Friday, March 26, 2010

Translation of my article on Amos Oz

Marwan kindly and promptly translated my Al-Akhbar article on Amos Oz from last week:

""Amos Oz: Arab Liberal Love for Israel."
They want to make of Amos Oz a friend of the Arabs, by force. They want to crown him a king of peace. Those who included a secret clause about normalization with Israel in the Thomas Friedman-Abdullah initiative, they rush to try and vainly influence the political culture of the Arab world. Al-Saud liberal princes enthusiastically promote Amos Oz and his counterparts. They believe him to be a symbol of the “Israeli peace” camp. They try to convince the Arab people of the rightness of Zionism in their midst. That is their desire.

Amos Oz is a lie. And this lie is a part of a bigger lie about the “Israeli peace camp”. The lie was invented by Arafat's team (led by Mahmoud Abbas at the time) in the seventies to justify the scrambling behind the freak of a Palestinian mini-nation, surrender to the enemy and to toss the arms very far away. Israeli commentator Gideon Levy exposed them recently in “Haaretz” when he said: “The Israeli peace camp didn't die. It was never born in the first place”. There is no Israeli peace camp. All of this was a fabricated propaganda by normalization Arabs to convince the Arab people that they need to stop the resistance. And Amos Oz is dear to the heart of Western liberals. They honour him sometimes too much for his own liking. He roams and moans in front of an audience that observes the movement of his eyelids. He mentions the Holocaust in a sentence and the Palestinian “terrorism” in the next one.

I saw Amos Oz in 1992 in America. I was at the beginning of my teaching career at “Colorado College”. Oz was invited to deliver a public lecture. They came from all over the state to see him. Liberals flocked in the hundreds. I sat in an unobtrusive back seat and I could hear their moaning, and I felt the pain: I could almost hear the audience reach their climax. How grave my exile felt on that long day. I remember that only one British student understood my suffering. She sat next to me and said sympathetically even before Oz started talking: “What’s wrong? I read the expressions of your face”. I said: “If Mahmoud Darwish came to this university, none of these people would show up”. She said: “Don’t be unfair to me”. I was unfair to that student. Then Oz proceeded with a speech that he never tires of repeating in his articles and lectures. I grew more annoyed. I felt suffocated. I remember I kept reciting to myself what poems I memorized about Palestine: even that annoying poem of “Al-Akhtal As-Sagheer” (“The desert came alive complaining its nakedness, then we engulfed it with roar and smoke”, while the Arab armies were reluctant to fight, or were shooting at each other). Amos Oz captured the neediness of the audience. I almost burst. He bragged that he was never non-violent, and that he was proud of his fighting in the army of the enemy in the different wars. And then he invoked the Holocaust (as the Zionists always do and as does Ahmadinejad) in his speech, and he spoke of the signs of the collapse of the Nazi society, and how it started with the abuse of the language. They applauded him long in a standing ovation.

Then came my turn, or rather, I stole a turn. I stood up and faced the audience, not him (in my unequivocal commitment to boycotting the enemy), without an invitation from anyone, except from Iyad Noureddine Al-Moudawwar, my martyr and my comrade. I said: he talked to you about the abuse of language but he did not know that I was counting the times where he attached the word Palestinian with the word terrorist in the sequence of his phrases: more than 27 times in full. And isn’t that of the indicators to the collapse of Israeli society and its aggressive intentions? And I asked them about terrorism: I told them about Israeli terrorism in 1982 and my eyewitness accounts of it, and how the enemy's army killed more children than any organization which is classified by U.S. as “terrorist”, and then I concluded by mocking the honouring of his ilk in America. Oz came to me and tried to shake my hand – this is one of their games trying to appear as pacifist in front of the Western public - I got up from my chair and left the room. (Does my stance embarrass Arab liberals and defy the orders of the son of Sultan and the son of Salman?) My students told me later that they’d never seen me this way before. I told them: Have you ever seen the fragments of Ghassan Kanafani' [s body] and Lamees?

