Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Gideon Levy holds up the mirror

August 30, 2015


They go to work like good citizens, never asking about the morality of their actions.Many are able, in the words of Robert Jay Litton, the noted American psychiatrist,to “double”, separate the twin axes of their lives. So did all the oppressors in history. They were kind to their children and then went out and di the dirty work of empire, never connecting the two.THe IDF is full of such brainwashed robots who daily humiliate another people they hardly consider human.

Gideon Levy,the Haaretz columnist  persists in holding up a mirror  to his alienated society

From his column today:

What do Israeli border inspectors tell their children when they come home from work? That for seven hours they interrogated a renowned U.S.-Palestinian author, one who had come to visit her family and set up playgrounds for children in the West Bank? Did they tell them that, after interrogating her, they expelled her solely because of her Palestinian origin? Did they say that they also expelled an elderly U.S.-Palestinian man, a native of Jerusalem, who hadn’t visited his homeland for 21 years, only because he landed at Ben-Gurion Airport?
What did the Binyamin Brigade commander Col. Yisrael Shomer tell his children the day he shot to death the teen Mohammad Kosba, whom he shot in the back as the boy fled? Did he say that because the boy threw a stone at his car, he deserved to die? That daddy killed a child because he can? That it’s OK to kill children, as long as they’re Palestinian? Did he tell them that Mohammad was the third son killed by Israel Defense Forces soldiers in his family?
Perhaps these questions are not being asked yet. Their day will come.

A journey to solidarity

August 22, 2015


A journey in New York bolded  below. It brought back my own experiences of antisemitism—and I wasn’t even Jewish! I just happened to be the only goy on an almost totally Jewish ball team. “Jewboy and kike rang in my ears as I raced down Shaw Street in west Toronto chased by ignorant bigots the same age as myself—12.

Such random hatred changes people. At first you cannot articulate it because you are young and confused. As you advance in experience and wisdom and remain open, you are able to name the virus.Then you begin to counteract it as best you can wherever you find yourself. Your DNA now includes an important building block called antiracism. It is a gift and possibly a burden. It is a summons within history to a divine call from beyond. And there are no exceptions to this. Even though you might be middle class, your commitment is not upward mobility but downward solidarity. This was the great gift of the Palestinian Jewish rabbi Yeshua ben Miriam, Jesus of Nazareth. Your love transcends  both your tribe and your  biology.

This is the tragedy of the Nazi holocaust. Narrow minded Jews tried to hoard  it instead of universalizing it. The lesson always is: never again to anybody—Afro-Canadian, immigrant, homosexual, Palestinian.
It brought me to tears several times, evoking memories of anti Semitic attacks when I was a boy on the Upper West Side in Manhattan during and toward the end of World War II. The two blocks coming home from P.S. 93 on 93rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue to 94th Street at Columbus Avenue was a daily adventure and challenge. Most days I would get home safely from school, but many times I’d get home bloodied, bruised and my clothing torn with the epithets, “Jewboy, Kike, Christ killer” ringing in my ears.

My father wrote a letter to the newspaper “P.M.” or its successor paper, “ The New York Star” about these repeated attacks against Jewish children, his own in particular. The letter, a single column wide, perhaps eight inches long, spoke about the irony of such anti-Semitic attacks while our servicemen were fighting and dying in the war against fascism that was brewed and nurtured in anti-Semitism. The letter was placed, all by itself on a black background, taking up a whole page of the newspaper. I haven’t seen that letter or the newspaper for about 70 years. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to find my father’s letter through the internet. I’m not skilled at such research.

One incident during those days took place at the 8th Avenue Subway station at 96th Street and Central Park West. I must have been twelve years old. I was taking classes at a Synagogue on West 97th Street to prepare for my Bar Mitzvah. With that, the Hebrew School had recruited me to solicit coins for the United Jewish Appeal. UJA was helping European refugees to settle in Palestine and was probably working toward the establishment of the State of Israel. They equipped me with a “pushka,”(a collection can), a quick rap for rush hour subway travelers, and assigned me to the 96th Street Independent Line station.

