Looking through miscellanies, scraps of notes,
ideas, quotes from books that I thought worth saving, I came across this note
that I thought might interest you. There’s no date on it.
It was a cold Sunday, and Danny sat with me, almost
silent, for hours listening to my rants, or adolescent poetry; it was always
without comment and I knew I knew that he wasn’t really alone with me. Mr.
Boston, and Johnnie Walker were his real company, and he swam only with them in
their own murky pool that was far from me. The two bottles stood on the small
table, full in the morning, empty by three in the afternoon, the winter light darking the room, as the sun dropped
behind the Jersey Palisades. But he was my audience, nevertheless, captured by
those bottles in my room.
are not who you could have been.
were never who you could have been.
I have to be anyone beside who I am?
are you required to love, not who you are required to hate…
God? The one with the Compassionate Voice
the one with the Condemning Voice?
Harold S. Kushner
Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary
periods of joy.”
you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this
book, and slowly read and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and their
Yeats, The Second Coming
new theory, that you could omit anything if you knew that the omitted part
would strengthen the story and people would feel something more than they
Ninotchka (Spelled it right on first try!!
Friedkin tells the story that he was in Billy Wilder’s apartment when he saw a
small card, framed, on the wall next to a Braque. He asked Wilder what it was
and was told that it was one of the audience cards collected at previews of the
Garbo-Melvyn Douglas Film, Ninotchka.
The card read, “This was one of the funniest films I ever seen (sic). So funny
that I peed in my girlfriend’s hand.”
bar was dark but I could make out that she was a used up 40 year old who was
waiting for someone who she knew wouldn’t show up. I kept my eye on her and
asked Fat Charlie for a Jack with water on the side, He knew to give me a
double and soon refilled the glass without being asked. I wondered what she was
drinking—it was a lady’s drink, and, now, my eyes having adjusted to the light
I saw a snarl pasted on her mouth but I didn’t think she meant it. I would know
had nice blond hair but had decorated it with a black stripe down the middle—I
wondered why, but there’s no accounting for taste these days, even in the forty
year old generation. Tattoos, piercings, nothing surprises me anymore, though I
always been attracted to the subjective, certainty repels me, after all who
favors death and taxes.
find myself more interesting when I am lying. Don’t you?
could pray to her, but you couldn’t expect an answer.”
Greene, Brighton Rock.
Faith without fanaticism,
understanding of views not shared,
pray that we may live,
by our fears but by our hopes,
by our words,
by our deeds.”
I die give what’s left of me away
children and old men who wait to die,
if you need to cry
for your brother walking
street beside you.
you need me,
your arms around anyone
you need to give to me.”
Its taken some time
to get here, but
less than you would think.
The view back is fogged
And filled with missteps
But we’re fine.
But they aren’t and there’s
The rub—So easy
So very hard for them.
It pains, it hurts, it
Spoils the day.
I want to leave you something,
Something better than words or things,
Look for me in the people I’ve loved,
If you cannot give me away,
At least let me live in your eyes
And not in your mind.
You can love me best
By letting hands touch hands,
By letting go of children
Who need to be free.
Love doesn’t die, People do.
So when all that’s left of me is,
Give me away.
I am not sure—I think I wrote this in 2006. But
maybe it’s a quote..
Woody Allen: There’s chances gone by that you
can’t have back again.
.mek April 2016
Written to Steve a few months ago…
Looking through miscellanies, scraps of notes,
ideas, quotes from books that I thought worth saving, I came across this note
that I thought might interest you. There’s no date on it.
It was a cold Sunday, and Danny sat with me,
almost silent, for hours listening to my rants, or adolescent poetry; it was
always without comment and I knew I knew that he wasn’t really alone with me.
Mr. Boston, and Johnnie Walker were his real company, and he swam only with
them in their own murky pool that was far from me. The two bottles stood on the
small table, full in the morning, empty by three in the afternoon, the winter
light darking the room, as the sun dropped behind the Jersey Palisades. But he
was my audience, nevertheless, captured by those bottles in my room.
Eugene Delacroix : “I go to work as other men
go to their mistresses.” Plaque on the staircase to the second floor. “
Kara Walker: “Who am I beyond the skin I’m in?”
d. 1969. another plaque
Picasso: “Art washes away from the soul the
dust of everyday life.”
“Death and exile are best met alone.” Napoleon.
Yes, I want to be
attentive, to see how things work, to see what things people find to do. I am a
watchman, I guess, like Alvaro Mutis’ Maqroll.
But my habit of being
at a distance from my life-and for that matter being distant too from the lives
of those around me—removes me from what is real. I am always peering through a
window to see what’s real. But I can’t feel through the glass—that’s the way I
want it. July 2004
One must see beauty when young and accustom
oneself to it.
Ben Hecht: “The rule in art is that you cater
to the masses and kow-tow to the elite. You can’t have both.”
Bertrand Russell: “Life is a competition to be
the criminal instead of the victim.”
Vladimir Nabokov: “My loathings are simple:
Stupidity, Oppression, Crime, Cruelty, Soft Music.
“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”
“When we cannot get what we love, we must love what we can get.”
Heard in a Granta Conversation, Podcast, March
We are living in a Post-Truth Era
Or Post-Truth Politics
We are in the Information Age
No, the Over-Information Age
No, the Mis-Information Age
Intelligent people believe in the Elders of
We are inundated with so much Information
That people don’t know what to believe, and in
Believe nothing—or anything.
March 27, 2016
The role of one’s character in determining or
evaluating ethical behavior.
Emphasizes duty to rules.
Derives rightness or wrongness from the outcome
of an act.
Woody Allen: “There’s chances gone by that you can’t have back again.”
Andy Rooney: “Opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones
John Steinbeck: “Write freely as rapidly as
possible, and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or re-write until
the whole thing is down. ‘Rewrite in progress’ is usually an excuse for not going on.
Nietzsche: “Every word is a preconceived judgement.”
Robinson Davies: “Sentimentalism is the
philosophy of boobs.”
With few exceptions most of our Dads were gin
players, and my Father was no exception. In fact, in his case he played at a
very high level, and, for instance, here, at Southpoint, a fellow owner told me
that it was he who paid my father’s rent. That he had “card sense” was no
surprise to me, as the roster of his fellow players in New York was quite
impressive, something I came to appreciate only when I became a teen ager. In
any event, recently I began to play gin with my computer, and have reached the
“expert” level, as determined by my computer. I have no idea whether my
computer is hustling or patronizing me, but I do seem to be winning game after
game. Fear not, friends! I have no intention of entering the real world of gin.