Since the nineties, the Al-Saud media have been adopting the logic of surrender to Israel through the exaggeration of the size (although I do not acknowledge its existence) of the so-called peace camp. “Al-Hayat” newspaper and others published praises for Shimon Peres, and the victory of the Labor in the elections became a realization of the promise and an achievement of victory. Ibrahim Al-Arees (who a year ago considered that the “Initiative” between King Abdullah for interfaith dialogue and between Shimon Peres is the greatest initiative in the history of mankind) called on “Al-Jazeera” and Arab media in general to host Amos Oz, because of his positive positions (in his opinion). The release of the book ”A Tale of Love and Darkness” was an opportunity to unleash a Saudi media campaign to urge Arabs to fall in deep love and affection with Amos Oz and other Zionists (Saudi and Hariri media started talking about pressure on Netanyahu from the “right” in his government, and that the Likud has become a middle or left in the Arab media criteria, which deals with «Kadima» as if it belongs to the far left). “The New York Times” published a long article on the Arabic version of the book, and included quotes of Abdo Wazen and bleak comments from Oz, in which he called the Arabs to accept Israel as a “refugee camp”, just like the Palestinian camps. This idiotic analogy wants us to believe that a state which has received more than one hundred billion dollars in American aid since the sixties only, which has a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, which bombed during its history Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, which invaded the Arab countries surrounding Palestine, is comparable to the camp of Sabra and Shatila. Amos Oz preached to the Arabs, and they listened diligently.

But Abdo Wazen asked the Arabs, from a well-informed point of view (always), to read Oz and asserted that the man is a leftist. (And Wazen errs and tumbles when he talks about non-Arabic literature, as we recall that he had invited the Arabs to read the “intellectual” writings of Solzhenitsyn (the man has no intellectual writings), he also called on them to read his memoirs (he never wrote any memoirs, except for one article about his life). Wazen, who does not understand any Hebrew, talked about the contributions of Oz in the “revival” of Hebrew. If Wazen was really concerned about the revival of the Hebrew language, he would’ve read the writings of the true reviver the Hebrew language, I mean the founder of the so-called “cultural Zionism”, “Ahad Ha'am” who wrote critically of the practices of Zionism in 1891 and said that the Palestinian people never left any land unplanted, unlike the Zionist propaganda about “flowering of the desert”. He also published an article on the belief of Jewish immigrants in Palestine that the Arabs are “like donkeys”, and he described how the Jewish immigrants hit the Palestinians strike for the silliest reasons. (See his political writings in the book “Wrestling with Zion”). Amos Oz did not come close in his criticism to that of “Ha’am”. Wazen says that Oz is “known for his permanent condemnation of the Israeli military actions (word for word from Wazen’s text) against the Palestinians and Lebanese”. (“Al-Hayat”, March 1, 2010). This is not Amos Oz, and Wazen did not read what Oz wrote over the years. Somebody who read Amos Oz cannot issue a verdict like the one Wazen expressed about him. Unless Wazen read unpublished manuscripts for the man, but judgment is drawn from what was published.

No, Amos Oz did not condemn Israeli war crimes against Palestinian and Lebanese peoples, unless Wazen got confused and thought that Amos Oz was the nom de guerre of Abu Maher Al-Yamani (with great apologies to the beloved comrade Abu Maher). Oz, as Norman Finkelstein wrote to me in a letter on the subject of Oz, “waited until the last two days preceding the end of the war, before he, Grossman and Yehoshua took the initiative to call for a press conference, stressing that the war is certainly righteous and it was time for a cease-fire”. But Oz did not condemn the war. He only disputes the number of children who should be killed in the war crimes of Israel. He also condemned Hezbollah and gave it the responsibility of the Israeli aggression on Lebanon (note that the horns of the Israeli lobby in the Saudi and Hariri media speak today about “Israel's war against Hezbollah”, as if the usurping entity spares civilian lives). Where did Wazen acquire his information from? Does Khalid bin Sultan Library contain unpublished references about Oz? One does not need talismans, or potions from “Amana Care”. Let us return to the texts of the occupying man (every Israeli is definitely and occupier, even children and women, without justifying the killing of civilians, of course).

