How long is now?

Posted: Wednesday, 17 August 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , , , 0 comments

... Notes on a Protest Movement

These busy intersections, plenty of buses, cars, bikes, pedestrians – all in a rush getting somewhere other than this place. The streets of Tel Aviv know the hum, the honk, the hustle, particularly since the middle of July 2011, when a rather unprecedented level of socio-political awareness started getting a hold of an impressively increasing amount of (predominantly Jewish) Israeli citizens. The streets, Rothschild Boulevard most prominently, now not only know about the hum, the honk, the hustle, but are learning to host all sorts of people’s desiring and demanding calls for a rather blurry concept of “social justice”. Faced with an outrageously high cost of living which forces a lot of people formerly known as a “middle class” to work several jobs and still perceive their lifestyle as precarious, “the people demand social justice” (Hebrew “ha’am doresh tzedek chevrati”) now. And here. Be it during the massive demonstrations in Israel’s urban hubs or peripheral cities, be it in between a circle of tents during a public lecture or over a beer on someone’s terrace – “the people” in its and their heterogeneity talk, discuss, move ideas and engage in lively debates. Whereas during the first weeks of the growing protest movement the media and the struggle’s representatives constantly reiterated an non-political (whatever that may have been), solely social understanding of their plight, more recently the surprisingly non-disappearing connection between Israel being an occupying and oppressive state with a yearly security budget in the billions and therewith lacking financial backing elsewhere, has risen to a non-negotiable (oh, I meant non-negligible, silly) fact on the ground (or rather – in the heads) of this grassroots movement and media representations thereof.

These moments of shifts, these ruptures in societal and socio-political constitutions, they are, one could argue, even more prone to know the hum, honk and hustle accompanying it. Some of these alliterations not only concern language but also are bloody serious, result in burning streets, dead people, and dictators in cages.

Some others are fun. Or rather fun that makes one wonder.

So, there are three actual intersections. Busy ones. Within the bigger context of a seemingly hot-headed, impolite and chaotic – qualities that are unquestionably perceived differently in different places and habitualized forms of socialization. I grew up in Germany, and lived in England – public sphere, which I am currently part of, interrupting the chaotically choreographed order of things is not usually met with cheers and smiles. Arguably, the ruptures described above are so far being met with an understanding and supportive public response and participation.

One might presume it has to do with so many individuals’ own immediate needs and frustration that are suddenly on the forefront of a collective protest, and some form of desire for unity within this struggle seems to suggest itself as the way to go. A person’s own urgent and tangible will for change of their way of living is, apparently (and almost sadly so, given the fact that in most cases these needs are obviously intertwined with others’), a rather motivating force for activism. “I have a problem, therefore I act.” is easier said and done than, “I see you have problem, which may or may not have something to do with me, therefore I act.”


“If not now – when?” … Not only part of one of Hillel’s most famous sayings (“If not us – who” precedes the time), but also a chorus line of Yehoram Gaon’s “Od lo ahavti dai” (I have not yet loved enough), a catchy and sunny tune, frequently used for big circle dances that have had their share in a Zionist identity formation during the first decades of the State of Israel.

This song now, and, “If not now – when?”, is played at these busy intersections one Tuesday evening in August. A portable speaker placed in the middle of the road, and suddenly, out of a regular group of pedestrians waiting for the traffic lights to allow them passing, a group of about 30 to 40 people emerges, forms a circle and dances, claps, jumps and sings along. Two and a half minutes the intersection is blocked. Pedestrians see, halt, look, some smile, some are obviously irritated. Drivers are faced with people on the street, which does not seem something most of them appreciate. Many cars and motorbikes meander around the circle, forcing it into some other, more elliptical form, breaking apart the chain of hands joint. Bus drivers argue with wild gestures, impatient passengers are pointing at their watches, metal pushes into people. It is fun, frighteningly so. One would think – people, it is two and a half minutes, why can’t you just let them do their thing? Why push push push? The shove of metal pushes people down, almost.

However, at such a time when push comes to shove, now, more precisely, one wonders why and how people react to interruptions of their being so aggravated, so annoyed, so ignorant. What makes one form of rupture okay, and another one a problem one needs to deal with aggressively? To which level are people here, now, willing to let others voice their concern, their being, in a public sphere?

Public Movement who organized these three little public interventions facilitated a sense of uncertainty for the people being faced with it (and, partially, for the participants too, I am sure) – How does this action relate to the current protest? Why are they dancing a folk-dance? Who are these people, there is no banner, no shouting, no youth-group-shirt? Why are they doing this? Why the fuck are they blocking the damn road and make me be late for this appointment by two and a half minutes? Why this song? Who are they? What do they want? How am I supposed to react? Can I join in? Do I like it? What do I like about it? Would I like to join in? Why am I so angry when someone is 1.) apparently having fun and 2.) is really not that violent or bad?

