Wednesday, January 30, 2008
There is probably not a single person of pro-Palestinian persuasion in the world -- certainly not any relatively young, hip, culturally informed person-- who does not know the name Gilad Atzmon.
Gilad Atzmon must be one of the finest and most interesting jazz musicians alive. As a performer he is completely thrilling. I could watch and listen to him for hours. He is very, very great. But I think that, intellectually and morally, he is insane.
It would be possible to work actively for the "liberation of Palestine," yet come far short of the madness and extremism of Atzmon's positions. Unless your idea of the liberation of Palestine was the same as Hamas'.
"But he is a musician; an artist." No. Atzmon is every bit as much political activist as musician. You cannot see him only as a musician because he himself does not; he has at least two identities that are both of equal importance to him. By his own self-definition he is not "a musician." He is a musician and a political activist.
It is specious to call him "a Jew," because in a way he isn't one. He is an Israeli-born person. And that fact is used to give him authority, and to refute accusations that he is a Jew-hater. The idea being: How could he be a Jew-hater?, he was born in Israel and served in the IDF.
He was raised, so says all the biographical material, as a "secular Jew." Which is to say, NOT as a Jew.
He was raised as an Israeli, with a nationalist identity and a National Story, like any other person from any other nation. He disagrees with the National Story, which in this case is connected to a tribal story that he believes is a fake and malignant story. And in any case, the Israeli National Story, he believes, is an impediment to human progress, an affront to human dignity and a thorn in the side of the world. So he has no choice but to reject his national identity (except insofar as it is useful to his self-presentation and his cause; a piece of armor, as it were). As for cultural or spiritual identity, he never had either.
An idea that I shall never give up -- because it has taken me a long time and a lot of serious thinking to come up with -- is: "Secular Judaism" is meaningless. It has meaning only in the abstract. In terms of an individual person, it has meaning only in its short life of a one- or two-generation journey from authentic Judaism, during which certain basic qualities of Judaism may still be vital and vibrant in the soul, intellect, moral intelligence and emotions of a person. And that is its lifespan.
Anyone who disagrees with me on this point can try to transmit his "secular Judaism" to the third generation from its authentic root. And then he will see the rubber meeting the road, and he can come back to me and we'll resume the discussion.
Back to Atzmon: Oliver Kamm nails him pretty good. The Contentious Centrist does as well, a bit more literarily, as is her wont and style. And Bob From Brockley, an attentive Atzmon observer, has no illusions.
Bob from Brockley editorialises:
Is secular Judaism possible for more than a generation or two? I believe it is, but only if there is a community to sustain and transmit it. Such a community was emerging in Yiddishland in the first half of the last century, with a web of institutions (YIVO, the Bund, the Yiddish theatre and film industries...), and with a rich secular culture. Perhaps this infrastructure and culture was dependent on a certain exclusion from majority cultural life in Central and Eastern Europe (where there was formal equality, such as Germany, there was no such infrastructure; non-religous Jews assimilated after a generation or two). And, of course, that infrastructure was destroyed in the Shoah.
So, the question is, are there enough secular people with enough motivation to devote enough of their lives to the specifically Jewish to sustain secular Jewish culture? Probably not.
- Venezuela’s Jews Find Their Voice as Chavez Ramps Up Harassment (Forward)
- Walt and Mearsheimer in LA (Judeosphere)
- Norman Finkelstein in Lebanon (Judeosphere)
- In Orphans’ Twilight, Memories of a Doomed Utopia (NYT on Janusz Korczak) (Jogo says: This is perhaps the most beautiful and moving story that I have ever read in a newspaper.)
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I don't know who built the barrier, or its history. Looking at the BBC coverage, for example, or the Al-Jazeera coverage, we see a quite solid structure, that takes quite hefty bull-dozers to destroy. And we see the Egyptian authorities using water cannon to respond to stone-throwing Palestinians, and we see them reinforcing the wall with deadly barbed wire. Look at the poweful pictures at ViewImages and you see quite a formidable barrier.