Let’s go back to his most important book “My Michael”. The Arab in the story appears through the twins, Khalil and Aziz. And their depiction includes racial profiling at its worst. They are silent (“they do not like words” (p. 28 of the English version)) and filthy. Even Aziz’s eye white was “dirty” (p. 47). In a scene that summarizes the Zionist view of the Arabs, one of them walks on four like an animal, and he and his brother rape the Jewish victim who screams. (P. 47). Of course, in addition to rape, the twin brothers play with grenades (p. 105). Also, murder and rape are equal in the depiction of the Arab. Even the children ask about the accidental killing of Arabs in the book. This is Amos Oz. In his book, recently translated into Arabic, (” A Tale of Love and Darkness”), the name of the “mean Arabs” is coupled with “wild animals” (p. 10 of the English version). And Arabs, for him, like the Nazis, are about to commit the “pogrom” (p. 11), even though the word is Russian and it was formulated to portray the actions of non-Arabs against Jews in nineteenth century Russia. And Oz finds it so easy to lie when he indicates that the world supported the Arabs in their wars against Israel (p. 23), while giving up on Israel. He wants to elicit your tears. As if the nuclear bombs and the modern Zionist army are gifts from heaven. Abdo Wazen and other promoters of Oz in the Saudi media will not notice that the latter spoke of “all kinds of Asian insects, and disgusting winged reptiles that came directly from Africa or the Arab villages». (P.78). But why be surprised that Arab writers cover up for Zionist racism, while they adopted covering up the oppression of women and everybody who is “other” in the Kingdom of Wahhabi oppression? These liberals are not uttering a word while a Lebanese man in Saudi Arabia (convicted of “quackery”) waits to be beheaded in a public square. Abdo Wazen did not mention the bigotry of the recently translated book, as he invites us to savour reading Oz in Arabic.

And Oz's relationship with the left is like Nassir Al-As’ad’s relationship with the left. Oz embraced this concealed European racism against Oriental Jews, and held, without hesitation, their migration responsible for the rise of the right in Israel (see his article in “The New York Times”, July 11, 1982). Left for this man is the Zionism of Ben-Gurion; who promoted Zionism as leftist in his relation with the socialist camp and promoted it as Western and “free” in “Biltmore conference” in 1942 in New York to win the support of Roosevelt. Oz also accepts the Jewish gangs’ crimes in Palestine, because they were protecting the occupying migrants from “Arab attacks”. And he does not refrain from distorting history, especially when writing for a Western audience. He says that the 1967 war in which he proudly fought was a “justified battle for the self-protection of Israel” (see p. 2 of the book “Israel, Palestine and Peace”). He fabricates the conditions of war and he fabricates the horrific truth of the State of Israel and he attributes it to the “Arab brutal attempt to destroy Israel” (magazine article mentioned above). Who among the historians can agree with Oz in his propaganda when he speaks of “the human spirit and love of peace”, which sponsored the creation of Israel? Ask the victims of Deir Yassin about that spirit, they will speak at length.

This man, whom Abdo Wazen praises, considers in all his writings that the Zionist movement is a “national liberation movement” (see his article in the magazine “Encounter” in 1982). Oz does not refrain from insulting the entire Palestinian people because they did not “appear sympathetic to the suffering of the Jews”. Of course, it is good for people to show sympathy for one another, but when did sympathy become a condition for liberation? Black people of South Africa were not asked to “understand” the suffering of white racists as a condition for liberation, for the good understanding and human sensitivity in principle. Then, there are afflicted victims who do not show sensitivity towards others, and this applies to some Holocaust victims, such as Elie Wiesel, who was one of the first to equalize the Palestinian national movement with “Nazism”. Oz always tends in his analysis to portray a typical offensive against all the Arabs, calling them names and associating them with quandaries of the type of “destructive dilemma of Saladin”. If an Arab depicted Jews in such a way, Al-Saud liberals would revolt (those are the same people who did not intervene to defend Comrade Samah Idriss, just because he is not of their breed), and demand for his beheading. Oz beautifies the occupation and calls it “military administration” and lauds the “depth” of democracy in Israel (see his article in the « Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung », May 3, 1990). And Oz plays down the occupation (of course, such people and their peers in the Arab media do not consider the Zionist occupation of the territory of the 1948 an occupation), and he blames the whole Arab-Israeli “conflict” on the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza (“The Guardian” December 23 and 24, 1989).

