Tag Archives: book reviews

Randy’s Reviews: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

 

Randy’s Reviews: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah (Randyjw; August 3, 2017

 

FIREFLY LANE. Copyright 2008 by Kristin Hannah. St. Martin’s Griffin; St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, 10010.

 

Firefly Lane is a fictionalized account of female friendship, which could deftly stand-in for the bonds formed in our own lives. Kristin Hannah relates a sisterhood which would be familiar to many women, as they read along through the decades of Tully Hart’s and Kate Mularkey’s interactions and emotions.

 

The two girls meet at age fourteen in the decade of the nineteen-seventies, becoming fast friends despite drastically different expressive styles. Their upbringing is also at opposite poles, inspiring “grass-is-greener” envy by both girls for the other’s lifestyle.

 

They swear fealty forever in friendship, and form a pact to follow the same career together, but maturation and life events effect reconsideration and change in later plans. The inner roiling of the girls’ thoughts as they deal with these repercussions and their impact on their relationship elicits sympathies of the reader on many levels. It did the same for me, as well, as I thought back on the same kind of situations and, even, actual details, which reminded me of female friendships shared with my own best friends.

 

Given these coincidences, the book really resonates with me. Based on the fact that it made a bestseller’s list, it apparently held appeal for many others, too. I did think the material-culture references too overdrawn, but also often nodded in appreciation of their nostalgic mention.

 

I’m afraid to encounter the seemingly wistful conclusions alluded to in other reviews, as I’ve not yet reached the end. I’m rooting for these fast, forever-friends to pull through.

 

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Freedom: The Story of My Second Life – by Malika Oufkir

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Copyright 2006 by Malika Oufkir. Jacket designed by Beth Middleworth. Author photo by Melanie Dunea. Hyperion, 77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023-6298. Printed in USA ©2006 Miramax Books.

 

This book is one of the cherished volumes of my personal collection that just can’t seem to make it into a “give-away” pile to allow room for new reads on the shelf. Each time I say that I’ve read enough that I ought to be able to detach it from my core staples, it keeps coming back and taking its place among the rightly-deserved designated “keepers”.

 

Why this should be so is due to Ms. Oufkir’s beautiful Middle-Eastern phrasing and mindset. No-one can write with the allegory and turn-of-speech better than a son or daughter of the Levant (including the northern reaches of Africa). Think number one books, such as the Bible, or number one authors or poets, such as Khaled Hosseini or Khalil Gibran, respectively, which bring to mind examples for the simplicity of sentence regaling the beauty of a song.

 

Malika’s prose and outlook are remarkable, given the harsh treatment received throughout much of her life. She was the favored playmate in childhood of the King’s daughter. Later on, her father would be executed and she and her siblings and mother imprisoned for twenty years as collective punishment for the assassination attempt on the King in a coup d’etat allegedly involving Malika’s father. Their subsequent escape, recapture and final harrowing push to freedom are relayed in a compelling saga woven as beautifully as an embroidered wedding dress.

 

Her first book, Stolen Lives, was an international best-seller and relates her years during captivity. It doesn’t matter which book is read first; I almost prefer having read the sequel with which to gird oneself for the harshness of the first.

 

This post is dedicated to freedom and to the brave souls who fight to find it.

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Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda

Address updated from the liner notes to correspond with website information (please verify this information before use):

Smithsonian Folkways Mail Order, PO Box 37012, MRC 520, CG 2001, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012; Phone/U.S.: (800) 410-9815, or (888) FOLKWAYS; Phone/International: (202) 633-6450; Fax/U.S.: (800) 853-9511, or (202) 633-6477; Website/(http://www.folkways.si.edu); Informational Requests (not secure for orders!): (smithsonianfolkways@si.edu). (p) and © 2003 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Compiled and annotated by Jeffrey A. Summit, co-author with Richard Sobol, of Abayudaya: The Jews of Uganda (New York: Abbeville Press, 2002). He is a Research Professor at Tufts University, where he also serves as Rabbi and executive director of Hillel.

Folkway Records was founded in 1948 by Moses Asch. The Smithsonian Institute acquired the collection in 1987 from the Asch estate. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is a non-profit label “expressing a commitment to cultural diversity, education and increased understanding.”

I’m glad I wrote my comments prior to reading the CD’s liner notes and revealed my own impressions without being influenced by someone else’s thoughts. In the end, though, after hearing the entire CD and then reading the story, I must say that the story did influence my thoughts.

Nowadays in this crazy world, everybody criticizes and hates the Jews and tells them what awful people they are — so much so that the United Nations disproportionately issues resolutions against them; the Christians and others start a boycott and divestment campaign to stop others from doing business with us (the Jews), which, with the exception of oil, is the original way that the Arabs got others to boycott us and use them instead. If a business “did business” with the Jews, then the Arabs would not give that company its business; and if the Arabs were courted by foreign businessmen, then the foreign businessmen had to cease all dealings with the Jews before acquiring any Arab business! Given the Inquisition, the Crusades, the pogroms and The Final Solution against us, why on earth would anybody desire to be a part of the Jewish people?

The answer is — for the same reason that they hate us. For because G-d said that we would be His people and He would be our G-d, we are envied and despised and need to be made to look unworthy of the honor (already bestowed). That is the reason for “replacement theology,” whereby another group claims conferred status for themselves and tries to make it appear that our position (in G-d’s eyes) has been replaced.

That is why I am very wary of all those who have gone before and all those who will come since who wish to ally themselves to Judaism in claims of being Jewish. Some claim to be lost tribes, and if we get it wrong by forsaking them, we will be in sore trouble with the L-rd for doing so.

This group of people from Uganda, calling themselves ‘The Abayudaya’, does not claim Jewish lineage, but claims to be Jewish through the practice of faith. The CD notes say that, of the approximately 600 people which comprise this community, there span five Bantu ethnic and language groups: Baganda, Basoga, Bagisu, Bagwere, and Banyole. It has been long known that Christian missionaries have, for hundreds of years, been actively engaged in the proselytization of the African continent to make Christian converts of the African people. They have succeeded tremendously. Many of the Abayudaya converted to Christianity under the regime of Idi Amin. The Anglican Church Missionary Society even evangelized the Abayudaya’s founder, Semei Kakungulu, for the Anglican Church.

Kakungulu had hoped to be recognized by Britain as a king in the eastern region of Uganda, but when he was not, he joined the Malakite Protestants instead. By 1919, he is said to have embraced the concept of male circumcision on the eighth day of life, which the Malakite’s founder, Malakai, told him only Jewish people practice. He, his sons, and male followers were circumcised, and they practiced a mixed style of Biblical observance and Protestantism.

Kakungulu adapted Malakite worship music and developed the Sabbath liturgy for the Abayudaya. Their first contact with Judaism occurred when Kakungulu met a Jew named Yusuf, a trader who taught them certain prayers and blessings, elementary Hebrew, and the basics of Kosher slaughtering.

At this point, they dropped references to Jesus and the practice of baptism. Another Jewish man from Yemen, David Solomon, provided them basic Hebrew books and Jewish calendars. It is noted that they had had little contact with Jews up until the mid-1960’s.

The Abayudaya still celebrate the local traditions of their language and ethnic groups and don’t find this to be in conflict with the Jewish identity they have chosen for themselves.

In 1962, Mr. Solomon asked Arye Oded, secretary at the Israeli Embassy in Kampala, to visit them. Mr. Oded did so and arranged for prayerbooks to be sent to them. They began to restructure their worship to more closely resemble Judaic practice, but Idi Amin (1971-1979) put an end to all that.

I guessed that “Yudaya” meant having to do with the Jews; I was right — it means “Jew” in the Luganda language. The plural, “Jews,” is “Bayudaya.” “Abayudaya” means “The Jews,” repeating the definite article when referring to themselves as “The Abayudaya.”

They continue to use their African dialect languages; Hebrew is not used as a communicational language, and is not indigenous to their culture. Hebrew mistakes I noted in several places where it is used in song are referenced in the liner notes, explained as the Luganda influence adding vowels to the Hebrew pronunciation. For instance, I thought I heard an “i” sound at the end of “likrat,” which should not be there. In Hebrew, adding an “i” would mean “to me”, where it is not warranted; I also thought I heard a “u” sound added (some Hebrew dialects do seem to have this, though).

During Idi Amin’s eight- to nine-year reign of Uganda, many Abayudaya converted to Christianity, leaving only about three-hundred of the community remaining with what faith they had acquired to-date. Much of it was forgotten during this time, and they allege to have worshipped in secret, attempting to make its revival beginning in the early 1980’s with the “Young Jewish Club.”

In 1988, the Anglican School claimed Nabugoye Hill where the original Moses Synagogue was. Joab (J.J.) Keki, his brothers, and some youth formed a new group they named “The Kibbutz,” and squatted in one of the buildings on the hill. Kakungulu’s son, though, had converted to Christianity.

