Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

It’s not kosher!

June 13, 2015

Kosher

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

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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.
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The Strange Case of Dorothy Thompson

April 29, 2015

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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

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Harper’s Tories still outside the Ojibway Circle

February 1, 2015

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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

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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

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“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?

Read the Letters to the Editor

September 11, 2014

 

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Always read the letters to the editor first—especially these days when most newspapers are echo chambers for a power elite. In Canada we had 26 of 28 dailies editorialize for our Republican Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a man who has done his best to turn Canada into a pale imitation of our friends to the south, the mighty United States of Amnesia as Gore Vidal named it.

As a teacher I can tell you the young have abandoned newspapers as a serious brake on the corporate takeover of our country. The Fourth Estate as an entity which challenges “the malefactors of wealth” who dominate society here and south of the border seems to have fallen asleep on the job. Or maybe they are wide awake and doing the reactionary work of their owners. In 1907 President Teddy Roosevelt took a shot at this group as “…a few ruthless and domineering men whose wealth makes them peculiarly formidable because they hide behind the breastworks of corporate organization’. A .J. Liebling was closer to the mark when he wrote that “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

The one paper which has struggled to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” has been the Toronto Star. The Atkinson Principles based on the philosophy (and his Methodist religion) of Joseph Atkinson who was the editor of the Star for 50 years until 1948.

Atkinson believed and the Star struggles to continue this belief that “a progressive newspaper should contribute to the advancement of society through pursuit of social, economic and political reforms”. Atkinson obsessed about injustice, be it social, economic, political, legal or racial. The  Star continues in this vein. It was one of two dailies that rejected Harper in the last federal election. Usually a left Liberal paper, it supported the NDP.

Young people,at least a creative minority are still idealistic, that’s why they have abandoned newspapers and found online journals or blogs which have the same values that Joe Atkinson had.
As far as letters to the editor go, I saw one yesterday that really hit home as a truthful description of the sagging fortunes of the institutional Catholic church.

Tomorrow!

Another Jew of conscience

July 26, 2014

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Noted American-Jewish feminist writer Naomi Wolf walked out of her synagogue when there was no mention of the Gaza slaughter.

Naomi should not be surprised at this.Most rabbis would lose their job if they channeled Jeremiah or Amos.The real tragedy is the great damage to Judaism which occurs when it is conflated with Zionism.Torah should never coexist with occupation.One expects a cynical state to use religion. John Quincy Adams the sixth USA president knew this: Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak and that it is doing God’s service when its violating all its laws.

Constantinian Judaism is no worse than what passes for biblical faith  in too many Christian churches. Rabbis answer to boards and few are strong enough or free enough to speak the prophetic word. Yet it is being spoken by so many “Jews of conscience”. They should give all of us hope.

Good on Naomi Wolf

Challenged below for why I am mourning genocide in Gaza. I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side’. There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us. I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre of Gaza to be addressed. … Nothing. Where is god? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…I don’t mean Israelis, a separate issue…about the genocide now in Gaza.
I want no other religion than this, that is, seeing rather than denying my neighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.

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