Adonis Diaries

By: Fernando Pessoa

If, after I die, they want to write my biography,
There is nothing more simple.
There are only two dates – the one of my birth and that of my death.
Between the two every day things are mine.

I’m pretty easy to define.
I saw myself as a fool.
I loved things without any sentimentality.
I never had a desire that I couldn’t realise, because I never blinded myself.

Even hearing was never to me but an accompaniment to sight.
I realised that things are real and all are different from each other;
I realised this with my eyes never by thought.
Understanding this by thought finds them all alike.

One day she made me sleep like a child.
I closed my eyes and I was sleeping.
Beyond that, I was the one poet of Nature.

Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935), the Portuguese poet, literary critic, and essayist, is one of the most significant literary figures of the twentieth century.

He wrote not only under his own name but under over a hundred others (including Alexander Search, Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos, Ricardo Reis, and Bernardo Soares).

You can find this poem in one of my favorite all-time books of poetry— A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems

By: Albert Camus

Find meaning. 
Distinguish melancholy 
from sadness. 

Go out for a walk. 

It doesn’t have to be a 
romantic walk in the park, 
spring at its most 
spectacular moment, 
flowers and smells 
and outstanding poetical 
imagery smoothly transferring
you into another world. 

It doesn’t have to be a walk 
during which you’ll have 
multiple life epiphanies 
and discover meanings 
no other brain ever managed 
to encounter. 

Do not be afraid of spending 
quality time by yourself. 

Find meaning 
or don’t find meaning 
but 'steal' some time and 
give it freely and exclusively 
to your own self. 

Opt for privacy and solitude. 

That doesn’t make you antisocial 
or cause you to reject the 
rest of the world. 

But you need to breathe. 
And you need to be.

This colonial of self-defence distortion of the historical events of 1948

Partition plan of UN in 1947: The Palestinian population objected to partitioning their homeland and losing 56% of it to a Jewish minority, most of whom arrived as immigrants from abroad..

Note: All Kings and Presidents of “Arab symbolic armies” were appointed by the colonial powers that partitioned the Near East.

Even though, the Palestinians defeated the Zionists army in every battle they waged, until resources in ammunition were stopped and no logistic arrived..

Muhammad Shehada

15 May, 2023

As the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba/‘Catastrophe’ is marked on Monday at the United Nations, pro-Israel advocates have been pushing an alternative version of historical events that positions Israel as the victim and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as self-inflicted.

This Israeli narrative contends that as soon as David Ben-Gurion declared the independence of the Jewish state on 14 May 1948 then 5 major “Arab” armies invaded historic Palestine to wage – along with the Palestinians – a “war of annihilation” against Israel and “push Jews into the sea”.

The narrative goes that outnumbered Israelis defended themselves and won the war, and in the process, Palestinians fled their homes.

“These are foundational narratives for Israeli Jews and also Diaspora Jews – they are taken as obvious truth,” Dr Yair Wallach, historian, and senior lecturer in Israeli studies at SOAS, told The New Arab.

“They connect 1948 (and Israel) with the Jewish memory of persecution; they provide justification for what Israel did to Palestinians as ‘self-defence’; and it informs the understanding that Israel’s very existence is always in danger, and it is force and force only that guarantees the security of Israel.”

Prominent historians, including Israelis, have thoroughly documented how this narrative is inconsistent on multiple levels with what transpired on the ground.

They argue that the Arab armies sent to Palestine were outnumbered by the Israeli army and that the Arab armies’ goal was limited to preventing a Palestinian defeat and full ethnic cleansing, stopping refugee floods into their territories, and annexing some parts of historic Palestine to their states.

“It is clear that the Arab military effort was primarily directed at a failed attempt to save Palestinians,” Dr Wallach told The New Arab. “To be sure, there was also a rejection of partition and [an] attempt to prevent it, but the talk of ‘genocide’ has no basis whatsoever.”

Jordan, which had the strongest Arab army in the 1948 war, had actually accepted the 1947 UN partition plan of historic Palestine in secret meetings in 1947 with Golda Meir, then head of the Jewish Agency’s political department. In return, Jordan’s King Abdullah wanted to annex the Arab part to Jordan, according to the Israeli historian Benny Morris.

However, in the 45 days leading up to the 1948 war, Zionist militias in mandate Palestine carried out 13 offensive military operations including eight outside the borders of the area allotted to the Jewish state in the partition plan.

Zionist aggression included the infamous Deir Yassin massacre on 9 April, which played a central role in spreading fear and terror among Palestinians.

After this massacre, Jordan’s king came under pressure to act. But even then, he secretly met with Golda Meir again and offered full Jewish autonomy under his rule after he annexed historic Palestine, which she rejected. “He is going to this business [that is, war] not out of joy or confidence, but as a person who is in a trap and can’t get out,” Golda Meir later stated.

Even when the Jordanian army entered Palestine, the King’s goal was only to fight in the Arab part of partitioned Palestine “while trying to avoid war with the Yishuv and refraining from attacking the territory of the UN-defined Jewish state”, according to Morris.

