“. . . reveals a deliberate and systematic plan. . . “ (Peige Desjarlais)

Being senescent is not as continually jolly as I hoped when I began writing this blog.

Bethlehem, 1880

Bethlehem, 1880

I may say I’m senescent, but no one under 65 may. I heard on TV news yesterday that the “elderly” Aretha Franklin is coming to town. She’s 72. She ain’t elderly regardless what the 20-year-old copy writer says!

Does everyone in their senescence have memories lodged in their minds that won’t go away?

The past two weeks I’ve written daily—as usual. But my mind goes to an uncomfortable memory I can’t shake, August, 2003. I haven’t been able to write about it.

A few years back a friend asked me to remove her from my email “contacts” or stop sending her mass-mailing messages. She did not want any more of my “political” messages.

Since that day I have wondered how anyone who is able to think logically (which my friend certainly is) can say the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people by the Israelis is “political.”

Ethnic cleansing—the appropriation of the land of a people and dislocating them, usually accompanied by mass murder of civilians propelled by the belief that one nation has the right to the land of another—is not a matter of politics. It is a matter of morality.

My guess is we’d have to search hard to find an American who would say the “Caliphate” founded on religion declared in Syria and Iraq is a good thing. If someone thought so, they would not say it. They would be ostracized—or worse! We’d have to search hard to find a single American who would say the Russian annexation of Crimea is a good thing. If someone thought so, they would not say it. They would be ostracized—or worse!

But the Israeli annexation of the West Bank and Gaza, its declaration that its state founded on religion extends from the Jordan to the Mediterranean is, in the thinking of Americans, somehow justified.

This does not raise a political question. It is a simple question of right versus wrong.

The erroneous political commentary is that Israel has a right to defend itself, most recently to punish Hamas for kidnapping and killing three Jewish boys. Never mind this is “. . . an arbitrary starting point. Just one day before the kidnappings, a Palestinian man and a 10-year-old child were killed in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike. Why wasn’t that the starting point of the violence? Has the media [and thus the American people] internalized Israel’s narrative to such an extent that they only see Israel as ‘responding’ to violence rather than initiating it?” Always?

Americans want the State of Iraq somehow to rise up and defend itself.

America is willing to destroy Russia’s economy to bring an end to the civil war in Eastern Ukraine.

Why does that thinking not apply to Israel and its inch-by-inch, illegal settlement-by-illegal settlement ethnic cleansing of the homeland of the Palestinian people—the ethnic cleansing** that began in 1948 and has continued unabated until July 30, 2014? If we want the people of Iraq to defend themselves against ISIS and the Ukrainians to defend themselves against Russia, why do we not want the Palestinians to defend themselves against aggression?

The falsity of the reasoning leading to Israel’s right to defend itself is proven by the fact that no one follows the logic to its rational end, that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves.

All peoples have a right to defend themselves
The Palestinians are a people.
Therefore the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves.

Deir Yassin Massacre, 1948

Deir Yassin Massacre, 1948

Anyone who repeats the illogical and time-worn assumption that only Israel has a right to defend itself is repeating propaganda, not logic, and certainly not Truth. (This is not an idea original with me. Fortunately those with far more authority than I are of the same mind.)

The only reason to say one people has the right to defend itself and another doesn’t is that we have chosen sides—not that the idea is either logical or moral. It is either propaganda or nonsense—or both.

I have friends who think that the problem in Gaza is Hamas. They cannot (or will not?) understand that the problem pre-dates Hamas. Hamas did not exist at the time of Israel’s 1967 conquering of all of Palestine. The problem is not (and never has been) Hamas. The problem is Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians—bordering now on GENOCIDE in Gaza.

The formation of Hamas was a reaction to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people; Hamas is not the cause of the “conflict.” Hamas is the result of the “conflict.”

That August day in 2003 I stood with a group of Americans at the edge of an olive orchard behind the home of a Palestinian family. Much of the orchard had been uprooted, and access to the rest was restricted by chain-link fences topped by coils of razor wire. The fence enclosed a gouge in the earth about ½ mile wide with a newly-constructed divided highway running down the middle. This highway was restricted to Israeli citizens (Jewish) and military, even though it was in Occupied Palestine.

When I returned to a place near that farm six years later, our group could not get to the farm because it was on the other side of the Apartheid Wall Israel had finished in the interim.

Some will object to my use of “Apartheid.” Dictionary.com defines the word as “any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.” Once one has seen the Wall and the system of Jewish-only highways dissecting Palestinian land and connecting the illegal Israeli settlements, one has no qualms using the word “Apartheid.”

And so, because Israel has a right to protect its Apartheid system, it has the right to destroy the homes of 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza, to bomb hospitals, to destroy the only power plant in Gaza, and to murder over 1000 Palestinians—so far—mostly civilians, 1/3 of them children. They have the right. The Palestinians have no rights.

