Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Evil Time / Böse Zeit (H. Hesse)

Evil Time

"Now we are silent
And sing no songs any more,
Our pace grows heavy;
This is the night, that was bound to come.

Give me your hand,
Perhaps we still have a long way to go.
It's snowing, it's snowing.
Winter is a hard thing in a strange country.

Where is the time
When a light, a hearth burned for us?
Give me your hand!
Perhaps we still have a long way to go."

-Hermann Hesse

Böse Zeit

"Nun sind wir still
Und singen keine Lieder mehr;
Der Schritt wird schwer.
Das ist die Nacht, die kommen will.

Gib mir die Hand,
Vielleicht ist unser Weg noch weit.
Es schneit, es schneit!
Hart ist der Winter im fremden Land.

Wo ist die Zeit,
Da uns ein Licht, ein Herd gebrannt?
Gib mir die Hand,
Vielleicht ist unser Weg noch weit."

-Hermann Hesse

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Demo fur Gaza, Sa 24.11, Helvetiaplatz

Liebe Freunde
Am nächsten Samstag organiesieren einige Vereine eine Demo
gegen den barbarischen Krieg gegen Gaza.
Es laden ein:
1. GSP Gesellschaft Shweiz-Palästina (www.palaestina.ch)
2. BDS Zürich/BDS Schweiz (www.bds-info.ch)
3. Gruppe Café Palestine (www.cafe-palestine.ch)
 4. Verein der Ägypter
 5. Komitee zur Unterstützung Syriens
Schweigen ist Komplizenschaft!
Mit Beteiligung und ein Referat von Herrn Nationalrat Daniel Vischer
(evtl. auch Hrn. NR Geri Müller und Hrn. NR Balthasar Glättli)
Lieber Gruss
Ahmed Afifi (Bitte weiterleiten)

الاخوة والاخوات الاعزاء
ستنظم إن شاء الله يوم السبت القادم 11.24. الساعة الواحدة والنصف ظهرا
 من ميدان هيلفتسيا بزيوريخ مظاهرة ضد العدوان على اهلنا في غزة
 بدعوة من
1. BDSحملة مقاطعة الكيان الصهيوني  
2. اتحاد المصريين بزيوريخ
3. فريق مقهى فلسطين
4. الجمعية الثقافية الفلسطينية
5. لجنة مناصرة سوريا
فالسكوت على هذه الجرائم الصهيونية يعني الرضا بها والمشاركة في إثمها
سيتكلم في المظاهرة السيد دانيل فيشر البرلماني السويسري
 وربما ايضا كل من السيد جيري ميللر وبالتزار جلاتلي
مع تحياتي
(أحمد عفيفي (برجاء إرسالها لكل من تعرفونهم

Sunday, November 18, 2012


The difficult and complex situation in Syria leads to a fragmentation of society into various isolated parts. Some of these parts seem to be in line with each other better than others. Sometimes it appears to be a unified. And then again it falls to pieces. Syria as concept has become a synonym for itself and all the questions that arise when the red line is crossed: be they existential, ethical, humanitarian, political, religious, economic, military or in terms of international law.
November 22nd, bar from 7 pm

Presentation in English: Social Media tools in Times of Transition
Discussion and talk, start 7.30 pm

In order to understand the development in Syria we take a closer look at the Egyptian revolution and the struggle for information, media coverage and connectivity. Battuta, Muhammed Radwan is an engineer, activist and social media entrepreneur from Cairo. He visualises and analyses the complexity and multiple layers of the Egyptian revolution, and its use of language on the basis of flyers, stickers, etc. Also, besides Facebook and Twitter, other transnational social media platforms with a simplified operation mode, such as Bambuser or Ushahidi, are used to promote identities and opinions. Battuta draws on his own experiences from the streets, digital spaces and the financial market. He links this to the opportunities of social media tools in times of transition and their field of application – a cultural landscape oscillating between representation and archive; one of his theses states that the speed of technical development is overtaking history.

For sale: “sold out… for now”, original revolution T-shirts from Cairo
To see: collection of printed things, stamps, stickers and flyers
Music and open bar with Ashraf Osman, Architect from Beirut, Lebanon/Switzerland
November 25th, 12 am – 10 pm

During our second event visual impressions of current artistic works from Syria, such as videos, cartoons, graffiti and illustrations will be displayed digitally on screens. The artist duo Germann/Lorenzi from Zurich outlines a map of Syria without drawing a defined final stroke according to geopolitical and ethnic borders. They rather investigate the fraying, the blind spots and the mental landscape. The presentations will give an insight into the complexity of the Syrian way of thinking, creating and living. Taking into account an Egyptian perspective and position will broaden the context. Private initiatives are often more flexible than institutions and organisations. The approaches differ. Two positions pursue an objective. Finally, to round of the day, which will offer time for discussions and talks besides the exhibition and presentations, a scenographic documentary investigates the influence of the ruling Baath Party on education and self-perception.

mapping Syria, by Germann/Lorenzi, Zürich

– Video clips by Abou Naddara, video and film workshop
– Video animation by Dani Abo Louh, film and theatre director and Mohamed Omran, painter, sculptor
– Illustrations and drawings by Sulafa Hijazi, a.o. director, producer, writer of educational children series
– Random images – visual messages from social media


1.30 pm Welcome
1.40 – 2.25 pm A revolution seen from an inner perspective
Odai Alzoubi, Ph.D. candidate for philosophy
2.30 – 3.15 pm From Egypt to Syria and back
Battuta, Muhammed Radwan, engineer, activist and social media entrepreneur from Cairo.