Drinking it suffices.
However, playing gin reminds me of my father,
and last night I recalled this story, which he was fond of repeating to all who
would listen, whether or not they had already heard it:
A man comes home unexpectedly from a business trip only to
find his best friend in bed with his wife.
“Let’s settle this
amicably,” says the friend.
The businessman thinks this over, and says, “Okay, let’s play a game of
gin to decide who keeps her.”
The friend agrees, and the husband adds, “Let’s play for ten cents a
point to keep it interesting.”
From English author Evelyn Waugh’s letter to American author Thomas Merton on Aug. 13,
1948, quoted in Mary Frances Coady’s “Merton and Waugh: A Monk, a Crusty Old
Man & The Seven Storey Mountain” (2015):
Never send off any piece of writing the moment
it is finished. Put it aside. Take on something else. Go back to it a month
later and re-read it. Examine each sentence and ask “Does this say precisely
what I mean? Is it capable of misunderstanding? Have I used a cliché where I
could have invented a new and therefore asserting and memorable form? Have I
repeated myself and wobbled round the point when I could have fixed the whole
thing in six rightly chosen words? Am I using words in their basic meaning or
in a loose plebeian way?” . . . The English language is incomparably rich and
can convey every thought accurately and elegantly. The better the writing the
less abstruse it is. Say “No” cheerfully and definitely to people who want you
to do more than you can do well.
All this is painfully didactic—but you did ask
for advice—and there it is.
The following are called paraprosdokians.
A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence
is unexpected and oft times very humorous:
· If I had
a dollar for every girl that found me unattractive, they'd eventually find me
· I find it
ironic that the colors red, white, and blue stand for freedom, until they're
flashing behind you.
· Today a
man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local
swimming pool, so I gave him a glass of water.
Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
· I'm great
at multi-tasking--I can waste time, be unproductive, and procrastinate all
· If you
can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
· Take my
advice — I'm not using it.
· My wife
and I were happy for twenty years; then we met.
Hospitality is the art of making guests feel like they're at home when you wish
every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.
· Ever stop
to think and forget to start again?
spend more time wondering what men are thinking than men spend thinking.
· He who
laughs last thinks slowest.
· Is it
wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly?
sometimes make fools of men, but most guys are the do-it-yourself type.
· I was
going to give him a nasty look, but he already had one.
· Change is
inevitable, except from a vending machine.
· I was
going to wear my camouflage shirt today, but I couldn't find it.
· If at
first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
I wake up grumpy; other times I let her sleep.
tomatoes are technically a fruit, is ketchup a smoothie?
· Money is
the root of all wealth.
· No matter
how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
May 13, 2016
Dr. Peter Probis looked through his instrument
through her eyeball into her brain., The doctor paled as he watched so many
memories dropping away.
Mek May 21, 2016
Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan
“We founded this nation under the illusory
notion of independence, and we have suffered from that disastrous ideal ever
since, this notion that a man’s life is entirely distinct from the life of his
neighbor; that the poisons in his water have no bearing on the cleanliness of
his neighbor’s water; that the sufferings of a laborer has no direct
relationship to the purchaser of goods; …that the health of the land is
divorced from the health of the collective. We’ve turned freedom from tyranny
into freedom from each other.”
I am against
capital punishment except for graffiti artists and litterers.
"Littering is the
perfect example of an everyday disunity in society. It's a horrible thing to
see because it sort of encapsulates the idea that you're in it alone, that
there isn't a shared ethos of trying to protect something shared. It's the
embodiment of every man for himself. It's the opposite of the military. "
Rachel Yehuda, quoted by
Sebastian Junger in "Tribe. How
PTSD Became a Problem Far Beyond the Battlefield."
story is from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15:
On the morning
of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over
the North Atlantic.
All of a sudden
the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see
As soon as I
got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces.
The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in
Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are
closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your
No one said a
word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we
needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest
airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland.
approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval
was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course,
why there was no hesitation in approving our request.
flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from
Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few
minutes later word came in about the hijackings.
We decided to
LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane
had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest
airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.
We promised to
give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among
the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in
Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.
already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had
taken this detour on their way to the US.
After we parked
on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and
gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same
instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another
Then he went on
to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were
loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground
control in Gander told us to stay put.
Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the
aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts.
Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to
the next airplane.
In the next
hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all
over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.
of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we
learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and
into the Pentagon in DC.
trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different
cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the
Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either
blocked or jammed.
Sometime in the
evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had
collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the
passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention
frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.
We had only to
look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were
not the only ones in this predicament.
We had been
told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a
time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am
the next morning.
not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise
and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.
promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.
And they were
true to their word.
had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33
weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed
without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.
About 10:30 on
the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the
plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and
Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.
After that we
(the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small
We had no idea
where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of
Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers
to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!
We were told to
just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened
again, but not to expect that call for a while.
We found out
the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and
turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.
had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were
extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed
their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty
Two days later,
we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane,
we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for
the past two days.
What we found
out was incredible…..
Gander and all
the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all
high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They
converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded
Some had cots
set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.
ALL the high
school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the
passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from
Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a
women-only facility, that was arranged.
kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.
young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street
from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male
and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.
Phone calls and
e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.
During the day,
passengers were offered “Excursion” trips.
went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local
stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.
prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to
restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given
tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on
In other words,
every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S.
airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and
without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the
information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which
plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They
coordinated everything beautifully.
came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other
by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with
who had the better time.
Our flight back
to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of
their way. It was mind-boggling.
totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging
phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
And then a very
unusual thing happened.
One of our
passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA
system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of
course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone
about what they had just gone through in the last few days.
them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.
He continued by
saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of
“He said he was
going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number).
The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high
school students of Lewisporte.
He asked for
donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with
donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses,
the total was for more than $14,000!
a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the
administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this
proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.
As I write this
account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134
students in college education.
“I just wanted
to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a
little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to
some strangers who literally dropped in on them.
It reminds me
how much good there is in the world.”
“In spite of
all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that
there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they
will come forward. Let’s not forget THIS fact.
This is one of those stories that needs to be shared. Please do so…
This morning, for the first time in
my life I saw a “sleeping net” used. A woman in a 1937 movie placed a sleeping
net on her head. Instantly I knew what it was. I had never seen one before and
had never heard of it.