Anyone who can contemplate that carnage or see the Apartheid Wall without revulsion has no moral compass.

** “Ethnic cleansing is a crime under international law, defined as the intention to create an ethnically homogenous territory through the expulsion of an ethnic or religious group. It is often related to, but not the same as, the crime of

Bethlehem, 2014

Bethlehem, 2014

genocide. The United Nations defines acts of ethnic cleansing as the “separation of men from women, the detention of men, the explosion of houses” and repopulating homes with another ethnic group. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, like other members of the dubbed “new historians”, counters the dominant Israeli narrative that the Palestinians fled voluntarily or under the orders of Arab leaders of surrounding countries. His study of Israeli military archives reveals a deliberate and systematic plan by the Zionist militias to ethnically cleanse the Arab population of Palestine by occupying villages and their homeland and some 530 Arab villages were destroyed and depopulated along with other urban centers. A society descended from people who settled the region as far back as the Canaanites was destroyed in a matter of months in the process of making the borders of the Jewish state.”
Desjarlais, Peige. “Excavating Zion: Archaeology and Nation-Making In Palestine/Israel.” Totem: The University Of Western Ontario Anthropology Journal 21.1 (2013): 1-14.

Music, purely music

Girolamo Frescobaldi-1583-1643

Girolamo Frescobaldi-1583-1643

Being (nearly) overwhelmed by mass e-mailings from organizations I checked out once and left a cookie (or whatever they call those footprints a computer leaves on websites these days) is, as everyone knows, one of the hazards of living in cyberspace (or whatever they call the clouds of electronic reality these days). The emails from Democratic political organizations alone are enough to wear out the delete key.

However, this morning I turned on my computer after its usual 6- or 7-hour rest, and my email contained only one message. Incredible!

“I can’t even begin to imagine…” That from one of the two friends from college I keep in regular contact with. His response to my sending him a link to the news story about the reelection of Khaled Mishal as head of Hamas. I simply asked if he knows how I know that Mishal looks like his brother. It’s a not-very-private story. Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller would recognize the resemblance. And all the trendy Dallasites who frequent the Bishop Arts District ought to recognize the resemblance. Mufid Abdulqader was the city engineer  responsible for its development.

I’m pretty sure anyone from Dallas who knows about him will tell you that Mufid deserves the life sentence he received for being “Hamas’s Rock Star.” That is, of course, a bogus belief. Mufid is not and never was a terrorist. We have our fair share of political prisoners. Mufid and the other leaders of the Holy Land Foundation are among them.

Revisiting that horrendous miscarriage of “justice” is not my intent. It would get my poor old brain and my prone-to-defib-heart too riled up. The blog I published while that Kangaroo Court Trial was in progress is available online.

I mention the travesty because it’s in the category MY UNFINISHED BUSINESS, activities and projects I have begun in the last 68 years that are incomplete, forgotten, abandoned. I hardly know where to begin tying up the loose ends of my life. The Holy Land Foundation trial is unfinished business because I was determined to find a way to keep the miscarriage of justice alive in the minds of people who care about equal protection under the law.

Not allowing this mockery of Constitutional rights to disappear into oblivion is one of the unfinished projects of my life, but I have no idea how to finish the project. I am too old and tired.



Other somewhat “impersonal” projects remain unfinished.

I want to help insure the Voice of Hope Ministry in West Dallas has a secure financial base.

I want to teach for a year at the Lutheran Dar al Kalima College in Bethlehem.

There are more. And  I have personal unfinished business.

I want to finish learning to play all of the great chorale preludes from the Bach Clavierübung, Part III. And those from the Leipzig Eighteen. I began the former when I was a senior in college and the latter when I was in graduate school.

I want to read the complete works of Dickens—but I gave my set to the Dallas Independent School District for a high school library.

I want to finish writing one of my novels.

I want to write a biography of the American composer David Diamond.

I want to see Easter Island, Tibet, Antarctica, a volcano in full eruption, the Vienna State Opera, the headwaters of one of the tributaries of the Amazon.

I can go on and on. Unfinished business.  I could be overwhelmed thinking about these things.

Now I will share a great mystery. When I begin to be overwhelmed by “so much to do and so little time and energy to do it,” these days I have a sure way to slow down my mind, to find peace with myself and with the reality that I will never complete most of these projects. And I find peace from many of the other distractions and befuddlements of my mind.

Absolute music. Music that does nothing but exist. Music that has no discernible “purpose,” that makes no attempt to be popular, that—by most people’s measure, I should think—is hardly worth listening to.

Music that exists for the simple wonder of the infinity of possible combinations of sounds.

From Girolamo Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali (“Musical Flowers”), first published in 1635.

Music. Only music. Nothing else. A refuge from both unfinished business and business one must finish.

If one had been a genius taking Advanced Counterpoint, one might have written such pieces without so much as a thought they would ever be performed. Frescobaldi intended his music for performance, for which I am grateful.

Two Kyries from Fiori Musicali