Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Joe McCarthy in Israel

January 17, 2017

Israel should be very thankful for its newpaper Haaretz, curreently read by 4% of the  citizenry. The majority (40%) get their info from fishwrap called Israel Hayom, a gift from the American idolator of Benyamin Netanyahu Sheldon Adelson


Today’s editorial speaks for itself and mocks the idea  of Israel as a democracy.

The Knesset Interior Committee last week advanced a bill that, if passed, would forbid the granting of entry visas or residence permits to foreign nationals who have called for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of Israel or the settlements.
The private member’s bill was sponsored by MKs Betzalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Roy Folkman (Kulanu). Folkman explained that the bill “Is directed primarily at organizations that work against Israel,” that is, promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions, and that “all told the law changes the prism from the current situation in which visas are automatically granted … to a situation in which entry will automatically be barred unless the interior minister decides to permit it.”

That “all told” is not innocent, but disingenuous. The true purpose of the bill is to impose a sweeping sanction on anyone who doesn’t accept the Israeli occupation policy, and on anyone who believes that a boycott of the settlements or of Israel – which facilitates the settlements and their prosperity – may help halt this 50-year-old injustice. It’s not concern for Israel that is motivating the bill’s sponsors and its supporters, but the silencing of foreigners who oppose the occupation.
Folkman’s dissembling was revealed in a shameful fashion, when during the debate in committee, a representative of the Justice Ministry suggested exempting Palestinians with residency permits who live in Israel under family unification procedures. To this request, committee chairman MK David Amsalem said, “Why should I let someone into my home who denigrates and undermines the state?” while Smotrich added, “Whoever isn’t embarrassed to accept a favor or privilege while spitting in our faces during a probation period should be the first to lose his residency permit.”
So it’s clear that the true purpose of the law is to be a disproportionate whip against whoever criticizes Israeli policy, even if we’re talking about Palestinians whose lives are rooted in Israel and whose residency permit is in any case held as collateral. It’s not far-fetched to assume that the next stage will be preventing the entry of Israelis living abroad who express support for boycotts. Equally absurd is the possibility of any Jew living abroad who supports boycotting the settlements will be entitled to immigrate to Israel, but will not be able to enter the country under the new law.

If the bill indeed passes its final readings and is implemented, a “blacklist” will be input into the border inspection computers and anyone appearing on it will be stopped at Ben-Gurion Airport. This, together with enforcement of the Anti-Boycott Law, which applies to Israeli citizens, will turn Israel into a model of McCarthyism.




Boycotts for political reasons are a legitimate tool that falls under the protection of freedom of political expression. Nationalist and messianic MKs must not be allowed to turn Israel into a closed, reclusive fortress. This unnecessary bill should be removed from the Knesset’s agenda.


Gideon bible on way out

January 15, 2017

Shocking news from the hospitality industry.


Gideon bibles are on their way out!

A staple in every hotel, the free bible by your bedside is becoming a thing of the past.
According to a new study by hospitality analytics group STR, the percentage of hotels that offer religious materials in rooms has dropped by almost half in the last decade– from 95 percent of  in 2006 to just 48 percent this year.

“It’s because the religious books don’t fit the personality of the brands,” Marriott spokeswoman Felicia Farrar McLemore told the Los Angeles Times when speaking about the dramatic change.

According to some industry experts, hotels are trying to appeal to younger American travelers who tend to be less religious than their parents. The casual Bible placement has also declined to avoid offending guests of other faiths, say industry experts.

The trend of removing Bibles from hotel rooms is also affecting properties overseas.

Travelodge hotels in Britain removed Bibles from their rooms in 2014 “in order not to discriminate against any religion,” the company said.

Arthur John Faye, the hip billionaire of Loveshack International Hotels has stepped up to the plate.The owner of 300 hotels across the world and in Scarborough, Faye a lapsed member of the New Democratic Party is replacing holy writ with Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States.



A dual citizen of both Canada and the USA, Faye was chagrined at how dumb Americans were about their own imperial history.

“We’ve been fed patriotic crap for decades. No country is safe from our intervention anywhere. We have made common cause with every tin pot dictator in the world as long as he kept the resources flowing our way. We don’t want to know.just keep singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Who keeps the Middle East in turmoil?