How, I wonder, did I know what it was, and how it would be used? How did my
brain or anyone's, for that matter, put together the idea of the sleeping net?
From the time I was 5 or 6, in in Forest Hills, I had a friend named Michael
Avedon whose mother was related to a Hollywood producer who worked for MGM. His
name was Dore Schary. I have seen his name on numerous films over the years,
and knew that he was a man of some importance, but, although I was a constant
visitor to the Avedon home I had never met the man. Michael had a beautiful
sister, named Patricia, who became a manager of a ballet company, and a younger
brother, Keith, who, in spite of being a polio victim, organized a rock and
Father Avedon was a professional photographer, and there is, somewhere, a
photograph of my sister, Patti, taken by him. Our mother must have considered
Patti to be worthy of portraiture as there is also a life sized, painted
portrait of her somewhere.
Getting back to Mr Schary: Finally, after seventy years, I saw him. Turner
Classic Movies showed a short promotional film about filming a western film,
and Dore Schary narrated most of it. So, at last, I’ve seen his face and heard
++++++Dore comes from Isadore.
This morning, for the first time in
my life I saw a “sleeping net” used. A woman in a 1937 movie placed a sleeping
net on her head. Instantly I knew what it was. I had never seen one before and
had never heard of it.
How, I wonder, did I know what it was? and how it would be used? How did my
brain or anyone's, for that matter, put together the idea of the sleeping net?
Sometimes I think that my brain is
similar to Artificial Intelligence.
Imagine, before I knew that anything was happening in my brain, a search and a
solution were instant and invisible, thousands of queries must have been
shooting through my brain searching for the use of a black, balled up thing, in
Spring Byington’s hand. Then it came to me, but I didn’t even know that I was
seeking any information. But, of course, I was.
OK, now back to my brain. it wasn’t
Spring Byington—I can’t remember who it was—and I can’t recall the name of the
movie; and there was an actor who I thought was Leo G. Carroll, but on seeing
the cast of characters I saw that it was another actor who I knew to play
similar parts—but I can’t remember who it was either.
Isn’t the brain wonderful?
Dore Schary From the online encyclopedia.
·Schary had his first success as a writer when a
play he wrote, Too Many Heroes, ran on Broadway for 16 performances in the fall
of 1937. He worked in Hollywood, Los Angeles, and in 1938 won the Academy Award
for Best Writing, Original Story as co-writer of the screenplay for Boys Town.
From 1942 to 1943, he ran MGM's "B" pictures unit. He was with RKO
Pictures when in 1948 he became chief of production at MGM.
·Schary and studio chief and founder Louis B.
Mayer were constantly at odds over philosophy, with Mayer favoring splashy,
wholesome entertainment and Schary leaning toward what Mayer derided as darker
"message pictures". In the postwar period, MGM's success began to
decline. MGM's parent company, Loews Incorporated in New York decided that
Schary might be able to turn the tide. Schary was involved in disputes at the
studio with Mayer over films such as Battleground and The Red Badge of Courage.
In 1951, Mayer was ousted and Schary installed as president. He was replaced in
1956 by Benny Thau, another long-term executive.
·During his term, the studio system was coming to
an end as a result of United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1948), the
Supreme Court decision which severed the connection between film studios and
the theaters which showed their films. In addition, television was causing a
decrease in theater attendance.
·MGM swimming star Esther Williams would later
state in her 1999 autobiography, The Million Dollar Mermaid, that Schary was
just as rude, cruel, and as imperious as Mayer had been. She noted that she
thought it appropriate that Schary was fired on Thanksgiving Day, since he was
a "turkey". In 1956 in his final year running MGM, he appeared on the
show This is Your Life. Host Ralph Edwards stated that there had never been a
show where more stars appeared to honor a guest.
·Following his departure from MGM, Schary wrote
the Broadway play Sunrise at Campobello. The play won five Tony Awards. He
wrote and produced the motion picture of the same name, which was issued by
Warner Brothers, in 1960. He also had a brief uncredited role in the film as
Chairman of the Connecticut Delegation.
·Although one of the studio executives who
formulated the 1947 Waldorf Statement, he became an outspoken opponent of the
anti-communist investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee. He
served as National Chairman of the B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League and
was appointed by Mayor John Lindsay to the office of New York City Commissioner
for Cultural Affairs.
·Schary was born in Newark, New Jersey. He
graduated from Central High School in Newark in 1923. He worked as a printer in
his youth at Art Craft Press in Newark, N.J. He married (March 5, 1932) Miriam
Svet (pianist and later recognized painter) with whom he had three children:
the novelist and memoirist Jill Schary Robinson, psychoanalyst Dr. Joy Schary,
and CLIO award winning producer Jeb Schary. Miriam and Dore Schary collectively
have seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
·Dore Schary died in 1980, aged 74, and was
interred in the Hebrew Cemetery, West Long Branch, New Jersey. Miriam Svet
Schary died in October, 1986, aged 74, and was interred next to her husband in
·To honor his memory, the Anti-Defamation League
established the Dore Schary Awards in 1982.
·In popular culture
·His name is used just for a rhyme at the very
end of Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America Volume One: The Early
Years, a satirical album from 1961: "That highly military / (script by
Dore Schary) / Revolutionary War!"
·In the 1948 RKO film, The Bachelor and the
Bobby-Soxer (which he produced), Schary can be seen driving Cary Grant to the
airport at the end of the film. Grant refers to him as "Jebby".
·In I Love Lucy, Ricky Ricardo calls Schary's
office from his Hollywood hotel room. In the episode "Don Juan is
Shelved", Schary was played by Philip Ober, Vivian Vance's husband at the
·In the popular one-act comedy
"Adaptation", written by Elaine May, the lead character Phil Bensen
names his son "Dore Schary Junior" and another actor plays the son
for the rest of the show.
·Actor Josh Pais will play Schary in the 2015
Saw the Light
·Dore Schary appears as a character in the
Broadway biography of Moss Hart "Act One" written by James Lapine and
produced by Lincoln Center Theatre in 2014.