Am I getting my way? Is that what the angry reactions were asking? Am I getting my problem solved by their action? Do they have a problem? Would I want to listen? Engage with them afterwards? Would I want to know? Why would I want to know? Does it relate to my problems and me?

I have no patience.
I demand social justice.
How long is now?


Between Two Walls

Posted: Thursday, 28 July 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

Between Two Walls
July 2011

Between two walls, facing a third one. Behind me is darkness. Your hands are caressing the stones. These cold ones. Right next to my shoulders. Softly, oh so softly, your thumbs, I presume, work on their flesh. Your eyes, piercing into the wall in front of us, suddenly it is us. Your feet, balancing on the same thin wall. Us, there, between these two walls. And you, I hear you saying how you love my body. And the walls grow tighter. And you keep caressing the stones. And my eyes. Yes. And my smell. Yes. And the walls grow tighter. Yes. And me, then, when the night is making the stone alive enough to hear and speak, then, when the placid whispers are leaving you. Yes. Alone. Then you love me. Without dividing me into stones making up this brick wall you see. But yes, right, you see a wall you think is me (forgivable given the circumstances), right. And so whole it seems. Mortar, caress the mortar, too. It is keeping us together and walls in place.

Whispered Child Dark Dark

Posted: Thursday, 7 July 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

a stone of age
and splinters
in between


it glitters

broken is the bird
song of morning


for life on veins

to play
the splinters

and always
the others

and to play
the splinters

Whispered Child Dark Dark
July 2011

portugiese finds are mixed and many

Posted: Thursday, 28 April 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: 0 comments

april 2011

i have heard ...

Posted: Tuesday, 5 April 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: 0 comments

i have heard ...
april 4th 2011

rührt mich an

Posted: Sunday, 3 April 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: 0 comments

rührt mich an
jede Ruhe
macht aus
zähem Klinker
festen harten Stein
jede Ruhe
ein Stein mehr

die Falten lachen sich starr

und Jeder tanzt
im Funkenregen
der Stahlbrocken
im Hirn
schon Ruhe
als den Wind des Traums

der Rührung

Kristalle leuchten wie Lava
in ihren Armen
ist es
beinahe heiß

rührt mich an
jede Ruhe
macht aus
auch Lava
Beton im Stillen

and more finds

Posted: Thursday, 31 March 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

central bus station, tel aviv
march 2011

march 2011

money from different streets
march 2011

überraschungsei, berlin
march 2011

more finds

Posted: Tuesday, 22 March 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

in the water, tel aviv
march 2011

sheikh jerrah, east jerusalem
march 2011

esther hamalka, tel aviv
march 2011

silwan, east jerusalem
march 2011


Posted: Sunday, 13 March 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

some street, tel aviv
march 2011

hilton beach, tel aviv
march 2011

sheikh jerrah, east jerusalem
march 2011

al rajaa' street, ramallah
march 2011

mea shearim, jerusalem
march 2011

jaffa road, jerusalem
march 2011

i can't remember where it was
march 2011

al shuhada street, hebron
march 2011

Three years later - Hebron. Or: How it is no longer orange.

Posted: Friday, 4 March 2011 | Posted by k | 0 comments

Al-Shuhada Street. 2008.

Al-Shuhada Street. 2011.

"Liberation. Return. Rebuilding." 2008.

"Liberation. Return. Rebuilding." 2011.

Above the painting it is written:
ויש תקוה לאחריתך נאם יהוה ושבו בנים לגבולם
ירמיה 31:17
The children have returned to their own border.

A side note to translating לגבולם: Luther 1545: Und deine Nachkommen haben viel Gutes zu gewarten, spricht der HERR; denn deine Kinder sollen wieder in ihre Grenze kommen. // King James Version: And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border. / Jer 31:17

French versions (http://saintebible.com/jeremiah/31-17.htm):
Tes enfants reviendront dans leur territoire
et tes fils reviendront dans leurs confins.
et tes enfants retourneront en leurs quartiers.

German versions (http://bibeltext.com/jeremiah/31-17.htm):
die Kinder sollen heimkehren in ihr Gebiet!
und deine Kinder werden in ihr Gebiet zurückkehren.

English versions (http://bible.cc/jeremiah/31-17.htm):
Your children will return to their own land.
Your children will come again to their own land.
and your children shall come back to their own country.
And your children will return to their own territory.
and your children will come back to the land which is theirs.

גבול can be translated as: border (state, country), borderline, boundary, limit, frontier, line, margin, extreme, bounds
-ל can be translated as: to, toward, of, for, until, till, into

Google translate offers, when it comes to לגבולם:
come home
to their borders
their borders
have come home

How it is no longer orange

No change.
Yes change.

Egged at your service.
The sun was shining.

