Going to EthiopiaOk people… so if you thought my last assignment was exciting..(see Jerusalem Gay Parade) well boy do I have some news to share with you. I managed to get myself on an airplane to Africa. Yes, Africa – you heard me right. I am attending the United Jewish Communities Campaign Chairs and Directors 48 hour Mission to Ethiopia. Now 48 hours in Ethiopia is hardly a journey into the heart of darkness, but still – how totally random and thrilling is that?

I am traveling with a ton of equipment as you can see in the photo above. My Panasonic DVX 1OOA, sound equipment, a tripod attached to my back, a small Elf still camera and thanks to David Abitbol at Jewlicious, a beautiful Canon 30D. I will be shooting a five minute piece for IBA and CNN World Report. I also will be blogging the whole experience for all of you loyal and not so loyal Jewlicious readers. I found out about this journey at the very last minute, but I still miraculously managed to get my Visa on time and 10 shots too, including Yellow fever, Polio, Tetanus and whole slew of other strange vaccinations that left bruises on my arms and a pit in my stomach.

So ok, what is this story I am going to cover all about?…well 300 Falash Muras will be making Aliyah on Thursday and I will be there to witness the entire process, or at least its final stages. Operation Solomon in 1991 resulted in 14,325 Ethiopian Jews transported to Israel within 36 hours. Since then, there continued small waves of Ethiopian immigration to Israel by a group called the Falash Mura. The Falash Mura were Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity as a result of missionary activity and social pressure late in the 19th Century.

Over the years, large groups of Falasha Mura came from the villages to compounds in Addis Ababa. Many of them have family already living in Israel who have been applying steady pressure upon the Israeli government to allow them to immigrate. In the mid-1990’s, the Ministry of Absorption agreed to bring over those Falasha Mura with immediate family members in Israel. This was not under the “Law of Return” however, but under the “Law of Family Reunification.” In 1997, the Netanyahu administration decided to stop immigration of Falasha Mura after a final group of 4,000 immigrants arrived.

Between 18,000 and 26,000 Falasha Mura remain in Ethiopia today. I am going to bring some more of them back home. Not me alone of course… I’ll have a little help from the Jewish Agency and the UJC. To that end, I fly out tonight for Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. But I will not spend much time there because I will then take a small prop plane to Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia. From there I will travel by jeep to Ambober, once a vibrant Jewish village. I will meet families, visit a school , a recently restored synagogue and the “Beta Israel Committee” Compound. The program urges me to “View the process of interviews with the Falash Mura, and their workshops; visit the classrooms where children learn to speak Hebrew in preparation for their aliyah; stop at the feeding stations and the adult Jewish identity classes. Visit the JDC Medical Clinic under the leadership of Dr. Rick Hodes and see the medical care given to the Falash Mura. Conclude the morning with home visits to the Falash Mura.”

I will also visit the former Jewish village of Woloka with its synagogue, a one room hut built of mud and straw. The synagogue has not been used for services since the last Jewish Presidents of Woloka evacuated their village in 1991 to begin the long trek to the Sudan, from which they would eventually be airlifted to Israel. Then I will take a return flight to Addis Ababa and meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi at his office and have dinner with Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia Yaacov Amitai. On the final leg of the trip I will get to witness the final “farewells” of the Olim to their families and travel with them to the airport.

That’s a lot to do in 48 hours…I am so excited I can’t even tell you. I will have pics and a full report when I return. Wish the white, blond Ashkenazi girl luck! I’m gonna need it.

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  • Hi Jewlicious, delicious:

    Thanks for this post.

    I wish you all the best during your stay in this mystyrious land of Ethiopia.

    Once in the synagogue, please say the “Shema” not only in Hebrew, but in Amharic.

    Also, please ask the Prime Minister tough questions (his answers can be predicted though as he is witty and knows what to say).

    Use the opportunity of meeting decision makers to the advantage of Ethiopians, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

    I hope that your high profile meeting will not turn into another social club, as most journalist turn out to be once in Ethiopia.

    Todah Rabah!

  • Make sure you bring home all the Mahmoud Ahmed records you can get your hands on.

  • I thought for a minute there you said “Make sure you bring home all the Mahmoud Abbas records you can get your hands on”.

    And I’m, like, what has he recorded lately? I thought he got kicked out of the band.

  • Something stinks “colonialism” with these operations with comments about africa like “a journey into the heart of darkness” (sounds like if you had more than 48 hours it it would be). I myself have been in Gondar and to these villages where people just sit and wait to come to Israel. I´ve also meet them in Israel where they struggle with racism and other modern problems and dream back of Ethiopia.

    Meanwhile the open boarders of Israel stops refugees from another genocide – Dafur.

    Again, it stinks…
    But Ethiopia will embrace you in it´s beautiful darkness. Share that when u come home…

  • she said “hardly a journey into the heart of darknes.” problems or no problems in Israel, you’d have to be delusional to want to go back to Ethiopia once you’ve been to Israel.

  • why at all mention africa in terms of “heart of darkness”? you put the emphaces on “hardly” I at “48 hours in Ethiopia”. It to me sound that if she only had some more time… to really get into the “heart of darkness”…

    Tell me why wouldn´t anyone want to go back to Ethiopia once visited Israel? Or does Israel have a magical air to it that blocks longing back to native countries? I been to both countries +30 more and I would choose Ethiopia over Israel anytime! And I am not at all delusional…

    What ever “modernisation” Israel got to offer in one hand it´s also a very racist country internally and externally on the other hand. suddenly they are not only “jews” they are “black jews”. surly even a “creative zionist” acknowledge that problem which many falashas have had and have to intergrate into Israel. And they are also “occupiers” and therefor inheritage a new enemy which they prior don´t have a history with.
    (I got a great film to recommend regarding falashas in Israel – that is if you want to stop being delusional their situation in Israel)

    What Ethiopia has in plenty Israel lacks the same amount of. What ever Israel got in plenty Ethiopia is better without!


  • there = heart of darkness?

    as all immegrants and especially the falashas they have invested enormously in a future in Israel. have they returned? no. will they when they start to get more money? proberbly… but one thing is a physical returning another one is the mental… ”next year in gondar”.

    Are they really Israelis from Ethiopia? I thought they were jews from Ethiopia that after long waiting and struggle became Israelis.

    = Ethiopian born Israelis or Israelis born in Ethiopia sounds more what they are.

