SportsWorld pt 2

September 27, 2017

I taught 2 well known sports writers and told each of them that they needed to read Robert Lipsyte and Dave Zirin, two brave journalist who refused to “god up” athletes (a phrase of iconic sportswriter Stanley Woodward) or make a religion out of sport. I could have added Lester Rodney, the white sports writer of the Communist paper the Daily Worker who was fearless in writing about the convergence of sport and injustice. Rodney was particularly incensed about the colour bar in baseball which Jackie Robinson broke.

These three are shining examples of penetrating scribes who refused to become idolators of those athletes who inhabited SportsWorld.



Now the feces has hit the fan in the USA over those who kneel and those who don’t, athletes who latterly joined the very brave Colin Kaepernick who could no longer stomach the ongoing murders of black people in the USA.


Interesting concept “kneeling”, once only used in liturgical settings. Today these settings are pro sports, the new temples of worship, athletes the new high priests and those who challenge this illness—i guess they are atheists.
It has cost Kaepernick his livelihood as a football player just as it cost the brave John Carlos and Tommy Smith who raised their fists in defiance at the 1968 Olympics; just as it cost Mohammed Ali 5 of his best years for his refusal to fight in Vietnam.

Take note they were all black.

70% of the NFL players are black, the same ones Trump called “sons of bitches.”


Who would have guessed that sport might be the venue for serious reflection on the state of democracy?


SportsWorld pt.1

September 26, 2017

In the biggest display of athletic defiance in years, football teams across the nation protested President Donald Trump after he attacked the NFL, NBA and some of their most popular athletes for daring to draw attention to racism and police violence.


This is a wonderful lead in to the prevailing world of SportsWorld

This is the rarified planet where sport is totally separated from the context of world events.This concept was unpacked for me 40 years ago by a brilliant New York writer Robert Lipsyte. His successor today is Dave Zirin. Both refused to give pro sport and the dreamworld of US college sports an intellectual pass.

Both writers demanded that sport be seen within the country’s context.

Why do ordinary people too often with mundane workaday jobs invest so much energy in games? Why do these fanatics know so much about the players and coaches, the strategies and misplays of the games they obsess over? Why do they know so little about the world they live in, the manipulation proceeding daily in their own stunted lives? This has always fascinated me.

Lipsyte wrote:

Even for ball games, these values with their implicit definitions of manhood, courage and success are not necessarily in the individual’s best interests. But for daily life they tend to create a dangerous web of ethics and attitudes, an amorphous infrastructure that acts to contain our energies, divert our passions and socialize us for work or war or depression. I call this infrastructure ‘SportsWorld.’



The NFl is 70% black.Many players, led by the renegade Colin Kaepernick chose to become critical citizens rather than meat on the hoof, modern gladiators with no opinions. That day is over/in a country which has never come to terms with the Civil War and its racist aftermath, many athletes say enough is enough. We will no longer stay silent and dance to your tune as entertainers but not as citizens.

Trump has called these largely black protesters, “sons of bitches.” He speaks these hateful words in all places Alabama where the ghosts of Selma, lynching, church bombings,Montgomery Bus boycott are still alive. In front to of an almost all white crowd he spews out his nonsense.

People are beginning to connect the dots. The players are finally leaving SportsWorld.

As Raptor guard Kyle Lowry said, “I’m a citizen before I am a basketball player.”

Friendly arms dealer

September 26, 2017


Just good business!

And mind your own!

Israel Refuses to Stop Arms Sales to Myanmar, Despite Its Campaign of Rape, Torture and Massacres Against the Rohingya The state’s lawyer tells the High Court that it shouldn’t interfere in Israel’s foreign relations The state has not said that it will stop selling weapons to the military junta in Myanmar, despite recent reports and United Nations data on massacres the country’s military has perpetrated against the Rohingya minority, as well as systematic rape and expulsions.


