Partaxe Symposium VII – 20 November 2020, 1:00 pm

Partaxe Symposium VII

Arabic-speaking and Hebrew-speaking authors from Berlin and their friends dare the utopia of a literary collaboration beyond all that divides them.

What is the influence of the Middle Eastern culture on Berlin? How does Berlin influences the Middle Eastern culture? What happened in the meeting between German Jews and Arab Jews? All these questions and more will be discussed with 14 Berlin writers and experts from all over the Middle East and North Africa.

NahostBerlin – die literarische Middle East Union


13:00 Registration
13:30 Welcome: Martin Jankowski and Jürgen Becker.
Introduction: Hila Amit.

13:45 Nationalism kaput? Muslim and Jewish poetics in the diaspora
With Hasan Ze Alnoon, Asaf Dvori, Hila Amit and Mariam Rasheed Presented by Mati Shemoelof. In English language. Featured Poet: Afshin Javadi Torshizi.

15:30 Coffee Break

16:00 Middle East-Berlin! The literary Middle East in and from Berlin
Keynote address by Ozan Zakariya Keskinkilic. With Abdulkadir Musa, Tali Okavi, Mati Shemoelof and Afshin Javadi Torshizi. Presented by Omri Ben Yehuda. In German language. Featured poet: Tali Okavi.

18:00 Break

19:30 Vos shprakh do you write in? German Jews meet Arab Jews
Interdiscourse with literary texts. Keynote by Tal Hever-Chybowski. With Anna Shapiro, Mona Yahia, Max Czollek, Esther Dischereit and Zehava Khalfa. Presented by Hanno Hauenstein. In German language.

Mainly German language program with foreign language parts (English, Arabic, Hebrew, Yiddish) and translations into German.

For registration please contact: 
No participation fee, breaks with paid snacks.
Admission to the evening reading: 8/5 €.
Hygiene regulations of the LCB here.

In cooperation with ANU – Jews and Arabs Writing in Berlin.
Program curators Hila Amit and Mati Shemoelof.

PARATAXE is a project of the Berliner Literarische Aktion e.V. and is supported by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe. The Parataxe symposia are held in cooperation with the LCB and Literaturport.

Press: Simon v. Krosigk
PARATAXE – die internationalen Literaturszenen Berlins stadtsprachen – Magazin der internationalen Literaturen Berlins
c/o Berliner Literarische Aktion e.V.
Kastanienallee 2
D – 10435 Berlin
Tel.: +49(0)30/53155963

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The Art Of Cooking – T’beet – Iraqi Slow-Cooked Chicken And Rice

This seemingly simple dish is a classic staple of the Iraqi Shabbat lunch! Normally prepared a day in advance and left in the oven overnight.

In this recipe, I will like to stay true to the original flavor of the dish and make sure that your kitchen will smell like an Iraqi Saturday morning.

The flavors are soft and comforting, which together with the juicy chicken and sticky rice –  is a dish that cannot fail!
Trust me, this is the dish that I always ate on the day of my arrival at the home of my grandmother in Israel; I would eat this dish next to all the other colorful and more exciting dishes, and yet even though it does not stand out, it connects all the other dishes together.

1 whole chicken
Minced beef for the stuffing, make sure it has some fat in it!
1 large onion
1 can of tomatoes
Chicken stock

Stuffing the chicken:
First mix in a bowl the minced meat in a 50/50 ratio with washed rice.
Add into it the following spices, 1 teaspoon Kardemon, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, half a teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon salt.
Do not over mix it, and make sure that the minced meat and the rice are loose, then place the mixture inside the chicken cavity, and tie the legs in front of the opening to block it.

Cooking the T’beet:
Cut the onion into small pieces and put them into a big non-stick pot, (The non-stick pot is very important, because we would like the bottom of the pot to caramelize), then add some oil and fry on a low heat until translucent. When the onion is ready add the canned tomatoes and make sure they are softened up.
At this point, if you wish you can add some dried bay leaves or dried chili pepper, to give a bit more depth to the flavor, but this extra addition is optional.
Now add the whole chicken into the pot and fry it on all sides until the entire skin of the chicken is golden brown.
When the skin is brown and crispy add a liter of chicken stock and let it simmer on very low heat for 1 to 2 hours with the lid on.