  • For crying out loud maria. “Heart of Darkness” is a literary reference. I know you’re not a native English speaker, but it refers to the title of a novel by Joseph Conrad about a journey into the Congo. Now, if you read the book and discern the themes, you’ll note that it criticizes the notion of Western Victorian culture as enlightened and dark, African culture as barbaric. It’s a critique of th West. Talk about nuance, huh? So now go. Read a fucking book.

    There are plenty of Ethiopians who now have the means to return to Ethiopia. None of them do.

  • hi ck,

    oh, sorry. so it´s only a literary refrence and not a symbolic colonial reference of africa. that´s so wrong of me and apperently others… say, where do you think that title comes from?

    “Africa was known as “The Dark Continent” in the Victorian Era with all the negative attributes of darkness attributed to the Africans by Europeans. ”

    “ne of the possible influences for the Kurtz character was Henry Morton Stanley of “Dr. Livingston, I presume” fame, as he was a principal explorer of “The Dark Heart Of Africa”, particularly the Congo. ”

    by the way, nowhere in the book does it say it´s in congo but believed to be so because the story is situated around a belgian trading company. just to get literary reference straight.

    you are right. and wrong. it´s a symbolic story and a critique of th West but in a very “whitness” way since it totally “de-humanised Africans, denied them language and culture, and reduced them to a metaphorical extension of the dark and dangerous jungle into which the Europeans venture”. so it´s a critque of europes enterprise but never an acknowledgment of Africa or africans. If u want to talk about nunance that is…

    now ck, as a none-native english speaker where should I go? and what “fucking book” should I read? huh=

    oh yes, there are plenty of ethiopians returning. by numbers. how little u know… that´s a sociological phenomen and maybe a book that u should read. it would however contain no “fucking” though…

    plz, do have any ref reg. your claim that ethiopians in Israel (or more israeli ethiopians) have means! links? refs? statistic? anything… If that is the case I really need to update myself since I thought they were the lowest class with the shitjobs in Israel (after the palestinias). they are even a twisted subject for blood donation.

    now go and have a nice day ck. read some books and if u manage to get around to it, try some excellent ethiopian food…

    : m

  • I believe that all CK’s point was, is that there is a reason that Ethiopian Jews go to Israel in the first place…namely that they have faced a long history of oppression and persecution in Ethiopia. And of course there is much work to be done for Ethiopians in Israel, but CK’s point is that there is an inherent difference between social inequality (which exists in ALL societies) and the type of inherent cultural oppression that happens to Jews in Ethiopia.

    And also, the “heart of darkness” comment was definitely meant in a sarcastic way. I think that really comes through in Leah’s post. There are much bigger fish to fry Maria, try to avoid attacking those who clearly have the best of motivations.

  • You’re right Maria in that conditions Ethiopian Jews faced in Israel after Operations Moses, Sheba and to a lesser extent Solomon were imperfect. And yes, there has been and probably always will be forms of racism in Israel. And the US. And Sweden, where I’ve had the Seig Heil thrown in my face. It’s part and parcel of living in a multi-cultural society. Funny, something that Israel, Canadian and the US has been dealing with since the beginning but something that many European/Scandanavian countries are just starting to come to grips with.

    In your comments here and in your website you claim Israel doesn’t accept criticism; that same shortsighted notion that’s sweeping American and European academia and former American Presidents that Israel’s the neighborhood bully who cries whenever anyone suggests it is. You claim Israel’s undemocratic – from your website: “Regarding the “democracy” it´s as week it can get and still get away with that lable.” (orig. spelling.)

    You have a strange and obviously biased assumption that Israel views itself as a moral utopia, that it views itself as one mind and body, that there is no internal debate about the very issues you seem to have boiled down into a neat broth palatable to your preconceptions. The standards you hold Israel to are unrealistic standards that reveal the internal and sublime anti-Israel bias common with so many young newly-educated liberals. Your so-called worldliness is admirable, but reading and traveling doesn’t mean bupkis until you’re able to see what’s around you without the tint you’ve chosen for your glasses. You’re a world traveler but you still have so much to learn about the world. Give it time and maturity, it comes to all of us.

    Now, having got that off my chest, I’m very much looking forward to Leah’s reports and fotos and, for gosh sakes gal, can’t you find a roadie? That’s so DIY/Jamming Econo hauling all that gear yourself.

  • Hi adam,

    Hmm… this is very intresting… How did u come to the solutions of what ck´s points are out of her comments here on the blog?! Nowhere in the above comments does she at all mention or touch upon the ” oppression and persecution in Ethiopia” of falashas in Ethiopia aso. And she certainly dosen´t touch the topic of ”inherent difference between social inequality”… But maybe it´s ”the none-native english speaker” in me that can´s read inbetween, under, over these lines. But seriously tell me how you interpretation below statements. Cause for me
    your comments sound more like you rush to her defence and add your interpretation and argumentations, so why hide them under “believe”?

    ” problems or no problems in Israel, you’d have to be delusional to want to go back to Ethiopia once you’ve been to Israel.

    ”There are plenty of Ethiopians who now have the means to return to Ethiopia. None of them do.”

    As you proberbly know Adam, sarcasm is not and can not be taken for granted. Using ”Definitely” works as doorcloser for other opinions and interpretations. Even ck didn´t see that ”definitly” sarcasm shin through (that is if she didn´t say that between/under/over the lines again). And for me it´s still a narrow minded term from a very rasist european periode and paradigm. That feeling and opinion dont need any lecturing, nursing or directing so try to aviod that in in your future Adam = Let me ”pick” my own fish as I let you pick your fishes to save/eat/stuff.

    But I totally argee with you on one thing – there are a lot of big fish to fry! The idea of social diffrences must be one of the biggest, sadest and ugyliest.


  • oh adam,

    could you do me a favour? u seem to be very good at interpretate Ck “loud and clear” so plz tell me what is Ck´s point of following comment: “So now go. Read a fucking book”?


