jewin' the fat


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!)

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Fog of Battle or Full of BS?
April 14, 2010, 12:47 PM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , ,

“And even if the wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 1

On April 5, Wikileaks.org, a website which promises to promote freedom of information and complete anonymity for its sources, posted a 38-minute video, taken by a US Apache helicopter gun-camera in Baghdad in 2007. The site, which obtained the footage via a Freedom of Information application posted two versions – one, replete with edits, subtitles, indicators and highlighting, and another fuller version. The footage appears to show – well, let’s just let it speak for itself.

 Please Note: THIS FOOTAGE MAY BE OFFENSIVE OR DISTRESSING TO SOME VIEWERS.

As posted on the front page of the Wikileaks site:

FULL VERSION:

Check out this specially constructed site

Political and defence commentators have had a field day with this one, picking apart its content, its context and Wikileaks cutting techniques, while talk back and television audiences have been ferocious in their attacks on the US and Australian military for training their soldiers to dehumanise their targets before engaging (read: killing them). Veterans and individuals currently serving are forced to defend their actions in combat against civilians who have never held a gun before, and suddenly the morality of modern warfare is all anyone can think about – that is, 65 years after the firebombing of Dresden.

“A person who hasn’t been there will never get it”                                               – Ron Leshem, Beaufort

Now regardless of whether you think the title and/or editing of the videos and site is justified or simply a ploy to pique the interest  and direct the focus of viewers, there still remains the question of credibility. 

Screen grab of Colbert's interview with Assange (HT @ The Colbert Report)

Gawker‘s empowered piece on the debacle fleshes out the issue with a smartly conceived interview between with King of Satire and doublespeak Stephen Colbert and Wikileak’s Julian Assange – nothing we read or see in public media is completely objective – so can we trust such ‘leaked’ information? Even this blog post was edited (at current count, 8 times) for maximum impact on readers. Considering the clearly political motivations of Wikileaks, as admitted by its founder Julian Assange, how do we reconcile the facts:

1. Two Reuters journalists were killed.

2. Two Reuters journalists were not identified as such, and as they should have been, and as they had been trained to be.

2. The US internal inquest into the incident and the actions of the Helicopter gunners found no conclusive evidence of intentional murder or war crimes.

3. Julian Assange titled the video “Collateral Murder”, and made assumptions on the viewers behalf, to present a vision of the events that  subscribed to his political narrative.

4. We can not rely on a gun-camera to appreciate the real-time vision of the men who fired on the group.

It’s a fogging mess. While there is no doubt this footage is on par with the photos from Abu Ghraib as a paradigm shifting tool, and a gamechanger for war reporting, the facts remain. There is no comfort in knowing, and no bliss in ignorance.



Beck, Banksy & ‘Beatrice and Virgil’
April 13, 2010, 12:21 PM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B and the number 3 – ah! ah! ah!   

Photo: Muppet Wiki

Beck:  

The only thing that would make doing the ironing with a glass of pinot gris on a crisp autumn night in a terry towel nightgown sexier would be the hottest postmodern half-Jew in pop music, Bek David Campbell. His outrageous 1999 single Debra is dripping in smooth and smokin’ falsetto funk, and brought sexy back years before JT. Musical arrangements are fast and loose, structured and slippery, with just enough sleaze to get the housewives hot under the collar – like Beck’s coitus contemporaries Bowie and Prince. Lyrics that oscillate between self-effacing comedic genius (I said Lady, Step inside my Hyundai) and quasi-orgasmic sensuousness (like fruit that’s ripe for the picking) are packed with irony which borrows heavily from the same musical mastery as Flight of the Concords. If the last orgiastic breath of “Jenny” doesn’t make your loins quiver with excitement, you aren’t human. Take a listen here

Banksy:  

Every hipster worth his salty, unwashed, über-chic hair knows the pop-cultural importance of Banksy. What we don’t know, is who the hell this guy really is. Exit through the Gift Shop is the latest offer of an answer. It premiered at Sundance in January, and is about to hit US cinemas. Narrated by Rhys Ifans, the film tells the story of Mr. Brainwash, a French-born designer/entrepreneur Thierry Guetta, and his artistic enlightenment thanks to the Banksy himself. But like most great docos, soon the camera turns on its subject, and gazes not at the attempts of Guetta to replicate Banksy’s graffiti glory, but the man behind the mystery. Check out the trailer:  

   

Beatrice and Virgil:   

“If history doesn’t become story,” he says, “it dies to everyone except the historian. Art is the suitcase of history, carrying the essentials. Art is the life buoy of history.”  

