This 1950 Hadassah-sponsored luncheon may have been an Interfaith Tea. The teas were carried on by Jewish and non-Jewish Women’s groups interested in promoting cross-cultural education and understanding. Shown seated is Leah Barron.
Posts Tagged ‘cultural’
An Iraqi Oil Ministry plan to extend an oil pipeline through ancient Babylon presents a major threat to the cultural heritage of one of the ancient world’s most important cities.
Babylon, the world’s largest city during portions of the second and first millennia B.C.E., features prominently in Biblical narratives and played a major role in the cultural development of the ancient Near East. The site has been harangued by constant threats in recent decades, including the construction of a palace for Saddam Hussein, the digging and leveling of terrain near the Ishtar Gate for the construction of a US military base and the extension of earlier pipelines in the 1970s and 80s.
Iraq has fought hard to preserve the cultural heritage of Babylon by trying to add it to the UNESCO World Heritage list, but the frequent damages have threatened the bid. The location of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Babylon was partially excavated in several stages during the 20th century, but given its massive size and millennia-long occupation, further archaeological investigation is necessary.
The General Authority for Antiquities and Heritage in Iraq has filed a lawsuit against the Oil Projects Committee in an attempt to prevent the construction of the pipeline, which would pass through the wall of the 1,400 year old castle known as the Babil Fortress.
Two Irish bands scheduled to play highly-publicized concerts in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Nahalal in June have cancelled, citing an overwhelming international uproar over their refusal to join the boycott against relations with Israel.
Dervish and Fullset both published apologies on their Facebook pages, explaining that a mutual friend of theirs, Israeli musician Avshalom Farjun, organized the events as a means of promoting love and peace in Israel. However, the goal of the Israeli musician was radically upended when peace activists and pro-Arab supporters from around the world began slamming the groups for visiting Israel, blasting them publicly and intimidating them into joining the embargo against the Jewish state.
Dervish singer Cathy Jordan posted on Dervish’s Facebook page that her group “wasn’t quite prepared for the extent of the venom directed at us” for agreeing to play in Israel and while she believes “we are all equal, we are one,” and that “to promote love and peace in the world, I would go anywhere,” she apologized to her attackers for the “upset caused by all of this”, and said that while Dervish is “not a political party”, “we now feel that we do not wish to break this boycott”.
Fullset also issued an apology on its Facebook page, cancelling its appearances “with a heavy heart”, citing that they and Dervish “have been publicly berated and attacked for breaking a cultural boycott on Israel that neither group was aware of when accepting the tour.”
Jonty Zwebner, CEO of Israel-based music marketing and promotion company One Song World, called the decision “a shame”. “Music is a universal language, there shouldn’t be any barriers,” he said. “I think it’s a shame there are outside factors playing into this”.
Phoenix police Tuesday arrested five people in the shocking deaths of Lawrence and Glenna Shapiro, who were found tied up and burned beyond recognition on Jan. 30 in their home in the Paradise Valley suburb of Phoenix.
Lawrence Jay Shapiro worked for 45 years as a gastroenterologist. Glenna Shapiro (née Jones) was teaching elementary school in Phoenix when she met Lawrence, who was on his way to becoming a medical doctor. The couple married in 1960 and had three children.
In 2010 they established the Glenna & Lawrence Shapiro Family Foundation, supporting health, welfare, environmental, and cultural organizations.
A murder weapon and stolen property have been recovered, and one of the suspects – Michael Lee Crane – is facing two murder charges, police Chief John Bennett told reporters Tuesday. Four other suspects face theft or trafficking in stolen property charges.
Officers went to the couple’s sprawling home the morning of Jan. 30 after Phoenix police found their car on fire behind a strip mall about 20 miles away.
When an officer arrived at the house, she saw smoke coming from inside. Firefighters put out fires that had been set in two bedrooms, including the master bedroom, where the Shapiros’ bodies were discovered. The couple had to be positively identified using dental records.
The war is as fierce today as it ever was. It is a battle for culture and identity and it is the same war the Maccabees fought so long ago. While the original Chanukah victory had a military component, the battle was certainly first and foremost a fight against cultural assimilation – and that struggle continues today.
Exhibit A: Matisyahu. I am not about to rip on one of my all-time favorite musicians, but it was painful for me and many others to see our beloved chassidic reggae superstar looking no different from Sting. Matisyahu’s music was amazing, and hopefully will continue to be amazing, but he used to be so, well, outwardly Jewish, so proudly different. You just respected him so much for not caring what the world thought. In his full beard he appeared tribal, rebellious, revolutionary. But now it’s all gone and his formerly chassidic look is being portrayed as some ball and chain.