  • Hi Ramos,
    In which way have those ”imperfect” conditions stoped to exist for ethiopian jews in Israel today? Acknowledging racism is the first big step, the other must be of ”zerovision” of that occuring at all. In every country.
    How did you get ”seig heil” thrown into your face in Sweden? Sounds scary. I myself have been to several antidemonstration and never got that and I am black but I have had friends that have had the same experiance as you. Unfortunally. However I get the usual ”nigger” wordings thrown into my face here in Sweden. And in Israel but then it was the phrase ”arab” instead.
    You know what´s even more funnier Ramos – that you manage to cluster Sweden and Europé with Us, Canada and Israel in apolitical and ahistorical linking. Surly the multi-cultural societies of immegrant (colonial) countries as ”Israel and US” differs some from that of the ”old” countries? Who immegrated to which country from where aso… That could also explain the ”just starting” process in the Scandinavian countries. I myself am a part of that multi-cultural process in Scandiavia (my mom is finish) so I have first hand experiance of it not only from text.
    Ramso, where exactly in my comments on this blog do I ”claim” that Israel dosen´t accept criticim? We have been ”talking” about Ethiopian jews in Israel and about Ethiopia and Israel in general, haven’t we? Again if not please point that part out for me.
    By the way, what´s your point?! Cause you just confirmed my view that Israel dosen´t accept criticism by straight running to it´s defense and labeling (and polorazing) my opinion as ”shortsighted notion”. Gee, that´s very open minded of you Ramos and what a great why of labeling persons in discussions in an attempt to weeken their credibility. But for a constructive ” (oops what goes around…) way of conduct which puts a light on the purpose – no criticism of Israel is allowed. Thanks for making that chain of intend very clear again.

    Bytheway, I do flatter myself to find Jimmy Carter on this side of that line and as you know fighting for justice and human rights can and should never be wrong. But hey, don´t take a ”shortsighted notion” european liberal person like me for that, here´s view from an orthodox jew.

    Please don´t state my claims for me but be specific about what you interprete as a claim however badly spelled it might be. Israel is a very weak “democracy” and qualifies more as etnocracy. I think so. I´ve read so. I have understand it so. I have myself experienced so. I wrote a paper on it. And so have many others tell me if u need some refs?. Now let´s talk about your claim of me having ”a strange and obviousely biased assumption”. Oh, I really can´t be bothered with your claim… it´s actually just rethoric tatic and all such strategies are very boring. Again, number one tactic – no critique of Israel and if they do appear label them as ”strange and obviously biased assuption of Israel”. What´s your assumption of Israel? Or Finkelstein “lost” tenture? The wall? The water situation? The building in east Jerusalem and in the westbank?

    Are you a schrink? How do you know that I am at all what you cluster me to be? ” young newly-educated liberals”? And if you are, than you need to hit the books again…

    What makes my ”worldliness” just qualify as ”so called” in your eyes Ramos? That would be a great insight of how you structure your categories and labels. I actually agree upon that reading and traveling dosent mean bupkis cause there are so many things one can read and so many ways of travelling. I betya that we don´t read the same books (just get that feeling). But I would never and have never said that I know everything about the world eventhough I have lived a year in Canada, Argentina, Ethiopia and Austria and spend months in Bolivia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Beligum, Finland and Israel. Or spend 3 years backpackin and speak six languages. Not eventhough I study social anthropology, gender studies and international relations I would or can claim that. However I do find that you need so much more maturity to do than me in this subject (world). And actually beeing a world traveler with postcolonial glasses do help shit loads – maybe you should try that. If you find the time that is but as you state yourself ”give it time and mature” so it will come you to. Aswell.
    And so finally Ramos, your displayed rethoric is saddening. Instead of talking about what we are talking about on this blog you ”pick” stuff from another context (my shared blog with Saul) and go judgemental on my person and opinions. Why? Cause you need to unload your chest? Couldn´t u just shave it in the morning? Or is it because I have a diffrent opinion on Israel?

    Lala Tov.

    : m

  • Maria, sorry but it’s going to take me a bit of time to absorb your entire comment. But after a brief scan I’d like to make a couple points: First, sorry if you took my criticism so personally. I don’t know you I assume you are genuine in your belief that that this world can be a better place than it is. I’m afraid, however, that if you are going to either blog or comment on other blogs you need to be willing to take criticism as well as give it out. I try not to use the same language ck does when he gets riled up (unless you’re a troll or anti-semite) just for that reason – to show that we’re discussing issues here, not trying hurt each other’s feelings.

    As far as running to Israel’s defense, when it comes to the issues of racism and especially the Falashas I’ve been critical of Israel’s treatment of the Falashas since Operation Sheba. Especially regarding the Rabinate’s declaration that the Falashas had to “reconvert” to Judaism in order to fulfill the Law of Return. In fact, the first two pieces I ever had published were criticisms of the treatment of Falashas after Sheba and the Rabbinate’s influence over the Law Of Return in general.

    There are other areas where I’m sure we both disagree with Israeli policy. The wall, the economic policies in the territories and other tactical policies Israel has taken both vis a vis the Palestinians and in international politics in general. And so on. So my saddening rhetoric as you call it isn’t directed towards you or how smart or well-read you are – it’s simply directed at the standard that you hold Israeli society up to. As I said, or meant to say above, it’s a standard defined by your mindset that Israel, since it’s creation, is somehow involved in some clever and self-serving game of deceiving the rest of the world for it’s own nefarious purpose. To use your words when attacking those who defend Israel, “This is cleverly done and practised all the time and by getting away with it Israel is itself practising double moral. For surley no other country can do what Israel is doing and have been doing since 1948: stealing land & water, distroying palestinan fabric, emposing apartheid, building a wall and bantus and always blaming the victim aso…”

    You can understand why maybe some of us feel the need to chime in when we read thoughts like this. I had to put on Dylan’s “Neighborhood Bully” just to get my mind around your David and Goliath analogy. By assessing Israel’s validity with the mindset that the Palestinians do not share responsibility for their own situation – let me stress that I said “share” rather than “cause” – you neatly put two societies into the easy-to-comprehend position of oppressor and oppressed. Or am I misreading your David and Goliath analogy?

    As far as whether or not Israel is a true democracy, please take a closer look at the history and structure of Israeli politics. For better or worse, Israeli is as much an example of the European-style Parliamentary system as any European country. (Although that changed in modern times in regards to the the Presidential elections.) Do you really not see the scope and intensity of internal debate within Israeli politics and society? Being blind to that is why some of us come running to Israel’s defense when we read something like:

    “Regarding the “democracy” it´s as week it can get and still get away with that lable. I wrote a paper on this and it´s amazingly intresting how smart the other system behind the”democracy” face works.”

