The Hebrew article is the sound “ha” affixed to the beginning of any noun; thus “hamazel,” for example, means “the luck.” So it required no great flight of sadistic fancy for my fifth-grade Hebrew School classmates to dub me “Ha-maniac.”
Add to that the fact that we were studying the section of Talmud dealing with finding lost objects, where we encountered the Aramaic “hemnik,” meaning dinner fork; the case concerns finding your neighbor’s fork which was accidentally thrown out with the garbage. Instead of learning the lesson of respecting a person and his property from the obligation to return the fork, my peers found more ammunition with which to disrespect my person.
By the time, in my thirties, that a Russian immigrant explained that Homnick is a variant of a Ukrainian word meaning “smart man,” the scars had settled beyond the reach of mere facts. So you can well understand that I would never indulge in so cheesy a pastime as mocking a person’s name. Consequently, my commentary on the despicable actions of Arash Miresmaeili at the Olympic Games the other day will not compare his morals to a rash of smelly mires. Instead, I will dig deep into my store of apt metaphors and choose one at random. How about this: a leprosy of rancid bogs?
The good news is that I learned just enough judo to save myself the exertion of heaping contumely on this genius. They taught us that the secret of judo is to conserve one’s own energy, and with a smoothly timed economy of movement, maneuver one’s body in such a way that the attacker’s own forward thrust is accelerated. If you are swift enough to get out of the way, the brute’s force hurts only him when he strikes the floor or wall.
Here, too, our Farsi friend has proved less than far-seeing. Had he framed his refusal to fight the Israeli judo champion as a protest for poor treatment of Palestinians, he would fill a harmonic slot in the international symphony of Israel-bashing. His note, however discordantly jarring in American ears, would strike a chord among global arbiters of political good taste. The Israeli, Ehud Vaks, would have been left to wear the stigma of the pariah, like the South African athletes of the apartheid era, whose bench presses were treated like the benchmark of oppression and whose swimming was despised as the laps of decadent luxury.
Instead, Arash was so rash as to announce that he does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state (!?!). Now this is far too progressive even for the avant-garde. This is the equivalent of going beyond supporting gay marriage all the way to outlawing heterosexual marriage (on second thought, an idea not without some merit). This is so darned progressive as to be… primitive.
Once again, those boys in the Middle East have proven that they cannot marshal enough martial art to even fight like civilized folks, much less live peacefully. You would think that with all these mullahs mulling and all these imams mumbling, with all these sheiks shaking and all these emirs murmuring, that someone would have enough sense to wake up to the fact that the Jews, after two millennia abroad, have come back to stay. Not only that, they brought all the trappings of modernity alongside the Yeshivas that guard their ancient patrimony.
If the Arabs were smart, they might find that Israel can offer them a great deal in the areas of agriculture, technology and medicine. Not to mention the fact that a militarily strong neighbor who has no designs on your own territory is a very good asset. Especially the Persians, who are not really Arabs, could benefit from a good working relationship with Israel, as indeed existed under the Shah. Need we remind them that it was Iraq that fought a vicious war against them in the ’80s, decimating their male population? Israel has never picked a fight with Iran and never will unless provoked.
It behooves Mr. Miresmaeili to buy avowal on the wheel of fortune instead of trying to sell disavowal. Stick with the judo, lose the jihad. You want to gain respect as an Olympian, find your way to the high ground. If you can’t make it all the way to the Twenty-first Century, at least take a step forward into the Twentieth.
You see? No work required on my part. All the heavy lifting done by Mr. M himself. Hoist by his own pet aardvark or whatever the expression is. All it takes is a little judo-ism and the man hits his own fool head. Saves me the arduous task of metaphor manufacture. Oh, wait a sec. How about this one: an eczema of putrescent fens?