The longer one simmers the chicken, one should remember to check if there is enough liquid in the pot, add water accordingly.

So, 15 minutes before you are ready to eat, add into the pot the 1 and a half cup of washed rice and make sure the rice is covered by the stock and put the lid back on.
Then, when the rice has absorbed all the liquid, the dish is done – there will be some crispy dark parts at the bottom, this is supposed to be the best part of the rice!
It is a very comforting dish and it works well as a lunch or dinner!
It is nice to eat it with some salad or some other Iraqi dishes, for example, Kubbah!
Remember to eat the T’beet surrounded by your family, and friends! Beteavon.

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Lost Homelands, Imaginary Returns – The Exilic Literature Of Iranian And Iraqi Jews

Ella Shohat – Ills.: Joseph Sassoon Semah

When I first contemplated my participation in the “Moments of Silence” conference, I wondered to what extent the question of the Arab Jew /Middle Eastern Jew merits a discussion in the context of the Iran- Iraq War. After all, the war took place in an era when the majority of Jews had already departed from both countries, and it would seem of little relevance to their displaced lives. Yet, apart from the war’s direct impact on the lives of some Jews, a number of texts have engaged the war, addressing it from within the authors’ exilic geographies where the war was hardly visible. And, precisely because these texts were written in contexts of official silencing of the Iran-Iraq War, their engagement of the war is quite striking. For displaced authors in the United States, France, and Israel, the Iran-Iraq War became a kind of a return vehicle to lost homelands, allowing them to vicariously be part of the events of a simultaneously intimate and distant geography. Thus, despite their physical absence from Iraq and Iran, authors such as Nissim Rejwan, Sami Michael, Shimon Ballas, and Roya Hakakian actively participate in the multilingual spaces of Iranian and Iraqi exilic literature. Here I will focus on the textual role of war in the representation of multi-faceted identities, themselves shaped by the historical aftermath of wars, encapsulated in memoirs and novels about Iraq and Iran, and written in languages that document new stops and passages in the authors’ itineraries of belonging.

What does it mean, in other words, to write about Iran not in Farsi but in French, especially when the narrative unfolds largely in Iran and not in France? What is the significance of writing a Jewish Iranian memoir, set in Tehran, not in Farsi but in English? What are the implications of writing a novel about Iraq, not in Arabic, but in Hebrew, in relation to events that do not involve Iraqi Jews in Israel but rather take place in Iraq, events spanning the decades after most Jews had already departed en masse? How should we understand the representation of religious/ethnic minorities within the intersecting geographies of Iraq and Iran when the writing is exercised outside of the Iran-Iraq War geography in languages other than Arabic and Farsi? By conveying a sense of fragmentation and dislocation, the linguistic medium itself becomes both metonym and metaphor for a highly fraught relation to national and regional belonging. This chapter, then, concerns the tension, dissonance, and discord embedded in the deployment of a non-national language (Hebrew) and a non-regional language (English or French) to address events and the interlocutions about them that would normally unfold in Farsi and Arabic, but where French, English, and Hebrew stand in, as it were, for those languages. More broadly, the chapter also concerns the submerged connections between Jew and Muslim in and outside of the Middle East, as well as the cross-border “looking relations” between the spaces of the Middle East. Writing under the dystopic sign of war and violent dislocation, this exilic literature performs an exercise in ethnic, religious, and political relationality, pointing to a textual desire pregnant with historical potentialities.