·Fury of the Jungle (1933) - screenwriter
·Fog (1933) - screenwriter
·He Couldn't Take It (1933) - screenwriter
·Let's Talk It Over (1934) - original story
"Loves of a Sailor"
·The Most Precious Thing in Life (1934) -
·Young and Beautiful (1934) - screenwriter
·Murder in the Clouds (1934) - screenwriter
·Red Hot Tires (1935) - additional dialogue
·Mississippi (1935) - contributing writer
·Storm Over the Andes (1935) - screenwriter
·Chinatown Squad (1935) - screenwriter
·The Raven (1935) - screenwriter
·Silk Hat Kid (1935) - screenwriter
·Your Uncle Dudley (1935) - screenwriter
·Her Master's Voice (1936) - screenwriter
·Timothy's Quest (1936) - screenwriter
·Song and Dance Man (1936) - screenwriter
·Mind Your Own Business (1936) - screenwriter
·Outcast (1937) - screenwriter
·The Girl from Scotland Yard (1937) -
·Big City (1937) - screenwriter
·Ladies in Distress (1938) - screenwriter
·Boys Town (1938) - screenwriter
·Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) - original story
·Young Tom Edison (1940) - screenwriter
·Edison, the Man (1940) - screenwriter
·Behind the News (1940)
·Her Master's Voice (1937) – screenwriter
·Married Bachelor (1941) - screenwriter
·Here Comes Kelly (1943) - story
·Lonelyhearts (1958) - screenwriter, producer
·Sunrise at Campobello (1960) – screenwriter
·Act One (1963) – director, screenwriter
·As Head of MGM B Unit
·Joe Smith American (1942)
·Kid Glove Killer (1942)
·Journey for Margaret (1942)
·Lassie Come Home (1943)
·For David O. Selznick
·I'll Be Seeing You (1944)
·The Spiral Staircase (1945)
·Till the End of Time (1946)
·The Farmer's Daughter (1947)
·The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
·As Head of RKO
·Crossfire (film) (1947)
·Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
·They Live By Night (1948)
·Station West (1948)
·Every Girl Should Be Married (1948)
·The Boy with Green Hair (1948)
·The Set-Up (1949)
·Adventure in Baltimore (1949)
·The Window (1949)
·Produced While Head of MGM
·Westward the Women (1951)
·The Hoaxsters (1953) - documentary
·The Last Hunt (1956)
·Designing Woman (1956)
·Too Many Heroes (1937) - writer
·Sunrise at Campobello (1958) - writer, producer
·A Majority of One (1959) - producer, director
·Triple Play (1959) - producer
·The Highest Tree (1959) - writer, producer,
·The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1960) - producer,
·The Devil's Advocate (1961) - writer, producer,
·Something About a Soldier (1962) - producer,
·Love and Kisses (1963) - producer, director
·One by One (1964) - writer, producer, director
·The Zulue and the Zayda (1965) - producer,
I want to thank you for the Indignation
suggestion. It’s as though Philip Roth followed me from Horace Mann to Ohio
Wesleyan, originally a Methodist school, that had required chapel; not that I
was disturbed by the chapel requirement. Like Marcus, I was assigned a dorm room
with one of the few Jews at OWU, and like Marcus, I was rushed by two
non-sectarian fraternities—except that I was also rushed by Sigma Chi, and
pledged to it, until National Headquarters instructed the local that the “No JewAllowed” rule would be adhered to.
Believe me, it didn’t bother me, as I thought that people
had a right to associate with people with whom they felt comfortable.
I was not a joiner, anyway, and thought I’d remain
independent which worked out well for the two years that I remained at OWU.
During those first two years I was a four point student
without opening a book due to the education I had received at the hands of the
Masters at Horace Mann.
This was particularly peculiar as at Horace Mann I was
probably one of the bottom six in my class. Yes, one of those six became a
neuro-surgeon and when I met him at University Hospital, Manhattan, wearing greens and a funny hat-- I
figured he was an orderly. “No,” he explained, he “was a neuro-surgeon”…
Later he wrote a text. While at the hospital Maria delivered
our oldest son, Aaron.
At the end of my sophomore year I was asked to be editor of
our literary publication, the OWL, a job which I was honored to accept,
although in my junior year, when I actually had to study, I left OWU, and my
I had made friends at two fraternities, one a left leaning,
non-sectarian fraternity, known as Beta Sigma Tau, founded just after WW2 by
some forward thinking veterans, who attended college on the GI bill. This was a
fraternity where Jews and Blacks joined independent thinkers. The other a fraternity whose members were
mostly athletes and preppies, but no Jews. .
Sigma Chi fell off my list; and I enjoyed the independent
life which gave me time for shiskas, and to become engaged to one. Again, like
Marcus, I found S.R., the BJ Queen of OWU. The independent life also gave me
time for library study, having dinners at an English Professor’s home, and many
beer drinking hours with a philosophy teacher at The Little Brown Jug, a
college saloon on Sandusky Street, named after a famous race for harness races
held annually in September in Delaware, Ohio.
Is that Gross
I might have mentioned to you that, unlike Marcus, my Dad
and I got along pretty well, and that he was a very good card player, and
handicapper. In fact, when he left the drug store business and went to Florida
his life was composed of horses, cards, golf, and dinner. He enjoyed his life,
and had zero
trouble adjusting to early retirement.
Here’s how he retired: One day, he handed the keys to the
big store to me, and asked whether I thought I could handle it. I gulped, said,
“yes.” I did okay.
He never asked me anything about the business after that,
and I never complained. I had Gross if I wanted to whine.
Getting back, for a moment, to harness racing. In New York
when I was, maybe ten years old, he took me to Belmont a few times. He was
invariably approached by touts, who knew him from the old days (the thirties, I
expect.) He explained to me their role, which didn’t impress me very much. I am
sure that you know how they worked—But there was one other thing that he
explained to me, that had stuck with me, ever since—on the way back to the car
one afternoon he pointed to a bus at the edge of the parking lot. “You see that
bus, Mike? That’s the Break Even Bus.” He waited for me to ask, “Break
Even Bus?” And only then explained, “when the horse players lose
here, at the flats, they get on that bus that takes them to Yonkers to the harness
races, so that they can Break Even.”
He didn’t snigger, but ten year old Mike did. I was a cynic
at an early age.
“How long could he watch the tides flood in and flow out without his
remembering, as anyone might in a sea-gazing reverie, that life had been given
to him, as to all, randomly, fortuitously, and but once, and for no known or
“Always, he had been invigorated by stability, never by stasis. And this
(At his parents’ grave.) “‘I’m
seventy-one. Your boy is seventy-one.’ ‘Good you lived,’ his mover replied, and
his father said, ‘Look back and atone for what you can atone for, and make the
best of what you have left.’”
Three words rarely heard these days from a movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, with Meryl Streep
Citizen: Thanks! For the photo and the blood pressure
We've always been concerned about Maria’s low blood
Only once did she faint and that was maybe 25 years ago
in Mexico in the
mountains on a dirt road near Ixtapa.
