Monday, June 30, 2014

"Rachel is weeping for her children;.... because they are no more"

Earlier tonight, before we knew that the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers had been murdered shortly after they were taken, I took a photo of one of the many home-made signs calling for the release of the three. The sign below was attached to the fence in front of the Shalom Hartman high school for girls on Rachel Imenu Street. It says "And the children will return to their own country."

The boys' names were Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, as this photo below says. It quotes from the same verse - "Rachel weeps for her children ... and the children will return to their own country."

The verses are from Jeremiah 31:15-17. Rachel is a symbol for the Jewish people.
Thus says the Lord:
       A voice is heard in Ramah,
             lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
       she refuses to be comforted for her children,
             because they are no more. 
Thus says the Lord:
       Keep your voice from weeping,
       and your eyes from tears;
       for there is a reward for your work,
says the Lord:
       they shall come back from the land of the enemy; 
there is hope for your future,
        says the Lord:
        your children shall come back to their own country.

There's a vigil right now in Tel Aviv - photo below.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

David Schraub on the Presbyterian Church - no "cheap grace"

I haven't posted anything about the Presbyterian Church's decision to divest from three American companies doing business in Israel because many other people have written excellent responses. David Schraub, of The Debate Link, has now written an outstanding reply to the church's "Open Letter to our American Jewish Interfaith Partners."

I've thought quite a bit about what it would take to bring the Church "back into Communion", if you will, assuming that they don't rescind the resolution (which they won't). The answer for me has actually been rather straightforward: Condemn "Zionism Unsettled" as an anti-Semitic document. Don't just "disavow" it as not an "official" Church document -- "Hop on Pop" is not an official Church document. "Zionism Unsettled" is representative of a particular Christian worldview vis-a-vis Jews that is deeply oppressive and problematic, and one that (though not always expressed so starkly) has a deep influence on how Christians understand the Jewish experience. The critical question is whether Christians acknowledge that the Jewish vantage point may require painful reassessments of some deeply held commitments. There is no reason that Christians should expect or are entitled to a reconciliation with Jews that is "self-bestowed":
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and self all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Christian reckoning with "Zionism Unsettled" requires that they acknowledge the reality of anti-Semitism in their own community and how that inevitably colors their instincts when they elect to speak on Jewish affairs. Recall that the divestment resolution passed by 7 votes. The resolution disavowing (which is to say, stating that the document "does not represent the views" of the PCUSA) "Zionism Unsettled" received eight negative votes in Committee. In a very real sense, it is the people who do believe in the validity of "Zionism Unsettled" and do believe it should reflect Church policy, that gave this resolution its margin of victory. Will they "pluck out the eye which causes [them] to stumble"? Plucking out eyes hurts, or so I imagine. It is not fun, to be sure. It is costly. Grace, in contexts such as the historical oppression of Jews by Christian, should be costly. 
As noted in my last post, a (if not the) key question regarding the entire Presbyterian participation in this debate is why anyone -- Jewish or Christian -- should believe that the voice of institutional Christianity is a credible contributor on questions of normative values in general and Jewish experience in particular. Historically speaking, there is no reason to believe they are and will continue to be anything but terrible at this, in large part because the warp and woof of institutional Christianity thought and practice has been suffused with anti-Semitic ideology from top to bottom. Deconstructing (unsettling?) those foundations is a critical step in demonstrating that the Church recognizes there may be something internal to themselves that requires a change. In order for me, at least, to find talking to the PCUSA valuable, I need to know that they recognize these basic facts about themselves, their history, and their relationship to the Jewish people -- a legacy of prejudice and oppression that renders them deeply suspect (to say the least) as partners. 
The Church wants cheap grace. It will not get it. If it wants to speak to Jews, it needs to first reckon with itself.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Imagine a world without hatred

The ADL has created a very moving short ad imagining what the world would be like if Martin Luther King, Anne Frank, Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepherd, Daniel Pearl, James Byrd, and Yitzhak Rabin would have accomplished if they had not been murdered.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"Nazis in the Holy Land," by Heidemarie Wawrzyn