    I’m not sure what you wrote in your paper, but I wonder if you’ve ever seen, either on film or in person, a Knesset debate? Or know of any democratic election that ended in the two opposing parties having to take turns holding the Prime Ministership?

    Yes, Maria, you lump an entire country, it’s purpose and it’s people, into a neat little package to make it easier to understand. I don’t blame you, you’re not alone out there. You can only learn what is taught to you and with what materials at your disposal. So when you talk about Sharon and Sabra but not once mention Barak and the double-cross at Sharm Al Sheik, I put that down to it simply not having been discussed in your classes or a part of your reading. I’m not sure if you’re old enough to remember Sharm Al Sheik, but some of us still remember that little taste of peace, of a Palestinian state side by side with Israel in my lifetime. Only to be sabatoged – and against the wishes of Egypt and Jordan – by Arafat’s fear of losing power. And by saying that, don’t think I’m not incurring the wrath of fellow Jews and supporters of Israel.

    I’m not going to answer to your little digs about my chest hair (of which I have plenty), or the fact that you’ve been to countries I haven’t (btw, the seig heil happened at a music festival in Ostersund, which as you know is a gorgeous city). Yes, I only speak two languages to your six and yes, I’m very grateful when I travel throughout Europe that English is widely spoken. I’m not going to get into a pissing match about who’s more well-read or who’s met more people from more cultures. For the sake of the discussion let’s say you are.

    And I apologize if I clustered you in with the majority of European students I’ve encountered on my travels. I’m still taken aback by the vehement anti-Israel sentiment at a student anti-war demonstration I happened upon in Helsinki a few years ago. Although I don’t speak Finnish it was all very clear. For other thoughts on anti-semitism in academia you can search through here and find some good posts by Rabbi Yonah re: Cal Irvine. I think we have a right to be touchy these days about the bias in worldwide academia these days. But please, if you’re not one of those people, please accept my apologies.

    I will, however, again stress that books, travel, classes, movies, doctorate theses and the such do not complete a person’s intelligence. Maturity and the experience that comes with time and age do. With most so-called educated people I know, the older we get the more our minds open to different sides of the issue and, hopefully, the idea that our preconceptions may not be wholly accurate.

    While we’re all subject to some degree of bias, do you really want me to believe your assessment of Israel is unbiased? Or is based on your studies, facts and history? Which, as we all know these days, are far from biased.

    And finally, Maria, I’m familiar with Dan and his blogs. That’s how I found my way to Jewlicious. Yom Tov, paz y amor – r.

  • Hola Ramos,

    Me encanta tu posting.
    Let me adress it in two parts. This part I would like You adress thoses questions that I wrote in the posting:

    – ”Where exactly in my comments on this blog do I ”claim” that Israel dosen´t accept criticim? We have been ”talking” about Ethiopian jews in Israel and about Ethiopia and Israel in general, haven’t we? Again if not please point that part out for me.”

    -” Instead of talking about what we are talking about on this blog you ”pick” stuff from another context (my shared blog with Saul) and go judgemental on my person and opinions. Why?”

    – ”Are you a schrink?”

    – ”What makes my ”worldliness” just qualify as ”so called” in your eyes Ramos?”

    Just to get things correct.
    Now I get some breakfast and attend to your posting.

    amor y libertad

    : m

  • Hi Ramos,

    What a change of tone and sturcture in this posting! Love it. I feel that we suddenly have a dialogue. Why u didnt try to adress me and my opinions on http://rehelpmeout.blogspot.com/ is for me still a riddle though…

    Let me first adress your posting generally. Yes you dont know me and in some situations that should work out for my benefit right? I don´t know you and I will try to give you the posibility to be who ever you want in this dialogue without labeling you and your opinions in ”right/wrong” way.

    I have the sense that You are fully capable of gear up/down your rethorics and you are so much better than me in formulating your opinions hence the difference from one posting to another. Your criticism were personal. Otherwise you would have stated them diffrently, stuck to this blog´s topic and not bring in my person, clustered me, my country, my history (travelling) aso.
    Ramos, dont be afraid I have no problem with criticism and this is not the first blog that I comment. But u puzzle me, why wouldn´t I want to be willing to take criticism? I too criticis = It´s a two way process or more should be and the greatest way to learn and improve your arguments. Otherwise I would never have gotten into the dialogue with Saul. Or you. But surly there are better ways to be critical and worse – assuming, claiming for the other, clustering, getting personal, using fallasies, beeing off topic, not back up statements, using ”fucking” qualify in my world to the latter category…
    Ramoz por favor, help me to get better on this point! Exactly how do you feel /experiance that I am not (from above comments) ”willing to take criticism”?

    And no I am not a troll or an anti-semite. I have nothing against jews, arabs and other semite people or any people for that matter. I will take the fight anywhere against rasism and hatred. Are you a troll and rasist?

    Sorry, you left no link or references of what you have written and I´m not to goggle you so plz send me your publications on the Falashas. I would love to read those. You seem to be a person that is updated on this issue so you could answer my prior question,

    – ”In which way have those ”imperfect” conditions stoped to exist for ethiopian jews in Israel today”?

    Now to the core issues.

    > ” the standard that you hold Israeli society up to” is the standard I uphold every country. I do not only criticis Israel (ask me about US or Sweden) and I certainly do not hold Israel to other standards. By the way my standards cant be credited to my since they are based on international agreed upon ”standards” like International law, UN Declerations, Human rights, International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, FN 1947 Partitions Plan, Geneve bills of rights, Basic Law aso…


    That´s funny I don´t see the dialogue I have with Saul as an ”attack” but an exchange on opinions and experiance from the Israel conflict. And I surely hope that he dose that aswell. So when u say this ” To use your words when attacking those who defend Israel” and refer to that context I wonder which tinted biased glasses your are wearing Ramos? Have they any blind or biased spots? Regarding my ”attack” or opinion I stand corrected and not alone. Have you read Davis, Uri, ”Apartheid Israel – possiblities for the struggle within”, Zed Books Ltd, 2003 or Finkelstein, Norman G, ”Image and reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict”, Verso, 2001?

    I can understand that many (pro) Israelies and others feel the need to chime when presented this kind of arguments and facts. Chime away but if you do it constructivly there might acctually be some worth in the intersection of views, ideas and changes. Don´t you agree?