A Palestinian woman walks past a mural in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on 15 May 2016 on the 68th anniversary of the Nakba. [Getty]

The Egyptians, who had the largest Arab army in the 1948 war, weren’t much different. The Egyptian prime minister was hesitant to go to war, and British agents intervened to convince the Egyptian king to send troops to Palestine.

King Farouk’s main motives were to prevent the Jordanian king from claiming leadership of the Arab struggle and potentially capture southern Palestine for Egypt, according to the Israeli historian Efraim Karsh.

The Egyptian troops he sent into Palestine were relatively symbolic, and their first communiqué from Cairo described their mission as “merely a punitive expedition against the Zionist ‘gangs’” as later recounted by the Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Furthermore, the Lebanese army decided not to take part in the war at the very last minute because of Maronite objections after they reached a secret agreement with David Ben-Gurion who offered them financial bribes, according to the Israeli historian Yoav Gelber.

Syria was primarily interested in capturing northern Palestine, while Iraq’s leaders were eager to bring the Fertile Crescent region under its leadership, according to Karsh.

Iraqi troops that crossed into the northern West Bank quickly became “stationary” in the triangle of Jenin, Tulkarem, and Nablus.  Karsh argued the Iraqis were “notorious for their idleness before the truce”.

The Palestinian population objected to partitioning their homeland and losing 56% of it to a Jewish minority, most of whom arrived as immigrants from abroad. Palestinians argued that the UN partition plan violated the principle of self-determination, and Arab leaders rhetorically echoed this call. But opposing partition didn’t mean opposing all Jewish presence in Palestine.

Dr Wallach told The New Arab that “the official Palestinian position (in 1946-7) was that recent migrants (about a third of the Jews) would have to leave Palestine”. He argues that, nonetheless, this opposition to recent Jewish migrants fed into an “existential” fear amongst Israelis.

However, Prof. Gelber asserts that the Arab regimes’ goal “was not and could not be ‘pushing Jews into the sea’,” and argues that their “propagandist slogans” and rhetoric were aimed at “mobilizing domestic support for lame politicians”.

How Israel is erasing the Nakba through nature. Jessica Buxbaum

By: Theodore Roethke

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Romantic period was one of the most innovative in music history, characterised by lyrical melodies, rich harmonies, and emotive expression.

Here’s our beginner’s guide to the greatest composers of the Romantic period

Hector Berlioz (1803-69)

Hector Berlioz’s life was all you’d expect – by turn turbulent and passionate, ecstatic and melancholic.

Key recording:

Les Troyens 

Sols incl DiDonato, Spyres, Lemieux; Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra / John Nelson (Gramophone‘s 2018 Recording of the Year) Read the review

Explore Berlioz:

Hector Berlioz: music’s great revolutionary – Tim Ashley is joined by four great advocates of the composer to celebrate the self-taught, revolutionary musician whose eccentric genius is only now being fully recognised.

Fryderyck Chopin (1810-49)

Few composers command such universal love as Fryderyck Chopin; even fewer still have such a high proportion of all their music in the active repertoire.

Yet he is the only great composer who wrote No symphonies, operas, ballets or choral works. His chief claim to immortality relies not on large scale works but on miniature forms.

Key recording:

Piano Concertos No 1 & 2 

Martha Argerich pf Montreal Symphony Orchestra / Charles Dutoit (winner of the Gramophone Concerto Award in 1999) Read the review

Explore Chopin:

The 10 greatest Chopin pianists – Stephen Plaistow recalls the illustrious recorded history of Chopin’s oeuvre and offers a personal view of great Chopin interpreters.

Robert Schumann (1810-56)

Robert Schumann is a key figure in the Romantic movement; none investigated the Romantic’s obsession with feeling and passion quite so thoroughly as him. Schumann died insane, but then some psychologists argue that madness is a necessary attribute of genius.

Key recording:

Symphonies Nos 1-4 

Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Yannick Nézet‑Séguin (Editor’s Choice, May 2014) Read the review

Explore Schumann:

Schumann’s symphonies: building a fantasy world – Philip Clark explores why Simon Rattle, Heinz Holliger, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Robin Ticciati are immersing themselves in Schumann’s highly individual sound world.

Franz Liszt (1811-86)

Composer, teacher, Abbé, Casanova, writer, sage, pioneer and champion of new music, philanthropist, philosopher and one of the greatest pianists in history, Franz Liszt was the very embodiment of the Romantic spirit.

He worked in every field of music except ballet and opera and to each field he contributed a significant development.

Key recording:

‘Transcendental: Daniil Trifonov plays Franz Liszt’

Daniil Trifonov pf (Recording of the Month, October 2016; shortlisted for Instrumental Award 2017) Read the review

Explore Liszt:

Podcast: Benjamin Grosvenor on the piano music of Liszt – the young British pianist talks about his programme and how he came to the music of this piano Titan.

Richard Wagner (1813-83)

No composer has had so deep an influence on the course of his art, before or since.

Entrepreneur, philosopher, poet, conductor, one of the key composers in history and most remarkable men of the 19th century, Richard Wagner knew he was a genius. He was also an unpleasant, egocentric and unscrupulous human being.

