51 thoughts on “Gaza War: Bringing Out the Worst in Israeli Misogyny, Racism – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “Kansu” has a secondary (and not a very pronounced) sexual meaning, but it has a very direct meaning “violent address” meaning. The “address” in this context can be verbal _or_ physical and depends on the context of the entire conversation.

    Given that the entire context is one of a violent confrontation of a physical nature, the more correct interpretation of “Kansu” is physical violence with a secondary and weak sexual connotation.

    A reasonable English equivalent would be “Fuck them up” or “Mess them up bad”.

    So there :-).

    PS – I am a linguist, so take my claims with a grain of salt.


  2. While it is true that a literal translation of “כנסו באימא שלהם” sounds terrible (enter their mothers), it’s a slang phrase that simply can’t be translated literally (just as you wouldn’t translate “and Bob’s your uncle” literally, for example).

    When spoken in Hebrew, “כנסו באימא שלהם” is meant as something along the lines of “give them hell” or “fuck them up”. If I were to tell another Hebrew speaker that I would “אכנס באימא שלו”, there’s no way he would take it to mean I wish to perform intercourse with this mother, but rather as a direct threat against him.

      1. Once again, that’s a literal translation that ignores the actual meaning of the phrase as it is used by Hebrew speakers. When said between Hebrew speaker, it doesn’t mean “I’m going to fuck your mother”, but rather “I’m going to fuck you up”.

        It’s vulgar either way, but it is not meant to tell the IDF soldiers to literally fuck Palestinian mothers, and I think it’s an important distinction, at the very least for the sake of linguistics, if nothing else.

        1. S’s comment was not there when I wrote my own reply.
          I second his, as you can see.
          There’s another popular curse in mixed Hebrew and Arabic – “your mother’s cunt” (sometimes “your sister’s cunt”). Again – you may be justified in saying they are misogynistic in origin, but they’re almost dead metaphors. It simply means “go to hell”.
          There’s a similar one in Russian – Yoptfoyomat – “go fuck your mother”: no one would understand it literally.

          1. @ Cold Fish:

            you may be justified in saying they are misogynistic in origin

            No they are not just misogynistic “in origin.” They’re flat-out misogynistic, period. Tell me when you hear a curse involving “your father’s dick.” Then you can talk about how it’s not misogynistic.

            I’m invoking the 3 comments a day rule for you. Don’t publish any more than 3 comments in any one day so as not to monopolize the comment thread. If you exceed this limit I will enforce the rule even more vigorously.

  3. It’s a repulsive banner mainly because it’s official.
    But it really has nothing to do with actual Palestinian mothers.
    Same as “you son of a bitch” really has nothing to do with your mother.
    “Kansu be’Ima shelahem” (or “be’Im-Ima shelahem”, for emphasis), really just means (as Marc said), “mess’em up”. Mess *them* up, not their mothers.
    It really is vulgar, but again – stands out primarily as an official municipal product. It would be considered standard military, machoist lingo in any army marching to war. And IMHO, not 1 out of 100 Israeli soldiers you’d ask would understand this as a call for messing up Palestinian mothers.
    (another linguist here)

      1. It is amazing that you, Richard, are refusing to understand that this phrase has simply nothing whatsoever to do with “their mothers”. Nothing. Nada. As simple as that.
        Obviously, you are not a native Hebrew speaker and your understanding of the language is rather limited. Arguing in this way is quite ridiculous and really makes me see your blog in a different light than before.

        1. @ chanan: I’m going to publish this bullshit comment and note I’ve added this quotation to my post which eviscerates your dumbass claims:

          This English translation of the Hebrew “Kansu” as “pound” (or its synonym “bang,”) literally means to beat, but also has a colloquial meaning connoting sexual penetration. In the Hebrew original, the double-entendre is inverted: “Kansu B’” has the colloquial meaning of physically attacking someone, but literally means to enter, sexually or otherwise – this sexual connotation can be found on multiple Hebrew-language sex blogs.

          The phrase “their mother,” “ima shelahem” in Hebrew, also has the colloquial meaning of “with great intensity.” The idiom developed precisely because, for many people, witnessing their mother being assaulted is more painful than receiving a blow to their own person. In the context of the city’s banner, the language of sexualized violence is borrowed in order to articulate ruthless subjugation of Gaza’s Palestinian population.

          The next idiot who comes alone doubting or demeaning my Hebrew skills will not only not be published, but will be banned. I bet I’m not gonna hear that shit again. It’s interesting to note that the only people doing this are those with right wing political views. Somehow, progressive Hebrew speakers don’t have this problem with my Hebrew translations. Wonder why?