It got me thinking about other barriers and walls which striate the neo-liberal globe we inhabit today, which are also regularly ignored by most liberals and anti-imperialists.
In particular, it made me think of a powerful article I read in the Independent a while ago**, about the poor villagers separated from their farm lands - and, even in some cases, forced to move out of their homes - by a fence built by India on its eastern border.
AlertNet has now published an excellent article on some of the other barriers that don't hit the news, "Seven Security Barriers You Might Want to Know About". Highly recommended.
Meanwhile, wikipedia lists 23 countries around the world with seperation barriers.
*Incidentally, such breaches in the security barrier which seperates Gaza from Egypt are not new - here is a report on the same thing happening this time two years ago, with a response from the Egyptian authorities which no doubt would be condemned as brutal if it had come from Israel.
**Google skills obviously not at optimum; can't find article.
Urgent call for solidarity!
Patricia's situation has become very grave following over 100 days of hunger strike against her illegal detention
Hear her story at YouTube.
This is an urgent international call by Human Rights International Project, Grupo de Ex Presos-Politicos de Chile and Mapuche International, scroll down for further information.
Join the demonstration outside the Chilean Embassy this Wednesday (30 Jan) 12-2pm, 12 Devonshire St, London, W1G 7DS. Nearest Tube: Regents Park/Oxford Circus
Here is a message from piquiteros on Friday (25 Jan)
What you should know
• Patricia Troncoso has been on hunger strike for 110 days
• The Chilean government is milatrising the Araucania Region and has moved in hundreds of anti-terrorist troops, January 2008
• The Chilean government is using the anti-terrorist laws it created as a tool of repression, silencing people like Patricia Troncoso
• Individuals, both of Mapuche and non-Mapuche decent, are being repressed by force for expressing the views mentioned below
What we are demanding
• Respect for Mapuche political prisoners detained for expressing their right to ancestral lands
• Freedom of expression, by the Chilean government, for demands to recuperate ancestral lands
• Respect for ethnic minorities and an end to their discrimination, as stated in International Treaties which the Chilean government is signing up to
In addition to coming to the demonstration on Wednesday you can phone the Chilean Embassy and ask about Patricia Troncoso’s health, this could help drive them into action. Chilean Embassy: 44 (0)207 580 6392 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equipo Memoriaviva Proyecto Internacional de Derechos Humanos - Londres (Human Rights International Project - London) www.memoriaviva.com - www.ecomemoria.com
More information: Wikipedia page on Mapuche, Patricia Troncoso's hunger strike, Mapuche Nation website, LA Times article, Radio Netherlands article, UNPO article, WW4 reports.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Not sure if I have any Canadian readers, but if I do, this is especially recommended to them.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
International Volunteers in the POUM Militias
Written by Andy Durgan, historical consultant for the Ken Loach film Land and Freedom, the article also contains a list of international volunteers in the POUM militia.
Source: FUNDACIÓN ANDREU NIN
Up to 700 foreigners fought with the 10.000 or so militia organised by the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) between July 1936 and June 1937. They were from at least 28 different countries; French, Italian and, above all German fighters being the most numerous.
From a military point of view, these volunteers played a far less significant role in the Civil War than those of the International Brigades, not only because they were far fewer in number, but also they spent most of their time away from where the most important fighting took place. However, the POUM’s foreign volunteers have attracted attention both because of George Orwell’s well-known description of life on the Aragon front, where most of them were stationed, Homage to Catatonia and more recently due to Ken Loach’s award-winning film Land and Freedom. While the military contribution of these volunteers was inevitably limited by the POUM’s own isolation, their experience as witnesses to the unfolding political drama in the Republican zone and, in some cases, as direct victims of that drama gives more significance to their role.
The POUM had been formed in September 1935, out of the unification of the ... READ IT ALL HERE.
- But I am a Liberal
- The Nation of Duncan (also covers Ken Livingstone's shady crypto-Stalinist links!)