As representative of the Abayudaya, Keki first visited the Nairobi Jewish community in the late 1980’s, but was disbelieved. His brother, Gershom Sizomu, however, began to study with one of their members in the early 1990’s.

Many of the Abayudaya now wish to move to Israel. To be recognized formally for one who was not born into the Jewish faith, a halachic conversion must take place and would generally need to be performed by an Orthodox Rabbi. Three Conservative and one Reform Rabbi went in 2002 there to perform conversion for more than 350 members of the community.

Kakungulu divided the Song of Moses into eight songs, which was the basis for Abayudaya worship in the early 1980’s; new compositions were created later on by the Young Jewish Club and were based on various sources and influences: Zulu music, music of the Independent Churches in Kenya, The Salvation Army, Israel Church, and Bantu folk music. Most are sung in the Luganda language with an occasional Hebrew word added. In one of the songs on their CD, they sing of “Musa,” which is the Arabic word for the Jewish Moses, whom the Muslims consider a prophet. The Psalms were all originally sung in Luganda, but they are now starting to be increasingly sung in Hebrew.

Popular African music also plays a role in shaping the composition of Abayudayan music. They seem to prefer their own compositions and liturgy over incorporating traditional Jewish music and prayer services into their own. It does not seem to me to be part of the Jewish community when tradition is held in such disregard, in deference to secular, non-religious factors. What has held all Jews together, despite differences in worship style, are certain prayers and traditions which cannot just be jettisoned and its results considered Jewish at the same time. While Reform and Orthodox practice, on outward appearance, seem to be unrelated at-best, the premise of Judaism remains essentially, at its core, the same.

In a dustjacket photo, the menorah crafted by one of their people is a symbolic rendition only — a metal sculpture without a place for candles or oil. We use a chanukkiyah to commemorate the Hasmonean Jewish victory more than 2000 years ago over the occupying Roman pagan forces, when we recouped our Temple and resanctified it with the cruze of Holy oil found there, which burned eight days, ensuring enough time for additional oil to be produced. The chanukkiyah, used only for this festival commemoration, has eight place-arms to represent each day for which the light was kindled, plus one holder more for the lead candle. There is to always burn an eternal flame kept lit in the Temple.

I don’t know whether the Abayudaya have been formally recognized, but without going through an Orthodox conversion, it seems unlikely to be a possibility, despite everyone’s best wishes. They insist on maintaining their own traditions and not adopting the other Jewish ones. They are adamant about that. So, what makes that Jewish? To me, that pretty much makes it… Bantu.

1) Psalm 136 (3:24) – Beautiful in phases I and II (upbeat mode). Swahili Mapambio style used in evangelical Churches throughout East Africa. Composed by J.J. Keki.

2) Katonda Oyo Nalimana (G-d is All-Knowing) (4:09) – Crazy drums, crazy chanting, frantic clapping and crazy yips (as in, “whoo-whoo” crazy). So crazy, singers even do the “whoo-whoo” screaming where you pat your lips with your flat hand. Undignified. A traditional song of the Basoga people with improvised words in Luganda (as they traditionally are in this style and context).

3) Hiwumbe Awumba (G-d Creates and then Destroys) (2:31) – Crazy music-box ukelele-sounding song with bird-twittering in the background. Mentions airplanes, bicycles, cars and death. By Michael Mausoni, whose own family are Christian converts. Similar to 1990’s-style sounds. Umm……………….

4) Mwana Talitambula (The Child Will Never Walk) (1:18) – A child singing about a child who will never walk. I like this. The child uses vocalizations as if it were an instrument. Lusoga text based on local traditions.

5) Mwana, Ngolera (Baby, Keep Quiet) (0:49) – An older child in a deeper tone singing rhythmically, as if an instrument. Lunyole text based on local traditions.

6) Tulo, Tulo (Sleep, Sleep) (0:52) – One singer, singing softly, “Sleep, sleep.” Very nice. Popular Baganda lullabye, Luganda text. “Sleep, sleep, take the child. If you don’t, then you are a witch! I want to go dancing, change my life. You only live once.” Sounds like typical American crap from too-young parents with children, who still want to party and foist their children on others. Not Jewish values at all.

7) I am a Soldier (0:46) – Lots of children singing that they’re a soldier in the Army of the L-rd. (In English). This song made me angry. I feel they are mocking Israel and Jews with their English, saying they are a soldier in the L-rd’s Army. It comes across very poorly, as if it was meant to. Indeed, it was a Pentecostal Church song to which they added the final verse, “in the Army of the L-rd” to supposedly make it “Jewish”.

8) Mi Khamokha (Who is Like You, O, G-d?) (0:18) – Parts of a Hebrew prayer. Different than I’m used to. Different melody, as theirs is composed by Aaron Kintu Moses. (One verse, in Hebrew).

9) Kabbila (The Patch of Forest) (3:49) – Repetitive. Woman’s voice too shrill for my ears. Traditional Baganda folk song, text in Luganda.

10) Twagala Torah (We Love the Torah) (1:33) – Text in Luganda, English and Hebrew. Melody and Luganda text by Moses Sebagabo.

11) We are Happy (3:25) – An actual song with accompaniment, singing ‘they’re happy’. Village guitar music, keyboards, occasional drums and adungu (harp) about Purim, with improvised lyrics to mark occasion of the festivity. Composed by Gershom Sizomu. (In English).

12) Adon Olam (Master of the World) (1:53) – I nod in praise. Hebrew text. Melody by Gershom Sizomu.

13) Lekhah, Dodi (Come, My Beloved) (5:21) – I think I hear some Hebrew mistakes. Hebrew text, sung in Hebrew. Melody by J.J. Keki.

14) Psalm 92 (4:59) – Sounds like they’ve received some coaching from Missionary Christians teaching hymns. Composed by Jonadav Keki (J.J. Keki and Gershom Sizoku’s father). Influenced by Protestant worship. Text in Luganda.

15) Psalm 93 (2:44) – Another Christian hymn-sounding song. (“Musa?”). Text in Luganda. Melody by Jacob Mwosuko.

16) Kiddush and Motzi (Sabbath Blessing over Wine and Bread) (1:11) – The blessings over bread and wine (different tunes than I’m used to). (In Hebrew). Melody by Gershom Sizomu.

17) Psalm 121 (1:31) – With jingle bells! Text in Luganda. Melody by Miriam Keki (1980’s).

18) Maimuna (2:13) – Crazy yips, ululations, whistles — too much! J.J.Keki’s campaign song for chairman of Namonyonyi subcounty. He first ran unsuccessfully in 2000, and then again at a later date, after 9/11/2001, which was successful (Keki was walking up to the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, when the first plane hit the tower). Based on a modified version of a Bagisu circumcision song, although Abayudaya do not participate in Bagisu circumcision rituals, but have close contact with them. Maimuna is a woman’s name. “Maimuna, the animal is in the trap. Maimuna, ‘Where are we going?’ You are required to go to school before you obtain leadership positions.” The final line is sung with an alternated response: “J.J.”, “Keki”. This sounds like the situation they were in under British Colonial rule, not Judaism.

19) Hinei Ma Tov (Behold How Good it is for Brothers to Dwell Together) (1:23) – Hebrew mistakes again (adding an “i” after a word where it doesn’t really belong, and a “u”). Different tune, also. Text in Luganda and Hebrew. Group composition of the Young Jewish Club in the 1980’s.

20) Ali Omu Yekka (My Only One) (4:45) – A song with musical accompaniment. It’s very nice. Some words include: “My Beloved”, ” My Doctor”, “My Wealth… the only one I choose”. Sounds rather like stereotyping of the Jews, no? Sounds like a choice based on acquiring traits by association, as if talismanic, no? Text in Luganda by J.J. Keki. Melody by J.J. Keki.

21) Psalm 150 (3:33) – I started singing along; I must know some of the tune. Text in Luganda, with last verse in Hebrew. Melody by J.J. Keki.

22) Deuteronomy 32:8 / Song Two (Selection) (0:35) – A chant. Text in Luganda. Adapted by Kakungulu, founder of the Abayudaya, from Malakite melodies. This song is no longer used, except at sad occasions.

23) Deuteronomy 32:39 / Song Eight (3:35) – Slow singing by men. Text in Luganda (some seemed to sound like Arabic: I thought I heard the word, “Sura,” meaning, ‘Chapter.’). Adapted by Kakungulu, founder of the Abayudaya, from a Malakite melody. Sung by J.J. Keki, Gershom Sizomu, Aaron Kintu Moses, and their mother, Devorah (they are one family). This song is no longer used, except at sad occasions.

24) Psalm 130 (1:52) – A little ditty. Text in Luganda. Melody by Yael Keki. This song is only used for sad occasions.