    > Yes your are misreading my David and Goliath analogy with Saul. To make it short it not Israel that is ”the David” in reality but keeps that position in it´s the rethoric. (Why o why don´t you comment that in the right context???)

    Ramos, what´s your definition of democracy? There are intese internal debate within Cuban politics and society and I betya you would never claim it to be democracy or relevant in a democracy discussion. For me democracy is more than ”voting” and intense debates in parlament – it´s about democracy institutions, representations, equal posibilities and distrubution for all within the system. Now out of those criterias maybe ”my democracy scope” broaden a bit than naming another democratic election that ended in the two opposing parties having to take turns holding the Prime Ministership (that´s more a local outcome of the Israel political representational system)?
    – Can you name another democracy that have elected president (Sharon) linked with massmurder? Or approved a minster that was convicted of sexual misconduct to deputy prime minister (Haim Ramon)?

    Don´t assume that it´s out of ignorance that one thinks that Israel is a weak democracy – it might as well be out of facts and experiance. It gets so much more intresting that way…
    And the real Israel ”democracy” question how it´s posible to combinde a democracy with a policies of etnical character in the state. And that lifecycle vital events like marriaging, death and divorce are run by religouse (ortodox) courts (see Jurisdiction of Rabbinical Courts (Marriage and Divorcee) Law 1953).

    > Ramos, reducing the world into understandable parameters is a very human thing. I myself have been and lived in Israel and have Israeli friends (it´s true) so my lumping of an entire country into one is a bit lumping my into that kind of person. Wait, You can learn from so many things more than only what is taught to you and your material to your disposal! Really is´t that way BBC online is getting a much more wider audiance in US? It´s by interacting, seeking, asking, reading other books/newspapers and researching that one gets a bit more nuanced picture. I do that I a totally recommend it!
    And yes I can and will talk about Sabra, Israel and Sharon specificly without broaden the scope. Not everything is a comparehensive study and as well I really don´t think it will work out for the benefit for Israel at all. On the contrary…

    ”And by saying that, don’t think I’m not incurring the wrath of fellow Jews and supporters of Israel”. How could I since I don´t know u?

    You must have misread me. My point is that I would and can´t never claim that my travelling experiance etc makes me ”worldliness”. You adress it by saying that my ”so-called” worldliness lacked time and maturity. Its not a competition and since I haven´t used my ”worldiness” experiance in our discussion as a CV or reference to keep you down why at all bring them up? They are not relevant for this sake of discussion.

    Funny, half of my relatives are fom Finland and they are all super ProIsrael as many are christian zionists. I myself get very glad to here that there are other opinions about Israel in Finland. That gives me hope for that country and the Palestines. Regarding your feelings of the vehement anti-Israeli sentiment at the demonstration how would you orchestraed a demonstration and it´s participants feelings (that made them come out in a quite calm country as Finland) that is such a blunt tool for land theaft and seperation? My point here is that it´s should not be up to a person of ”the other opinion” to determine how a demonstration should be conducted. And by saying that, don´t think I endorse rasist or other shit expressions that damage people and property in demonstrations.

    I would love to read some of thosse thoughts on anti-semitism in the academia. And I would like to hear your comments on the Finkelstein lost tenure and the impact that proIsraeli lobbyism have on the academia in Us.


    Have I ever hid my assessments of Israel? I try to verify my opinions with own experiance, reports, articals, facts. Dose that make me biased. Yes. My studies in Sweden are not biased since we actually don´t have adressed the conflict at all either in my International Studies or my Arabworldstudies. On the contrary Sweden as many European countries (except of Norway) is pro Israel in my opinion. I myself have out of my personal fight for justice taken up that thread. No seeing is neutral Ramos. No social situation or history for that matter. Which includes all of us. The intresting thing is how we deal with that fact and try to make a progress together inspite of the diffrences…

    Now I really need to do some own progess to today.
    There is no sunshine in Sweden but a latte is always right.

    justica y amistad

    : m

  • Maria writes:

    “There are intese internal debate within Cuban politics and society and I betya you would never claim it to be democracy or relevant in a democracy discussion. For me democracy is more than ”voting” and intense debates in parlament – it´s about democracy institutions, representations, equal posibilities and distrubution for all within the system.”

    Well, Israel does have democratic institutions including parliament, free trade unions and a free press as well as a variety of NGOs, etc. etc. etc. In short, Israel has all the institutions of a democratic system.

    As far as “equal distribution” that sounds like socialism. Not that socialism and democracy are absolutely incompatible but equal distribution is not a qualification for democracy.

    Similarly with equal possibilities. In a pluralistic democratic system there should be a desire to provide an equality of *opportunity* but not an equality of outcome, or possibility, simply because there is a great diversity in the aptitudes, abilities, and creativity of people. You will inevitably stifle greatness and creativity when you try to equalize outcomes. Edgar Z. Friedenberg addresses this in “The Disposal of Liberty and Other Industrial Wastes.”

    And, given that self-interest guides so much of human activity, it’s a mistake to impede that self-interest in the name of equality. People have been writing about this since Mandeville’s “Fable of the Bees” (1705), if not before. Mandeville’s thesis is social welfare, social progress, social riches and social benefits are all based on what he would call “the human vices.” People work out of greed, are polite out of self-interest and hypocrisy, keep the law from cowardice, etc. Not the most noble view of human nature but I think one with much validity. Also have a look at Mancur Olson’s “Logic of Collective Action.”

    Lastly, the internal political debates in Cuba are hardly intense, at least at the level of actual government. In terms of the people, yes, there is a wide range of opinion but this is not represented or reflected in a single-party state like Cuba:

    “Fidel, we only produced 100 tons of sugar this quarter…”

    “What El Jefe? You say we produced 200 tons? Sí señor! 200 tons it is!”

  • Maria – the high/low gears of my comments (I realize now that your referring to them as “rhetoric” is not a negative) are usually due to the amount of time I have to put into formulating them. I pointed that I don’t consider you a troll or anti-semite. Only that your mindset regarding Israel and Palestinians is narrow and biased.

    I don’t have the time to get more into about Finkelstein and other specific issues at this time. As far as what’s going on in academia these days regarding Israeli/Palestinian issues it’s discussed quite a bit here. Again, do a search on Rabbi Yonah’s posts on Cal-Irvine. And if it’s still up listen to his radio interview on the subject.