A great piece by Goldsmiths sociologist Les Back. Includes mp3 clips of sirens on the Old Kent Road!
Sample, on 7/7:
Perhaps an awareness of the fragility and preciousness of life itself is the lasting resource left in the wake of these terrible events. Any Londoner could have been unlucky, the blast didn't discriminate and no one is immune. Faced with the chaos on the underground that July morning, Shahara Islam decided to give up on trying to get to work. She caught the number 30 bus en route to the shops in London's West End. On the bus was nineteen-year-old Hasib Hussein, the youngest of the four suicide bombers. Hasib, born in Leeds and of Pakistani parentage, had tried to join the Northern line at Kings Cross but it was closed. At 9.47am, he detonated his bomb, ripping the roof off the bus and killing Shahara Islam and 12 other people. She grew up in Whitechapel, east London, and was the oldest of three children. Her father Shamsul moved to the capital in the 1960s and is a supervisor with Transport for London. Her Bangladeshi family suffered a longer wait for confirmation than the other victim's loved ones. Some believe this was because the police suspected her of being the bomber. Forensic analysis soon ruled her out. She was just a young Muslim woman who chose to do the most ordinary thing for an East End girl: presented with an opportunity to skive off work, she went shopping. "She was an Eastender, a Londoner, and British, but above all a true Muslim and proud to be so," wrote her family in a statement issued after the bombings. The suicide bombers killed themselves and also people like themselves, striking not against some far off enemy but at their own cultural and historical mirror image. The ordinariness of multiculture needs to be apprehended alongside the bombers' apparent disregard for the traces they carried in themselves.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
The Grand Mufti of Sofia, Tony Benn, Hillary Benn, Emily Benn, Uncle Benn, Big Benn, Benn Dover, John Rees-Mogg, Token Blackman, Lee Jasper (expenses only), Tommy Sheridan (live video link to Barlinnie), A comedian, Joey Barton (shurely shum mishtake: Ed), Muslim Brotherhood Of Man (courtesy of Butlins Minehead), Walter Wolfgang-of-four, The Ayotollah Galloway, Stop the ‘Wor Kev’, someone on strike………etc etc
- Alan Johnson and Stephen Pollard on neo-conservatism and "neo-conservatism" (via Noga). There was a very good article by Danny Finkelstein on a similar topic in the JC some time not long ago, but I can't find it on line.
- The Fat Man picks up Norm's word "smugism" and runs with it, as it were, all over that liberal twat John Gray
- Hocemo Li Na Kafu? on why it is time to start Neil Clarke-bashing (by which I mean literally, physically)
The article didn't irritate me, although it has a truly appalling sub-heading given to it by some idiot sub-editor (as far as I can tell, being idiotic is the main part of lots of newspaper editors' jobs). I also found the references to Levy's "impossible beauty" and "pillow lips" a little distasteful.
Interestingly, the journo who wrote it refers to our friend Natasha Atlas as an "Egyptian star".
Comments on the article please.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Kind of related: Roland is for John McCain, for good reasons (though I'll take more convincing!).
Added: And Voltaire's Priest is not for Hillary.
- Woman Left Lonely. Recorded by Ella Moon, Janis Joplin, Cat Power and Kristin Oppenheim.
- Dark End of the Street (Penn and Chips Momam). Recorded by James Carr, Ray Hamilton, Dolly Parton, Oscar Toney Jr, Jim James, Alex Chilton and Teenage Fan Club, Cat Power and dozens of others.
- I'm Your Puppet. Recorded by James and Bobby Purify and the Drive By Truckers and lots of others. Sampled by Granddaddy I.U. and others.
- Uptight, Good Man. Recorded by Laura Lee
- Moments from this theater. Recorded by John Prine and Mac Wiseman
- You Left the Water Running. Recorded by Otis Redding, WC Clark and Bobby Purify.
- Cheater Man. Recorded by Irma Thomas.
- Rainbow Road. Recorded by Arthur Alexander.
