jewin' the fat


Everyone’s a little bit racist
April 27, 2010, 2:24 PM
Filed under: media | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m still not quite sure what the relevance of the joke was, why he had to reference the tale as “true”, or how it “set the stage for [Jones’] remarks” but whatever, everyone’s a little bit racist. And besides, nothing like a little latent anti-Semitism to liven up the party. Am I right? Jim? Am I right? Har-di-har-har cause Jews sell stuff see? Har Har.

Judge the joke for yourselves after the jump.



Top Ten: The Zionist Conspiracy

In honour of the biggest Zionist day in the calendar year this week, here’s a tribute to the ten or so biggest Zionist-stereotypes, all of whom claiming to hold the key to what a ‘true’ Zionist really is. The reality is, at the end of the day, that Zionism is not a political theory, power conspiracy nor a policy of a government (as detractors/hacks/ignoramuses may assume), it is an ideology which is inherently personal, and interpreted by the individual to facilitate self-determination as a member of the Jewish people.

As it turns out, a bunch of those Jew-Individuals got together a couple hundred years ago and, determined to do more than argue with each other on the value of a state for Jews or a Jewish state, actually set about creating it.

It is neither the plot of the 8th Harry Potter novel, 'Harry Potter and the Zionist Conspiracy to take over the world with superior money-handling skills and uber-developed business acumen mu-ha-ha-ha-hacking-cough-ha-ha!" (HT @ Diaryofanelderofzion.blogspot.com : he's a Zionist - he knows!)

Continue reading



Im Tirtzu
April 15, 2010, 11:36 AM
Filed under: Comment, Identity, Israel, Zionism | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This week marks the 62nd year of independence of the modern State of Israel. So let’s explore the ‘ism‘ that inspired, and facilitated the path towards a state for the Jewish people of the world.

If you will it, it is no dream  — Teddy Herzl

There is certainly an element of pride associated with Zionism, but it is not to be confused with nationalism (a pride-filled ideology though it may be). In fact, Zionism at its origin is more about the expression of self-determination, and self-determination is about feeling worthy as a nation of the elements of nationhood that others enjoy. Elements of nationhood can include common language, culture, traditions, symbols and of course geography – the latter being the uniquely absent component when one of the first Zionists, Theodore Herzl, cooked up this hair-brained scheme to get Jewish nationhood back on the menu.

However, Zionism at its origins was not widely accepted as a national movement – most Jews lived as ‘guests’ in countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Despite the threat and implications of violence, discrimination and expulsion (see England in 1290 CE, Spain, 1492 CE, Kiev, 1886 – click here for a full list of Jewish ‘Fugees) many didn’t appreciate the necessity of a national homeland. Unfortunately, it took a hundred years and millions of lives for the international community to realise this as a requirement for the safety and continuity of the Jewish people.

Currently, the image of Zionism is bound up in the current politics of the State of Israel. Perhaps it should be. But there are many forms, and many understandings of this ideology, and it’s important to see them not as a homogenous belief, but as focused manifestations of our identity as Jewish people – members of the tribe, individuals who identify as Jews, children born of Jewish parents, and people who subscribe to the tenants of faith, cultural norms and traditions of a 3000 year old history of a people – a people dispersed, and then, through the hope of Zionism, brought back together again..

So who is a Zionist? Check this out for the full list of wannabes, willneverbes and wildebeest that make up the Zionist colour palette.



Flashpoint or Excuse?

“This time the flashpoint was the reopening of a restored 17th century synagogue close to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. Rival Palestinian factions united in condemning the opening of the landmark Hurva synagogue, which was last destroyed 62 years ago in fighting with Jordan during the 1948 war that followed Israel’s creation.”

Police responded to the stonethrowers by firing tear gas and rubber bullets. HT@ Reuters: Darren Whiteside

Read more here.
 
“This time?!” I’m not sure what frustrates me about this article more –
– the fact that Palestinians are protesting the opening of a building (that has been under going construction since at least early 2004),
– that the Palestinians are “united in condemning” the opening of what Anne Barker calls “the landmark Hurva Synagogue” which was destroyed in the war of Independence (click here for a photo of the synagogue),
– the fact that the Hurva synagogue had been in a state of ruin for almost 50 years,
– the lack of context as to the exact location of the Synagogue (which is and always has been in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, and has remained there since 17th Century)*
or perhaps the glib little phrase “This time”, which not only belittles the legitimate concerns of both sides, but reduces the conflict to a matter of incidences, easily avoidable if one side would just stop doing that one thing – bombing, building, walking, talking …  
 
Flashpoint, or excuse?
_ _ _ _ _ _
 *Case in Point: WordPress links this post to another, by Al Manar newsite, whose headline reads ““Israel” Hands Out Invitations to Attend Opening of Synagogue inside Aqsa Mosque”” … The article goes on …The sources added that the occupation authorities is making all preparations for that day, adding that according to a prophecy claimed by a Jewish rabbi in the 18th century, this synagogue will be established in the aforementioned date on the ruins of the Aqsa Mosque.

