Alright, next episode will be finished by next weekend if it kills me. All I needed was a little breather from work and I got a short one. Stand by.
Just wanted to let everyone know I’m still alive. Many of you have been sending me messages lately and I really appreciate it. This episode has been delayed a little bit due to an outrageous work schedule and a few months of that good ol’ winter time depression, but I am working on it every day and it won’t be too much longer now. Seriously, thanks for your patience and encouragement.
To prepare for the current podcast series, I frontloaded much of the research, knowing that my pace of gathering new information would slow once I was spending time preparing and recording the episodes themselves. As a result, I read and read and read, I read until I felt like I had a good grasp not just for the dates and personalities, but for the historical, sociological, religious, and economic factors throughout the period about which I’d be talking.
And so, finally, after I had read 12 books and probably 200-300 articles, papers, diary entries, and so forth, I got started on episode 1. But I kept reading. For my very first crack at the inaugural episode, I ended up writing it almost word for word, 35 pages of colloquial writing that I would use as a guide as I recorded. But as I alternated between reading and writing, I finally reached a point in my research where I had to admit that the perspective and emphasis I settled on for the episode were laughably amateurish, and very often just plain wrong. This was an epiphany for me: When I started, I had read probably 10,000 pages on the topic in a dozen books and all those hundreds of articles, but when I look back on my first draft notes and thoughts, I just shake my head. Ten thousand pages and I still didn’t know shit.
It made me think of all the other topics that I haven’t read nearly as much about, but that I have waxed poetically upon to indulgent friends ad nauseum. I would often act as if I had a firm understanding of a topic because I had read three books on it! I mean, unless someone is a real deal expert on a topic, reading three separate books on a single issue is a great deal more thought and research than we put into most things. But I have had it proven to me, through first-hand experience, that even after a dozen books and shorter pieces by a hundred authors I remained incredibly naive about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It made me never want to speak on any subject ever again!
As time went on, my research piled up – past 20 books, 30 books, 40 books, 500 articles, 1000 articles… – and I reached a point where most of the new stuff I was reading no longer had anything to offer. I was digesting entire 400-page books and considering it a worthy success if I gathered a handful of previously-unknown quotes and anecdotes from it. I had things down pretty well, and felt like I would be pretty comfortable discussing most of the main and side-issues regarding pre-1948 Palestine with anyone out there.
But, every once in awhile…
Every once in awhile I still come across a book that just blows me away, and I have no choice but to call a temporary halt to production so that I can read and fully internalize it. I received such a book in the mail four days ago and I’m already on my second reading. It’s called A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present, by Zvi Gitelman, a professor of political science and of Judaic studies at University of Michigan. I’ve already ordered the rest of his books and am about to start the next. I highly, highly recommend this book, as it annihilates many myths – from both sides, that is, both anti-Semitic canards, and outright denial regarding Jewish participation in the Soviet tragedy – and does so in a compact, lucid style that makes the book itself a joy to read. If you have any real interest in the topic, this will be on the list of 3-4 books I would make you read.
I’m learning to use some digital graphics software, and I made this. I have T-shirts of this, and of the two kids with the weapons, being made up presently, and will have hoodies and hats that say “MartyrMade” soon. So if you’re wondering what to get your loved ones for the holidays… =D
If you contribute to the MartyrMade Patreon fundraiser, you will get a discount of double your contribution on any shirt or other piece of gear you want. So if you donate $1 per episode, you’ll get $2 off, $5 you’ll get $10 off, etc.
“Suppose that a man leaps out of a burning building—as my dear friend and colleague Jeff Goldberg sat and said to my face over a table at La Tomate in Washington not two years ago—and lands on a bystander in the street below. Now, make the burning building be Europe, and the luckless man underneath be the Palestinian Arabs. Is this a historical injustice? Has the man below been made a victim, with infinite cause of complaint and indefinite justification for violent retaliation? My own reply would be a provisional ‘no,’ but only on these conditions. The man leaping from the burning building must still make such restitution as he can to the man who broke his fall, and must not pretend that he never even landed on him. And he must base his case on the singularity and uniqueness of the original leap. It can’t, in other words, be ‘leap, leap, leap’ for four generations and more. The people underneath cannot be expected to tolerate leaping on this scale and of this duration, if you catch my drift. In Palestine, tread softly, for you tread on their dreams. And do not tell the Palestinians that they were never fallen upon and bruised in the first place. Do not shame yourself with the cheap lie that they were told by their leaders to run away. Also, stop saying that nobody knew how to cultivate oranges in Jaffa until the Jews showed them how. ‘Making the desert bloom’—one of Yvonne’s stock phrases—makes desert dwellers out of people who were the agricultural superiors of the Crusaders.” – Christopher Hitchens
I made a Patreon account. If anyone enjoys the podcast and wouldn’t mind contributing $1 an episode or so, that would be pretty great. Funds will go toward getting some new equipment, paying for some professional help on audio production and editing, website development, and some video work I have in mind relating to the podcast episodes. If by some miracle I get an unexpected number of people to contribute, it will allow me to take some occasional unpaid time off from my day job to get episodes out more frequently.
Anyone who contributes $1 an episode (so probably $1 every 2-3 months) will get a weekly newsletter with detailed stories and information about the current podcast topic, and with answers to your questions. If anyone can spare more than $1 an episode, I’ll start coming up with better rewards. There are going to be t-shirts and stuff soon, so I’ll think of something good.