Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shabbat for Egypt in the Village of Wells, British Columbia

My buddy Bill Horne up in the Cariboo Mountains sent me this photo of some happy locals celebrating the Egyptian Uprising by breaking the challah in solidarity at small pyramid of snow. Nous sommes partout; Nous sommes tous le monde:


Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Massive U.S. aid to Egypt—over 60 billion dollars since 1981—has enabled Hosni Mubarak to maintain his repressive regime for the past thirty years. This aid is directly tied to Egypt’s treaty with Israel. Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid, after Israel, in the world"

What a confused and self-defeating message is this!?

Most American aid to Egypt went into building and training its modern army and fortifying Egypt's military might, the very military that Egyptian protesters embrace as their protectors, and upon which all are pinning their hopes to engineer an orderly transit to a new democratic rule.

So what's with the Wink wink nudge nudge, we are with you in your dislike and distrust of Americans when they come to make peace?

I look at that challa being "shared" and think Egyptians are going to gravely DIS-understand the message intended in this gesture.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Bill Horne said...

I see from your own blog that my friends and I are "clueless" (Jews for peace message to Egyptians: Clueless in BC

Sorry, I don't know who you are quoting in your unattributed reference. Please post some clues.

If any of us were winking or nudging, well, it's chilly up here in the mountains; I've been shoveling snow all weekend. But nowhere did we say anything about Americans or Israel. Huh?

Yes, we did "share" the challah I baked. We "ate" it, too ;-)

12:47 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Sorry, I don't know who you are quoting in your unattributed reference. Please post some clues."

Bill Horne:

Sorry. I thought, as you linked to

"Jewish Voice for Peace's statement to the Egyptian people" without comment, it meant you endorsed it in its entirety and the sharing of the challa was the extravagant gesture that accompanied that endorsement:

I take it you do not agree with the quoted statement?

1:56 PM  
Blogger Bill Horne said...

I confess that I like the JVP statement, though my friends and I don't have a "dislike and distrust of Americans." Please don't put words in my mouth. As a clueless person, I am easily confused :-o

I post lots of links online to various sources of information, though I don't necessarily agree with all of them. Like Al-Jazeera news, BBC, etc. I might go there to see what stories or imagery they're posting, but I certainly know I'll need to sift through various levels of bias in their reporting.

My favourite part of the JVP statement is "We think the uprisings are cause for hope." That's the bottom line for me.

Bread, wine (or juice for those who prefer), candles in the snow - not intended as an extravagant gesture. Just a simple celebration of the above.

2:21 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I'm sure you all had a lot of fun with that pyramid and challa. Too bad I can't share in your optimism.,7340,L-4028085,00.html

4:11 PM  
Blogger Bill Horne said...

Yes, we did have fun, and we intend to carry on having fun, in the spirit of Emma Goldman.

The article you posted ends with this:

"Nour is the only political figure to challenge the army's position vis-à-vis international treaties. He has relatively little clout within the opposition."

So here we have an article about the possible end of Camp David, based on an interview with someone with "relatively little clout." This is meant to bolster your argument for pessimism?

Of course the situation is complex, fragile, volatile and unpredictable. I have lots of concerns. But as Terry said earlier, why not cheer up, even if just for a moment?

4:26 PM  
Blogger Bill Horne said...

btw I enjoyed the piece by Robin Shepherd that you quoted from on your site. But aren't you just a bit selective in finding reasons to be pessimistic? I noticed you didn't mention the last part of his title:

"Western folly in MidEast comes home to roost, but democracy in Egypt must be supported." [my emphasis]

[full entry here:]

That seems like a crucial issue to the author; is it not to you, too?

5:05 PM  
Blogger frank said...

"Too bad I can't share in your optimism."

Not much of a surprise given your previously declared opinions here.

"Most American aid to Egypt went into building and training its modern army and fortifying Egypt's military might, the very military that Egyptian protesters embrace as their protectors, and upon which all are pinning their hopes to engineer an orderly transit to a new democratic rule."

This is staggering. Unreal. Really. The army played its cards, not firing on the protesters, but not joining the mass movement either. either: a critical phase in classical revolutions. And the communiqués issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt have been ambiguous at best, full of vague promises and calls for people to return home. Certainly they indicate no conversion to the principle of civilian rule. The supreme council, now at the helm of power, was chosen and shaped by Mubarak; its chairman is the defence minister, Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, described in a 2008 WikiLeaks cables as ‘aged and change-resistant’. It is not a description that inspires confidence. An uphill battle is ahead. Sadly you're already snatching agency out of the hands of a movement that's been nothing short of inspiring. It's a shame. Your shame.

6:05 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Glad you're agreeing with the realists now, Frank, and noticing that despite the success of the protesters, the army's still running the show. I fail to see your point, though. Or should we just blame it all on Harper?

6:46 PM  
Blogger frank said...

I'm holding Harper accountable for betraying basic values of freedom, dignity and respect. He was steadfast aligned to "Mubarak's transition" well past the time America had shifted. Pathetic. Canadians should be outraged.

8:26 PM  
Blogger frank said...