The doctor in Mexico believed it was due to the altitude.
It may also have had something to do with our encounters
with drug dealing gangs, rebel guerrillas and a Mexican
who questioned us at length, while blithely waving a large,
pearl handled ‘44.
But I'm not a doctor so I don't know.
We were accompanied by a friend, Tony R., a Greenpoint boy,
who had been in Special Forces in Vietnam, having joined
at the earnest behest of
Federal Judge Mahoney, in a courtroom,
at the Eastern District courthouse.
Tony, bearded and wearing about a pound of thick gold necklaces,
and a Presidential Rolex on his wrist, whispered that he had
spotted machine gun nests
in the verge of the woods near a stream in which women were
on their knees washing clothes,
using the boulders in the water to rub the dirt out of the
The colonel, however, exercising professional courtesy to Tony, who he
recognized as a knowing colleague, brought out the mayor who gave us golden
keys to the town -- which was unnecessary as there were doors on neither the
many gambling houses nor were there doors on any of the fast houses. Keys were
Keys, doors, or not, we were accompanied by two loving, and
eagle-eyed wives, and so, better judgement prevailed, and we passed on the
mayor’s and even the colonel’s hospitable invitations.
“After Daniel Berrigan, poet, priest and antiwar
leader, died last April 30, the New York Times referred unfavorably in its
obituary to a 1973 speech that was unflinching in its criticism of Israel’s
militarism and repression of Palestinians, and that earned the Jesuit the
enmity of many Israel supporters. We publish that speech in full below because
so many of the points that Berrigan made 43 years ago are as fresh today as
then, notably his understanding of: the destruction of Palestinian human rights
and property, the importance of refugees, the complicity of leading American
Jewish organizations in Israel’s militarism, and, most crushingly, the
spiritual effect of Israel’s emergence on the formerly “peaceable” Jewish
presence in society.
On the scales of the
spirit, as the nations are finally judged, it is a tragedy beyond calculating,
that the State of Israel should become the repository, and finally the tomb, of
the Jewish soul…. in place of Jewish compassion for the poor and forgotten,
Israel should legislate evictions, uprootings, destruction of goods,
Titled “Responses to
Settler Regimes,” the speech was given to the Association of Arab University
Graduates in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 19, 1973, shortly after Berrigan
completed his parole in a federal sentence for acts of resistance against the
Vietnam war. The speech was printed that month in American Report, a
publication of Clergy and Laity Concerned, the anti-Vietnam War group. We dug
up the original on microfilm, and Tamara Nassar transcribed it. –Editors.
Responses to Settler Regimes
I come before you this
evening, as a non-expert in every field of human expertise, including the
subject you have invited me to explore. I wish to include also in my field of
inexpertise my own religious tradition; I am a non-expert Christian, by any
This admission is in the
interests of both clarity of mind and of moral conduct. I am interested, as a
Christian, in one thing only; in so simple a thing as sane conduct in the
world. The experts in my tradition, the theologians, the biblical scholars, and
by and large, the hierarchy, go in another direction than mine. “Sane conduct”
(whatever that means) is taken for granted; what really counts is the jot and
tittle of the tradition, or its worldly prospering, or its honorable reception
among peoples. Sane conduct is taken for granted; are not Christians by
definition sane, in touch with the truth, destined to share infallibly in their
I say no. The exemplary
conduct of expert Christians, as indeed of most experts in human disciplines is
to fiddle while the world burns. Hardly sane! A kind of lethal fatalism, looks
equably upon combustible human flesh, shrugs its shoulders the better to nestle
the violin, and coax from its entrails the immortal (and irrelevant) stroke…
Sane conduct in the
world. Let me explain. I do not believe it is the destiny of human flesh to
burn; and for that I am in trouble, as are my friends, to this day. I do not
believe that a violin concerto, however immortal in execution, is the proper
comfort to offer a napalmed child. I believe that the fiddler should come down
from the roof, put his violin aside, take up on his extinguisher, raise a cry
of alarm, break down the intervening door. I believe that he should on occasion
of crisis destroy property in favor of human life.
You see, I am a heretic
in a consuming and killing culture, as well as in a complicity church.
These are troublesome
statements; but do not call them naïve, or shrug them off as generally accepted
by the civilized; or, in the presence of scholar, as irrelevant. Do not say: it
is of course the generals who light fires, we deplore that. I answer: Most
scholars, most priests, most Jews, most Arabs, while they would prefer some
less horrendous sight than the burning flesh of children, are not seriously
shaken in their style of mind, their taxpaying, their consumerism, their
spiritual, economic, or political complicity, by such “incidents.”
I begin in so odious a
way because I do not wish to narrow our question so sharply as to exclude
ourselves from its orbit. I do not wish to take us off the hook, even while I
wish to say something unequivocal about one instance of cruelty, racism,
murder, as political tools.
It is of course scarcely
possible to open the moral question of Israeli or Arab conduct today, without
exciting the most lively passion, and risking the most serious charges. A war
is underway. We are assured by the Israelis, and by most of the Jewish
community throughout the world, that the war is a war of survival. We are
assured just as vehemently by the Arabs that the war is one of expansion and
aggression by Israel.
Moreover, the interests
of the super powers are deeply imbedded in Near Eastern soil. Those interests
include western oil contracts, and, East and West, an impalpable element of
outreach, something hard to define, a cold war afflatus perhaps, something
called an “ideological sphere of influence.” In any case, both East and West
are shoring up their interests with that most concrete and bloody proof
devotion: arms, and more arms.
Certainly these facts
must be respected, if this evening and the days to follow are to be more than
an exercise in national or racial or religious frenzy. A ceasefire has been
offered by Egypt; something unprecedented in the history of this conflict.
Moreover, the terms of the ceasefire seem reasonable and clear of Arab
arms-rattling. The offering includes a declaration of de facto respect for the
existence of Israel, a de facto state; it asks for a return to the boundary
lines which existed before the 1967 War, and some justice for the Palestinian
In the seriousness and
sanity of the ceasefire offer, therefore, I believe that events themselves are
helping set the stage for a fruitful study. In supporting the Egyptian
proposal, I hope to answer those who would make the present war into an Israeli
spasm of survival. Nothing of the sort. Or those who would make the critics of
this war, into proponents of Israeli extinction. Nothing of the kind. Or those
who would make critics of the united states, into supporters of the Soviet
Union; nothing of the sort.
