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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘innocent’

What If They Commissioned an Anti-Settlements Exhibition and the Pictures Came Out Pastoral and Innocent?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Ragnar Kjartansson is a widely exhibited Icelandic performance artist. In a 2002 work called Death and the Children, he dressed up in a dark suit and carried a scythe, leading young children through a cemetery, answering their questions. In a 2006 live performance titled Sorrow Conquers Happiness, he wore a tuxedo and played the role of a 1940s nightclub crooner with an orchestra, singing, “Sorrow conquers happiness” over and over as the music swelled. In 2011, Kjartansson won the inaugural Malcolm Award at Performa 11, the visual art performance biennial, for his 12-hour work Bliss, which was performed without a break at the Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with repeated performances of the finale of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” the moment when the count gets down on one knee and asks his wife for forgiveness, which she grants in an aria. Icelandic tenor Kristjan Johannson played the count.

For his exhibition titled Architecture and Morality, at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv this season, Kjartansson, according to a press release, was going to “create a new, ambitious body of paintings within the specific context of Israel. He will spend two weeks painting the urban landscapes in the West Bank ‘En plein air’ (a fancy French term the press release misspelled and which means ‘outdoors’) akin to his performative painting practice over the past few years.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

So Ragnar Kjartansson took his canvas and stand and paints and brushes and went en plein air to various Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, and what he brought back was, well, not so bad. He painted what he saw (a paraphrase on the New Yorker’s surrealist Gahan Wilson’s book of horror cartoons), and apparently he saw none of the blood curdling evil normally associated with the term “settlements” on the corner of south Tel Aviv’s Tsadok Hacohen and Kalisher Streets, which is where the CCA is located.

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Or, as Galia Yahav put it in Ha’aretz this weekend, “The houses are rendered separately, one per painting. All of them are drawn from the front and fill the canvas in the same way and from the same distance. The style is blatantly amateurish and naïve, as though from a hobby group, deliberately bland, with obedient brushstrokes and a filling of blank spaces, turgid coloration and pedantically mimetic attention to detail.”

But, most upsetting, from Yahav’s point of view, “the result is a small, suburban neighborhood of villas, completely artificial, in which little Israeli flags attached to parked cars wave in the breeze and larger ones flop from the windows of houses. Without addresses or names of specific settlements, this artistic tactic poses with feigned innocence in the likeness of a 19th-century pilgrimage, in which the Holy Land is portrayed through misty eyes.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

In other words, this cutting-edge performance artist, who was going to do to the settlements what Edvard Munch did the screaming, came away from those colonialist, apartheid-dispensing satanic neighborhoods with a fairly bland set of impressions, which is what one could expect from suburban bedroom communities anywhere.

“Perhaps the idea was to depict a generic quality of life rife with sated insensitivity – architecture as amorality,” Yahav tried to dig up some evil from under those middle class shaggy rugs. “Or perhaps it’s the realization of violent fantasy through painting: the occupied territories without Palestinians, a heaven on earth.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Curator Chen Tamir wrote that Kjartansson’s settlements paintings “tell a story about the banality of everyday life amid complex political turmoil.” Maybe. But it ain’t in those paintings. Indeed, Tamir conceded that the entire Kjartansson exhibition “is a bold statement on art’s futility in the face of social and political strife.”

Or maybe, just maybe, the Icelandic artist discovered and then made a point leftwing art critics can’t afford to admit: that things in those Jewish settlements and in all of Judea and Samaria, just aren’t nearly as bad as they are in many other, more troubled places, such as London, Paris, Brussels, Nice and Istanbul.


For Obama, Leftist Rhetoric Is Always Innocent and Conservatives Are Always Guilty

Friday, July 15th, 2016

{Originally posted to The Daily Wire website}

When it comes to the linkage between violence and rhetoric, I abide by a fairly simple rule: If you’re not advocating violence, you’re not responsible for violence. That doesn’t mean your rhetoric is decent or appropriate; it may be vile, awful and factually incorrect. But it isn’t the cause for violence.

President Barack Obama also abides by a simple rule when it comes to linking violence and rhetoric: If he doesn’t like the rhetoric, it’s responsible for violence. And if there’s violence associated with rhetoric he likes, then the violence must have been caused by something else.

This shining double standard was on full display this week after an anti-white racist black man shot 12 police officers in Dallas just hours after Obama appeared on national television explaining that alleged instances of police brutality and racism were “not isolated incidents” but rather “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.” Obama was happy to label the shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, without evidence, as part of a broader racist trend in law enforcement across the country.