Key recording:


Sols incl Jess Thomas, George London, Hans Hotter; Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra / Hans Knappertsbusch Read the review

Explore Wagner:

The Gramophone Collection: Wagner’s Ring – Mike Ashman visits the musical immortals and the younger gods of today to deliver his verdict on the complete Ring on record.

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Giuseppe Verdi was never a theoretician or academic, though he was quite able to write a perfectly poised fugue if he felt inclined. What makes him, with Puccini, the most popular of all opera composers is the ability to dream up glorious melodies with an innate understanding of the human voice, to express himself directly, to understand how the theatre works, and to score with technical brilliance, colour and originality.

Key recording:


Sols incl Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Ekaterina Semenchuk; Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Antonio Pappano (winner of the 2016 Gramophone Opera Award; Recording of the Month, Awards issue 2015) Read the review

Explore Verdi:

Verdi’s Otello: a guide to the best recordings – Richard Lawrence finds at least three very special Otellos, and some electric conducting.

Anton Bruckner (1824-96)

Anton Bruckner’s reputation rests almost entirely with his symphonies – the symphonies, someone said, that Wagner never wrote.

Key recording:

Symphony No 9

Lucerne Festival Orchestra / Claudio Abbado (Gramophone‘s 2015 Recording of the Year) Read the review

Explore Bruckner:

Top 10 Bruckner recordings – A beginner’s guide to the music of one of the great symphonic composers.

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

Whatever the atmosphere he wanted to create, Giacomo Puccini’s sound world is unique and unmistakable with its opulent yet clear-cut orchestration and a miraculous fund of melodies with their bittersweet, tender lyricism.

His masterly writing for the voice guarantees the survival of his music for many years to come.

Key recording:


Sols incl Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Tito Gobbi; Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala Milan / Victor de Sabata Read the review

Explore Puccini:

Maria Callas: the Tosca sessions – Maria Callas’s famous 1953 Tosca, as Christopher Cook reveals for the first time, was riven by tension and driven by a relentless quest for perfection.

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840-93)

Tchaikovsky is the most popular of all Russian composers, his music combining some nationalist elements with a more cosmopolitan view, but it is music that could only have been written by a Russian.

In every genre he shows himself to be one of the greatest melodic fountains who ever lived.

Key recording:

Symphony No 6, Pathétique

MusicAeterna / Teodor Currentzis (Recording of the Month, January 2018) Read the review

Explore Tchaikovsky:

Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture: the complete guide – How audiences, performers and the composer himself have responded to this iconic and surprisingly controversial work, by Geoffrey Norris.

Johannes Brahms (1833-97)

One of the giants of classical music, Johannes Brahms appeared to arrive fully armed, found a style in which he was comfortable – traditional structures and tonality in the German idiom – and stuck to it throughout his life.

He was no innovator, preferring the logic of the symphony, sonata, fugue and variation forms.

Key recording:

Symphonies (Complete)

Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly (Gramophone‘s 2014 Recording of the Year) Read the review

Explore Brahms:

Brahms’s Symphony No 3: a guide to the best recordings – Richard Osborne surveys the finest recordings of the Third Symphony

● Top 10 Baroque composers

● Top 10 Classical era composers

● A brief history of classical music

The remains of more than 300 ancient warrior women have been unearthed over the years and more to be uncovered. Why scholars chose to ignore their history for decades?

By Joshua Rapp Learn Jul 23, 2021

Penthesilea was an epic warrior, the prodigy of none other than Otrera, the first queen of the Amazons, and Ares, the Greek god of violence and war.

Her battle skills were legendary, leading her to side with King Priam in the Trojan war, but she eventually came up against a larger force. Achilles defeated her after a very equally match struggle, according to Homeric tradition.

“As she’s dying, he takes off her helmet and falls in love with her,” says Adrienne Mayor, author of the book The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World.

Penthesilea was described as powerful Amazon queen — a group of fierce women warriors that matched men in strength and skills. They fought on horseback, were excellent with a bow and were great hunters.

Whether Penthesilea was a real, historical figure or not, the ancient Greeks were fascinated with the idea of strong female warriors. Heroes like Hercules and Theseus also fought Amazons — the latter even married Hippolyta, another Amazon queen and a sister of Penthesilea, and went with him to Athens. Amazons often figure on vases and other Greek crafts and artwork.

“Maybe it was a way for the Greeks, who had a very male-dominated society, to imagine what it would be like to have a society ruled by women,” Mayor says.

But no written testimony survived from the Amazons themselves, leading many to discount their existence — possibly due to a sexist belief that women couldn’t have fought and hunted like men. “For a long time historians and classical stories thought that the myths of amazon were just pure stories,” Mayor says.

At least until archaeological techniques began to advance starting in the 1970s, when a number of female warrior graves were identified in Central Asia that might well correspond to the legendary Amazonians.