In calling attention to
this proposal I am simply urging that attention be paid to the first sane
option that has arisen in the course of this suicidal adventure. Indeed there
are no sides worth talking about tonight. There are indeed immense numbers of
people whose lives and rights are being violated, degraded and denied. Any real
solution will take into account these peoples: the Palestinians—a people
without a country; the Israelis—a people in danger; the Arab nations—a people
invaded. How carefully one must proceed on these matters if he is not to worsen
an already tortured situation. I endorse the Egyptian ceasefire proposal while
opposing many aspects of the Egyptian regime, and of the Sheikhdoms, and of
Jordan and Syria. We must take into account their capacity for deception, which
is remarkable even for our world. We must take into account their contempt for
their own poor, a contempt that would be called legendary if it were not
horrifyingly modern. We must take into account their willingness to oil the war
machinery of the superpowers making them accomplices of the American war
criminals. We must take into account their cupidity masked only by their
monumental indifference to the facts of their world. no, I offer no apologia tonight
for the Arab states any more than I do for Israel.
I do not wish to begin
by “taking sides”; nor indeed to end by “taking sides.” I am sick of “sides”;
which is to say, I am sick of war; of wars hot and cold; and all their
approximations and metaphors and deceits and ideological ruses. I am sick of
the betrayal of the mind and the failure of compassion and the neglect of the
poor. I am sick of foreign ministers and all their works and pomps. I am sick
of torture and secret police and the apparatus of fascists and the rhetoric of
leftists. Like Lazarus, staggering from his grave, or the ghost of Trotsky I
can only groan: “We have had enough of that, we have been through all that.”
Thus this evening, and
my presence here. When I received the invitation some months ago, I winced.
Another crisis? If the nerve ends of Israelis and Arabs were raw, so were mine.
More; why should I enter their back yard on a cleanup project when my own,
America, was a moral shantytown? And the war broke; and I winced again; and
very nearly begged off. Then a better, second thought occurred; something like
this. If it was important to speak up while the peace, at least a relative
peace, held—then why not when a war broke? Indeed, did not the need for
dispassionate and reasonable courage increase, while the guns were cutting down
whatever rational exchange remained alive? If the first casualty of war was the
truth, might it not be important to prevent, at least on one scene, that mortal
casualty from occurring?
I do not wish to heap
conflict upon conflict. If I seem to concentrate upon the conduct of Israel, it
is for reasons, which to me at least, are profound, of long pondering and
finally inescapable. It is not merely because my government, which has brought endless
suffering to the world, is supporting Israel. It is not merely because American
Jews, as well as Israelis, have in the main given their acquiescence or their
support to the Nixon ethos. The reasons go deeper, and strike harder; they are
lodged in my soul, in my conception of faith and the transcendent, in the
vision Jews have taught me, of human conduct in a human community.
I am (to put the matter
as simply as I know how), I am paying an old debt tonight. It is a debt of
love; more properly, a debt of outraged love. I am a western Christian, in
resistance against my government and my church. That position, as I read it,
makes me something very like a Jew. It is of that uneasy circle, ever changing,
widening, contracting, including, excluding, that I wish to speak. I am a
Catholic priest, in resistance against Rome. I am an American, in resistance
against Nixon, and I am a Jew, in resistance against Israel. But let me begin.
A common assumption
exists in the West, buttressed by massive historical and religious argument, to
the effect that Israel is exempt from moral criticism. Her people have passed
through the gentile furnace; how then shall the goy judge the suffering
servant? And is not the holocaust the definitive argument for the righteousness
of this people, heroically determined to begin again, in a promised land, that
experiment in survival which so nearly went awry, so often, under such constant
assault at our hands?
Mean of Love
In such a way, bad
history is mightily reinforced by bad faith. The persecutor is a poor critic.
His history weighs on him; like a bad parent, he alternates between cruelty and
indulgence, without ever striking the mean of love.
In such a way,
Christians yield to Israel the right to her myths; to indulge them, to enlarge
them, to live by them, even to call them biblical truth. If the Jews are indeed
the people of promise, and Israel the land of promise; then it must follow that
God has willed the two to coincide. The means? They are swallowed up in the
end, they disappear into glory. And if the means include domestic repression,
deception, cruelty, militarism? And if the classic refugee people is now
creating huge numbers of refugees? And if technological warfare has become the
instrument of expansion, and pre-emptive warfare the instrument of so called
peace? And if this people, so proud, so endowed with intelligence, so purified
by suffering, sends its military missioners into every part of the world where
minority people are bleeding under the heel of jackboots? Israeli military
advisers in Iran, Israeli military advisers in Iran, Israeli military advisers
in Ethiopia? And if these advisers (that cruel euphemism under whose guise
America kindled the Viet Nam holocaust) are sought and hired because Israelis
have become as skilled in the fashioning of espionage and violence as ever were
their oppressors? Are such means as these swallowed in glory? Or do they stick
in the throat of those who believe, as Judaism taught the world to believe,
“Thou shalt not kill”?
I started to say
something about my own church, and I proceed to talk about Israel. I did so
advisedly. I did so because today my church has helped Israel exegete her own
texts—wrongly, harmfully, as I believe. My church has helped Israel in that
project of the settler state—whether of South Africa or Israel or the United
State—which is to seek a biblical justification for crimes against humanity.
For a Christian who is
trying to understand and live by his own tradition, the confusion of bible and
imperialism in Israel represents an altogether unique tragedy. We in the U.S.A.
learned to bear the filthy weight of South African religious violence, even
while we abominated it. We learned to survive the filthy weight of American
religious violence, even while we abominated it. In both cases, we tried to
separate out the corrupt cultural elements from the truth of a tradition, and
to live by the latter. We learned to do this, because we knew at least
something of the history of Christianity, in both its criminal and saintly
But you must understand
our horror, our sense of impoverishment, almost our sense of amputation. For
while we had known criminal Christian communities, and suffered at the hand of
our own renegades, and seen Viet Nam assaulted in the name of Christian
civilization—we had never known a criminal Jewish community. We had known
Jewish communities that were a light to the gentiles, that were persecuted, all
but erased, that remained merciful, eloquent, prophetic. But something new was
occurring before our eyes… the Jews arose from the holocaust, a cause of
universal joy, but the Jews arose like warriors, armed to the teeth. They took
possession of a land, they exiled and destroyed old Arab communities, they (a
minority) made outsiders of those who were in fact, the majority of citizens.
