richardf8: (Default)
Sounds like Imus may have lost his show if I heard the news right this morning.

That's fine, he'll find another venue.

I cannot help but note that its another in a series of similar scandals, whether of racism, anti-semitism, or misogyny.

These things aren't happening because Howard Stern, Don Imus, or Mel Gibson, or whomever are bad people. These things are happening because there is a zeitgeist that eats it up, because there is an audience that is receptive to, and even validated by it.

And when Don Imus finds a new venue it will be because of this infamy, not in spite of it, and the market it appeals to will be even more receptive to a diet of hate. So much so that Imus may find himself in the position of having to ratchet up the volume in order to retain them.

Is this a desirable outcome?

And more pressing: what is this zeitgeist that these speech acts validate it and do we REALLY think we can staunch it by suppression? Sure we can put a finger in the dam where Imus is, but that only increases the flow elsewhere, and I'm not sure who's going to put a finger in Ann Coulter.

When we hear speech we do not like, we are to apt, I think to react with outrage and punish, punish, punish. That makes martyrs, and feeds the perception of oppression held by those who regard their prejudices and perceptions as normative.

I would keep Imus on the air. But I would shuffle McGuirk off elsewhere, and pair Imus with, say, Jeannene Garofalo, a liberal humorist who will only be too happy to call him on his shit in a way that makes him look like a jerk.

Come on - this is Defense Against the Dark Arts 101, guys. The way to vanquish a boggart is to make it look ridiculous.
richardf8: (Default)
Precis: Footage of an homage concert to Leonard Cohen framed by commentary from Cohen and the performers.

The good: Cohen's commentary is very illuminating, and his wry, self deprecating humour lends an incredibly gentle touch to the film.

The bad: Self-conciously "artistic" cinematography, including such crimes as shooting in high-speed Super-8 and then enlarging in to 70mm for maximum graininess, and too many excessively tight close-ups of mouths on microphones, as well as double-image special effects seriously mar the films viewability. One or two performances were . . . . strange.

The unforgettable: Cohen performing "Tower of Song" with a band of people influenced by him, including Bono and Rufus Wainwright. Gratitude permeates the stage - gratitude from Cohen that his music will live on the hands of these younger performers, and gratitude from the youngsters for the opportunity to play with Cohen.

The unforgiveable: I went in thinking the film was produced by the Canadian Film Board. However, it was produced by Mel Gibson and released through Icon/Lionsgate. Damn, our money got into that bastard's pocket.
richardf8: (Default)
The first time [ profile] morgan1 and I ever set foot in Temple Israel was to see a talk by John Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword. After the presentation, which took place in the run-up to the Easter/Passover season, Morgan was buttonholed by an elderly man who had fled Poland in the wake of pogroms. Good Friday, for him, was the day the Christians would come out of the churches looking for Jews to beat up. And he had absorbed his share of beatings.

And so.

It is now 9/11.

I skim [ profile] chipuni's friends list, because it is a rich and diverse bouquet, where so many viewpoints can be found, and I notice that someone has goatsed the [ profile] muslimscommunity. There moderators act swiftly, but no sooner do they delete it than the same user posts an anti-Islamic Chick Tract rife with misinformation and fabrication regarding Islam. This is as close as you can get to mosque desecration on line. I wonder what we will see in the physical world as the day dawns.

The analogy is obvious. And it was the provincial and religious hatred that the Poles had for the Jews that built Auschwitz. A provincial and religious hatred not dissimilar than that which is growing bolder and bolder in the US.

If we allow such seeds to sprout, what vile fruit can we expect to harvest?
richardf8: (Default)
From the BBC, on events today in Israel:

This AP Story is the likely source for the BBC story, based on similarities in language and order of presentation. A noteworthy difference is that the AP story makes it clear that the Israeli troops were returning fire in what the BBC simply categorizes as a "gunfight."

Reuter's presentation of the material is a bit more even-handed, albeit somewhat confused by an attempt to include a discussion of disengagement plans in what can best be described as a digression.
richardf8: (Default)
In your August 18th editorial you write that "Gaza represents the worst side of Israel's settlement movement. The densely populated strip is home to 1.3 million Palestinians - most of them refugees, or offspring of refugees."

