Posts tagged ‘english’

03/06/2013

The political-economic fault line: Some remarks towards a research program

fault2

 

It seems we have arrived at one of those moments when different people (albeit in the same milieu) begin to think intensively about related questions. Such apparently mystical Zeitgeist-phenomena usually have an explanation, and searching for one can in itself yield interesting outcomes. Seeing as I’m one of the people involved, however, I would like to present some scattered remarks, mainly in order to introduce people to one another. Maybe I’ll also have something to say about the reasons for the convergence.

The nexus I’m talking about can be approached empirically or theoretically. I’ll start theoretically: the question is that of the boundary between economics and politics, or to be fashionable about it, between the economic and the political. The Marxian tradition, which in this sense is continuous with classical Political Economy, affirms the existence of an object known as the “(political) economy”, though it denies its trans-historical validity (Smith and Ricardo’s mistake) as well as its apotheosis into a sacrifice-hungry divinity (the fallacy of the petty bourgeois economic press). To be more precise, Marx and his disciples speak not of “the economy” but of the “capitalist mode of production”. This mode has political conditions of existence: that is, violence of a particular sort is needed in order to initiate it and reproduce it, but it also has an existence all its own, autonomous laws of movement which cannot be reduced to violence – that is, you can’t just reduce the capitalist economy to political questions of power.

Obviously things are more complicated and I can’t go into all the relevant questions here. Just one then: the question of the economy of violence (which has a doppelganger, the question of the violence of the economy). That is, if violence is a fundamental condition for the functioning of the capitalist economic system but remains in some sens (though a rigorous sense is needed here) outside that system, how can we understand the economic sectors employed in the production of violence – that is, the security and arms industries?

This question has global importance, but is especially acute in the Israeli/Palestinian context. On the empirical side, Yotam Feldman’s new film The Laboratory (which I haven’t seen yet) sheds new light on the absolute centrality of the violence industries to the Israeli economy. As Eilat Maoz writes in her review (Hebrew), if we take this centrality into consideration it becomes clear that under current conditions, ending the occupation or even slowing it down considerably will constitute a clear and present danger to the livelihood of a very large (and very powerful) part of the Israeli public. This is a very pessimistic political conclusion, of course, but well-grounded pessimism is better than wishful thinking.

Theoretically, though, there is a chicken-and-egg problem: the occupation (by which I mean all of Israel’s repressive mechanisms) is profitable because it gives Israeli companies a competitive advantage in selling their violent wares to repressive mechanisms around the world. But what motivates those mechanisms? The need to sell arms to someone else? Of course not; the buck has to stop somewhere, with a violence that is necessary to the system. Which we need to understand.

I think the answer has to do with a factor that is mostly implicitly present in Marxist theory but can definitely be developed out of it – the concept of the surplus population. Capitalism has a tendency to cheapen the means of subsistence (food, medicine, clothes etc.) to a minimum, such that in comparison to the past it is much cheaper to stay alive. The growth of huge slum populations across the world – not only in the South – can be explained along these lines.

In this context it is easy to understand how one state with experience in the repression of a surplus population (as the Palestinians have been since the labor market was closed to them in the 1990s) can profit from selling repressive services to other states dealing with such populations – whether internally ghettoized communities or migrants attempting to gain access. But from a Marxian point of view the value which these customers hand over to the repression industries still has to come from productive labor done by non-surplus populations within their borders.

I don’t know exactly where all this is going, but it seems relevant to the comprehension of the political reality in Israel. Thus, when Tal Giladi (Hebrew) writes that the left needs to have two praxisal answers to every question – a “political” and an “economic” one – while attempting to create a theory which will bring the two together – it is questionable whether the two can even be separated for the instant necessary for the production of a political statement. Shimshon Bichler and Yonatan Nitzan have been working on this issue for years, and the immense empirical value of their work is irreproachable, but analytically it boils down to reducing the economy to politics – which is what I am trying to avoid here.

These questions are very relevant to the Israeli context from a more historical standpoint as well. If we are trying to produce a materialist history of the Zionist project, we need to deal not only with the current motor of the Israeli economy and its current role within the American imperialist order (which, despite its almost complete denial within the Israeli left, is not too hard to comprehend) but with what started this snowball rolling. As Max Ajl writes in a forthcoming Historical Materialism piece, the literature analyzing Israel as a settler colonialist society gives ample grounding for comparing Israel to societies such as South Africa and Australia, but this grounding is not material.