Scythia-Parthia 100 BC

(Credit: DBachmann/CC-by-3.0/Wikimedia Commons)

The Greeks believed the fierce, horse-loving women came from exotic lands to the northeast of Greece, an area that many researchers now believe corresponded to Scythia — a vast territory stretching roughly from north of the Black Sea in the west to Mongolia in the east.

The Scythians weren’t a unified culture as such — the nomadic steppe tribes that lived in Scythia probably spoke a variety of different languages from roughly the 8th century B.C. to the end of the 5th century A.D, Mayor says.

A lot of graves had been discovered by archaeologists dating to this time in this huge region, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that archaeologists began to discover that some Scythians buried with weapons and horses were women.

Some had clear battle injuries, and some women were even buried together — one case in western Russia even seemed to display three generations in a shared tomb.

“[Women] were buried with the same honors as men, and with the same battle scars,” Mayor says.

She says that many of the early images the Greeks made of Amazons often portrayed them more like Greek women. But as time went on, the images began to portray Amazons that looked more like Scythians on horseback with bows, probably as the Greeks began to come into contact with the nomadic cultures of Scythia.

“They are dressed like the women we find in the graves,” Mayor says.

Conflicting Narratives

The Greeks weren’t the only ones who wrote about these women. Amazons were mentioned in texts from the Persians, Egyptians and Chinese, but their accounts differed a little.

The Scythians didn’t have their own writing system, so most of what we know of them comes from the other cultures that surrounded them. While some of these accounts may have some truth in them, most reflect more about the culture that wrote the account than the Scythian women themselves.

The narrative the Greeks used typically involved a male hero overcoming an Amazon, for example. “They couldn’t really imagine anything other than a zero sum game,” Mayor says. “The battles are always depicted as very suspenseful,” she adds. “Of course you’re not going to tell stories in Greece about foreign women beating your heroes.”

Persian, Chinese and Egyptian accounts told of conflicts and trade with Amazons but the stories are a little more realistic, with more evenly-matched fights that eventually resulted in alliances.

The Great Wall of China was built to keep nomadic tribes from the step. While the word “Amazon” itself first appears in Greek accounts, it’s not a Greek word, and some linguists believe the word may be linked to the Persian “Hamazon,” which means “warrior.”

Egyptian papyrus fragments tell a tale of an Egyptian king, Pedikhons, who fought an Amazon queen Serpot for three days before they become so exhausted they form an alliance.

“It’s very different from the ancient Greek society,” Mayor says.

These myths would persist for centuries — the Amazon River’s name even came from reports heard by European colonial explorers about egalitarian tribes in South America.

Ignoring History

Some Greek accounts were more believable than others — one myth holds that the women would cut off one of their breasts to facilitate spear throwing and drawing bowstrings. Some Amazon statues and other depictions still show one-breasted Amazons, but even ancient Greek historians disputed this idea as ridiculous, Mayor says.

The Greeks, as a predominantly male-dominated society, were fascinated by the concept of an egalitarian society, or even a female-ruled society. We haven’t yet necessarily found evidence that Scythians were all-female or female-ruled, but Mayor says that given the nature of Scythians, it’s possible some tribes had lost many men to battle, and may have been mostly female, at least temporarily.

For a long time, archaeologists wanted to ignore the Greek stories, writing them off as nothing more than fantasy. “I think male historians and classicists may well have discounted any kernels of truth in ancient Greek tales of Amazons due to sexism,” Mayor says.

Despite leading Greek historians and philosophers like Herodotus and Plato mentioning women in the Black Sea and Caucasus region living similarly to the mythical Amazons, Mayor wrote in a follow up email that some modern scholars “prefer to claim that Amazons were invented by Greeks to be defeated by male heroes, or that the Amazons were merely symbols of ‘others’ — ‘monstrous women who refuse to marry.’”

But Mayor says that more than 300 ancient warrior women have been unearthed dating to Scythian times in the past few decades. And more discoveries are likely.

“It is baffling to me that some scholars still hold this outdated opinion that Amazons were purely symbolic despite the archaeological discoveries of armed females across the steppes,” she says.

It’s unclear why the Scythians disappeared, if they ever really did—nomadic horse culture continued in parts of the region, just in different names—the Mongols are just one example.

“There were strong women among the steppe nomads during the time of Genghis Khan,” Mayor says.

The spread of Islam in many parts of what used to be Scythia starting in the 7th century may have affected the status of women in nomadic tribes in the area, but relics of egalitarianism persist even today in areas of Tajikistan and Kazakhstan,

Who Were the Ancient Scythians?

The UK government’s targeting of Palestine solidarity attempts to criminalise and depoliticise action taken by activists like Tony Greenstein, and silence campaigns on Israel’s crimes under the guise of ‘fighting anti-Semitism’,

Emad Moussa

12 Apr, 2023

Until very recently, Elbit Systems Ltd, the Israeli arms firm, was one of the main beneficiaries of some of the UK Ministry of Defence’s lucrative contracts.

But in December last year, the firm was reportedly ousted from two contracts to deliver training for the Royal Navy.

Elbit’s headquarters was for years the target of an ongoing campaign by rights activists, particularly Palestine Action, for their complicity in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.