- If You Want It, Come and Get It. Recorded by Irma Thomas.
- Laura Lee
- Percy Sledge
- Jeb Loy Nichols
- Drive By Truckers - by themselves and with Bettye Lavette
- JJ Cale
- Neil Young
- Arthur Alexander
- The Box Tops featuring Alex Chilton (Dan Penn)
P.S. What's your favourite Penn and Oldham version?
P.P.S. How did I forget "Do Right Man, Do Right Woman", a Penn-Moman song, recorded by Aretha, Gram Parsons, William Bell and others.
P.P.P.S. Jogo sent me this list of YouTube videos of "Dark End of the Street" (comments are his):
- Dan Penn (what a genius)
- James Carr (da kine)
- Percy Sledge (da kine)
- Diamanda Gallas (unbelievably bad, horrible)
- The Commitments (much better than you'd imagine)
- The Flying Burrito Brothers (too young for this song)
- Cat Power (disturbing, perhaps a joke?)
- Ysabellabrave (!) (odd, endearing)
- Eva Cassidy (OMG!)
- Ry Cooder (eh, not exactly) (strange)
- Elvis Costello (not too good)
- Pat Kelly (terrible, a crime against the song)
Bob's beats genre keywords: country music, soul music.
Bob's beats artist keywords: Penn and Oldham, Bettye Lavette, Dolly Parton.
- Save Catford: fighting gentrification
- The man, the myth, the meehan: another Catford blogger. Sample post: E3? I'm C-Town, Down (taking on Wiley)
- Richard Elliot's blog: another SE4 fella. Sample post: Two faces of Brockley
- Dulwich Mum: perfectly pitched satire
*My Brockley Central eatery reviews in comments at: Ecosium, Brockley Barge, Cafe Blanca.
Daniel Barenboim was born in Argentina, where Jews are a small minority and there is an anti-Semitic climate. So he moves to Israel.
Why? So he can be a serious Jew and study the Torah and lead a kosher life? No. Rather because a] he is safe in Israel; b] Israel is a sophisticated and prosperous society in which he can bring his art to a much higher development than he could in Argentina, and become an international star. So there are two items of enormous self interest.
In Israel he aligns himself with the most extreme pro-Palestinian positions, which necessarily entail a certain degree (a lot, a little) of anti-Israel position. The only excuse he can have is IF he sincerely believes that his efforts are in the interest of a long-enduring, peaceful and safe Israel. Perhaps he has reasons to believe this.
But ... do his friends on the Pal side also wish for a long-enduring Israel, let alone a peaceful and safe one? Many, perhaps most, do not.
My problem is that I see Barenboim and Marwan Barghouti as having differing views on the meaning of Barenboim's honorary citizenship and passport from the Republic of Palestine.
Barenboim says the gift "moves" him, and makes him "very, very happy" because it "symbolizes the everlasting bond between the Palestinian and Israeli people."
Bargouti says that the honor paid Barenboim is appropriate because Barenboim "under the most difficult circumstances has shown solidarity with the Palestinian people."
Those angles of view of the thing are not mutually exclusive, but they're not the same, either. If Barenboim and Bargouti could figure out one interpretation that they both could feel good about and sign their names to, I'd feel better. But as it is, each has spun the story in a somewhat different direction, and given it somewhat different emphases.
Monday, January 14, 2008
- Kurdish rap (But I Am A Liberal)
- Amy Winehouse truth & soul remix (Popbytes)
- Deep soul (Someday I'll...)
- SE14/SE8 anti-gun rap (Transpontine)
- Sharon Jones live (KEXP)
- Claudia Roden and fish and chips (Graeme at DST4W)
- Anne Frank the Musical (Poor Mouth)
- Bill Barazetti - Local Hero (Poor Mouth)
Friday, January 11, 2008
Last November it was Nick Griffin and David Irving. This month it's Finkelstein, Honderich, Pappe and Karmi
Bonus links: Solomonia on the debate; Ian Bone's Oxbridge posts; the Independent Working Class Association versus the Oxford Union; Judeosphere on Finkelstein.