Then, they flexed their muscles; like the goyim, the idolaters, the
“inhabitants of this earth,” like Babylon and Egypt and Assyria; like those
kingdoms which Israel’s own prophets summoned to judgment, Israel entered the
imperial adventure. She took up the imperial weapons, she spread abroad the
In the space of 25
years, this metamorphosis took place. The wandering Jew became the settler Jew;
the settler ethos became the imperial adventure. More, the thought of
Nietzsche, of Camus and Fanon was vindicated; the slave became master, and
created slaves. The slave master created a “shadowy other.” Israel had emerged
from the historical shadows determined to take her place in the company of
nations; an ambition no decent conscience could object to. But the price of her
emergence was bitter and heavy; and it continues. That price indeed, neither
Israel nor ourselves have yet counted up. But we do know a few of the human
items who have been placed on the block of Israeli hegemony. They include some
one and a half million refugees, whom Israel has created in the process of
Coinage of Israel
And let us not hesitate
to state the price in Israeli coinage. Something like this; not only a dismal
fate for foreign and indigenous victims, but the failure to create new forms of
political and social life for her own citizens. The coinage of Israel is
stamped with the imperialist faces whose favor she has courted; the creation of
an elite of millionaires, generals and entrepreneurs. And the price is being
paid by Israel’s Oriental Jews, the poor, the excluded, prisoners. Do we seek,
analogies for this “sublime adventure of return”? They are not hard to come by.
But they do not exist, alas, in the dreams of Zionist rhetoricians; they exist
rather in the real world, where Zionist violence and repression joins the
violence and repression of the great (and little) powers; a common method, a
common dead end.
It is entirely logical
for instance, that Russia, which crushed the Czechs, is now in the process of
crushing the Ukrainians, and bottling the brains of political dissidents on the
shelves of psychiatric morgues. It is entirely logical that the U.S., which
determined to crush the Vietnamese, also spent a considerable part of the ‘60’s
“mopping up” political dissidents at home. Imperialism has no favorites; it
freezes all it touches. It is thus not to be wondered at that torture has been
applied to Israeli citizens as well as to suspect Palestinian terrorists. It is
logical that Israeli workers are exploited, even while the indigenous peasants
are rooted out and their villages destroyed. Logical too, that racist ideology
which brought the destruction of the Jewish communities at the hands of the
Nazis should now be employed by the state of Israeli, fostering the myth of the
“barbarian Arab,” and of Israel the “sublime expression of the liberation of
the Jewish people.”
If only a people could
know itself! If only a people could stand back from the welter of claim, the
barrage of propaganda, the blood myths of divine election, the rhetoric which
assures it that its case before history is unique and virtuous and in fact
unassailable! If that could happen, Israeli would see, as indeed some of her
own resisters, some of her own victims, some of her own friends, do see; that
she is rapidly evolving into the image of her ancient adversaries. That her
historic adventure, which gave her the unassailable right to “judge the
nations,” has veered off into an imperial misadventure; that she carries in the
world, the stigmata of the settler nation; that she is ranged not at the side
of those she once stood with, and succored and protected from extinction; the
poor, the despised, the victims of the powers of this world.
No. she has closed those
books, her sacred books. Her prophets shed no light upon her politics. Or more
exactly to the point, she has not passed from a dispossessed people to a
democratic state, as she would claim; she has passed from a dispossessed people
to an imperial entity. And this (I say it with a sinking heart) is to the loss
of all the world; to her own loss, and to the loss of Palestinians, and
Americans, and Jews in the diaspora, and Jews in Russia, and the Pope in the
Vatican, and Vietnamese, and Cambodians, and South Africans, and Chileans. For
it is of moment to us all (I almost said of supreme moment) that Jews retain
their own soul, their own books, their own vivid sense of alternate paths to
the light, so that Jews might be the arbiter and advocate of the downtrodden of
the earth. On the scales of the spirit, as the nations are finally judged, it
is a tragedy beyond calculating, that the State of Israel should become the
repository, and finally the tomb, of the Jewish soul. That in place of Jewish
compassion, Israel should legislate armaments and yet more armaments. That in
place of Jewish compassion for the poor and forgotten, Israel should legislate
evictions, uprootings, destruction of goods, imprisonment, terrorism. That in
place of Jewish peaceableness, Israel should legislate a law of expanding
violence. That in place of Jewish prophetic wisdom, Israel should launch an
Orwellian nightmare of double talk, racism, fifth-rate sociological jargon,
aimed at proving its racial superiority to the people it has crushed. My sense
of loss here is something more than academic. Let me say this; when an American
is resisting the murder of the Vietnamese people, one of his chief sources of
strength is the conviction that around the world, there exists a spiritual
network of those who have put their lives to the same resistance. A network of
conscience. One is joined in this way, to Blacks and Cubans and Brazilians and
Chileans and so many others, who have made it their life’s work to create a
better method than murder for dealing with human conflict. Now at any moment of
my struggle, in the underground or in prison, did resisters such as I take
comfort from the conduct of the state of Israel? Could we believe the rhetoric
that she was packaging and huckstering in the world? I must answer no, in the
name of all. Rather than being comforted, I was tempered and sobered. I knew
that I must take into account two bitter facts about Israel: 1) that if I were
a conscientious Jew in Israel I would have to live as I was living in America;
that is, in resistance against the state. And 2) the reaction of Israel to my
conscience would be exactly the reaction of the United States; that is to say,
I would either be hunted by the police, or in prison.
Which brings me to a
reflection nearer home; the American Jewish community and the Viet Nam war: by
and large, that community’s leadership, I stress leadership, fervent in support
of Israel, was also fervent in support of Nixon. It was a massive support indeed;
and it did not gather in a political vacuum. Nixon is a political manipulator
of great astuteness; religion and religious interests are part of the fulcrum
he exerts on world events. So he was able to mute the horrific facts of the
Viet Nam war in light of Jewish concern for the wellbeing of Israel. The plain
fact was that Mrs. Meir wanted Phantom jets and Nixon wanted re-election.
Another fact was also plain, if of less moment to either party; in Nixon’s
first term alone some six million Southeast Asians had been maimed, bombed,
displaced, tortured, imprisoned or killed. This was one of those peculiar facts
which must be called free-floating; it was a statistic, it did not signify. To
put the matter brutally, many American Jewish leaders were capable of ignoring
the Asian holocaust in favor of economic and military aid to Israel. Those of
us who resisted the war had to live with that fact. The fate of the Vietnamese
was as unimportant to the Zionists in our midst as was the state of the
But I venture to suggest
that it is not merely we, nor the Vietnamese who must live with that fact. So
must Israel. So must the American Jews.