    1. Yeah, that was pretty disappointing. It’s a Western thing, I guess. So long as you’re a Western official and deny that you intend to kill civilians, you can kill them by the hundreds and the EU and the US will only express concern. But Hamas firing rockets that are unlikely to kill more than a few people at that, and this after weeks of firing–well, that’s a war crime. And it is, of course, but it makes one question whether the rules of war (at least as interpreted by the people in power) weren’t just set up to allow the “civilized” folk to pound away at their inferiors, while criminalizing any violence from the inferiors.

      That said, the EU document wasn’t quite as bad as I expected.

      1. So, from your words the actual war crime is that not enough Israelis has died?
        “Hamas firing rockets that are unlikely to kill more than a few people” – Are you serious??

        Regarding the post, I think that choosing quotes from Israel’s edges, those people who are being condemned enough from within Israeli society cannot be taken as a representative of Israeli people.
        About the sign with the violent (not sexualy) message… This is not appropriate to be placed like this in the cityscape.. But I think think that the meaning (with extremely bad choice of words) was “Go win the terrorists and come back in one piece”..

        1. @ Citizen of the World: Your only intent is to argue, getting in the last best word on behalf of Israel. And you try using a new IP address so you’ll evade the moderation I’ve placed on your comments. If you keep this up I’ll ban you. Stop trying to score points. Stop with the exagerration and non sequiturs.

          I think think that the meaning (with extremely bad choice of words) was “Go win the terrorists and come back in one piece”..

          First, no one is interested in what you think. Second, we’ve all taken reading comprehension and can interpret the wording for ourselves without your guidance. Give it a rest.

          1. I’m telling you my opinion about what’s beong said here. Isn’t it what all others do here in the comments?
            I don’t have to try using new IP address… If you know how most of the Internet providers work (dynamic IP), you must also know that IP changes every few days or weeks..

            Can you please explain what did I do wrong in the comment? I guess if I’d write here that Israel is a war criminal or something like that, you would also react differently..

  4. the speech/article was for ‘theory and not practice’ or להלכה ולא למעשה .you have perverted the message of the article to you own ends.
    however, it would be good advice for the Druze who have a long חשבון with Islam.

  5. I concur with the linguists above, but it’s still a pretty bloody unpleasant thing to have printed on a banner. Thanks for your continued fine reporting on these things, Richard.

    On another subject you have been notably silent on the recent admissions that UNRWA premises are not as sacred and as inviolable as their spokesman Chris Gunness keep insisting. I would love to get your take on the truth that Hamas is using Gazan schools to store missiles for use against Israeli civilians. Cheers.


  6. In the bowels of the US State Department there’s a popular expression (paraphrasing) describing Israelis like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer. Its going to take some time before the enormity of the damage they have done to themselves sinks in.

    1. [comment deleted: anti-Palestinian hasbara is not permitted in the comment threads. Your next similar comment will result in moderation.]

  7. You didn’t understand the phrase.
    It doesn’t connect whith thier mother or sex inuendo.it is an hebrew phrase that means to beat them at the war.

  8. interesting how three of the cities are from Canada we do have a substantial arabic/muslim population. Its great that we are showing solidarity with the Palestinians. the one thing i find odd is you included france. France more specific Paris is having pogroms or price tag attacks on jews. I thought you would have talked about how israels actions threat the world jewry which leads to jews moving to israel. Its like a tail wagging the dog.

    1. @ ben: Your hasbara is showing, ben. “Pogroms” in Paris? Really. I think you meant to say pogroms in the West Bank & Gaza. Because those are real pogroms in which hundreds of people have been killed.

      Israel’s action do threaten world Jewry. But that won’t encourage them to move to Israel unless they want to endure the rockets which are provoked by Israeli pogroms against Palestinians. You see, it’s a vicious circle.

      1. Richard,
        In Australia, generally speaking, the move towards publicly separating Zionism from the term ‘anti-semitism’ is well underway. At a Gaza protest in central Sydney last Sunday, both Palestinian & Jewish speakers highlighted the fact that conflating the two terms was a serious misinterpretation, with loud cheering accompanying these pronouncements.
        It appears that the term ‘Zionism’ is fast becoming a touchstone for apartheid, ethnic cleansing with the term ‘NAZionisn’ now appearing regularly on mainstream news & current affairs websites here.
        For those Jews who support the establishment of a Palestinian State, and who have traditionally referred to themselves as liberal Zionists, the emerging challenge is to find a word that captures their want for a just Israeli State, without being compromised by the increasingly negative connotations associated with Zionism.

  9. Hey Cold Fish you have obviously only picked out the thing about the rockets. The EU Commission condemns the firing of these rockets in the strongest terms and calls it “criminal acts” . It could hardly do anything else. But these rockets are not a real problem for the Palestinian unity government. They had gone down to a trickle anyway before Netanyahu and his lovely mates decided to use the missing teenagers as a pretext for going on a rampage on the West Bank to provoke Hamas and to weaken or destroy the unity government.

