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dimanche 13 septembre 2015


Refugee Situation in Europe and the chance to cleanse our minds about FEAR of the OTHER
Unprecedented numbers of people seeking refuge from war torn nations such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, along with those fleeing poverty and lawlessness in Somalia, Eritrea, Mali, Pakistan and Bangladesh, along with Serbians and Kosovans are flooding through the reluctantly open European Gates at Hungarian Border.
Angela Merkel made an unprecedented humanitarian gesture, because it was the right thing to do, to admit as many as 800 000 refugees to Germany. Thus she became one of the shining stars of the European world and gave the world the first German leader who could be respected.  Unfortunately, the last German leader to be odiously remembered was Hitler and his predecessors were not that glorious.
(Germans showing their sentiments during a sports event)
Angela Merkel, grew up under communism, more like Stalinism of the Hoenecker era  and has been an exemplary leader among the wimpy European leaders, such as Hollande, Sarkozy in France or out of touch and nationalistic like Cameron in the UK. Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, as always stands out as a beacon.
The OTHER is here at our doors. Australia is taking more than its share. The number to be admitted by France, UK and USA or Canada seems very meager. Because in all these countries there is a pervasive fear of the OTHER...
Now here is a chance to get rid of the fear of the OTHER, the need for OTHER to be present to be hated, by embracing these desperate people and giving them a chance.
As Pope Francisco admonished: Each Catholic family should give refugee to one family or one refugee!
Participant Observation, like we Anthropologists do, by living with the people we want to understand, is a good way to get rid of this fear. Sending money, like Qatar or UAE is doing without giving residence to a Single Syrian Refugee, is no longer sufficient. Poorer countries like Lebanon and Jordan and to a great extent Turkey are bearing the brunt of the crisis of huge population movements from Syria and Iraq.
Being a Jew, I know what it is to be the OTHER, historically it has been our fate and our burden and lately even in an ordinary Metro ride through Paris, and the Otherness of Jews is emphasized.
(think of them as the NEW EUROPEANS)
Tonight begins Rosh Hashanah, our New Year 5776 and I welcome the new year with a great applause for the Europeans who are welcoming the refugees and migrants and especially  to the  little girl from Communist East Germany who has grown up to be the  shining example of leadership in the Western World.
This fear of the other now coined with TERROR, because of the national origin of the refugees, has to be understood.  A book about TERROR of another sort in Argentina, during its bloody days, that made an impression upon me was Jacobo Timmerman’s Prisoner without Name, Cell without Number.
As a young boy, Jacobo Timmerman asks his Jewish mother, “Why do they hate us?” and she replied: “because they do not understand.”
Studying the history of antisemitism, and the current abhorrent pronouncements of their leaders and preachers, one can understand what Michael Taussig wrote in his book: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A study in Terror and Healing
He says,
Hated and feared, objects to be despised yet also of awe with evil understood as the physical essence of their bodies, they are just as clearly objects of cultural creation, the leaden keel of evil and mystery stabilizing the ship and the course that is Western History.
After Jews, they added the fear of the Communist and now it is Moslems.
All of them were imputed with savagery, wildness and evil and the powers to be, like the Nazis in Germany, mimicked the savagery they had attributed to the OTHER.
Let us learn from these lessons of Nazi Brutality, a brutality without a parallel in the history of the world; what happened in Argentina, what is now happening in Syria , and look at ourselves and try and understand the OTHER. We have a chance and I was so proud to see so many Europeans marching with placards, You are Welcome. These white, blond blue eyed people welcoming thin hungry desperate men with a different religion and belief, women clad head to toe, while their children hugged the toys that had been donated.
Let us not project our fear and our hatred on to them, but try and understand their plight.
If you live in a Communist Country like Cuba, you would understand the Hatred that has been showered upon it, while nothing is mentioned of the Great Humanitarian Aid that Cuba gives in the field of Health to the developing world.
If you work with oppressed group of people, like the Native Americans in North America, you would understand the fear rising out of guilt of the population, hatred because of the Indians understanding of the world we live in, and his closeness to the Great Spirit.
It is time to shed that FEAR and HATRED.
There is a line in a novel by Marcel Ayme from France
I, said the man, am a JEW
this arrived from my good friend Biju , Historian of Fort Cochin

(dont forget the apple and honey for the begining of the Jewish New Year begining tonight 13 september 2015)

Marcel Aymé (1902-67) was one of the great French writers of the twentieth century. Born in the Franche-Comté of Eastern France, he never lost touch with his rural origins, which influenced much of his work. Initially perceived as a man of the left, throughout his life Aymé espoused causes from across the political spectrum, for example apparently supporting Mussolini's colonialism in Africa whilst also campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty. He attracted much controversy for his writings for collaborationist magazines during the Second World War, and his defence of Nazi-sympathising friends including Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Robert Brasillach in the post-war years. Nevertheless Aymé has remained hugely popular in France - this collection is particularly famous, and a dozen of his novels have been turned into films, among them the classics of French cinema La Traversée de Paris, La Vouivre and Uranus.