tiger’s leap into the past

Roland Barthes  once claimed  that a society produces images, splices of mythologies peddled,  as magical instruments to enforce a  social order.All nations have their founding mythologies, the necessary illusions that maintain the social hierarchy. In Israel, it was  conquering and blooming of the desert, the redemptive act of the the miracle of reclamation, the pioneer, the new muscular Hebrew of Biblical slaying and smoting persona, the most common and most romantic cliche about Israel.

But what is to be made of this? How can one frame the violence of the mythology, the struggle, the futility of acts that engender mutual destruction? What Walter Benjamin called the utopian and messianic blast of the horizon of history itself. Benjamin’s revolutionary “tiger’s leap into the past” based on a messianic standstill of history, an alternative concept of history and temporality, “now time” as opposed to evolution and linearity….

---include Rona Yefman (famous in particular for her video of Pippi Longstocking trying to pull apart the Wall – “Pipi at Abu Dis”), ...Read More:http://slouchingtowardsbushwick.wordpress.com/category/uncategorized/page/2/

Richard Lemm: A.M. Klein refers to the Jerusalem riots of August 1929, triggered by a dispute over the Wailing Wall, at that time a Holy Muslim property, the Buraq, the third most sacred shrine in Islam . Muslim notables and worshippers objected to certain Jewish observances at the Wall. A crowd of young Jewish men “staged a hitherto unprecedented procession through the streets of Jerusalem to the foot of the Wailing Wall. There they raised the Jewish flag and sang the Zionist anthem–Hatikvah–against the specific instructions of the (British) High Commissioner” . Muslims held a counter-demonstration, and bloodshed followed. The religious dispute, as Klein knew, fueled the growing fire of Arab hostility toward Zionism.

Adi Nes. The Last Supper. ---Buber had been a Zionist since 1888, but as far back as 1918 (soon after in the Balfour Declaration the British recognized a Jewish National Home in Palestine) he rejected what he called the concept of "a Jewish state with cannons, flags and military decorations." He and his colleagues worked for a bi-national Palestine based not on a colonial alliance but on cooperation and parity between Jews and Arabs. A year after official Zionist policy achieved its aim of Jewish statehood in 1949, Buber expressed his fears that after the war peace, when it comes, will not be peace, a real peace which is constructive, creative (but) a stunted peace, no more than nonbelligerence, which at any moment, when any new constellation of forces arises, is liable to turn into war. And when this hollow peace is achieved, how then do you think you'll be able to combat "the spirit of militarism" when the leaders of the extreme nationalism will find it easy to convince the young that this kind of spirit is essential for the survival of the country? The battles will cease -- but will suspicions cease? Will there be an end to the thirst for vengeance? Won't we be compelled, and I mean really compelled, to maintain a posture of vigilance for ever, without being able to breathe? Won't this unceasing effort occupy the most talented members of our society"? (1949). Read More:http://www.crosscurrents.org/leon.htm image:http://popartmachine.com/item/pop_art/2009-MCAS.015CS029/ADI-NES-UNTITLED-%28THE-LAST-SUPPER%29-1999

“Greeting on This Day” was Klein’s response to the intensification of conflict in 1929-1930. The poem seemed even more apt after the Palestinian Revolt of 1936-39, when the struggle between Zionists and Palestinians (with the British playing the middle) finally reached the stage of organized and protracted violent conflict. For Klein, a life-long Zionist, the Palestinian Revolt–not recognized as a popular uprising by Zionists–took place against the backdrop of Nazism and worsening anti-Semitism….Read More:http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/SCL/bin/get.cgi?directory=vol16_2/&filename=Lemm.htm

Ronit Lentin:Two nights after Jewish people celebrated the New Year, two violent incidents occurred which made me angrier than usual at the brutal behaviour of Israeli Jewish West Bank settlers, the Israeli police, and the Israeli racial state….

Menachem Kahana. Read More:http://wanderingjew.typepad.com/the_wandering_jew/page/18/

…On Friday 30 September, Jewish settlers at the West Bank settlement of Anatot brutally attacked a group of young Jewish Israeli activists who demonstrated in support Palestinian farmer Yassin Rifawi, whose privately owned lands in the village of Anata were illegally fenced by residents of Anatot, limiting his access. In the past few months Rifawi suffered continuous harassment by the settlers, including threats, uprooting of trees and dismantling his property. Despite recurrent appeals by the Israeli legal human rights organisation Yesh Din to the Israeli police, nothing was done to protect Mr Rifawi….