Then Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire on white police officers — and anti-police racist radicals attacked officers in Minnesota, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia and Texas again — and Obama suddenly got amnesia. Now, it turned out, rhetoric had nothing to do with their actions. In fact, said Obama, he had no idea why Johnson — who explicitly said he wanted to murder white cops — would do such a thing. “I think it’s very hard to untangle the motives of this shooter,” Obama said while in Poland. “What triggers that, what feeds it, what sets it off — I’ll leave that to psychologists and people who study these kinds of incidents.” He did blame one element for the attack, however: lack of gun control. “If you care about the safety of our police officers,” he lied, “you can’t set aside the gun issue and pretend that that’s irrelevant.”

Odd how this works. When a white racist shoots up a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Obama targets America’s legacy of racism, and the entire media call for a national fight against Confederate flags; when a nut tries to shoot up a Planned Parenthood building in Colorado, the left emerges to claim that the pro-life movement bears culpability. But when an Orlando jihadi shoots up a gay nightclub, Obama and company declare the motives totally mysterious and then impugn Christian social conservatives and the National Rifle Association.

Here’s the truth: Obama’s rhetoric isn’t responsible for murder, but it’s certainly responsible for death. That’s because Obama’s racist rhetoric has led to the greatest rise in racial polarization since the 1970s. In 2010, just 13 percent of Americans worried about race relations, whereas in April 2016, 35 percent of Americans did. That racial polarization has, in turn, led to distrust of police officers, many of whom respond by pulling out of the communities that need their help most. Crime rates go up, including murder rates. Ironically, Obama’s supposed rage at white officers killing blacks leads to more blacks killing blacks in cities no longer policed by whites.

But there’s good news: Obama can always blame everyone else. When you’re held responsible for your feelings rather than your actions, it’s always simple to direct attention toward the evil conservatives who insist that all lives matter rather than care enough about black lives to save them by endorsing the police who work to protect black men and women every day.

Ben Shapiro

American Pride Undermined by Inaction in Syria

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

I’ve heard many people say that America has no vital national interest in Syria. Well, how about this.

When I was an American living in England for 11 years it stuck me that one of the principal differences between my country and the UK was the lack of Union Jacks flying from people’s homes and businesses. In America countless homes have the stars and stripes flying as do many stores. It’s ubiquitous.

Why the difference? I always believed it was the fact that Americans have immense pride in being American while other countries don’t celebrate their national heritage as much. Yes, the British do so on special occasions like a royal wedding. But we Americans do so on ordinary days as well.

The reason: because America stands for something. It was the world’s first modern constitutional democracy. It threw off the yoke of a tyrant and established the people’s rule. More recently it liberated Europe from the tyranny of Nazism, liberated Iraq from the mass murderer Saddam Hussein, and was instrumental in purging Libya of the butcher Gaddafi.

Americans are justly proud of how we embody human liberty. Europe was once part of this alliance, especially in the Second World War where Britain, especially, was exemplary. But since them, the Europeans have taken a cynical approach to liberating incarcerated peoples and the prevention of genocide.

But what happens to American pride when we begin to watch bodies of gassed children and choose to remain innocent bystanders? What are we to be proud of then? A lofty standard of living? High speed internet? Cheaper gas then Europe?

Americans are driven to advance their country because they believe in their country. Our national promise is predicated on an affirmation of our values.

I cannot imagine loving America with the same passion that courses through my veins if America doesn’t use its righteous might to protect the innocent and the weak. I will always be a proud American. But that pride stems from the values we espouse and promote.

Yes, I realize we can’t be the world’s policeman. Even our strength and resources are limited. But I come back to a famous Rabbinical teaching in Ethics of Our Fathers that says, “It is not for you to complete the work, but neither can you wash your hands of it, either.” We’re not obligated to intervene in every atrocity. Nor are we capable. But neither can we turn a blind eye to the most egregious violations of human rights. If we do so then we are misusing the wealth and strength of our nation.

The Rwandan genocide, whose twentieth anniversary is this coming April, was all coordinated from a single radio antenna. The United States was asked to fire a single missile that would have destroyed the transmitter. The Clinton Administration refused because it was spooked by the events of Black Hawk down that had transpired a few months earlier in October, 1993. But that one missile could have largely prevented a mass atrocity that claimed the lives of nearly one million people.

We are not the world’s policeman. And our national debt is becoming a crisis of its own. But we can afford a few cruise missiles fired at Bashar Assad’s air force and presidential palaces, which will force the tyrant to live in the underground bunkers that should be the abode of monsters who gas their people.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/american-pride-undermined-by-inaction-in-syria/2013/09/12/

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