Babatunde Olatunji (here playing the west-African Djembe) is one of the most important drummers of the 20th century.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The Mufti - My part in his downfall
An ex-girl friend of mine spends her life sending e-mails to millions of people providing details of the latest Israeli academic who is voicing excessive support for the Palestinians or recommending that the institution that pays his wages etc. be boycotted. I get about two of these mails every day. So it was with a certain sense of irony that I went to a symposium at Tel-Aviv University about the psychological impact of the "Nakba" (catastrophe) on the Palestinians, organized by "Psychoactive - Mental health professionals for Human Rights". I'm curious to see if it makes her mail.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Earthquake Fears in Tel-Aviv
The recent quake in Haiti has set off alarm bells here in Israel. Historically Israel gets an earthquake every century and the last one was in 1927 so our due date is coming up. The first result was that all the school children in the country practised getting under their tables. No doubt that will really make a difference should anything happen.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Me and Mister Goldstone
I recently saw an excellent film called American
Violet, a true story about an honest single African-American mother wrongly accused and
arrested for dealing drugs in a small town in Texas. Basically the local
sheriff would go into the African-American neighbourhood once a year
or so with a huge array of armed police and arrest a large chunk of the local
population. A local informant would be found who would 'finger' people
who broke the law - in return for being exempt - and then using his list, lots
of people would be arrested and quickly tried. They would be given the
choice of a plea bargain or an extrenely draconian sentence, so most pleaded
guilty: especially single mothers facing loss of their children like our
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) was looking to put an end to this
racist method of keeping the peace but couldn't do anything because most people
were pleading guilty or were involved in illegal acts. In this case they found
a woman who had been falsely accused (the snitch was influenced by her
ex-husband) and willing to fight so their (Jewish) lawyer took the case to
court. Its a great story.
How does this relate to the Goldstone report? Well, the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights
Committee) which appointed Goldstone, was created in 2006 and is
dominated by African and Arab countries. It mostly just discusses anything
Israel does and has worked to downgrade monitoring of human rights abuses in
Congo and Sudan, countries where Genocide and mass-rape are currently taking place. The UNHRC employs a full time investigator for the Palestinian territories (but for nowhere else), a man who believes the 9/11 was a US government conspiracy.
To prevent the report on the Gaza conflict from being ignored, the UNHRC found a radical Jewish
human rights advocate (Goldstone), who is genuinely interested in human rights but tends to
assume the worst where Israel is concerned.
So the UNHRC acted
like the racist district attorney in American Violet. They assumed that
Israel was guilty and sent in a big team. The jury inevitably agrees. The
Jewish state looks to the UN like a large black man with an afro in a Texas court
room. The sentencing is draconian and Israel has the option to plead
guilty or get involved in a difficult fight. Were crimes committed?
Possibly. Would anybody else be investigated for them? No.
in Israel we have many organizations and decent people - like Goldstone - dedicated to ensuring we
respect human rights. That is the way things should be. Problem is that in
their anxiousness to ensure that Israel adhere to human rights they have aided the UNHRC whose
members are not interested in human rights: that is to say they are concerned
with Palestinian human rights: but not universal human
rights. Certainly not Israeli human rights.
Needless to say by the time I have something to say about
the Goldstone report, it is old news. Even so, and despite the fact that I haven't read the report, I thought I would put my thoughts down on
My feeling is that organizations who wish to ensure that Israel adhere to human rights should take into account the nature of those they are working with. Human rights are universal and all humans are entitled to them, but either you protect them universally or you only protect those who share a commitment to universal human rights. To only protect those who do not share that belief is to undermine human rights.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
My Wikipedia Habit
A few years ago I found myself with a fresh MA in History and not much to do. I had a go at publishing my thesis (British prison camps in Cyprus for illegal Jewish migrants to Palestine) but wasn't successful and didn't feel like sending out copies of it to masses of academic journals.
Monday, February 1, 2010
The Spartan's CV
Interviews, interviews. Yes I'm out of a job and busily sending my CV off to potential employers. I wonder, where did this practise originate? Did people in the 14th century have a scribe write their work experience on a piece of vellum, then seal it with some wax and send it to the Royal Court in the hope of finding work as a bathroom attendant? Did ancient Egyptian architects send the Pharoh a papyrus with hieroglyphs describing their latest tomb design? If this person is alive can we put them on trial?
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