meanwhile, in a restorative moment of solidarity with the French, here is their patriotic anti-British sea song ‘Le Trente-et-Un du Mois d’Août’.

DAY 116: HNY

January 6th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

2014 was so dreadful, it’s hard to think 2015 can be worse short of nuclear war. Which is why this blog is making no predictions. I note that the year of the Goat starts » Read the rest of this entry «

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