— Henry, Beatrice and Virgil  

Props to Yann Martel – Life of Pi, which won the Man Booker Prize has been followed up with one of the smartest of literature’s handling of the Holocaust since Otto Frank published Anne’s diary. In an absurdist philosophical discussion between two stuffed animals in a taxidermy shop, Martel manages to capture the madness of the 20th Century’s greatest tragedy of human innovation and ignorance. As the author justifies his use of Animal Farm story-telling apparatus:  

“People are cynical about people, but less so about wild animals. A rhinoceros dentist elicits less skepticism, in some ways, than a German dentist.  But this animal-as-canvas quality is useful for a storyteller. It means that an animal that people feel kindly towards becomes a character that readers feel kindly towards.”  

Beatrice and Virgil is out this week. Check out all good booksellers, or here.



Older and/or Wiser

First things first – Happy New Year y’all. Here’s hoping that resolutions were made and broken, champagne glasses emptied and dignity lost in the fun and fury. It’s 2010, and we are officially living in a sci-fi novel – Brave New World indeed.

Secondly, an apology – I have let life, love and living get in the way of blogging. Especially because, if you weren’t aware, I’ve been Mid-East side for the past month or so. And in among all the crazy, I have let slide this little venture. … Mostly because I didn’t want to spill Jameson on my lap top. And despite being in the thick of it, with a million and one things to write reams and reams about, to put it simply, I’m on holiday, and cbf. So Sorry.

But then again, it has been a fairly decent while in cyber-terms, so here’s my resolution. I will make a concerted effort to not be a lazy ass, and get back on the blogging-bandwagon. Starting now.

2009 was a memorable year. It taught us the value of money, once we lost it, and the stupidity of trusting financial institutions. It also taught us that hiding $1 million in a mattress can backfire. It began with a bang that shook Gaza, and is still shaking the world, and ended with a silence on Darfur that is deafening.

 2009 was brought to you by the colour Green, and Twitter became (and still is) the protest medium of choice for thousands of young Iranians. 2009 was the year Australian politics got (mildly) interesting – and the first year an Abbott and a Bishop ruled the Liberal Party. It was also the year that his Honour, the Honorable Honorary Jew himself, Malcolm Turnbull, found himself out on his ass (but still with that amazing BRW Richest 200 fortune to fall back on), Nathan Rees locked us out of parliament, and the year Kristina Keneally found the spare set of keys.

Melbourne trains got an overhaul, Brendan Fevola got pissed and lost his shit at the Brownlows, and Nate Myles got pissed and actually took a shit in a hotel corridor. The British Supreme Court ruling against the Jewish Free School told us how to be Jewish, and John Safran’s Race Relations showed us how to be crude – ish.

Settlements, Satire, Sexting and Sagging – we remember 2009. Another year older, but not necessarily wiser. Except for Ron Weiser. That guy is a champion.



For Shame
November 11, 2009, 10:28 AM
Filed under: Comment | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Remembrance Day is a sacred part of Australian culture and history. There is nothing more spine chilling than a nation stopping on the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, to remember their fallen sons, brothers, fathers and friends. 

Even as I stood for a minutes silent reflection, I found myself moved to tears at the awesome sacrifice over 102 000 people have made in the name of our country. It is an overwhelming act for many people, and an all to real one for others.

But standing at work is not the only way to mark Remembrance Day. I was only 19, beautifully re-created by Australian hip hop group The Herd(here), the power of Laurence Binyon’s poem, For The Fallen, and services at Australian War Memorial in Canberra have long been a means to remember our fallen soldiers.

But how on earth did the Queensland Retired Servicemens League imagine a RINGTONE would be an appropriate, respectful, and tasteful way to bring Remembrance Day into the 21st Century?

Disgusting.