Responding on Monday to a petition in the High Court of Justice from human-rights activists demanding an end to the arms sales, Shosh Shmueli, representing the state, said the court should not interfere in Israel’s foreign relations. That was a repetition of the preliminary response issued in March by the Defense Ministry, according to which the court had no standing in the “purely diplomatic” matter. r

Days of Awe: Standing with whom? pt 1

September 25, 2017

So it’s Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment and Remembering, and we of the Jewish persuasion are beginning ten days of intensive reflection that culminates in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We are urged to engage in self-examination, both of our personal lives and of our behaviors and attitudes in the complex world in which we live and contribute. This introspection and renewal involves taking personal responsibility for our destiny and the destinies of our communities, being unsparingly honest, and actively apologizing and forgiving. I love this part of my tradition because words are not enough; there are no Hail Marys, there is no forgiveness from on high, and at the end of the day, we actually have to DO better in our relationships with ourselves and our world. If you are a spiritual person, you have to work on that too in the here and now; there is no backup heavenly place where everything will come out fine.

As a secular Jew who finds our traditions and culture part of the bedrock of my psyche, I am obsessed by a topic that is most fraught and perilous in the Jewish community. We are besieged by forces right and left with the message that Judaism is Zionism and uncritical support of Israel is a core Jewish value, in fact the only nonnegotiable ticket to community acceptance. For these reasons at this time, I cannot ignore my relationship to Israel/Palestine. For me, this annual introspection invites an honest evaluation of history in all its voices, a recognition of the behavior and policies of the pioneers and fighters who created the State of Israel, an examination of the foundations of modern political Zionism and its current day consequences, and ultimately a willingness to express regret and apology. This is a perfect topic for the Ten Days of Awe and fully within our prophetic tradition which is focused on issues of justice.


So, how do we define ourselves as Jews in the Diaspora while living in the era of a hyper Jewish nationalism? For the me the first step is examining the realities and framing of history and claiming it in our own voice. The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, in his A History of Modern Palestine, notes that early Zionism was a European phenomenon with a clear disregard for indigenous populations. Early Zionists relied (cautiously) on the goodwill of colonial powers. (The Jewish homeland could have been in Palestine, Argentina, or even Uganda.) The Zionists carved out territory in Mandate Palestine as a haven from European persecution (which was an understandable motivation given the pogroms and anti-semitism of the time), and this became a clearly settler colonial movement when it focused on a national revival in the land of Palestine for Jews at the exclusion of the people actually living there. This was both an intellectual concept focused on the predicament of European Jewry (which was largely described as endless persecution and anti-semitism despite Spinoza, Marx, Freud, Einstein, etc.,) and also a practical solution for getting rid of the Jews in Eastern Europe and plopping them someplace else.

Alice Rothchild

Rising Star pt 6

September 25, 2017



It was heating up by the early 2000s .People saw Obama’s potential.

Time columnist Joe Klein in 2007 wrote that the time was ripe for Obama to run because “he is young and everybody else is so old.”

The left wing magazine the Nation’s David Sirota in a prescient warning wrote that “because the media has not looked at his political positions Obama has taken on the quality of a blank slate on which people can project what they like.Sirota opined that Barack hasn’t discouraged this acknowledging that he had an impressive control of the issues and ‘a a mesmerizing ability to connect.’

Barack Obama also demonstrated a remarkable ability to convince you that his positions are motivated purely by principle not tactical considerations.

Garrow: Rising Star pt.5

September 22, 2017



Obama’s star was rising. People were paying attention. His wife was now onside, agreeing to his candidacy.There was grassroots excitement. He was beginning to get rock star crowds. There was a palpable movement and buzz for something new. Hilary Clinton represented the too long at the trough mood of many in the country.This could be an inspirational time—much like Trudeaumania in Canada.

New York Magazine political writer John Heilemann observed, “for all his promise Obama is basically an empty vessel.The candidate had never used his megaphone to advance a bold initiative or champion a controversial issue. This caveat rang true. The more you wonder what is behind the hype. No original incredible accomplishments for others,only for himself.No one could fill the expectations that have been built up for him.

Open letter to fellow Jews: Wise up

September 21, 2017

Michael Chabon and his wife Ayelet Waldman edited “Kingdom of Olives and Ash,” a new anthology of essays about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank by writers including Dave Eggers, Geraldine Brooks, Colm Toibin  and Madeleine Thien

Chabon is an American novelist, short story writer, and Pulitzer Prize winner. Chabon’s first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, was published when he was 25. He followed it with Wonder Boys, and two short-story collections.