During a lull in the ingress and egress of passengers two boys approached me. One stood in front and one in the back. They invited me to go with them across Central Park West to the park. Their attitude and the point of something sharp in my back told me I’d better do as they said. Once behind the wall in the park they took the puskka, cut it open and took the money. They answered my objections by doing the expected. The two boys beat the crap out of me, threw the empty coin can at me and left, running.

I identified the two boys. They went to P.S. 93. My brother, a crossing monitor, got their names. The two were arrested. My mother and I went to the police station with the rabbi to identify them. During the interview with the police the vengeance of the rabbi had no limits. He wanted to “throw the book” at them. It seemed he’d not be satisfied with anything less than capital punishment for my two anti Semite, thieving schoolmates. It became an argument. I joined in against the rabbi’s rage of vengeance. As the words got angrier, I picked up the pushka and threw it at the rabbi. I made it clear that the boys were not going to jail, and not going to reform school. the boys told us they would never do anything like they did to me to anyone else again.

The upshot was that I had two formerly anti Semite friends and defenders at P.S. 93. I don’t think I was ever attacked again in that neighborhood for being a Jew – and I did not get to do the Bar Mitzvah ceremony for which I was preparing.

A few years later, in 1949, I heard those same epithets, “Jewboy, Kike” etc. hurled at me by schoolmates from Peekskill High School. Our family had moved from Manhattan. I was on the line with a thousand others, it was a defense line around a crowd of 25,000 people attending a Paul Robeson concert. The event came to be called the “Peekskill Riot.”

Since then, though the years I’ve been an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, the Peace Movement, community organizations for justice against police abuse, and the labor movement. Right now I’m Vice President and Chair of the Executive Board in my Union, Plumbers and Fitters Local 393, a Delegate to the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and activist in US Labor Against the War. If I had more time and energy I’d do more than sign petitions and give a little money to the movement for justice for Palestinians and currently for signing the peace accord with Iran.

It’s not kosher!

June 13, 2015


Lone soldier sentenced to military jail for eating non-kosher sandwich

After journalists called for comment, however, the IDF soldier’s sentence was reduced.

I mean what was grandma thinking?

By Haaretz | Jun. 1, 2015 |

An American-born lone soldier serving in the Israel Defense Forces was sentenced to military jail for eating a non-kosher sandwich during training, according to an Israel Radio report.

After an Israel Radio reporter asked the IDF Spokespeson’s Unit to comment, however, it was decided that the soldier would not be sent to jail, but rather would not receive his upcoming weekend leave.

The soldier lives on a kibbutz with his grandmother, who made him the sandwiches, which he proceeded to offer to his fellow soldiers.

A representative for the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit told Israel Radio that the soldier was given such a harsh sentence because his actions were unbecoming for a soldier currently in commander’s training school.

It is against army regulations to bring non-kosher food onto IDF bases, which are all kosher.

Israeli columnist on Pope Francis: funny stuff

May 31, 2015


Yossi Sarid was a longtime member of the Knesset who now pens columns for Haaretz,. A  bit sardonic and pointed, he penned a quietly prophetic column on friday on Pope Francis. “who proves how stagnant Israel has become.”
Sarid alludes to Il Papa recognizing Palestine. and he asks with tongue in cheek,”why is he butting in?”Doesn’t he realize that nobody in Israel speaks of peace any more—or even justice. Doesn’t the pope know bridging the divide between Israel and Palestine is hopeless. Nobody here is interested. One more statement like that and we’ll bring up the Church’s notorious anti-Semitism and pin it on you

Now this is biting stuff. There are lots of Jews around both in Israel and the diaspora who think like this .Like shut up, where were you when we were put into ovens. That shtick has been wearing thin for a long,long time.As former speaker of the Knesset Avram Burg said, “The Holocaust is over, time to rise from the ashes.”

Said has real wit. He warns the pope:

Anyway, the new spirit you’re trying to bring to the world isn’t suitable for us. Israel isn’t ready yet to allow a bride to marry a bride and a groom to marry a groom. Don’t pretend to be naïve: We all know that without your silent consent, the Irish – devout Catholics that they are – wouldn’t have voted for same-sex marriage.

Only a secular Israeli would dare flagellate the rabbinate like Sarid does:

Also, your war against the corrupt clergy isn’t our war. We prefer the rabbinate the way it is, rotten…No one in the Jewish world today can match the pope’s stature; no rabbi can light a candle to his holiness. The Torah world, like its teachers and rabbis, is stagnant.

