46 thoughts on “Jaja’s Wife Denies Hezbollah Connection – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Regarding the spelling of the family name:

    It is spelled in Arabic جعجع (jim `ein jim `ein), and would be most accurately transliterated as ja`ja`, or ja3ja3 depending on which transliteration system you use. The Geagea transliteration does not follow any transliteration system that I am aware of. In any case Geagea, Jaja, Ja`ja`, or Ja3ja3 is all the same name. The correct pronunciation is something that would be difficult for English speakers since the sound represented by the ع transliterated by ` or 3, is not found at all in English.

    1. Yes, you’re right of course. I’ve changed the spelling to Jaja in all the posts in which I’ve mentioned his name. The odd thing is that there is a Hassan Geagea and a Hassan Ja’Ja’ in Facebook & I confused the first with the 2nd, who’s really “our man.”

      BTW, I’ve always admired hearing Mizrahim pronounce that Hebrew ltr. “ayin,” which has a glottal sound which comes from the back of the throat sounding more like “rayin.”

      1. Well, just as there are at least two Hasan Ja`ja`s in this world, there must also be at least two Richard Silverstein’s, one of whom could be mistaken for the other in some situations.

        “Ayin” (cognate to 3in) pronounced correctly could almost be described as a choking sound. I taught one of my colleagues to pronounce 3in correctly, but most people won’t even try. What I find REALLY annoying is the Israeli/Zionist insistence upon pronouncing the ح (Ha), or “hard” H in words like Hamas and Hezballah as kh, and many Israelis seem to just LOVE to draw it out, too. khkhkhkamas, Khkhkhezballah so they sound really brutish and stupid to the Arabic ear. If you are unable to pronounce ح correctly then just pronounce it as a normal “h”, for heaven’s sake! It will be far closer to being correct, and people will understand better what you are talking about and not be distracted by your mispronunciation. In some cases substituting the “kh” sound for “Ha” changes the word entirely. I have heard Israelis trying to sing in Arabic, and instead of singing about “Hayati”, which is a very strong endearment meaning literally “my life”, they were singing to “khayati”, which is “my taylor”. Come on! I like MY taylor too, but not enough to sing about him!

        1. I always find it amusing when Arabs speak Hebrew with a heavy Arabic accent. It is particularly funny because Arabs can’t seem to pronounce the letter “p” and pronounce it as a “b”, like “Many beoble read a newsbaber every day”.

          1. Yeah, it’s that American accent. I learned to roll my “rayshes” but Israelis tell me it doesn’t sound authentic & makes me sound French. But at least they don’t label me as being American. American accents in Hebrew sound pretty lame.

          2. I do not find the NY accent at all attractive, though certainly there are worse. I like some Southern accents, but not all.

          3. I grew up w. the NY accent & when spoken by working class folks who come by it honestly, I quite like it. It represents something tough & “in the streets” to me.

          4. I have to agree with you about the American accents, they are about the worst in Hebrew speakers. When I hear strong American accents in people (e.g Bank of Israel chairman Stanley Fischer) my skin crawls because it makes me think I sound like that, although my kids assure me that my isn’t that bad. Moshe Arens, although he is also an American has a much better accent, so there is hope for us.

            The most pleasant accent in Hebrew speakers is the Spanish accent which I actually enjoy hearing.

          5. When people speak with an accent, it means they have mastered more than one language.
            This is an accomplishment.

            Only hicks make fun off such native language interference. What does your Arabic sound like, Bar-Yokel?

          6. It is true that there is no “p” sound in formal Arabic or in most Arabic dialects (Iraqi dialects are an exception), so many Arabic speakers are “p” challenged, and will often substitution “b” for “p” when speaking English. Sometimes the results can be amusing.

          1. The Arabic hard H is not a soft kh. It is pronounced similar to h, but with tighter throat muscles, so it is a completely different sound from kh.

        2. Shirin,
          The KH instead of H thing is not an “insistence”, and it certainly has nothing to do with being a zionist. It’s a foreign accent, pure and simple. The speaker can be adamantly anti-zionist, but if they’re a native speaker of the predominant variety of Hebrew and not terribly good with languages, this is what you’ll get. You say it grates? I sympathize. If it’s any consolation, many Hebrew speakers feel the same way about Arabic accent in Hebrew, and do not hesitate to vent their displeasure, much as you do.