All posts about: Nick Griffin/the BNP, David Irving, Norman Finkelstein, Ted Honderich, Ilan Pappe.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
First, simply because it is a great piece of blogging, taking us from Ike's death, through an excavation of the history of rock 'n' roll, via the Blind Boys of Alabama to the Twilight Zone, Tom Waits and HBO's The Wire, written with great research skills and great erudition.
Second, as a follow up to the post the other day which included Marx's "sigh in a soulless world" quote about religion. The point I want to make, which is illustrated beautifully by the mp3s of Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris and Blind Boys of Alabama songs, that religion may be a sigh in a soulless world, but it is so much more than that too. Although I inhabit the same corner of the blogosphere as some very militant secularists, I strongly believe that the world would be a much, much poorer place without the contribution faith makes.
Finally, reading the post put me in mind of the Megan, a woman who blogged at the wonderful music blog Moistworks, who died tragically young in 2007. I never knew her, but I felt I did a little through her blog posts, which were also perfectly crafted and immensely erudite. She would have turned 37 on Boxing Day, and her colleague Alex plays us Gillian Welch's "I Dream a Highway" in her memory.
Finally, while we're with Moistworks, listen to the Duke Ellington recording "In the Beginning God", posted here, and try and take seriously the inane phrase "clash of fundamentalisms".
This fits into the attack from the British "pro-Palestinian" lobby on Peace Oil, because it isn't Arab enough, or the attack by the same people on OneVoice. Rejectionist forms of anti-Zionism - like that of Ittijah and the Islamic Movement in Palestine and of their friends globally and in the UK, like the International Solidarity Movement, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (and, at least in the case of Peace Oil, Jews for Justice for Palestinians) clearly do not want a peaceful and just solution; they want a war to the death.
However, they do not represent the majority of Palestinian and Israeli Arabs.
As Guardian letter writer Mark Futerman put it, regarding the attack on Peace Oil, this stance is
the demented zero-sum mentality of the anti-Israel lobby. Their idiot logic would appear to be that anything which benefits Israeli citizens in any way is by definition bad for the Palestinians, even when it is actually benefiting Israelis (Jews, Arabs and Druze) and Palestinians (through Peace Oil's new blended cooking oil).
Peace Oil is an extremely worthy initiative that seeks to benefit all groups financially (through employment and training), while also funding peace and reconciliation work throughout the region. The primary argument made against Peace Oil is that it is "stealing" shelf space from Palestinian produced oils (the most commonly mentioned of which is Zaytoun). This is moronic. None of these oils had any shelf space in the first place to be stolen. They were at best available through church groups or via the internet. They were essentially failures as products, poorly distributed and marketed. What Peace Oil has done is hugely raise the profile of the olive oils of Israel and Palestine, including the olive oil produced by the Zaytoun initiative.
More: The Wall of “normalization” that inhibits Palestinian independence by Ray Hanania (highly recommended, also here) on OneVoice; the JC on Peace Oil.
Meanwhile, los amigos de durutti: Check the Violin features supercool Israeli-born hip hop violinist/viola-player Miri Ben-Ari, playing on a DJ Logic track.
ADDED: Daniels Counter: Hero Remix, Israeli Anti Male Chauvinism Song re-mix in "Techno" looks at DJ Moran Kariv's techno remix of Si Himan's "Gibor", Hebrew feminist anthem and hit of 1987.
"it does look like the kind of place which could happily accommodate a troop of Morris dancers, and that can never be positive. It's an ancient Jewish paranoia of mine. For some reason, whenever I see Morris dancers I assume a pogrom can't be far behind."Be sure and read jurawatchmaker's acerbic comments at the Baggage Reclaim post.
Jay Rayner there.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Monday, January 07, 2008
Critique Notes - Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory:Marxists versus Moonbats 1: Do Zionists Run America?
