Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 31st, 2015

Cultural boycott of Israel institutions disseminating misleading propaganda positions

On Monday, CounterPunch ran an article by Omar Robert Hamilton that responded to JK Rowling’s joint letter to defend Israel.

This was one amongst many responses to her letter. JK Rowling responded, and Omar responded to her. We run both below.

JK Rowling Responds:

I’ve had a number of readers asking for more information about why I am not joining a cultural boycott of Israel, so here it is:

As the Guardian letter I co-signed states, the signatories hold different views on the actions of the current Israeli administration.

Speaking purely for myself, I have deplored most of Mr Netanyahu’s actions in office. However, I do not believe that a cultural boycott will force Mr Netanyahu from power, nor have I ever heard of a cultural boycott ending a bloody and prolonged conflict.

If any effects are felt from the proposed boycott, it will be by ordinary Israelis, many of whom did not vote for Mr Netanyahu.

Those Israelis will be right to ask why cultural boycotts are not also being proposed against – to take random examples – North Korea and Zimbabwe, whose leaders are not generally considered paragons by the international community.

The sharing of art and literature across borders constitutes an immense power for good in this world.

The true human cost of the Palestinian conflict was seared upon my consciousness, as upon many others’, by the heart-splitting poetry of Mahmoud Darwish.

In its highest incarnation, as exemplified by Darwish, art civilises, challenges and reminds us of our common humanity.

At a time when the stigmatisation of religions and ethnicities seems to be on the rise, I believe strongly that cultural dialogue and collaboration is more important than ever before and that cultural boycotts are divisive, discriminatory and counter-productive.

Omar Robert Hamilton Responds:

Dear Ms Rowling,

I don’t know if you read my response in Counterpunch to your signing the Cultures of CoExistence letter.

I hope you will take the two minutes it asks of you. You’ve since expanded on your position and so, although I may be speaking to an empty room here, I feel I should step in again.

Firstly, the cultural boycott is not designed to force Mr Netanyahu from power.

If it were not Mr Netanyahu in power it would have been Mr. Herzog and his track record leaves us no reason to hope he would be the kind of visionary leader needed to bring a just resolution to the great injustices that Zionism has wrought upon Palestine.

The cultural boycott is designed to isolate institutions that are directly collaborating with the Israeli government in the on-going occupation and colonization of Palestine.

The cultural, economic and political boycott is designed to bring justice for the Palestinian people.

It is misrepresentative to suggest that BDS is a blunt instrument that blindly targets people based on their ethnicity. That’s what Israel does.

BDS, on the other hand, is a carefully considered campaign based on ethical principles.

It does not target individuals, it does not target people for their beliefs; it targets institutions that profit from death and their brand ambassadors, it targets people who, by accepting money, make themselves complicit with the Israeli state.

Let’s take two examples.

Gal Gadot is an Israeli actress soon to be an international star for playing Wonder Woman.

She served in the Israeli Army and has no problem acting as a representative of her country. However, as no Israeli state institutions contributed to the financing of her films, she is not someone that would be targeted by BDS.

Idan Raichel, on the other hand, has hosted gala fundraisers for the Israeli Army and provided morale boosting entertainment for soldiers on active duty in the most recent assault on Gaza.

In his own words, Raichel said “I believe that our role as artists is to be engaged in the Israeli propaganda campaign [Hasbara].”

Mr Raichel is the kind of artist that BDS targets.

It is laid out very clearly on the website for the Palestinain Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

BDS targets artists, companies and institutions that are in the service of the state and its policy of ethnic cleansing.

You ask why we don’t boycott North Korea?

This is a question often asked by Israeli apologists and the answer is simple: North Korea has no international cultural propaganda programme to boycott. How many state-sponsored celebrations of North Korean culture are happening this year?

How many North Korean lobbyists are at work in Washington DC? How many popstars have had to rescind tweets against North Korea? The answer is zero.

BDS does not stop the sharing of art or of literature across borders.

BDS stops government-sponsored propaganda from masquerading unchallenged as art.

BDS demands that art be art and that artists speak for themselves and not be mouthpieces of an apartheid regime.

