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by Moshe Saperstein



May 5, 2009

[Rachel was attending a performance of something or other here in the refugee camp. I didn't go because it was only for women (thank you, God!). A friend sitting next to her said "Look at these people. We were dragged out of the Holy Land of Israel and into the Unholy State of Israel."

Apropos, some of you were upset at the news report that Netanyahu may make Michael Oren Ambassador to the US. The gentleman was an enthusiastic participant in our expulsion and remains a proponent for de-Judaizing Judea and Samaria. He should get on famously with the American Jewboys.

I don't know why you are surprised. What else did you expect from Netanyahu the Invertebrate? He is probably already wetting his pants in fear of what Obama and his Court Jews are planning for him.

And how many of you are aware that Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman, the poseur assuming a Mr. Right Wing Tough Guy stance, has appointed the pondscum Dov Weissglass as his senior advisor? Weissglass, for those of you with Alzheimers, was the architect of our expulsion.

To (mis)quote Bette Davis in "All About Eve", 'hang on, girls, it's going to be a wild ride'.]

[I suspect there will only be a few more Goodbyes. I write in spurts separated by very long silences. I feel a silence approaching. It is, just like the spurts, something over which I have no control.

Years ago I wrote "If you reach the age of fifty and wake up one morning to find that nothing hurts it means you died during the night". Now I sometimes find myself envying those who died during the night.

Years ago I read something by the American philosopher and smutographer, Henry Miller, famous for 'Tropic of Cancer' and 'Tropic of Capricorn'. This was from one of his undeservedly neglected works, 'Tropic of Boro Park': "When you reach the age of sixty a good dump is better than an orgasm". I couldn't imagine it, then. I can, now.

Sixty-eight is not old, these days. But though my chronological age is sixty-eight my body is, through long abuse, that of someone twenty years older. Like a chorus line in a bad Broadway musical, all the pains tap dance at once with each pain getting a chance to go front and center to hold the spotlight for a short time.

It is hard to convey the life-altering effect that aging is having. Once, secretion/excretion were incidental to whatever you were doing. Now, everything else is incidental to secretion/excretion.

Moreover, I have been forgetful for years, but the process seems to be accelerating.

The following is something I vaguely remember having written about years ago in pre-computer days. It isn't really appropriate for Goodbye. Still, being a self-indulgent bastard, and before I forget it completely...]


I had been in the Tel Hashomer Rehabilitation Ward several months [Winter, 1974]. My only excursions had been two Shabbat home visits in Jerusalem, and they had been very stressful. Wonderful, but stressful.

Like Boris Karloff in THE MUMMY my head was wrapped in bandages, my right arm from shoulder to stump in a cast, my left arm from shoulder to fingertips in a cast. If I didn't love being in the hospital at least I felt I belonged there, surrounded by fellow misshapen creatures.

Our ward — Rehabilitation A [Rehabilitation B was for spinal injuries] — had fourteen rooms for patients. Ten were large: one had eight beds; nine had four beds, or five if one was placed in the center of the room. Four had only one bed each, and were reserved for the seriously injured or for social misfits. I was one of the latter. I had been in the room for eight, but was given my own room because the seven others were at least ten years younger than I and couldn't stand the classical music I listened to all day.

A sweet old lady approached me. She was Romanian, and was one of the many volunteers serving lunch in our dining room every day. Often she would come early and stand outside the open door of my room, listening to the music.

On this particular day she shyly entered and offered me a ticket to a concert. She was a subscriber to the Israel Philharmonic and wouldn't be able to attend the next concert — three days hence — as she was going to visit family in the north. I accepted as gracefully as I could while hiding my terror.

THE IDEA OF THE CONCERT WAS A DREAM. All Beethoven, conducted by one of my favorites, William Steinberg. I had dozens of his recordings with the Pittsburgh Symphony. The Third Piano Concerto soloist was the great Alfred Brendel. I wanted desperately to go.

The idea of the concert was a nightmare. I had barely survived two visits with Rachel and the kids. How could I manage mixing with three thousand strangers in Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium? And with only one ticket, there was no one to baby-sit me.

Who could I talk to? Rachel was the obvious choice. I trusted her. And equally important, I trusted her judgment. But there was a problem. I was an orchid in a hothouse. Doctors and nurses surrounded me, ancillary staff protected me, visitors came daily to coo over me and tell me how brave and heroic I was. But it was Rachel, home with three small children, no relatives or support staff, keeping our family together until I could return, who was genuinely brave and heroic. Even in the midst of my self-absorption I realized that at the most meaningful level she was more of a heroine than I a hero. And I was supposed to whine to her about whether or not I should go to a concert?