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The French Intifida: The Long War Between France and its Arabs – by Andrew Hussey

The French Intifida: The Long War Between France and its Arabs – by Andrew Hussey

Information on the North African countries and their backgrounds contained in this book are attributed to the content of its pages by Andrew Hussey (but the opinions, review, and its relation to Jewish insight and other thoughts are my own).

© 2014 by author. Maps © 2014 by Vera Brice and Leslie Robinson. Published 2014 by Granta Books, Great Britain. First American Edition published 2014 by Faber and Faber, an affiliate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 18 West 18th Street, New York, New York, 10011. http://www.fsgbooks.com. Bulk or other purchases via specialmarkets@macmillan.com. Hardcover ISBN category: History/Social Science.

I find it hard yet to peg this book into the educational slots of a historical textbook or a sociological primer by which this book has been listed, according to its dust jacket. The choice of a History/Social Science designation is clearly at odds with the opinionated assertions of its author, though I find myself in agreement with some of the book’s premises, including the oft-overlooked historical factors catalyzing the current eruptions of hostilities among the Arab youth of today.

We open on an incident the author recorded on a particular day in France as he travels the subway and emerges to an ongoing street riot. These disturbances, of which America is beginning to see its mimicry on our streets today, are attributed by the French media as continuing in the long-standing tradition of civil uprising (pg. 3) as occurred during the Reformation and the Enlightenment movements begun in France and Europe, as noted by Hussey in requoting a similar paraphrase in the French newspaper, Le Figaro (pg. 4). He attributes these riots as a display against the colonial power which France had held over Algeria (pg. 5). Though Algeria has since shaken the yoke of French rule, its Arab population still lives with its mindset in a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with its former captors.

We see Hussey assign this “show of colonial power” against a policeman in France who “came down hard” on a ticket-dodger (the person being already known previously to police) (pg. 5). It wasn’t that the fare-evader was committing a crime in trying to escape paying for the services by theft that bothered Hussey, but the matter that a representative of a law enforcement division meant to uphold the laws made by the government of its people sought to apprehend the law-breaker for his deviancy against these rules which is what Hussey seemed to object to. He even went so far as to call the riots and violence “exhilarating” (pg. 2). I’m sure the property-owners whose cars were set alight or whose stores were ransacked or looted did not feel this way, especially if they had to bear the brunt of the burden and absorb the costs of the damages for which insurance wouldn’t pay.

The country is not in a lawless state of anarchy. Should the policeman have just let the man continue to get away with a literal “free pass” against the system? Why favor this one individual with a free ride while the rest must pay their fare? Does that promote favoritism of one (the minority) over the other (the majority), thereby classifying itself into discrimination (of one over another)?

Oh, welcome America! Today we see the importation of the methodologies being used in Europe without the benefits of its derivation in America. The Civil War, which America fought against itself, the Voting Rights Act, and the Civil Rights movement were all measures which grew out of the organic experience of being discriminated against and were begun to counter such practices, eventually leading to the ending of slavery and institutionalized prejudice. These movements grew from a ground-up, practical application of its principles by people who had experienced the consequences of its imposition.

These days, we have a top-down imposition of standards being imposed upon us by Marxist idealists who believe in a one-world government where everyone is equal. Yes, we’re all equal as human beings go, but we don’t want to be ruled by just a few people into whose hands all power necessarily would go. There could be no difference of opinion, in such cases. The tyrants you fear (such as those that exist in today’s world) would rule over you and you’d lose your freedoms.

There are strategists today who are trying to accomplish just this. On the radio, we hear that they utilize the “Communist” rulebook to take down Capitalist, free-market rule to consolidate power into the one-world, no-border system. They attribute the strategies to author, Saul Alinsky, who wrote “Rules for Radicals” (One day, I must read this book). Their methodology involves creating the recent, destructive movements such as the “Occupy” Wall Street movement, financed by some with rather copious amounts of money. Those with such leanings have now come to occupy teaching places at our schools: from elementary to University. They are often sympathetic to the Arab cause, and that is why among them you will find many Arab organizers participating in primary roles, lending itself to the attempt to deconstruct our known society. They’ve succeeded in raising unrest — now it progresses to within the black community. We have riots and looting and violence over perceived race disparities in recent conflicts between the black community and the “non/other” police forces killing its youth. I’m writing this as if there were no precipitating factors leading up to the altercation, confrontation and eventual death of these individuals. The cases are investigated to determine whether excessive force was used to incapacitate, take-down, or kill these people, and most cases have found that the officer’s actions were justified. This is not specific to all cases, and in those where it was deemed an unnecessary or overtly overreactive response to the situation, the officers have been charged or have had to stand the punishment for its crime.

Just as a citizen must receive the consequences of the justice process, so must its people of the law departments. We do not have a tyrannical dictatorship where cronyism is the rule and the opposition is eliminated by whatever means possible (though when corruption seeps in, the results can be sometimes similar).

During Hurricane Katrina, citizens of Texas were evacuated to the Astrodome and left there, mostly unattended, as the facilities and resources steadily declined without replenishment or assistance. Discrimination didn’t usually come to mind, but it just started to become a twinkling when all other possibilities not bearing fruit kept passing by. Although Jesse Jackson’s son in recent times has been caught up in some wrongdoing, his comment will always remain favorably impressed upon my heart when he made the analogy that if the Jews could airlift thousands and thousands of people out of Ethiopia in “Operation Solomon”, then so could America help those in distress at the Astrodome. I was happy he knew about it and happy that his comment was a compliment to our people, when so many negative comments about Judaism or the Jewish people can be heard emanating from the black community.

I think this has a lot to bear from the Nation of Islam and Black Panther movements that have impressed their anti-Semitic influences upon its members, which in turn has made inroads into the community at large.

Malcolm Shabazz (a.k.a. Malcolm “X”) was a virulent anti-Semite. I had almost quite forgotten that fact when I saw a t.v. show drama about his life. I had recently run across the Bounce Media, LLC network, touted by the child of Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Luther King III, as basically being a network: of the “people”, by the “people”, and for the “people”, meaning the black community. I watched several excellent shows upon first discovering this channel, until they broadcast a drama about Malcolm “X”. I decided I would boycott Bounce TV due to the anti-Semitic content they’re furthering in promoting Shabazz’s Jew-hatred. True, I realize in writing this that my internal debate gives a green light toward freedom of speech and expression, and the fact that Bounce TV included it when it aired does justice toward not “white-washing” (what a choice of words, huh?) the character and showing the man, in part, for really who he was.

“X”‘s accomplishments, whatever they were, still stand — but at least we see his soul laid bare. Maybe I’m not being fair to the show’s creators, when they’re actually trying to portray the reality of the man who has a message I just don’t like. I can understand the feeling of persecution felt as a minority even when I’m not actively being discriminated against, so maybe one day I can let the revulsion of my feelings about this broadcast and my maybe unfair projection onto the programmers at Bounce, who chose to air the offensive material, to fade away — maybe not. Sometimes, the accomplishments achieved by an individual cannot compensate for their expressed bigotry and taint the person as a whole — like my feelings as they extend to the anti-Semitic personages of Mel Gibson and Harry Belafonte. Talented and handsome actors both — but their strongly expressed Jew-hatred just does them in, for me.

I suppose that’s why, here in America, we have an ongoing pot of simmering resentment felt by some in the black community against their perceived status in the country. It is not at all made up that what they have gone through as a people affects even later generations. Whether they have experienced direct discrimination as an individual is irrelevant to the treatment that their ancestors have received at the hands of “the other” in their “collective” past and memories. This is important. And it can never be set right. Ever. Ever. There is just nothing anyone can do to change the history or what has happened to those who have been victimized. The only closest thing that can be done is to try to be repentant and to do things that will try to make amends. It’s only a substitute and it doesn’t change the outcome of what happened — but, it’s the best we’ve got.

And so, America has tried to improve itself in its response to slavery and discrimination by allowing people to be just that — people — and not to be considered as property or less-valued. It has taken awhile, and it hasn’t been perfect. But, at least we should consider that it is being done. In other places of the world, it is not. And this is what we fight for, even for others who do not have the opportunity to experience life in its freedoms, as we purport to do.

What about the arguments of those who would propose that, inasmuch as the victims of such abuse suffer greatly, so, too, do the perpetrators? Well, it’s true that there are often casualties on both sides of a conflict, but does that make it right to say that both sides suffered equally? I think not. Nazis might have died as Germany tried to take over Europe and they went about their genocide to kill Jews, Roma, political and religious dissidents, and people who were disabled, but their perpetration of these heinous acts spares them no sympathy when, as a result of their policies of aggression, they also suffered some of its consequences.