I'm acknowledging the impediments stacked against further reaching democratic impulses being realized. The will and tenacity of the people bode well for long term struggle. Much has changed even as, yes, the military has taken hold. Egyptians showed us that they will do anything so as not to be abused. Our western governments too often aid and abet thier abusers. Harpers shameful posturing, as citizens, should matter to all of us.

8:54 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

I think you're suddenly pissed at the army -- who just earlier today acceded to the protesters' demands and dissolved parliament and voided the constitution -- because they've agreed to respect and maintain all past agreements, including, crucially, the peace treat with Israel.

And this Harper fetish of yours is, in the context of the Egyptian revolution, petty and silly.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I must say, I get the trepidation and everything but for mercy's sakes, this is the best thing that has happened in the "Arab world" since I don't know when. And as for Frank, I get the distinct impression that he'll be an auld miseryguts about this until Naomi Klein is the Egyptian Finance Minister and Michael Moore is the Minister of Culture.

Unlax, for once. Dance!

1:47 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"I noticed you didn't mention the last part of his title:

"Western folly in MidEast comes home to roost, but democracy in Egypt must be supported." "

And you point is?

I'm not against democracy in Egypt. But, like Frank likes to say, I'm all for holding the Egyptian people's feet to the fire by signaling to them that their antisemitism will not be tolerated, if they are really to enjoy the affection of the world community. Oppressed people, Bertrand Russel wrote, deserve their rights. I totally agree. But celebrating in this manner a people who has yet to prove that it understands the onus of democratic ethos, a people with a record of deep and in my opinion incurable antisemitism? I don't think so, no matter how much you try, in different ways, to burden me with guilt for refusing to join in the festivities.

The hope of democracy is that democracies, genuine democracies, do not make war of each other.

Good luck to Bill Horne with his doubts and challas. I wish his hopes all the best.

4:09 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"I noticed you didn't mention the last part of his title:"

Bill Horne:

I just noticed that I didn't mention any part of the title. So what do you mean by this question? Why are you trying to portray me as deceitful? So far you have not exhibited such great awareness of what you are reading. You didn't notice that paragraph in the declaration of Jewish Voice for but you did notice something that wasn't even there in my post.

4:35 AM  
Blogger Bill Horne said...

Not deceitful, just selective, Contentious.

I don't see anyone here trying to burden you with guilt. Terry may be calling for dancing, but fear not, no one will make you do the Rhumba.

My point in mentioning the full title of Robin Shepherd's piece that you excerpted on your blog is exactly that: "democracy in Egypt must be supported." I'm glad you agree.

I just differ in wanting to celebrate an important development, even if it's just for a Friday night. And I am hopeful, though perhaps as full of trepidation as Terry, that supporting this might just lead to positive change.

It won't be easy of course, but I don't want to assume it's all destined to fail. I think that would be disrespectful of the sacrifices people have made to get this far.

I think we ought to be asking how to support them in going farther. How to we get the CLC to support the unions that have been striking? etc. And for sure, how can we help dismantle anti-semitism anywhere it's entrenched?

You are so right, though, my memory did fail me when I saw that unattributed quote in your first post. I had failed to recognize that part of the text of the JVP statement that's linked below the photos on my site.

I'll endeavour to pay more attention next time an anonymous blogger calls me and my friends "Clueless in BC", puts words in my mouth and - most offensive to me - uses that hack writing technique of using quote marks to denigrate the actions and ideas of others ('I look at that challa being "shared" and think Egyptians are going to gravely DIS-understand the message intended in this gesture.').

Was there something wrong in sharing the bread?

10:27 AM  
Blogger frank said...

"I'm all for holding the Egyptian people's feet to the fire by signaling to them that their antisemitism will not be tolerated, if they are really to enjoy the affection of the world community."

This line of argument is more than a little disingenuous. One can acknowledge anti antisemitism in the Arab world without putting forward reductionist arguments meant only to dehumanize the very people who carried forward a universal and inspired struggle. Put another way what if we flip the equation. Are Arizonans who elect bat shit crazy politicians intent on codifying what human rights groups call an institutionalized racist anti Latino policies deserving of democratics rights. The materially rich America bestows legitimacy on bat shit crazy figures such as Sarah Palin, do Americans deserve our "humanity"? in Israel, the Haifa-based Center Against Racism found that 68 percent of Jews polled revealed they were unwilling to live next to an Arab neighbor. Essentalized anti arab discrimination?

You get the point. Contentious seems more interested in dehumanizing Egyptians, robbing them of agency, at this historic moment, then putting forth moral principles worth discussing.

11:01 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

I guess ole frankie can't tell the difference -- yet -- between the regrettable racism that exists in democratic societies like the U.S. and Israel and the inevitable racism that exists among populations trapped by authoritarian or totalitarian states, totalitarian religions, or both. The difference is massive, but frankie does win today's whataboutery award.

12:11 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...


It is rather shabby of you to try to mitigate from your own errors, in endorsing a statement you did not bother to read attentively and in misrepresenting my post, by attacking me as a scurrilous writer. Talk about "hack writing technique"...

1:06 PM  
Blogger frank said...