If there is an ultimate
hope in all this one must, of course, pay tribute to the great majority of the
Jewish community which refused the bait offered by Nixon, and peddled by their
own leaders. Their acute and legitimate concern for Israel never became a
weapon against Vietnamese survival. They refused that immoral choice offered
them by a leader who would make a price of the safety of one people, the
extinction of another. As you may recall, the American Jewish community
rejected that choice, and for that we must honor them.
I cannot but reflect how
strong is the irony of this occasion; a Jesuit priest speaking of the sins of
Israel. A member of the classic oppressor church calls to account the historic
victims of Christian persecution. History has spun us about, a gap of blind
man’s bluff. In America, in my church, I am a Jew. I am scarcely granted a place
to teach, a place to worship, a place to announce the truths I live by. I stand
in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to pay for the victims of our ceaseless
rage, I stand in front of the White House. And a question arises from both
powers; how shall we deal with this troublesome Jew?
How does a Jesuit, a
member of the church elite, come to such trouble? How does the son of the
oppressor come to be oppressed? Even while the oppressed, the Zionist, the
state of Israel, becomes the oppressor? I can offer only the clumsiest of
The power of the Jew, as
indeed the power of the priest, arises from the questions which his life
raises. It comes from no other source. It cannot come from adherence to the
power of this world. When the priest becomes the civil servant of the Papal
State, he loses his true dignity, he becomes a secular nonentity. His passion
for justice is blunted, his sense of the sufferings of the world grows dim and
abstract. And the same holds for the Jew.
And I venture, for the
Arab. Human life today, if it means anything, is meant to raise a cry against
legitimated murder. Our lives are meant to be a question mark before humanity,
whether we are Arab, Jew, or Christian. When a Zionist or American Catholic or
an Arab Apologist loses that momentous dignity, he becomes a zero, his soul is
torn in two. Let Amos Kenan, the Israeli writer, speak the bitter truth: “I
believe that Zionism came to establish a shelter for a persecuted people, and
not to persecute other people. Even when facts strike me in the face and prove
to me ex post facto that Zionism was nothing but a useful tool to deprive the
Palestinian Arab people of their homeland, I will stick to the lie.”
Let him stick to the
lie. But let him also know, the lie sticks to him. It sticks in the throat, it
sticks to the very soul. To the point where a Christian must continue to ask of
Israel those questions which Israel proscribes, ignores, fears. Where indeed
are your men of wisdom? Where are your peacemakers? Where are your prophets?
Who among you speaks the truth to power? Where are the voices that abhor
militarism, torture, bombing, degrading alliances with the great powers? Israel
knows the answers. She has dealt with “this people,” who are her truest people.
Her peacemakers, her men of truth and wisdom, are dispensed with, are disposed
of. They have neither power nor voice in the affairs of the Israeli state. Many
of them are in prison, or hounded from the scene, living in exile. They are
equivalent to Palestinians; no voice, no vote; non-persons.
These are among the most
sorrowful facts of the world we live in. Israel, that millennial dream,
belonged not only to Jews, but to all of mankind—it belonged to me. But the
dream has become a nightmare; Israel has not abolished poverty and misery;
rather, she manufactures human waste, the byproducts of her entrepreneurs, her
military-industrial complex. Israel has not written justice into law; she has
turned the law of nature to a mockery, creating ghettoes, disenfranchised
peoples, exiles, hopeless minorities, cheap labor forces, Palestinian migrant
workers. Israel has not freed the captives; she has expanded the prison system,
perfected her espionage, exported on the world market that expensive blood
ridden commodity, the savage triumph of the technologized West; violence and
the tools of violence.
In Israel, military
might is increasingly both the method and the goal of political existence. Her
absurd generals, her military junk, are paraded on national holidays before the
narcoticized public. The model is not the kingdom of peace, it is an Orwellian
transplant, taken bodily from Big Brother’s bloody heart. In Israel, the
democratic formula is twisted out of all recognition; the citizens exist for
the well-being of the state; it follows, as the imperialist corollary, that
that measure of terrorism and violence and murder is applied to dissidents, as
shall guarantee the “well-being of the state,” as the ominous phrase is
understood by those in power.
Who will save us from
such saviors? I venture to say; neither Egypt nor Libya nor Syria nor Al Fatah
nor Golda Meir nor General Dayan; neither Migs nor Phantom jets nor nuclear
skills. After such saviors do the gentiles lust.
The present course, I
suggest, leads to the same dead end for both sides. The settler state and the
long settled state, both are in mortal danger, daily increasing, of
metamorphosing into slave states, clients of the fascist super powers. At home,
a slave mentality is progressively created; the reduction of rights of
citizens, slave labor forces, slave wages, the domination of slave masters,
politicized police, the militarization of national goals and policies.
Then the same process is
in internationalized. Such a nation inevitably becomes the instrument of
great-power politics. It serves as a foreign military for one or another of the
world powers, to that purpose everything is mobilized, including the truth
To demobilize the truth
may be one useful way of putting our task. Other terms occur; to demilitarize
the truth, to demythologize it. In any case, to snatch the truth from its
betrayers and belittlers. I wish you well in the task.
Dear Friends, my
concluding words are addressed especially to the Arab peoples. My argument with
you is also made in a spirit of love and even deep concern. You have suffered
greatly from colonialism and colonization and your demand for justice and
self-determination deserved more attention than it has received. Yet my
central argument with you is ultimately my argument with the Jewish people, in
the sense that both of you have ignored your own symbols and history. But in
different ways. Israel has betrayed her exodus by turning it into military
conquests. And the Arabs have often betrayed their resistance to rhetorical
violence and blind terrorism. The question of the weekend is: What else can we
Some two or three
years ago Eqbal Ahmed suggested, I believe, at one of these meetings, a massive
and worldwide reversal of symbols on the part of the Palestinian people. If I
understand him correctly he was saying something like this: What if the Arabs
throughout the world would raise a great cry and implement their cry after the
manner of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez? What if your cry
became “let my people go?” What if your people equipped boats to enter Israeli
harbors to speak the truth and implement the Palestinians’ right to return?
What if you were to begin knocking on doors of the embassies—Russian, American
and Israeli—demanding peace, demanding the restoration of your rights and
your homes. Taking into account at the same time Jewish fears, welcoming Jews
to a community of compassion, welcoming Israel’s people to your sides among
your people? “