Real cultural dialogue between individuals or institutions not affiliated with the state is of no interest to this campaign.

What BDS targets is state-sponsored smokescreening designed to buy Israel more time to conquer more land.

As a signatory to BDS there would be no preventing you from talking and working with as many ‘ordinary Israelis’ as you like.

In fact, it would guarantee that this sector about whom you are so concerned is identified.

Israelis resistant to their state’s policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid are welcomed with open arms.

But those that profit from it: they are the ones that we are no longer interested in dialogue with.

I believe that if you consider this carefully you will find that it is actually BDS, and not the Cultures of Co-Existence Clan, that is in line with your stated principles.

Are you in the process of Killing your language for a substitute modern one?

They took my name tag, but I wanted to ask you, did anyone here write their name on the tag in Arabic? Anyone! No one? All right, no problem.

Not long ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with my friend, ordering food. So I looked at the waiter and said, “Do you have La2e7at al ta3aam?” (the menu in Arabic and in my own country Lebanon). He looked at me strangely, thinking that he misheard.

He said, “Sorry? (in English).” I said, “The menu (Arabic), please.” He replied, “Don’t you know what they call it?”

“I do.”  I said. He said, “No! It’s called “menu” (English), or “menu” (French).” Is the French pronunciation correct? “Come, come, take care of this one!” said the waiter.

He was disgusted when talking to me, as if he was saying to himself, “If this was the last girl on Earth, I wouldn’t look at her!”

What’s the meaning of saying “menu” in Arabic? Two words made a Lebanese young man judge a girl as being backward and ignorant. How could she speak that way?

TED shared this link October 25, 2015  at 2:12pm ·

“Language isn’t one, two, or three words put together. It relates to how we think and how we see each other and how others see us.”

t.ted.com|By Suzanne Talhouk

At that moment, I started thinking. It made me mad. It definitely hurts!

I’m denied the right to speak my own language in my own country? Where could this happen? How did we get here?

01:48 Well, while we are here, there are many people like me, who would reach a stage in their lives, where they involuntarily give up everything that has happened to them in the past, just so they can say that they’re modern and civilized.

Should I forget all my culture, thoughts, intellect and all my memories?

Childhood stories might be the best memories we have of the war!

Should I forget everything I learned in Arabic, just to conform? To be one of them?  (Who are these Them?)

Where’s the logic in that? Despite all that, I tried to understand him. I didn’t want to judge him with the same cruelty that he judged me.

The Arabic language doesn’t satisfy today’s needs. It’s not a language for science, research, a language we’re used to in universities, a language we use in the workplace, a language we rely on if we were to perform an advanced research project, and it definitely isn’t a language we use at the airport. If we did so, they’d strip us of our clothes.

Where can I use it, then? We could all ask this question! So, you want us to use Arabic. Where are we to do so? This is one reality.

But we have another more important reality that we ought to think about. Arabic is the mother tongue. Research says that mastery of other languages demands mastery of the mother tongue. Mastery of the mother tongue is a prerequisite for creative expression in other languages.

How?

First, Gibran Khalil Gibran, when he first started writing, he used Arabic. All his ideas, imagination and philosophy were inspired by this little boy in the village where he grew up, smelling a specific smell, hearing a specific voice, and thinking a specific thought.

So, when Gibran Khalil Gibran started writing in English, he had enough baggage. Even when he wrote in English, when you read his writings in English, you smell the same smell, sense the same feeling. You can imagine that that’s him writing in English, the same boy who came from the mountain. From a village on Mount Lebanon. So, this is an example no one can argue with.

Second, it’s often said that if you want to kill a nation, the only way to kill a nation, is to kill its language. (Israel is doing its best to kill the language of the Palestinians under occupation)

This is a reality that developed societies are aware of.

The Germans, French, Japanese and Chinese, all these nations are aware of this. That’s why they legislate to protect their language. They make it sacred. That’s why they use it in production, they pay a lot of money to develop it.

Do we know better than them?

 We aren’t from the developed world, this advanced thinking hasn’t reached us yet, and we would like to catch up with the civilized world.

