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  #51  
Old Friday, January 27, 2023
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Post 2021 Precis

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Nizar Hassan was born in 1960 and raised in the village of Mashad, near Nazareth, where he has lived with his family. He studied anthropology at Haifa University and after graduating worked in TV. Starting in 1990, he turned to cinema. In 1994, he produced Independence, in which he pokes his Palestinian interlocutors about what they think of the bizarre Israeli notion of their “independence”. They have stolen another people’s homeland and call the act “independence”! Hassan dwells on that absurdity.
As the world’s attention was captured by the news of Israel planning to “annex” yet a bit more of Palestine and add it to what they have already stolen, I received an email from Nizar Hassan, the pre-eminent Palestinian documentary filmmaker. He wrote to me about his latest film, My Grandfather’s Path, and included a link to the director’s cut. It was a blessing. They say choose your enemies carefully for you would end up like them. The same goes for those opposing Zionist settler colonialists. If you are too incensed and angered by their daily dose of claptrap, the vulgarity of their armed robbery of Palestine, you would soon become like them and forget yourself and what beautiful ideas, ideals, and aspirations once animated your highest dreams. Never fall into that trap. For decades, aspects of Palestinian and world cinema, art, poetry, fiction, and drama have done for me precisely that: saved me from that trap. They have constantly reminded me what all our politics are about – a moment of poetic salvation from it all.
Nizar Hassan’s new documentary is one such work – in a moment of dejection over Israel’s encroachment on Palestinian rights and the world’s complicity, it has put Palestine in perspective. The film is mercifully long, beautifully paced and patient, a masterfully crafted work of art – a Palestinian’s epic ode to his homeland. A shorter version of My Grandfather’s Path has been broadcast on Al Jazeera Arabic in three parts, but it must be seen in its entirety, in one go. It is a pilgrimage that must not be interrupted.
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Nizar Hassan is an eminent Palestinian filmmaker. In his previous documentary, "Independence," he has forced his viewers to examine their pre-conceived notions of Israeli independence, which is akin to occupying another people’s land. Palestinian arts and literature, like his films, have prevented men from falling into the trap of self-pity and self-righteousness and turning into your enemies by persistently reminding them of the ideals for which they used to strive. Hassan’s latest documentary, "My Grandfather's Path," which addresses the illegal expansion of Israel, has invoked the same feelings in the writer of this passage by providing him some closure. Besides being long and comprehensive, it is indeed a magnum opus that rightfully addresses the plight of the Palestinians.

Title: Hassan's Masterpiece: My Grandfather's Path
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  #52  
Old Friday, January 27, 2023
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Post 2022 Precis

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The fear of human beings when faced with the mysteries of life and their weakness by comparison with the vastness of nature created in them a need to communicate with the divine, with the superior powers which they believed regulated the universe and determined their own fates. Knowledge of wishes of the gods was always a sure guide for human behavior. In ancient Greece, the precise nature of these wishes was ‘decoded’ by the art of giving oracles, practiced by soothsayers who had the gift of understanding the signs or signals sent by the gods.
The soothsayers uttered their oracles by interpreting flashes of lightening, rolls of thunder or the flights of certain birds of prey (omens), alternatively, they might observe the direction in which the fire burned when a sacrifice was made, examine the entrails of animals which had just been sacrificed or base judgments on the sacrificial beast’s willingness to approach the altar. The interpretation of dreams was popular too, and so was palmistry. The most notable soothsayers of ancient Greece were Tiresias, Calchas, Helenus, Amphiaraus and Cassandra.
However, there were abundant instances in which the gods did not manifest themselves to the faithful in the forms of signs but spoke directly to an intermediate who for a short time was overcome by a ‘divine mania’ and transcended his own human essence. Here the prophet – or more usually the prophetess – entered a state of ecstasy in which he or she delivered the message from the gods to the suppliants.
These practices for foreseeing the future were the basis on which the ancient Greek oracles operated. Each oracle was located within a properly-organized sanctuary and was directly associated with one or other of the gods. Apollo was the archetypal soothsayer for the Greeks, the god who was responsible for conveying to mortals the decisions pronounced by Zeus. The most important of all the oracles, that at the Delphi, delivered the messages with the intervention of Apollo, while the oldest that or Dodona, functioned with the assistance of Zeus.
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The mystery of life and the world has always compelled men to seek guidance and comprehend the wishes of the gods. In ancient Greece, this understanding of the will of the gods was an art that was practised by augurs. These oracles decipher the signals sent by gods through various methods, such as interpreting lightning and thunder, observing the behaviours of birds and animals, decoding dreams, and using palmistry. However, sometimes the gods spoke directly to an intermediary who delivered the message of the gods to those seeking guidance. These soothsayers were located in organised sanctuaries. Some of them have direct contact with the supreme deity, while others receive messages from deities through intermediary gods.

Title: Divine Communication in Ancient Greece
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