The Linguistic Inscription of Exile
The linguistic medium itself, in these texts, reflexively highlights violent dislocations from the war zone. For the native speakers of Farsi and Arabic the writing in English, French, or Hebrew is itself a mode of exile, this time linguistic. At the same time if English (in the case of Roya Hakakian and Nissim Rejwan), French (Marjane Satrapi), and Hebrew (Sami Michael and Shimon Ballas) have also become their new symbolic home idioms. In these instances, the reader has to imagine the Farsi in and through the English and the French, or the Arabic in and through the Hebrew. Written in the new homeland, in an “alien” language, these memoirs and novels cannot fully escape the intertextual layers bequeathed by the old homeland language, whether through terms for cuisine, clothing, or state laws specifically associated with Iran and Iraq. The new home language, in such instances, becomes a disembodied vehicle where the lexicon of the old home is no longer fluently translated into the language of the new home—as though the linguistic “cover” is lifted. In this sense, the dislocated memoir or novel always-already involves a tension between the diegetic world of the text and the language of an “other” world that mediates the diegetic world.
Such exilic memoirs and novels are embedded in a structural paradox that reflexively evokes the author’s displacement in the wake of war. The dissonance, however, becomes accentuated when the “cover language” belongs to an “enemy country,” i.e., Israel/Hebrew, or United States/English. The untranslated Farsi or Arabic appears in the linguistic zone of English or Hebrew to relate not merely an exilic narrative, but a meta-narrative of exilic literature caught in-between warring geographies.

Figure 2.1. The recusatio in Persepolis. Image courtesy of Marjane Satrapi, The Complete Persepolis (Pantheon, 2007), p. 142.

Roya Hakakian’s Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis both tell a coming-of-age story set during the period of the Iranian Revolution, partially against the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq War. Written by an Iranian of Muslim background (Satrapi) and by an Iranian of Jewish background (Hakakian), both memoirs are simultaneously marked by traumatic memories as well as by longing for the departed city—Tehran. Although the Jewish theme forms a minor element in Persepolis, Satrapi’s graphic memoir does stage a meaningful moment for the Muslim protagonist in relation to her Jewish friend, Neda Baba-Levy. More specifically, it treats a moment during the Iran-Iraq War when Iraqi scud missiles are raining down on Tehran, and where neighborhood houses are reduced to rubble, including the house of the Baba-Levy family. While forming only a very brief reference in the film adaptation, the chapter in the memoir, entitled “The Shabbat,” occupies a significant place in the narrative. Marjane goes out to shop and hears a falling bomb. She runs back home and sees that the houses at the end of her street are severely damaged. When her mother emerges from their home, Marjane realizes that while her own house is not damaged, Neda’s is. At that moment, Marjane hopes that Neda is not home, but soon she remembers that it is the Shabbat. As her mother pulls Marjane away from the wreckage, she notices Neda’s turquoise bracelet. Throughout her graphic novel, Satrapi does display “graphic” images, showing, for example, the torture of her beloved uncle by the Shah’s agents and then by the Islamicist revolutionaries who later execute him. Here, however, the Neda incident triggers a refusal to show what is being expressed in words. After the destruction, Satrapi writes: “I saw a turquoise bracelet. It was Neda’s. Her aunt had given it to her for her fourteenth birthday. The bracelet was still attached to . . . I do not know what..” The image illustrates the hand of little Marjane covering her mouth. In the next panel, she covers her eyes, but there is no caption. The following final panel has a black image with the caption: “No scream in the world could have relieved my suffering and my anger.”[i]

Of special interest here is precisely the refusal to show, a device referred to in the field of rhetoric as recusatio, i.e., the refusal to speak or mention something while still hinting at it in such a way as to call up the image of exactly what is being denied. In Persepolis it also constitutes the refusal to show something iconically, in a medium—the graphic memoir—essentially premised, by its very definition, on images as well as words. Marjane recognizes the bracelet, but nothing reminiscent of her friend’s hand, while her own hand serves to hide her mouth, muffling a possible scream. In intertextual terms, this image recalls an iconic painting in art history, Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
While the expressionistic painting has the face of a woman taken over by a large screaming mouth, here, Persepolis has the mouth covered; it is a moment of silencing the scream. Satrapi represses—not only visually but also verbally—the words that might provide the context for the image, i.e., what Roland Barthes calls the “anchorage” or the linguistic message or caption that disciplines and channels and the polysemy or “many-meaningedness” of the image.[ii] In this case, the caption also reflects a recusatio, in that no scream could express what she is seeing and feeling. As a result, there is a double silence, the verbal silence and the visual silence implied by the hand on the mouth, and then by the hands on the eyes culminating in the black frame image. The final black panel conveys Marjane’s subjective point of view of not seeing, blinded as it were by the horrifying spectacle of war.

