Links

Moriel Rothman: “10 Things I Really Like About Living in Israel”

Moriel Rothman, activist par excellence, poet, and blogger – whom I was glad to get to know during my last visit to Jerusalem – wrote a post much like one I’ve often considered writing:

10 Things I Really Like About Living in Israel (Note: This is Not a Sarcastic Title)

[…]

I do not have a positive vision as to what should be here, in terms of political “solutions,” arrangements, et cetera. I do, however, have a very strong sense of what should not be here (for a more detailed list, see: Rothman, Blog About Things That He Thinks Should Not Be, Everyday, All Pages, www.thelefternwall.com). Here’s a metaphor I made up for this friend: let’s say Israel is a garden. There are some people who will try and plant flowers of solutions, of development, of progress here in this garden, and I think that is a good thing and I support them. However, I see my role not as planting flowers, but rather as weeding, weeding out violence, weeding out racism, weeding out oppression, weeding out hatred, et cetera. The weeds here have grown quite powerful, and probably by the fault of no single gardener or even group of gardeners but rather by the breezes, rainfalls, insects and chemicals of history and political circumstance. Someone needs to take them out so that there will be room for others to plant the flowers. If you try to plant a flower of “solution” in a garden overrun with weeds of violence or racism, the flower won’t have much of a chance to grow.

[…]

I can only imagine good coming out of my articulating for readers what it is I love about living here, whether to complicate the picture for those who are overly-excited about Palestine/Palestinians (if you will notice, I don’t often write positive things about Palestine/Palestinians either, and I am not a Palestinian Nationalist, even as I support Palestinians’ right to live in freedom, like everyone else), or to clarify for readers who find my work too critical that I truly do what I do out of love and concern, and a desire to build and improve, even if I think that building needs to come from weeding dangerous phenomena (phenomena, and never people […])

[…]

I will indeed make a list of things I really like. Which is fun for me too.

1. The people. In general I really like Israeli people, even if I disagree with many of them re: politics/Palestine. I like their directness, I like their humor, I like their warmth, I like the diversity of history and of journey and of identity and of belief, I like the way we all share a sort of nutsness, especially Jerusalemites.

Read the rest over at Moriel’s blog, The Leftern Wall »

I love the garden metaphor, and I also love most of the things on Moriel’s list. Many of them really capture why I miss Israel and care so much about what goes on there. This post, like many on Moriel’s blog, is well worth reading.

 

Meta note: the lack of posts lately was mainly because of some drama I had, which I won’t get into here. The important thing is that everything’s fine now, even better than fine, and once I’ve finished catching up on some things, I expect to be posting again, for real.

Desmond Tutu calls for divestment; some thoughts

Deutsch: Desmond Tutu beim Evangelischen Kirch...

Desmond Tutu writes a passionate call for American divestment in Israel. He gives me some food for thought on BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), and on my role as an Israeli in the struggle for a just peace.

Justice requires action to stop subjugation of Palestinians

Desmond Tutu, TampaBay.com

A quarter-century ago I barnstormed around the United States encouraging Americans, particularly students, to press for divestment from South Africa. Today, regrettably, the time has come for similar action to force an end to Israel’s long-standing occupation of Palestinian territory and refusal to extend equal rights to Palestinian citizens who suffer from some 35 discriminatory laws.

I have reached this conclusion slowly and painfully. I am aware that many of our Jewish brothers and sisters who were so instrumental in the fight against South African apartheid are not yet ready to reckon with the apartheid nature of Israel and its current government. And I am enormously concerned that raising this issue will cause heartache to some in the Jewish community with whom I have worked closely and successfully for decades. But I cannot ignore the Palestinian suffering I have witnessed, nor the voices of those courageous Jews troubled by Israel’s discriminatory course.

 Continue reading on the Tampa Bay Times »

I’m not entirely sure what I think about the Palestinian BDS campaign.

Continue reading Desmond Tutu calls for divestment; some thoughts

Linguistics on Stack Exchange!

“Stack Exchange is that tiny asterisk in the middle.”

I’ve always liked Stack Exchange. They have beautiful websites with an excellent community-edited system for asking questions and getting answers that puts the focus on the best contributions.

So far, there’s never been a Stack Exchange site I could really participate in – until earlier today, I discovered the new Linguistics – Stack Exchange, “a free, community driven Q&A for professional linguists and others with an interest in linguistic research and theory”. Check it out!

Sweden’s gender-neutral pronoun goes official

It’s not every day that you see these words combined: “pronoun causes controversy”. And I’m honestly not a fan of politically manipulating language, especially since I know enough about language to know we know very little about it. But I was still delighted to read this piece on Slate.com:

Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen

[…]
Earlier this month, the movement for gender neutrality reached a milestone: Just days after International Women’s Day a new pronoun, hen (pronounced like the bird in English), was added to the online version of the country’s National Encyclopedia. The entry defines hen as a “proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon].” The National Encyclopedia announcement came amid a heated debate about gender neutrality that has been raging in Swedish newspaper columns and TV studios and on parenting blogs and feminist websites.[…] Continue reading Sweden’s gender-neutral pronoun goes official

Lenz on Learning: “What grades are good for”

I bumped into an amusing post on an inactive blog. In five quick, tongue-in-cheek points, Evan Lenz explains what grading teaches you:

2. An abdication of responsibility

Grading encourages you to abdicate all responsibility for evaluating your own learning. That’s somebody else’s job. Other people know better about not only what you should be learning but how well you are learning it. This is their game, and it’s your job to play it. Why you would want to learn something, what you would apply it to, what meaning or importance it has for you, what enjoyment you get from it—these are completely irrelevant to your grade. So why even pay attention to these considerations? They are a waste of time. They’re not going to help you pass that next test.

Read the rest over at Lenz on Learning.

Chris Hedges: “Murder is not an Anomaly in War”

I find myself, for once, at loss for words. Despite growing up in what is essentially a warzone, I have had the ridiculously good fortune of never experiencing the horror of war first hand. In a thoughtful and powerful piece of writing, Chris Hedges has managed to transport a small taste, which I can only implore you to read if you haven’t yet. And you’ll want to sit down first, I think.

Chris Hedges: Murder is not an Anomaly in War (TruthDig)

A Hebrew translation, along with some discussion, is available over at Idan Landau’s blog (his post alerted me to the existence of this piece. H/t.)

Meta comment: I haven’t been posting lately – these link posts don’t count – not for lack of ideas or words, but mainly because I’m spending a very big chunk of my waking hours in (academic) writing and having a hard time finding the time to properly formulate blog posts. I hope and assume that I’ll get posting again at some point soon, but no promises.

New blog discovered: the “because” charade

I was recently delighted to discover that Daniel Harbour, one of the linguistic theorists I’ve most enjoyed reading, has a blog – about language and also other interesting topics. It’s called the “because” charade, and here’s how he explains that curious name:

My blog is called the “because” charade because what follows the word because (in a lot of discussion of science, ethics, politics, religion, …) is rarely a reason, or reasonable, or rational. And I believe that we’d all be better off if reason(ableness) played a bigger part in public life.

Recent topics have included the Pirahã controversy – an important linguistic debate, which he explains in terms a layman can understand – and the theory of evolution. A pleasure to read!