Abdo Wazen never read this man (and this better than the assumption that he did read him but did not notice his veiled racism), and it seems that he read what was written about Oz in the Western Zionist media. Amos Oz sympathized with Palestine and Lebanon? Where, when and how? This guy, who said that the PLO “continues the brutal and abhorrent tradition which was started by the fanatic Palestinian leadership that afflicted its people with a scourge after another”. (“The slopes of Lebanon», p. 28). Is this any different from Netanyahu’s rhetoric? And he is clear when he advises his “peace supporters” in the occupation army to follow the orders to invade Beirut, even if “to cut electric power to Beirut”. (P. 38). What kind of human “connection” do they expect with this man? This supporter of all Israel wars dares to accuse of the Palestinian resistance movement of “genocide”! (P. 86). They want the Arab people to translate and read (and fund) racist speech against the Arab people. This peace-lover, who elicits humanitarian oohs and aahs from the Arab liberals, says that the main responsibility (of the conflict) is to be borne by the Palestinian national movement and its supporters in the Arab States and the rest of the world. “The Palestinian national movement is, I believe, one of the most fanatical, evil and dumb movements” (P. 236. From the book “The Slopes of Lebanon”).

These Arab liberals (the code name for the horns of Al-Saud, Al Al-Hariri and Al-Nahyan), what do they want? Their shamelessness has no limits. They want the Palestinian people to deduct about 78% of the precious land of Palestine for the Zionist movement, and then demand that people bow to the boots of the occupation army. And then they ask them to read the writings of the Zionists of the usurping entity. Ah, how the words of the “wooden language” sound like music to my ears, and how ecstatic they make me feel! Then, we ask Abdo Wazen and others, why do they stress the need of the Palestinian people to read Israeli writings? Why not ask Arabs to read African or Latin literature, for example? Political objective is obvious from their words that are drowned in the ink of normalization of the initiative of King Abdullah to bow to Israel. Elias Khoury believes that translating Hebrew literature into Arabic is a “necessity” and that “in order to connect at a deep human level”! An urgent need? Why? A necessity that’s more urgent that the need for military resistance to the occupation? The Palestinian people have to be killed by the Israeli (and by Amos Oz and others who served in the army of the enemy who killed and injured our brothers and sisters), and in return the Palestinian individual has to read their literature? And why would the translation of Hebrew literature be more urgent than the translation of Spanish literature, for example? Make us understand, please. Then, what is this “deep human level” that Khoury is talking about? I found myself as I re-read the writings of Oz to write this article, I felt outrage and anger against Oz and his ilk of “peace” writers in Israel (i.e. the war writers at the end of the day) and not “deep human connection”. I might lack the liberal taste that allows them, not me, to connect at the deep human level.

Reading, any reading, is of course useful, in any language and of anyone. And brilliance (in music, art or philosophy) might come from political enemies (Wagner, Bob Dylan, Hannah Arendt, Martin Buber, Frank Sinatra). And the feat writer Albert Camus who cannot be ignored, was sympathetic to the French occupation of Algeria (David Carroll's new book, “Albert Camus The Algerian” published by Columbia University, will not save the reputation of the man). But there is the principle of absolute boycott. The translation of Oz’s works in “Dar Al Jamal” or the publication of a book of Abba Eban in Dar-es-Saqi mean a financial contribution in support of the soldiers and institutions of the usurping entity. These get a commission on their books. I saw, for example, the film «Waltz with Bashir», but I was keen to acquire a pirated copy (Seek the movie even if from China), so as not to support the Zionist entity (even though my taxes here in America go, to my pain, to support the entity). The Piracy and online publishing of the mentioned books is possible if you’re keen to read Oz. I will own copies of Hebrew literature, and I will read them on the balcony of a house in the village of Galilee on a red and green bed, but after the liberation of all Palestine, and not before. Then, I will ask the Jewish population in the State of Palestine to read, if they want, the literature of the majority of the population. I will not impose it and I will not make it a measure of humanity."