Wawrzyn, Heidemarie

Nazis in the Holy Land 1933-1948

Co-published by The Hebrew University Magnes Press and De Gruyter for the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.
Young Germans marched through Haifa shouting "Heil Hitler!" and Swastika flags were hoisted at the German consulates in Mandatory Palestine. It was in November 1931 when a non-Jewish German made the initial contact with Nazi officials in Germany that led to the establishment of a miniature Third Reich with local NS groups, Hitler Youth program, and associations for women, teachers, and others in Palestine. Approximately 33% of all Palestine-Germans (Palästina-Deutsche) participated in the NS movement. Until today no extensive research written in English has been done on this bizarre "footnote" in history. 
While previous publications in German mainly concentrated on the members of the Temple Society, this work includes Protestant and Catholic Germans as well. It focuses on the relationship of Palästina-Deutsche with local Arabs and Jews. It covers the period of 1933 to 1948 as well as the years between the establishing of the State of Israel and the departure of the last group of Germans in 1950. At the end of the book, the reader will find a list with more than seven hundred names of those who joined the NS groups.

Templers and Nazis in the Holy Land

This is a memorial in the Templer cemetery in Jerusalem, on Emek Refaim St. It is dedicated to the over 450 dead from the Templer communities who fell in the wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. The Templers were a group of German Protestants who originally came to Ottoman Palestine from 1869 to 1906 and established seven colonies. Their Jerusalem colony was established in 1873 and many of the buildings still exist in their original location in the neighborhood still known as the German Colony (המושבה הגרמנית). A number of the Templer men went to fight for Germany in the First World War, and 24 died in the war.

During the period of the British Mandate, the Templers remained living in their colonies, but things changed after the Nazis took over Germany in 1933. Here is a report by a woman who grew up in Jerusalem.
Rosemarie Hahn, who was born in the Jerusalem colony in 1928, recalls the period with a deep sense of nostalgia. 
"I have only happy memories," she says, her German accent, like Kurt's, still discernible. "For us as children it was like living in our own homeland - we didn't know anything else. We were friends with everybody - my best friends in kindergarten were a Jewish girl and an Arab girl. English, Jewish, Arab, Armenian - everybody was accepted into our school. 
"But that changed after 1934. My Jewish friend was taken out of school, and my brother had a Jewish friend who never came back - because of the politics."
A BBC article on the Templers reports that many of them in Palestine became members of the Nazi Party.
By this time, the Nazi party had risen to power in Germany and the ripples had spread to expatriate communities, including in Palestine. A branch was established in Haifa by Templer Karl Ruff in 1933, and other Templer colonies followed, including Jerusalem. While National Socialism caught the imagination of many of the younger, less religious Templers, it met resistance from the older generation. 
"The older Templers were afraid that the Fuehrer would overtake Jesus ideologically," says Mr Kroyanker. "Many of the young people were easily influenced by Nazism - there were many young Templers who studied in Germany at the time... and when they came back they were very excited about Nazism." 
"At the beginning there was some sort of disagreement between the older generation and the newer generation, and in the end the newer generation won the battle." In Jerusalem, a teacher at one of the Templer schools, Ludwig Buchhalter, became the local party chief and led efforts to ensure Nazism permeated all aspects of German life there. 
The Nazi party gained a foothold in Templer communities across Palestine 
(Ludwig Buchhalter circled)
The British Boy Scouts and Girl Guides which operated in the German Colony were replaced by the Hitler Youth and League of German Maidens. Workers joined the Nazi Labour Organisation and party members greeted each other in the street with "Heil Hitler" and a Nazi salute. 
Under pressure from Buchhalter, some Germans boycotted Jewish businesses in Jerusalem (while Jews did the same in return). 
Buchhalter's house - now the site of a luxury apartment block - on Emmanuel Noah Street served as the Nazi party headquarters and Buchhalter himself drove with swastika pennants attached to his car. He later recalled how he once forgot to remove them while driving through a Jewish area and was stoned and shot at. 
The extent to which the Templers as a whole adopted Nazism is a matter of historical debate. While some were enthusiastic followers, others were less committed, and among others still there was defiance and resistance. 
