Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Halloween part deux

My brother just sent this to me - it is amazing!
In The Hall Of The Mountain King, by VoicePlay 

Happy Halloween!

Here's some to laugh at today:

Monday, October 30, 2023

Today's News: using the Israel-Hamas War to promote antisemitism

I can appreciate the sincerity of those who support the Palestinians and oppose Netanyahu. But that sincerity is being weaponized now by those around the world who hate Jews. The Israel-Hamas War is providing an excuse for virulent and violent antisemitism.
Tonight, this happened: Berkley Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky - Nothing has prepared me for the antisemitism I see on college campuses now
I am a 70-year-old Jewish man, but never in my life have I seen or felt the antisemitism of the last few weeks....
On Friday, someone in my school posted on Instagram a picture of me with the caption, “Erwin Chemerinsky has taken an indefinite sabbatical from Berkeley Law to join the I.D.F.” Two weeks ago, at a town hall, a student told me that what would make her feel safe in the law school would be “to get rid of the Zionists.” I have heard several times that I have been called “part of a Zionist conspiracy,” which echoes of antisemitic tropes that have been expressed for centuries.
I was stunned when students across the country, including mine, immediately celebrated the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7. Students for Justice in Palestine called the terror attack a “historic win” for the “Palestinian resistance.” A Columbia professor called the Hamas massacre “awesome” and a “stunning victory.” A Yale professor tweeted, “It’s been such an extraordinary day!” while calling Israel a “murderous, genocidal settler state.” A Chicago art professor posted a note reading, “Israelis are pigs. Savages. Very very bad people. Irredeemable excrement…. May they all rot in hell.” A UC Davis professor tweeted, “Zionist journalists … have houses w addresses, kids in school,” adding “they can fear their bosses, but they should fear us more.” There are, sadly, countless other examples....
if you listen to what is being said on college campuses now, some of the loudest voices are not advocating for a change in Israeli policies, but are calling for an end to Israel. Students regularly chant, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “We don’t want no two states, we want all of 48,” referring to going back to 1948 before Israel existed.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Today's News: What rough beast is coming in the Israel-Hamas War?

Landscape from a Dream. Tate Gallery

Until I read Tom Friedman's column in the New York Times, I didn't understand what was happening in the Israel-Hamas War - particularly why so many people around the world are demonstrating against Israel. Friedman writes Israel: From the Six-Day War to the Six-Front War:
If you care about Israel, you should be more worried than any other time since 1967. Back then, Israel defeated the armies of three Arab states — Egypt, Syria and Jordan — in what became known as the Six-Day War. Today, if you look closely, you’ll see that Israel is now fighting the Six-Front War.
This war is being fought by and through nonstate actors, nation-states, social networks, ideological movements, West Bank communities and Israeli political factions, and it is the most complex war that I’ve ever covered. But one thing is crystal clear to me: Israel cannot win this six-front war alone. It can win only if Israel — and the United States — can assemble a global alliance.
Unfortunately, Israel today has a prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and a ruling coalition that will not and cannot produce the keystone needed to sustain such a global alliance. That keystone is to declare an end to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and overhaul Israel’s relations with the Palestinian Authority so that it becomes a credible, legitimate Palestinian partner that can govern a post-Hamas Gaza and forge a broader two-state solution including the West Bank.
If Israel is asking its best allies to help the Jewish state seek justice in Gaza while asking them to look the other way as Israel builds a settlement kingdom in the West Bank with the express goal of annexation, that is strategically and morally incoherent.
It won’t work. Israel will not be able to generate the time, the financial assistance, the legitimacy, the Palestinian partner or the global allies it needs to win this six-front war.
Friedman goes on to explain all of these "fronts", how challenging they are to manage, and how difficult it is going to be for Israel to fight this war. 

Monday, October 23, 2023

Today's heroes: Travis Dermott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yocheved Lifshitz

Here's a post to look back on, whenever you feel the arc of the moral universe isn't bending toward justice fast enough. 
First, the NHL's despicable decision that hockey players were not going to be allowed to wear Pride symbols anymore has been defied already - not by a big-name star but by an ordinary Canadian hockey player named Travis Dermott, at the Phoenix Coyotes home opener on Saturday: Dermott told Yahoo Sports why he did it:
“You want to have everyone feel included and that’s something that I have felt passionate about for a long time in my career. It’s not like I just just jumped on this train. It’s something that I’ve felt has been lacking in the hockey community for a while. I feel like we need supporters of a movement like this; to have everyone feel included and really to beat home the idea that hockey is for everyone.”
Dermott’s Coyotes will host the first Pride night of the NHL’s regular season on Oct. 30, playing the Los Angeles Kings. And we will likely know by then whether there are any repercussions.