Here again we cannot avoid slipping into the fault line between economics and politics. Palestine/Israel was never an important source of natural resources; it was and remains important for geo-political reasons, including its proximity to the Suez Canal and its possession of the  Mediterranean ports closest to the oil of the Persian Gulf – like Haifa, the once (and future?) endpoint of a pipeline starting in Kirkuk.

But Zionism didn’t begin as a British geo-political project; it was offered to them as such only after immense efforts, and especially money, were invested in it by rich Jews from Western Europe and the USA. Another factor, then, definitely material if not precisely economic: the need felt by that elite to channel the giant wave of poor Jews fleeing Eastern Europe elsewhere. This is not particularly unusual: the settler colonialism of the 19th century, in the USA and elsewhere, was among other things a matter of channeling surplus populations formed in the rural areas of Western and Central Europe following the capitalization of agriculture there.

Yet, for well-known reasons, most of the Jews who ended up in Israel didn’t actually come from Europe. The Middle Eastern immigrations were to bring Zionism the human masses it needed. A material explanation of this immigration is still lacking. Moshe Behar writes (with great anger) that by adopting the Zionist definition of nationality, Arab national movements abetted the Zionist cause of transfering their local Jews to Israel, but this begs the question of the reasons for this choice. Thus, just as in order to understand the genesis of Zionism we need to understand the material circumstances of the Jews in Eastern Europe, in order to understand its immense success in the 1950’s we need a better understanding of the circumstances of the Jews in the Middle East. In order to do so, we need to get beyond myth-spinning about the wonderful relations between Arabs and Jews before Zionism.

These are a few directions for research that seem to me to be implicated in the questions people have been asking recently. I would love to see a discussion about how this can be done, a real practical discussion – writing? sminars? conferences? I have a few ideas but I would like to hear others’ ideas before I show my cards. I’ll finish with a few words on the reasons that this is happening now. For dozens of years, maybe since the disappearance of Matzpen, the radical left in Israel has not dealt seriously with economic questions. I believe this was due to the dim hopes people had for class struggle within Israel, and also perhaps from a (disavowed) belief that with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle the progressive class in Israel was actually the bourgeoisie (as can be surmised from some of Yoav Peled’s writing, for example).

It’s obvious, then, that the main catalyst for the renewed interest in these questions is “J14”. Today it is not taken for granted that no class struggle is possible within Israeli-Jewish society, or that such a struggle must be regressive. Class struggle exists and shall continue to exist, and the relationship between it and the anti-colonial struggle remains open. Thus many theoretical questions become quite urgent, and doubly so when we keep in mind that Israel is a particularly active section of a theoretical and political fault line whose cracks are proliferating around the world.

מודעות פרסומת
06/03/2013

Heading off the new Jerusalem – a revolutionary scenario for Israel/Palestine

This is the longer original of a piece I published on Jacobin on January 22nd, 2013 (right before the Israeli election).

Try for a moment to imagine a scenario leading up to a revolutionary situation in your country – an exercise which used to be a popular pastime on the Left, and which probably still is on the Right, which retains an ability to respond with amazing speed to just about any crisis, and to use all and any of them to increase its power.

Recessions trigger merger-and-acquisition waves. Wars are a means and an opportunity to expand into new markets. Natural disasters enable the looting of public property. But the phoenix-like ability of capital to rise from its own ashes has a limit, which can be defined precisely as the revolutionary situation.

Given that the establishment has both the resources and the inclination to plan strategically – in both public and covert fora – it is no stretch to assume that it invests some resources in fending off structural change. No doubt most of the time chances for revolution are small, but as with health insurance, there’s no doubt that the rulers want to make sure they’re covered.

So even if we’re not inclined to strategic thought ourselves, it’s worthwhile to imagine radical eventualities in order to better understand the actions of the repressive apparatuses. I will attempt to demonstrate this point using my country, Israel/Palestine. What could constitute a revolutionary situation between the Jordan River and the sea?

Given the history of this territory, the most obvious answer would be a Palestinian uprising – a Third Intifada. But ever since the early 1990s the Israeli state has been implementing a succession of strategies designed to make such an uprising extremely unlikely to succeed. The first step was the weaning of the Israeli labor market off its reliance on cheap Palestinian labor. As Palestinian workers were replaced with migrants, they lost their most effective weapon – the strike.

