News Bites

The Free Gaza Movement is returning to Gaza aboard a new ship, the SS Dignity. I received an email earlier this evening saying that the they were about an hour and a half away from the place where they expected the Israeli Navy to stop, attack, or board them. I haven’t heard anything since then, but I’m not going to get worried yet.

A quick note on one of their email updates:

Several times over the past week, people had said that Israel was looking for the Free Gaza, asking port authorities where it was and when we were going. So today was another triumph for the human spirit.

I don’t doubt that Israeli officials were nosing around the port, just as I wouldn’t doubt that American officials would do the exact same thing. But it makes me very nervous that the Free Gaza movement refers to Israel as an inhuman monolithic entity. “Israeli officials/agents/spies/whatever were looking for the Free Gaza” implies that these were specific people deployed by the Israeli government. “Israel was looking for the Free Gaza” dehumanizes Jews. I know that using a country’s name to refer to its government is pretty standard, as in “I don’t like the U.S.’s Middle East policy,” but that language paints a very different picture when you’re talking about the actions of specific people.

Still, though, let’s hope for the best.

**

Will the Wall Street crisis spur anti-Semitism? I missed this article when it first came out, but JTA reports on the anti-Semitic SNL sketch:

As of Tuesday morning, the clip had been pulled from the show’s Web site, but not due to concerns about Jewish sensibility. “Upon review, we caught certain elements in the sketch that didn’t meet our standards,” NBC said in a statement. The network said the Sandlers had called to complain about the clip, and the tagline “People who should be shot” was removed, along with a reference to “corrupt activities.”

Regardless of whether the writers intended to paint Jews as responsible for the crisis, the skit is almost sure to aggravate a growing concern: that Jews ultimately could find themselves blamed for the nation’s financial meltdown.

“Look at how they are portraying these people who are staying up late in the capitol to pass this 700 billion dollar bailout,” wrote one commenter on a forum of the Vanguard News Network. “They’re makin it look like they’re ‘workin hard’, ‘takin action’, ‘reaching a solution’ … Yeah, they are probably sittin around eating crumpets while the Jews are driving away with truck loads of hundred dollar bills.”

Another commenter on the site wrote that “jew monsters” are seeking to bankrupt the entire planet.

“It’s really more like vampires sucking a corpse dry,” wrote the commenter, identified on the site as Sgruber. “Jews are destroyers. They aren’t after their own long-range advantage. Long-range they want the earth plunged into a Dark Ages of endless poverty. This is why the jews must be killed. They are rats eating the grain and the brain of the world.”

I especially love the people who come leave anti-Semitic comments on Jewish websites. Tell me more, O Enlightened One.

Also, a Jewish man and his nephew were beaten in Paris. Police are ruling out the possibility of a hate crime because some of the attackers were Jewish. However, it’s important to note that the attackers were using anti-Semitic slurs. Racism that comes out after you become angry at someone is still racism. Racism against members of your own group is still racism. If that sentiment is lurking somewhere in your brain, it doesn’t really make a difference when or how it happens to come out.

Finally, Marisa on JVoices explains why boycotts of Israeli musicians aren’t a very effective means of ending the occupation:

First of all, the orchestra is not exactly “state sponsored.” Unfortunately, as we know, the Israeli government spends plenty of money on providing soldiers to guard illegal settlements in Palestine and financial incentives to Jews who want to live there. They spend billions on the most disgustingly unnecessary welfare system in the world, allowing the fathers of Haredi families with 17 children to study full-time at yeshivas while their wives take in mending. [Note: The Heretic at Jewcy has his own take on this.] And they give money to all kinds of projects which further destroy the land and any chance of peace.

Unfortunately, what they don’t do is willingly support culture. The orchestra would not be able to survive on what the State of Israel gives them. The orchestra survives like many American cultural organizations – through donations. And their American tour has been entirely paid for by the American Friends of the JSO. A boycott of the orchestra has no financial impact on Israel whatsoever.

There are also a number of left-wing activists in the orchestra, who stand at checkpoints and pick olives and teach music to Palestinian children. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; artists have a tendency to care about human rights, and to express that care through their art.

Let’s say I sold the foreign publishing rights to my novel. (Ha!) Let’s say I traveled to Europe for my book tour and was greeted by Iraq war protesters outside each bookstore I visited. I myself was protesting the Iraq war months before our troops moved in. How exactly would those protesters enact change by protesting my fiction?

I’m fully in favor of boycotting goods that directly support West Bank settlers and the Gaza blockade – not to mention pulling federal aid in order to reverse settlement expansion. But organizing against the livelihoods of individual people (and we’re not talking about mega-corporate billionaires here) is where boycotts and protests stop making sense.

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2 Responses

  1. While I agree with your point of view on many subjects in the M.East conflict I think that I should translate some of the stuff that appears in greek Left’ish press and web – then you’d be a bit more wary on the motives of some of the participants.

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