Thus, I think it does matter that while so-called Palestinian people suffer because of their obstinacy to try to take the land away from the Jews, whom they despise, the fact that Jews were there first trumps any claims they might have. To me, their claims are specious and made-up and have no validity. They are not “Canaanites”.

The fact that Arabs tried to break out of the Middle-East by conquering everybody with the sword, garnering them an eventual and impressive swathe of land does not entitle them to hold the land in perpetuity when they lost the wars to keep that land and its original inhabitants earned it back. It’s true that they might suffer in the process of trying to expand their empire at the expense of others, but that’s their fault — if they stopped trying to do so, then the counter-defenses they run up against would have no opportunity to take their lives.

If they don’t like the fact that that’s happened to them, as well — where others have come in and tried to conquer them — well, that’s just too bad. Then don’t cry about not being able to eat the cake, too. You can’t have it both ways, but apparently that is what they want. They came out of Arabia with the fury of the sword in the seventh century, but they don’t like it happening to themselves now in the modern era. They don’t want to take any of the same crap that they dish out.

If we fall prey to this propaganda, and keep playing by the Arab rules of the game, then we are already lost. This is what the author, Andrew Hussey, does when he attributes outrageous Arab acts of violence against the French in looking back only to the French conquest of Algeria in recent memory and the attempts by Napoleon to conquer Egypt and other areas around the region. Neither Israel, nor Europe, nor America had a single thing to do with the Arab expansion out of the Middle East, back in the seventh century. True, the Jews had to fight a lot of turf wars in the region against various factions (of which many don’t even exist today) prior to any knowledge of inhabitation of continents beyond the Middle East. Millennia later, the Jews had to fight the Greek/Roman/Syrian/Other empires in those others’ attempted expansionist takeovers, which is like modern history to the Jews, but considered “ancient” by today’s standards. As a matter of fact, someone I know just mentioned something that was done “by the ancient Romans”, wherein I was secretly amused by her assertion that these people were so “ancient”. I could never reconcile that somehow our American public schools taught me about the “ancient” Greeks and Romans, as if they were the first people to exist, and, lo and behold – my ancestors fought those people, and, because of it, our land and our sovereignty over it was remotely run with vassal kings (our internal battle continuing between the Maccabees and Bar Kochba and the reign of the Jewish Hasmonean Dynasty, versus the capitulators trying to keep the reign Jewish but trying not to anger the Romans enough to completely take over without Jewish rule). So, is Israel actually Roman land, then? No. So, it cannot be Palestine, either (the name given to it by the Romans). It was not theirs to begin with and it has since reverted to its rightful owners, the Jews.

The mindset of present-day Arabs, then, is at odds with their actions. If they are acting on their belief that any land once conquered by them, always belongs to them, then the so-called recent “creation” that they claim Israel to be can have no bearing on matters, being that 1,400 years separate these occurrences! Nor can recent acts, such as the French conquest of Algeria, since that, too, only happened several decades ago — not more than 1,000 years ago!

Prior to writing his book, Andrew Hussey spent some time tooling about the middle-eastern areas, talking to and getting to know the Arabs and attitudes of its regions. He speaks to and interviews many of its inhabitants about their experiences and reactions to incidents and episodes occurring in their lives and of others around them.

Regarding the riot and of other matters surrounding them, the author states that the rioters basically refer to themselves as “soldiers in a ‘long war’ against France and Europe” (pg. 5). He sees this as having begun with Napoleon Bonaparte’s war advances and conquests of the 1800’s and from being sustained through continued French domination and colonization in North Africa over the territories of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco (Libya was surrendered by Ottoman Turkey to Italy in 1912 in the Treaty of Lausanne, per Wikipedia). He finds the influence of French domination to be the crucial, deciding factor during the Mandate days in the 1920’s determining French control over Syria and Lebanon (pg. 6).

However, neither Andrew Hussey, nor today’s present media go back far enough in time to identify even causal incidences germane to the Arab revolts of today. It was Arabs that broke out of the Middle East in the seventh century to begin a deliberate conquest of continents to take the lands for themselves. Millions of innocent people were put to the sword, or were used as slaves or chattel. Their culture was forcefully imposed on those they captured, including the language and religion. The battle for complete control over Africa, and other parts of the world, continues unimpeded today. The Crusades did not occur until 500 years later, and the United States did not become the mighty nation it was yet meant to be until still more than 500 years forward from that, so neither of these acts place the West in a first-aggressor mode.

But, the West’s response in the eventual retaking of these lands and the beating back of these goals has been the irritant which has led to the chaos and destruction we see manifesting in recent decades by the affected descendants. It is based on age-old grievances, and not upon the more recent occurrences purported by the media (and here, too, Hussey), which is attributable to its cause.

In France, tensions are very bad. It is a country filled with the immigrants of those it once dominated. Many consider themselves unaccountable to the mores and customs of the new society in which they find themselves, and pass on these perceptions to following generations, leading to festering resentment which can erupt unbidden. This new paradigm becomes the norm by which all perceptions are measured, regardless of events or circumstances. Therefore, a police encounter with a habitual offender might instigate shop-smashing and car-burning non-incidental to the matter, foisted upon people non-relevant to the situation.

In a visit to the Boston/Cambridge area a few years back, in a snapshot of the people which comprised its image in my mind, I could sense that the people who had plotted or commiserated with the 9-11 terrorist attacks were still embedded in the make-up of that vicinity, sympathizers of its ideology waiting to wreak carnage in what would turn out to be the Boston Marathon bombing or other further incidents.

What Hussey and I both agree on is that this is not created by the recent, common refrain reported by the media as “social justice”. Osama bin Laden, we’ll recall, was among the wealthiest of Arab families operating in the Middle East, and we find many highly-educated terrorists with engineering and science degrees — so, uneducated or disenfranchised from society they are not.

Romanticized visions of the East portrayed in books promote a nonexistent fantasy of a backward land populated by servile, if simple, people — when, in fact, the opposite is true. The Middle East is rife with intelligence and technology, and you’d be surprised to again hear that satellite phones were utilized by terrorists, and satellite dishes and smart phones might be easily discovered in use by both cave-dwellers and the “average Moe” (my coin) alike.

The truly unique phenomenon found in all of this is the staunch denial of Western civilization to square facts with reality — both in its ability to see terrorists for who they are and to see terrorists for what they are. This schizophrenic outlook places the blame for terrorism on everyone except the one onto whom the blame belongs, skewing effective measures which could counteract the toll of its destruction.

Persistent attitudes of anti-Semitism over the millennia have existed, as well. Pro-favorable books about Israel have mostly been removed from the libraries; therefore, one would also never know that the territory known today as Jordan once comprised the larger chunk of land mass, together with Israel, that was once named “Palestine” by the Romans — and so — Arabs already live in “Palestine” under a two-state solution governed by Arabs.

Hussey, himself, exhibits a bit of antagonism towards Jews in commentary about a 1995 movie called La Haine, in which he describes a tri-part alliance between an Arab person, a Jewish person, and a black person who all live in the not-so-great suburbs surrounding Paris. He doesn’t find the film “convincing” because first: he “suspects” (introducing ‘suspicion’) that a Jew couldn’t be friends with Arab people and Black people in ‘this way’ (pg. 22). What “way” is that? If he means confederate with others to form mutually beneficial relationships or to help others apart from themselves, than he’s obviously not aware of the age-old value of “Tzedakah” (Righteousness, translated loosely as “charity”), nor the lengths to which American Jews have gone to promote civil rights for Jewish people and black people in the 1960’s and onward — sacrificing several “sons” to the cause. On the other hand, if he means we just can’t make friends (because we must deserve the anti-Semitic stereotypes of being ‘despised’ people), than he’s obviously making an untrue statement, as Jewish people do have friends! His next reason to not place credence in the film is that he says that he doesn’t know of any Jews living in the “banlieues” (suburbs) – though he says synagogues exist from the 1930’s there (pg. 22), indicating Jewish presence (so, they once did exist, and could still), and he contradicts himself in his own book later on when he relates the story of an Arabic-speaking Jew from Morocco who lives in the banlieues amongst a mostly Arab population. This man, despised collectively for his Jewish heritage, thrived as a minority by investing in himself and in his community by providing goods and commerce into the society (pp. 54 – 55). His store served some of the inherent needs of a population established outside existing resource areas and so filled the vacuum created by outward population expansion.

It is a necessary and common occurrence to establish new cities and suburbs to occupy more land and space as the planet becomes more peopled (Known as “urban sprawl”, Israel has forwardly countered this problem by building vertically in their land-constricted state). While this momentum creates opportunities for individuals with the proper ambition and motivation to build thriving businesses for themselves, and jobs for some, there also becomes a point of saturation where anything beyond dilutes the revenue available, and decline and failure begin to occur.

