December 02, 2003
Unimpressive Signs And Portents

One of the many amusing passages in Ovid's Metamorphoses is the story of Io (1.583-746). Jupiter falls in love with her and turns her into a cow to conceal her from his wife Juno. Poor Io tries to go home to her family, but they naturally do not recognize her as kin after her transmogrification. Since she cannot speak, she finally convinces them of her identity by writing her name in the dirt with her hoof. Actually, Ovid is not very explicit about what she writes, calling it only corporis indicium mutati triste, "sad evidence of her changed body" (649). However, commentators tend to assume that the message is her name, since IO is also Greek for 'alas', and Ovid loves bilingual word-play.

None of the commentators seem to mention it, but I think part of the joke is that so simple a word as IO does not provide a particularly impressive demonstration of writing skill, and this is true whether the second letter is a Roman O or a Greek omega -- perhaps even truer with the latter, since any random hoofmark would provide a rough approximation of a capital omega. It's not as if the poor girl cow was named Clytemnestra or Alphesiboea or Mnemosyne.

I was reminded of Io and her bovine scratchings when I read Amish Tech Support's report of the latest news from Bethlehem:

Thousands of Palestinians have been thronging the Aida refugee camp at the northern entrance to Bethlehem to pay their respects to the infant boy, who is being hailed as "the miracle baby of Bethlehem." The timing of his birth [on the last day of Ramadan] was auspicious enough, but his parents were amazed to discover a large birthmark across his cheek, which spells out in clear Arabic letters the name of his uncle, . . . , a Hamas member who was killed by the IDF eight months ago.

The "inscription" begins near the right side of the baby's mouth, continues all the way round his cheek and finishes behind his right ear.

The family said they would raise the baby to follow in his uncle's footsteps and lead a new generation of terrorists to fight against Israel. In the meantime, they have to cope with the thousands of pilgrims converging on their home every day to see the boy with their own eyes.

If this were a Jewish baby, I would of course be far less impressed by a birthmark naming (for instance) a 'Job' or a 'Saul' than by one that named a (hypothetical) Rebbe Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz T. Rosenbaum. If it were an Iraqi baby, Nebuchadnezzar or Hammurabi would make for very impressive birthmarks. In fact, the name of the dead Palestinian uncle is much shorter. I omitted it from the quotation above just to keep my readers in suspense: it was 'Ala'. This is, I believe, even shorter and simpler in Arabic than in English. I don't actually know any Arabic, and more knowledgeable readers are welcome to correct me on what follows. However, I have consulted The World's Writing Systems, by Peter T. Daniels and William Bright (Oxford, 1996), and it appears that 'Ala' in Arabic script would look something like this (sans serif): JI. Like Hebrew, Arabic generally omits the vowels, and some consonants are much simpler than others. I may be wrong, but I suspect that Ala (JI) is about as simple as any Arabic name could be. There's many a cow that could write JI in the dirt, and a birthmark with that particular shape doesn't strike me as a particularly clear sign from above -- or from below, for that matter.

Update: (11:30 PM)

In the first comment, Laurence Simon tells us that Drudge has a picture of the famous baby. The letters look a lot more like JC than JI, but are just as simple as I suspected. I wonder if some brave individual should let the gullible Palestinian masses know that the birthmark could just as easily be left-to-right Latin letters as right-to-left Arabic script. In that case, J.C. would most naturally refer to a non-Muslim with Bethlehem connections who was rather more important than some dead Hamas thug, and known for signs and portents, too. Or perhaps J.C. refers to Jimmy Carter, who has been meddling in the area again. Of course, if babies are being born with Carter's initials preprinted on their cheeks, he must be the AntiChrist. This may seem unlikely, but, as Ned Flanders once said, "It's always the one you least suspect". Then again, I can't honestly say that Jimmy Carter is the contemporary I least suspect of being the AntiChrist.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at December 02, 2003 10:45 PM

Drudge has the picture up.

I shudder to think what subcutaneous torture the child underwent for the parents/imams/thugs to fabricate such markings on the flesh of a child. I mean, after all, these savages have no compunctions against dressing them in fatigues, arming them with pistols, and sending them out to throw rocks as a human shield wall for snipers to shoot from behind... what's stopping the next logical step of some artistic mutilation for the cameras?

Posted by: Laurence Simon on December 2, 2003 11:00 PM

Hmmm. Looks more like JC than JI, but still quite a simple (though clearly-drawn) pattern. Fifteen minutes old, and my post already needs an update.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on December 2, 2003 11:11 PM

That non-Muslim with Bethlehem connections is also a major prophet in Islam. In fact, the second most important after Mohammed. Still better than a dead Hamas thug, maybe even to them. Or not.

Posted by: Max on December 4, 2003 03:23 PM

well you clearly have no knowledge of the arab language, and trying to say the birthmark looks like JC is being way too simplistic. the birthmark obviously reads the name of this childs uncle, and it seems that people like you are too afraid to admit it. why are u scared? also, give me any kind of real proof that these human being living under occupation dress their children in fatigues and arm them? Nobody arms them. Nobody sends them out in the line of fire. The unfortunate reality of Palestinian life is that the soldiers come to them, shoot at them, killing innocent children who have no chance for a real life. And I think obviously this birthmark is real, with the many people who have gone to see him, if it was fake that would have been discovered by now. And how dare you refer to Palestinians as savages. That is exactly the language the colonialists used. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Israel is a colonialism at work, an apartheid state. That must be realized. You are uneductaed, ignorant and hateful.

Posted by: M. I. on December 5, 2003 12:47 AM


Look at this link and tell me the Palestinians don't dress their children up as bombers.

I cannot find the picture for which I am looking, but a similar costume was seen on a small child at a protest in Germany last year, so the above cite is not an isolated occurance.

Anybody who blows up other civilians (deliberately, as the Islamokazis have done repeatedly) is a savage. You take strong exception to the statement, but you cannot refute facts. Israel is not an apartheid state, as they are not looking for an ethnically pure state, as are the Arabs. They are not the ones that insist that every Arab leave Israel; the Arabs, on the other hand, demand that every Israeli Jew leave the West Bank and Gaza regions. Which state is more racist? If is small-minded people like you who are at the root of the problem.

Posted by: timekeeper on December 5, 2003 07:39 AM

Another pair of pics for you, MI:

Here (scroll down

And this link to Natalie Solent has links to several text articles about the practice.

You refer to Israel as a colony. A colony of what country? Colonia behavior requires a parent country which directs the colonists, and reaps their profits. No such country exists; let go of the marxist trope and join the rest of us in the real world.

Posted by: timekeeper on December 5, 2003 07:51 AM

If you really belive that the "hamas" kid on the picture is palestinian, you are a typical american idiot!
You said it might be J.C. on miracle baby's face.
Again need some more education, and read that bible for God's sake. The other "non" muslim baby that was born in Bethlehem, was not, I repeat was not named Jesus there was no J. This is English (miss)speling of His name. He or his parents didn't speak english!
" Israel is not an apartheid state, as they are not looking for an ethnically pure state, as are the Arabs"
You got to be kidding me. Aren't they the ones that want to build a wall!! Not Pure doesn't mean equal rights. Palestinians can only clean the streets in Israel.
Why all these comments?
You are right you should be afraid, after all crimes you all have done!!

Posted by: adi on December 5, 2003 08:32 PM

Why should I be "scared", 'M.I.'? And precisely what should I be "afraid" of, 'adi'? Are you saying that God will punish me for what I have written? I think supporters of suicide bombing have far more to worry about in the afterlife than I do. Or is either of you threatening me with earthly violence? You certainly don't seem to have any objection to such violence on behalf of the Palestinians.

By the way, 'adi', I have read the Bible, parts of it in Greek, and am well aware that Jesus' name was not spelled with a J when he was born. My update was a joke. Or did you think that I could really believe that Jimmy Carter is the AntiChrist, and that a child has been born with his initials on its cheek?

Finally, 'adi', if the child is not Palestinian, what the Hell is he?

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on December 5, 2003 09:47 PM

Finally, 'adi', if the child is not Palestinian, what the Hell is he?

oh, come on, you know what his answer is - an evil Jew, dressed up and passed off in a Zionist propaganda ploy.

Any bit of evidence that does not fit a particular worldview is, out of necessity, fraudulent.

Posted by: andy on December 6, 2003 04:37 PM

Dr. Weevil, I never mentioned the part about Jimmy Carter, but you were tryin to pass up a story about Jusus with a joke.
And, "andy", knowing the jewish politics
that fits better in the picture.
that is it from me
i am leaving this jewish trash can.

Posted by: adi on December 6, 2003 09:25 PM

Why do you assume I'm Jewish, 'adi'? Do you think only Jews could disapprove of raising an infant to kill Jews? If so, you are not only a Jew-hating asshole but a moron as well.

As for your argument, it is simply not true that Arabs can "only clean the streets" in Israel: some Arabs even serve in the Knesset. It is true that if a Palestinian state comes into existence it will be entirely free of (living) Jews: removing all Jewish settlements is the policy of Arafat, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the rest.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on December 6, 2003 10:10 PM

Here's the smoking gun I was looking for, M.I.

Child Abuse

Over 80 pictures of Palestinian children and infants dressed as bombers and terrorists, and marching with their terrorist fathers and brothers. How much proof do you need? Savages, the lot of them.

As for Adi, adi-os. You won't be missed.

The Israelis are building a wall to keep out terrorist scumbags who want to kill Israeli citizens. Israel has a significant number of Arab citizens, including several who serve in the Knesset. Show me ANY Islamic state with any Jewish members of Parliament or the equivalent.

Posted by: timekeeper on December 8, 2003 11:42 AM