The second step was the creation of the Palestinian Authority and its attendant humanitarian-aid economy, tightly, though not seamlessly, integrated into the Israeli security state. That aid and the NGO-ization which has gone along with it have severely compromised the integrity of parties, unions and other formerly independent Palestinian political organizations. The third step was the use of the security apparatus, the Separation Wall and the settlement project to divide the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza into a series of walled-off, heavily policed cantons, a process intensified after the 2005 Hamas victory in Palestinian elections and subsequent takeover of the Gaza Strip.

This strategy has crippled the resistance capability of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Since the disintegration of the Oslo Process in October 2000 Palestinians have been surgically expunged not only from the Israeli economy but also from its civil society and media. This process, together with the Oslo-induced association of non-violence with the submissive and quietist NGO industry and the extreme imbalance in military power, has sometimes encouraged Palestinian organizations interested in wresting concessions from Israel to target civilians, severely impacting their ability to draw sympathy from the international community, not to mention Israeli society, and legitimizing crackdowns on terrorism by the Israeli security state and its junior PA partners.

Despite these heavy setbacks, the Occupied Territories are not completely quiescent. Villages impacted by the Separation Wall have mounted a patient, intelligent and ethically disciplined struggle and have drawn sustained solidarity activity from Israeli and international activist groups. Over the last year, sporadic demonstrations have been held against the PA in the West Bank, protesting corruption and President Abbas’ collusion with the occupation. Most recently, Palestinian activists founded the "outpost" of Bab Al-Shams in a creative response to Netanyahu's declared intention to build in the E1 area to the east of Jerusalem. The winds of liberation are still blowing across the Middle East, veterans of the First Intifada are still alive and active, and the establishment would be wise not to rule out the possibility of a large-scale popular uprising.

Nevertheless, a Third Intifada would not in itself pose an existential threat to the order of things, since the entire Israeli state apparatus – in the widest sense – is primed to head off such a threat. Israel’s five million Jewish citizens enjoy a great variety of privileges with regard to the Palestinian population: political and civil freedoms, access to a job market, and the support of a rapidly shrinking, but not negligible, welfare state. However, for most Israeli Jews, political and economic survival is tightly bound up with participation in the repression of the Palestinians through military service and enlistment in the colonization process as settlers.

This is especially true for the Jews of Middle Eastern origin – Mizrahis – who make up the bulk of Israel’s working class. Their “Oriental background” is treated as suspect by hegemonic Ashkenazi standards, and Mizrahim who go over to the enemy, like Mordecai Vanunu and Tali Fahima, are punished brutally. All this adds up to make the possibility of a Palestinian uprising, on its own, a challenge to the Israeli state – but not an insurmountable one. Rather, an uprising could be used to consolidate social control and build up profits in the form of arms sales and renewed military aid from the US.

What, then, of the Israelis? If the above picture were complete, it would be impossible to understand how this supposedly rigidly controlled society was rocked during the summer of 2011 by what was, in relative terms, the largest protest movement of that year of global protest. The Israeli “social protest movement,”, known in Twitterese as J14, was centered in tent cities around the country and mobilized people to rally over a series of Saturday evenings which culminated on September 3rd in the largest demonstration in Israeli history, when half a million people gathered in State Square in Tel Aviv to protest the government’s economic policies.

Justified criticism has been leveled at the protest movement for being focused, like its counterparts around the world, on the declining fortunes of middle-class youth. However, rates of support for the movement – as opposed to participation rates – were extremely high across ethno-class sectors, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, the religious community, and “traditional” (mostly Mizrahi) Jews, with the sole exception of the ex-Soviet community. Perhaps more importantly, the middle-class leadership appointed to the movement by the media was not the only game in town: across the country the protest movement galvanized organizing within the most oppressed sections of the population, mainly around the issue of social housing – organizing which has proved more resilient than the evanescent leadership of the summer.

At its best and most dangerous, the protest movement offers an opportunity for the consolidation of a cross-class coalition including both a contingent of young, middle-class people facing the possibility of impoverishment and those who are already staring poverty and homelessness in the face. Without the second group, the movement lacks bulk, mass relevance and the energy of those who have nowhere to go. Without the first, it is extremely vulnerable to the marginalization and criminalization unleashed on the Israeli Black Panthers in the 1970’s. United, it has the potential power to challenge the Israeli state.

But this challenge, much like a Palestinian revolt, probably would not have the power to overthrow the state and local capital even if it could unite its forces within Israel. Decades of neoliberal restructuring may have cut away most positive bases for identification with the Israeli state, but Israelis are still wired to close ranks whenever a “security threat” looms. The protest movement would probably never have arisen if it had not been preceded by six years of unprecedented quiet – as far as Israelis were concerned. And it reeled heavily following a minor incident on the Egyptian border, which the government may or may not have permitted to happen.