"there can also be no question that anti-Semitism is rising, particularly in areas where it has been endemic in the past half-century: Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Bebel's dictum that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools is partly correct in that the role of anti-Semitism is different from that of racism; it provides an alternative populist ideology to the appeal of socialism. Bebel, however, failed to understand its importance by speaking of fools. Anti-Semitism in modern times has served the purpose of diverting anger - in particular that of the peasantry, the small businessmen, the shopkeepers and various middle layers in the population but also of the lumpen proletariat - away from the ruling class. With the very high levels of unemployment and the despair of the masses in general in parts of the world with a history of anti-Semitism, the idea that the world can be put to rights by eliminating the Jews appears real. It may be that the appeal of the anti-Semitism of the President of Iran and of various Middle East governments cannot be countered without a socialist movement to give hope of real change.
One's enemy's enemy is not our friend and such religious fundamentalist nationalists are necessarily anti-Marxist, anti-working class and anti-socialist. The executions of 15,000 Iranian leftists under the Khomeini shows quite clearly whom they see as their enemy. Critique will have a special article on this 'holocaust of the left' in Iran in the next issue. The left has had many martyrs over the years, most particularly from the time of the Paris Commune, but it is in the Stalinist and post-Stalinist period that they have gone unrecognised. The Stalinist massacre of hundreds of Greek Trotskyists, the pogrom of the Viet-Nam Trotskyists, not to speak of what happened in the USSR and Eastern Europe, is the background to the modern murder of the imprisoned Iranian left. That is why the support by sections of the left for Hizbullah and the Iranian regime is particularly heinous.
In any case, Marxists are critical of religion of whatever kind, precisely because it is both irrational and necessarily supportive of an exploitative class even if it is critical of another. The concessions made to Islam in this respect by certain groups demonstrate that such groups are moving sharply to the right. Acceptance of misogyny, homophobia and irrationalism is simply unforgivable. Nor does the fact that many peasants and some workers support Islam or fundamentalist Islam make it any better. After all, ruling class parties would never have accepted democracy if they did not have mass support. If religion is the 'heart of a heartless world, the sigh of the oppressed', as Marx famously put it, that does not make it a worthy ally in the struggle for socialism unless its exponents actually support socialism itself.
The fact that the left appears to be marginalised is no reason to compromise one's principles, though this seems to be the disease of the day. The left has to make it clear that it opposes anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, etc. and not stand by while others on the same platform make odious remarks. Indeed, if political groups do not openly counter such remarks one has to conclude that they are no longer of the left."
Friday, January 04, 2008
Also, a little more here.
(This relates to earlier Anti-German-related posts, and especially the comments thread here.)
Thursday, January 03, 2008
On Madonna's favourite Jews (via Jogo)
Israel's 'non-Jewish Jews' struggle with identity - JTA
On the ex-Soviet Jews of Israel (via Bintel Blog, which has an extract for those that don't want to register)
My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas, reviewed by The New Republic Online
An excellent review, highly recommended, especially to my Arendtian friends, as the argument draws heavily on Richard Sennett's in The Fall of Public Man. Sennett, who was Arendt's assistant at one point (see The Conscience of the Eye), draws on her The Human Condition. (via Jogo)
Cover Lay Down: The Twelve Jews of Christmas, Folk Covers of Holiday Classics by Jewish Songwriters
If I'd done a Christmas music blog post, I'd have had to include this!
MySpaceTV Videos: Hardcore Jewish Chicks by oren kaplan I
Satirical hip hop. (via Jogo)
Alan Dershowitz: Motto of Anti-Israel Academics: "Free Speech For Me, But Not for Thee!" - The Huffington Post (via Jogo)
YouTube - In Extremo "Sefardim"
Awesome German heavy metal cover of "Avraam Avinou" (via Metal Jew)
M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, interviewed in National Review. (Via Jogo, who comments: "why do I read about Mr. Jasser in the most prominent conservative magazine of the United States, rather than in one of the progressive venues?")
Pardon My Freedom: Is It Because I Am Black?
What blogging was invented for.