I doubt the sun paled the orange away.
No no.
The white of all.

The "Day of Rage".
That was that.

Home-border-line syndrome.

Buch / Care

Posted: Wednesday, 16 February 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

nobody will know II
February 16th 2011

Through a gate I entered a park and looked at a statue. I asked a woman with strongly painted eyebrows and a light brown jacket (matching the colour of her dog's hair) if there was another exit, back to the train, she said there was not, I could only walk a circle and get back there, but would I not better be afraid as there was this man and he was watching me the whole time - I hadn't realized that this was the case - I said maybe I was not afraid and would have a look and thank you very much.

Ducks stood on melting ice. A lot of bridges. And leaves on the ground. The trees had names pinned into their skin. White paper. Sans Serif Italics. Little brook was wild.

No man came.

The woman, ten minutes later, outside the park, did not react to my smile of recognition. But she really cared. She was wearing a jacket matching the colour of her dog's hair.

That is care.

Safe train back. Until one tree fell on the rails. That was way inside.

Void III

Posted: Friday, 11 February 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

Bear me a child
Bury your hand
deep in the mild
cleft of my sand

Sing of a sun
of dark shadows' age
of moving undone
of birds in a cage

Of wings close and
spread around a face
like a hand
circling a place

Bear me a child
your soul's gentle hand
I shall hold. Your wild
song it will free your land

Void I
January 3rd 2011

Void II
January 3rd 2011


Posted: Thursday, 10 February 2011 | Posted by k | 0 comments

Als (II)

Posted: Saturday, 22 January 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

als wir so lagen
im Graben
der Welten

und es schoss
durch den Wind
das Andere her

der Wind
und das Haus
und das Zittern
im Hier

als wir so lagen
im Graben
der Welten

die Winde
die wehten
die Welten

als wir so lagen
im Graben
der Welten

wo es dunkel
wo es still
wo es war

dort oben
im Graben
der Welten

da liegen
da lagen
die Lügen

der Liebe

Als (II)
Wir so lagen

January 22nd 2011


Posted: Sunday, 16 January 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

December 2010/January 2011

Man kann alles erzählen, nur nicht sein wirkliches Leben; - diese Unmöglichkeit ist es, was uns verurteilt zu bleiben, wie unsere Gefährten uns sehen und spiegeln, sie, die vorgeben, mich zu kennen, sie, die sich als meine Freunde bezeichnen und nimmer gestatten, daß ich mich wandle, und jedes Wunder (was ich nicht erzählen kann, das Unaussprechliche, was ich nicht beweisen kann) zuschanden machen - nur um sagen zu können:
"Ich kenne dich."

Max Frisch - Stiller


Posted: Sunday, 9 January 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

I read something in Haaretz today. Which I like (like many articles they publish, seriously), not only like, deeply appreciate in many ways. Avraham Burg's latest book sure has interesting approaches, as does his article:

Marrying the Dalai Lama
Reaching out and accepting family members who are not of Jewish origin will greatly expand the boundaries of contemporary Jewish existence.
By Avraham Burg

The letters of the rabbis and the rabbis’ wives are arousing all the dormant Israeli demons. Although sometimes it seems as though the demons are already wearing down, they still have the power to frighten us and cause damage.

The first reaction is automatic and loud: Gevalt! Racists! The second reaction is also predictable: “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor,” or how, in light of our own history, we are doing exactly the same things to others.

The next reaction is far more thoughtful and profound: Am I really prepared to marry someone who is not a member of the Jewish people?

I encountered the first part of the question several years ago. A smart, secular and enlightened friend told me: “Avrum, I agree with all your humanistic opinions, but I must admit that if my son brings home a non-Jewish woman, it will cause me heartache.”

“And if he brings home a Jewish man?” I asked.

After a long hesitation he replied frankly: “I prefer a gay Jewish man to a non-Jewish woman.” For him, as for many others, the key is the “Jew” within him rather than the loving person within his son.

I recently encountered the first part of the answer in a courageous and penetrating article published by Edgar Bronfman, former president of the World Jewish Congress, which included a call to reopen the tent of our father Abraham in all four directions. To contain among ourselves, to stretch out our hands and to adopt the family members who are not of Jewish origin, and they are many. Not to tear apart and exclude, but to greatly expand the boundaries of contemporary Jewish existence.

Fortunately I am already very happily married, but this question awaits me with my children. They travel all over the world, study and with open minds meet Christians and Muslims. Some of their best friends are Orthodox Jews. And like that same friend, I have reached the age at which I have to answer myself frankly, what will my viewpoint be if one of their partners isn’t Jewish?

My answer is very simple. For me the test is not their Judaism. The first and almost the only perspective by which I examine my children’s friends is whether or not they are good people. The Jewish consideration is not the first one.