Israel is home to 4.8 million Jews, nearly all of whom are "refugees or offspring of refugees." Indeed, since 1948, far more Jews have been ejected from communities in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Jordan and the other Arab countries in the region than Palestinians were ejected from what has become Israel. Many of these Jewish communities were older than either Islam or Christianity. Israel absorbed all of them. The Arab nations, on the other hand, refuse to accept the Palestinians as immigrants, forcing them to remain in the strip and to remain refugees.

Indeed, an historical review of the region makes it clear that Israel is a nation surrounded by nations that are bent on its destruction for reasons of simple anti-semitism, and that the policies that these nations hold with regard to Palestinian Arabs are at least as destructive of Palestinian quality of life as Israeli policy has been. The Arab world cynically views the Palestinians as shock-troops in their 48 year old war against Israel, and to that end provides ample aid in arms and explosives, but appallingly little in infrastructure or commerce.

The withdrawal of settlers from Gaza will do little to change that dynamic. As long as the Arab world is pumping the Palestinian streets full of arms, and the Palestinian schools full of anti-Jewish propaganda, the Palestinian people will remain the victims of the anti-Semitic war in which they are being used as pawns.
richardf8: (Default)
[ profile] _wastrel, here is the response you sought to your post at

The difference between magic and religion is where the power lies. In magic the power lies with man, in religion it lies with God. Magic, as you are using the term, means the exertion of human will over the supernatural. This is strictly forbidden in Judaism. The denomination does not matter. I would also be extremely cautious about the source you are using, since it seems to be retrojecting its own interpretation of the bible into the biblical period. I would not view it as authoritative.

Now to deal with the issues you raise:  )
richardf8: (Default)
Today my Synagogue had, as a guest, a Presbyterian Minister who came by to explain how it came to pass that the Presbyterians have decided to divest from corporations invested in Israel. It was not a position with which he himself agreed, and he has been getting quite an education as he has been talking about it. It seems his purpose to get them to rethink their position, and his church is not considering any divestiture itself.

The discussion brought to light a number issues I think both Jews and Liberals/Liberal Christians need to consider when talking about the troubles in that part of the world. Here are a few points. )
richardf8: (Default)
I present two articles here

The First, from Adbusters:
Adbusters Article discussing the Jewishness of Neo-Conservatives

The second, from the Washington Post:
Survey on Jewish Responsibility for Death of Jesus )

In truth, I am more concerned about the "Jewish Conspiracy" libel than the "Christ-Killer" thing, but whenever the two come together things do not go well. It is one thing to hate Paul Wolfowitz because he is an ass; but quite another to suggest that his Jewishness should be raised as an issue. This is a further example of the the growing neo-liberal anti-semitism that has kept me from peace marches against even wars I oppose. I cannot bring myself to stand beside someone who equates the Israeli (over)reaction to a constant barrage of terrorism with Nazism, a not infrequent practice of neo-liberals.

[Edited to clarify the separateness of the two articles.]
richardf8: (Default)
The UN is comprised primarily of nations that attained their size and power primarily through tools like assassination, torture and conquest over hundreds of years. Then they all get together and come up with the Geneva convention that says the tools they used to get big and powerful are no longer in play.

Handing Israel the Marquis of Queensbury rules when they've been getting their nuts kicked in a barfight for decades is completely unacceptable. It stinks of the rankest anti-semitism for them to say that its OK for the palestinians to blow up your civilians, but we're going to condemn you everytime you do something about it.

And that is precisely what the UN resolution does by not bothering to mention the fact that this wheelchair bound quadruplegic with the beatific smile engineered the death and injuries of thousands of Israelis and Arabs. Even the blood of the suicide bombers he radicalized is on his hands.

The same is also true of Rantisi, whose definition of the "occupied territories" just happens to include everything inside the Green Line, and has had a long standing agenda to eradicate every Jew in the region.