Waldman is an Israeli-American novelist and essayist. She has written seven mystery novels in the series The Mommy-Track Mysteries and four other novels. She has also written autobiographical essays about motherhood. Waldman spent three years working as a federal public defender and her fiction draws on her experience as a lawyer



To our fellow Jews, in the United States, in Israel, and around the world:

We know that, up to now, some of you have made an effort to reserve judgment on the question of whether or not President Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, and to give him the benefit of the doubt. Some of you voted for him last November. Some of you have found employment in his service, or have involved yourself with him in private business deals, or in diplomatic ties.


You have counted carefully as each appointment to his administration of a white supremacist, anti-Semite, neo-Nazi or crypto-fascist appeared to be counterbalanced by the appointment of a fellow Jew, and reassured yourself that the most troubling of those hires would be cumulatively outweighed by the presence, in his own family and circle of closest advisors, of a Jewish son-in-law and daughter.


You have given your support to the President’s long and appalling record of racist statements, at worst assenting to them, at best dismissing them as the empty blandishments of a huckster at work, and have chosen to see the warm reception that his rhetoric found among the hood-wearers, weekend stormtroopers, and militias of hate as proof of the gullibility of a bunch of patsies, however distasteful.




You have viewed him as a potential friend to Israel, or a reliable enemy of Israel’s enemies.

You have tried to allay or dismiss your fears with the knowledge that most of the President’s hateful words and actions, along with those of his appointees, have targeted other people — immigrants, Black people, and Muslims — taking hollow consolation in how open and shameless his hate has been, as if that openness and shamelessness guaranteed the absence, in his heart and in his administration, of any hidden hatred for us.

The President has no filter, no self-control, you have told yourself. If he were an anti-Semite — a Nazi sympathizer, a friend of the Jew-hating Klan — we would know about it, by now. By now, he would surely have told us.


Yesterday, in a long and ragged off-the-cuff address to the press corps, President Trump told us. During a moment that white supremacist godfather Steve Bannon has apparently described as a “defining” one for this Administration, the President expressed admiration and sympathy for a group of white supremacist demonstrators who marched through the streets of Charlottesville, flaunting Swastikas and openly chanting, along with vile racist slogans, “Jews will not replace us!” Among those demonstrators, according to Trump, were “a lot” of “innocent” and “very fine people.”

So, now you know. First he went after immigrants, the poor, Muslims, trans people and people of color, and you did nothing. You contributed to his campaign, you voted for him. You accepted positions on his staff and his councils. You entered into negotiations, cut deals, made contracts with him and his government.


Now he’s coming after you. The question is: what are you going to do about it? If you don’t feel, or can’t show, any concern, pain or understanding for the persecution and demonization of others, at least show a little self-interest. At least show a little sechel. At the very least, show a little self-respect.


To Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, and our other fellow Jews currently serving under this odious regime: We call upon you to resign; and to the President’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen: Fire your client.


To Sheldon Adelson and our other fellow Jews still engaged in making the repugnant calculation that a hater of Arabs must be a lover of Jews, or that money trumps hate, or that a million dollars’ worth of access can protect you from one boot heel at the door: Wise up.

To the government of Israel, and our fellow Jews living there: Wise up.


To Jared Kushner: You have one minute to do whatever it takes to keep the history of your people from looking back on you as among its greatest traitors, and greatest fools; that minute is nearly past. To Ivanka Trump: Allow us to teach you an ancient and venerable phrase, long employed by Jewish parents and children to one another at such moments of family crisis: I’ll sit shiva for you. Try it out on your father; see how it goes.


Among all the bleak and violent truths that found confirmation or came slouching into view amid the torchlight of Charlottesville is this: Any Jew, anywhere, who does not act to oppose President Donald Trump and his administration acts in favor of anti-Semitism; any Jew who does not condemn the President, directly and by name, for his racism, white supremacism, intolerance and Jew hatred, condones all of those things.

To our fellow Jews, in North America, in Israel, and around the world: What side are you on?

Michael Chabon and  Ayelet Waldman

Berkeley, California, 8/16/17

Rising Star pt 4

September 19, 2017


As Obama entered Harvard law students of all races were unhappy with the institution’s culture.
One alumnus described it as “a miserable experience.”Myriad complaints surfaced about the well the growing culture of individualism and greed seemed to be having its way.
One wrote in a memoir that 70% of his classmates arrived with an expressed interest in public interest law yet only 6 actually accepted legal services jobs.
In the mid 80s a young sociologist Robert Granfield questioned score of students about “the complex ideological process that systematically channels students away from socially oriented work.”