These are my considerations only. I have no authority over my children’s lives. I speak to them, and that’s all, and in the conversation I always want their happiness. One of the foundations of family happiness is a life of partnership, and the secret of genuine partnership is a common value system.

So this is the time to ask what Judaism is. When people say Jew, what do they mean? In the eyes of those letter-writing rabbis and rabbis’ wives and all their simplistic and fanatic believers, Judaism is first and foremost a genetic description, a connection of blood and race of “anyone born to a Jewish mother.”

And therefore those very same people pile up so many difficulties, and try to deter the converts who want to join our community. In the eyes of Judaism it is a connection to content and commitments; a glorious civilization ‏(which is presently fighting for its life and its future‏), which is mainly a values-based, humanistic system, embracing all of humanity.

That is why a person’s origin is far less important to me than his core principles and his lifestyle. I divide all my worlds into the good and the bad. I totally reject the tacit assumption that all the Jews are on our side and all the gentiles are against us. There are wicked and terrible Jews, and there are good and righteous gentiles. And between them I prefer the latter, because of their goodness, and I despise the former, in spite of their Jewishness.

An eternal Israel will continue to exist and advance only if openness defeats seclusion, only if the Jewish people overcome the ignorant among them.

In order to understand the significance of the argument for everyday life you sometimes have to take the theory to absurd lengths.

Let’s say that one of my daughters were to introduce me to two possible sons-in-law: the Dalai Lama, whom she loves with all her heart and soul, or Rabbi Meir Kahane, whom she is willing to marry only because of his Jewish genetic origin.

And let’s also suppose that she were to say: Dad, choose for me. My choice would be clear and unequivocal: The Dalai Lama would become my son-in-law, beloved as a son and admired as a true partner in a way of life and principles of existence. Over the years and with patience I would work hard together with him to build bridges of understanding between the truth of his life and the foundations of our family. Together we would create a far broader family spirit than a narrow-minded Judaism of limited horizons. Even though the Tibetan priest does not speak Hebrew, he lives in the “Jewish language.”

On the other hand, if she chose Kahane or one of his successors, only because he is a Jew by origin and in spite of his disgusting language and base values, my world might fall apart.

I would probably pull myself together and do everything possible to be with her in any future she might have, but my heart would know and weep: She too is a racist.

(Haaretz-Link and Edgar Bronfman's article)

What Is Staying Moves Beautifully

Posted: Friday, 7 January 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , 0 comments

The Laundry

Posted: Sunday, 2 January 2011 | Posted by k | Labels: , , 0 comments

I actually like going to the nearby self-service laundry. In the times there I have met quite a diverse amount of people, talked to several and enjoyed staring at the ever turning machines with a slightly dizzy sense of joy.

Today was no difference.

The laundry also seems a place where the Rabbis and their wives have no say in who is allowed to wash. It does not seem to matter who you are as long as you bring three coins of five shekel.

Today was no difference.

When I arrived two of the three machines were running and one was empty. An old, seemingly fragile woman was there, and I asked her if she was finished, if I could use the machine (in Hebrew), she said yes. I filled the machine. And sat. She was about to go and had a lot of things. I asked her in English if she wanted some help carrying it up the stairs. She started yelling and shouting in Hebrew that this was Eretz Israel, that she does not want to hear English, I did not understand the rest. It was frightening. I started crying when she left, and was really shaken. She came down on me like a harpy. The shop owner next door said she was crazy. A man came and saw his bag was gone, he was Ethiopian, I gave him one of mine, he said thank you, emptied his machine and left. A woman from Sri Lanka came and waited with me. The old woman came back and in perfect British English started shouting again. She hated the English. Was I English. No. I said I just wanted to help you, sorry. She does not want my fucking help. Was I German. Yes. Was I Jewish. No. See, I had no idea what's going on, she would not need my help. She would not want it. Where was I born. Dresden. She knew someone, very nice, hard working man from there. So was I an Ossi. I said I was from Dresden which is in the East of Germany. Was I an Ossi. The GDR was still in existence when I was born. I had no idea about the Jewish people, I should go back to the Ossis to prevent them from turning Nazis. She would not want help. I was crying the whole time. The woman from Sri Lanka stood nearby and said nothing. The old woman left. I asked the woman from Sri Lanka if she had a tissue. She had not. She asked what happened. I told her I asked the old woman if she needed or wanted help and she started yelling at me. The woman from Sri Lanka said she was here for three weeks now to be a care giver as so many other women and men from Sri Lanka and the Philippines. I wished her the best and hoped she met people who treat her respectfully.

I learn how these things work and experience them as the "other" which I may not have experienced before in Germany, where my white skin seems to "prevent" me from discrimination. Now that I come to think of it, it is a bit ironic that some time in the summer this man on the train in Berlin said they forgot to put me on the transport to the gas chambers in Auschwitz.