Posts tagged "ukraine":

24 Mar 2022

2022-03-24 нет войне

I am home alone for a long weekend while D is away on a mindfulness retreat. Plenty of work to do though - both for the office and around the house - some gardening if the weather permits. Just woke up at around 5 AM and am sitting here listening to Cafe de Anatolia music [1], a little loud.

When I look at the headlines from Ukraine and Russia with an eye, a mind, and a back-of-my-mind understanding that there is disinformation everywhere, it still computes to the fact that a big military giant is bearing down on a smaller neighbour with an army that has recently been committing despicable and hardly noticed atrocities across Syria. I'm pretty certain that the Russian leader is facing a growing wave of discontent at home, and that this will eventually explode, in ways that we will probably be clueless about. I don't think the guy is a madman, but just badly out of touch. And yet, with his help, Assad, similarly aloof, has managed to keep his chokehold on a nation. That's the way it is with dictators and strongmen. Their rule eventually wizzens and dies, but not always according to a predictable time-frame.

Likely Zelenskiy is similarly facing opposition and discontent, although it hasn't been reported, in the name of presenting a united front. His position is equally tenuous. Meanwhile Ukraine is being destroyed, and all for what? To score points against NATO? Wars serve no purpose other than allowing angry people to let off steam. The motivations and the outcomes are clouded in fog. The narrative can be made up, the facts doctored. History becomes a jumble of divisive narratives, as with the tkuma and the nakba. A people will always remember what it wants to remember. Meanwhile, humans die for stupid unnecessary reasons.

"Killing people is so easy," I said to D after the stabbing attack that killed 4 in Beer Sheba the other day. Our bodies are fragile. Sometimes a disease gets us, or a storm, or a radicalized Islamic militant. It makes little difference. On a recent car journey, the truck just ahead swerved out suddenly into my lane, which meant that I swerved into the next lane, with no time to look. It could easily have been the end for me, my wife and for other unfortunates. We are fragile and can die for no reason at all, kill others senselessly. In the arithmetic of causes and effects nothing adds up but the final balance is always a zero.

If we want to look for the reasons behind the reasons, we need to look to the metaphysical. The other day, into the office walked a gardener. A big scary guy in dark attire; a beard in the style that only religious Muslims wear, a large skull cap. He was looking for work, but ended up giving me a sermon. He asked if I "believed" and I said sure - I believe that the god of the Muslims and all the other gods are one and the same. He was very happy with this answer, asked if I knew the kalima, and I repeated after him La Illaha Il Allah. He departed after giving me a hug.

It is the same god that sends militants on a stabbing spree, the same that rescues us from a car wreck, and both the killers and the rescued praise him. Both are right to do so. We are just agents in an agency at the top of which stands an aloof and unknown owner - an oligarch - sailing somewhere in his super-yacht. Perhaps even he is unsure whether the next port will allow him to dock, will turn him away, or will seize his boat in the name of trumped-up sanctions.


  1. Cafe de Anatolia

Russian mercenaries in Ukraine linked to far-right extremists

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Tags: ukraine israel-palestine
23 Feb 2022

2022-02-23 - Russia and Ukraine | Sufi music | Garage Philosophy

Russia and Ukraine

Jonathan Steele in the Guardian has an interesting article about how we ended up with the current situation - as expected, it isn't all Russia's fault. Also, according to him, Russia has already won, in terms of denying Ukraine the possibility of joining NATO, because the alliance does not admit countries that do not control their borders.

On the TV news they keep interviewing Ukrainians on how they are feeling. Probably the majority of them understand the issues differently, and with greater subtlety than the average western viewer.

Sufi music

On SoundCloud I have been listening to Sufi musicians like Farida Busemann. Some of it is a little too ethereal, but it is appropriate some of the time. A part of me cleaves toward bhakti; it's just that I'm constantly being put off by the religious frameworks in which devotion is usually caught-up. Sufism suits me because it has always played the outsider; sometimes tolerated or co-opted, but never really embraced by formal religion; and nowadays positively despised by Islamic puritans like the Wahhabis. It's also a form of devotion that finds common ground with people of completely different religions, such as Hindus. I think that some of us may be Sufis without even calling ourselves as such, without even knowing that we are so. Going back to music, I think there are songs that embrace the spirit of Sufism without properly being Sufi. I'm just now listening to Zara and Djivan Gasparyan's wonderful rendition of the Armenian folk song Dle Yaman. Garage Philosophy

In car garages you really meet the essence of Israel's existential realities. They are places where Arabs and Jews come together and achieve a shaky interaction and cooperation. Often the Jewish mechanics or owners will speak fluent Arabic, though most of them are also right wing. The other day when I visited one to get a new battery for my daughter's car, I was treated to an unexpected harangue about "left wingers". The garage owner happened to use the word "Kushi" in describing someone. It's equivalent to the N word in English (though in Biblical times, Kush was an ancient African kingdom). He said he had no problem about using the word "kushi" whatever people might say about that. He went on to "explain" related phenomena, like how Americans can't even say "he" nowadays but have to use "they" instead, and how this was all leftwing bullshit. Of course, he obviously took me for one such American, though that was never stated, and he said everything in a friendly way, as if only fools would disagree with such obvious truths. I just muttered the expected words and picked up my credit card and receipt. And now he has lost my custom; I'll never go back there - not because his opinions differ from those with other such people I need to deal with, but because he made the mistake of talking plainly, to a customer who had only came to get some work done on the car, rather than to benefit from his enlightened views on unrelated matters.

Tags: music ukraine
22 Feb 2022

2022-02-22 - Russia and Ukraine

Now that Russia is actually invading Ukraine, thoughts about what both sides could have been doing to de-escalate the situation and avoid war become irrelevant. It's a clear case of a large country bullying a smaller one, and the Russian leader deserves to be reviled. There was a lot of nonsense spoken about how such military intervention and aggression is no longer possible in the 21st century, and that the build up we were seeing was "actually the war". Subtlety of that sort doesn't exist in Putin's world; people were forgetting his long record. I also feel incredulous at wars and military campaigns. I feel like that every time Israel embarks on its periodical campaigns against Gaza. But it is dangerous to project one's personal value system and think that leaders and nations share it. They don't. It's the same group violence we have known for 10,000 years, using the technological means and systems of the current era. It isn't likely ever to stop, just to adopt new forms.

The question is now what the world needs to do now. I'm stumped. I will wait to see what develops.

Tags: ukraine
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