"You can find dozens of those who were really active and you can find those who were going with the stream and others who were afraid not to go into the party, exactly as you could find in Germany," says Dr Eisler. 
Figures vary, but according to Heidemarie Wawrzyn, whose book Nazis in the Holy Land 1933-1948 is due to be published next week, about 75% of Germans in Palestine who belonged to the Nazi party, or were in some way associated with it, were Templers. 
She says more than 42% of all Templers participated in Nazi activities in Palestine.
Curiously, Nazi chief Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Final Solution, cultivated a legend that he was born in the Templer colony of Sarona just north of Jaffa - though this was untrue. 
As war loomed in Europe, once again the position of the Templers in Palestine became insecure. In August 1939, all eligible Germans in Palestine received call-up papers from Germany, and by the end of the month some 249 had left to join the Wehrmacht.
On 3 September 1939, when Britain (along with France) declared war on Germany, all Germans in Palestine were, for the second time, classed as enemy aliens and four Templer settlements were sealed off and turned into internment camps. 
Men of military age, including the fathers of Kurt and Rosemarie, were sent to a prison near Acre, while their families were ordered into the camps. 
For the next two years at least, the Templers were allowed to function as agricultural communities behind barbed wire and under guard, but it was the beginning of the end.
In July 1941, more than 500 were deported to Australia, while between 1941 and 1944 400 more were repatriated to Germany by train as part of three exchanges with the Nazis for Jews held in ghettos and camps. 
A few hundred Templers remained in Palestine after the war but there was no chance of rebuilding their former communities. A Jewish insurgency was under way to force out the British and in 1946 the assassination by Jewish militants of the former Templer mayor of Sarona, Gotthilf Wagner, sent shockwaves through the depleted community. 
Contemporary reports say Wagner was targeted because he had been a prominent Nazi. Sieger Hahn, Wagner's foster son, says Wagner was killed because he was an "obstacle" to the purchase of land from the Germans. 
With the killing of two more Templers by members of the Haganah (Jewish fighting force) in 1948, the British authorities evacuated almost all the remaining members to an internment camp in Cyprus. 
The last group of about 20-30 elderly and infirm people was given shelter in the Sisters of St Charles Borromeo convent in Jerusalem, but in 1949 some of them too were ordered to leave the country - now the State of Israel - accused of having belonged to the Nazi party. The last Templers left in April 1950.
In recent years, a right-wing Israeli group has been trying to remove the memorial to those who died in both WWI and WWII, because they believe that it is glorifying those who murdered six million Jews. The following article is from Haaretz, April 29, 2011.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a right-wing group, has been working in recent years to have the monument removed. In a letter from the forum to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein about a year ago, attorney Hila Cohen wrote: “We believe that it is inconceivable that within the State of Israel, not to mention in its capital city, such a monument exists, glorifying figures who are war criminals, partners to the most grievous attempt in history to wipe out the Jewish people.” 
According to Cohen, the monument is an “unacceptable contradiction to the law mandating prosecution of Nazis and their collaborators.” 
Attorney Michael Blass, Weinstein’s aide, responded at the time that no legal basis existed for the removal of the monument. 
And so the forum began to work toward legislation of a bill with regard to the monument, along the lines of the law against the erection of monuments to terrorists, enacted to prevent the construction of a memorial to Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Muslims at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994. 
The law against the Templer monument, proposed by MK Uri Ariel ‏(National Union‏), would add an amendment the law mandating prosecution of Nazis that would read: “No monument will exist that commemorates, either explicitly or implicitly, the Nazis and their collaborators.” 
The amendment also states that any person who has been made aware of the existence of such a monument must report it to the police. 
The forum is also considering getting expedited passage of a municipal by-law in Jerusalem to ensure the monument comes down.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sakakini home in Katamon in film - "Two Houses and a Longing"