The Strange Case of Dorothy Thompson

April 29, 2015


In an age of mass amnesia, it is refreshing to see the role of the internet which periodically breaks important stories that the self-censoring concentrated media ownership has fignored. Ditto for documentarians with a conscience.

Mondoweiss has published a brilliant article by journalist Gil Maguire on the silencing of the long forgotten Dorothy Thompson.

History in the age of mass entertainment goes as far back as the Beatles but there are always truth tellers who say, Hey,wait a minute. Don’t you remember…in this case Dorothy Thompson.

The reason Thompson has been resurrected was a reference made by president Obama at Saturday April 25th’s White House Correspondents Association dinner.The president reminded journalists of their actual mission:

“In the words of the American foreign correspondent Dorothy Thompson: ‘It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.’”

It is dubious if any of Obama’s speech writers really knew that Thompson’s extraordinary career ended in charges of antisemitism by Zionists.She probably was the first of serious journalists who were marginalized for questioning the injustice of Zionist expansionism

But times are changing. Zionism has long lost its luster and some writers with a memory are prone to remind the public of the shameful treatment which prophets such as Thompson have been treated. One such writer is Gil Maguire who actually has read the stunning Thompson biography American Cassandra by Peter Kurth. The book has long vanished.Even the great Toronto Public Library has no copies to circulate.

Maguire paraphrasing Kurth writes deftly about this amazing woman. Born in 1893, a grad of Syracuse University, she became active in the American suffragette movement.Off to Europe in 1920, Thompson met a boatload of Zionists on their way to a conference in London.She immediately was converted and ended up covering the conference as a free lancer.This brought her to the attention of major New York papers and in 1925 she headed the Berlin bureau for the New York Post. In 1934 after a series of exposés on the Nazi movement she was expelled from Germany.By then her reputation made, she became a syndicated columnist and commentator on NBC. By 1938 she was on the cover of Time Magazine. Next to Eleanor Roosevelt she was the most famous woman in America.

Parker wrote passionately about the plight of the Jews and antisemitsim. At the famous Zionist convention at the Biltmore Hotel in 1942 she was the keynote speaker demanding unrestricted immigration to America, She had become the darling of Zionism and the Jewish community.

Everything changed as it often does when people are confronted with reality. Her fact finding trip to Israel in 1945 permanently removed her rose colored glasses.The proposed State of Israel was a potential disaster, a “recipe for perpetual war.” You can’t pay for Hitler’s crimes in an area which had nothing to do with Hitler or his crimes.” she said. Zionism was far from the liberal crusade that the leaders envisaged.
Maguire describes her rapid descent to pariahdom:

Her anti-Zionist statements and reporting began losing her the support of American Zionists. Her boss at the New York Post dropped her “On the Record” column at the beginning of 1947.  He was a strong supporter of Zionism and very close to the Irgunists and Menachem Begin, the leader of this Jewish terrorist group.  Thompson had told him, after her trip to Palestine, that “…the situation there is not the way it has been presented by many of the Zionists.  It is one of the most complicated and difficult problems on the earth today.”

Dorothy Thompson refused to shut up.The war of 1948 showed Zionism as “an aggressive, chauvinist movement” and the new State of Israel as “an expansionist power.” Much like Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt she was “angered by Jewish terrorism in Israel and appalled by Menachem Begin and the Irgun being treated as heroes in New York City.” Thompson permanently sealed her fate by being first and only American journalist to speak out in defense of the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab nations, Now this fearless supporter of Jews was an officially an antisemite. She said that it was very dangerous to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.”

Thompson paid a truly terrible price for her honesty losing many Jewish friends whom had previously honoured her.

But she still would not keep quiet.Her columns were dropped.Her speaking engagements vanished.The early 50’s were a horrific period to criticize Israel.The world still w out of deep sympathy for the victims of the Nazi holocaust refused to accept any criticism of the Jewish state

She wrote in 1950, “The Zionists would like us to believe that there is no such thing as an Arab”, and that “They have also adapted the attitude that the State of Israel, unlike every other state on earth, is sacrosanct, and outside any criticism whatsoever.”  She called Israel, “the 49th state of the Union”, and “the only nation in history to have been canonized at birth.”