Top Ten Tips: Blogging for the new-Jew
November 5, 2009, 11:33 AM
Filed under: Comment, Jewish Community, media, Top Ten | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s the one of the newest crazes, and as with most things, Jews have once again shown their ability to attack, subdue and control the media – or in this case, the blogosphere. Except that this time, we were about five years too late. No matter – young Jewish people are pounding their keyboards with a fierceness we haven’t seen since Chris Brown, and it’s steadily catching on.

Even CNN is starting to sit up and take notice of the new catch of Jewish youth who are taking back their media, and injecting it back out there with a little culture and a whole lot of vengeance. Some with a little more skill than others, but we are all the Prime Minister by our mothers, right?

So it goes – your Top Ten Tips: Blogging for the new-Jew. And just like last time, if you got something to add, don’t forget to do it  at jewinthefat@gmail.com.

1) Slick name: Because appearances are everything – your name needs to have enough sparkle to ensure it stands out, enough gravitas and/or hubris to be considered seriously and a generous see-if-i-care chutzpa to separate you from the wretched, grasping unoriginal hoards. Because you are the real deal. And so are you. And you too. We are all individuals …

2) Smooth delivery: Although it pops up later in this Top Ten, it’s not enough to be able to string a sentence together, or at least spell each word correctly (or incorrectly, with irony of courze). Otherwise you would just be another Miranda Devine. Make sure your content is easy to digest, uncomplicated by outrageous fonts/lay out, and entirely free of “she was as light as air” similes. They make people with an iota of intelligence want to light their hair on fire. With swiftness of a strike of a match.

3) A killer Pseudonym: Now I know that there are some out there who want their names up in lights, but let’s be honest – there is something claustrophobic about writing as a Jewish person, especially in a small community like Australia. You can expect the blogging experiment to spread like wildfire, even if you don’t use your real name – it’s called the grapevine, and Jews have been wringing it dry for centuries to make their Carmel wine. Case in point: a dear writer friend, who’s sick, slick and salacious diatribes about his sexual prowess (even whilst written on another continent, 14 hours away), reached our sunny shores and within weeks, he had shut up shop. So be aware that you are writing for an audience of more than just your mother or partner, and be read up on defamation, slander, privacy laws and all those irritating ethical problems writers deal with.  OR just make up a pseudonym.

4) Something to say: No one likes to read yesterday’s news. Make sure what you want to say is original, personal, and above all interesting. Keep it in the Public’s interest, or keep the public interested and you’ve got a winner baby.

5) An axe to grind: Ooh, those pesky (insert most hated noun here). If they (who or whatever they happen to be) really get your panties in a twist, then make a big stinking noise about it. Because in cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream – but remember, don’t go overboard, because we can also simply tune out. Keep it even, Steven.

6) Someone to read it: So we have already covered your mother and partner, but maybe it’s worthwhile, rather than blathering on for hundreds of pars, to work to a demographic. Who do you want to read this? What do they read online? Offline? Do they read at all – or would they be better served by videos, graphic novels, photos – that’s the beauty of multimedia. But keep on track – if you are planning to make a little business outta your baby, you need the clicks.

7) Someone to hate it: Any publicity is good publicity. It doesn’t matter if the people reading you hate you or love you – as long as they read you, you are in business. But don’t take it too personally. Most of the people commenting are overweight 14 year olds whose older brother won’t buy them West Coast Coolers on Saturday nights.

8 ) Spelling and Grammar: This is simple – Like attracts like, and if you write like a demented 11-year-old on MySpace, that’s who will be logging on to read you. So make sure you spellcheck, and re-read, and for God’s sake – any LOL, ROFLMAO, BRB and STFU is ridiculous, juvenile and down-right lazy. Grow up.

9) a LOT of time on your hands: Even if this is just a hobby, or creative outlet, you will have to put some effort and time into getting a blog started. Maybe not hours at a time, but definitely intermittent spurts of energy and creativity, ideally at regular or semi-regular intervals, is what keeps a blog living and breathing, and readers reading. At least once a week is a good start, but any less than that, and you wander into dangerous territory. Not dangerous like Peshawar, but close.

10) Be informed: The only way to write about stuff you know, is to, like, know stuff? You know? So do yourself a favour and get informed. Read newspapers, books, listen to music, watch films, engage in political, creative, educational pursuits – hell, watch YouTube all day. The best writers are the best readers and to get there, you’ll need to put in the hard yards.