In the wake of a merger, there lies a hole. While it may prove frustrating for some to be running the “rat race” while “working for the man”, there still exists the potential to create a way out for the self. If one does not have the aptitude or desire to create a successful business, then one cannot gripe too much that they can’t rise beyond certain financial means. Much as I lament the often low wages accompanying the position of being a worker, I can only blame myself for not figuring out a way to rise further.

While we can strive to make the worker’s roles more bearable and humane, as has happened over the evolution of industrializing nations, we still find, in the end, some limiting factors in this capacity.

In some respects, this will work out fine. Certainly, not everyone will be able to reach the stars. We can be thankful that people and societies can be good enough to create safety nets for the ones who, whether by fault or through lack, cannot succeed on their own.

But we cannot tolerate the wanton lawlessness and destruction that has been going on of late. People with the bent to dismantle what others have created are loosing their fury on other people who have actually done something with themselves and their lives. It stokes anger and envy in those who are dissatisfied with their own lives and selves and have not moved forward toward betterment. The only advancement they can achieve seems to be by cowing others into appeasement, since these are not protesters, but bulliers. They exhibit no accountability to better their world, their others, or themselves. They only want to tear down what others have built up in order to level the playing field down to their own miserable states of existence.

This book is one that has needed to be written; its subject, the French-Algerian connection, one that has needed to be explored. We, in the West, in recent generations, have lost the benefits of that quality of teaching which stressed the importance of Latin, history, and foreign languages. We, therefore, do not know where our nation and others may fit in perspective to time, to place, and to (or toward) each other.

It is the same with Israel and the sudden lack of knowledge and disinterest fed by bloodlust which causes the frenzied masses to repeat misinformation and spread bold lies against the Jews to try to appease Arab ambitions and deflect bad behavior onto others.

Hussey shares the plight of what happened to some North African-area people of Arab delineation looking forward from a certain period of time. This time begins in recent memory — but not too recent that anyone alive could recall or refute its true details. This juncture in time occurs after Napoleon of France has gone ahead and conquered Egypt (1798) and the French have continued to colonize the northern parts of Africa, as well. Surely, we can see that the Arabs have reason to act the way they do if we look at their point of new beginning with this time period. But, what about prior to that?

The Arabs, as said before, “burst” out of Arabia in the seventh century and displaced many a people and nation by their own volition. They shouldn’t be upset when the previous owners want their own land back (like in Israel, for instance. It’s Jewish land — it was Jewish when the Romans came, it was Jewish when the Babylonians came, it was Jewish when the Persians came, it was Jewish by designation of the L-rd. If the Canaanites weren’t driven out of existence, they would be the owners — but it’s not any of today’s people, other than the Jews, to whom it belongs).

But it is important to read about what happened in recent times, and it does begin to give the Arabs some sort of history in the world. It’s almost like reading about the same era in a Jewish vein — the storyline put forth by everyone who basically wishes to erase all Jewish history prior to the so-called beginnings of Zionism (which, in all actuality, goes back to our roots) which they purport to be in the 1800’s or so, starting with Theodor Herzl and the various assorted Jewish “Congresses”.

We hear about Arab Algerians who led various factions in favor of one particular ideology or another. It’s as if they’re creating an identity for themselves, first trying on one and then another.

In Jerusalem, in the Old City, I came across one such poster dedicated to trying to create a “Palestinian” identity for the various Arabs who have visited there, lived there, or wished they did, in the last several decades or so. This poster talked about trying to create a style of dress which could be then identified as the “Palestinian” culture, as well as making up dances and other modes of being which could later be called the Palestinian culture (of long ago…).

After the Napoleonic foray in 1798 to capture Egypt, the French captured Algeria on July 5th, 1830 (pp. 83 – 84). Relations between the French settlers who came to Algeria during its colonization and the local Arab population were fraught with tension (pp. 92 – 96).

While most of what we can extract from French joie de vivre lends itself over to intellectualism and spurs the modernist movements which have resulted in the adoption and refinement of these values which helped to birth citizenry and egalitarian ideals, there are other times when France succumbed or was overrun with contrarian types steering their passage down the dark roads of destruction.

While the Jewish people had never received parity on an equal status as citizens in any country (except its own) ever before, it was France who first relaxed their rules and eliminated the second-class status they had been under. But when the events leading up to the recent world wars began to coalesce, France found itself under the Vichy regime, acting in confederacy with many of Hitler’s goals and ambitions. The Final Solution for the Jews was one of these, and France was complicit in rounding up the Jews for deportation to the death camps. Many of the specific individuals who carried out these orders continued to live in safety and protection in France, never having to face war crimes tribunals for as long as they lived. One such person, Maurice Papon, had been involved in the deportation of the Jews at the V’el d’Hiv, and he was the Prefect of Police (pg. 181)!

Hussey tried to equate a subsequent roundup of Muslims into the sports stadiums to be beaten (pg. 199) as akin to the deportation of the Jews. But there is no moral equivalency, whatsoever, here.

As Muslims continued to react with violence to the takeover of their country, the French government stepped in. Between the two were the settlers, who created their own group and sided with neither. Terrorist acts on both sides continued beyond the saturation point, when France decided to give Algeria its independence on July 3rd, 1962 (pg. 202).

During the approximately 130-year rule, factions arose which advocated differing approaches for the state. One of these groups was the Front du Liberation Nationale (FLN) (pg. 156), which was a loose association of Muslim Algerian individuals battling on for independence. On the side of the French Algerians opposed to independence was the Organisation Armee Secrete (OAS), who wanted to fight the French (pg. 198 and others). Hussey again makes an anti-Jewish stab in stating that an OAS death squad named DELTA admired the Haganah (pg. 198) while going on to detail the OAS’s killing of innocent Muslims as if this was something akin to how the Haganah would operate (pg. 198, ibid.), when in fact the Haganah operated mostly as a defensive army for Israel (except when it did, stupidly, open fire on a boatload of Jewish refugees escaping to Palestine from Nazi Europe, which was the impetus for the fracturing-off of splinter groups who disagreed from the Haganah about attacking its own people, creating such groups as the Irgun, etc.).

I’ve done only a small amount of reading on the various military groupings which formed in Israel in the recent decades past. One of them (and then, later, others) broke off from the original defense group and became proactive, in contrast to the original group which remained more passive. The proactive group was the one to eventually create enough chaos and ruckus that the British left their Mandate, allowing the Jews to become self-determining. While the tactics may have been heavy-handed at times, warnings about attacks to follow were often made beforehand to minimize casualties. The tactic of terrorism has proven quite useful, especially for the Arabs, who have reaped many of its rewards. Terrorism does and has worked. The problem is in trying to stop it.

In the infancy of Algeria’s newfound independence ran the internecine battle to determine its leadership. Several people ascended to the top, only to be pulled down and replaced by others.

The reigning president, Ben Youssef Ben Kheda was an unpopular unknown (pg. 207), later succeeded by a vote into power of Ahmed Ben Bella (pg. 208). In turn, he was usurped in a coup d’etat by an FLN commander named Houari Boumedienne (pg. 208, ibid). Boumedienne militarized his security forces, which were responsible for assassinations of dissidents, sent his country’s troops to war with Israel in the Six Day War, returned Arabic to its primary place as language and Islam as the primary culture in the country (pp. 212 – 214).

It’s interesting to note, now, that a woman suspect named Hayat Boumeddiene is wanted in association with the killers involved in a terrorist siege across France January 7th through January 9th, 2015, when eleven people were killed and another eleven further injured in a massacre of workers at Charlie Hebdo magazine (previously firebombed in 2011 for a comic of Mohammed) (this book; and Wikipedia), followed by other atrocities including the killing of a policewoman, the robbing of a gas station, the storming of a kosher supermarket and the taking of hostages, carjackings and other sieges killing four, before the male terrorists, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, and Ahmed Coulaly, the boyfriend of Hayat Boumeddiene, were killed (Wikipedia).

Throughout the millenia and down through the centuries, Arab rule has been fraught with constant and fractious struggles for power and hegemony, from both within its ranks and from without. To uphold the ideals of an individual’s rights to freedom and action in a democratic society goes against the grain of the Mid-East mindset raised to honor the family first. As the family clan expands via births and its extended members, it can form a loose association in its greater form as a tribe.

In the arid climates and desertland often found in the locales from which they spring, gender roles became entrenched to correspond with the functions they assumed within this society. Much like we consider the hunter-gatherer societies (at least in our recent postulations), the males take the proactive/aggressive stance and hunt down the major resources to be used by the family, while the female assumes the care-giving roles and its attendant and ongoing needs. This involves the tasks associated with the home (organizing, neatening) and with its members within it (nursing, raising, feeding, etc.).