Countries that were once like us, but decided to strive for development, do research, and catch up with those countries, such as Turkey, Malaysia and others, they carried their language with them as they were climbing the ladder, protected it like a diamond. (Turkey changed the Arabic characters to Latin)

They kept it close to them. Because if you get any product from Turkey or elsewhere and it’s not labeled in Turkish, then it isn’t a local product.

You wouldn’t believe it’s a local product. They’d go back to being consumers, clueless consumers, like we are most of the time.

So, in order for them to innovate and produce, they had to protect their language. If I say, “7oriyye, Istiklal (Freedom, independence in Arabic),” what does this remind you of? It doesn’t ring a bell, does it? Regardless of the who, how and why.

06:18 Language isn’t just for conversing, just words coming out of our mouths.

Language represents specific stages in our lives, and terminology that is linked to our emotions. So when we say, “Freedom, sovereignty, independence,” each one of you draws a specific image in their own mind, there are specific feelings of a specific day in a specific historical period.

 Language isn’t one, two or three words or letters put together. It’s an idea inside that relates to how we think, and how we see each other and how others see us.

What is our intellect?

How do you say whether this guy understands or not?

So, if I say, “Freedom, sovereignty, independence (English),” or if your son came up to you and said, “Dad, have you lived through the period of the freedom (English) slogan?” How would you feel? If you don’t see a problem, then I’d better leave, and stop talking in vain.

The idea is that these expressions remind us of a specific thing.

I have a francophone friend who’s married to a French man. I asked her once how things were going. She said, “Everything is fine, but once, I spent a whole night asking and trying to translate the meaning of the word ‘toqborni‘ for him.” (Bury me)

The poor woman had mistakenly told him “toqborni,” and then spent the whole night trying to explain it to him. He was puzzled by the thought: “How could anyone be this cruel? Does she want to commit suicide? ‘Bury me?’ (English)” This is one of the few examples.

 It made us feel that she’s unable to tell that word to her husband, since he won’t understand, and he’s right not to; his way of thinking is different.

She said to me, “He listens to Fairuz with me, and one night, I tried to translate for him so he can feel what I feel when I listen to Fairuz.” The woman tried to translate this for him: “From them I extended my hands and stole you –“ (Laughter) And here’s the pickle: “And because you belong to them, I returned my hands and left you.” (Laughter) Translate that for me.

What have we done to protect the Arabic language? We turned this into a concern of the civil society, and we launched a campaign to preserve the Arabic language.

Even though many people told me, “Why do you bother? Forget about this headache and go have fun.” No problem!

The campaign to preserve Arabic launched a slogan that says, “I talk to you from the East, but you reply from the West.”

We didn’t say, “No! We do not accept this or that.” We didn’t adopt this style because that way, we wouldn’t be understood. And when someone talks to me that way, I hate the Arabic language.

 We want to change our reality, and be convinced in a way that reflects our dreams, aspirations and day-to-day life.

In a way that dresses like us and thinks like we do. So, “I talk to you from the East, but you reply from the West has hit the spot.

Something very easy, yet creative and persuasive. After that, we launched another campaign with scenes of letters on the ground. You’ve seen an example of it outside, a scene of a letter surrounded by black and yellow tape with “Don’t kill your language!” written on it. Why?

Seriously, don’t kill your language. We really shouldn’t kill our language. If we were to kill the language, we’d have to find an identity.

We’d have to find an existence. We’d go back to the beginning. This is beyond just missing our chance of being modern and civilized.

After that we released photos of guys and girls wearing the Arabic letter. Photos of “cool” guys and girls. We are very cool! And to whoever might say, “Ha! You used an English word!” I say, “No! I adopt the word ‘cool.'”

Let them object however they want, but give me a word that’s nicer and matches the reality better. I will keep on saying “Internet”

I wouldn’t say: “I’m going to the world wide web” (Laughs) Because it doesn’t fit!

We shouldn’t kid ourselves. But to reach this point, we all have to be convinced that we shouldn’t allow anyone who is bigger or thinks they have any authority over us when it comes to language, to control us or make us think and feel what they want.

 Creativity is the idea. So, if we can’t reach space or build a rocket and so on, we can be creative.