Punch and Jewdy

At a swanky media party in Melbourne, glass of white in hand, I struck up a conversation with a bright eyed young Melbournian, who had a plan to revolutionise the JC with his own version of Hasbara.

The only problem is that he was beaten to the punch.

Welcome to the cut throat world of JC public diplomacy – where in a surprisingly similar fashion to Israel, confusion abounds, bureaucracy is King, and the debate is most fierce behind closed doors. There are red lines that cannot be crossed, individuals that cannot be pushed aside, and powers-that-be which must be given the last word.

So when I was presented with this community anarchist, I chuckled inside, shaking my head at this kid’s chutzpah – not only at the vision he had, but his having proposed it at all. Of course I smiled warmly as he continued – mostly because I was interested in how exactly he was planning to reinvent the wheel, and succeed where scores had failed before him. But as far as progress relies on unreasonable men looking to change the world around them, I wished him the best, and continued around the party.

But it got me thinking about traditional JC politics, and the mutinous young people who dare to buck convention, and try something different. Like this guy – smart, funny, charismatic, with zero chance of achieving his goal. And not for lack of trying …

Take the example of a young Jewish student leader, experienced and well conditioned by his/her involvement in a youth movement/university body. They have considerable skills and knowledge of informal education/PR/public diplomacy/marketing/demography, are flexible and their message is easily adaptable. They have strong contacts amongst their peers, and are committed to the community. As their tenure as leader comes to a close, they begin to look to continue their involvement as … uh, as a … um …

The reality of the JC is that there is a gap, and filling it is not a priority. There is an extensive investment in our young people, through formal and informal education from preschool to University age, but once they have taken it upon themselves to strike out on their own, the JC, well, lets them.
The current model of JC advocacy (incorporating interests in the Australian Jewish Community and Israel) is inflexible, averse to change or innovative media, and largely unwelcoming of new concepts/partners/parameters. I’m not recommending extreme change, or a shift in focus, but there must be some avenue to incorporate other ideas, individuals and influences. Without evolving in style or form, we will be permitting our next generation’s disinterest in their own community.

There is an entire generation of people who are patronisingly encouraged to be a part of the solution, to be involved, to get their ideas out there, but who are not provided the freedom, resources or support to bring their ideas to fruition. As a result, an apathetic demographic is created, unable to effect the change they see as vital to bring the JC into the future, and thus disinterested in the traditional modes of community involvement. Then the AJN runs an op-ed which criticises this disenfranchised Jewish group, and there is less and less imperative to get involved as their point is reinforced with the communal condemnation of young people as non-contributing community members.

So for the young guy in the bar,  it doesn’t matter what he was proposing. It could have been the next best thing, but without institutionalised encouragement of this entrepreneurial spirit, he would be forced to rely on free media like facebook and blogging, or the generosity of parents, family and friends to get his idea off the ground.

This trend, which sees the increasing bureaucratisation of advocacy in Australia, means that the longer this goes unchecked, the more we have to lose. Already, there is a clear shift away from traditional JC organisations to more grassroots, accesible media, dedicated to and by the sub-culture it represents. There is no good reason why the same voices are given airtime no matter the issue. I for one would like to see a young person talking about young people’s issues – because some how a 60 year old man talking about teen binge drinking just doesn’t ring true. So why are suitable spokespeople so desperately lacking – and why aren’t we doing more to involve those who will eventually be asked to take the reigns?

On the other hand, there is no one effective central body (and therefore no central message), but neither is there a move to delegate particulars to other organisations in an effort to improve dissemination (which without that central message is a moot point). There is no reason for the superfluous, overcompensating bodies that exist, largely side by side and overlapping in purpose, with little or no collaboration: ECAJ, JCCV, ADC, AIJAC, SZC, JBD, ZFA, ZCV, ZYC, AUJS …

Finally, this kind of reshuffle would not only represent more of the community, permit a variety of people to become effective communicaters and ensure the continuation of the communal representative bodies in the inclusion of women, students, young professionals, mothers etc.

It may not be the perfect answer, but I do know that the state of the union is far from perfect, and “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” just ain’t the fix any more.