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The World Today With Tariq Ali – Jewish Arabs And Cultural Cleansing

This week Tariq speaks to New York University scholar Ella Shohat about the history of Jewish people in the Middle East and North Africa, using her Baghdadi heritage as a starting point. Ella tackles the dominant, Western narrative on Jewishness, asserting that Jewish history, culture and opinion aren’t monolithic. Arab Jews, in particular, face the dichotomy of being considered both of the East and of the West – or, as Edward Said described it, being both Oriental and Orientalist.

Music in this video

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Song – Shostakovich : String Quartet No.9 in E flat major Op.117 : III Allegretto
Artist – Brodsky Quartet
Album – Shostakovich : String Quartet No.9 in E flat major Op.117 : III Allegretto

Licensed to YouTube by WMG (on behalf of Teldec Classics International), and 5 Music Rights Societies
Song – Desert Life
Artist – Terry Devine-King
Album – ANW1181 – Editor’s Series – Middle East 3
Licensed to YouTube by Audio Network (on behalf of Audio Network plc); Audio Network (music publishing), and 6 Music Rights Societies

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The Art Of Cooking ~ Hummus With Minced Meat

Hummus in Israel can be comparable to Pizza for Italians!
Normally the Hummus can be enjoyed plain or with some extra.
One day in Israel me and my dad visited Caesarea as a couple of tourists, and to our surprise we tumbled upon this Hummus dish topped with warmly spiced minced meat.
That moment left a strong impact on us and I have been making it ever since. The smooth texture of the Hummus combined with the savory bites of the minced meat creates a balanced taste at the moment you scoop as much as you can with a small piece of pita bread.
Trust me, this is the way to eat Hummus, scooping as much as you can with a small piece of pita bread – but do not get it on your fingers, there’s a limit!

Hummus Ingredients:
1 Large Can Chickpeas
Tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds)
2 Cloves of garlic
Lemon juice
Olive oil

Ingredients for the minced meat:
200-gram Minced meat (you can choose either lamb or beef)
2 Cloves of garlic
Paprika powder
Cumin powder
Salt & Pepper
Cooking oil

Olive oil
Pine Nuts
Fresh Parsley

Making the Hummus:
Inside a blender add the chickpeas, two tablespoons of tahini with the garlic, a pinch of salt, a squirt of lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Now it is all about finding the perfect texture and flavor that you want! Keep tasting by adding a small amount of cold water to make the texture smoother.
Add more salt if it tastes too bland, as well as lemon juice if you want to put more zing into it!
There are many types of Hummus out there – however, it is up to you to balance the ingredients to become a favorite of your own taste!

Making the minced meat:
In a cold frypan add the minced meat with a bit of cooking oil, turn on the heat to medium-high and start breaking the meat apart, make sure you don’t keep big lumps. Once the minced meat is almost cooked through, add the minced garlic and all the spices (a teaspoon of cumin and a teaspoon of paprika, as well as, a pinch of salt and pepper). Keep stirring until all the minced meat is covered with the spices, that is until it turns brown and slightly sticky!

Place the Hummus in a plate with a dent in the middle, then put the hot minced meat on top!
Top with pine nuts and fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, you can also add some paprika powder on top.
Serve with pita bread, and of course, you may add some raw onion slices, boiled eggs, and pickled spicy peppers.
This is not the most traditional way to eat Hummus, but please give it a try. So, to go back to the comparison between Hummus and pizza, at the end the toppings are up to you.
However, if you want to make a Hawaiian Hummus go for it, but please let me know how this worked out……

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Hebrew Writing In Berlin

Mati Shemoelof – Ills.: Joseph Sassoon Semah

Four new books of Hebrew literature that were published lately in Berlin raise questions about the identity of the Hebrew literary Center. Will the Hebrew literature center be open to post national questions? Or will be a continuation of Israeli national values and reject the diasporic ideas?

