From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Before you write a column / Go get yourself a clue. M Shahid Alam, a professor of economics at Northeastern University, kicks off his column in Al Ahram by stumbling over a misquotation from Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” and goes downhill from there. He notes how “tragic” it is that “the Zionists in Israel and their allies in the US -- both Christians and Jews -- have responded to ICJ's ‘advisory opinion’ with hollow clichés.” Of course, he then pulls out a tried-and-true mega-whopper cliché par excellence: Nazis!!! “Is there a danger that the world may begin to look upon Israel as the moral equivalent in our own times of a Nazi Germany?” Oho, Nazis, eh? Sheesh, speaking of “unsophisticated.”

Among other things, the professor also thinks that the British awarded the Palestinians’ country “to the Zionists, as the British after occupying Palestine allowed European Jews to settle in the country, form militias and prepare to drive out the Palestinians.” Um, right. Anyway, since no country called Palestine has ever existed, then or ever, one can only wonder what “country” the professor thinks the British supposedly handed over those Zionists. Inquiring minds would, uh… like to know, or something.

Of course, who ever needed facts, much less proper quotes, to write a column about Israel for Al-Ahram?

Robert Frost once suggested that writing free verse is like playing tennis with no net. I’m beginning to suspect that writing columns about Israel for Al-Ahram is like playing tennis with no balls. Flailing impotently at thin air, one ends up looking ridiculous. Yet it never seems to get old.

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