Dorit Naaman, an Israeli professor of film and media at Queen's University, in Kingston, Ontario, has been working on a project about the history and current situation of Katamon.
An ongoing multimedia project hopes to bring to life the diverse histories of homes in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Qatamon. 
A team comprised of professors and students from Queen’s and Simon Fraser University (SFU) will work closely with families displaced by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
Dorit Naaman, a professor of film and media at Queen’s, said the project has many steps, including an interactive website, digital media workshops for youth and a video installation. 
The video project “Qatamon in Colour” will encourage Qatamon families to recall their memories and experiences. These video installations will then be projected onto the houses. 
“I’m very interested in letting people tell their stories about their homes, but in a way letting the houses speak their history,” she said. “The idea of this installation is kind of letting the houses … focalize these different histories.” 
.....Families involved in the project will include not only those displaced by the conflict in 1948, but also current residents and individuals who have lived in the neighborhood since, including Israelis.

Naaman said the installation will likely be completed by 2014 and will include guided and self-guided tours. Work is set to begin this summer....

Dana Olwan, assistant professor at Simon Fraser University, is a co-applicant in the organization of the project with Naaman. The process of finding the Qatamon families, Olwan told the Journal via email, is complicated and involves intricate local and global networking. 
“We are relying on already established contacts but will likely require a use of variety of tools to locate people, including archival research, email, and word of mouth,” Olwan said. 
While locating the families is one step, there are other barriers to consider, she said.
“Identifying and locating the Palestinian families does not necessarily mean that they will want to take part in this project,” she said. “The Israeli occupation has had long and lasting damaging effects on our communities and some people may prefer to not participate.” 
It’s important to understand that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hasn’t ended yet, Olwan said. “Palestinians are being dispossessed from Jerusalem right now through the building of apartheid walls, the expanding of settlements, and the confiscation of Jerusalem identification cards,” Olwan said. “Understanding and challenging the contemporary nature of the occupation is a key aim of this project.”
In 2008 Naaman made a film through the "Jerusalem Moments" project of Ir Amim about two Palestinian houses in Jerusalem, one of them the Sakakini house.

Two Houses and a Longing / שני בתים וגעגוע from Ir-Amim on Vimeo
This is the tale of two houses in Jerusalem. The first was owned by Khalil Sakakini who was forced to leave his house in the neighborhood of Katamon in April 1948. Khalil passed away in Egypt, but his daughter, Hala, returned to Katamon after 1967 and found that the house now serves as a WIZO kindergarten. The second house, which serves today as the Museum on the Seam, belonged to the Baramki family who fled at the height of the battles for East Jerusalem. After 1967 Andoni Baramki, the father, asked to return to his home, but the Israeli authorities refused his requests. From then until the end of his life Baramki visited his home every day. 
Directed by: Dorit Naaman

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Khalil Sakakini's house in Katamon

My first goal in walking around Katamon today was to find the former home of Khalil Sakakini, which he finished building in the late 1930s. He lived from 1878-1958, and was "among the most prominent Palestinian intellectuals at the end of the Ottoman period and the Mandate period." (The Ottoman Turks ruled Palestine and much of the Middle East and North Africa for several hundred years. Palestine was conquered in 1517, and in 1917 the British conquered it and took it from the Ottomans during the First World War. They administered the Mandate for Palestine until 1948). Sakakini was a "teacher, educator, linguist, writer, poet, and politician." He was "born in Jerusalem to a Greek Orthodox family from the middle class."

"His public activity included the struggle for reform in the Greek Orthodox community, exhorting for secular Arab nationalism and the struggle against Zionism, and also the leadership of modern liberal education in Arab society." (From David Kroyanker, Jerusalem Neighborhoods: Talbieh, Katamon, and the Greek Colony [Jerusalem: Keter, 2002], 253; translated from Hebrew by me).

Sakakini began to build his house in the Katamon neighborhood in 1937. Tom Segev in his book, One Palestine, Complete, which uses Sakakini’s diaries as a primary source, describes it this way:

While reporting about an event in the Revolt and explaining it in letters to his son Sari, Khalil El-Sakakini devoted most of his time to building his new house, in the Katamon neighborhood in Jerusalem. He documented the project, perhaps not by accident, as if this were his national home. This began in May 1934: Sakakini and a few friends went out in a kind of procession, holding maps in their hands: “We surveyed the land on the heights, in the valleys, and on the plain, he later wrote.” …

The project aroused his imagination. At first he thought about a modest house, he wrote to his son, but then decided that the family needed a grove for the bring animals and birds, and a tennis court. Then the thought occurred to him to plant coconut trees to raise big and small monkeys in them, and build a swimming pool where the water would be changed daily. As much as he fantasized, he tended to despair – he doesn’t have the money, perhaps it’s better that he shouldn’t build at all and live the rest of his days as he had lived up until now – wandering from house to house. Difficulties also arose with the purchase of land, but in the end he succeeded in buying a portion of land in Katamon….

Another three years went by. Construction on the house was proceeding satisfactorily, Sakakini wrote. He went every day to check its progress, “stone by stone.” He measured the height, the length, the width. “This will be the bedroom, we’ll put the bed here, the wardrobe here, and the chair here. This is the kitchen, we’ll put the oven here, the sink here. This is the study for Dumia and Hala, we’ll cover the walls with shelves, and we’ll put Dumia’s desk here and Hala’s desk here….”

People began to gossip. Where was he getting the money to build such a house? Sakakini was building with thought to the cost: the builder was the best in town, as was the carpenter, the ironmonger, the tiler, and the painter.… Sakakini decided to call his house “The Island,” because it was surrounded by streets, except on one side, like the Arabian peninsula. Each room had a name: San’a and Damascus, Cordoba, Baghdad and Cairo. the house’s gates were called the Gates of Eternity. When Sari returned from America, “victorious and conquering, enlightened and educated,” they would circle the house as if it were the Holy Kaaba in Mecca, and would go from room to room as if they were going from city to city. Afterward they would crown him with a wreath of laurel or olive branches.