The sources added there is an agreement between the government and parties in Israel on the opening of this synagogue and Palestinian cooperation by Mahmoud Abbas’s authority to facilitate the opening ceremony and repel any Islamic moves to defend the Aqsa Mosque. 

In light of the Israeli preparations to quell any moves to defend the holy Mosque on that day, the occupation authorities prevented Jerusalemite worshipers under age 50 from entering the Mosque and launched a wide kidnapping campaign against Palestinian young men in the holy city.”Need I say more…?



Israel Apartheid Week – Wrap up
March 12, 2010, 12:22 PM
Filed under: Comment, Israel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, as Israel Apartheid Week draws to a close, we thank those ballsy fellows for their patronage, and wish them good luck until next year.

During the meantime, here are some interesting, some relevant, and some gratuitous links to keep you …er, occupied.

***

A sharp beginner’s guide to the Israel Apartheid Week phenomenon. Author Jon Hollander is a Columbia University Senior, Majoring in Economics.

Alive in Joberg (Neil Blomkamp – Director, District 9) – This short film was the impetus for the feature film, which deals succinctly with the injustice and ultimate fallibility of the Apartheid (Afrikaans for Separate) system in South Africa. Check out the District 9 trailer here.

The Australiasian Union of Jewish Students represents at the Melbourne university Israel Apartheid Forum, handing out material to attendees and donning sweet vests. Check out the IAW trailer here. Sick beats.

The counter: First Annual Israel Peace Week, active across US and Australian campuses.

The new kid on the US lobby block, J Street comments on IAW, and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, calling for “Invest, don’t Divest” activities to promote investment in Palestinian state-building.  Find out more about J Street here.



Win or Lose – It’s how you play the system

Another year, another conflated Oscars ceremony. Thanks to the ACT government, and their nifty Canberra Day Public holiday, I watched the Oscars broadcast with the same breathless excitement I watched Channel Nine stumble through Eddie Maguire’s homophobic ramblings to broadcast the Montreal Winter Olympics.

At least the Olympics highlight package, that is.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that the Oscars are 8% bad jokes, 18% bad dresses, 30% drunk after party photos, and 40% politics. This year, my political favourites included The Hurt Locker‘s Katherine Bigalow getting even with her ex-husband James Cameron, Sandra Bullock proving that a bad dye-job and a southern drawl can make or break a career, and of course, Christoph Waltz’s ability to turn incorrect syntax into Oscar gold!

Israel has a proud history of quality filmmaking. Recent titles which have touched the hearts and minds of international audiences include Beaufort, Eyes Wide Open, Waltz with Bashir, Yossi & Jagger, The Bubble, Someone to Run With$9.99, and most  recently, the 2010 nominee for Best Foreign Feature Film Ajami.

Yaron Shani and Skandar Copti, Co-Directors of the Academy Award nominated film, 'Ajami'

Telling uniquely Israeli stories of the cultures, foods, rituals, languages, loves and lives of citizens of the State of Israel, it’s acclaimed offerings have been touted at film festivals and award ceremonies for decades.

And while none have achieved Oscar glory yet, Ajami was a firm favourite in the lead up to the big night.

Alack, in an interview with Israeli TV aired on the eve of the award ceremony, the film’s co-director, Skandar Copti effectively spat in the face of the government film fund which bankrolled his tale of the mean streets of Jaffa, and in the face of his Jewish-Israeli co-director Yaron Shani and stars (Arab-Muslim, Arab-Christian and Jewish alike), who were visibly disappointed that their hard work had not been rewarded. Though some sent celebratory text messages after the announcement that Argentinian nominee “El secreto de sus ojos” (The Secret in their Eyes) had taken out the category, many involved in the joint Arab-Jewish production saw betrayal in the remarks of Copti.

Israel Film Fund Director Katiel Schory was a little more considered in his approach. “Everything is okay, it’s perfectly alright,” he said. “[Copti] is entitled to his view. I’m very happy with the film and we stand behind it. In Israel, there are many narratives and this is one of those narratives.”

“The film represents Israel exactly,” said Israeli-American choreographer Barak Marshall. “It touches on almost all of the issues we face in Israeli society and it shows how broad the public debate is; that someone who is from Israel can negate his very connection to the state shows how wonderfully strong and alive our political culture is.”