Menachem Kahana photo. ---As for the official Zionist leadership, its moral ambiguity in the Jewish-Arab conflict is evident. Professor Chaim Weizmann, who led tho Zionist movement between the world wars and was to become Israel's first president, was considered a moderate. He declared in 1947 that "there must not be one law for the Jews and another for the Arabs. . . . the world will judge the Jewish state by what it will do for the Arabs." Yet he saw the Arab exodus of 1948 as a miracle. Israel's 1949 Declaration of Independence promised "full and equal citizenship" to the Israeli Arabs, yet in 1962 in a protest to David Ben-Gurion, Buber noted that Israel "has committed acts which have engendered in the Arab inhabitants of the State a feeling that they are but second-class citizens." Some thirty-five years later, this is still true. --- Read More:http://www.crosscurrents.org/leon.htm image:http://www.ydfa.com/artists/menahem_kahana/artwork_info.php?image_id=6991

The white doves flutter

the roofs
Where stones did utter
Dark reproofs.
That these pale pigeons
Be alarmed
Guerilla legions
Have been armed.
Effendi, Mufti,
Holy Ones–
They are not thrifty
With their stones.
This is the manner
Doves take flight:
The sky a banner
Blue and white…. ( Klein )

But is the violence and conflict all pre-ordained, and the protagonists simply willing actors: Benjamin: For “[o]nly the Messiah himself completes all history, in the sense that he alone redeems, completes, creates its relation to the Messianic.”  This inaccessible relation (or a-relation) is not directed toward a utopian future but accounts for a certain constellation short-circuiting past and present as Now-Time [Jetztzeit]. This a-synchronic actualization of the past corresponds to a “weak messianic power”  of past generations striving for redemption. Thus, for Benjamin history is not based on the linear, irreversible flow of “homogeneous and empty time” but on a “conception of the present as now-time shot through with [punctuated by] splinters of messianic time.”

In his interpretation of Benjamin, Slavoj Žižek stressed Benjamin’s attempt to retroactively redeem the potentialities of past failed revolutions and to actualize the still insisting – however weak – claims of the ‘undead’ of history. Read More:http://anthropologicalmaterialism.hypotheses.org/844

…There were two attacks on that day. The settlers’ violence resulted in Rifawi being taken to hospital with an open head wound, together with his wife over whose head the settlers broke a broom handle, after which they abused her sexually. 26 activists were injured, most needing medical treatment, and some with broken limbs and head injuries. According to the activists, (who videoed the attacks – the films are available on You Tube), police officers present during the two attacks, stood by and looked on instead of defending the attacked activists. None of the attackers was charged or arrested. One reason may be that a large number of the attackers were themselves police officers, who reside in the settlement. Anatot is not religious or extremist but rather a ‘lifestyle’ settlement, whose inhabitants are well educated people, artists, police and army officers.

---Chaim Weizmann, for all his innumerable faults, was both a renowned scientist and a man of the world who had a deep understanding of the Jewish people. In 1951, a year before his death, he talked of "all the mistakes that are being made in this country. The Jews are a very small people quantitatively, but also a great people qualitatively. An ugly people, but also a beautiful people, a people that builds and destroys. A people of genius and at the same time a people of incredible stupidity." In a speech in 1958 Buber, aged eighty, while affirming the factual reality of the State of Israel, referred to "the most pernicious of all false teachings, that according to which the way of history is determined by power alone. . . . while faith in the spirit is retained only as mere phraseology." Buber maintained that "he who will truly serve the spirit must seek to make good all that was once missed: he must seek to free once again the blocked path to an understanding with the Arab peoples... Read More:http://www.crosscurrents.org/leon.htm image:http://danielrothbart.com/israeli.html

Activists write about the event in pain and shock. ‘We were surrounded by police officers… they didn’t protect me, they participated. They saw them break bones, threaten to murder and rape, break up cars and cameras; they allowed the settlers to use the police PA system to shout their threats… They saw them drag me by the hair to the fields, and did nothing. Some even looked rather amused. Why am I surprised? They do this to Palestinians all the time…’ (Alma) ‘Outside [the vehicle], settlers are banging on the windows making a sign with their fingers drawn across their throats to show that they would slash my throat. They shriek: ‘Bring her outside [the vehicle]. We’ll deal with her. Give her what she has coming to her, the whore!’ (Hagai)…