Elite positions and resources seemed to be the way to social progress.


Grads deluded themselves into thinking that they survived with their altruism intact while actually having been co-opted into joining large corporate law firms..the institution was tremendously co-optive.


Michelle Robinson,Obamas wife-to-be was critical of the Harvard culture but in the end joined a corporate firm underlining the problem of paying for the high cost of a Harvard education.


This too was Granfield’s conclusion student debt too often caused students to “provide service to the corporate elite.”

Rising Star: Garrow pt 3

September 18, 2017


Barack was going off to law school. Many going away parties were organized in his last week in Chicago pre Harvard.
At one party Obama was asked what he would be doing: writing a book and then “I’m going to be the mayor of Chicago.”

While he was out of town a dinner was announced to honour Frank Lumpkin for his extraordinary work in winning recompense for the Wisconsin Steelworkers tossed out of work beginning in 1980.
Lumpkin was a dedicated communist and the proceeds would benefit the Communist Party USA newspaper The People’s Daily World.
This never stopped or inhibited radical priest Monsignor Leo Mahon from writing in the banquet’s program: “best wishes to a man who fights for justice.”


Garrow writes,”Maybe Foster Millhouse and the other right-wing zealots had been right all along,that social justice Catholicism and grassroots communism were indeed one and the same.”

A Voice of Sanity in Israel

September 17, 2017

One of the most prophetic voices in israel lies outside the realm of religion. I refer to the columnist Gideon Levy whose weekly sorties holds a mirror up to the ugly face of Israel apartheid. Levy situates himself outside of the Jewish religion.I call him a Jewish Jew, the real deal, a truth teller in one of the most brainwashwed countries in the world—Israel— and they are Levy’s words.


There are few rabbis who distinguish themselves here. One writer even longed for the equivalent of Pope Francis to appear in religious guise in Israel.


But I digress.Haaretz  daily offers a platform to exluded voices particularly palestinian ones. It is a joy to read.I happily subscribe.



Most Israelis get their news from a fishwrap called israel Hayom, a free paper courtesy of American billionaire sheldon Adelson, a virtual idolator of Netanyahu. Over 40% of Israelis read tho pathetic excuse for a newspaper.Then there is Haaretz, a sterling examole of what anewspaper should be.This appeared today

A Letter From Amos Schocken, Publisher of Haaretz


Celebrating 20 years of Haaretz English Edition, we are proud to be one of the few critical voices in Israel speaking out against injustice. Your continued support is vital

On September 1, 1997, Haaretz English Edition was published for the first time, as part of a joint venture with the International Herald Tribune
On the front page of the inaugural edition were two reports which encapsulated the very reasons that we, the publishers of Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, decided to venture into English-language publishing.

In the first article, the paper’s diplomatic correspondent reported that the United States was pressing Israel to accept a formula by which settlement expansion would be limited to existing communities. The second article reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been seeking a private donation to help him pay an outstanding debt to the lawyer who had represented him in court.

Two decades later, despite the best efforts of many courageous people and organizations, and notwithstanding spectacular advances in many fields, Israel is no nearer a solution to many of its most pressing problems.

One of the charges most often levelled against the voices of opposition in Israel is that they “air the country’s dirty laundry” in public – and in English. They are told that to do so is treasonous and feeds the monster of anti-Semitism.

Haaretz is proud to be one of the few critical voices in Israel – and in English – speaking out against injustice. We believe that we are serving the best interests of our country, which we love, and that our reporting, our analysis and our commentary enrich the discussion and deepen our readers’ understanding of hugely complex issues. Our writers – in English and Hebrew – are Israel’s most thought-provoking and original and our digital platforms are updated around the clock by two news desks.

In today’s climate, the voice of Haaretz is more important than ever before, both here in Israel and in the United States, where recent events are of grave concern to Jews in both countries. That is why it is just as important for Haaretz’s voice to be heard in English.

With your continued support, we will continue to produce the kind of journalism that is vital in these perilous times. We will continue to create cutting-edge multimedia content on all our platforms and we will continue to invest in making our apps and websites even better.

Yours faithfully,
Amos Schocken
Publisher, Haaretz
*** Celebrate 20 years of with a special offer: 3 months for just $20
read more: