Sunday, 22 March 2015

St. John Passion

It is the time of year for St. John Passion and last night I heard a splendid rendering of Bach’s Johannes Passion in the Freiburg Münster. Bach in his great talent managed to vividly bring home the story told in the Gospel of St. John. Almost like an impressionist painter, with his choir, Bach brings out the atmosphere, the [Jewish] crowds and hysteria. The result is anti-Jewish agitation to the most beautiful music.

Sitting in the sombre gothic cathedral, I remembered my mother – who sang in the choir that performed the Passion in Israel in the late 60s and early 70s of last century – telling me that the words of the Johannes Passion made her feel more uncomfortable than any text she had previously sung. At the time, I did not really take much heed. I loved the music and that was enough. Having grown up in Israel, anti-Judaism was something I had never experienced. My other, who was born in Germany and had to flee with her family had first hand experience.

45 Year later, leaving the Freiburg Münster, I found myself thinking of the many generations of Christians leaving their solemn churches after hearing Bach’s Johannes Passion depicting the Jews driving the death of their Lord. How many of them, upon subsequently meeting a Jew in the streets of their town, then reacted with hatred, aggression and even violence, as a result of the animosity towards Jews that was planted in their hearts with the aid of the beautiful, so very beautiful music of Johan Sebastian Bach?

Use and abuse of the term Zionism

An article of mine on use and abuse of the term Zionist and Zionism, has just been published by the German Süddeutsche Zeitung.

A link is available on  request.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Israelis – Not so smart after all

Virtually all former heads of the Israeli secret services as well as hundreds of retired Israeli generals have for years made it clear that getting out of the Occupied Territories and reaching an agreement with the Palestinians is of vital strategic and existential importance to Israel.

But will the Israelis listen to them? No. Instead, they listen to and buy into the propaganda of the Israeli right wing politicians ranging from the messianic to the basic greedy land grabbers.

Israelis disregard their own security experts and instead listen to ideology driven doomsday scenarios, the latest of which is that a Palestinian State would be a launch pad for ISIS – the bogeyman en vogue. And they vote accordingly. There is hardly any political party running in the coming elections (17 March) that is truly interested in getting out of the West Bank and willing to say so.

The right-out stupidity of Israel’s population is the proof to anyone who has ever believed racial notions of Jewish superior wisdom, that there is no such thing.

How can so many people be fooled like that? 

Netanyahu and the US Congress

As he testified to US Congress in September 2002, here’s what Netanyahu the Great said:

“If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region… The task and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also to transform the region.” 

Twelve years laters and they continue to listen to him. An impressive lot these American lawmakers.

Successful salesmen don’t eat their hats; they get re-invited to sell their latest line. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Don't Envy the Israeli Ambassador

The Israeli ambassador to Germany in an interview to a German paper has today said that he “does not envy those Jews who live in Europe these days.” Well, I don't envy the Israeli ambassador. 

He is right to empathise – the poor Jews in Europe, out of loyalty to the Jewish state, continue to defend Israeli occupation and settlement policies, even when they think otherwise. They love Israel because it is the Jewish state, despite the fact that it has become an apartheid state, and that it is run by a corrupt clique. They love Israel because they are afraid of the moment they will no longer love it. And so, they look the other way and try to find justification for the unjustifiable.

The Israeli ambassador is right -  one cannot envy the European Jews, whose leaders sound as if they are Israeli government spokesmen.

The Israeli ambassador is right – Diaspora Jews must break free. They can love the idea of a Jewish state, they can love the fact that when they are in Israel, they are surrounded by fellow Jews, whilst standing up and openly making a stand against the land-grab and the occupation and control of millions of Palestinians by Israel.

By the way, the propaganda line led by Israel’s prime minister and echoed by his ambassador to Germany, that European Jews should flee to Israel for their security sounds like a bad joke. He cannot possibly suggest that they are safer in Israel, unless of course part of the deal on offer is privileged space for all newcomers in the high-tech nuclear bunker reserved for Israel’s ruling elite.   

I don't envy the Israeli ambassador. 

