A Response to Jacky Terrasson’s Agent, Christophe Deghelt, about the Red Sea Jazz Festival

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.

Jacky terrasson with manneger Christophe Deghelt

Jacky terrasson with manneger Christophe Deghelt

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

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Israel 2012, The Question of a Nation: What Does Culture Have to Do with Politics? (Part 2)

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

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Israel 2012, The Question of a Nation: What Does Culture Have to Do with Politics?

December 12, 2012 § 6 Comments

For more information on how Israel is using this face to mask its evil, go to http://www.no2brandisrael.org/

The interesting thing about Israel is that its government and registered citizens have a wonky spatial perception, which feeds off itself: In Israel, you’re not in the state, the state is in you. Due to this cyclical perception, along with the “standard” “nation branding” (a marketing lie on to itself, and that sick capitalist perception of a state- a geographic territory with obligations and responsibilities towards its respective inhabitants- as a product which is on the market for sale), known as Brand Israel, much of Israel’s propaganda is based on the blurring of the lines between the individual and the state (and army).

As a BDS activist, whose main focus is cultural boycott, I’ve come up against a very common Israeli claim (individuals, small business, and government officials) that “culture has nothing to do with politics”. Most commonly it comes in the form of a puzzled “rhetorical” question: “What does culture have to do with politics?!” As if asking this question closes the discussion, because it’s so obvious that art, music, books, films, theater and dance are a pure form of entertainment that has no intellectual, political, anthropological value. As if cultural products aren’t bought and sold as commodities and status indicators.

Shuki Weiss Promotion and Production Ltd. in the Service of the State of Israel

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For Omar Misharawi: Killed by Israeli Airstrikes on 11/14/12

November 18, 2012 § 4 Comments

BBC journalist Jihad Masharawi carries his son’s body at a Gaza hospital. (Associated Press)

BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi carries his son’s body at a Gaza hospital. (Associated Press)

Omar Misharawi (Jihad Misharawi, via Paul Danahar)

Omar Misharawi (Jihad Misharawi, via Paul Danahar)

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

At death you measure
no more than our arms
When we rise
to blow a prayer into your charred lung
we find resplendent
butterflies
milling about — lapidary
punctuations of our time
together
(eleven months in all)

Horror turned honey
and lustrous
as buds of new fruit

Ya Shaheed
You witnessed

O’Reilly v Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium

October 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

Jon Stewart and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly faced off in “the Rumble 2012″ debate last night at the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

One Citizen’s View

September 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Two of our favorite people — Ralph Nader and Christopher Lydon — join in a typically stimulating conversation on Radio Open Source.


Ralph Nader on Main Street can still see the flatbed trucks hauling textile machinery out of his hometown in the 1950s, his high school years. The work of Winsted and New England mills was bound for the Carolinas and Georgia, then Mexico and Asia. In 1900 there’d been 100 factories and machine shops in Winsted, making useful things for the world — cloth to clocks. In Ralph’s boyhood, a factory worker could raise a family on one paycheck in a 6-room house with a 2% V.A. mortgage, and drive a second-hand car. Then as now the green hills of northwest Connecticut were a breezy walk or bike ride away. “You could hear cows mooing one minute, and the milk would be in glass bottles on your doorstep a few hours later…”

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A Scene from Pulp Fiction in Kashmir

May 2, 2012 § 3 Comments

"Pulp Fiction Bananas" by Banksy, once near Old Street Tube Station, London, now whitewashed.  From http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-images-by-street-artist-banksy.php

"Pulp Fiction Bananas" by Banksy, once near Old Street Tube Station, London, now whitewashed.