The UK Armed Forces feel that their association with the firm was too problematic for their image.

For the activists who set out to expose the firm’s complicity in war crimes, the Elbit aftereffect continues to define much of their lives. Not only that, their cases have become yet another iteration of the UK government’s renewed attempts to suppress Palestine activism.

”In addition to the heavy judiciary’s gavel, Tony Greenstein has been demonised by pro-Israel groups as an anti-Semite. The UK-based newspaper The Jewish Chronicle, among others, had already developed a negative fixation on him, publishing several articles with ‘anti-Semitism’ as the recurring theme, either to ‘explain’ Greenstein’s activism or the reason he was suspended from the Labour Party in 2018.”

One of those activists is Tony Greenstein, a long-time British Jewish anti-Zionist and writer, and a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Movement.

Along with five others, and personally labelled the ‘lead defendant,’ Greenstein is currently standing trial at the Wolverhampton Crown Court charged with the possession of ‘articles with intent to destroy property’ belonging to Elbit.

Two years ago, a group of Palestine Action activists, including Greenstein, were intercepted by the police on their way to Elbit’s UAV engines factory near Shenstone, Staffordshire.

The goal was to climb over the factory roof and spray it with red paint symbolising the blood of Palestinian children killed by Israel, and to attract public attention to Elbit’s role.

After arrest, Greenstein was kept in a holding centre for a week before being bailed out in anticipation of the trial. Due to Covid and the resulting Crown Court backlog, the trial was postponed for two years. If convicted, the 69-year-old activist is facing up to one year in prison.

Stripped down to its bare legal components, the court procedures appear like a typical case of ‘criminal conduct’ associated with property damage.

Greenstein, however, argues that the judiciary approach was to take Palestine out of the equation, depoliticise the case, and simply reduce it to a criminal act.

The police action and, subsequently, the judiciary reaction have been highly disproportionate to the ‘threat’ posed by the activists. What is even more critical is that the disproportionate response did not apply to Elbit’s serious breach of not only international law but also the UK’s human rights norms.

One can only speculate, in this light, that the MoD’s cancellation of contracts with Elbit was more about dodging public embarrassment and less about committing to the UK or international laws tackling the usage of lethal weapons against civilians.

Asked whether that sounded ludicrous considering he is Jewish, he explained that anti-Semitism merely means opposing the Israeli state, which is falsely projected unto the world as the ‘collective Jew.’ Hence the conflation between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

The new definition of anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has indeed broadened the ‘anti-Semitic label,’ becoming a point of reference to Israel’s advocates and state officials.

Even with the lack of certain examples in the definition, the IHRA has urged civil society bodies, locally and internationally, to adopt it on the basis that it reflects a hard-won consensus among IHRA’s member countries.

2021 Oxford University report found irrefutable evidence that the IHRA definition was principally drafted and negotiated by pro-Israel advocacy groups, not Jewish history scholars. Instead of protecting Jews against anti-Semitism, it was skewed to shield the Israeli state against valid criticism.

The British government adopted the IHRA definition in 2016. It has since deployed it repeatedly as a quasi-legal apparatus to disrupt the UK’s free speech whenever Israel was in question.

UK universities, for instance, were pressured to embrace the definition or otherwise lose funding streams.

The result was – and continues to be – stifling and sabotaging the career of academics and scholars who dared to stand up for Palestinian rights.

From the smearing campaign against Bristol University’s Professor David Miller to Sheffield University suspending Palestinian academic Shahd Abu Salameh, all are examples of how the UK government has selectively weaponised anti-Semitism to silence pro-Palestine dissent.

Perturbing for rights campaigners in particular is the introduction of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSC).

The Bill grants the police not only additional powers to suppress protests but also broad discretion on what constitutes illegal campaigning or activism.

Against the PCSC backdrop, the government is also planning to introduce a bill banning BDS, which would severely cripple social movements campaigning for justice in Palestine.

Not all is bad news, however. Successful push-backs are also a growing phenomenon. Greenstein remains optimistic that public opinion is steadily shifting in Palestine’s favour. “At some point,” he said, “anti-Zionism was a very small fringe amongst Jews. But nowadays, more [disillusioned] Jews are turning their back to the Zionist state.”

His optimism is not without grounds. After a decade in which US Democrats have shown increasing affinity toward the Palestinians, their sympathies now lie with Palestinians not Israelis, 49% to 38% respectively.

This is paralleled by growing indicators that the Israeli hasbara has been losing its influence in the US, with more Americans saying it is “acceptable”, even a “duty” for the U.S. Congress to question the Israeli-American relationship.

As it stands, a tangible change in government policies toward Palestine in Britain may not be likely in the foreseeable future.

An increase in activism may even lead to further criminalisation of solidarity efforts. But that could also trigger more dissent, especially when free speech becomes conditional.

Greenstein likes to look back at history as an indication that times can change. Political activism deemed criminal today, could be heroised tomorrow.