          1. 1. I didn’t say it had anything to do with being a Zionist.
            2. It is not a “foreign accent”. I don’t hear Israelis pronouncing every English h as a drawn out kh, just certain ones.
            3. Yes, I know how the correct Hebrew pronunciation of Arabic-speaking Jews grates on the tender Ashkenazi ear.

            PS Every time I have attended a service at a temple or synagogue I have received numerous compliments on my beautiful Hebrew. I guess not everyone finds the “Arabic accent” so grating. (Of course, our friend “Bar Kochba” thinks that the phrase “Many people read a newspaper every day” is Hebrew” – odd how much that sounds just like English.)

          2. Correction: Make that my beautiful Hebrew pronunciation. I may pronounce it well, but by no means do I speak it beautifully, or at all, really.

  2. I couldn’t find anyone on facebook named Rayan Zuayter. Did she remove her profile? There is a Razan Zuayter with friends named Jaja. Is the guy’s wife named Rayan or Razan?

  3. Shirin is right. The correct pronunciation of Ja3ja3 requires a deep glottal which is beyond the vocal cord capacities of most anglos 🙂

    BTW – I am not Mizarhi and I pronounce the ayin and the chet as they should be. Taught myself to do so from grade school. TV personality Yaron London, also a pure-bred Ashkenazee, does so as well.

    1. Well, I guess the chet you refer to is the cognate for ح or hard “H”, the one so many Israelis annoyingly pronounce as an overemphasized kh? I know that the correct pronunciation which most Mizrahim use is looked down upon as lower class by Ashkenazim, so how have people reacted to your correct pronunciation?

  4. Gee. This has been an enlightening discussion. I don’t have any trouble pronouncing my “kh”s or “h”s (nor ps and qs for that matter because I don’t speak either Arabic or Hebrew. Is this important? My French speaking friends don’t seem to mind that I speak their language with an American accent. It’s the content that counts. I haven’t found much interesting content in the above thread. On the other hand, perhaps it does provide relief from the likes of Sher and Dershowitz, above.

    1. How thoughtless of us to waste YOUR time by conversing about things that YOU do not consider interesting or enlightening. It appears we neglected our number one responsibility, which is, as everyone knows, to only discuss things Gene Schulman considers significant, and not annoy him by talking about things he finds trivial. I assure you that from now on we will endeavor to remain conscious of our duty to refrain from wasting YOUR time.

      1. My, my, aren’t we touchy, Shiren? Lighten up a bit. As I said, it provided some relief from your, otherwise, dreary seriousness.

        1. YOU telling ME (or just about anyone else here for that matter) to lighten up? How amusing. If you find my contribution here dreary, by all means skip over my comments. In the mean time, DO try to spell my name correctly. The spelling is not all mystery, after all, since it appears multiple times right here on this page.

  5. Moving away from pronunciation and accents for a second. I think you are being too optimistic about the possible outcome of these cases. Look at the resolution of the Tali Fahima case as an example: I expect that that Shin Bet will make it abundantly clear to Makhoul and Said that there will be no way that they’ll come out clean on this, regardless of the truth of the accusations. High on the priority list of the Shin Bet is to save face. They will make Makhoul and Said agree to plead guilty on some lower counts in a plea agreement. By “make them” I mean by threatening that if they go to trial the Shin Bet will bring forward “secret evidence” that only the judge is allowed to see and work their magic with the judicial system. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for justice to prevail. This is scary stuff, because, like Fahima, these cases will become shaped in the consciousness of the Israeli public as ones where the accused admitted guilt (no one remembers the details…), and will serve as the excuse for further narrowing the political space for Israeli Palestinians.

  6. In reply to Shirin,
    1. You did say “Zionist”. To wit: “What I find REALLY annoying is the Israeli/Zionist insistence upon pronouncing the ح (Ha), or “hard” H in words like Hamas and Hezballah as kh”
    2. Israeli’s don’t use KH in English, because English is not closely related to Hebrew, and does not have a multitude of cognate words. People don’t say “khayati” and “wakhad” to spite you. They do it because that’s the sound they use in “khayim” and “ekhad”, and they don’t know any better.