In the month of November 2019 three books were published in Berlin.
The collection Was es bedeuten soll: Neue hebräische Dichtung in Deutschland published by Parasitenpresse Verlag, located in Cologne, Germany. The collection includes 13 writers including 12 Israelis living in Germany and Gundula Schiffer a German female author from Cologne, who was also among the editors of the book (edited by Gundula Schiffer und Adrian Kasnitz.
Although the book was edited and published in Cologne, most of the authors in this book belong to the city of Berlin, like Ronen Altman Kaydar, Yael Dean Ben-Ivry, Tomer Dotan-Dreyfus, Asaf Dvori, Yemima Hadad, Zahava Khalfa, Admiel Kosman, Maya Kuperman, and Michal Zamir. Interestingly, the book was only published in full translation into German, meaning without the original poems all written in Hebrew.

Another book that was published in Vienna, Austria, Zwischen den Zeilen (Passagen Verlag) also has almost all of its writers based in Berlin (Edited by Michal Zamir and Yael Almog). The book includes Hebrew and German female writers, writing in both languages, as result of a Jewish feminist event held in the city of Berlin. The third book that was published in this very month is my bilingual poetry collection Baghdad | Haifa | Berlin by the Berlin’s AphorishmA publishing house.

So, three books dealing with Hebrew poetry were written mainly in Berlin and published in one and the same month. So I say, we can start talking about a new Hebrew literary center in Berlin. The fourth book was published only in May 2020 in Berlin, also published by AphorismA Verlag. This is the book Life is the least evil one a collection of stories by Erez Mirenz (AmhiD). According to Mirenz, the book deals with black humor with what is happening in Israel and its very publication in Berlin is a statement about the fact that Israelis, in the broadest sense of the term, are refugees of the conflict or cultural refugees.

I say new literary Hebrew center also because these books came out as the first Hebrew books in Germany after a long pause reaching until the time during the two world wars. Back then, it was a much bigger and bustling center for book publishers, poets and poets who published books in Hebrew. It was much bigger also than the Hebrew center in Palestine. Dr. Rachel Zeelig writes in her monograph Strangers in Berlin: Modern Jewish Literature Between East and West, 1919-1933 (University of Michigan Press, 2016): In the early 1920s, Berlin was home to ten Hebrew publishing houses and, by 1924, the city was producing nearly a quarter of all Yiddish books worldwide. Seelig examines four poets at length, including Ludwig Strauss, Moyshe Kulbak, Uri Zvi Greenberg, and Gertrud Kolmar.

But whereas most of these old Hebrew writers dreamed of Israel back then, today the new writers come – mostly disappointed – back from a real political and social life in Israel. And one should expect a literature that expresses that kind of writing. Maybe the new Hebrew literature will deal more thoroughly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Meaning, the rise of the Hebrew literary center in Berlin requires us to ask the question, whether it will continue Israel’s Zionist ideology by following the three unspoken general rules in Israel:

1. Israel must not be criticized. Any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.
2. The struggle against the occupation must not be mentioned.
3. Literature and poetry should move away from being political.

So far, there is some fight now, this kind of conflict happening on the Berlin platform. On the one hand stands the Pro-Palestinian writers, organizations, institutions and creators who mostly support the nonviolent struggle of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). They put a mirror before every Israeli artist who lives outside Israel and compel them to question how they are facing the Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation and ending the occupation. On the other hand stands the Israeli embassy, ​​with government institutions such as the Jewish Agency, JNF and other investors spending huge capital in recruiting any Israeli artist who lives outside Israel, to control their content and stop them from co-opting and stopping any radicalization of the cultural centers.

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