Monday, May 31, 2010

Massada Maritima

Note on June 2nd: following many debates, I decided to accept one point of my critics and soften the terminology of this post. I do not want to be anything like the Israeli government and media that carelessly throw around hard words like "lynch". this is not a propaganda piece, these words are meant to provoke thought.

Tonight at 7:00 PM, Jews, Arabs and foreigners will gather in front of the Ministery of Defence in Tel-Aviv to protest the killing of activists in international waters.

Even if there were weapons on the boats, The IDF should have prepared for such scenario and made plans to avoid a bloodbath. When a group of people tries to break through a border (and this isn't even our border, remember? We no longer "occupy" Gaza) it is the police that usually arrests them. In this case Israel sent commando units, trained to be trigger happy.

The result is so painful and dangerous that the Israeli public and media are desperately seeking ways to avoid looking them in the eye: "It was an honest mistake", "they were terrorists who wanted to lynch our soldiers". The word "lynch" is everywhere in the Hebrew media. In the name of anyone ever hung from a tree in South Carolina due to his or her skin color, I'm outraged.

Though certainly outraged enough to go out and protest (hell, I'm outraged enough to give up my citizenship right here and now), I won't be at the demonstration tonight. Duty calls: I am sent as a journalist to review the grandest and what may prove to be the tackiest cultural event in this country's history: Verdi's Nabucco, produced at the foot of Massada.

Up until this morning I didn't pay much mind to the cheesy, nationalistic aspects of staging an opera about enslaved Jews at Massada. I was even interviewed on television and said there's no harm in taking opera to the desert and throwing a couple of fireworks around. Now, however, I feel distraught, sick to my stomach. I tried to escape the assignment and failed. I'm doomed to this four-act masterpiece.

Massada, the mythical stronghold, the place Roman soldiers beseiged and then broke into by force, thus completing their assault against the Judean liberation brigades. What an exciting place to be tonight! Siege of course is a contemporary concept. This morning the Israeli air force bombed and demolished what was left of Gaza's small airport already defunct for nearly a decade. No one will leave the strip in the foreseeable future. As for braking in by force... hell, we make good Romans, don't we? Had the legion of Titus possessed helicopters, the two actions would have been nearly identical.

And opera, O opera! I love it so, but is this really a good time for the conductor to raise his baton? The Jewish Midrash Describes God as showing anger at the Israelites after they crossed the Red Sea. The Egyptians were drowned by the waves and the Hebrews sang songs of praise. "My creations are destroyed at sea, and you are singing?" he asked.

Several creations of the good lord were destroyed at sea this morning, and the soloists of the Opera will sing nonetheless. The bad timing is none of their fault, the tragedy belongs to all of us.

What will they be singing? an opera about imprisonment and tyranny, written only seemingly about Jews and Babylonians, it in fact meant to protest Austria's reign in Lombardy and other Italian regions. I'll take it as that and concentrate on Verdi's courage and genius. In the year 2010, Nabucco is an opera about Palestinians. Let its music ring out and be another voice of protest.

10 comments:

Nitz said...

On behalf of any man who ever entered a place where he suddenly realized he's extemely unwelcome - I say this is a lynch:
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3896733,00.html

And even if you do wanna continue arguing the semantics, those are not PEACEFUL activists.

Anonymous said...

Hi Yuval - can you tell me where you found this Midrash - a more specific reference? Thanks - Leila.

יובל בן-עמי Yuval Ben-Ami said...

Thank you Nitz for sharing the link. I believe most victims of an act of piracy in international waters would have reacted in a similar way.

Protecting one's ship from pirates is not a lynch. It's not neccesarily a bright idea when the pirates are soldiers of a nation that can easily send relief, (which the passangers of the other five ships understood) but it can easily be seen as self defence or understandable defience. The people of the Marmara resisted the takeover and paid dearly for it.

The Israeli media uses the word "lynch" in order to evoke a story from our past. Two Israeli officers who wandered into the wrong Ramallah neighborhood in 2000 were beaten to death by a mob, assisted by the local police force.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_Ramallah_lynching

That indeed was a lynch. The soldiers symbolized the occupation for the perpetrators, yet they were not carrying out a violent act when assaulted. We hear the word lynch and are immidately taken back to the barbarity of that incident. We are reminded that Palestinians are capable of such things and are thus deserving of whatever we put them through.

I refuse to consider an act of violence commited against an armed invader a lynch, and I refuse to let propaganda machine control my responses by the use of evocative images from the past. When the Palestinians use the killing of the boy Muhammad Al-Durah or when the Hebron Settlers bring up the murder of infant Shalhevet Paz for similar purposes I consider it eqaully cheap.