    What the EU wants Israel to do is far more important but we will come to that.

    What does the Commission say more about the immediate situation in Gaza than just about the firing of those rockets? It “underlines that the Israeli military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law. “ It “stresses the need for protection of civilians at all times”. It says that it “is particularly appalled by the human cost of the Israeli military operation in Shuya’iyya and is deeply concerned at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” It calls for an “immediate ceasefire”.

    So what does it want Israel to do.

    As far as Gaza is concerned it asks for a return to the ceasefire agreement of 2012. That agreement, Cold Fish, provided for an opening of the border crossings. Israel notoriously ignored that provision. Not to be misunderstood the EU commission underlines that again. Referring to the “unsustainable nature of (the) status quo” in Gaza and the fact that the “humanitarian and socioeconomic situation in Gaza must be addressed” it “reiterates its call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from the Gazastrip in line with UNSC Resolution 12860 (2009)” .

    That is as far as Gaza is concerned.

    It furthermore “calls for an agreement that ends the occupation which began in 1967” and wants that to be based on the 4th of June 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps.

    Occupation, Cold Fish. Returning to the “4th of June 1967 lines”, Cold Fish. You might have been cheered up by this document because you probably never got further than the condemnation of those rockets. I don’t trust Netanyahu’s reading skills too much either but I bet that, nevertheless, he swore after perusing it, both in Hebrew and in English.

    1. [comment deleted–sorry but I’ve had it up to here with anti-Hamas hasbara bullshit. If your comment is just another hasbara talking point which 10 previous hasbara commenters have published here, you ain’t gonna get it through. Try originality. Better yet, try facts. Try evidence. Avoid opinion. Because yours stink.]

  10. During a recent press conference, at which he gave a speech in Hebrew, Netanyahu reportedly categorically ruled out a two state solution. Most observers have known that for quite a while and that he was just stringing Kerry and the Palestinians along in the recent “peace talks”, pissing off Kerry (whom he apparently calls “naive” behind his back) no end.

    At the end of his speech he reportedly growled that “no one should mess with Israel”. What was he thinking of. I think the man has an overheated imagination and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had an atomic version of Custer’s last stand in mind. – or worse, the “Samson option” in which we all go down together.

    What can one do for a man like that. Telling him to take a cold shower might be the most appropriate advice.

    Israel, or rather Likud and the Kahanists, won’t be forced on their knees by military means. Slowly, but inexorably, increasing economic sanctions, an academic boycot and a ban on Israel’s participation in international events, will start to bite if it doesn’t change its present policy. And that will hurt. How much it will was shown in the FAA’s present flight ban for Tel Aviv which was not even meant as part of a boycot (or was it?). Reportedly Netanyahu was immediately on the phone to naive Kerry asking him to do something about it.

  11. Richard I’m amazed by the way you dismiss and silence anyone not thinking the way you do. not a very leftie thing to do i must say…as for the subject of your post…”kansu b’ima shelahem”,is indeed an offensive term reffering to women in general, similar to arabic curse: “kus emek”, or “mother fucker” in english or “la concha de tu madre” in spanish and the list goes on. those are spoken phrases resulting from a Chauvinist culture (all of societies, including the united states of america). however, the use of that term in Or Yehuda was not done literally as you suggested. it ment: go show them what you are made of and win the fight.
    Im sorry to disappoint you, I am actually a left wing voter (meretz), I read your blog from time to time, agree on somethings and disagree on others, i thought this was a place for discourse and exchange of opinions…you proved me wrong unfortunately. publish me or not, i will not read this blog with the same open mind as i did before, thats a shame 🙁

    1. @ jazz:

      I am actually a left wing voter (meretz)

      If I had a dime or a shekel for every time a right wing Israeli wrote in a comment here that he’s “left wing,” “liberal,” or “votes Meretz,” I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d be on my way. Stop trying to impress us. We know the tricks they teach at hasbara academy. I just wish they’d tell you all the tricks the previous hasbarists had tried here before you.

      Note also, how these hasbara mavens try to impress us with voting for Meretz as if that was the sina qua non of Israeli leftism.

      I really couldn’t give a fig about what you think about how I edit the blog. So stop complaining about it. It makes me snore with boredom.