The political fallout from Copti’s remarks clearly registered with the mostly Arab-Israeli cast, who were notably divided from the rest of the X Bar after-party guests, a shin dig hosted by the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles.

In Copti’s Channel 2 interview, he did say that though the film is “technically” Israeli, it did not represent him, and proffered “I cannot represent a country that does not represent me”.

So what is this “technicality”? The citizenship of the players, crew and cast alike? The location of filming – in the internationally recognised Israeli municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa? The languages spoken in the film (Hebrew and Arabic, two of Israel’s official national languages)? Or how about the people who paid, through the auspices of the Israel Film Fund, for part of the film’s production – the tax payers of Israel – Jew, Muslim, Christian, Druze, Baha’i, Bedouin and Armenian, amongst others?

It is not enough to say that because one’s government doesn’t represent one’s personal perspective, that one cannot represent one’s nation on an international stage, as Copti protests. It’s an unfortunate symptom of the open, democratic society that many perspectives and opinions are offered equal footing in public space, sure, and that sometimes our issues are marginalised, but guess what?

If there was one message Ajami offered the Academy and viewing public, it was an insight into the pluralist, multi-ethnic, unique character and chaos of Jaffa. It was about the individual’s fight to survive in a world that is non-homogenous, and often unfair.  And that in a free-market of individual agendas, sometimes, some one has to lose.

In this case, it was Copti. Technically, of course.



Means Justify the Ends, Beautiful Friends, The Ends
March 2, 2010, 11:19 AM
Filed under: Israel, media, Zionism | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ok, after all the speculation and hear say, after all the he-said-she-said and pointless re-iterating of irrelevant, un-newsworthy facts and numbers, names and casual insinuations, it’s time to set the record somewhat straighter than its current spiral-shape – because all this spin is making me dizzy.  So before you rip off your clothes, pull out your hair and run down your street screaming “APOCALPYSE NOW!! I SEE THE FOUR HORSEMEN!”, take a deep breath, or a shot, or a hit of your inhaler and read this.

Une : Self-righteous indignation is only permissable if the indignant are blameless. Don’t kid yourself Australia, Britain, France, or even you, Gold-medal winning Canada – sure, this time you are the victim, but are we forgetting that espionage is the dirty little secret of many great powers, used on varying occasions to kill, maime or capture war criminals, arms dealers and military and political leadership. No one is blameless, and all are punish-ed if they believe they are.  

Deux : There is no proof Mossad nor any Israeli was involved – it’s not like these people left their business card, or even a 20-shekel printed T from the Carmel Shuq. But, like all great conspiracies, the rumour is 3/4 of the way to the truth, and lights a great big stinking flare for all the crazies to come out (take this choice quote from New Matilda’s comments section, on Mustafa Qadri’s seminal work “Has Israel Finally Gone Too Far?” –  

“All Israeli Duel (sic) passports should now be triple checked and bags searched. Israel is using(some give permission)their citizens (sic) passports for their murderous deeds (9/11 ) cheering when the towers were pulled. Two planes hit two towers and building 7 just fell down ??? Mossad has blood on its hands. Guilty your honor.”  

Thanks Mate. Stellar contribution to the debate). Even in the murky jurisdictional waters of international justice, defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and subject to a fair trial – by the courts, not by fire or the media.  

Trois : The ends justify the means. Let’s not forget the end result of this little fiasco. There is one less self-described murderer and violent agitator in the world, who was killed while in Dubai on an arms-dealing mission for his organisation, Hamas, whose own political charter calls for the destruction of its neighbour, and who has acted upon that charter countless times in violent terrorism against citizens of the State of Israel. Where I come from that’s a winner. Sure, it (allegedly) took 27 people to arrange it, and a slew of tennis-related props, but the guy is no longer with us, and while I offer his family my condolences, I offer those responsible my congratulations.  

Quatre : When you assume, you make an ass of you and me. With the AFP on the way to Israel to conduct its own investigation, there is no doubt Australia is taking allegations of passport fraud seriously. However, it is worthwhile to remember that the three dual citizens named, were also shamed in extensive media coverage of the issue. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but it would be reasonable to assume that any and all parties, complicit in any illegal undertakings would be far less inclined to reveal their true involvement with hordes of cameramen and journalists banging down their doors. Especially if the likely outcome were jail time/extradition to their country of origin or revoking of their citizenship. Funny that. 

Cinq : It was Contextual, I swear. Remember that nothing happens in a vacuum – the response of the Australian government is tempered directly by the state in which it finds itself – demoting a minister, held responsible for the deaths of four tradies, and led by a Prime Minister who believes their hold to be slipping.