In Latin there is a saying: The name is an omen. Matisyahu’s very name comes from Chanukah and in his inner struggle to find his real self the battle of Chanukah was taking place – the battle to place oneself somewhere on the spectrum between Hellenist (totally assimilated) and Zealot (no outside influence). The signs of identity-strain already showed themselves when for last year’s holiday season Matisyahu released the brilliant and inspiring song “Miracle” – but in the video Matisyahu is seen dancing around in a bird cage dressed in a Santa outfit.
Having religious angst is one thing, but why did Matisyahu feel the need share his shave with the world? Why did it have to go out to millions via Twitter? Maybe he did not want to shock his fans next time he came out on stage. Or maybe by taking a new side in the cultural battle, Matisyahu chose to be a cultural combatant once again. Matis used to make Judaism seem awesome, but now he made it look like a prison. A bit sad, but I still love you Matis, and looking forward to your comeback!
Exhibit B: The scandal involving a column about a student’s premarital sexual episode, ending with her “walk of shame,” published on a website run by Yeshiva University students. YU wanted the website to get rid of the column. The website stood its ground, preferring to lose its funding (which it did) rather than its voice. This too happened right before Chanukah, and is part of the classic cultural war. Today’s Jewish students struggle between the passions of physicality and the values of timeless Judaism. Even the bastion of American Jewish education, Yeshiva University, is a battleground where the forces of Hellenism and traditionalism are locked in a competition for cultural supremacy.
Exhibit C: Absorption Ministry ads targeting Israelis living in America and calling them back to the Jewish state. In one of the ads, Israeli grandparents Skyping with their granddaughter who is living in America are shocked to learn she is more aware of Christmas than Chanukah. Here Israel struck back with an unequivocal Maccabean message: American culture is inferior to Jewish culture, so come back home before you lose your children to assimilation. Many American Jews were outraged, feeling personally affronted at having their host culture besmirched. While Matisyahu paraded his new clean face, and the YU girl lamented her walk of shame, the State of Israel pushed an alternative to Christmas and offered Chanukah as a remedy for the disease of assimilation.
Exhibit D: While in Exhibit C the State of Israel was the Maccabee, in Exhibit D the Jewish state took its own walk of shame: “The Ministry of Culture and Sport is sponsoring Chanukah happenings throughout the country under the banner ‘Nes Chanukah (Chanukah Miracle)’. In order to make more cultural options available to all, a new initiative is being undertaken to make 100 plays in more than 100 locations free for children. The plays will include Pippi Longstocking, Pinocchio, Aladdin, and more.”
Excuse me? What were those plays again? If we’re going to go to the trouble of making a whole series of Chanukah happenings, shouldn’t we use this opportunity to educate about our own cultural history, to teach Jewish identity?
Can’t we promote our own stories, our own heroes? Or are we too afraid of those cultural icons of the past because their story is too demanding for us? Those Maccabees were pretty serious folks, they sought purity and Temple offerings, and I guess not everyone in the Israeli elite is interested in inculcating Maccabee ideology.
And speaking of Masada, my friend Yehuda HaKohen pointed out that a McDonald’s is opening up at the famous desert palace/fortress. McDonald’s, not exactly a traditional Jewish food establishment, is rather the height of modern American soft-power cultural imperialism. Putting a McDonald’s at Masada offends the memory of the Zealot fighters who fled the Roman occupation army in search of cultural and religious independence. So why not put a nice Israeli restaurant there instead, something that feels authentically Jewish? But then again, what is authentic Jewish food – Shwarma? Gefilte fish? Jachnoon? Petcha? We’re still figuring that one out.
Finally, Exhibit E in the battle for Jewish identity: Who else but the Maccabeats! These young men make fun music, but as their name suggests, they are cultural warriors. They took Matisyahu’s song “Miracle,” sang it a cappella style, and added to it a video that warms the Jewish heart. No walk of shame, no Santa outfits, just great energy and a love of Judaism. And if Chanukah is about broadcasting the miracle, the Maccabeats’ usage of YouTube to spread the light of Chanukah and make Judaism look attractive is to be lauded.
Last month, two court-appointed forensic psychiatrists concluded that ideological mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik — who killed 77 Norwegians in July — is insane. Other experts disagree. One poll found that 48 percent of Norwegians believe he has no severe psychiatric disorder. Breivik himself was insulted that anyone would question his sanity.
But if Breivik is declared schizophrenic, can anyone who commits extreme violent acts based on ideology be considered normal? There are answers to this question: The Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez – better known as Carlos the Jackal – is serving a life sentence in a French jail. Mohammed Bouyeri’s Muslim worldview led him to murder Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004. He received a life sentence.