Next, here is a wonderful piece by Arnold Schwarzenegger, well worth listening to and sharing widely:  

Finally, this: Her name is Yocheved Lifshitz, age 85, and her 83-year-old husband is still being held prisoner. The Times of Israel also reports:
The Lifshitz couple, who were among the founders of Kibbutz Nir Oz, were peace activists and regularly transported patients from Gaza to receive medical treatment in hospitals across Israel.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Dueling videos -- Trudeau vs Poilievre

These two clips are being set up as "dueling" videos.
Last spring, Trudeau was talking to a right-wing teenager in Manitoba. This week, Poilievre was talking to a BC reporter while eating an apple.
So here are both videos, to compare and contrast.
Trudeau was, I thought, both gentle and respectful with this teenager, while still questioning his knee-jerk thinking:
Next, we have Poilievre talking to Oliver and Osoyoos Times Chronicle newspaper editor Don Urquhart. The right wing just loved this disrespectful, annoyed, apple chomping tone: As the apple-chomping clip spread on social media, reporters remembered the Trudeau clip too, even though the comparison isn't equivalent: In the Globe and Mail, Shannon Proudfoot wrote a useful analysis - Getting to the Core of Poilievre's biting "apple" interview where she talked about what was really happening during this exchange:
...Sure, Mr. Urquhart’s question was muddled – though show me a journalist who says they’ve never framed a question badly, especially when nervous, overworked or out of their element, and I’ll show you someone with their pants on fire. It’s perfectly clear what he was getting at. Mr. Poilievre is free to reject the premise of the question and deploy all of his considerable rhetorical talents to dispute it, because that’s the way this works.
But kicking a journalist in the shins over and over to throw them off balance so you can run away, then turning the exchange into a social-media flex is telling on yourself.
In order for this scenario to be the delicious come-uppance its fans believe it to be, you have to see Mr. Poilievre – leader of a major political party, a lifelong politician and, if the polls are right, the next prime minister – as the underdog here, not the overworked local reporter just trying to ask a guy from Ottawa a couple of questions in an apple orchard.
Yes, good points.  
And finally, I want to give Mr. Urquhart the last word by sharing some excerpts from the respectful and informative article that he wrote about his Poilievre interview and the rally: Pierre Poilievre was in town Wednesday capping the visit off with a rally in Oliver 
...When asked why Canadians should trust him with their votes given his demonstrable track record of flip-flopping on key issues and what some consider his use of polarizing ideologically-infused rhetoric suggesting he simply takes pages out of the Donald Trump populist playbook, Poilievre became acerbic.
Ultimately the answer was: “Common sense.” We’re going to make common sense common in this country. We don’t have any common sense in the current government,” he said.
The article went on to quote Poilievre's fantasy platform stump speech, concluding with this:
“I’m going to cut spending, cut waste so that we can balance the budget and bring down inflation and interest rates. If you want to be able to pay your mortgage again, if you want to be able to afford rent then you have to vote for Pierre Polly because I’m the only one with a common sense plan that will bring back the buying power of your paycheck,” he said sounding as if an election was just around the corner.
And finally the article also included this useful counterbalancing information:
Richard Cannings NDP Member of Parliament for South Okanagan - West Kootenay issued a statement on Poilievre’s Okanagan visit saying the Conservative Party leader’s talk is simply a performance act.
“Poilievre puts on a good show, but that’s all it is - a performance. He gets up and says all the right things, but then fights to save big bosses a few dollars at the expense of working people.
“Poilievre isn’t who he pretends to be. He doesn’t work for regular people; he works for rich CEOs.”
Cannings cited a number of instances over Poilievre’s 20 year career that highlight the contradictory nature of his claims including his support for a $60 billion tax giveaway to big businesses while cutting services for ordinary Canadians.
“Two times, he voted against having a minimum wage,” Cannings said adding that he’s tried to block dental care for Canadian families, despite having full coverage as an MP for almost 20 years.
“Canadians are struggling to find affordable housing and pay for grocery bills, and they deserve to have someone in Ottawa that has real solutions to their problems. And Poilievre isn’t that person - he’s proven it over a twenty-year political career.
So how do we like them apples now?

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Courageous people

I saw some courageous people in this week's news. 

