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Datenbank zum Diskurs Palästina/Israel/Deutschland/Arabische Welt/Islam. Seit 2001 - Database on the discourse Palestine/Israel/Germany/Arab World/Islam. Since 2001
Meet the Press (4): Henryk M. Broder
An Online Reflection by Anis Hamadeh, 2006
Chapter 1

Deutsche Version

Chapter 1: What is the Guilt about? - Analyses - Habibi Block Warden

- What is the Guilt about? -

(June 27, 2006) I don't know much about Henryk Broder in the first place. There will be an article or two of him that I read in the course of the decades, but basically I only remember the correspondence with former minister Norbert Blüm from back then. Blüm by mistake addressed him "Broders", which caused the second one to call the first one "Blums" and it went a while to and fro like that ("Lieber Herr Brabler"). This was also the episode where the following beautiful sentence occurred: "You know badly how to read well, but you do know well how to write badly." Well, it is beautiful in German ("Gut lesen können Sie schlecht, aber schlecht schreiben können Sie prima.") See www.henryk-broder.de/html/tb_bluem.html. Then there was an email exchange shortly after New Years Eve in which I could observe that he has completely different associations with me than he has with Erhard. Besides, it is known to me that the name Henryk M. Broder can activate spontaneous emotions in some networkers.

So let us approach the phenomenon unencumberedly and systematically and for the sake of justice start with the self-description. The heading of every single page of his homepage is: "...your own fault, if you write me" ("...selber schuld, wenn Sie mir schreiben.") The German word "Schuld" means "guilt". Next to the heading we see a man in despair sitting at a desk, with papers all around him, the face covered by the hands, the elbow on the desk. There also is a telephone apparatus from early times, as an eye-catcher.

So Broder talks about guilt. What is this guilt about? Does one become guilty by writing him? It sounds like it. But this is impossible, for we have seen before that he is someone who likes communication. He is happy when he receives mails. Quite confusing, this. And it reminds me of another colleague, Erwin al-Tuffaahi, one of the most relevant apple theoreticians who lived in the beginning of the internet age. Back then, he chose a very similar heading for his homepage: "When you write to me, then it is your own fault", he wrote. He stood under the impression to be offended and discriminated against for his affiliation to the apple industry. You might remember the scandal in Southern Myr, when there were poisoned apples found in a wholesale department. It was a tense atmosphere and the apple growers of the region had no intention to accept that they have to suffer for something that was committed by individuals, if at all, for probably the pineapple industry had a hand in the affair and the apple growers were innoscent. Small wonder that Erwin was enervated. And still... Well, we will come back to this case.

I placed my thoughts on the net, switched off the computer and went to the window. This would not be an easy task. There were many distractions and cryptic signs. In order to advance to the substance it was necessary to shake off those irritations first. I cogitated.

- Analyses -

(June 28, 2006) Did you know that there are completely different kinds of cogitation? For when I stood there at the window cogitating I noticed that. Mainly, there is the analytical cogitation and the shaman one. The first is, when you, for example, ponder about the sum of two numbers. The second... hmm, let me explain it on the basis of a radio feature I recently overheard in the coffee break.

It was about soccer. Concerning the bets of the World Championship™ there are those who resort to rational analysis and those who let the feeling in their guts decide. The second ones - in the cliché women, but this is nonsense - mostly are closer to the truth. This is scientifically proven. I think, TV news man Uli Wickert also affirmed it. The reason is that in the shaman "schau" incredibly complex procedures take place. They are so complex that man cannot even exactly comprehend them. Myriads of brain cells send signals, build a network, super-complicated. Similar to the centipede that does not know how he is able to walk with all these legs. Or the car driver who causes a crash as soon as he starts to think about feet, brakes, accelerator and clutch pedals. Once as a child on a bicycle I tried to drive with my arms crossed on the handlebar. It did not work. I never tried it again. (I do not recommend it, either.)