The struggle for power pits family against family, perpetually at loggerheads to remain the domineering clan, as it is they who decide matters and it is to them that accrue many riches. It is not surprising, therefore, that there are always others trying to usurp first place – and therefore, they must hire others (or dole out favors) for protection, always being wary that these same people could turn on them. It becomes an ongoing battle to eliminate the opposition. It has not yet taken hold that a democratic process of elections leading to a government that still operates with bribery and corruption will ultimately break down into civil chaos, as has happened in all elective middle-east nations, with the exception of Israel. The society itself needs to change and must want and initiate this change from within.

In 1991, when the Islamist FIS claimed victory in a first-round of voting to ascend to Parliament, the populace reacted. So, too, did the military, starting yet another cycle of Algerian civil war (pp. 228-229).

In limited situations where resources are scarce, the family’s acquisitions might be gained by various means, all considered fair game, including by work, trade, or strategy to divest someone else of their own holdings. The strategies used to obtain their acquisitions are regaled for their ribaldness and daring, as much fair game exists in the efforts to obtain it as do the methods. The subject of many an oral tradition include pilfery as much as they are set to poetry. The male ego hinges upon the success of these endeavors, much of it incumbent upon the quantity of the provisions they supply. And so the tales related may become embellished in exaggerated details, always in their favor.

We act, here in America, as if this is a new occurrence — a wonderment of baffling perplexity. It is not, at all, and it is certainly known. To pretend otherwise, shows a willful strategy to do so. When an author can relate its truth and others can speak to it with experience, then plausible deniability can no longer be employed in a Saul Alinsky-like mode to lure society into its false trap. Hussey states that the violence reaching France was an inevitable trajectory of the incidents which predated it (pg. 235). And that, to an extent, is true. In a later incident two years later in France, Algerian men proceeded to hijack a plane and shot several of its passengers. Hussey states that their plan had been to fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower (pg. 236), which eerily parallels the September 11th, 2001 hijacking of American planes used against the Pentagon and the twin towers of the World Trade Center, which collapsed after hijacked planes were flown into each of them. Knowing this, can we still pretend ignorance to terrorist tactics and the fact that they can, and will, be used against us?

We find this in many of the relics left behind by ancient societies in the mideast region, in commemorations of battles engraved in stone regarding perceived victories against the “other” in battle, and the enumeration of items gained, whether cities, livestock, property or people. The exhilaration of acquisition and dominion can turn to harshness in the suppression of others. We see this among many similar structures in this vein as evidenced by the cruelty displayed by cartels and “syndicates”, mafioso and Barbary pirates plying the shores to ransom shipboard cargo and passengers.

This position has not changed much in the thousands of years since the society began, while much of the world beyond it has gone the course of industrialized nations. The chasm between the two has widened and function at completely distanced poles from each other. To look down the line and view the other would bring astonishment and dismay at the manner in which the other society operates. The survival instinct to protect each own’s society would kick in and present the conundrum over what to do about the other – ignore it, engage with it, assimilate with it, or annihilate it? Unfortunately, while the industrialized nations might wish to engage with or assimilate the Arab culture, the Arab culture wishes no engagement with the industrialized/democratic culture and sees it as a threat which cannot co-exist with their own culture. This is what we are witnessing in the behavior of the jihadists — it is indeed a clash of cultures and civilizations, if you will. That is why it is terrifying to the Taliban, for instance, to allow women to attend school, for they become educated and might learn not to be subservient when they gain confidence in themselves and become individuals with rights of their own.

But technology has advanced so far and penetrated so deep that I don’t think that there are many societies left in the world that have not been touched, or at least visited, by modernity. And so, by that very nature, they are in a losing battle they cannot win, but we are witness to its last strongholds and assertion for dominance in the world. They will not go down without a fight though they stare down the wrong end of the barrel.

What America sees now has been going on for more than a century in Europe. Reading Hussey’s book is like stumbling upon the writings of a seer. If we wonder how it will play out here, one need only open his book and to read his pages.

Eventually it moves abroad and picks up anew where it left off, that much wiser for advanced technology and training. Here again, we see terrorism proliferating in its new environs. Homegrown and lone wolf sympathizers vie to inflict the nastiest damage they can on the non-believers (the infidel) by killing and maiming as many as they can.

Andrew Hussey reports the renewed revival of terror perpetrated by the Algerian Muslims against France beginning in the early 1990’s with a bombing at the airport terminal of Houari Boumedienne airport in Algiers (pg. 233). Well, fancy that. Though there may be minor differences in spelling, the latest terror plot carried out in France of 2015 is linked by association to the known terrorists with a woman named Hayat Boumeddiene, who managed to disappear and stay hidden, the story swept under the carpet by the media. Why is there no follow-up on her whereabouts or 24/7 news coverage of the all-points bulletin being issued for her? No… the name is too-well known and associated with terrorist martyrs, whom the Arabs idolize and aspire to become like them.

Hussey speaks of the resultant fracturing and ideological imitations carried forward by like-minded individuals and groups, noting that the original group does not need to hold together in order to complete its goals of destruction (pg. 234).

Just so we know, the next step as the Arabs enter the country whose people they find abhorrent, they recruit from within their ranks to train more people in killing tactics. Then, they recruit from within the country’s own people, after which they escalate into attacks.

The book is also about Morocco. Hussey relates that the area was ruled by Sultan Mawaly Abdul Aziz and had not been considered rich enough in assets for an outside country to plunder, and so it went about in existence delineated as much by what it was not as by what it was (pg. 268). With no desire to conquer Morocco inasmuch as to protect the Frenchmen of Algeria, the French decided that Morocco should become a protectorate (pg. 269), which reached its realization in the 1912 Treaty of Fez. The sultan was still allowed secular sovereignty along with his religious authority as a supposed descendant of the Prophet Mohammed (pg. 268). The sultan is reported to have had thirty black slaves alone to prepare his racing track (pg. 270).

The Arabs have kept slaves from the beginning of known history, even up to this day, only recently putting to paper (whether in reality, or otherwise) the abolition of its practice. Especially with the seventh century expansion of the Islamic Empire outward into Africa, the taking of captives to be used as slaves was a common occurrence. Property and booty were the tributes to the conquerors, and those who did not accept the new Islamic rule were met, quite often, with death by beheading. Since this newest religion was preceded by Christianity and Judaism, and is based on the acceptance of some of it and the reproachment of other parts of it in the book known as the Koran compiled by Islamic scholars several centuries after the death of its founder, Mohammed, it was contended that those adherents to the prior revelations were superseded by Islam and must show obeisance to Islam’s superiority and replacement as the final “word”. If in good graces, they could be permitted to substitute a tributary payment (jizya), in acknowledgment of the supposed superiority of Islam, and that would sometimes suffice for the ransom of their lives. But many were taken as slaves, and as related previously, were inculcated with Islamic ideology, culture and language. Many of the indigenous natives to Africa thus acquired a new culture superimposed over their own, the domineering forces imposing its will and becoming the dominant mode of life for many. Ingrained over the centuries, it has not been eradicated and there remains a strong, lingering Arabic culture among many of today’s African nations. They have yet to “shake it off”, like the Jews were relieved to do in coming home at last to Israel after so many years of imposed exile among the nations. Thankfully, there were always Jews living in Canaan/Palestine/Judah/Israel to welcome home those who had not been able to make it back earlier, although the desire and dream to do so had never left them. Despite the outer trappings of the societies in which they found themselves, Jews the world over maintained their religious rituals (minus the Temple rites performed by the Levites) with the Cohens, the Rabbis and the Sages, all keeping in touch to preserve Judaism in living embodiment among its people. That is why following the first destruction of the Temple, when many of Israel’s most talented and intelligent people were carted off to Babylon, there existed a portable form of Judaism where communication was exchanged by letter to answer important theological questions. During this time, commentary on both sides developed and grew and became what we know today as the Talmud, two versions, practically identical, arising out of the two lands: Babylon and Jerusalem. They are known as Talmud Bavli (Babylon) and Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem) (yes, Jerusalem). Today we hold the Babylonian Talmud as the more authoritative edition, being that the more learned scholars and authorities of the time were the ones who had been exiled out of Israel (and that is why it is considered like as if all the inhabitants had been removed to Babylon, rendering Israel/Judah/House of David devoid of substance).

What supposedly advanced societies pass off as civilization is unfathomable that it includes vile and violent anti-Semitism, even to this day. But, Jewish people, as a nation of people, are among the world’s oldest, if not the oldest, continuous ancient society of the world. We’ve had eons to adopt a benevolent and enlightened outlook of the world, even if the rest of the world is millenia behind in catching up. If the best that Europe could produce was the Austro-Germanic trappings of their provincialism, or the Francophilic acceptance of an “anything goes” culture, we can expect that the self-delusional superiority these views can breed would allow scapegoating for their failures to extend to projections upon the foreigner, “the Jew”. The fact, while hard to concede, is that its existence today should be hardly surprising, given the relatively slow rate with which their societies evolved.