    3. It’s not correct. This is my native language, so I should know. In Arabic-accented Hebrew, the most noticeable thing is the vowels that are seriously off. There are other things, too. I happen to like this accent, but that’s beside the point, and doesn’t make it any less of an accent. What makes you imagine that your Hebrew pronunciation is more correct than that of native speakers is the fact that your language retains distinctions that our variety of Hebrew has erased. Just because biblical Hebrew had some of the same properties that Modern Arabic has, doesn’t mean your accent is correct Hebrew pronunciation.
    Here’s an analogy to a case that should be familiar: There’s the variety of Arabic that has lost the Q sound, merging it with alif (“ahwe” for coffee, etc.). Just because they lost this sound, would you say that their pronunciation is wrong? It’s not wrong. It’s just how that variety of Arabic works. Same goes for the variety of Hebrew that you refer to as “ashkenazi”, though it’s by far more widespread than that. It’s not wrong. It’s just what it is. I find Hebrew with H and Ayn more aesthetically pleasing, too, but I’m not going to emulate it, because that’s not the kind of Hebrew I grew up speaking. To do so would be a silly affectation, on a par with Madonna’s fake British.

    Finally: Of course they complimented you. I get complimented for my English all the time (and for my much more limited Arabic, too, but that’s just because people tend to encourage effort). People compliment you on your ability in a foreign language, but this doesn’t make you better than a native speaker.

    1. 1. Yes, I said Israeli/Zionist to cover both cases. I hear that mispronunciation from Israelis, some of whom are not Zionists, and I also hear it from Zionists who are not Israeli.

      2. The heavy kh used by Israeli officials and others is not the cognate for the letters/sounds that begin the words Hamas, Hezballah, or hayati.

      3. Your native language is a heavily Europeanized version of Hebrew recreated by Europeans. What makes you think your pronunciation is more correct than that of Arabic-speaking Jews who, after all, are direct descendants original Hebrew speakers, and who have directly passed the language down generation after generation? I would say there is a far better chance than it is your vowels that are seriously off.

      Finally, no, they did not compliment me simply to encourage effort. They complimented me because they found my pronunciation of the songs I was singing, and the prayers I was repeating to be exceptionally good. The first time I was complimented, in fact, I was performing a children’s play about Winter holidays, and which included Hebrew songs and words. One of the teachers came up to me afterward very excited and started speaking to me in Hebrew. Of course, I do not speak Hebrew, I simply had a convincing accent.

      1. 2. I’ll try to explain it again. Arabic “Hayati” is cognate with Hebrew “Khayai”. This in the source of the mispronunciation.

        3. My version is one of the versions that native speakers have and as such it is by definition as correct as the next native speaker’s version.

        There is no reason to assume that Jews from Arabic speaking countries are direct descendants of “original” (i.e. previous) Hebrew speakers any more than Jews from other countries. Jews moved around, in Arabic speaking countries as well as in other countries. Some are converts that joined in along the way, In Arabic speaking countries as well as in other countries. Who’s to say which ones among us are more “original” than others?

        To say that Jews in Arabic speaking countries passed down the language from generation to generation while others did not, is simply wrong. Neither European Jews nor Jews from Arabic speaking countries maintained Hebrew as their spoken language in daily life. Both groups maintained it as the language of liturgy.

        In any event, I never said anything about the vowels of speakers of varieties of Hebrew different from my own. I was commenting specifically on the vowels of Arabic speakers (the ones that have a heavy accent) when speaking Hebrew. You may not hear the difference, because it’s not your language, but I assure you that a native speaker of the variety of Hebrew that distinguishes H from KH and Aleph from Ayn does not sound the same as someone speaking Hebrew with an Arabic accent.

        My vowels are off of what? I’m a native speaker. My vowels are the standard for the variety I speak. They can’t be off, by definition. But this probably belongs under the Chomsky post. I refer you to his early writings about native speaker competence and the distinction between prescriptive and descriptive grammars.

