Monday, 2 February 2009



As I attended the one day seminar “ Progressive London”, organised by Ken Livingston, last Saturday in London, I noticed that many of the participants were using the name of ‘Gaza ‘ loosely as a synonym for disaster, brutality, calamity, failure, etc. I overheard one woman saying to her friends that the economic conditions in Britain are really in a Gaza situation. Another said to his partner, ‘ I think that Gordon Brown wants to do a Gaza with the banks’ His companion replied, ‘ Oh, no. I think that the banks have already thrown him in a pretty messy Gaza.’

The English people have the liberty of doing anything with their language. They have even borrowed many of the misnomers from George Bush. They create new words from any notable event. You hear a student referring to his final exam as his Waterloo and a Mayfair hooker describing a night with a Kuwaiti client as a Stalingrad. ‘ Gaza’ is now a new addition to the English language signifying all that is savage, bloody, inhuman and irresponsible. We must credit Israel with this new contribution to the English language.

Alas, we Arabs don’t like innovations in our language, the lingo of the Holy Koran. I remember Prof. Mustafa Jawad objecting to the use of ‘ the ship arrived to the shore of safety’, saying that this was a foreign borrowing. Arabs don’t travel on board ships but on the back of camels. I think both are wrong. If we want to keep up with time, which we should do, we should say the Mercedes arrived at the garage of the Russian mistress to signify a safe arrival.
Away from mistresses and Mercedeses, I think the use of Gaza as a euphemism for any inhuman and wanton act of brutality is quite reasonable and effective. Instead of calling Saddam Hussein’s attack on Halabja in Kurdistan as the Halabja massacre, you can call it as the Halabja gaza or the gaza of Halabja, and so on. The American administration of Iraq may be likewise described as the American gaza in Iraq. The frightful beating received by Um Jasim from her husband for her bad cooking of bamia is a terrible gasa wreaked on the poor woman.
Many other derivative words, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, present participles may be coined up from this root word ‘gasa’. Instead of reporting that the Egyptian police brutally attacked the demonstrators for supporting the Palestinians, it can be simply said that the police gasised or gasatised the demonstrators. A Saudi hit by the collapse of the oil prices would express his losses by beating his chest and moaning,’ By Allah, what a gasa I find myself in!’
‘Oh no, Abu Ahmad, don’t gastise your self so readily. This is only a small gasa which will soon pass with the help of Allah and our American friends.’
Religious prayers and incantations may likewise be enriched by the use of the new term. If you are going to a wedding party , you should congratulate the couple by wishing them well: ‘May the Almighty God bless you with so many male kids and spare you the experience of any unpleasant gasa throughout your long life.’ If it is a matter of a funeral or memorial gaza, you recite the sura of al-Fatiha and then give your condolences to the bereaved thus, ‘ So sorry my friends. May He the Almighty spare you any more gasa in your life.’

Days, months and years will pass and university students of literature and linguistics will hear their professors lecturing them: ‘ Gasatisis mentioned in the first line of the poem to signify extreme brutality is a word derived from the name of gasa, a terrible massacre wreaked on our ancestors during the Second Jahilia (idolatry) Epoch when a barbarian tribe attacked their town and massacred their women and children.’


Obaidullah Khan said...
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Obaidullah Khan said...

Thanks Kishtani
i found your articles very intresting
and loved reading them .i love your writing style. I read most of your coloums in Assharqulawsat.
This (Gaza) really will be a very good addition to their language like we people here in India use Gujrat as a synonyms of Massacre mass murder,mayhem and bloodshed.