Cogitations about Henryk M. Broder. What, for instance, does the M in his name mean? And why is he so much underestimated? I don't know if you noticed, but b., as he modestly calls himself, is a member of the Axis of Good. By all means, this is a visible socially engaged element. He wants to do good, like myself and all of us. This Axis of Good probably is a jolly good thing. We surely have to zap into it later on.

I am positively of the opinion that we are dealing with a humanist in disguise here. Of course, it is a very good disguise. But I am sure that we will find the point. We will just have to travel into the past a little. Return to the roots. Rousseau, Marty & Doc, Australopithecus afarensis, short pants romance...

One day had passed. I turned on the computer again, opened Outlook and asked the community for early testimonies of the life of Henryk M. Broder. There was no other way, if we wanted to get any further.

- Habibi Block Warden -

(June 29, 2006) Yesterday in an email he addressed me with Habibi. That means "darling" in Arabich. He also pointed out to me the high costs of an RO, that means "restraining order". This is what I could collect ("kassieren"), if I used one of the above-mentioned testimonies of the life of Henryk M. Broder. I received something in an email and handed it over to him for examination. But he said that the story is wrong and that it came from a "block warden". OK, ok, but intimidating measures, this goes too far, so I may write them into the book. Herr Broder does this himself.

A simple clarification would do. This is why I had submitted the text to him to begin with. Let's not forget that we have a freedom of opinion in this country, and a freedom of press. Yet with sentences like "Got it, Habibi?" one cannot really impress me much. Strange development: in the beginning, b. could hardly wait, and now he writes me I should rather drink arrack and write crocodile poems. It surely is nice that he likes the crocodile, but we cannot change the direction all the time. We have to bring this to end now, that's the way it is. I mean, by whom is the sentence "...your own fault, if you write me"? Exactly.

At least we got a tangible and material result that helps us on in the study. So let's state: Broder wants to like me, calls me Habibi. He thinks I drink Arrack and sees a Palestinian in me, not so much a German. The informant, on the other hand, is called "block warden". A concept that is associated with the Nazi times. You can get a picture of this block warden when you read his introduction which Broder saw:

"I would like you to consider that there is a custom, which I regard to be very good, in the Anglo-Saxon press to give the so to speak 'accused' an opportunity for a response before the publication and to consider this response when appropriate. Look, you are hearing things from me that you will doubtlessly not double-check yourself, but you will presume they are true, because you believe me. But I may be wrong and I could for some reasons consciously say untrue things. Therefore I regard the custom as very wise to not publish something like that without handing it to HB before for a response."

The forbidden story, too, is written without polemics and in a journalistic way. I freely admit to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that I admire this man, an active journalist. This passage has imressed me far more than the other story that I am forbidden to write about. Anglo-Saxon press, wow. "But I may be wrong", how he says that! I printed it out and sticked it on the wall.

Habibi block warden means that Broder does not want the Palestinian tragedy. He basically does not see the aggression in Palestine. It is the time of National Socialism he is concerned with. It is not over for him. And for me, by the way, it is not over, either. It is standing there, talked into pieces and still as if untouched. Until today we find aggressions which manifest that we have not yet overcome the horror. What does that mean? Can we overcome it, at all? I say yes, we must. But in order to do so we first have to learn what was so terrible about this time. For I think that all those dead rituals distract us. We are living in abstractions, in codes. There would never be so much violence in our culture, if we really understood what was so bad back then.

We cannot forever live in dolor and anger. It is part of our nature to affirm life and to feel and give joy. The dead to not want the living to be blue. And, dear Mister Broder Habibi, let me tell you this: when you see block wardens and anti-Semites everywhere then you won't get much further yourself. Do you think I am doing all this for fun? You wrote me yourself yesterday: "I am moved and flattered that such a distinguished poet like you spends so much time with concerning himself with me. How do I deserve this honor?" Yeah, well then think about why I am doing it. It is not for bad intentions, as you will have noticed by now. Here's a clue: I WANT TO UNDERSTAND YOU. And now don't pull such a face. Habib Albi.

More in Chapter 2 >>