Leila - it's from the Gemarah. Talmoud Bavli (Babilonian Talmoud), masechet Sanhedrin, backside of page 39.

http://w2.kfar-olami.org.il/Site/School/Yahdut/batei+midrash/maagar3.htm

By the way, the opera was lovely. I loved how much dialogue the foes share in it. The Babylonian king and the Jewish high-priest actually meet and interact. If only we could do the same.

Nitz said...

So you do wanna argue the semantics. At least we agree on the "peaceful" part. Have they truly wanted to refrain from violence, they would have acted completely diferent.

And I'm sick and tired of hearing about the damn propaganda machine. I waited about 10 hours after the event for the fog of war to clear a little as to make up my mind about the subject. You've decided its a massacre of peaceful activists before you've even watched the videos. Yet in your eyes, I'm the brainwashed one. This is truely amazing.

יובל בן-עמי Yuval Ben-Ami said...

I don't mind not arguing the semantics or not arguing at all. I stand by by use of terminology and you are welcome to stand by yours. There was enough information around before the IDF spokesperson released this extremely blurry video in which he indicates exactly what you should be looking at and explains what you see from a strictly Israeli perspective, for me to choose my words.

I agree that the choice of words is important in this case, but there are more important things. Like typical Israelis, we are drawn to argue about words, while our military continues to act like a crazed Komodo dragon and the situation in Gaza remains unthinkable. O what's in a name? that which we call a massacre by any other name would smell as foul.

Nitz said...

If you're having trouble finding out the people clubbing the soldiers in the blurry IDF films, I recommend you watch the Al-Jazeera clips. They're from a much closer angle and in color. One of them depicts the exact moment a soldier is descending onto the ship, and what happens next, from about 2 meter distance.

I anticipated, and hoped, you'd base your arguments for a "massacre of peaceful activists" on something better than your poor eyesight, but again, lucky for you Al-Jazeera got some clear footage.

יובל בן-עמי Yuval Ben-Ami said...

Nitz, if you wish to play the game of sarcasm with me, you're welcome to it but I'm not sure i'll cooperate and can't promise you I'll leave all your comments posted. You've made your point nicely so far.

These matters are deeper than who clubbed whom first. They touch on the situation in Gaza and the world's position on it, on the way Israel percieves itself, etc.

I have much more to say but won't waste my time on an unnamed individual who's more concerned with making its point than in creating an enriching dialogue. I'm tired now following a long debate on Facebook. I left it feeling that I've gained new understandings and so did my partner.

sarapirat said...

hey you are back blogging! and so much food for thought. happy to go back in your history. i have alot to read. interesting subjects. like the flotilla business, bastarbut (where is it standing?), polygamy etc etc.

wanted to share this speech with you:

http://rararabarber.blogspot.com/2010/06/high-solid-wall-and-egg-that-breaks.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys, We've been in the Xrumer VPS Business Now For Years!
We like this forum so much that we've decided to make this thread and give you this promo code [b]BHWPROMO[/b]

If your worried about any of the Google Changes, Don't be. We've tested all of our seo tools and the results are better.
IF you build your links slowly and make them look natural than you will alwasy get better rankings.

Ask our support on chat box about applying the promo code if you cannot find the box on our site to enter in!

Packages are as follows:

[b]Package #1[/b]
Scrapebox
Dedicated Proxies
SEO PowerSuite
The Best Spinner
Backlink Kracken
Get Article Pro
Yellow Pages Scraper
Tweet Adder
Open Office

[b]Package #2[/b]
SEnuke Xcr
SErobot
Scrapebox
Dedicated Proxies
SEO PowerSuite
The Best Spinner
Backlink Kracken
Get Article Pro
Yellow Pages Scraper
Tweet Adder
Open Office

[b]Package #3[/b]
SEnuke Xcr
GSA Search Engine Ranker
GSA Indexer
Scrapebox
SErobot
Dedicated Proxies
SEO PowerSuite
The Best Spinner
Get Article Pro
Yellow Pages Scraper
Tweet Adder
Open Office

[b]Package #4[/b]
Xrumer 7 Elite
Hreffer
SEnuke Xcr
GSA Search Engine Ranker
GSA Indexer
SErobot
Dedicated Proxies
SEO PowerSuite
The Best Spinner
Get Article Pro
Yellow Pages Scraper
Tweet Adder
Open Office

[url=http://xrumervps.ca]Scrapebox VPS[/url]

Gloria Walton said...

Nice one, Nice to see you again with great post. Dedicated Proxies