By 1950 the former media darling who actually had been encouraged by Claire Booth Luce and others to run for president in 1948 was now yesterday’s woman.she would not be the first victim of the Zionist thought police in America.Forgotten today and unremembered Dorothy Thompson as biographer peter Kurth called her was truly an American Cassandra, a woman who committed professional suicide because she could not abide the silence around the dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Journalist Maguire with a dollop of sarcasm concludes his brilliant article this way:
Dorothy Thompson is virtually unknown and unremembered.This fascinating woman who deserves to be an icon of the feminist movement, is rarely, if ever, mentioned as an important female historical figure.
I suspect there were very few members of the press at the White House Press dinner Saturday night who have any inclination toward investigating and reporting the plight of the Palestinians, or the pernicious influence of right wing Jewish billionaires on American foreign policy, and now American presidential candidates. President Obama’s gratuitous praise of the American press, at least the television version, was largely undeserved.  Many are little more than talking heads on “news” networks that offer mostly infotainment and shameless touting of marginal news stories accompanied by frequent and breathless claims of more “breaking news”.   The entire bunch couldn’t fill Dorothy Thompson’s left shoe.  To suggest that our TV press is focused on preserving our liberty is ludicrous when ratings and advertising revenue are the obvious focus. 

American priorities: The Stupor Bowl

February 2, 2015

Amnesia-making pro sports

Absurd tailgate parties

“Distracted from distraction by distraction.”T.S.eliot

Bloated war budget.

Citizenry asleep

Illiterate Republican majority

Private gain over public squalor


Harper’s Tories still outside the Ojibway Circle

February 1, 2015


In 1977 Grand Chief John Kelly appeared before Royal Commission on the Northern Environment in Kenora. He titled his submission We are all in the Ojibway Circle. It is a stunning summation of environmental awareness of the primacy of the great economy, the earth as our nourishing but fragile mother.It is contained in John Ralston Saul’s last book The Comeback. It is a strong indictment of the “white man’s” insatiable greed for more territory, for the theft of land.

The Ojibway signed a treaty in 1873 trusting the government which said that it needed the land as a passage way to the west. The tribe was happy to share the land. Treaty #3 territory was then surrendered to the provincial government. There were no benefits to the tribe. The thievery continued “and more recently by industry.We atil possess certain things of value which the white man covets.” “The Ojibway” Kelly stated,” through our experience that wherever Indians possess or control anything valuable there will always be those who want to steal it. But worst of all, your society and the government which appointed you seem to encourage or at least condone the theft of indian lands.our land seems to be fair game.

Mr Commissioner, it seems to me that the stranger from the sunrise beyond the lakes just keeps coming back. Each time he promises us perpetual repose and gluttony, and leaves us with famine and disease. It also appears that as the years go by, the circle of the Ojibways gets bigger and bigger. Canadians of all colours and religion are entering that circle. You might feel that you have roots somewhere else, but in reality, you are right here with us.

I do not know if you feel the throbbing of the land in your chest, and if you feel the bear as your brother with a spirit purer and stronger than yours, or if the elk is on a higher level than is man. You may not share the spiritual anguish as I see the earth ravaged by the stranger, but you can no longer escape my fate as the soil turns barren and the rivers poison. Much against my will and probably yours time and circumstance have put us together in the same circle. and so I come to plead with you to save me from the monstrous stranger of capitalist greed and technology.I come to inform you that my danger is your danger too. My genocide is your genocide.   To commit genocide it is not necessary to build camps and ovens. All that is required is to remove the basis for a way of life.

This powerful submission would make a wonderful founding document of the Canadian conservative Party still outside the Ojibway circle.

Militarism on the move

January 30, 2015


The pro basketball Toronto Raptors arrived just in time for Military Sunday, the Stupor Bowl where  this Sunday once again Americans will honour those brave men and women who are keeping them safe and out of harm’s way..

There they were 2 nights ago,the Raps, dressed up in military camouflage gear for the 7th straight homage to the men and women of the Canadian Forces..

What a crock.The most violent terrorists in the Middle East have been the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan And Canada one step behind.