Nelson Mandela was once a ‘terrorist’ and the suffragette movement was treated as ‘criminal’, but today they are seen as inspiring examples of historical justice. Victory was obtained by people waging struggles in the past, and it will one day be the case for Palestinians also.

Dr Emad Moussa is a researcher and writer who specialises in the politics and political psychology of Palestine/Israel.

Follow him on Twitter: @emadmoussa

What we should learn from Shahd Abusalama’s victory. Malia Bouattia

Lara Sheehi: Stop silencing Palestine solidarity in academia. Jeanine Hourani

Last month, as the people of Hawara set out to collect the shattered pieces of their lives after a 5-hour pogrom by Jewish settlers the night prior, officials from the Palestinian Authority (PA) were busy parroting the familiar rhetoric of condemnation.

PA spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeinehaccused Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultranationalist government of plotting a “dangerous escalation.” He said: “this threatens to inflame the situation and destroy all efforts aimed at restoring stability.” (Stability in sustaining the Palestinian Authority employees their salary?)

Simultaneously, the Secretary General of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Hussein al-Sheikh, said the PA would go to the Security Council to demand international protection for Palestinians.

Palestinian officials like to think of their work as diplomatic resistance. That is, they employ the various legal and political instruments available to them under international law to hold Israel accountable.

The fact that Israel disapproves of such endeavours, occasionally referring to them as ‘diplomatic terror,’ further legitimises such rhetoric.

“If anything, the internationalisation of Palestinian politics has come with certain prerequisites and expectations, which limited the PA’s scope of manoeuvrability and trivialised any meaningful modes of resistance available to it”

PA diplomacy did indeed score certain successes.

These include acquiring membership in multiple international bodies, including the ICC, and expanding the list of countries recognising the state of Palestine.

At home, however, these successes are perceived as mostly symbolic victories over pragmatic ones. They have done very little to change the Palestinian daily reality under occupation.

Nowadays,, PA officials advocate popular resistance as the only constructive resistance against Israel. During the PLO Central Committee’s 31st meeting last year, Abbas reiterated the PA’s commitment to ‘popular resistance’ as the sole means to achieve self-determination.

At the time referring to the settler violence in Nablus, Abbas called upon the Palestinian authorities to strengthen popular resistance, while stressing the importance of preserving law and order.

The Palestinian president is a long-time proponent of popular resistance. Though, he recently insinuated his conviction could change if Israel continued to drift into fascism.

Abbas believes the alternative, be it armed or violent resistance, has given Israel an exit from any legal commitments under Oslo and tarnished the Palestinian struggle internationally.

Popular resistance has always been a core part of the struggle against Zionism, becoming especially visible during the First Intifada (1987-1993). (Wrong. the first was in 1936).

But when Abbas speaks of popular resistance, he probably has in mind the model that emerged in the northern West Bank’s villages in 2000 to confront the settler attacks and land usurpation.

Even if this is the case, the PA’s notion of popular resistance is fluid and amorphous. It mostly serves as a political tactic to pressure the US, EU, and Israel into renewing the ‘political process.’ (What process?)

But most of the popular movements on the ground against Israel’s occupation distance themselves from the PA and other political parties, which they see as selling out the Palestinian cause.

Palestinian author Mutasem Hamada explains that when PA officials participate in popular activities – be it demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall or the uprooting of communities in the Jordan Valley – one of their goals is to control the extent of protests, not promote them.

In other cases, PA security forces are deployed to suppress such activities, as happened early this month when they cracked down on the funeral of a Palestinian killed during an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp.

Mourners responded with angry slogans, calling PA officials ‘spies for Israel.

The PA said the security forces intervened to stop a group of mourners unrelated to the family from snatching and carrying the body. The protesters disagreed.

Incidents like that are one more reason for the Palestinian public to detest the PA leadership, accusing many of them of treason.

The reality is that the PA’s seemingly split-personality approach toward popular resistance is less about ‘purposeful treason’ and more about being stuck in an Oslo institutional trap that has undermined Palestinian national interests.

On paper, Oslo reconfigured the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians from occupier-occupied to ‘partners in peace.’ It textually eliminated the asymmetry but without physically ending the brutal military occupation, and administrative detention of youth and released prisoners..

Since 1994, the settler population in the West Bank has increased fourfold, land confiscation has escalated, the system of Apartheid has persisted, and the Oslo temporary division of the West Bank into areas A, B, and C deepened.

Today, very few Jewish Israelis talk about relinquishing the territories or dividing Jerusalem, let alone pursuing a two-state solution.

After all, managing the occupation and outsourcing much of its burden to the PA has proven too convenient and cost-effective.

Oslo blurred the distinction between the PA and PLO and triggered institutional ambiguity. The conflation of these bodies made challenging Israel’s occupation harder.

Under Oslo, the PA is subject to Israel’s influence and conditions. It is also reliant on mostly Western funding and support, and those come with preconditions favouring Israel’s security requirements.

On both accounts, the PLO is/should be ‘theoretically’ free from pressure. But, in reality, the PA leadership is the same as the PLO leadership and operates in the same place.