I decided to talk to the staff psychologist, a pleasant gentleman in his fifties who had 'drafted' me because I was the only patient who could read and write professional literature in English as opposed to merely speaking the language. The psychologist, with a small room adjacent to the doctors' offices, spent much of his time writing articles in English for professional journals in the west. My job was to correct spelling and grammar and apply polish.

It was a wonderful learning experience, confirming my belief that his profession was 95% common sense, with a patina of incomprehensible jargon to make it seem mysterious to the general public. What disturbed me was how much of it was pure bullshit.

I had just fine-tuned an article for, if memory serves, The Calgary Journal of Quack Medicine.

"Look" I said, "your article says 30% of us get intensive one-on-one therapy, 30% get no treatment, and 40% get group therapy."

"Correct" he said.

"I don't know what goes on in your office, so I can't say anything about the 30% one-on-one. And if 30% never show up, they never show up. But 40% group therapy? I have never seen a group therapy session."

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Don't you see the fellows sitting around and schmoozing every night?"

"Schmoozing is group therapy?"

He smiled.

"If schmoozing is group therapy, why don't you say 90% get group therapy? Because 90% sit around and schmooze."

He gave me the superior, supercilious smile one reserves for the hopelessly retarded.

"Laymen... Laymen..." he said. "You'll never understand."

This, then, is the character I went to for advice. Ridiculous in retrospect, but it didn't seem so at the time.

I told him I wanted to consult him professionally. He nodded. I talked of my desire to go to the concert.

"So, go" he said.

I talked of my fears of going to the concert.

"So, don't go" he said.

"But I want to go..."

"So, go."

"But I'm afraid..."

"So, don't go."

This went on for minutes, during which he never said anything other than "So, go" or "So don't go"

THE ARMY MAINTAINED AN OFFICE IN THE HOSPITAL to deal with the needs of the wounded and their families. One of the duties was to provide tickets and transportation for those wanting to attend movies, theatre and sporting events.

When I entered the office and said I wanted to go the Philharmonic the soldierette was flustered. "Gee, no one has ever asked for that stuff before." When I assured her I already had a ticket and just needed transportation she exhaled in relief and arranged for a taxi to take me early so I could enter before the crowd, and be waiting outside to bring me back at 11pm when the concert was due to end.

It was cold, windy and drizzling and I should have been dressed warmly. But I couldn't get my casts through the sleeves of the sweater I hoped to wear, so simply had the sweater thrown around my shoulders.

The driver, a regular at ferrying soldiers, was chatty but soon grew silent when I answered his every remark with a grunt. I was terrified. And my terror increased when I saw there was already a small crowd when we arrived at the Mann Auditorium. It took all of my willpower to exit the taxi.

Everybody was looking at me. At least, that's what I thought. And given what I looked like I was probably right. I would have stayed outside but the drizzle had turned into a steady rain and I had to enter. The foyer was filling up, and I climbed the stairs to the balcony level foyer. The doors to the hall were not yet open and I sought a place to hide. And found it.

In a corner of the foyer there was a five foot tall pedestal, mock marble, and atop it a large bust of Arturo Toscanini. I wedged myself between the pedestal and the railing and remained largely hidden from view until the doors to the hall were open. One more reason to love Toscanini.

Once seated I could relax. I was surrounded by Romanian matrons who clearly had been alerted that I was coming, and greeted me warmly in Romanian and Yiddish. Following the greetings I was, thankfully, ignored and was able to wallow in fantasy.

As with so many aspects of life, the anticipation is more satisfying than the realization. This is truest in the concert hall when you are going to hear familiar works. You know the work. You know (or think you know) how it should be played and what it should sound like. Rarely, so rarely, can the performance match your hopes.

The musicians were taking their seats and I was aquiver with excitement. For two hours — the 3rd piano concerto, to be followed by the 3rd symphony — I could slip into my favored persona as Moshe Music Maven and escape the reality of Moshe Misshapen Monster.


Brendel took his seat, nodded to Steinberg who nodded back and raised his arms, and the violins began to saw away. And I heard nothing. Not really nothing. A woman near me coughed, and I heard it. Another was tearing at the crinkly wrapping of a candy bar, and I heard it. Someone let off a basso profundo fart, and I heard it. But not a sound from the stage.

