Wednesday, August 18, 2010

El Naschie the time-traveller

El Naschie's Rosa Al-Youssef column is up for Thursday August 10. I love it when he gives us autobiographical tidbits. The great man is on a roll. Here's the original Arabic version of this column, and below is a translation into English, in full, based on Google's machine translation, manually cleaned up by yours truly.




Israel without Zionism

The title of this article was taken from one of the most important books published in the early sixties of the last century about the Arab-Israeli conflict. I remember that I was walking in one of the main streets of the city of Hannover in West Germany, I think in 1963, when I was a student at the Faculty of Engineering, but my mind and my heart and my being were devoted to the study of theoretical physics and the unity of Arabs [LOL. What a poseur]. I read any book on these subjects that I could get my hands on.



I noticed a new book that appeared in Fatrina, one of the supermarkets selling books in front of the German Opera House. What caught my attention immediately was the title of the book «Israel without Zionism [See my note* at the bottom of this post.]» by a young writer of the time, Uri Avnery.

The views of Avnery were bold and new even for me [haha]. The man was an admirer of the Arabs and the Palestinians and wanted to live with them in a non-racist and anti-Zionist way. He perceived all of this in the sixties.

As if this were not enough, the man said he was impressed with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and that Israel had started the conspiracy against Egypt and Nasser and not vice versa.



I discussed the book with my friends [obligatory name dropping section] and especially Dr Adel Abdel Salam Hussein, who was studying for a doctorate in Germany at this time and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Al-Azhar Faculty of Engineering, as well as Dr. Galal Abdel Hamid Abdullah, who is now adviser to the Minister of Scientific Research and Higher Education Dr. Hany Helal. We were all students full of enthusiasm and nationalism, and without a doubt we were all Nasserites without reservation.

Years passed and I graduated from the University of Hannover as a structural civil engineer, and worked for many companies in Germany to build streets, bridges and tunnels, and then decided on the advice of a professorial German [El Naschie may be referring here to Sir Hermann Bondi, an Anglo-Austrian mathematician and cosmologist. Sometimes he credits Bondi for influencing him to go to University College London] as well as my father, Major General Salah al-Din Alnchaii, to go to England to study Applied Mechanics at the University of London. The situation in the Middle East had changed for the worse, at least for Egypt and the Arabs. I recall a seminar to discuss Arab-Israeli conflict that was attended by Israeli students and Arab students. No one mentioned the book by Uri Avnery. I raised my hand and said to everyone, What about the ideas expressed by Uri Avnery in his famous book «Israel without Zionism»?

I did not find any of the Arab PhD students in England who knew about the book thing, but there was an Israeli PhD student who claimed to love peace, and wanted to make peace with the Arabs, who knew of Uri Avnery very well, but immediately said Yes, I know the book, but this guy asks a lot of Israel and goes beyond what concessions I can agree to.

Years passed and I became a professor of engineering [I doubt this.] and then I went on to theoretical physics and I had teachers who played a very important role in my life, all greats of science, and they were of the Jewish religion, at least according to their birth certificates.

Dearest and closest of those professors to my heart, and the man who I was associated with for a period of twenty years to the point that not a week went by without us meeting, was the late Prof. Dr. Thomas Parrilla [? I am not finding this guy in Google]. Parrilla was a Romanian Jew, but his first language was German, like most Jews of Europe. Parrilla was an atheist, but respected all religions, including Islam. Parrilla married in later years after he emigrated to England and became a professor at the University College at the University of London when I met him.

And complete tomorrow...




So that's his column for today. Tomorrow, I wager ten-to-one odds, he will tell us about his Nobel Laureate "teacher" Ilya Prigogine.

*Note: The book has been published under two slightly different titles:
  • Israel without Zionists: a plea for peace in the Middle East
  • Israel without Zionism: a plan for peace in the Middle East

However, neither title appeared before 1968, five years after El Naschie claims to have bought it in front of the Opera House in Hannover.

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1 comment:

  1. Can anyone figure out who Prof. Thomas Parrilla (or perhaps Thomas Arta, according to Bing) is?

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