3.45 – 4.30 pm Work that should effectuate a difference in others’ lives
Reto Rufer, Amnesty International, Switzerland
4.35 – 5.20 pm From the Limmat to the Euphrates, a personal story
Ziad Malki, economist
5.25 – 5.50 pm Artistic and activist strategies during the revolution
Bissane Al Charif, film and theatre scenographer

Open Discussion and Break

7.00 – 8.00 pm Film, short introduction by Ziad Malki
Flood in the Baath Country, 2003, colour, 48min, Arabic, with English subtitles
by Omar Amiralay, Syrian documentary filmmaker, 1944 – 5 Feb. 2011 
an approach to examine the influence of the Baath Party in Syria
Courtesy http://www.proactionfilm.com

Open discussion and bar until 10 pm

Concept and realization: Rayelle Niemann, Cordula Bieri/GsoA
Translation: Edmond Alkhal, Ziad Malki, Ashraf Osman
Technical support: Robin Angst / Pastry: Le Mur
Grafic design: Moiré. Marc Kappeler

Admission CHF 15 / 10

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Israel/Palestine and the Queer International

Excerpts from the introduction to Israel/Palestine and the Queer International by Sarah Schulman:

It was about two weeks after the July 2006 Israeli bombing of Lebanon. I was having dinner with a Lebanese friend, the gay novelist Rabih Alameddine. "I don't get it," he said. "In the thirteen years that I have lived in this country, many of my friends, maybe most of my friends have been Jews. We usually agree on everything. Sometimes they are more left wing than I am. We agree about the war in Iraq. But, then, Israel invades Lebanon, and suddenly they don't get it. They get it about Iraq, but all of a sudden they are telling me that Israel has a right to defend itself, et cetera. And I'm shocked. What is going on? Why don't they get it?"
(Kindle Locations 15-19)

"When I was in Argentina, the fascist police made me get down on my knees and bark like a dog, because I was a Jewish dog," he told Mike Wallace, a Jewish man who had changed his name to have a career in broadcast journalism. "When I came to Israel, I heard that some Israeli soldiers had made some Palestinian youth get down on their knees and bark like dogs, because theywere Arab dogs. And I asked myself, are these two incidents the same? And I had to answer yes."
(Kindle Locations 124-128)

What I have come to understand, finally, is that for Europeans, what they call laique or secular culture is actually a kind of liberal Christian culture. And so, to them, difference -switching between Jews and Muslims, depending on the historical moment-violates what they believe to be "secular objectivity" but is really basic Christian aesthetics.
(Kindle Locations 170-172)

And how did the Europeans, who caused the pain in the first place, get off scot-free, while the Palestinians, who had nothing to do with it, ended up paying the price?
(Kindle Locations 184-185)

The United States and the Allies needed a strong military base in the Middle East, and there was widespread guilt about the lack of global aid during the genocide. So creating the state of Israel as a place to dump the refugees and build a military footing in the region for the West served every-body's needs.
(Kindle Locations 208-210)

Does America support Israel because it loves Jews and wants to protect them, or because it just needs a military base in Israel from which to conduct wars and control resources? It's a naive question. All military alliances are strategic in nature. But the blurring gives both the illusion of independence and the illusion that the United States is a "friend" of Israel. The result is a lot of instability, false fronts, fear, and pretending. Israel exists simultaneously as a colonial settler state in relationship to Palestinians, and as a semicolonized project of the Christian West, the very people who caused the Jews' suffering to begin with.
(Kindle Locations 218-221)

So we lie to ourselves, because the truth is so much more frightening. The truth is that Israel's policies do not make the world a safer place for Jews or anyone else. To be a responsible government is to act as though other human beings are real and have lives that matter. In this regard, both the U.S. and Israeli governments have deteriorated into rogue states causing pain and inflicting suffering from a delusional place.
(Kindle Locations 260-262)

Thursday, October 18, 2012


You say you want to go to Nepal,
or perhaps Peru—
you're always running around in your head
somewhere far away from wherever you are,
always inhabiting where you are not.

And I follow you,
with my eyes if not my feet, 
and listen to the names of distant places
whispered with yearning,
as if you’re trying eternally
to find home again,
or have given up altogether.