The first half minute of the concerto is violins only. I could see them clearly, working themselves into a sweat. But I didn't hear a single note. In that half minute I felt my world was dissolving. When the piano entered I heard it perfectly. What was happening? It was insane. I was insane. Whatever vestiges of self-control I had disappeared. I began to tremble, and to cry. The ladies around me were alarmed. "What's the matter?" some called in Yiddish. "Can we help you?"

I had to get out of there. I stood. Naturally I was in the center of a long row. How many canes did I knock down in my panic? How many old bones did I bruise in my haste? I was causing a small commotion but was crying too hard to control myself. Then I was in the aisle, up the steps to the foyer exit, and out of the hall. Several people called to me as I left the building. I didn't stop.

The rain stunned me. I had lost my sweater. All my bandages were exposed, and getting soaked. I had to get back to the hospital. The taxi wouldn't return to pick me up for another two hours. I would find a taxi!

When you leave the Mann Auditorium there are seven possible directions you can take. Three are major thoroughfares, with taxi stands. Three are wide streets, with taxis cruising at all hours. One is narrow, dark, lined with old apartment buildings. Guess which one I staggered on to?

[Fifteen years later I was back on this street, visiting Israel's greatest composer, Paul Ben-Haim. A sadder story than this one...]

As I lurched farther and farther down the street, farther and farther from the light, I resumed crying. Crying? I was howling. A life with one arm? No problem. I had a spare. A life with one working eye? Ditto. Minor body parts damaged or gone? No more than an inconvenience. But not to be able to properly hear the music I love? Intolerable. It would be nonsensical to say life would have no meaning without music. But I would be existing rather than living. And I had no interest in simply existing.

This is the state I was in when a flashing blue light made me stop. A police car had pulled alongside me. Two patrolmen now stood before me. They spoke but I couldn't hear. I was crying too hard. I didn't resist when they sat me down in the back of their vehicle.

After a few moments I had the crying under control.

"We were looking for you" one policeman said.

"There was a call from the Auditorium about you" said the other.

"How did you find me?"

Both laughed. "You left a trail."

They put the car into reverse and slowly backed up the street. Glistening all along the dark sidewalk were large white splotches. My casts were melting in the rain.

I asked to be put into a taxi but they insisted on driving me back to the hospital. They half-carried, half-dragged me into the ward. Two male nurses were on duty. There was an argument about whether to change my bandages. Instead I was sedated and dropped into bed. They did get my shoes and pants off. My last thoughts before losing consciousness concerned the old lady who had given me the ticket, and how much trouble she would have over my behavior.

LATE THE NEXT MORNING THE OLD LADY ENTERED MY ROOM. I cringed in embarrassment and started to apologize. "How are you?" she asked. "My friends are so worried about you..."

That afternoon, my casts changed and a new bandage on my head, I saw the psychologist. "You son-of-a-bitch" I said, [the Hebrew vernacular is son-of-a-whore] "I trusted you. Couldn't you have warned me?"

"I did warn you" he said. "I said 'go' if you want to, 'don't go' if you don't want to."

"That was your warning?"

He smiled his superior, supercilious smile: "Laymen... Laymen... You'll never understand."

[TODAY'S (MAY 3) PAPER HAS THE RESULTS OF A GALLUP POLL SHOWING 79% OF AMERICAN JEWS are tickled brown with BHO, making them the largest group of sycophants after American Moslems, 85%

What the paper doesn't mention — and I have yet to see it anywhere except the blogosphere — is that the recent budget included an item allotting $20million to bring Gazan refugees to the United States. This disturbs me greatly. And not because refugees from Darfur or Sri Lanka or anywhere else are more deserving.

How many of our peace-partner-neighbors can you remove from here for a paltry $20m?

Had the sum allotted been $20billion enough might be removed so that I could go home to Neve Dekalim.

But not to kvetch...

$20m is a start, and presents a glorious opportunity for you BHO fans, particularly those who fall into the 'earn like Episcopalians, vote like Puerto Ricans' category. May I modestly suggest that you start a campaign now to have each congregation Adopt-A-Refugee-Family? Imagine the effect on these victims of Israelo-Nazism to be feted and cosseted in ways that only guilt-ridden apologetic Jews excel at.

I would say 'For God's sake, get it right', but invoking the Creator would seem too, too recherchè to progressives like yourselves. So I'll just say, 'Tikkun Olam, baby, Tikkun Olam!'.]

[I THOUGHT I MIGHT CONCLUDE ON AN UPLIFTING AND EDUCATIONAL SCIENTIFIC NOTE... The media are agog over Predator X, a prehistoric creature whose bones were just discovered on a Norwegian island above the Arctic Circle.

Well, I've discovered remains of two [2] prehistoric creatures, right here in the refugee camp. The first is a creature with the largest rump ever. I am planning to call it Tyrannosaurus Dreks.

The second, who apparently used to trail behind the first, had the largest nostrils yet discovered. I am planning to call it Tyrannosaurus Shmeks.]


[Pardon my right-wing paranoia, but isn't it a remarkable coincidence that the day after the American government announces it will not pursue the prosecution of two AIPAC employees, AIPAC announces it supports a two-state solution.

Shucks, how silly of me, it's probably just a fortuitous confluence of events...]


[Our friends Mendy and Sharon are arriving in Israel May 11th. Mendy owns Glatt Mart in Brooklyn and always brings some salami to gladden my intestines. I informed him that the Pope arrives here on the 11th as well, and expressed my concern that their bags don't get mixed up. "The Pope will get the salami, and I'll end up with a crucifix."

"But imagine the publicity" Mendy replied, "if there's a picture of the Pope carrying a Glatt Mart shopping bag..."]


May 19, 2009

["So Israel is on the skids" wrote one disgruntled reader. "I get that from lots of places. So you're having toilet troubles. Why should I give a crap that you can't give a crap? I only waste my time reading you because of the cats. So what's with the cats?"


Muffy-the-superannuated-Slut has a large, deep wound on her neck. How she got it is a mystery. The wound dries, she scratches, blood flows again. Rachel is concerned. I am not. Rachel wants us to take MuffSlut to a veterinarian. I wouldn't mind taking her to a taxidermist.

Muffy has aged visibly. But that — given my predilection for older females — is not the reason I am less than enthusiastic about her. She travels with an entourage, three of her offspring courtesy of The Impregnator. Two have their father's slits for eyes and fluffy tale. The third has Muffy's beautiful large-eyed innocence. Unfortunately she howls endlessly. All three are larger than Muffy but the feline yiddishe mama hustles food for them constantly. She appears at the door, whining piteously, then saunters off as soon as I've put the food out. At which point The Unholy Three come out of hiding and eat.

The only one who gives me pleasure is Chaleria (Cholera) who follows me about and lets herself be petted. At one point I started feeding her by hand, but she clawed me so badly I've given it up. Still, there are moments close to ecstatic. I sat down on the lawn, extra-length cigar in hand, to listen to a broadcast of Brahms 4th. Chaleria appeared. I groaned inwardly at the thought that I would have to get up and feed her. But she lay down at my feet and didn't utter a sound or move until the symphony and my cigar had ended. Was she listening? Probably not. But I could pretend that she was, and shed tears of contentment.]


["You should have been a conductor, Moshe. Too bad the streetcars and trolleys don't run anymore."

Yes, I should have been a conductor. Among the many fantasies that have sustained me, this is near the top.

Of course, there are problems. The first is that I never learned to play an instrument or to read music. In retrospect, this is all to the good. Over the years my numerous contacts with musicians made me realize that their attitude to music is largely that of a mechanic to motors, or a butcher to meat. In my case, ignorance really is bliss. I have been able to maintain my awe of music, my belief that music starts where words leave off, my belief that music is holy.

I listen to a piece over and over and over, til I've memorized it, then indulge my fantasy that I'm attending a concert and the conductor suddenly drops dead/has a stroke/is whisked away by aliens. The concertmaster calls out, "Is there a conductor in the audience?" I make my way to the podium, close the score, conduct — brilliantly, of course — from memory.

The second problem is less easily solved, even in fantasy. When my right arm was sent to nose-picker's Valhalla, I was merely inconvenienced. I was, after all, left handed. Then my left hand was turned into a claw, and I cannot hold the baton.

There is, of course, another appendage to which the baton could be attached. But even an egomaniac like myself cannot fantasize about conducting anything lengthier than an orchestration of Chopin's minute waltz. Thus do dreams die.]


THOUGH THE WINDOWS ARE CLOSED THE HOUSE IS PERMEATED with the smell of burning wood and leafs and Lord knows what else. It is L'G B'Omer eve [11 May] and all the crypto-pyromaniacs, like the crypto-drunkards on Purim, are allowed to live out their fantasies. Bonfires large and small abound, as do barbecues and cookouts. Viewed from space, Israel must have disappeared under a thick cloud of smoke.

Rachel is out among the bonfires, cheerfully working the crowds in her own inimitable way, while Old Grouchy sits transfixed before the computer, inundated with articles mirroring his despair.

It does little to cheer me that so many are coming around to the conclusions I reached long ago. Misery does not love company. I have prayed for so long that I'll be proven wrong, that flaws in my arguments will be pointed out, that the hopeless despair I feel will be shown to be a personal psychosis and not one based on fact. Instead, the 'usual suspects', loonies like myself, are being joined by mainstream commentators. I thought I had scraped the bottom of the Misery Barrel. Now I've been given a shovel with which to dig beneath the Barrel.

One of these mainstreamers is the estimable Naomi Ragen. One of her recent letters has intensified an ongoing disagreement between Rachel, ever optimistic, and yours truly who requires no effort to wallow in blackest despair.

"I write less because I have no words to express just how bad things are," wrote Ragen, "how beyond imagination that the Jewish State has gotten to this point in its history."

Rachel and I are battling over "the Jewish State". I say there is no Jewish State, only a state with many Jews. Were we a genuinely Jewish State, a state of Jewish believers, we wouldn't be facing extinction right now.

Rachel points out that it is L'g B'Omer, and most Jews are attending bonfires, just as most Israeli Jews attend a seder on Passover. Even those who participated in the expulsion are doing the Jewish thing.

These, I argue, are nominal Jews and not believing Jews. Their having a bonfire or a seder makes them no different from the millions of Americans who have a Christmas tree. They are nominal Christians and not believing Christians. And their activities don't make America a Christian country any more than the activities of nominal Jews make Israel a Jewish country.

SOME OF YOU WERE OFFENDED BY MY CHARACTERIZATION OF OBAMA VOTERS AS COLLABORATORS in our destruction. I was watching a documentary about the Jewish singles scene in the States, all those wonderful, caring, concerned people. And not a McCain voter among them. It must have been wonderful, even liberating, to polish your liberal credentials by voting for one of the traditionally oppressed. I believe you had no intention of harming Israel. The interests of Israel probably weren't even on your radar when, floating on a cloud of rhetoric-induced euphoria, you wafted into the polling station.

And when disaster strikes us you will weep genuine tears on our behalf. I tell you in advance that we appreciate your tears, because by the time they flow we won't be able to thank you. We will have been slaughtered. Rachel, myself, our children, our grandchildren, the Zionists, the non-Zionists, the anti-Zionists, the committed few, the indifferent many.

When we were expelled from Gush Katif I, like many others, underwent a crisis of faith. Was the Creator simply a sadist, setting us up with five years of indisputable miracles only to abandon us when we needed Him most? The conclusion I came to was that He protected us from everything the gentiles threw at us, only leaving us to our own devices when our fellow Jews were the enemy.

And it is about to happen again. Most of my fellow believers don't see it. "The Almighty won't allow it to happen," is what I hear most often. "Even if you are right about Gush Katif, the Almighty won't allow it because we face destruction by the gentiles, not the Jews."

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Our physical destruction may be carried out by gentiles but it is the Jews who have empowered them, the Jews who have legitimized them, the Jews who provide their justification, the Jews who everywhere — especially Israel — lead the charge against us. Who, after the Holocaust, would call the Jews 'Nazis' unless the Jews themselves were using the term?

Is there another people anywhere, at any time, whose cultural and intellectual elite is so filled with self-hatred? Is there another people anywhere, at any time, whose cultural and intellectual elite is so desperate to rid itself of the religious burden placed upon it at birth that it will do anything — anything! — to be 'free'?

The examples of their self-destructive actions are so numerous that I will not list them. You are aware of them, or you aren't. As to motive...

There was a 'joke' I heard many years ago. It is Christmas Eve in the Ukraine and a band of Cossacks ride into a Jewish village. Fueled by vodka and native stupidity and a desire to avenge their crucified Lord they are determined to slaughter the inhabitants. A rabbi runs out to confront them. "Stop!" he shouts. "We have just learned that it was the Jews from the next village who killed Christ!" The Cossacks turn and ride away, to slaughter the Jews in the next village.

Moshe Saperstein lost an arm while fighting in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. A resident of Neve Dekalim in the Gush Katif area of the Gaza Strip, Moshe was wounded in February 2002 when he drove his car into a terrorist who had just shot and killed a young mother traveling in the car in front of his. He writes frequently of his physical and emotional struggles on the long road to recovery

He and his wife Rachel were among the thousands of Jews kicked out of their homes in Gush Katif, in the Gaza strip, and forced into temporary quarters so dismal, their still-temporary paper-based trailer in Nitzan seemed a step up. Contact them by email at


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