  12. Cold Fish, I read your comment before Richard deleted it. Originally you claimed that the EU Commission in its recent report “primarily condemned Hamas’s criminal acts”. Now you are calling the report “balanced”. Well, if you call a report “balanced” that demands what Israel has definitely ruled out in advance (returning to the borders of the 4th of June 1967) that is fine with me.
    As to the breaking of the ceasefire of 2012: Israel played its usual game there – provoking, provoking, provoking, until one rocket flies and there they have their pretext for closing the border. Here is a long list of Israeli ceasefire violations before the first closing of a border crossing. http://blog.thejerusalemfund.org/2012/12/israeli-ceasefire-violations-in-gaza.html

  13. Walter –
    I’m sorry, I didn’t realize some people here may not be familiar with the rightist pejorative use of סמולני (a stupid wordplay on “small” – size-wise, brain-wise, whatever) for שמאלנים.
    So I am saying that I’m a proud סמולני – because that’s what rightists would call me.

    (and Richard – am I supposed to not respond to people addressing my comments if I’m over my 3-comment-a-day limit?)

    1. @ Cold Fish: Yeah, you’re a leftist like I’m a follower of Shabbtai Zvi. I won’t allow you to abuse the term, which should have an honorable meaning. When you abuse it, you make it into a laughingstock, which I’d prefer to confine to you alone.

      1. [comment deleted: I had intended only to moderate your comments. But once I moderate a commenter and they violate the rules again, that merits loss of all comment privileges. You seem to think your snark passes for wit. In this case, it gets you banned.]

  14. “I would ask, though, re your “trickling” comment from before, if any country would accept a “mere” trickle of rockets fired at its citizens without taking action.”

    Cold Fish, be grateful for small mercies. Do you really believe that there is any human group that would completely passively suffer the oppression that Israel is subjecting these people to? The human race would be a sorry lot if that were the case.
    And of course you wouldn’t find the word “slaughter” in a political-diplomatic document. That word is reserved for the historians looking back. The term “appalled by” is straightforward enough.

    1. [Comment deleted: I remind you I have no interest in hearing your personal opinion on whether the Occupation is benign or a slumber party. If you don’t have anything containing substance, evidence & rigor you’re views go in the trash where they belong.]

  15. “I would argue that in Gaza we are not the oppressors, and that in the West Bank our oppression is an extremely mild one, in any historical perspective.”
    This conversation is becoming increasingly more absurd and I wonder whether Norman Finkelstein is literally right when he talks about Israel as a “lunatic society”. I would suggest that you suffer from a bad case of cognitive dissonance, fancying yourself a person of the left and at the same time denying oppression about which we have an abundance of testimony from Jews and non-Jews alike. I recently cited in a letter for this blog the judgment of Ronnie Kasrils, an erstwhile South African Jewish activist against apartheid. He came to visit the territories and thought that what he witnessed there was far worse than apartheid.

    “in any historical perspective”. What are you comparing it with? The regimes of Dzhengis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, Ivan the Terrible?

  16. Cold Fish-you are right. the problem is that the Hebrew language has been ‘raped’ in its usage with slang and eng words etc.

  17. Link me to Kasrils’ letter and I’ll read that too.
    Are we still talking about Gaza as well or just about the Territories?
    And no, not Vlad… – Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Turkish Kurdistan, Chechnya, China, Belarus, Cuba, Eritrea… and the list goes on.
    No point even mentioning the complete mayhem in most of Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc.
    In most of these places you won’t find “two narratives”.
    You’re right of course to say that we’re in a unique position in the Western world, i.e. in the world we’d like to associate ourselves with. But again – this is far from being a one-sided story, is all I’m saying.

  18. In certain sections of some English-speaking societies it is common to refer to anyone you dislike as a ‘mother fucker’. In Cantonese a phrase translated as ‘fuck your mother’ is widely used as a general expletive, rather like the way ‘fuck’ is used in English. So I do not think we should get too worked up about the fucking aspect.
    What is clear is that an official town notice has used a vulgar expression to express a desire that the IDF should do bad things to Arab mothers and that this will somehow help them return safely to their own mothers. It is racist, misogynist, offensive, violent and an incitement to commit war crimes, since Arab mothers are certainly not combatants in this conflict. The impression it gives to outsiders is that of a total degeneration of Israeli society away from civilized values.

  19. Even among the unsavoury regimes you mention state led mass slaughter of largely defenceless people is comparatively rare – and it is absolutely unique that such slaughter is justified by the rhetoric of “self defence” and that, further
    more, this rhetoric is echoed by so many governments, following the lead of the US. One day, and it might not be too far off, the US will look back on this chapter of its history in shame.

    You can find Karlis’ statement (under Oct.2001), together with a complete overview of Israel’s relation with the South African apartheid regime, here: http://www.ameu.org/getattachment/b22637c7-6d2b-4f33-9f1e-8e21398578b9/About-That-Word-Apartheid.aspx

  20. I hope the next sign will say “Good luck, break a leg!”, so that you will have another funny post.

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