Does anybody in Mississippi or Texas know that Israel receives more of America’s foreign aid budget than any other nation.The US has, in fact, given more aid to Israel than it has to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined—which have a total population of over a billion people.What gives?

Why are we propping up such an affluent nation? $250 billion since 1948.What gives? All we get from this is the hatred of the Arab world.
No American wants the truth—we’re too busy watching Bachellorette, NFL football and other nonsense. We are an empire and Zinn lays it all out.

Also as soon as Trump is inaugurated I am adding Noam Chomsky’s The State of Our World to the mix. Every bathroom will have a copy.”

Friedman gets “anti-occupation” religion

January 13, 2017

Was the USA under Obama friendlier than any other US president in modern memory, Gideon Levy was asked by Amy Goodman. Note longtime Israel backer Tom Friedman suddenly getting “anti-occupation” religion as the world’s media has finally caught up with Israel’s brutal occupation.


Many of us have been using similar metaphors as to what constitutes real friendship when you find a friend losing his bearings, his morality and sense of justice. Do you praise him or take his bottle, pills, drugs away from him. A friend lovingly intervenes.Friedman has made a career of staying silent—until the obvious hits him right in the face.

Gideon Levy responds,” You may call it friendly, and I would call it very hostile, because supplying Israel with more drugs just to get Israel satisfied is not friendship. It is hostility. And I think that President Obama, as great as he is, he really thought that, with Israel, it will go only with carrots. And we know by now that the last thing you can do with Israel is treat Israel with carrots, because Israel learned in those years, in those eight years of Obama, more than ever before, that it can do whatever it wants. The United States is still in its pocket.



Many times when you were watching the relations between Israel and the United States in the recent years, one could even ask himself, “Who is really the superpower between the two? And who is really the friend of whom here?” because, as Tom Friedman wrote just today in The New York Times, you don’t supply a driver with more alcohol, you don’t let him drive drunk. And Obama let Israel drive drunk.

The centennial Classic

January 3, 2017



There I was at the Centennial Classic,outdoors with 2 of my grandsons watching the Wings and the Leafs.1% centigrade,sun shining, 40,000 fans chanting Go Leafs Go.I sit and watch the game.This should be a Leaf win with Green, Abdelkader, Howard and Helm out.

Good time was had by all. A dull game for 2 periods then 7 goals in the last. Leafs win in overtime.
Forget the score, an unimportant event in this vale of tears.

Pro hockey, who cares who wins or loses when there is so much human misery afoot. OK if  that is your livelihood but in the grand scheme of things, a mere bagatelle.

But check the price of the ticket $345.00. You are not seeing things.
Now I did not pony up for this. Let’s just say I know somebody on the inside.
The thrill was with being with Johnny and Dougie and even singing Sweet Caroline with them.

The whole megillah bothered me—the awful many decibel rap music blasted at us, the requisite fly over—am I in the USA?—must be because a “hero” is introduced, not a nurse in the emegency award but a Canadian soldier. Last year to my disgust and I wrote  the president Brendan Shanahan he should know better—they actually rolled a tank up the ice at the ACC.Holy Henry Kissinger!

The stupidity, the politics of  empire and violence  has crossed the 49th parallel.

My mind went back to the early 50s when i would purchase a .50c standing room ducat, race up to the Greens and enjoy the game, usually watched in the Blues after the first period. I actually longed for the day that the old anti-Catholic bigot Connie Snythe started the game at exactly 8:30 PM…and the 48th Highlanders would play.


Get with it Gramps, time has passed you by.

Goodbye Honest Ed

December 31, 2016



If anybody asked where I grew up I would simply say Honest Ed’s. everybody knew about Ed’s outrageous bargain store at Bathurst and Bloor. The legendary store closes today after 68 years, a veritable Toronto ikon.

Mirvish was a great character, a down to earth business guy, very loyal to the immigrant population who were looking for bargains—first the Italians and Jews and then the Portuguese and Jamaicans They all loved Ed.he remembered what it was like to be an immigrant. His dad had come to the USA first from Kiev and when Ed was nine moved to Toronto and located in the largely Jewish area of Dundas and Bathurst.
I often ran into Ed on his birthday—which was the same day as mine.He would throw a party outside the store and treat the folks to free hot dogs.

When my first book Shabbes Goy: A Catholic Boyhood was launched in 2001 the Mirvishes, Ed and son David insisted I launch it at David’s great bookstore across the road. Who was I to say no.? They loved it because it was a local story. Not only did the Mirvishes buy the first two copies but they took out ads in the Globe and Mail! I never spent a dime promoting it.
Bathurst and Bloor will never be the same. Mirvish had a great run there and parlayed it into refurbishing the beautiful Royal Alex theatre. Both Toronto originals.



America: “the family is broken.”

November 13, 2016

The arrogant and ignorant clown takes the reins as only 54.5% of the dumbed down electorate votes..


And on cue the humble Leonard Cohen exits this earth. With Trump at the helm, for Leonard, its Closing time. He’s seen enough. Cue one more time his prophetic homage to America, Democracy id Coming to the USA, “the cradle of the best and the worst

It’s coming to America first,
The cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Not a sports bio

August 30, 2016

The late Protestant theologian Langdon Gilkey wrote a stirring memoir about his 2 years in a Japanese POW camp in China Shantung Compound: The Story of Men and Women Under Pressure.

The book makes for depressing reading about the brutality to which humans can sink to.

Gilkey’s book while interesting is doomed to be seen as a simple precursor to Duncan Hamilton’s For the Glory: Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr.


Long forgotten now Eric Liddell was the Scot who refused to run in the 100 yard dash in the 1924 Paris Olympic games .The reason—the race was scheduled on a Sunday and Liddell was a committed Scottish Congregational believer, the son of a China-hand missioner who simply refused to run on the sabbath.

Liddell probably would have won gold defeating his rather sour pussed rival Harold Abraham. Liddell switched gears and won gold in the 400 metre race gaining international fame.


Liddell then was off to the China mission like his father before him to serve in the new frontier of the Christian mission.

Hamilton’s brilliantly researched biography goes much deeper than most sports bios. The author catches the essence of this extraordinary human being—his sterling integrity, his compassion and deep rooted faith. Hamilton goes way beyond saccharine piety and mines with brilliant dexterity the evaluations of those who knew Liddell intimately in his life and indeed in his time of trial.

Former biographer Sally Magnusson had this to say about The Flying Scot:

There was surely a pair of clay feet there to be revealed; a few weaknesses to be exposed; perhaps, in such a strong minded man, a streak of spiritual pride, a “holier-than-thou” attitude. But was he really that good? I would ask people. The answer was invariably the same – sometimes apologetic, sometimes pained, sometimes indignant, but always the same: Yes, he was.

The aforementioned Gilkey says of the man he shared life in the Shantung Compound (Liddell worked himself to death never saying no to anybody and ultimately dying at 43 of a brain hemorrhage)

Eric never saw himself as a famous athlete—or rather didn’t look as if he though of himself as one.He was surely the most modest man who ever breathed.this was the secret of his amazing life.”

Liddell was resurrected in popular culture by the 1980 film Chariots of Fire which captures Liddell’s athletic life but utterly fails in its depiction of his extraordinary spiritual life. Well, it’s Hollywood and is probably more famous for its award winning theme by Vangelis.

Magnusson describes his life in these terms:

It is rare indeed when anyone has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he comes as close to it as anyone I have ever known.

This book should be read not as a sports story but rather as a spiritual classic. Hamilton is a well known UK sports journalist but here his brilliance lays in unpacking the interior life of a 20th century saint.

America the failed state

July 21, 2016

In the Land of the Free and exceptionalism—we’re talking america the Beautiful—there have been 1,000 mass shootings in 1,260 days

You want to know what a “failed state’ looks like, go no further than Ohio at the republican convention.

Also you could probably go to half of the USA and make the same analysis.


Ohio is an “open carry” state.Firearms legally permitted can be carried unconcealed by Ohio residents and visitors if they have an agreement with Ohio. So in the Event Zone around the convention it’s ‘open carry” season.So even assault rifles are just dandy.

Yes it’s where pro and anti Trump supporters jaw at each other.

Now look what is not permitted in the Event Zone


Yes, keep those pineapples, oranges, locks and lightbulbs out—and hey, watch those tennis balls.

England humiliated in Euro Cup. So what.

July 1, 2016

Quite a time to be in Yorkshire for 2 weeks.First BREXIT then England’s humiliating loss to Iceland in the Euro Cup.

Back home Jeremy, an ex-pat Brit said he had to reprogram himself after his hysterical reaction to the loss. His wife came into the room while he was screaming at the television.

The British papers and the talking heads all wrote a variant of the above:This is the worst thing to happen since…world war ll.People were literally beside themselves and the jocks were inconsolable.some of the papers went after the millionaires who let the side down.


This from the Daily Mail:

England team has now landed in Luton Airport with luggage including coffee machines, golf clubs and guitars
What does all of this mean?

In 1938 Bertolt Brecht wrote this truism:

Andrea: Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.
Galileo: No, Andrea: Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.

Having lived in England for a year and closely watched its response to Sportsworld, I agree with Brecht. 40 years ago Jackie Charlton a legendary Manchester footballer hipped me to the role of “football” in English working class towns.He was managing a Division 2 club and actually said, “It’s very impoirtant that the lads win on Saturday or the whole town will get depressed for 3 days.”


Legendary soccer coach from Liverpool Bill Shankly put it this way:

Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed … I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.

Really, Bill. Somebody should have told you that you were full of crap.But then e never speak to our idols like that.

People (read true citizens) should never surrender their agency to external forces or unworthy idols like athletic teams.They re simply idols which suborn our energy and our critical faculties.. Bread and circuses have always been the tools of the elite. They are simple diversions from more serious issues which should be attended to. appreciating the skill of athletes is fine but investing too much energy in sport and its clay figures demeans us.

Around 100 C. E. the satirist  Juvenal coined the expression “Panem et Circenses“, literally “bread and circuses”, a way in an increasingly corrupt Rome of diverting the common people from the truly important affairs of state. Give them public baths, gladiators, exotic animals, chariot races, sports (Go Leafs,Cavs, Jays!) and theatre. Things have not changed much particularly in the USA—where celebrity, entertainment and sports fill the void of civic engagement

Iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim 
already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties;

Continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses. 
everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses

The more alienated and disengaged one becomes from the heart of life the more one surrenders vital energies best used to build up the commons.

Listening to and watching the hysterical reaction to a football game reminds me of my years as a coach and my line: Do not call me coach, I am a teacher.

My friend Jeremy is to be congratulated. His conclusion to England;s defeat: I need to deprogram myself.


No more tears or apoplexy, Jeremy.


Sporting life

April 12, 2016

And it feels like
I’m seventeen again
Feels like I’m seventeen

So sings Annie Lennox.

Sometimes I am 12, my puer aeternus intact.

Forever Young as Dylan would say.

Always been like this.

But I guess I have nothing on my beautiful grandson John.

A day short of twelve he is playing for the whole Metro and environs minor-peewee championship. Resting for the big game? Are you kidding? He has his first ball hockey game in the morning, followed by his winter baseball practice in a gym, then at night, he scores 2 goals and an assist in a 3-1 victory.The kid is wearing me out.

JM33hoto 3

Grampa with the Thunder hat, John with his medal

True I am still hobbling from an injury at our annual Easter ball hockey game but this is too much. I still have my pride. And my memories.

Bball 56I watch the Thunder go wild as they throw their gloves and helmets in the air. It all comes back to me. I have been there and tried as a coach to help the young to appreciate those significant moments.Even losing with a kindred group can have lasting meaning.


Sport correctly understand as a true amateur (from the latin root of amare—to love) has the power to eternalize a moment when time stands still. Outside the rink, the diamond and the court it may be mean Greenwich time, but on the playing field it is eternity. Sacred ground may be anywhere people congregate. Here we can have transcendent experiences which go way beyond the winning side of a scoreboard.


Coaches may not plumb the mystery at work here.


That’s why we have grandparents nourished in a sacramental worldview.


Ah, to be twelve again.Or 3.

John and Gramps