Spirituality, Stanley Jordan, and BDS

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.

Stanley Jordan

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:
1) ATHEISTS
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.

2) SPIRITUAL
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? Continue reading “Spirituality, Stanley Jordan, and BDS”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Captive Economy: The Pharmaceutical Industry and the Israeli Occupation

One of Israel’s favorite selling points, in its campaign to rebrand itself and divert attention from its ongoing theft of Palestinian land by means of ethnic cleansing, military control and apartheid policies, is its claim to world leadership in medicine. The problem with this line of apartheid PR is, of course, the failure to mention the control the state of Israel has over the Palestinian healthcare system.

Captive Economy, a new report by Who Profits investigates the involvement of Israeli and multinational pharmaceutical industries in the occupation of Palestinian land.

Continue reading “Captive Economy: The Pharmaceutical Industry and the Israeli Occupation”

Anton Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Yet Another Example of the World-Class Music Available in Israel

Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, (translated from an nrg.co.il interview published in Hebrew by Creative Community for Peace) http://www.nrg.co.il/online/47/ART2/384/265.html

Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre seems to have a very formed opinion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Between the Palestinian-led organizations, the BDS National Committee and The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and my own little campaign on Facebook which continuously appealed to them among many others, it’s unfortunate that it never occurred to the band to try and contact the people who asked them not to play in Israel. I hate to write a post-performance letter [1,2,3,4,5], and some may ask what’s the point, but I truly believe that while it may be too late to get you to cancel, it’s it’s never too late to get you to understand. So one more time with feeling: A post-performance analysis and response to the statements of Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre [Hebrew].

Continue reading “Anton Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Yet Another Example of the World-Class Music Available in Israel”

The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Story of the Wiping Out of the Indigenous People of a Land Formerly Known as Falastin

Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers,

It’s me again. After 11 letters from all around the world, a petition with over 6400 signatories that just keeps growing, and a couple groups on Facebook [1,2], it seems like you’re determined to go through the motions of a performance in apartheid Israel. Sure enough, after a long silence from you, we’re seeing the standard Shuki Weiss promotional video, reassuring fans that past cancellations won’t repeat, and that the world still in fact loves Israel. I can reiterate what was written in other letters and statements, but I much rather just respond to one thing you said in the video, which burns with irony: “We love playing for people. Children, middle aged, and old people. So come one come all.”

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/44799712 w=400&h=300]

So here goes, the 12th letter asking the Red Hot Chili Peppers to heed the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the apartheid military regime of Israel.

Continue reading “The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Story of the Wiping Out of the Indigenous People of a Land Formerly Known as Falastin”

Ziad Jilani Vs. Israel: Another Case of Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Execution of a Palestinian

Within a couple of days, Israel State Attorney, Yehuda Weinstein, will have to decide whether to press charges against the Israeli Border Patrol officers, who shot and killed Palestinian Ziad Jilani, on his way back from prayer, who’s truck swerved off the road and hit 2 soldiers walking on the opposite lane. In the official investigation following the killing on 11th of June 2010, conducted that same day by the Police Internal Investigations (Machash), neither Machash interrogators nor the police saw fit to take testimony from the many eyewitnesses on the street at the time. Only soldiers and police personnel were interrogated.

The case was closed last year, citing “lack of evidence” and the incident reported in Israeli media as a “hit-and-run terror attack”. But Jilani’s widow, Moira Jilani, and her three daughters, with the help of the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, conducted an independent investigation (including an autopsy, which the Israeli authorities refused to do, and the Israeli media dubbed “body snatching”). The investigation pointed the way to the killers; Maxim Vinogrodov, a Border Patrol officer, and his commander, Shadi Kherraldin.

Confirmation of Killing: Standard Procedure

Continue reading “Ziad Jilani Vs. Israel: Another Case of Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Execution of a Palestinian”

A Scene from Pulp Fiction in Kashmir

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…

"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. Continue reading “A Scene from Pulp Fiction in Kashmir”

White Man’s Burden: Because Normalization is Hard to Do

On +972 magazine, IPCRI’s Dan Goldenblatt has invited “anyone who has criticism of how we at IPCRI try to advance this goal to tell us so, engage and challenge us, and help us and others improve.” As a long-time critic of the “liberal left” “peace industry” (I thank Goldenblatt himself for the latter term), I’m taking him up on his invitation, picking up from where PACBI left off. To start off, I’ll wonder whether IPCRI “brought [themselves] together” with PACBI to “meet, discuss, argue, build, take apart, share and cooperate”? Or did Goldenblatt just write up his public response to PACBI’s engaging and challenging critique of the organization?

Continue reading “White Man’s Burden: Because Normalization is Hard to Do”

Panacea

by Arif Ayaz Parrey

This piece first appeared in the Honour newsmagazine.

Srinagar.  photo credit: Huma Dar, 2006
Khanyar, Srinagar. photo credit: Huma Dar, 2006

Every night, when she drops the slightly bluish liquid into a glass of water, Nisaare feels pride more than embarrassment, or even disgrace. The liquid is a sedative drug. The glass of water is meant for her husband. She feels reassured that she has dealt with the loss of their son much better than he has.

Nine years have passed since the death of their only child in an ‘encounter’ with the Rashtriya Rifles. He had been a bashful young man; not the kind you would easily associate with militant revolution. He had gone ‘across’ for ‘training’ simply because everybody in his peer group had, and he did not want to be the only one left behind. Any other motives he had are buried with him and will surely be summoned back to life one day. On his return, he was of little help to the group because he would not shoot to kill. He had been barely audible when he had expressed his ideological opposition to ambush. He had stated that he would much rather fight the soldiers openly. The commanders assigned him the role of a donation collector during the day and a patrol at night.

Continue reading “Panacea”

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