PUMPKIN: Everybody be cool, this is an occupation!
YOLANDA: Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!
JULES: So, tell me again about those killing-for-promotions there…
VINCENT: What do you want to know?
JULES: Killing is legal there, right?
VINCENT: Yeah, it is legal but it ain’t 100% legal. I mean you can’t walk into a house and start shooting right away. You’re only supposed to take those fucking pricks to certain designated places and blast off their fucking brains? You have to give them some name…
JUKES: Those are encounter sites?
VINCENT: Yeah, it breaks down like this: it’s legal to kill them, it’s legal to own it and, if you’re the occupier of the encounter site, it’s legal to bury them there. It’s legal to carry their bodies, but that doesn’t really matter ’cause — even if you got a truckload of them — if the cops stop you, it’s illegal for them to search you. Searching you is a right that the cops in Kashmir don’t have. « Read the rest of this entry »

On the ‘Precision’ of Language: Why the Term ‘Genocide’ is So Wrong, or Who Can Use the Term

January 17, 2012 § 3 Comments

by Mohamad Junaid

[This essay is a response to the emerging discussions over the ‘appropriateness’ of the use of the word ‘genocide’ in the context of the Indian military occupation in Kashmir on PulseMedia and elsewhere on Facebook.]

Homage to Picasso's Guernica (HD 2002)

Homage to Picasso's Guernica (HD 2002)

But, which language? Which one language expresses all joyous, exhilarating, or traumatic experiences?

When Kashmiris are told to be precise in their language there are largely two positions involved: one, a sympathetic (if inadequate and self-censorious) one, which suggests that following ‘the convention’ will allow for legalistic interpretation and some form of retributive or ‘restorative’ justice. Often such a position traps itself in legal discourse, and by seeking to bottle people’s experiences into tight categories, fetishizes those categories, and in the end reduces the depth of traumatic experiences to mere data points on the grid of classification. This compliant and self-disciplining position forgets the origins of law in violence (and the inverse), and how ‘law’ serves to maintain ‘order’—which is, in other words, the systematized, legally endorsed structure of oppression. The peculiar claim to universalism (to create a universal system of law) that drives this position pays no heed to where, and for whom, these supposedly ‘universal’ categories of law are created, and what connection law has with power or ‘international’ law with the empire. « Read the rest of this entry »

No Way to Honor Dr. King

August 27, 2011 § 3 Comments

by Medea Benjamin

The ceremonies for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC were kicked off on August 24 at an event billed as Honoring Global Leaders for Peace. But some of those honored are a far cry from King’s beloved community of the poor and oppressed. The tribute to peacemakers, organized by the MLK National Memorial Foundation, was mostly a night applauding warmakers, corporate profiteers and co-opted musicians.

The night started out with great promise when MC Andrea Mitchell mentioned Dr. King’s brilliant anti-war speech Beyond Vietnam as a key to understanding the real Dr. King. And sure, there were a few wonderful moments—a song by Stevie Wonder, a speech about nonviolence by the South African Ambassador and a quick appearance by Jesse Jackson in which he managed to spit out a call to “study war no more.”

But most of the evening’s speakers and guests of honor had little to do with peacemaking. One of the dignitaries thanked at the start of the program was Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, representing a country that uses $3 billion a year in precious U.S. tax dollars to commit war crimes against Palestinians.

Then came a parade of representatives of corporations that want to cleanse their image by being associated with Dr. King. The first was General Motors VP Eric Peterson. His company took billions from government coffers to keep it afloat, then showed its “generosity” by donating $10 million of our tax dollars to the memorial. Mr. Peterson gave a speech paying tribute to the company’s first black board member, Rev. Leon Sullivan. Peterson claimed that the Sullivan Principles, principles that established a social responsibility code for companies working in South Africa, helped abolish apartheid. The truth is that the Sullivan Principles ended up being a cover for U.S. corporations—like General Motors–to continue doing business in racist South Africa instead of respecting the international divestment campaign.

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Political Fear

August 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sasha Lilley of the highly erudite Against the Grain interviews Corey Robin, author of the brilliant Fear: The History of A Political Idea. Also check out Robin’s superb essay on Hannah Arendt, and his commentary on Barack Obama’s recent capitulation on the debt deal.


Fear dominates our society. Fear of crime, fear of the poor, fear of foreign terrorists, to which we might add fear of our government and fear of our bosses. For some liberal thinkers, fear serves a purpose. It’s supposed to pull us all together so we can find some kind of social solidarity in an atomized, alienated world. Corey Robin discusses the problems with that notion and talks about the places where fear truly lurks in our society.

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