At this moment, every one of you is a creative project. Creativity in your mother tongue is the path.

Let’s start from this moment. Let’s write a novel or produce a short film. A single novel could make us global again.

It could bring the Arabic language back to being number one.

So, it’s not true that there’s no solution; there is a solution! But we have to know that, and be convinced that a solution exists, that we have a duty to be part of that solution.

 In conclusion, what can you do today? Now, tweets, who’s tweeting?

Even though my time has finished, either Arabic, English, French or Chinese. But don’t write Arabic with Latin characters mixed with numbers! (If Arabic keyboard not available? If you are too slow to type Arabic characters?)

It’s a disaster! That’s not a language. You’d be entering a virtual world with a virtual language.

It’s not easy to come back from such a place and rise. That’s the first thing we can do.

Second, there are many other things that we can do. We’re not here today to convince each other.

We’re here to bring attention to the necessity of preserving this language. Now I will tell you a secret. A baby first identifies its father through language. When my daughter is born, I’ll tell her, “This is your father, honey (Arabic).” I wouldn’t say, “This is your dad, honey (English).”

And in the supermarket, I promise my daughter Noor, that if she says to me, “Shokran (Thanks in Arabic).  I won’t say, “Dis, ‘Merci, Maman,'” and hope no one has heard her. (Applause)

 Let’s get rid of this cultural cringe.

How much do you know about orgasm? 10 facts you ignore?

I’m going to show you a couple of images from a very diverting paper in The Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.

I’m going to go way out on a limb and say that it is the most diverting paper ever published in The Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine. The title is “Observations of In-Utero Masturbation.”

Now on the left you can see the hand — that’s the big arrow — and the penis on the right. The hand hovering. And over here we have, in the words of radiologist Israel Meisner, “The hand grasping the penis in a fashion resembling masturbation movements.” Bear in mind this was an ultrasound, so it would have been moving images.

Patsy Z  shared this link TED
t.ted.com|By Mary Roach
Orgasm is a reflex of the autonomic nervous system.
This is the part of the nervous system that deals with the things that we don’t consciously control, like digestion, heart rate and sexual arousal.
And the orgasm reflex can be triggered by a surprisingly broad range of input. Genital stimulation. But also, Kinsey interviewed a woman who could be brought to orgasm by having someone stroke her eyebrow.
People with spinal cord injuries, like paraplegias, quadriplegias, will often develop a very sensitive area right above the level of their injury, wherever that is. There is such a thing as a knee orgasm in the literature.

I think the most curious one that I came across was a case report of a woman who had an orgasm every time she brushed her teeth.

Something in the complex sensory-motor action of brushing her teeth was triggering orgasm. And she went to a neurologist, who was fascinated. He checked to see if it was something in the toothpaste, but no — it happened with any brand.

They stimulated her gums with a toothpick, to see if that was doing it. No. It was the whole, you know, motion. And the amazing thing to me is that you would think this woman would have excellent oral hygiene.

Sadly — this is what it said in the journal paper — “She believed that she was possessed by demons and switched to mouthwash for her oral care.” It’s so sad.

When I was working on the book, I interviewed a woman who can think herself to orgasm. She was part of a study at Rutgers University. You’ve got to love that. Rutgers.

So I interviewed her in Oakland, in a sushi restaurant. And I said, “So, could you do it right here?” And she said, “Yeah, but you know I’d rather finish my meal if you don’t mind.”

But afterwards, she was kind enough to demonstrate on a bench outside. It was remarkable. It took about one minute. And I said to her, “Are you just doing this all the time?”

 She said, “No. Honestly, when I get home, I’m usually too tired.”

 She said that the last time she had done it was on the Disneyland tram.

 The headquarters for orgasm, along the spinal nerve, is something called the sacral nerve root, which is back here. And if you trigger, if you stimulate with an electrode, the precise spot, you will trigger an orgasm.

And it is a fact that you can trigger spinal reflexes in dead people — a certain kind of dead person, a beating-heart cadaver.

Now this is somebody who is brain-dead, legally dead, definitely checked out, but is being kept alive on a respirator, so that their organs will be oxygenated for transplantation.