Yup. Simplistic divisions of the world deal in binaries and essential ism. The past and present crimes of the "good" side become "regrettable" sidenotes (68 per cent is hardly marginal, btw) while prejudices of others (who occupy geographical spaces far more indebted, underdeveloped, and illiterate)are seen as defining qualities. This view of the world eliminates nuance, self reflection and compassion. It leads us down the abyss. If in Tahrir square points us to our common humanity, "clash of civilization" types extol the opposite. Let's hope that the times are, in fact, a changin.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Bill Horne said...

Contentious, "scurrilous" is your word, not mine. If you keep putting words in my mouth, I'll keep pointing it out.

It's hard to communicate via email and Facebook between different character sets & languages, but so far, I've had positive responses to our solidarity shabbat from a Cairo university student, a Canadian Islamic scholar teacing in S California, an Ismaili Muslim, a survivor of the Khomeinist regime's torture cells, and a few other people I know.

FYI there's no organization here called Jews for Peace. Just a few rural rabble rousers like me, trying to counter a holocaust-denier who lives west of here. I trust you will correct this error on your blog.

Meanwhile, as we joust: "Iran police fire tear gas at opposition rally in Tehran"

I'll sing, dance and "share" challah while I can ;-)

1:46 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Blogger Bill Horne said...

Contentious, "scurrilous" is your word, not mine. "

What did you mean by "hack writing technique"?

"3: a mediocre and disdained writer [syn: hack writer, literary

Why do you pretend that you did not say what you did say?

I corrected the error on the post. Check it out.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Bill Horne said...

I believe that using quote marks to denigrate someone else's words is a lazy or hack form of writing.

Since Terry teaches writing and is a recent recipient of BC's top writing honours, I come to expect visitors to his space will take the time to spell out their arguments.

I am trying very hard to understand what you think I am pretending not to have said. It's hard to follow when you put so many words in my mouth and winks in my eyes. I have glaucoma and maybe I missed a vital detail.

Was my error to say in my first reply, "nowhere did we say anything about Americans or Israel?" I was talking about those of us at our Shabbat, not the JVP statement.

When I realized you were referring to the JVP statement, I tried to clarify my position and explain my lapse in not recognizing the quote.

Will it help if I say that none of us talked about the US or Israel at our Solidarity Shabbat, but I *did* link our online Shabbat pics to a JVP statement that talks about US military aid to Egypt and Israel? And that I like their statement?

Thanks for changing your blog post from "Jews for peace message to Egyptians: Clueless in BC" to "Jews for peace message to Egyptians and Clueless with challa in BC."

I guess we won't be doing the Mambo together :-(

4:40 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I believe I made my arguments clearly and unflinchingly. If you don't understand the very simple statements I make you must look to yourself for answers why.

You called me a hack. Scurrilous is what people usually mean when they accuse someone of employing hack writing technique. If you did not mean it, you had plenty of time and opportunity to explain yourself. Instead you choose to speak with contempt about my writing. Coming from you, who did not even know I was quoting from a statement you ENDORSED on your blog, and who deliberately misrepresented what I wrote on my blog, that takes some chutzpa.

"I guess we won't be doing the Mambo together"

You are so drole and witty, Bill.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Bill Horne said...

You can't seem to stop putting words in my mouth or acknowledge that you're doing so, Contentious.

I didn't call you a hack writer in general or use the word "scurrilous" anywhere. I said you used a hack *technique* in a particular instance in your first post. I abhor the technique, not the person.

I think we've occupied more than enough space here. I'm going to get some sourdough starter going for this Friday's Shabbat so the challah will have a distinct Cariboo flavour. Maybe you and I can start over fresh some other time. Bye for now.

7:20 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Well Frankie, since you're so hot to trot about that 68% (which incidentally i never said was "marginal", thanks for putting that word in my mouth), why not talk about the 99% of Egyptians, the 98% of Jordanians, and lordie knows the other high 90s percentages in the Arab world who are openly and admittedly (to pollsters) hostile to Jews. You think they would have a Jew for a neighbour? In the Palestinian territories selling to a Jew merits a death penalty. There is not a single Jew in the entire state of Jordan (which has a peace treaty with Israel no less). The Arab world, which kicked out 90% of its Jews after 1948, is congenitally anti-semitic. Saudi Arabia doesn't even let Jewish people into the country.

ON the other hand, when Israeli rabbis come out with racist garbage, the horrible right wing PM immediately condemns their remarks. Can you tell me the last time an Arab leader -- any arab leader -- complained about anti-semitic incitement. No of course you can't, they're too busy encouraging it. But no, you just keep blathering on about Israel and the West's hypocrisy. Tell me, how much "nuance, self reflection and compassion" do you experience while stroking your hate-Israel hard-on?

8:29 PM  
Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh boy, oh boy, what a high quality fight. Thankfully I am out of it.

Terry, not to pick a fight, but just a technicality: Naomi Klein is to become our Finance Minister and Michael Moore - our Minister of Health (seeing as how he's an expert) - after JVP disbands the IDF and takes over (peacefully).

Too bad for Egypt, though, they will not get these two.

10:55 AM  

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