Whatever coercive measures applied to the PA curb the functionality of the PLO. Think of how many times the PLO’s Central Council failed to force the PA to end security coordination with Israel as per public demand.

The PA now eclipses the PLO in importance and reigns supreme in the foreign policy arena. What has transpired is a pseudo-state, lacking sovereignty and independent decision-making, and constantly trapped in a pit of financial and political blackmail.

With the absence of an alternative, the PA now has very little motivation to abandon the status quo, even if it means remaining subcontractors to the occupier. This status quo – or rather, comfort zone – has proven highly beneficial for its elite, both economically and politically.

Proactively investing in a well-organised popular resistance movement carries the risk of running counter to the current power structure and undermining the hierarchy of privileges, which the PA has consolidated over the past 29 years.

Palestinian national interests and the will of the people are considered only when they fit this skewed scheme of personal realpolitik. They very rarely do. It’s no wonder that most Palestinians see the PA as collaborators in their oppression.

Dr Emad Moussa is a researcher and writer who specialises in the politics and political psychology of Palestine/Israel.

Follow him on Twitter: @emadmoussa

Have questions or comments? Email us at:

Israeli settler pogroms: A foundation of the Zionist state. Tara Alami

Israel’s protests: A revolt for the status quo. Ben White

This Syrian woman, Mariam Al Astrulabi helped develop navigation and timekeeping as we know it. A pioneer of the astrolabe, a scientific device used to calculate the position of the sun and stars, Mariam’s achievements have been recognised for over a millennium.

Ufuk Necat Tasci

04 May, 2023

In our modern age, global positioning systems help us find our bearings and track our location. Telescopes help us observe the sky. 

But how was this possible one thousand years ago?  How did they find their way, how did they measure the distance between stars, and how were they able to calculate the height of mountains?

“Miriam Al Astrulabi contributed to tracking the position of the sun, moon, stars and planets, helping find the Qiblah and ascertaining prayer times and the date of Ramadan”

For Muslims, the position of the sun plays a crucial role in determining prayer times. Finding the most accurate bearing of the Kaaba, in Makkah, has been an integral part of Islamic science since its inception. As such, astronomy has always played an important role. 

From Al Battuni, Al Kharawizmi, and Thabit Ibn Qurra, to Ali Al Qushji, Ulugh Bey, and Al Biruni, Muslim polymaths have always helped innovate and expand the discipline. 

But it’s not only Muslim men who have contributed. In the 10th century, a Muslim woman, Maryam Al Ijlya – also known as Mariam Al Astrulabi – changed the face of astronomy forever by pioneering the astrolabe. 

Her contribution to astronomy was recognised in 1990 when Henry H. Holy discovered the main-best asteroid at Palomar Observatory and named it the 7069 Al Ijliyye.

Astrolabes are used for astronomical observations, timekeeping and navigation. Mariam’s innovation also laid the foundation for managing transport and for communication routes.

Mariam is considered one of the 200 most famous astronomers in history. 

Born to the astrolabe-maker Al Ijliy Al-Astrulabi in Syria during the 10th century, Mariam’s father was her inspiration. Her mastery was soon discovered by the founder of the Emirate of Aleppo, Sayf Al Dawla, who employed her in his royal court. 

During his reign between 944 to 967AD, Mariam helped develop navigation and timekeeping and became well-known throughout the region as the maker of the most detailed astrolabes of her generation.

Nigerian-American science-fiction writer, Nnedi Okorafor revealed in 2016 that Mariam was her source of inspiration in her novella, Binti. Okorafor learnt about Mariam Al Astulabi in the United Arab Emirates during a book festival. Okorafor’s book won an award in 2015, and Mariam was also named an extraordinary woman from the Islamic Golden Age by the 1001 Inventions.

How astrolabes work and help

The astrolabe first appeared as a scientific instrument used to reckon the time and observe the sky. There is a disk of metal or wood with the circumference marked off within degrees. A portable pointer pivots at the disk’s centre and is called an alidade

Astrolabes enabled astronomers to calculate the positions of the stars and sun regarding their positions on the horizon and the meridian. They were widely used during the Middle Ages by Muslims and Europeans. Their use became common among mariners around the 15th century until the development of sextants. 

From the 8th to 15th centuries, Muslim astronomers produced countless sophisticated astronomical works. Muslim scholars, particularly those during the Islamic Golden Age, helped create innovative discoveries that would impact generations to come. 

Dr Ufuk Necat Tasci is a political analyst, academic, and journalist. His research areas and interests include Libya, the foreign policy of Turkey, proxy wars, surrogate warfare, and new forms of conflict and history

The Cynics were an ancient Greek school who believed that society suppressed, corrupted, and buried the human spirit. 

Cynics argued that the artificial trappings of civilization repressed, enslaved, and debased the human spirit

How to get off the treadmill without committing suicide or going on a shooting spree?

How can we return to natural life, like animals behave to survive, without overdoing it in alteration and substitutions?

Does all kinds of personal Civil Disobedience work to change any behavior?

Diogenes of Sinope was the best known Cynic, and he resorted to some incredible shock tactics to jolt people from their societal stupor. 