In one of these brain-dead people, if you trigger the right spot, you will see something every now and then. There is a reflex called the Lazarus reflex. And this is — I’ll demonstrate as best I can, not being dead. It’s like this. You trigger the spot. The dead guy, or gal, goes… like that. Very unsettling for people working in pathology labs.

 If you can trigger the Lazarus reflex in a dead person, why not the orgasm reflex? I asked this question to a brain death expert, Stephanie Mann, who was foolish enough to return my emails.

I said, “So, could you conceivably trigger an orgasm in a dead person?”

She said, “Yes, if the sacral nerve is being oxygenated, you conceivably could.” Obviously it wouldn’t be as much fun for the person. But it would be an orgasm —

There is a researcher at the University of Alabama who does orgasm research. I said to her, “You should do an experiment. You know? You can get cadavers if you work at a university.” I said, “You should actually do this.”

She said, “You get the human subjects review board approval for this one.”

According to 1930s marriage manual author, Theodoor van De Velde, a slight seminal odor can be detected on the breath of a woman within about an hour after sexual intercourse. Theodoor van De Velde was something of a semen connoisseur.

05:50 (Laughter)

This is a guy writing a book, “Ideal Marriage,” you know. Very heavy hetero guy. But he wrote in this book, “Ideal Marriage” — he said that he could differentiate between the semen of a young man, which he said had a fresh, exhilarating smell, and the semen of mature men, whose semen smelled, quote, “Remarkably like that of the flowers of the Spanish chestnut. Sometimes quite freshly floral, and then again sometimes extremely pungent.”

In 1999, in the state of Israel, a man began hiccupping. And this was one of those cases that went on and on. He tried everything his friends suggested. Nothing seemed to help. Days went by.

At a certain point, the man, still hiccupping, had sex with his wife. And lo and behold, the hiccups went away. He told his doctor, who published a case report in a Canadian medical journal under the title, Sexual Intercourse as a Potential Treatment for Intractable Hiccups.”

I love this article because at a certain point they suggested that unattached hiccuppers could try masturbation.

I love that because there is like a whole demographic: unattached hiccuppers.

Married, single, unattached hiccupper.

In the 1900s, early 1900s, a lot of gynecologists believed that when a woman has an orgasm, the contractions serve to suck the semen up through the cervix and sort of deliver it really quickly to the egg, thereby upping the odds of conception. It was called the “upsuck” theory.

07:35 (Laughter)

If you go all the way back to Hippocrates, physicians believed that orgasm in women was not just helpful for conception, but necessary. Doctors back then were routinely telling men the importance of pleasuring their wives.

Marriage-manual author and semen-sniffer Theodoor van De Velde has a line in his book. I loved this guy. I got a lot of mileage out of Theodoor van De Velde. He had this line in his book that supposedly comes from the Habsburg Monarchy, where there was an empress Maria Theresa, who was having trouble conceiving.

And apparently the royal court physician said to her, I am of the opinion that the vulva of your most sacred majesty be titillated for some time prior to intercourse.”

 It’s apparently, I don’t know, on the record somewhere.

Masters and Johnson: now we’re moving forward to the 1950s. Masters and Johnson were upsuck skeptics, which is also really fun to say. They didn’t buy it. And they decided, being Masters and Johnson, that they would get to the bottom of it.

They brought women into the lab — I think it was five women — and outfitted them with cervical caps containing artificial semen. And in the artificial semen was a radio-opaque substance, such that it would show up on an X-ray.

This is the 1950s. Anyway, these women sat in front of an X-ray device. And they masturbated. And Masters and Johnson looked to see if the semen was being sucked up. Did not find any evidence of upsuck.

You may be wondering, “How do you make artificial semen?”

I have an answer for you. I have two answers. You can use flour and water, or cornstarch and water. I actually found three separate recipes in the literature.

My favorite being the one that says — you know, they have the ingredients listed, and then in a recipe it will say, for example, “Yield: two dozen cupcakes.” This one said, “Yield: one ejaculate.”

09:49 (Laughter)

There’s another way that orgasm might boost fertility. This one involves men. Sperm that sit around in the body for a week or more start to develop abnormalities that make them less effective at head-banging their way into the egg.