The family moved in May 1937: … “We all feel as if we were born yesterday,” Sakakini wrote, and everyone who saw him wondered at the source of his youthful exuberance. All his guests received a tour: this is the bedroom, here is the study, the living room, and the rest of the house. Sakakini decided to create a map for visitors. “The house, the house, all we talk about is the house,” he told Sari.: “Our house is a universe, and we are all in it, eternity is our slave” (Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete, pp. 271-274).

(Continuing from David Kroyanker's book). 
His daughter Hala describes in her memoirs the peaceful and happy life that the family led in the house for eleven years, since it was dedicated in 1937 until they were forced to abandon Jerusalem during the War of Independence.

The members of the Sakakini family left their house in Katamon on April 30, 1948. They traveled in a car (Hala Sakinini, Jerusalem and I, p. 121) to Cairo, and lived there until their father died (ibid., p. 150). After that, Hala and her sister Dumia moved to Ramallah, where they live until this day.

Since the house has become a daycare it has undergone changes, to the extent of a complete opposition between the pastoral-village appearance of the original Sakakini house and its degraded condition today. Thus Hala Sakakini describes her new meeting with her house in July, 1967, nineteen years after they left it:
We had reached our destination. It was a sad moment. The house appeared intact from outside, but it somehow looked darker. The walls seemed so dusty, the paint on the shutters had worn off, the stairs were dirty.… Gone was the beautiful, fragrant honeysuckle over the garden gate, gone was the jasmine shrub leaning against the house.… The garden was dry and brown and covered with litter. Right in front of the house, in the middle of the garden, they had erected an ugly wooden structure that was an eyesore. (Hala Sakakini, Jerusalem and I, p. xiv).
Sakakini's former home is about an eight-minute walk from where I'm staying on Elazar ha-Modai Street.

This is the route I took to walk there:

The house is now a daycare center sponsored by Canadian-Hadassah WIZO, named after Nina Cohen.
The Nina Cohen Atlantic Provinces Daycare (Katamon, Jerusalem), opened in 1969, is one of six that CHW supports. Currently, the daycare provides daily care to 59 children, in three classrooms. The children come from a variety of backgrounds which reflects the diverse neighbourhood of new immigrants, religious families, and young couples who populate the area. The daycare offers a dedicated and well-trained staff of nineteen who provide guidance and care to the children in a nurturing and enriching environment. 

See more at:
From Katamon June 24, 2014

Another view of the front of the day care center.
From Katamon June 24, 2014

From Katamon June 24, 2014
Toy car on a ledge on the back of the Nina Cohen Daycare Center

I have not been able to find a really good photograph of what the house looked like when the Sakakini's still lived there. Tarek Bakri, a Palestinian journalist and photographer, has created a montage of a photograph of the current use of the house as a daycare center and a photograph of what it looked when it belonged to the Sakakinis. 

Here is a crop from that image, which shows only the old photograph.

You can see that the basic fabric of the house is still there, even though it is obscured by a new, higher wall, and ugly gates and fences. The open area on the second story of the house has been filled in with windows. The outside of the building is not very well kept-up.

Sakakini's diaries were published in Hebrew in 2007. For a review (published in Haaretz), see Farewell to Our House: The Journals of Khalil al-Sakakini.

Jerusalem Street Kitten

I spent this afternoon taking a walk around the neighborhood of Katamon, which is where I'm currently living in Jerusalem, and first I came upon one of the many street cats of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem street kitten
From Katamon June 24, 2014

Solidarity Rally for the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers at Temple Beth El, Ithaca

An email I received from my synagogue at home in Ithaca. 

Solidarity Rally

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 7PM at Temple Beth-El

Stand with good people the world over, seeking the safe, secure, and speedy release of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers:

Eyal Yifrach
Gilad Shaar
Naftali Frenkel

Monday, June 23, 2014

Books for Ta-Nehisi Coates' master class on "race" and "racism" in America

More of Ta-Nehisi Coates' excellent master class on "race" and "racism" in America. This time, a narrative bibliography. I need to read these books.