As the situation stands, the Israeli state has the ability to provoke its neighbors and thereby manufacture “security threats” ranging from mostly non-lethal rocket attacks to full-blown war. Though these options have their drawbacks, these would pale in comparison to the danger of a true challenge to hegemony within the country.

Given the way the state holds both Israelis and Palestinians by the proverbial gonads, there is only one scenario for a revolutionary situation, namely a simultaneous uprising in the Palestinian Territories and Israel. In order not to provoke the defensive consolidation of Israeli society – or at least to mitigate that consolidation by simultaneously evoking sympathy, solidarity and perhaps mass refusal – such an uprising would have to be predominantly unarmed, based on the model of the 1st Intifada and the civil struggle against the Wall rather than the military option embodied by groups like Hamas’s Qassam Brigades, itself an essentially reactive hold-the-line approach. The Israeli movement, for its part, would have to actively resist its demobilization through the cynical use of “security threats.”

This does not mean that the uprising would have to be unified. Segregation has become so entrenched that today Israeli Jews and Palestinians from the Occupied Territories have little opportunity to meet each other without the barrel of a gun intermediating, and this segregation makes it almost impossible to build a unified, or even a coordinated, mass politics across the Green Line, despite valiant efforts made by the Israeli and Palestinian Lefts.

A significant bridge across the divide exists in the shape of the 1.2-million strong Palestinian community within Israel. Though to a certain extent exempted from apartheid – for example with regard to travel restrictions – the links between Palestinian Israelis and their brethren in the Occupied Territories are also subject to severe restriction and surveillance. Nevertheless Israeli Palestinians continue to maintain these links and a generally high level of identification with the Palestinian nation as a whole. Perhaps more surprisingly, a majority in this community persists – in the face of bitter reality – in demanding full equality within the Israeli civil sphere. J14 has provided an opening in this sense, with high-profile Palestinian participation and the inclusion of some demands of ’48 Palestinians in the protest discourse. Thus, there is reason to believe that Palestinian Israelis would play an important part in a simultaneous rebellion, belonging at the same time to both insurgent collectives. This would be consistent with the strong left-wing tradition in this community: long under the hegemony of the Communist Party of Israel, Palestinian Israelis continue to vote for left-wing parties in far greater numbers than either Palestinians or Israelis more generally.

But strict coordination is not a necessary condition for simultaneity, for several reasons.

First, as Göran Therborn has recently argued convincingly, the cross-national class disparity and conflict that characterized the 20th century is now giving way to an international convergence and growing disparities within countries. While this certainly does not mean that borders have become insignificant, it points up an increasingly complex class geography in which the still-prevalent divisions of North and South, First and Third Worlds, are obsolescent and global patterns emerge. Thus, the structural position of young people of middle-class origin facing impoverishment is comparable across a staggeringly wide range of countries, including Greece, Israel, Egypt, the US and Mexico. The high level of participation of people from these groups in protest movements can form the ground for solidarity, inspiration and contagion, as it probably did in 2011.

Furthermore, in the rebellions of 2011, much has also been made of the importance of new organizational forms based on the Internet. It is undeniable that the newly decentralized world of communications played an important part in the spread of news and revolutionary inspiration around the world in 2011, especially among people belonging to the aforementioned demographic. People of this sort in Israel might be inspired to action and revolt by a “Palestinian spring” – maybe even vice versa.

A banner at an Israeli social justice demonstration, summer 2011. "Irhal" – in Arabic – means "go!"; the Hebrew says "Egypt is here". Credit: Activestills

Finally, the integration of the regional and world economy, and especially US hegemony, in Israel and Palestine, means that economic pressures may act in similar ways on both sides of the Green Line. Austerity politics, perhaps sharpened by a renewed dip into depression on a global level, will tend to act in the same direction in both Israel and the Territories, provoking a rise in unemployment and poverty. Under these circumstances it is not inconceivable that insurgencies in Israel and Palestine could form a positive feedback loop, maintaining a policy of non-aggression, and even sharing inspiration and solidarity. The plausibility of such a strategy would be enhanced by a resurgence of protest across the world, including the Arab world – again, not a very unlikely eventuality.