And I stay put,
forever hoping 
that if I remain still long enough
I may grow roots again
wherever I am.

Written at an Olfactory Poetry Workshop, inspired by L'Artisan Parfumeur's Dzongkha.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

"I remember you as you were"

I remember as you were last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the calm heart.
In your eyes the lights of the twilight fought.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.

Clinging to my arms like a climbing vine,
the leaves recognized your voice, slow and calm.
Bonfire of stupor in which my thirst burned.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted about my soul.

I feel your eyes travel and distant is the autumn:
grey beret, a bird's voice and a house's heart
to where my deepest longings flew
and my kisses fell joyously like glowing embers.

Sky from a ship. Field from the hills.
Your memory is of light, of smoke, of the calm pool!
Beyond your eyes burned the twilights.
Dry autumn leaves twisted in your soul.

"Te recuerdo como eras"

Te recuerdo como eras en el último otoño.
Eras la boina gris y el corazón en calma.
En tus ojos peleaban las llamas del crepúsculo.
Y las hojas caían en el agua de tu alma.

Apegada a mis brazos como una enredadera,
las hojas recoían tu voz lenta y en calma.
Hoguera de estupor en que mi sed ardía.
Dulce jacinto azul torcido sobre mi alma.

Siento viajar tus ojos y es distante el otoño:
boina gris, voz de páajaro y corazón de casa
hacia donde emigraban mis profundos anhelos
y caían mis besos alegres como brasas.

Cielo desde un navio. Campo desde los cerros.
Tu recuerdo es de luz, de humo, de estanque en calma!
Más allá de tus ojos ardían los crepúsculos.
Hojas secas de otoño giraban en tu alma.

-- by Pablo Neruda
English translation by Charles W. Johnson

Monday, September 24, 2012

'Stranger In Paradise'

"Take my hand
I'm a stranger in paradise
All lost in a wonderland
A stranger in paradise"
-Tony Bennett, 'Stranger In Paradise'
Here am I in paradise, they said. This is as close as it gets to it on this earth, they said. But someone forgot to mention that I don’t belong in paradise. I breathe my air charred and sticky with sweat. I take my water salty and warm. Even our mountains are shabby and riddled with people. And it’s the people in hell that I miss the most: red-hearted, red-tempered, loud and obnoxious like their laughter.

Here, I take trams all day, going nowhere, always seeking a savior. I reach out my hand only to find it in my pocket. I seek in the frozen faces floating by a little bit of the warmth of hell, but hell has frozen over, leaving me all lost in wonderland.

Here, Prince Charming wears an Armani suit and picks up his “date” in a Porsche Cayenne with an unsuspecting child-seat in the back. The princesses are all trapped in castles up the hill, looking down, missing it all. Looking beyond, dreaming of that hand, pretending it’s not the same one that locked the door this morning. Pretending paradise is still elsewhere, somewhere they may belong to…

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Day like Today

These charades we make
to do and undo each other,
what for?

This life, a blink and then
hereafter.. what for?

The sun shines like rain never happened,
the sky is a sarcastic shade of blue,
and the breeze blows so delicately it's almost fake...

Sure, the swans spread their wings for food again,
and the irises are in bloom like winter didn't exist,
a masquerade of life: bold, shimmering and vain...

You'd think no one will die today,
no soul will crack, no one will find
the water inviting for more than a swim...

Life is never crueler than it is on such days,
never more callous, never more slanted;
the shadows are never darker than in sunlight...

It is on a day like today that I want to leave;
give life and the living a slap in the face, deny them
at their most beautiful, most seductive, most invulnerable...

Only when life is smiling shall one stick a spear through its heart,
remind it of its worth, its worthlessness,
its lightness divine...

Saturday, May 05, 2012


Today is the 10 year anniversary of my grandma's passing, the event that got me into poetry... I seem to have dried up recently, but here's some of what I'd written for her during the years:

I miss you, Teta...

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Dalida - 25th Anniversary

"Life has become unbearable for me... Forgive me." 25 years ago, on May 3rd 1987, Dalida took her own life, leaving a suicide note which read that ("La vie m'est insupportable... Pardonnez-moi"). May she rest in peace...


Friday, April 13, 2012


I'm a writer in search of a subject,
a patriot in search of a land.
I'm a lover in search of a longing,
an impostor in search of a farce.
I'm a joke in search of a punchline,
and a song in search of a voice.

I'm a poem that's lost its words,
a prophet who's lost his calling.
I'm an actor without lines,
a crime without sin,
hope without faith.

I'm the yearning that fills your heart right before it sinks,
the thought that steals your sleep just as it sets,
and the feeling that lingers from a dream
you didn't want to wake from.

I'm walking in fresh snow just when you thought it was spring,
I'm the meaning that glimmers right before it fades,
and the solitude that possesses you when you realize
it's all going well without you, and it always will.