What are the current lessons to be found in Cynicism?

Jonny Thomson

Have you ever wasted an hour flicking through your phone and felt… hollow afterward?

Have you had days when you’re so overworked that you feel you’ve ignored everyone and everything around you?

Do you spend so much time worrying about getting that thing, or doing that job, that you feel detached from yourself?

We’ve built the world in such a way that there’s just so much to do. So many distractions and preoccupations. So many tasks and jobs.

Life has become so complicated — we’ve got work to do, relationships to navigate, homes to manage, bills to pay, and families to care for. Technology was supposed to make all this easier, but it only seems to have added to our burden.

Have you ever stopped to wonder if something has been lost amongst all this? Have we buried something key to being human?

Cynicism doesn’t mean what you think

Cynicism as a philosophy bears only passing resemblance to how we use the term nowadays. Today, the word has come to mean someone who’s pessimistic and always sees or expects the worst in things, especially of people. We can see where this idea came from, but it’s a far cry from what the original Cynics believed.

Cynicism is most associated with a man called Diogenes of Sinope (but this comes only second-hand from Plato and Aristotle, because Diogenes’ own work largely has been lost).

Cynics argued that the artificial trappings of civilization repressed, enslaved, and debased the human spirit. They despised all the abstracted philosophizing of the likes of Plato and his school, The Academy, thinking they were both pretentious and pointless.

Instead, we should return to nature as much as possible, fulfilling only our basic needs. In fact, Diogenes was nicknamed “the dog” for his vagrant, sparse, and basic living conditions.

Cynics argued that we must abandon possessions and traditions and be more like animals, that is, by following base biological needs over everything else.

Nature had made us just as we were designed to be, so why change that? Even what we might call negative things — like disease, pain or death — have their role to play, and we ought to live by nature’s way. To die and suffer is, after all, quite natural.

Cynicism is much more than having “no phone Sundays” or eating only soup for dinner. True Cynicism is far from easy.

It is about “self-mastery,” and this took substantial practice, effort, and time. It means enduring and accepting longing or loneliness. Cynicism means abandoning all property, possessions, relationships, and society itself to focus instead on true inner strength.

Even the master, Diogenes, was taught a lesson in self-mastery. Diogenes had lived his life carrying a wooden bowl to eat and drink from. One day, on a walk, he saw a young boy bending to drink from a river with his hands. Distraught, Diogenes smashed his bowl to pieces shouting, “A child has beaten me in the plainness of living!

He had unwittingly become absorbed by the possession of his bowl. He needed to return to the natural way of things — using the hands with which he was gifted.

Diogenes: the first shock jock

It was not enough to abandon society and live the hermit, ascetic life. Cynics saw themselves as being some kind of enlightened crusaders, whose duty it was to persuade others of how wrongly they were behaving.

And so, they would lambast and abuse the “civilized” artifice of the Greek agora. They believed that they must aggressively take apart the soul-destroying trappings of “civilization.”

As you can imagine, this was not popular. The very term “Cynic” came to be a form of abuse — they were the “dog people.” Diogenes, himself, was known as “the mad Socrates” and it’s not hard to see why. It is said he once wandered the streets in search of an honest man.

But that’s not the only thing he did in the streets.

He once openly masturbated in the marketplace, proclaiming, “If only it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing my belly.” (Then why did he Not plow the land?) He spat in official’s faces, threw rocks at locals, and slept in a barrel.

He quite hilariously mocked Plato’s Academy. The finest mind of the school had (probably jokingly, to be fair) declared that Man could be defined as a “featherless biped.” Diogenes then plucked a chicken, threw it onto the floor of the Academy, and declared, “Behold, I give you a man!” Seemingly unwilling to take a joke, the Academy added “with broad flat nails” to their definition.

One of his most famous stories involves Alexander the Great. Legend has it that Alexander was so impressed by this man called Diogenes, that he demanded to meet him. When he did, the most powerful man in the world offered Diogenes anything he wanted. Diogenes asked Alexander to move aside, because he was blocking the sun.

Modern Cynics

Of course, it’s hard to see how much of this we can take into everyday life. Stoicism has now become a best-selling self-help industry, and Epicureanism is enjoying a revival.

And what does Cynicism offer? We’re hardly likely to start masturbating in the supermarket, spitting in a cop’s face, or living in a barrel under a bridge.

The wisdom of Cynicism is found in how it reimagines our relationship with society. We can all become so immersed in life, so distracted by those “must-do” things, that our humanity becomes entombed.

We all can feel like we’re drowning in the very things that are supposed to make life happier or easier.

If you feel like you’re on a treadmill that is forever speeding up, Cynicism is the call to get off the treadmill — to say “no more” to everything and everyone that demands this or that. Cynicism is about throwing off the chains of needing pointless things.

In this way, Cynicism is a return to a simpler and more natural way of being human.

Jonny Thomson teaches philosophy in Oxford. He runs a popular Instagram account called Mini Philosophy (@philosophyminis). His first book is Mini Philosophy: A Small Book of Big Ideas.




June 2023

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