It would be difficult for the Israeli state to fight a war on two fronts and maintain its hegemony within the Jewish collective in Israel. The direct means of military repression are now heavily mechanized, so that Israel no longer needs masses of infantry-police to repress Palestinian rebellion. Nevertheless, tear gas and arbitrary arrests on the streets of Hebron and Haifa at the same time would be a powerful image, suggesting that Palestinians and Israelis share not only a destiny but an enemy – a suggestion the state would definitely do better to avoid.

Hysterical overreaction on the part of nervous, over-stretched security organs might serve to exacerbate the situation rather than placate it, leading to escalation, and yes – perhaps – to a revolutionary situation.

Are the chances slim? Very. Would the Israeli state know how to defuse such a situation if it were to come about? Quite probably. If I can think of a trick like planting a bomb in a “social protest” rally and blaming it on Palestinians, so can they. But is the possibility of such an eventuality, beyond the wildest dreams of the Israeli left, already playing a role in today’s politics?

Could be. It would explain some things about the extremely defensive political game Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to be playing.

Though his governing coalition has not been in serious peril since he came to power in 2009, Netanyahu has performed an astonishing number of apparently desperate political gambits coming into this election season, from wooing and then jettisoning Shaul Mofaz’s Kadima party, to merging his ruling Likud with extreme-right coalition partner Israel Beitenu, to grooming Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home, another extreme-right party, as the horse to beat. The cumulative effect of these moves has been to take away projected votes from Netanyahu’s Likud to the benefit of his extreme-right coalition partners, dragging the center of political gravity ever rightwards and diminishing his ability to maneuver.

Netanyahu’s failure to “govern from the center” is comprehensible not as a tactical move, but as a strategic one. J14 may have gone away for the time being, but it may rise again. Its hard core is still hanging on, and its most visible leader, Daphni Leef, has courageously rejected cooptation into mainstream party politics. The 3rd Intifada is almost obsessively on the lips of Israeli security mavens. Netanyahu’s economic plan entails deepening austerity, and his geopolitical strategy constitutes an ongoing provocation and insult to the Palestinians. In case it all blows up in his face, Netanyahu needs not a fragile centrist coalition but a disciplined ruling bloc willing to use its electoral legitimacy to enforce draconian, even dictatorial measures.

Punctuated equilibrium - taken from Joshua Epstein, "Modeling civil violence"

Punctuated equilibrium – taken from Joshua Epstein, "Modeling civil violence".

In a brilliant radical appropriation of game theory, Joshua Epstein has shown that using “rational choice” assumptions about human actors, one can arrive at a model of insurgent behavior that alternates between short, intense flare-ups and long periods of quiescence ("punctuated equilibrium"). So long as the sources of grievance are not removed – and God knows that in Israel and Palestine they have not been – previous spikes of rebellious activity can be seen as indicating a latent potential for future conflagration. Here, as well as elsewhere around the world, the ruling right may be taking that potential much more seriously than the Left.

I owe the idea of a simultaneous uprising as a revolutionary scenario to Matan Boord.

16/02/2013

Self-discipline as a political problem

בעברית

Discipline is a property of the relation between two subjects, a Master and a Slave, though it can also be spoken of as a property of the slave.

Self-discipline as a property of a subject thus presupposes that it can be decomposed into two subjects, again, a Master and a Slave, or a commandor and an obeyor. There is already an alienation here.

The phenomenology of a lack in self-discipline, however, may produce the perception of not two but three subjects: a commandor, a Slave willing to obey, and an obstructor, a “spirit that negates”, that prevents the objective from being carried out.

How do the two turn into three? Two analyses are possible. In the first, the obstructor is analogous to the resistant material reality upon which the Slave is set to work by the Master. In the second, the Slave is “servant of two masters”, the commandor and the obstructor. In any case there is a double alienation: the subject experiences not one but two contradictions.

There are correspondingly two possible resolutions, at two different levels. One is productivism, or annihilation of the obstructor, bringing about a harmonious Master/Slave relation. This is the victory of the commandor. The second is quietism, or annihilation of the Master. This is the victory of the obstructor. The first forecloses liberation; the second forecloses work and achievement.

Is it possible to find a political resolution? By political I mean two things: cognizant and unaccepting of relations of hierarchy and oppression, as well as collective in its methods. In-itself, the problem of self-discipline is not political, because we are dealing with relations internal to an “individual” subject (dividual though it is in fact): my self-discipline is my problem, both in the sense that I constitute it as a problem, and that putatively only I can solve it.

