January 27, 2013 § Leave a Comment
by William A. Cook
“We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments (made by MP David Ward last week) about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience” — Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1/25/2013.
I must apologize for not responding to the lashing given to Lib Dem MP David Ward a week ago as my wife’s Mother, 88 years of age, was moved into Hospice care readying her for leaving this vale of tears. Her life, as is true of my own, suffered the horrors of WWII and the Nazi devastation of prisoners including, from 1933, Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals, (and) persons accused of “asocial” or socially deviant behavior, and Jews, between 1938 and 1945 (Holocaust Encyclopedia). Our lives are bookended between depressions and wars. So what have we learned, as David Ward so tellingly asks to the chagrin of many including Mr. Benjamin quoted above. Curiously I found Mr. Ward’s comment incomplete. This is what he said: « Read the rest of this entry »
January 14, 2013 § 3 Comments
Note: I don’t speak French, I’m responding to a Google Translate version of the original post, so I’ll refrain from my usual special attention to semantics, in order not to dwell on what may be a technical mistake in translation.
Last Wednesday, Jacky Terrasson’s agent, Christophe Deghelt, responded to the massive campaign to boycott the Israel state sponsored Red Sea Jazz Festival (more details on the government and corporate connections of the festival in this article). Since thought did actually go into this post, I think we in the BDS movement should respond. So here it is, point-by-point. I hope this furthers public discussion, as BDS so often does, because just like Christophe Deghelt, this is a “debate that I hold dear”.
On Notions of War, Peace, and Popular Struggle
January 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This article was published on Al Jazeera on December 28. Thanks to a strong pushback against the lobby, Obama has now nominated Chuck Hagel as his new Secretary of Defence.
You have to do no more than watch this attack ad produced by the neoconservative pressure group the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) to understand the significance of Chuck Hagel’s possible nomination as US secretary of defence. The former Republican senator from Nebraska is guilty of a cardinal sin which has cut short many promising careers in Washington. He has proved himself insufficiently loyal to Israel and less than enthusiastic about confronting Iran.
Signals from Washington are mixed. Barack Obama’s myriad capitulations have earned him a well-deserved reputation for invertebracy; and some reports suggest he has caved already. But in the Byzantine world of Washington intrigue, one has to proceed with caution.
Since the beginning of Obama’s presidency, some of his more sensible initiatives, such as the opening to Iran, have been sabotaged by officials within his administration speaking anonymously to the press. What better way to kill a controversial nomination than to convince everybody that it is already dead!
The ECI, a relatively new actor, has not been alone in targeting Hagel. It has been ably assisted by the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, the Republican Jewish Coalition, the National Jewish Democratic Council, The Israel Project, and the Zionist Organisation of America. Affiliates from both within and outside the government have gone on the offensive.
January 11, 2013 § 1 Comment
An excellent (and amusing) report on the Birthright Israel program by Lia Tarachansky and Max Blumenthal.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu headlines Jerusalem mega event for thousands of Jewish teenagers on Israel-bonding trip
January 5, 2013 § 7 Comments
Update: On January 6, Stanley Jordan has cancelled his collaboration with the Red Sea Jazz Festival, joining a long line of artists combining their ethics, politics, and spirituality. Joy Harjo, still has not made a public statement rethinking her stance on the issue.
Note: Stanley Jordan is scheduled to perform in the Red Sea Jazz Festival between 17-19 of January. Although, after much deep soul searching, he has written a statement that he intends to continue as scheduled (below), in our political reality, we don’t give up until the Jazzist plucks the first guitar string in front of a segregated audience.
For your convenience, the rest of the international artists performing in the festival are listed at the end of this article.
I’m a Spiritual Atheist. I never knew you could capitalize that phrase, but thank DOG, the internet is a wondrous place:
SPIRITUAL ATHEISTS are people who are:
Spiritual Atheists do not believe in the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe… Spiritual Atheists generally recognize the word “God” as a personal name that has been given to the collective personality of the infinite and eternal universe… Even so, many Spiritual Atheists are extremely reluctant to make use of the word “God”, due to the extreme desecration it has suffered by traditional Theists and Atheists alike.
Spiritual Atheists believe that the entire universe is, in some way, connected; even if only by the mysterious flow of cause and effect at every scale. Therefore, Spiritual Atheists generally feel that as they go about their lives striving to be personally healthy and happy, they should also be striving to help the world around them be healthy and happy! (“Wholistic Ethics”)
There are many people in the world like me. Some are atheists, some are theists. I respect all’s choices and love me a good theological debate, but to me, the most important piece of information in the above quote is “generally feel that as they go about their lives striving to be personally healthy and happy, they should also be striving to help the world around them be healthy and happy!”. This is also the first time I’ve heard the phrase “Wholistic Ethics”, I have my critique of it (and also have a critique of trying to unite atheists who define themselves as spiritual), but that would derail the conversation from what I really want to talk about: What does spirituality have to do with politics? « Read the rest of this entry »
December 25, 2012 § 5 Comments
Earlier this week, I found a message in my inbox by an Israeli, who’s a Jazz musician, who’s paying gig was canceled because of a successful BDS movement campaign to get Swedish Jazzist, Andreas Öberg, to cancel his gig in the Eilat Red Sea Jazz Festival. Usually, the extent of my response, when I get unsolicited mail from angry Israelis, is to take a screenshot and add it to my “Love Letters” albums on my Facebook profile. Call it an artistic form of exhibiting political repression, racism and sexism, if you will (but what does culture have to do with politics, I wonder…). This time, however, since we’re not talking about your typical angry Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, but someone who has lost a paying gig. I think it merits a response (even though, as I will argue below, I am actually not the address for cultural worker grievances).
You Don’t Know Me and I Don’t Know You
December 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Our friend Tony Karon joins Rashid Khalidi, Peter Beinart and Ethan Bronner on Al Jazeera’s Empire.
The dawn of a Palestinian state has been a long time coming. After 65 years of dispossession, 45 years of occupation, and 20 years of failed peace attempts, on Thursday Palestine took one step closer to joining the community of nations. With a final vote of 138 to 9, an overwhelming majority of nations at the UN General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. This upgrade puts Palestine on par with the Vatican, and also could allow Palestinian claims to be filed in the International Criminal Court. This recognition came just days after another in the long line of catastrophes Palestinians have faced. Under a brutal Israeli bombardment of Gaza, nearly 200 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more were wounded. Empire asks: Must the Palestinian dream of a state be Israel’s nightmare? And what does the path to a just solution look like?
November 30, 2012 § 5 Comments
29 November 2012 — We are delighted that an overwhelming majority of countries at the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine to a non-member observer status. To coincide with this, here is Roger Waters, the front man for Pink Floyd, the greatest rock band ever, speaking earlier in the day, on behalf of the Russell Tribunal, delivering his indictment of Israeli criminality at the UN and making a plea for the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state.
November 25, 2012 § 1 Comment
Adam Shatz has a superb piece in the LRB, the best analysis of the changing regional dynamic I’ve read so far. Two passages in particular stand out:
That Netanyahu stopped short of a ground war, and gave in to key demands at the Cairo talks, is an indication not only of Egypt’s growing stature, but of Israel’s weakened position. Its relations with Turkey, once its closest ally in the region and the pillar of its ‘doctrine of the periphery’ (a strategy based on alliances with non-Arab states) have deteriorated with the rise of Erdogan and the AKP. The Jordanian monarchy, the second Arab government to sign a peace treaty with Israel, is facing increasingly radical protests. And though Israel may welcome the fall of Assad, an ally of Hizbullah and Iran, it is worried that a post-Assad government, dominated by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brothers, may be no less hostile to the occupying power in the Golan: the occasional rocket fire from inside Syria in recent days has been a reminder for Israel of how quiet that border was under the Assad family. Israeli leaders lamented for years that theirs was the only democracy in the region. What this season of revolts has revealed is that Israel had a very deep investment in Arab authoritarianism. The unravelling of the old Arab order, when Israel could count on the quiet complicity of Arab big men who satisfied their subjects with flamboyant denunciations of Israeli misdeeds but did little to block them, has been painful for Israel, leaving it feeling lonelier than ever.It is this acute sense of vulnerability, even more than Netanyahu’s desire to bolster his martial credentials before the January elections, that led Israel into war.
The Palestinians understand that they are no longer facing Israel on their own: Israel, not Hamas, is the region’s pariah. The Arab world is changing, but Israel is not. Instead, it has retreated further behindJabotinsky’s ‘iron wall’, deepening its hold on the Occupied Territories, thumbing its nose at a region that is at last acquiring a taste of its own power, exploding in spasms of high-tech violence that fail to conceal its lack of a political strategy to end the conflict. Iron Dome may shield Israel from Qassam rockets, but it won’t shield it from the future.