The question regarding the sanity of terrorists should be posed primarily in the Muslim world. How many of those who killed and mutilated thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan are normal? The same question is valid concerning the tens of millions of jihadi Muslims and their spiritual guides who support suicide bombings. How normal are Palestinian leaders who glorify the murderers of Israeli children and women?
Some observers suspect that declaring Breivik insane is Norway’s way of trying to absolve itself from his acts. The argument then becomes, “A real Norwegian would never commit such murderous acts and as Breivik is insane, he is nothing like us.” Thus the country can perpetuate the myth of the “Good Norwegians.”
The focus, of course, should be directed on far more important issues than Breivik’s sanity. His murders have been used by the Norwegian left and others of similar conviction elsewhere to attack some of those quoted in Breivik’s lengthy “ideological” treatise as if they were enablers of his acts. These include people like the author Bat Yeor who wrote about Eurabia, the Dutch Freedom Party Leader Geert Wilders and the American author Bruce Bawer, who lives in Norway.
“The bullets came from the right” was the message, while it should have been “The bullets came from the insane.” Bawer has announced that his book The New Quislings, about the “Norwegian left’s exploitation” of the Breivik murders, will soon be published.
A few days before Breivik was declared insane, Norwegian Deputy Minister of Defense Roger Ingebrigtsen spoke at the University of Ottawa on strategic military issues. He strayed from his topic, however, and discussed Breivik’s manifesto, which he called “a lengthy and incoherent document drawing upon influences of cultural conservatism, right wing populism, ultra-nationalism, Islamophobia and right-wing Zionism.”
Many members of the Norwegian political and cultural elite excel in demonizing others. Israel has become their favorite target. The Labor party youth movement teaches children as young as fourteen to hate Israel. That was the case at its Utoya camp where Breivik committed his despicable crimes. When the murderer started shooting, some youngsters thought they were being shown a demonstration of how Israeli soldiers shoot at Palestinian civilians.
One master of anti-Israel hatemongering is Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere. This Labor Party politician recently accused Israel of “water-boarding” torture because it withheld funds from the Palestinians.
Norway’s largest publisher, Cappellen Damm, recently published a book for small children that incites against Israel, which is falsely accused of withholding water from the people of Gaza. The Cultural Council of Procurement has approved the book’s distribution to Norwegian libraries.
This week Norwegian Church Minister Rigmor Aasrud (Labor) will visit an exhibition in East Jerusalem showcasing Norwegian artist Hakon Gullvag, who is well known for his anti-Israel paintings. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry sponsored an exhibition last year of Hakon’s artwork in Damascus, Beirut and Amman. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labor) has commended Gullvag for his Israel-hate paintings. remarking that they put the plight of the Palestinian children on the agenda.
The widespread demonization of Israel by Norwegian government leaders and social elites has helped create an atmosphere in Oslo where a third of Jewish children in high schools are verbally or physically attacked at least two or three times a month.
After the Breivik murders, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that Norway’s answer to the murders would be more openness and more democracy. But the authorities have done nothing to foster this. On the contrary, there is now even more intimidation of politically incorrect spokespeople than was the case before the Breivik murders.
All of which confirms that Norway would greatly benefit from comment and critique on the part of fair-minded foreigners who will not be intimidated by the country’s “progressive” establishment.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. His book “Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews,” can be downloaded free of charge at http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/showpage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=84&FID=726&PID=0.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered an end to the Israeli Ministry of Absorption’s ad campaign targeting Israeli emigrants (“Yordim”) living overseas.
The campaign appealed to the Israelis to consider the cultural bonds they and their children were losing by living outside of Israel.
Some American Jews felt insulted by the campaign, because they played on Jewish fears of assimilation.
In one of the more powerful ad campaigns, the grandparents in Israel were Skyping with their children and granddaughter in America. In the background of the grandparent’s home was a lit Chanukiah. The grandparents asked the granddaughter what holiday it was, and the granddaughter answered, to everyone’s embarrassment, “Christmas” instead of Chanukah.
Some of the ads have already been taken down from YouTube.
Imagine if 100 million Americans participated in the Tea Party movement. And then imagine that the movement had no impact on American politics. Finally imagine that in the wake of the Tea Party movement, Republicans embraced President Obama’s positions on spending and taxation.
These scenarios are of course, unimaginable. Anywhere from a million to ten million people participated in Tea Party protests in the U.S. over the past year. At best that’s perhaps three percent of all Americans.
Yet this was sufficient for the citizens’ movement calling for fiscal restraint, spending and tax cuts to have a defining impact on the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. The Republican establishment is being challenged and in many cases unseated by Tea Party politicians. Owing in large part to the Tea Party movement, just two years after Obama was elected president the American political map has been transformed. The American people are abandoning leftist socialist domestic policy formulations in favor of supply side Reaganomics.