Putatively, but not truly. As in the fulfillment of other objectives, the subject may  enlist external objects in its struggle for self-discipline: retreating to a mountain cave, meditating on a mandala, downloading software that blocks access to particular websites. These are all practices (or praxes) irreducibly involving both the intending subject and objects previously external to it. These objects are subsumed into the subject and enter the dialectic on the side of the commandor and the obeyor. They hold off the obstructor.

If it is possible to enlist objects in my struggle for self-discipline, it is also quite clearly possible to do so with other subjects. But a problem immediately presents itself: an object might be smoothly subsumed into the internal dialectic of the subject, but not so another subject. Another subject may only too gladly enter the fray, but it will take the place of the Master. I “solve” the problem of self-discipline by submitting to an external discipline. This does not so much solve the problem as obviate it.

In other words, collective action does not, on its own, provide a political solution. The other component – recognition and non-acceptance of oppressive relations such as that between (inter-subjective) Master and Slave – must be brought into play. Is it possible to enlist another subject, or other subjects, in my own struggle for self-discipline without in fact giving up the fight?

Again a move to the concrete – “turning Hegel on his feet” – can help here. Just like the options of enlisting objects and succumbing to an outside Master, a collective overcoming of the lack of self-discipline would have to be a praxis, a working within the material world. I have no access to other subjects except through their material manifestations: communication and co-operation with others is always through a material medium. A reading group requires a quiet room, a whiteboard, paper and pens. A communal garden, hoes; a revolution, barricades.

The first moment of a political-collective solution would involve the construction of a collective commandor, a decision on the objective and the method of its achievement. The second is the work itself, the collective obeyor and achievor. The third is the never-ending struggle against the collective obstructor, which is greater than the sum of individual obstructors because everything that can break apart the collective effort joins forces with it and is subsumed within it.

What is merely “productivism” on the level of the individual subject – that is, a resolution I have tried hard not to evaluate – is on the level of the collective subject tyranny, the degeneration of the collective subject into a Master and Slave (or Master and Slaves, or Masters and Slave etc.) The collective subject must therefore fight not only for the achievement of its goals – against the obstructor – but against this usurpation. This fight is called democracy and its principle is that nobody has the right to rule.

In collective action the problem of self-discipline is not obviated: in fact it may even become more acute, but its character is transformed and its level raised. When I am only with myself I have two fights: for my objective and against myself, my obstructor. When I am with others in a political collective I fight four fights: with my own obstructor, with the forces arrayed against our cause, with our collective obstructor and with the threat of tyranny. That this doubling of the struggle may actually be experience as a relief from my loneliness – this I interpret as a sign that the movement is upwards, towards what we are meant to be.

labyrinth

18/01/2013

Middle eastern rock / secondhand translation

One of the greatest things about '60s-'70s Middle Eastern rock (or psychedelia, if you like) is that the lyrics – insofar as I can understand them, and that is not much, except for when it's in Hebrew – seem to continue native folk and literary poetic traditions, with lots of pastoral and agrarian images that don't come up much in Western music of the same era. Not speaking Turkish or Farsi and only some Arabic is a pretty big hurdle, but I get some inkling through the infinite resources of the internet.

The wonderful Orly Noy has translated one of my favorite songs of this spectrum, Kourosh Yaghmaei's "Gole Yakh", into Hebrew. I'm triply hesitant about posting my translation into English here. First because it's a translation of a translation, and that sort of thing is generally frowned upon, especially in the case of languages that have many bilinguals, which is certainly the case with Farsi and English. Second, because rock works on an intricate balance between lyrics and music, and when lyrics are stood on their own that is usually to their detriment. Lyrics to love songs, especially, can sound quite kitschy when they don't have the complexities and ambiguities of the music to play with. Third, because poetic Hebrew is in many ways closer in its associations to Farsi than the rock-music-English that I tried to achieve, Orly may had an easier job of it than I do. Nevertheless I post, and await criticism (really! Be polite but be critical), only asking that you listen to the song before/during the reading:

Frost blooms (Gole Yakh)
Between your lovely eyes sadness has made its nest
Dark night has settled in the forest of your hair
Your two black eyes reflect my night
Their hearts black pools deep as my grief

Among my lashes shoots of sorrow sprout
A gray flood inundates my world
You bear my solitude away like wind

From in between my fingers spring has slipped away
And in my heart frost blooms
In my room I almost burn alive with loneliness
How strange it is to see these blossoms now

My youth has passed, my voice has choked, my song is gone
And frost blooms in my heart