The Middle Ages in Europe were practically barbaric when Jews, 1,500 years before, had already figured out how to build and dress 144-ton stones to be used in the retaining wall on the Temple Mount.

That jealousy resurges in the form of anti-Semitism is not surprising to me, either — but the fact that nobody really mentions it is somewhat laughable. In any case, that is how it goes — so, the fact that libraries today contain only mostly books of incorrect statements about Jewish history or the Jewish people can be considered par for the course. And to think — Jews helped to compile the content of the writings found in some of the greatest ancient libraries of the world, including at the Great Library in Alexandria, Egypt, where seventy scribes were involved in translating the Old Testament into the various lingua franca of the day and region. The resultant book is known as the Septuagint (its base root word translating this fact into it’s reality).

So we find the few digs at the Jews included in Hussey’s work, as well as in most others among the libraries’ bookshelves. Usually it comes as a thought process of one of the book’s characters, or as an undefined statement lacking a pronoun to trace it back to, so that no lawsuits for libel or slander or defamation of character can be pursued. Whether the thoughts were included by the author, or as a peculiar addition by the editor (so that they can place the book into the library’s catalogue collection?) is a wonderment.

But to his credit, we do find here that Hussey has at least included descriptions of some heinous Arab attacks against the Jews, as well as upon others, in the book, which is conspicuously absent from most others. While hardly making a dent in the long litany of attacks from the Arabs that we’ve faced, it at least provides a glimpse into the barbarity with which they were committed.

Medicine was not unknown in the Arab world. The Jewish mind was often enlisted by Arabs in the provision of services and in passing on Jewish knowledge in written form. We have done so continuously throughout our existence, attesting back to Joseph as the overseer of Egypt for the Pharoah of the time, and of many who served like a court physician, such as Moses Ben Maimon (also known in the Hellenistic variant as Maimonides) who was considered monumental in bringing medical knowledge to the Europeans. Of course, in thankfulness for the saving of many lives through this knowledge, the superstitious and anti-Semitic Europeans would later create the Black Plague libel to blame upon the Jews.

Medical knowledge, even among some of the Arabs of today, can still be comprised of startlingly uninformed beliefs. Hussey relates this to be the case in Morocco in 1907, which he says included spells, caustic, and hot irons (pg. 272). The French doctor sent over to tend the local Moroccan people met a gruesome death by stabbing and stoning for the suspicion supposedly held by the local populace that a surveying pole set on his building for triangulating coordinates for map-making projects was instead being used to control the population via telegraphs from the French (pg. 272, ibid). The French authorities blamed the attack on an innocent German Jew, Judah Holzmann, who Hussey says was working for the local pasha (pg. 272, ibid).

In a 1907 assault by France on Casablanca sent to protect European lives and colonial rule, the Arabs turned around and attacked the Jewish population over several days, with Jewish women captives ransomed for their lives (pg. 276).

The political situation of colonial rule resulted in Morocco’s division to France as a protectorate, with the 1912 Treaty of Fez, overseen by rule of the sultan. Germany was bought out in exchange for territory on the Congo; Spain was granted territories going back from claims to the sixteenth century in areas of the North and in the far Southern regions; Tangier was placed under international control. The Jews, under the protectorate, were still not granted French citizenship (pp. – 278).

So why is there an international outcry to take Jerusalem and other parts of Israel away from it, when all the Arabs have been granted independence to their lands despite always losing their wars? Growing tired of war, Moroccans were granted their independence in 1956 (pg. ). Why the discrepancy between how the world treats the Arabs versus how the world treats the Jews? Just days ago, under the administration of the first black president in U.S. history, the United States declares that it will not recognize Israel as the birthplace of those born in Jerusalem. While there’s a great hue and cry mainly coming from the American Jewish population (as no one else could give a hoot about this) about the ignominious treatment of the Jewish state and its people, what the Leftist idiots don’t realize is that it would have to pertain equally to the Arab population. To me, that can be a good thing. Who really cares what America thinks, as long as Jerusalem and all parts of Israel are still considered by Israel to always belong in Jewish hands as Israel? We have always received nose-thumbing from America and the rest of the world. Everyone can see what it is, for what it’s worth. So, Israel will go on, as it did way before the Mayflower set sail on its voyage for its own New Jerusalem/New Amsterdam.

I haven’t studied Trotsky, Marx or Lenin, Socialism, Communism, or Fascism, so I don’t know whether they were as politically astute as to escalate their cause for the common man to include opposition to Imperialism or Colonialism, as Hussey attributes back to them in the early 1900’s (pg. ). But Communist leaders sided with the Arabs in their insurgency of the early 1920’s to try to regain Morocco by force in their war against “bankers and industrialists (pg. 288)”, which we know is coded anti-Semitism couched in not very ambiguous terms, being that this slur against the Jews has persisted for hundreds upon hundreds of years and is related to the anti-Semitic belief that Jews run the world, or are out to try to do that, with the attendant second slur of ‘all Jews are wealthy’ being implied. This therefore refutes the retrospective push to attribute the Communist movement and outlook as means devised by Jews to accomplish these goals. While some of these movements may have had Jews among their founders or proponents thereof, Communists were mostly against the Jews and were often the perpetrators in acts of violence against Jews. Anti-Semitism has been buried by cloaking these ideas in continued ambiguity, such as the Church now referring constantly to “The Enemy” in substitution for what used to openly be called either ‘The Jews’ or ‘The Devil’ (here, they become synonymous, a convenient euphemism elevating their message). When pressed for further meaning, it will be stated “The Unbeliever”.

Although Morocco was free, it was far from a country settling into a peaceful existence. The violence and rioting has not abated even to the present day, and the methods we see taking hold on American streets in the past few years, which effectively began with the Occupy (Wall Street) movement, were raging in Morocco during the 1970’s and 1980’s still. They attacked the wealthy areas, smashing shop windows and burning cars (pg. 306).

Many of the Arab movements are comprised of its different branches, which Hussey notes among one that developed among Moroccan youth (pg. 307). Its name is unimportant, but what it shows is the tendency to be able to fool people into believing their charitable contributions represent the entirety of a movement’s efforts when, in fact, it is melded to a violent, murderous ideology.

Hussey gives us a brief look, which nobody in the media had bothered to do, into the personal details of Zacarias Moussaoui. He tells us that Moussaoui was raised in France in a town called Narbonne, and whose family had come from Meknes, Morocco (pg. 312).

Hussey takes a stab at America, describing characters in a book of third-generation Moroccan descent living in France whose culture is ‘being eroded by Anglo-American pop culture (pg. 313)’. You see the constant riots in places like France broadcast on t.v. – yet America is full of third-generation immigrants, as well — and these have learned to improve their ways to live with uncommon people.

He does us the favor of describing multiple attacks against Jews and Jewish institutes in Morocco by the Moroccans who live there, which occurred only a dozen years ago. Multiple Jewish targets were attacked on the same day. Bombs were placed along a Jewish cemetery, inside a Jewish-owned restaurant, and the Cercle de l’Alliance Israelite, as well as in a Kuwaiti-owned hotel (for good measure) (pg. 314). Other attacks included a club geared toward the elderly Spanish population, and other methods included the ubiquitous attempted beheading, knifing, and killing of people not conforming to Islamist purity. The acts were not limited in scope or in gender: even young teenage girls got in on the act to plan and execute violent acts (pg. 315). Hussey states there was no connection among these events, but there was.

He speaks also of the recent terror attacks of March 11th, 2004 in Spain, which the media portrayed as a new phenomenon never before happening. More information, which we learn from Hussey about it, was never properly portrayed in American media: at least eighteen terrorists (convicted in 2007) placed thirteen bags with mobile phone devices to explode bombs aboard four passenger trains at the beginning of morning commute-time (pg. 316). He says that police found videos of one of the convicted terrorists’ Moroccan friends fighting in Dagestan, Russia (pg. 316, ibid) (second home of convicted terrorist, Jokhar Tsarnaev). The terrorists were all from Tangier, where Hussey says the American legation, the former headquarters of the U.S. Diplomatic Mission has been since 1821 (pp. 323-324)!

There was the terrorist attack in England on 07/07/2005. I myself was sitting in a plane on the tarmac getting ready for takeoff when the news was broadcast on those little t.v. sets in the back of the seats. Mine wasn’t on and I only briefly saw the screen to see that something serious was going on, but I didn’t really know what. Then we were on our way, and I do remember being petrified all flight long as many Arabs scattered throughout the plane singly stood up, went to the lavatory and returned to their seat, followed by the next one, then the next, etc. Two Arab men sitting next to each other across from me both were reading similar sheafs of papers which looked to be printed out from personal computers and which I believed were either The Daily Mail or something like that, which I thought was an English paper, but the men didn’t look at each other once or converse or anything and at the end of the flight each dumped their papers into a trash bag the flight attendant brought around.