This is a path that he recommends.
1.) American Slavery, American Freedom, by Edmund Morgan. Essential to understanding your country and how it came to see "blacks" in one light and "whites" in another.

2.) White Over Black, by Winthrop Jordan. I don't agree with this book, but it's important to confront the counterargument—that Anglo-American culture is racist at its very root and predisposed toward hatred of black people.

3.) The History of White People, by Nell Irvin Painter. A deeply amusing book that finds great minds—chiefly Ralph Waldo Emerson—arguing that race explains why "Celts" are Catholic and "Saxons" Protestant. It also reveals how poorly racist thinking ages. The book is an eminently readable guide through the evolution and conception of white people. Again, nothing inevitable here.

4.) Black Folks Here and There, by St. Clair Drake. The source for me. This book changed my life. I've listed it so low because at the time I read it, I had nothing else to do, really. I didn't do much homework. I skipped a lot of class. I just soaked stuff like this up.

5.) "On Being White ... and Other Lies," by James Baldwin.No one is better on the idea of "race," and particularly whiteness, and its import than Baldwin: "No one was white before he/she came to America. It took generations and a vast amount of coercion ..." In this essay, he brings together all the history and wastes no words dumbing down its likely import:
... in this debasement and definition of black people, they have debased and defined themselves. And have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion: because they think they are white. Because they think they are white, they dare not confront the ravage and lie of their history. Because they think they are white, they cannot allow themselves to be tormented by the suspicion that all men are brothers .... Because they think they are white, they believe, as even no child believes, in the dream of safety.
This, to me, is the deepest significance of reparations. People who think this is just a matter of giving black things vastly underestimate the challenge. Reparations may seem impractical. Living without history, I suspect, will—in the long term—prove to be suicidal.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Photos of the former Hansen hospital in Jerusalem

A couple of days after I arrived in Israel (June 10), I took a walk up to the former hospital for people with Hansen's disease (also, wrongly, called leprosy), which is opposite the Jerusalem Theater in Talbiyeh. I've passed many times over the years, and always thought it was both empty and closed to visitors. It turns out I was wrong - there were patients living there until 2000, and even after then, there was still an outpatient clinic for Hansen's patients. It has now been turned into a multimedia art center and there is a permanent exhibition about the time when it was a hospital. I went there for the "alternative book fair," which was being held last week at the same time as Hebrew Book Week, and included books from small presses and independent publishers. Below are some photos I took of the building and grounds.

Sign at the entrance of the hospital compound.

Strange video exhibit of girl/woman running around a circle, watched by the two figures in the photo below this one.

Reconstructed room in the hospital.

Photo from early 20th century of patients at the hospital

Renovated interior courtyard.

Another photo of the renovated courtyard.

Looking down from the front steps at people walking around during the book fair.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Reparations are due because black people have been injured

Another great article by Ta-Nehisi Coates, this time arguing with a writer for the National Review who believes that there is actually such a thing as "race":
Reparations are not due because black people are black, but because black people have been injured. And the Anglo-American tradition has never been a system of "racial apportionment," but of racist apportionment. Like most writers and public intellectuals (liberal and conservative) Williamson's reply is rooted in the idea of "race" as constant—i.e. there is a "black race" that can be traced back to Africa, and a "white race" that can be traced back to Europe. There certainly is such a thing as African and European ancestry, and that ancestry is not entirely irrelevant to our world. But ancestry is tangential, and sometimes wholly unrelated, to racism, injury, and reparations.
We know this because there is no constant idea of "black" or "white" across time or space. We know this because Charlie Patton fathered the blues, and Alessandro de Medici ruled in Venice. Black in America is not black in Brazil, and black in modern America is not even black in 18th-century Louisiana. Nor are people we consider "white" today any sort of constant. Throughout American history it has been common to speak of an "Italian race," an "Irish race," a "Frankish race," a "Jewish race" even a "Southern race." One might take a hard look at Williamson's agreeable portrait, for instance, and note the problem of assigning anyone to a race. "Race," writes the imminent historian Nell Irvin Painter, "is an idea, not a fact."
In this country, at this moment, "African-Americans" are an ethnic group comprised of individuals of varying degrees of direct African ancestry. Nothing about this fact necessitated plunder or injury, and it is the injury—through red-lining, black codes, slaves codes, lynching, ghettoization, fraud, rape, and murder—with which reparations concerns itself. The point is not "racial apportionment," which is to say giving people things because they are black. It is injury apportionment, which is to say restoring things to people who have been plundered.