And who knew? Since I do not follow basketball I had no idea that this militarism had leached its way into our Canadian culture.I just caught  the camouflage  clip on the sports news. Maybe the Leafs should be suiting up as well.Oh yeah, I forgot they salute troops before every game. How about teachers, social workers,nurses etc?
Maybe the Raptors should show that awful movie hymn to violence The Sniper before the next game.

What a trifecta.Drive along The Highway of Heroes which used to be called the 401, catch the Sniper film, a hosannah to a psychopath and then cheer on the boys in camouflage.

O tempora, o mores!

The Perils of Sportsworld

December 9, 2014


“He is one of the most known athletes in the world and a lot of impact in any kind of sport that he did. Even playing hockey, everyone knows him. From being the type of person he was off the ice and on the ice. But you know he changed a lot while he was with us. He’s a tremendous guy.”

So said Toronto Maple Leaf goalie Jonathan Bernier about Nelson Mandela.
The latter the late anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner was honoured before Friday’s Toronto Raptor’s game.Many pro athletes were invited to speak and poor Bernier was caught off guard and further embarrassed when his clueless remarks were posted ever so briefly on the Raptor’s website.
Bernier was needlessly humiliated ever so briefly by the doofus who put his comments on the Raptor website..
The goalie,whose first language is French was contrite.
“I’m embarrassed.  I didn’t mean to offend him, his legacy. I got flustered with the red carpet and I was nervous. I think everyone makes mistakes and that was me that night,”

Two things need to be said here.
Why was Mandela feted at a basketball game? This was totally ridiculous given that most of the athletes assembled did little or nothing to end apartheid when Mandela was alive.
This event promoted by the African born GM of the Raptors Masai Ujiri, who was born and raised in Nigeria— was ill conceived.A very nice man–like Bernier—his tribute was personal, too late and irrelevant, a feelgood project he might better have pursued on his own time.
Most pro athletes as writer Rosie Dimanno wrote in her column are so fixated on their brief careers that they traditionally have spent little time on any social cause. It is all about them and their careers. That is just the nature of the beast.I have always admired Canadian hockey players as fundamentally down to earth nice people. I have known many personally but this does not take away from the reality.

Given their humungous salaries, most never will develop a strong social conscience.Their life trajectory has been largely set in stone.few will break through the blandishments of Sportsworld. It is not easy to extricate oneself from the voracious jaws of capitalist excess. Most simply go along for their privileged ride.This is what Sportsworld is all about.It is a self-enclosed planet of distraction, a fun place to visit periodically but if you live there your moral integrity will be severely compromised.You can count on one hand the pro athletes who even in retirement became passionate about planetary issues or even serious citizenship.
Finally, Leaf management needs to protect their players from such gaffes in the future.

Atheist nation leads fight against Ebola

October 13, 2014

Cuban doctors and health workers arrive at Freetown's airport to help the fight against Ebola in Sie

And Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Matt. 7:21

And the great Christian nation to the south which pours billions into war and whose annual genuflection to Mars equals the sum total of the next 10 nations is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the Ebola crisis.

Yes folks meet the tiny island nation of Cuba a nation of 11 million people, with a GDP of $6,051 per capita is leading the effort to halt a potential pandemic.


A brigade of 165 Cuban health workers arrived in Sierra Leone last week, the first batch of a total of 461. In sharp contrast, western governments have appeared more focused on stopping the epidemic at their borders than actually stemming it in west Africa.

An outbreak which could have been stopped in its tracks at the outset by the great powers now threatens to go viral.

THE USA always the first to go to war and prepare for war seems to be asleep when it comes health sacares like this. With the greatest medical talents in the world it seems to be led by an impotent government and other great powers are not much better. China, Brazil, France and the UK —fellow dozers.

And there’s Cuba always ready with limited resources ready to lend a hand.

Stark panic about to set in —all it takes is a couple of deaths, even one in “the great state of Texas” and suddenly great concern. Thousands of deaths elsewhere, not so much concern.

Cuba demonized consistently in the USA always seems ready to act as a great global citizen

50,000 Cuban-trained health workers are active over 66 countries. Cuba provided the largest medical contingent after the Haiti earthquake disaster in 2010, providing care to almost 40% of the victims.

Makes a person wonder, don’t it?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 80 other followers