British sexologist Roy Levin has speculated that this is perhaps why men evolved to be such enthusiastic and frequent masturbators. He said, “If I keep tossing myself off I get fresh sperm being made.” Which I thought was an interesting idea, theory. So now you have an evolutionary excuse.  

 All righty. There is considerable evidence for upsuck in the animal kingdom — pigs, for instance.

In Denmark, the Danish National Committee for Pig Production found out that if you sexually stimulate a sow while you artificially inseminate her, you will see a 6% increase in the farrowing rate, which is the number of piglets produced. So they came up with this five-point stimulation plan for the sows. There is posters they put in the barn, and they have a DVD. And I got a copy of this DVD.

This is my unveiling, because I am going to show you a clip.

Now, here we go, la la la, off to work. It all looks very innocent. He’s going to be doing things with his hands that the boar would use his snout, lacking hands. Okay.

 This is it. The boar has a very odd courtship repertoire.

 This is to mimic the weight of the boar.

11:42 (Laughter)

You should know, the clitoris of the pig is inside the vagina. So this may be sort of titillating for her. Here we go.

 I love this video. There is a point in this video, towards the beginning, where they zoom in for a close up of his hand with his wedding ring, as if to say, “It’s okay, it’s just his job. He really does like women.”

When I was in Denmark, my host was named Anne Marie. And I said, “So why don’t you just stimulate the clitoris of the pig? Why don’t you have the farmers do that? That’s not one of your five steps.”

I have to read you what she said, because I love it. She said, “It was a big hurdle just to get farmers to touch underneath the vulva. So we thought, let’s not mention the clitoris right now.”

12:55 (Laughter)

Shy but ambitious pig farmers, however, can purchase a — this is true — a sow vibrator, that hangs on the sperm feeder tube to vibrate. Because, as I mentioned, the clitoris is inside the vagina.

So possibly, you know, a little more arousing than it looks. And I also said to her, “Now, these sows. I mean, you may have noticed there. The sow doesn’t look to be in the throes of ecstasy.”

And she said, you can’t make that conclusion, because animals don’t register pain or pleasure on their faces in the same way that we do. Pigs, for example, are more like dogs. They use the upper half of the face; the ears are very expressive. So you’re not really sure what’s going on with the pig.

Primates, on the other hand, we use our mouths more. This is the ejaculation face of the stump-tailed macaque.

13:47 (Laughter)

And, interestingly, this has been observed in female macaques, but only when mounting another female.

13:57 (Laughter)

Masters and Johnson. In the 1950s, they decided, okay, we’re going to figure out the entire human sexual response cycle, from arousal, all the way through orgasm, in men and women — everything that happens in the human body.

With women, a lot of this is happening inside. This did not stop Masters and Johnson. They developed an artificial coition machine. This is basically a penis camera on a motor. There is a phallus, clear acrylic phallus, with a camera and a light source, attached to a motor that is kind of going like this.

And the woman would have sex with it. That is what they would do. Pretty amazing. Sadly, this device has been dismantled. This just kills me, not because I wanted to use it — I wanted to see it.

14:45 (Laughter)

 One fine day, Alfred Kinsey decided to calculate the average distance traveled by ejaculated semen. This was not idle curiosity. Doctor Kinsey had heard — and there was a theory going around at the time, this being the 1940s — that the force with which semen is thrown against the cervix was a factor in fertility. Kinsey thought it was bunk, so he got to work. He got together in his lab 300 men, a measuring tape, and a movie camera.

15:26 (Laughter)

And in fact, he found that in three quarters of the men the stuff just kind of slopped out. It wasn’t spurted or thrown or ejected under great force. However, the record holder landed just shy of the eight-foot mark, which is impressive.

15:45 (Laughter)

Sadly, he’s anonymous. His name is not mentioned.

In his write-up of this experiment in his book, Kinsey wrote, “Two sheets were laid down to protect the oriental carpets.”

16:07 (Laughter)

Which is my second favorite line in the entire oeuvre of Alfred Kinsey. My favorite being, “Cheese crumbs spread before a pair of copulating rats will distract the female, but not the male.”


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