Boaz Arad. ---From their post-Zionist viewpoint, the artists address the numerous tensions inherent in contemporary Israeli life, including holy places that function as tourist sites, the multiple layers of Israeli identity, and the symbiotic relationship of Arab and Israeli. Using humor, cynicism, irony, and pain to expose the social and psychological conditions of a life fraught with dangers and contradictions, they limn a contemporary Israel stripped bare of picture-postcard clichés and idealized preconceptions. The exhibition requires that, as Amy Cappellazzo notes, "one check sentimentality at the door." --- Read More:http://www.nyu.edu/greyart/exhibits/israel/press.htm image:http://www.life.com/celebrity-pictures/73391372/israeli-artist-creates-hitler-rug-in-provocative-exhibition

For Walter Benjamin, its criticism of the notion of progress, of linearity to which Marx is complicit with the capitalist he ostensibly opposes. Its a critique of the concept of time as a money based construction, a formulation dressed up in progressive ideology, which ultimetely becomes the one and unique reality to the exclusion of all others.

…‘The settlers actually stripped me naked. I tried to calm myself. History will bury them and their evil apartheid in blood’ (Stavit)

Idan Landau writes in his blog: ‘Activists were threatened with rape, sodomy and other physical and verbal acts… It’s primitive, brutal, bestial, but alas all too human. We think we are Jews, that we don’t do such things, that we are civilized, that we have our sacred books and traditions that raise us above such brutality. Alas, violence like this reminds us that we are only those things in our best moments. In our worst, we are no different. And when we are no different, we have betrayed those traditions which we like to think set us apart or above the worst humanity has to offer’….

Philip Rantzer. ---Michael Greenstein:Emmanuel Levinas, a French philosopher who survived the Holocaust, writes extensively about the absence of God and the need for dialogue or discourse to mediate this absence.4 Where Orthodox Judaism relies on the Torah, secular poets offer writing as their mediation to overcome absence in this I-Thou relationship. To counter this universal void Irving Layton projects in his verse a self-image who participates in adialectic of potential and completion, Klein's "pilpulistic antitheses."5 As Seymour Mayne perceptively notes, "The 'I' or persona is almost invariably involved in the poem itself. It is at the center of the action, and this encounter of the persona and experience, of the personal and the world, suggests that some suspension of disbelief is involved." Read More:http://www.uwo.ca/english/canadianpoetry/cpjrn/vol20/Greenstein.htm image:http://www.katzfreiman.com/dessert.htm

…Quite apart from the injustice done to Rifawi, and from the violence meted to Palestinians on a regular basis, these violent incidents demonstrate that when a state racialises its ‘others’, in this instance Palestinian citizens and occupied subjects, only a thin line separates between them and the state’s ‘own’ people, in this instance Israeli Jewish citizens who dare to challenge the racial state and protest against its unjust acts. Read More:http://www.ronitlentin.net/2011/10/06/new-year-violence/#more-466


If Klein was surprised at the “welcome,” he can be partially forgiven, for Zionist policy could not afford to enlighten Jews and non-Jewish supporters about the status and attitudes of Palestinians. Max Dimont, in his popular Jews, God and History, presents the Zionist perspective:

The Zionists decided to redeem Palestine by buying land on a grand scale for all Jewish settlers. Suddenly, the scraggy soil of Palestine, neglected for fifteen centuries by its alien custodians, acquired value. (399)

The Jewish “miracle in the desert” is indisputable. Palestinian historian and literary critic Edward W. Said writes of the “relatively backward Arab natives” whose agricultural practices were “traditional,” and whose social structure was largely feudal (8). Zionists did purchase their land, often for lavish sums. To this extent, Dimont is correct. Beyond this, his formulation of Jewish settlement of Palestine is inaccurate, and the loaded words–”alien custodians,” “desert land”–reflect the Zionist view of Palestine as a barren land occupied by “strangers” who did not belong or deserve to be there. Read More:http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/SCL/bin/get.cgi?directory=vol16_2/&filename=Lemm.htm

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