Now look at Israel. Seventeen years ago the Rabin government adopted the radical policy of appeasing the PLO. Since then, around two million Israelis – that’s approximately 30 percent of the country’s population – have participated in protests against this policy. In four of the six elections since then, the Right has won by pledging to abandon this policy. And in one of the two elections won by the Left, Ehud Barak triumphed in 1999 by running on a rightist platform.
The resistance Israelis have demonstrated to the government’s policies toward the Palestinians is arguably unprecedented in modern history. And yet, the unimaginable scenarios for the Tea Party movement in the U.S. have been the glum reality in Israel for 17 years.
Presently, Prime Minister Netanyahu is implementing the Left’s appeasement policy toward the Palestinians with as much enthusiasm as Shimon Peres before him. On Monday Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s most trusted adviser, told Politico.com that a leader is defined by the contempt he feels for his voters. As Dermer put it, “The test of leadership is doing things that are not popular with your base.”
There are many explanations for what is going on. The most cited are Israel’s indirect elections system in which leaders are unaccountable to voters, the weakness of Israel’s politicians, and the poor quality of their advisers.
While all are true, another explanation is more compelling. In Israel the Left exerts almost complete control over the political and social discourse. Unlike the situation in the U.S. – particularly in the era of Fox News – there are no significant communications outlets in Israel that are not controlled by the Left. Even Yisrael Hayom, the free newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson that has eroded the market shares of Israel’s leading tabloids, is not a rightist newspaper.)
The Left’s monopoly over the public discourse is not only expressed in the media. In the worlds of culture, academia and entertainment, all the leading figures are leftists. They cultivate one another in an elite universe that is affected neither by reality nor by the convictions of most of their countrymen.
This has led to a situation in which a small minority of Israelis behaves as if it were a large majority. They use their control over the public discourse to present the sentiments of the majority of Israelis as if they were the views of a small, fanatical minority.
This distorted presentation of the convictions of most Israelis has induced a number of pathologies within Israeli society. Most pertinently, it has caused leaders of the Right to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to win the support of a ft that despises them. And as Dermer made clear, motivates men like Netanyahu and former prime minister Ariel Sharon to betray their voters in favor of the leftist agenda they were elected to reject.
In a bid to begin contending with this dismal reality, in early 2009 I launched a Hebrew-language media satire website called Latma. Latma is an Arabic term for “slap” that has been adopted in Israeli slang.
Latma combines short, pithy blog posts ridiculing the daily media coverage of events with a weekly television show on the Internet called The Tribal Update. The show parodies the broadcast media in Israel while exposing the absurdity of the leftist political and cultural narratives they trumpet.
The insight guiding Latma is that people do not fear what they laugh at. By exposing the failure of Israel’s cultural elites in a humorous way, Latma empowers the majority of Israelis to express their views without fearing leftist demonization.
While Latma is only one small voice, entirely funded by charitable donations, its impact has been enormous. It is one of the most visited websites in Israel today with close to a million page views per month. Our broadcasts are eagerly awaited by tens of thousands of Israelis. Week after week, our shows become viral within hours after we post them on YouTube.
Our work is doing more than making the case for a strong Zionism. It is undermining leftist stereotypes about the nature of the Israeli Right and making it cool to be Zionist again.
Latma’s greatest international success to date was our clip “We Con the World,” which we produced three days after the IDF takeover of the Turkish-Hamas terror ship Mavi Marmara. “We Con the World” was seen by more than a million viewers in one week and has been viewed over five million times since we produced it. The song changed the tone of the media coverage of the operation. Perhaps most importantly, it empowered Israel’s supporters to stand up to anti-Zionist intimidation throughout the world.
Building on that success, and subsequent successes with English language clips like “The Three Terrors” and “The Iranian Bomb Song,” we are recruiting a team of English-language satirists to produce clips directed at an international audience on a regular basis.
Liberal media outlets and other cultural institutions in the U.S. went to enormous lengths to belittle and demonize the Tea Party movement. They failed because over the past generation American conservatives have developed alternative media outlets and cultural institutions to which the general public and politicians alike pay attention.
I believe Latma’s success must serve as a springboard for cultivating an alternative elite in Israel whose members reflect rather than demonize the convictions of the majority of Israelis. Given the massive dimensions of the public’s rejection of the Left’s worldview, if these alternative media outlets and cultural bodies are properly conceived and managed, I am certain that, like Latma, they will not only be rapidly successful but also have a profound and salutary impact on the behavior of Israel’s political leaders – who will finally recognize that the true test of leadership is standing up to a hostile world and keeping faith with the Israeli people.
Caroline Glick is senior contributing editor at The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the last week of every other month. Look for her next column in the Jan. 28, 2011 issue.