First of all, Heather Kuttai. 
She has been one of my personal heros for the last three decades. Heather has been a Human Rights Commissioner for nine years and I'm sure it broke her heart to have to resign in protest from a position she was so eminently suitable for and so good at. 
But she did it:

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Comments about the Israel-Hamas War

I'm reading lots of thoughtful items about the Israel-Hamas War so I wanted to share them. 
By the way, one thing I have noticed is that posters on Twitter who say "Israel-Hamas War" are generally supportive of Israel while those who say "Israel-Palestinian Conflict" are generally not. Israel is trying to maintain a distinction between making war against "Hamas" but not against "Palestinians" but I am afraid this definition will be increasingly difficult to maintain as the suffering of the Palestinian people increases. 
This is well said: Yes, I can understand why people around the world are angry and terrified about what is happening in Gaza to the Palestinians. 
But remember, Hamas can stop this any time they want. They can release the innocent men, women and children they are now holding hostage, and they can abandon their war against Israel. 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

I read the news today, oh boy!

Landscape from a dream by Paul Nash
...The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity...

What an awful week it has been for news. 
First, the Israel-Hamas War is going to be terrible. 
I can't help but be reminded of Gary Kamiya's 2003 Salon article Sleepwalking toward Baghdad where he talked about the difference between "politics" and "history":
...For we have gone from being in a political moment to a historical one.
I use the words somewhat eccentrically, to distinguish between events that are simple enough to be fully explicable ("political") and those that are too complex to be defined ("historical"). ...
The distinction also has a moral dimension. To exist in history is to have passed beyond the pieties and slogans of the political. History is tragic: politics is not. History is glorious. It is also fatal.
The two great competing ideologies of the 20th century, fascism and communism, were both self-consciously historical movements. As Czeslaw Milosz brilliantly noted in his classic study "The Captive Mind," it was precisely the abstraction of communism, its claim to have attained the summit of morality and to have incorporated into itself all possible contradictions, that made it so meticulously horrifying. In similar fashion, fascism contained a kind of blankness at its core: the self-glorifying violence of the state simultaneously concealed and revealed the emptiness of its founding concept, the national tribe.
The lesson every government should have learned from the bloody 20th century, one written in blood across the tortured soil of old, very old Europe, is very simple: Avoid history at all costs. History is too big, too abstract, too dangerous. Avoid men with Big Ideas -- especially stupid men with Big Ideas. Take care of politics: let history take care of itself. In a word, don't play God.
We are, right now, living through another historical moment. 
In the coming weeks, I expect neither Israel nor any other country will be able to find a way to negotiate with Hamas thugs to rescue any of the hundreds of hostages abducted by Hamas last weekend. They are lost now, martyrs to a evil cause.
And it appears Israel is going to invade Gaza - the Israeli Defense Force will perceive no other way to regain their tattered reputation. 
Here is a New York Times article which describes in terrible detail what happened: The Secrets Hamas Knew about the Israeli Military
...Hamas, the militia that controls the Gaza Strip, managed to surprise and outmaneuver the most powerful military in the Middle East last Saturday — storming across the border, overrunning more than 30 square miles, taking more than 150 hostages and killing more than 1,300 people in the deadliest day for Israel in its 75-year history.
With meticulous planning and extraordinary awareness of Israel’s secrets and weaknesses, Hamas and its allies overwhelmed the length of Israel’s front with Gaza shortly after dawn, shocking a nation that has long taken the superiority of its military as an article of faith.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Israel-Hamas War: stories of courage, stories of terror

We are finding out more now about the horror that Israelis experienced as Hamas was hunting and killing them - the stories are incredible, some courageous, others terrifying.
The New York Times has a major article today about what Israeli soldiers are now finding after the Hamas terrorists ran back to Gaza - Hamas Leaves Trail of Terror in Israel:
They were killed waiting for the bus, dancing at a festival, doing morning chores and hiding as best they could. Searching bullet-riddled houses, streets and lawns, Israeli soldiers are still finding them.
The soldiers, retaking control of the kibbutzim, towns and settlements near the Gaza Strip that came under attack by Palestinian terrorists over the weekend, have recovered body after body after body.
Hamas gunmen, hitting more than 20 sites in southern Israel, killed more than 1,000 people, including women and children, and abducted an estimated 150 more people... Palestinian gunmen attacked Israeli civilians in all the mundane places of a Saturday morning in southern Israel — at an outdoor festival and in their homes, on familiar roads and in the middle of town — places where soldiers and the police were as surprised by the violence as neighbors, families and friends.
From tweets by Gadi Shamia comes these stories of courage:
Yair Golan