If the UN is going to condemn Israel every time it goes after the killers of its people, I am left wondering: were they giving the Jewish People a state, or a Jumbo-Sized Concentration Camp when they created it?
richardf8: (Default)
Those of you who have been reading my Journal for a long time know that while I opposed the war in Iraq, I did not think it unjustified. My opposition to the war can be summed up in a single name: George W. Bush. The craving of the Bush family's enfant terrible for this war convinced me that it was being waged with inadequate forethought and for the wrong reasons. Yes, this oil-industry entrenched, Halliburton-connected corporate sycophant was engaging in a simple transaction of blood for oil. And like some child screaming "I want it now Now NOW!" in the candy aisle and Target he managed to shout down anyone who reasonably opposed him.

But there was a case for war, and there is a link to 9/11.

This all comes around to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. When Bush accused Saddam Hussein of funding international terrorism, he was not lying. Let me repeat that: When Bush accused Saddam Hussein of funding international terrorism, he was not lying.

Saddam very openly supported the suicide bombings in Israel by essentially offering rewards to the families of suicide bombers. He even traveled to Gaza to present these awards in person. This is no secret, it is something he did with plenty of press coverage. After all, it was in Saddam's best interests to show the Arab world that even a secular state such as his was a useful ally.

And this brings us to the very nature of the intifada: Namely that the war between the Israelis and the Palestinians is a proxy war between the US and the Arab world. We pump money into Israel, they pump money into Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and the two sides kill each other. But proxy wars are long, drawn out, bloody, and ineffectual. And they don't really strike at the heart of the matter. We fought one against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Our boy was Osama Bin Laden.

So the Arabs would like to win this proxy war. While Saddam is doing his bit to keep the flow of suicide bombers streaming steadily into Israel, Osama decides, quite independently, and with the help of many people in the Saudi government who prefer to say that they were making "charitable donations," to staunch the flow of US Money into Israel. So he figures that striking out at the US might curtail that. The Arab world has been trying to destroy Israel since 1948, and the strike at our World Trade Center was an attempt to cut a supply line. It was also an ultimatum: continue supporting Israel, and more stuff like this can happen.

So, while Saddam and Osama would likely not give each other the time of day, they are working for a common goal: the elimination of the State of Israel. Now it's impossible for us to strike at the supply line feeding Al Qaeda because, well, we need Saudi Oil. So how can we reduce our dependence on Saudi Oil AND take out a supply line of money to suicide bombers? By taking out Saddam, and taking over Iraq.

There's only one problem with this plan: it violates international law. And unfortunately, given the UN's positions that wander between anti-Zionism and barely disguised anti-Semitism, preventing Saddam from killing Jews is hardly justification enough.

And that is why, when the war was being protested, the Anti-Semites on the left broke out their "Magen David = Swastika" signs, in addition to the more rational No Blood For Oil, and Let Inspections Work. And that is why I could not stand with them.

But Bush was lying. He was lying about direct connections between Hussein and al-Qaeda. He was lying about the state of Iraq's WMD programs, and the quality of our intelligence. And he asked congress to invest him with powers that he cannot constitutionally possess -- and they did it.

Now, one of the most disturbing things about Bush's lies is this: The Good, True reasons for fighting the war in Iraq, that we need to do something to staunch the flow of suicide bombers into the land of our ally, Israel, and that he is running a regime that tortures and kills its own, were not likely to be sufficient in the eyes of the world community. Bush's lies stemmed from the fact that he knew the truth wouldn't be good enough for a UN Secretary General who, when a Suicide Bomber walks in on a Passover Seder and kills a dozen people, vaguely condemns "violent methods," but when the Israelis respond by killing Palestinian terrorists and the kids they use as human shields, enumerates each death in gory detail.

Which raises the question in my mind: when the State of Israel was first created by the UN, did they really intend it as a safe haven for the Jews, or was placing it in the midst of hostile territory just a way of establishing a new kind of concentration camp?

This leaves me feeling -- well a bit lonely. To really have opposed the war in Iraq, to march against it, would have meant standing shoulder to shoulder with someone who apparently thinks my circumcised dick qualifies me as some sort of Brown-Shirt, while supporting it would have meant standing behind an oligarch for whom the wages of death is cash.

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