        You seriously seem to believe that you pronounce my native language, that you don’t even speak, better than I do. Excuse me if I have a hard time wrapping my brains around that one.

        Finally, Shirin, I get french speakers thinking I’m French after I tell them the time in french. Some people are not very perceptive. You shouldn’t read too much into it.

        1. As long as you insist upon setting your europeanized Hebrew as the standard, of course you will be the one who is correct. While I very much prefer my Muslawi dialect over most other Arabic dialects, I do not hold it up as the standard of what is correct, and declare others wrong because they are different.

          And it is absurd to suggest that I believe my pronounce anyone’s native language better than they do, nor have I said anything to justify such a statement. I am sorry, though, that you do not have more confidence in your own French pronunciation.

        2. Sarah,
          we got of on a wrong start. I was angered by Bar Kochba’s remarks about Israeli Arab’s Hebrew for one thing, because it reminded me of the attitude of the Dutch towards the accent of Indonesians (who had little choice but to learn the language of the master race if they wanted to get ahead) in the former Dutch East-Indies.

          I do not enjoy unpleasant exchanges, so let me tell you also, that I agree completely with everything you say about dialects and native speaker’s intuition.

  7. A question to Elisabeth:
    Are you calling Shirin a hick? Because this is what touched off this entire debate. I was trying to get the same point across, without being rude to her.

    1. No Bar-Kochba, obviously.

      His making fun of the Hebrew pronunciation of Arabs in Israel is totally out of line. People that have become a discriminated minority in their own country and have little choice but to master Hebrew should not be made fun of.

      And congratulations on your politeness.

      1. Why discriminate?

        Shirin and Bar-Kochba were doing the same thing, essentially. If you want to nitpick, she started it and he retaliated.

        Why not uphold them to the same standard? Do you think Bar-Kochba is capable of more than Shirin?

        1. Israeli’s are not forced to speak Arabic. That’s the difference. Making fun of the underdog is annoys me more.

          1. I agree in the general case. However, in this particular forum that racist hierarchy doesn’t hold.

            That being said, I can’t think of the knowledge of any language as an injustice inflicted upon a person. It doesn’t replace your own language, it only enriches you.

            True, Israeli Jews are not forced to speak Arabic. I can’t think of that as an advantage, though. How can ignorance be an advantage over knowledge?

            English speakers are not forced to speak any language beside their own, and most indeed do not. I can’t say I envy them (you?) for it. Pity is more like it. My native language only has about 7 million speakers, so if I wan’t to communicate with the rest of humanity I’m “forced” to speak other languages. Worse things can happen to you.

          2. “I agree in the general case. However, in this particular forum that racist hierarchy doesn’t hold.”

            Sorry, I fail to follow that.

            “True, Israeli Jews are not forced to speak Arabic. I can’t think of that as an advantage, though.”

            Oh yes it is, if you are then made fun off, for speaking it incorrectly.

            For your information: My native language is not English either, so I have no need for your pity.

        2. No, we were not doing the same thing at all. Bar Kochba was making fun of the way Palestinians speak Hebrew. I merely commented that it is annoying the way Israelis pronounce the words Hamas and Hezballah with a very hard and sometimes rather drawn out kh. I did not comment at all on Israelis who learn Arabic. In fact, I have conversed in Arabic with a few Israelis, including Amira Hass, and have never criticized or made fun of the way they speak. I respect them for making the effort.

        3. Why not uphold them to the same standard?

          Because the level of Shirin’s intelligence and grasp of the world far surpasses Bar Kochba, who is little more than a provocateur and not a very good one at that.

  8. Elisabeth,
    Shirin is not an underdog in this forum. She doesn’t need your pity any more than you need mine.

    1. Bar-Kochba was making fun of Arabs speaking Hebrew. Who do you think those Arabs he has heard may have been? Israeli Arabs of course (whom I referred to as ‘the underdogs’), not Shirin.
      (By the way: How many more posts do you plan to devote to this. Just wondering.)

      1. Elisabeth, some people do not seem to have empathy for those who are forced to use the language of the conqueror, let alone understand the need for the ruling class to show respect for the language and culture of those they have conquered.

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