Israeli propaganda should be better

Israelis often feel the need  - when they are not called upon to serve their country in the army – to serve their country on the propaganda front. In this context, Israeli friends occasionally email me links to articles or information, which they think will shed a positive light on Israel. The latest such email that I received, linked to an article by Israel’s outgoing Minister of Finance, Ya’ir Lapid, published a couple of days ago in the Guardian.

It’s written in English and published in a British paper but I expect that the real purpose is to impress the home market. There is a general election in Israel in less than a month and standing up to the gentiles always gets an Israeli politician brownie points. In this article, Lapid tries to deride the recent open letter that was signed by 700 British artists who called for a boycott of Israel because of the continued occupation.

It is shallow and kitschy, stoops to pinkwashing – brandishing Israel’s gay rights to distract from Israel’s occupation wrongs, and leads nowhere.  Lapid besmirches Hamas (not so difficult), under whose rule gays are hanged and climaxes with a personal touch by naming “my friend Gila Tregerman”, whose four year old son was killed by a Palestinian mortar shell.   

Lapid tries to show that he cares about Diaspora Jews, who should “be able to stand safely outside synagogues and do their shopping in a kosher supermarket…” He could ask himself why it is that anti-Semitic attacks in Europe are on the rise whenever Israeli military activity seems to get out of control? And what he wants, Lapid says, is “...modest: for people not to try to kill me just because I’m a Jew.” He knows well enough that if anyone is trying to kill him, it is not because he is a Jew but because he is an Israeli and as surprising as it may seem to him, Palestinian terrorists have been killing Israelis and Israeli soldiers have been killing Palestinians for many years. The attempt to turn this into a “please don’t kill me just because I’m a Jew” is disgraceful and he should be ashamed of himself.  

Friday, 6 February 2015

Had Israel done it

A day after Islamic State published, their video of a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive, Jordan executed two jihadist prisoners. Earlier today, Jordanian Royal Air Force flew bombing sorties over IS held areas in Syria. The Jordanian king has promised more revenge.

No one in the West got very excited by the Jordanian reaction. A probably jealous Mr Lieberman, Israel’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, has praised the King for his “harsh and decisive response to the event.”

Had Israel reacted similarly in response to a murderous terror attack… It would have become a central story across the world. One or other country would have convened the UN Security Council, Jordan would have recalled its ambassador, European and even US student and teachers unions would have called for Israel to be boycotted, and violent demonstrations in Europe would have turned to attacks on Jewish institutions.

The fact is that nobody gives a damn about the execution of jihadists or the bombing of IS bases. But had Israel done it…  

Saturday, 31 January 2015

USA funding settlements

The Israeli government has once again announced the building of housing units for Jewish settlers in the Occupied territories. And, the US government has once again responded with a statement, that “the move was deeply concerning”.  

The White House added, “We have deep concerns about these highly contentious settlement construction announcements… They will enflame already heightened tension with the Palestinians…”

Perhaps the White House should put a stop to some of the funding, if it wants to bring about an end to this illegal settlement of the Occupied Territories:
In straight military aid alone, the US funds Israel to the tune of 3.15 billion US dollars, per year. Other forms of aid come on top.

But if the USA continues to fund Israel, it should stop protesting.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Speculating with Cheese

Yesterday on Jermyn Street:

Paxton and Whitfield and the Swiss Franc

The Shepherd and his Rabbits

Another WOW: yesterday’s statement by Pope Francis that Good Roman Catholics do not need to breed like "rabbits"!/format/jpg/quality/85/

I don’t know what they put in the Pope’s drink on his visit to the Philippines.

Years ago, a Catholic friend from Montreal told me how their priests would visit families and demand an explanation, if a year had gone by without a new pregnancy. With one Papal remark, all those Catholics who followed their priests’ teaching and expectations to have large families must feel really dumb.  

Had anyone else come out with a statement “Catholics breed like rabbits”, the uproar would have been enormous. Charlie Hebdo would party. The Pope would have demanded more respect for his faith and his flock of…  His message would have been repeated from every pulpit.

PS: and if you wondered… contraceptives are still out. Tough.