If you don't live in Israel or consume Israeli media, you don't know who Yair Golan is. He is a 61-year-old retired Major General in the Israel army and a former parliament MP. Spend a minute to read this story.
Yesterday, when IDF and the police were in complete chaos, Golan put on his old uniform, took his weapon, and drove into the war zone multiple times to rescue civilians under fire. He rescued two young adults hiding under a bush after 260 of their friends were murdered at an outdoor party. He answered a call from a journalist that his son was hiding under fire and simply said, "Give me his location, and I will bring him back home." An hour later, the son called his father from Golan's car.
Golan collected a small crew and went in and out of the war zone, rescuing dozens of people while exchanging fire with Hamas terrorists. He is 61, he could have stayed home, but he chose to risk his life for people he does not know.
Golan is one of the strongest voices from the Israeli left and was constantly attacked by the right wing in Israel. But when the time came, he was first fighting the barbaric attack. The same brain wiring that supports peace, is often the same wiring that drives people to do the right thing.
A true hero.
By the way, he is not the only one. Major General Noam Tivon, also 61, drove from Tel Aviv, joined the troops on the ground and rescued his son and grandkids. He stayed and help the troops fight the terrorists that were still there.
Another family's story from this tweet:
Adar and Itai Berdichevsky

Adar and Itai Berdichevsky from Kfar Aza hid their 10-month-old twins in a mamada (air-raid shelter), while they waited for the militants in the house to divert the terrorists' attention from the children.
Both served in the army, both were officers, there were weapons at home, and the guys did not give up and, wounded, shot until the last bullet while they had strength left...
Adar and Itay died. On the threshold of their house lay the corpses of 7 terrorists.
The kids were alone in the room for 13 hours.
They are safe, surrounded by love and care.
They were found by Itaya’s brother and father Adar, who had been fighting the terrorists all this time, saved dozens of people, but were unable to get to their loved ones in time.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Opinion Roundup on the Israel-Hamas War


There is absolutely no excuse for the horrific war that Hamas has now started against Israel. 
Israel will defend itself, the Palestinians in Gaza are likely going to be slaughtered as a result. and it may well cause a wider war between the US and Iran. 
The leadership of the world is displaying Israel's flag on buildings everywhere:
Here is some of the perceptive commentary I am reading this weekend: 
Charlotte Clymer - Hamas Does Not Care About Palestinians. Please stop saying otherwise. 
... Hamas has decided to attack innocent Israeli civilians because they are self-serving terrorists who exploit others’ suffering as a vehicle for their unrelenting antisemitism. 
 Nothing is to be gained for innocent Palestinians from these cowardly actions by Hamas, and they know that. 
 This is about hatred of Jewish people and a denial of Israel’s right to exist and a rejection of their rumored, historic peace deal with Saudi Arabia, and it is an astonishing moral failure for anyone to suggest otherwise. 
 It is completely absurd on the part of some to take advantage of the sheer complexity of this horrific conflict to justify the intentional targeting of civilians. You can criticize the Israeli government and not be antisemitic. You can speak out against Netanyahu’s atrocious leadership without being anti-Israel. But you cannot justify the intentional murder of civilians with criticism of the Israeli government.
 There is no rationalizing this. There is no moral basis for it. There is no nuance to be found here, however much some might wish there were.
 ...They are intentionally using innocent civilians as shields while they carry out their senseless acts of violent bigotry against Jewish people. 
 Whatever happens next, it is clear that children and the elderly will suffer most, and it is obvious that Hamas is at peace with that. 
 They need to be defeated and dismantled for the sake of all innocents, and the world needs to unite against them with that objective in mind.

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Don't worry, be happy

I have been feeling pretty gloomy latey about the state of politics, here and in the United States. Then yesterday David Moscrop gave us this piece on substack -- Does Something Feel Off To You? -- and it rang a bell for me:
 ...In the last few months, I’ve been thinking more about an under-specified sense that’s hard to pinpoint and put into words. It’s a feeling, something beyond the clarity of rational apprehension. It’s a feeling that something is off. That feeling is insecurity... 
We are now living at a time of prolonged and overlapping crises at home and abroad, domestic and geopolitical. The pandemic, climate change, war, unaffordability, and runaway housing costs meet us at every turn — them and other challenges, too. And we’ve buried our best hope, collective action through state intervention. We’ve landed on a dangerous island and burned our ships. 
It’s hard to imagine a time in the foreseeable future where things are going to be better. The affordability crisis will linger. So will the housing crisis. Covid-19 is surging. Climate change will continue to produce extreme weather, crop failure, refugees, and conflict. The free market will exploit workers and the rise of high-tech automation and artificial intelligence will undermine labour power, putting us at high-risk of even lower-paying, precarious jobs. Our world is a world of insecurity. 
The feeling that something is “off” comes in part an expression of anxiety, recognition that we are in deep, deep trouble and that we’ve been abandoned, without sufficient resources, to sort it out for ourselves. 
As our communities collapse under the weight of exploitation and life moves further online — where we can be lonely together — it will become harder to shake that feeling. 
 To the extent that there is to be hope of something better, there must commitments to community-building, social movement building, and state capacity building...