    Many war criminals have been democratically elected. A couple of US Presidents and Sharon and Haniyeh to name a few. Personally I feel Sharon got off easy. But do not for a second diminish the openness of Israeli democracy. For better or worse. There is nothing resembling democracy or internal debate in Cuba. Definitely not on an official level and any coffeeshop debate is whispered at best. Go ahead and tell me you’ve been there and have seen otherwise.

    I don’t see your dialogue with Saul as an attack on Saul. Only that it exposes what I consider to be a narrow mindset on your view towards Israel and the Palestinians. So far you haven’t to changed my opinion.

    Also, I’m very impressed with your wealth of knowledge and research. What I find disturbing is the way you disseminate all of it to fit into a neat package of who’s right and who’s wrong. Everyone does it, especially when we hit university and are suddenly exposed to so much knowledge and research that it’s almost impossible to disseminate it. Much of my studies are maybe dated, but dated in the sense that history teaches us about the present. Like I said I’m not going to get into a “who’s more well-read” pissing match one “old” book I may throw your way as being fairly balanced was Faoud Ajami’s “Understanding The Arab Predicament”.

    The issues I have with anti-Israel sentiment in Scandanavian/European countries are not with their governments or the general culture and society – only what’s going on in the more radical youth culture and especially in the universities.

    My reference to your worldliness as “so-called” may have sounded callow but the point is made. You (and not just you) tend to use your extensive travels and studies to prove you have a greater understanding of international politics than those who don’t travel. It’s good to get around and see things firsthand. But knowledge is one thing; how you contexualize it is another. So again, I disagree with you. Any discussion of this region has to made in a greater context. It’s not as much fun, it’s a big headache but it’s necessary.

    As far as the David and Goliath analogy and whether Israelis are able to allow for criticism, it seems to me that you’re accusing Israelis and Jews (or just that lobby you’re referring to?) of pulling out the “David” card and the “semite” card to defend themselves. to show Israel has no right to pull out the “David” card as it does.

    Anyways, I went back and read my original comments and I don’t understand why you took them so personally. I wrote:

    “The standards you hold Israel to are unrealistic standards that reveal the internal and sublime anti-Israel bias common with so many young newly-educated liberals.”

    I’m not sure why you take that so personal. Or did you take it as condescending?

    Just so you know I’m not an apologist for Israel, even if it is a tiny country surrounded by enemies who carry a hatred so deep people like you and I have a hard time fathoming it. Would you take it personally if I asked you if you were an apologist for the Palestinians? Do or don’t you see their share of responsibility for the situation? It’s a fair question I think. Todo somos personas que esperando la paz.

  • While Conrad did, indeed, write ‘Heart of Darkness’, his inspiration for the title came from a journal entry about Roger Casement. Conrad wrote admiringly of observing Casement, a British human-rights activist, of setting off into an impenetrable darkness in the Congo to investigate Belgian human rights abuses there. Of course, the ‘darkness’ Casement found involved Belgian exploitation of the Congolese.
    Britain later arrested Casement for pro-Irish activism during WWI, and tried and executed him.

    WG Sebald’s masterpiece ‘The Rings of Saturn’ contains an inspired treatment of Casement’s story.

  • Tom, you are amazing. And I thought you were just about the jazz 🙂

    In fact Casement comes up quite a bit in Conrad’s journals, either by name or referred to as “The British Counsel”. And it should be noted that when Conrad met him, Casement was working for a British commercial firm (i.e. ivory). It was years later when he was named British Counsel that he began investigating Belgian human rights abuses – in his official capacity as Counsel rather than as an independent activist. And he was knighted by the very Crown that hanged him.

    (Source: The horribly dense compilation by Richard Kimbrough of text and criticisms I was forced to read in college. Talk about taking the fun out of learning!!)

  • Hi WEVS1,

    Yes it´s right Israel have all those democratic institutions. But Israeli democracy is a facade for “Jewish Democracy. Israel issues national identify cards where the religion of the card holder is clearly shown in bold type. The only form of Judaism recognized by the “Jewish state” is Orthodox Judaism, so most US Jews could not get married in Israel. Again, marriage, funeral and divorce is subjected to religious courts which is not combinable with secular democratic system. In short, Israel might have all the institutions of a democratic system but how can it be democratic when it favours an ethnical identity over others, institutionalizes legal and societal discrimination against Israel’s Christian, Muslim and Druze citizens, franchises away land property issues to Zionist organisations and hosts an occupation that is not temporary, nor is the current nature of the state (just to mention some few points)? Another shocking example of “democratic crisis” is the army’s disregard of court decisions regarding the route of the separation fence. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/861882.html

    I love the way that you jumped at “equal distribution” and immediately connects it with socialism. It reminds me of an North American that first thought we in Sweden were so socialist because the governments provide so many things for us and then just loved it (he is still around)

    “You will inevitably stifle greatness and creativity when you try to equalize outcomes”.

    On the contrary what you get is more social harmony, equal social opportunities and a society which an understanding for the individual and not only the money. Regarding the creativity it can also support that in different ways by offering investment and financial support. I think Sweden is great and has received greatness in so many ways “in spite” of it being a small country with a version of “equality distribution” policy. = Don’t believe the hype!

    Anyway, with ”equal distribution” I meant the distribution of government money and focus in a society. The Israeli government does not provide Israeli Arabs with the same quality of education, housing, employment and social services as Jews. Government budgets allocate far more money for the Jewish schools. Yes the Palestinian citizens of Israel have the vote and are represented in the Knesset but that doesn’t mean that there is no racial or ethnic discrimination in Israel. It’s the institutional racism that keeps Palestinian Israelis in perpetual second-class citizenship. The preferential treatment of Jews over Arabs can be seen and smelled everywhere. Surely ”equal distribution” must be a democratic qualification if not even a fundament for it´s legitimate?

    Regarding the socialism red alert flag, without the kibbutz socialism Israel would never have survived.

    Finally, regarding your Cuban comments I find it as amusing as with the jump to “equal distribution”. Reducing a political system into comments like “Cuba are hardly intense, at least at the level of actual government” don’t really say anything more that that it follows a paradigm of old US hegemony. Just hope you are not a teacher or somebody in a position to spread such simplistic recap of other realities…

    Now let´s see how your two line joke could look from another point of reduction and play with sterotypes:

    “Bush, today we killed 2 Talibans, 31 civilians, wrote another 30 year oil contract, tortured around 12 in secret prisoners and used our veto for our friend and ally Israel…”

    “What Boss? We should expand operation “democracy & freedom” to the whole world and call the invasion of Iraq a victory? Yes sir! American fries with your hamburger is coming right up!”

    And no, I am not a teacher…

  • Maria,

    I suggest you read Irshad Manji’s chapter about her trip to Israel in “The Trouble With Islam” it offers a nuanced explanation of precisely why it is ok that Israel is a Jewish state in character; essentially that it is an example of affirmative action for a people who have been oppressed and denied self-determination worldwide. And in any affirmative action system, differentiations are made. So yes, one has an advantage as a Jew (I can make aliyah no questions answered), however all other people are ALSO guaranteed equal rights and equal protection under the law. And when transgressions are made, the law protects those who are wronged…and since it is a democracy human rights organizations monitor the government and such. Imperfect? Sure…but so is every single possible political system.

    PS, you are wrong about marriage…the government makes policy surrounding all of these fundamental issues. Yes there are religious interests that have power (perhaps too much influence, particularly in regards to issues of defining who is and who isn’t Jewish) but in the end all of those institutions are democratically controlled and monitored. How else could Israel offer equal standing to domestic (including gay and lesbian) partnerships?

    For someone who tauts the transformative power of governmental policy, perhaps you shouldn’t have a problem with such a notion?

  • ramon, thanks for the further background re Roger Casement. If you haven’t already gotten to it, check out at least the Casement/Conrad chapter in ‘Rings of Saturn’ (the rest of the book is powerful, too).

  • Adam,

    Adam really, do you suggest that all jews that move to Israel does so outof oppression and denied self-determination worldwide? What´s then up with all those jews that doesn´t move to Israel at all?? Do you live in Israel? And if it´s peace and a new life one wants as a jew then Israel surley is one of the most unsafest place for a jew?

    Sorry, Adam. It´s never ok for one etnical group to put themselves over another for whatever reason. Israel should not have an exception to that – on the contrary when you reflect on the EUROPEAN jewish history and the fact that the state got it´s premission to be created as a nation for all. You might say that the system that favours one ethnical group and has a punishment for pretending to be of that group will ALSO guarantee equal rights aso and really believe it.
    For me it´s not about an imperfect system like in every other political system – its about a designed system with a clear purpose called Apartheid or Etnocracy.

    Now I have some excellent litt. to suggest for you where the UN Apartheid comission is the best start. I will read your suggestion if you read mine.

    Plz, could you mail me ref/links to these goverment policys surrounding marriage.

    One thing dosen´t have to mean another Adam. Sweden is suppose to be one of the countries that have achived most equality between the sex and still men earns more than women out of no other reason than gender. And we are an acting democracy not only monitored.

    How can Israel charish and uphold the memory of the holocaust and say “never again” and refuse to open up a habour for people for another holocaust ? A country that was created because of a holocaus and history of oppression refuses others – For someone that defends Israel and at the same time markes himself to be a leftist – Do you have a problem with that notion?

    “Prof. Auron pointed out two lessons that can be taken from the Holocaust, both very different in essence: “There are those Israelis, or Jews who say ‘never again’ and there are those who say ‘never again to us.'”


  • Oh my god. We started with claims about Ethiopian Jews and now we’re down to apartheid. In the middle we had the “it’s not a real democracy” and “ethnography” speeches thrown in.

    Hey Maria, I know you’re on Jewlicious, but how about you take a break from Israel for a moment. Why don’t you tell us your thoughts about Ethiopia? You think it’s superior to Israel. When you’re done, can you please speak about Saudi Arabia and Iran? Then, when you are done with those, why don’t you lecture us a little about modern Russia or China? When you are done applying the same standards to those nations as you have to Israel, we can discuss Israel. I have a feeling Israel will perfrorm well against those competitors and then we can start discussing Israel’s performance in democracy and ethnic rights against Sweden, Holland or Germany which haven’t known war for 60 years but are definitely beginning to react to “ethnographic” concerns.

  • We’ve already been through this middle – Maria doesn’t feel the need to contextualize:

    “And yes I can and will talk about Sabra, Israel and Sharon specificly without broaden the scope. Not everything is a comparehensive study and as well I really don´t think it will work out for the benefit for Israel at all. On the contrary…”

    It’s just a little difference opinion she and I have.

  • Thanks, except for the typo and lack of grammar. And I’d love to be a diplomat. Do they still that thing called “a background check” before you can become one? Because if not I’m in.

    So when’s Leah begin her reportaging?

  • Oh my god, ”the middle”, check out the thread and you will see (hopefully)
    why ”we” ended up in apartheid. Ramos was the one that departed from the Ethiopia thread. Sorry, didn´t know I were holding speeches. If so I would definently made a much better analyze of my audiance and arguments.

    Really, i´m not ”on” Jewlicious. I happend to stumble on the post on Ethiopia. Yes, I´ve checked it out and it seems really like a ”ongoing” site with many good writers on it. I am not here to pick a fight, hold speeches nor do I need promote the idea of Israel beeing an apartheid state as it, for me & others, manifests itself as one every day.

    So ”the middle” why do I need to take a brake from Israel? Who are you imposing such a brake on me anyway? We are having a discussion about Israel that have been going on for days and during those days I have been fully occupied with other stuff (dont worry). So I do take long brakes from talking/discussing about ”aparthied, ethnography”, sadly Israel dosen´t stop practising it…

    It´s funny how you need to tell me what to talk about as if what we talked about wasn´t ”kosher” (a slang I use) enough. Am I totally out of line? Are you home land security? And u don´t stop do you, but you have to put words in for me…

    ” You think it’s superior to Israel”. It beeing Ethiopia. Plz tell me exactly how I think Ethiopia is superior to Israel?

    I would love to talk about the colonial history that Saudi Arabia and Israel shares as well with the military and political upbacking no matter human rights, international law or democracy from US. Or how ”modern” Russia and China are resisting US and fighting against its imperialism in their parts of the world + africa. How Russia is not letting Israel/US bomb Iran as it was another piece of Iraq (we all know the lies by now). How the russian jews have ”boosted” Israel and the reactions to that. Why the Iranian jews still stays in Iran instead of makeing ayliah to Israel. Aso…
    And if you want to talk about ”same standards” I think your scope is more about a pro purposes which offers little new but sticks to old rethorics (which are all the same). I suggest we take those Israel standards of ”affirmative action system”, property and waters rights and theaft, colonialism, double laws, engaging war, security situation, ”democracy” claims and structure (if any) and apply them to any country in the world. Why not throw in some ideology and soul? Go ahead, pick your first country as I don´t really can make my mind up if Lebanon (the only democracy in Middle East) or ”old” South africa would be the best start.

    Now if you want me to lecture you (do you need that?) I would have to ask you for money. Nothing is free, specially not in US eventhough this side of information about Israel really needs to get around. But if you don´t want to pay I could always direct you to books and information that you might lack and you can do it all by yourself. If you manage to take a brake that is…

    Reg. Holland and Germany “ethnographic” concerns I think it is intresting as disturbing. Old racist ideas are blooming up all based on that same fear. No matter what, all european countries need immegrants to keep their social welfare going. Now that´s intresting even for rasist swedes, ducth and germans. So far no european country have or can impose an ID card that states the persons religion in bold and Sweden is imposing a law to make it much easier for non Europeans to immegrate to Sweden for working reasons (so much for that ”ethnographic” consern. By the way, Sweden haven´t know war since 400 years, but I guess you know that… How about US ”ethnographic” conserns as we dont´t need to plunge into Israels (or do you)…. How is anglo-US coping with the latinos ”ethnographically” and inguistically?

    have a nice day!

  • “Maria doesn’t feel the need to contextualize” as it must be posible to discuss one topic at a time.

    And to continue in that same style: Ramos still have some questions to answers…

    – ”Where exactly in my comments on this blog do I ”claim” that Israel dosen´t accept criticim? We have been ”talking” about Ethiopian jews in Israel and about Ethiopia and Israel in general, haven’t we? Again if not please point that part out for me.”

    -” Instead of talking about what we are talking about on this blog you ”pick” stuff from another context (my shared blog with Saul) and go judgemental on my person and opinions. Why?”

    – ”Are you a schrink?”

    – In which way have those ”imperfect” conditions stoped to exist for ethiopian jews in Israel today?

    let´s talk about another ” little difference opinion she and I have”. for beeing a person that do speak two languages from US (it seems that u have a humble recogniztion of that while travelling in Europe) I find it amazing that U insist to degrade studies and extensive travel in the world when it comes to hold an dexpress opinions. I wonder, in your world, does opinions expressed in english have to be grammatically correct? Seems as your spanish doesn´t. And regarding the travelling it might not be a thing many americans do (i think 80% of u only hold a passport) but for many others it´s the greatest way of coming to terms with the world and what´s in the books in order to contextualize. that seems to me to be an acknowledge fact that you have to make peace with – beeing there, in the cuban coffeshops (are there any?) makes all the differance when discussing politics, culture, aso… specially if u want coexistance, progress and peace…

    Si todo somos personas que estamos esperando la paz. Es que tenemos differente manneras, amigos y caminos a hacerlo.


  • Maria, for one:

    “It´s like Israel can not be critised rightfully nor is responsible at all at anything which it creates and does.”

    For two:

    “And yes I can and will talk about Sabra, Israel and Sharon specificly without broaden the scope. Not everything is a comparehensive study and as well I really don´t think it will work out for the benefit for Israel at all. On the contrary…”

    I put quotation marks around your words. Am I taking you out of context?

    I am not a psychiatrist.

    We have not been talking just about Ethiopian Jews. We have been talking about the cultural ramifications of Falasha emigration. Please read Leah’s report. It brings up a slew of issues, including cultural colonialism and racism. That’s the context.

    Also, from my first comment, I criticized and will continue to criticize Israel’s treatment of the Falashas and it’s policies towards the Falashas in general.

    I do not degrade travel as a learning tool. I simply said that your own biases are just as important as your travels and book knowledge in formulating your comments.

    Is my Spanish really that bad? Tengo mucho ganas de saber todo. Como tu. Pero soy un Americano. Perdona.

    Yes, my Spanish is terrible. I have to deal with that every second I’m in Spain. But I’m learning. And I’m loving it.

    You think only 80% of us hold a passport? Let’s put that into context – until now we didn’t need a passport to travel to Canada and Mexico. Until now Europeans needed a passport to travel from Germany to France. Think about it. For one, I think 80% is pretty high.

  • Ramos, sorry I need to correct myself fast on one fact – it´s 80% of the north americans that DO NOT have a passport.

    Really travelling to neigbouring countries is a great way of enlarging your world. Within the nordic countries we have been able to travel passport free the last 30 year or so. But still we hold passports because the world is bigger than our backyard.

    I cant really sign off on your “until now” in Europe. Still one needs a passport when flying into ex Germany and UK. Atleast to show. You might try doing that with our EU id card but it´s a gamble.

    For me I think 20% is a very low number of passport holders! Can´t help to think how the world might have looked otherwise if say 40% of US citizens did hold and use it´s passports… That´s the context – now I would like to hear what you think about it.

    I found this clip on the Utube that really is not representative at all but nevertheless, shows what lack of travelling, intrest and basic knowledge might look like the american style.


    (specially loved that part on Al-Quida “everyone knows that”)

  • Ramos,

    I didn´t say your spanish was “that bad”. How could I? I only saw a grammatically flaw. My point is that I understood it as you picked on my “typo and lack of gramma” so I thought that we could all play that roll… It´s when you realize the streches of your own abilities and position that you might develop a repect for others. But I do feel you try do that…

    Si quizas tengo la ganas de saber mucho de todo pero mas a mi me gusta aprender mucho de todo. Ahi hay una differencia. No nessicitas perdonarte por me que estas Americano. Los Americanos son muchas personas de Ushia hasta Alaskas. Y como vos a mi me ENCANTA castellano (espanol)! Si podria hablaba castellano todo mi dia…
    …pero eso no me lleva lejos aci.


    now – breakfast! and summer…

  • Hi everyone,

    ck , Ramos, “the middle” & WEVS1. I´m off on holiday so I will not be around defending what know and have experianced myself from Israel. If you want to keep the “thread” alive or even continue discussing in a creative way the pro & anti Israeli sides/views plz take those topics to my site with Saul…


    And Leah, hope your trip in Ethiopia all went great and that your picts turned out great! Sure they will in such a photogenic country and people!


    : maria

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