We had our own huge terrorist attack in America on 09/11/2001, and the terrorists have not stopped yet. England had another one with that guy who beheaded the off-duty soldier, and France just had the multiple attacks against the journalists of the satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo, which was previously attacked several years ago, a fact not mentioned in the media, as well as the attack in the kosher supermarket (which president Obama would later refer to as “some folks in a deli…”) and others.

All along, there is one common thread that does unite all of these — the attackers are “Arabs”, using that term to include all the different countries or people which comprise that culture.

The Arab world again erupted, but this time across its own nations, in what retrospectively became known as the Arab Spring. We had hoped that these people were fighting their oppressive countries and would at long last claim victory and freedom for themselves, but this did not occur. Nothing was gained. It caught our attention for a while and definitely seemed to be inspired by the Occupy (Wall Street) movement. Then it seemed there was a moratorium on reportage from the media. It probably has not died out, but we wouldn’t know that from lack of coverage on our end.

Completing the North African foray, Hussey’s last country is the third of the trine: Tunisia. He pins the start of the Arab Spring to an act of self-immolation by an angry fruit vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi protesting the harrasment he received at the hands of Police trying to seize his cart on December 17th, 2010 (pg. 339), which set off riots cross-state and into nearby Arab countries. Nearing the end of 2012, the U.S. embassy in Tunis was attacked and the American School was burned down, events not reported in American media. He reports this having happened only days later from the murder of Chris Stephens, the American ambassador to Libya, which was a constant media item for months (the “BenGhazi” incident). He then goes on to relate that the satirical French publication, Charlie Hebdo, published imagined images of the “Prophet”, as if it was a premonition to the later massacre in the magazine’s building just recently. He says that the police in Tunis were hunting a Salafist Muslim heading the group Ansar-El-Sharia, named Abou Iyadh (pp. – 349).

During the Second World War, both Germany and Italy fought the French in Tunisia for control of the land and won. The Germans then confiscated Jewish property there and sent them to concentration camps in Tunisia and Europe. He says that the Jews were a 100,000-strong population in Tunisia prior to this; he also called the camps “labour” camps, but we know that German camps confining the Jews were often way more than that — they were death factories. He tells of one Arab Tunisian who helped to save Jews during this time and was nominated, as the sole Arab, by Israel as one of the Righteous Among Nations (pp. -363). His name is Khaled Abdul-Wahab.

Tunis became PLO headquarters after they were bombed out of Beirut, Lebanon by Israel in 1982, and second home after leaving Egypt by the Arab League (pg. 372). Hussey states that the first Palestinian Intifada (obviously against Israel) was directed from Tunisia with Egyptian-born leader Yasser Arafat at its head (pg. 373).

It’s hard to believe that in my time and only within the last decade or so that the immovable, unchangeable titans of the Middle East, the Davids and Goliaths if you will, have all fallen in the strangest of ways: Ariel Sharon (Israel, Lion of Judah) was felled by a stroke from which he never regained consciousness (although he was placed into a medically-induced coma); Arafat (PLO) died of natural causes but is claimed to have been poisoned; Khaddafi (Libya) was torn apart by mobs of his own countrymen; Mubarak (Egypt) was brought down by hard-line Islamists and prosecuted; Assad (Syria) is still fighting a civil war against his countrymen and invading outsiders; the Husseins of Iraq (Saddam and his ghastly children) were taken out a bit earlier than these by their countrymen but with complete American support.

All of these, especially Israel’s, are a great loss because the interim situation is creating a vacuum being filled by hard-line Islamists and continuing warfare. We don’t know what the outcomes will be, as this history is continuing to be written as it unfolds. It is not modernity that will bring a change to the ages-old Arab mindset, because terrorism can thrive in both high- and low-tech mode. Only the desire by its citizens to create a democratic way of life guaranteeing freedom for its people will propel the impetus forward for its change in governance. Hopefully the Arab citizens can overthrow the despotic regimes they’ve been living under and create the democratic lifestyle and freedoms that they would truly cherish.

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The Storyteller’s Daughter – by Saira Shah

The Storyteller’s Daughter – by Saira Shah; copyright 2003 by Saira Shah. A Borzoi Book published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and Random House of Canada, Limited, Toronto. Originally published 2003 by Penguin Books, Ltd., London.

The author’s talent is in finding a voice which can soothe and the perplexity to relate to the dual, and duelling natures of a woman trying to concile the reality of her birth-country upbringing, versus the peoplehood and nation of her ancestry, which is also so much a part of her. So much of this book is relatable — her journeys back to her roots and the stories held in her heart.

The help with which she did wish to aid her fellow man (or woman, as this case so pertains) has reached its spiritual recipient in the publishing and telling of her own story. In inexplicable ways, it provided healing for an immediate need and longer-term balm through the mystical revelation bequeathed to a sister in a Jewish soul.

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Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis – by John R. Bradley

Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis – by John R. Bradley. First published 2005 by Palgrave MacMillan, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, 10010 and Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England RG216XS. Copyright 2005 by John R. Bradley.

One of the most interesting books I’ve read; full of relevant information from a British citizen who lived and worked in Saudi Arabia as a journalist for Arab News. He was educated at University College, London; Dartmouth College, and Exeter College, Oxford and speaks Arabic. The book reads like a daily journal in book form. Amazing.

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Out of Egypt: A Memoir – by Andre Aciman

Out of Egypt: A Memoir, by Andre Aciman; copyright 1994 by author. Published in hardcover, 1994, by Farrar Straus Giroux; later by Riverhead Books, the Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014; Also published in Canada.

The story of an Egyptian Jewish family and their lives in Alexandria. The book won a 1995 Whiting Writer’s Award and has received praise from a litany of reviewers, of whose excerpts themselves show mastery of the English language.

My disappointment with the author’s word choices to describe his great-uncle, however, skewer my initial anticipation in choosing to read this book. I don’t particularly care to find insulting or stereotypical language directed against Jews in my reading selections, but I have found it on a rather regular basis, and often from the same sources. The remarks I find derogatory in this book use descriptors for the great-uncle such as: arrogant; self-satisfaction; strutting; cocksure; …-braggart; hectoring, barged in; hapless; schemes; flaunting; rascal; shady; conjurer. All this, plus some negative turns of phrase in just the first three pages!

By the fourth page, he describes his great-uncle as a self-loathing type who turns the projected anti-Semitism of others inwards upon himself so that the stereotypical insults of the bully become his own self-directed hatred. He continues the derogatory terminology (via the character of his uncle) with: peddler; scoundrel; patronizing; shrewd; womanizer. It’s bad enough to hear anti-Semitism from others, let alone from “one’s own.”

Segueing into another character, also Jewish, Aciman describes him as diffident; stupid; incompetent; duplicity. By the twelfth page, we’ve added “demonic.” This is the stock-in-trade of anti-Semites and the academia of recent generations.

If you make it through all the hyperbole and hectoring, you’re suddenly sucked into the lives of these characters and the portrayal of a time not so far into the distant past, where such attitudes were more commonplace and Jews still lived among many of the Muslim lands prior to the rebirth of their ancestral homeland, Israel. Nary a Jew remains among the so-called Muslim lands and people of today; they were all driven out by the Muslims, their properties and assets confiscated, for the most part, in the land jockeying occurring at the close of World Wars I and II, when the entirety of the Middle East was carved up and redistributed amongst the powerful family scions and factions prevalent at that time — Israel was one fair entity among them.

Yet with the outpouring of a propensity of the world’s Jews and their concurrent settling among the various people of the world in the foreign lands of the “other”, many Jews were looked at as interlopers among the local populace. They were forced to live apart from the mainstream in ghettos and were legally regarded as second-class citizens or subjects and were not permitted to assimilate into many of the cultures in which they found themselves.

This was later to have had the effect of making many Jews resentful of this low-class status conferred upon them, leading to the adoption of these similar attitudes by the Jews against themselves in their shedding of ritual practices and any appearance suggestive of their Judaism which might hinder their ability to blend into the local culture. Many Jewish people do not even realize they have done this and would wholeheartedly deny it was so — but, I know; because I was one of them, anxious to shed the identity which held me back, in my own perception. Later on, when I matured and my viewpoints about the world became more pragmatic and less utopian, so too did my attitudes change to my heredity and I became proud of this noble lineage from which I spring. It is just such inklings that show up in this book, which bring tears to the eyes at its tender moments, knowing that the past as it unfolded has been written and recorded for our review in posterity.

Like a flower bud blooming, one might look on the enlightenment of our recent decades of civil rights and wonder how people could ever have held the attitudes they did during such days. Really, this is what the book is about, to me — aptly named ‘Out of Egypt’ in nodding reference to the Jewish exodus out of bondage from their human masters and into the realm of the Divine.

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