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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘radical’

White/Black Supremacists Aligning Against the Jews

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the convergence and alliance of Islamism with the far Left (and, with time, the not-so-far Left).  Ten years ago, this seemed bizarre, since logic appeared to dictate that nothing could be more antithetical to the supposed values of the Left (equality, feminism, tolerance, freedom of/from religion, etc.) than the reactionary Islamic world, with its institutionalized brutal repression, its humiliation and abuse of women, its torture and execution of gays, and its extreme policies of religious persecution.  Yet, with time, we grew accustomed to this alliance, and today, the glaring contradictions between values barely even faze anybody anymore.

Today, there seems to be another supposedly “impossible” convergence underway:  We are witnessing the beginnings of an alliance between the radical Right (KKK, neo-Nazis, etc.) and the radical black Left (Black Panthers, Farrakhan, etc.)  A dramatic example of this happened last week, when a former KKK Grand Wizard and neo-Nazi, former Congressman David Duke, released a video declaring his endorsement of Charles Barron in his current run for Congress.  Barron is a former Black Panther, a radical antisemite who justified the anti-Jewish riots in Crown Heights in the ’90′s and compares Israel to the Nazis, and whose declared heroes are Muammar Kaddafi, Robert Mugabe, and Louis Farrakhan.  At first glance, it might be difficult to imagine what basis there could possibly be for an alliance between a Right-wing neo-Nazi KKK leader and a Left-wing Black Supremacist Farrakhan supporter.  The answer, of course, is that in spite of their obvious differences, they nevertheless have something very fundamental in common, which has brought them together:  Their intense hatred of Jews and Israel.  The centrality of their shared antisemitism comes through loud and clear in Duke’s endorsement video:

Just like the alliance between the Islamists and the radical Left, the new alliance between the White Supremacists and the Black Supremacists seems absurd but really isn’t:  In both cases, the seemingly vast differences between the sides are trumped by the power of their shared Jew-hatred.  And these two alliances are not at all unrelated:  There is, of course, already a powerful alliance between the Black Power movement and the Islamist movement, epitomized by Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam.  It is clear to anyone following the current trends that very soon, all four of these groups — the radical Left, the Islamists, the Black Supremacists, and the White Supremacists — will all be united in a common offensive against the Jews and Israel.

Rubin Reports: Is Islam Innately Evil? Is Islam Innately Good? Why This Debate is A Waste of Time

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/05/is-islam-innately-evil-is-islam.html

We all know that the number of Muslims who explicitly put forward a systematically coherent moderate theology of Islam is very small. We also know that radical Islamists pretend to be moderates and fool people in the West. We also know that foolish or dishonest people in the West claim that Islam is innately moderate; that Sharia law as it will inevitably be interpreted at present is no big deal; and that the radicals are a minority, hijackers, or will soon become moderate. People must know the truth about these issues.

However, it is also true that the number of Muslims who are anti-Islamist in politics and relatively moderate in their politics and practice of Islam number in the tens and even hundreds of millions. Their motives range from liberalism through ethnic (Berber; Kurdish) or state nationalism, conservative views that do see Islamism as improper, those who find refuge in the West and want to acculturate to it, ruling groups and their supporters who don’t want Islamists to cut off their heads, etc. These people are our actual or potential allies in the battle against Islamism, and we better understand that and find ways to work with them, even if we don’t agree on everything.

How can we find a way to blend those two different factors and combine them into a standpoint and strategy?

At a moment when we should be analyzing existing political movements, ideas, actions, and the Western failure to meet this threat there is a wasteful, unending battle that subverts the effort to understand and explain what’s happening.

In one corner, we have those who claim—and these are by far the more powerful people today, controlling academia, media, and government policies in many places—that Islam is innately good, a religion of peace. Those who are revolutionaries and terrorists simply misunderstand their own religion. Naturally, the idea that non-Muslims, who are usually quite ignorant of Islam and its history, should define Islam is ludicrous.

There are many important points the religion-of-peace crowd misses but here are five of them:

–Islam, like any religion, is subject to interpretation, which is not always the same in different times and places or among various individuals or even—in Islam’s case—countries and ethnic groups. Thus, to say that the proper interpretation of Islam that is moderate and peaceful interpretation is absurd. Even to say that there are a lot of people who hold a moderate interpretation of Islam–as opposed to a conservative but anti-Islamist one–is absurd.

–If revolutionary Islamism is such a heresy why is it that it can often muster overwhelming support? Why are Islamic clerics, who know far more about Islam than the Western apologists, often supporting such a movement or at least its basic assumptions?

–There is much in Islam’s main texts, historical beliefs, and history that is not at all so peaceful. In fact, the revolutionaries, as a number of scholars have ably shown, base themselves on totally authentic portions of the Koran, the hadith, and the respected commentators of the past. To divorce Islam and revolutionary Islamist political ideology is absurd. The Islamists make clear they see themselves as fulfilling religious commandments and are acting as “proper” Muslims.

To ignore the reality of Islamism’s rootedness in Islam is to ensure that you are fooled by stealth Islamists, underestimate the power of the revolutionaries, and even—worst of all!—are ready to help your worst enemies.

–The idea that Islam has been “hijacked” by Islamists ignores the fact that they have a strong claim to legitimacy. They are not heretics or hijackers but contenders for power. And they may well succeed—helped by the blindness and foolish policies of the apologists—in seizing control of Islam. In fact, that seems to be happening.

–To claim there is such a thing as “moderate Islamism” is so ridiculous that it boggles the mind. Yet this is what mainstream academics, journalists, and policymakers argue without any evidence but the most superficial and easily disprove propaganda of the Islamists themselves.

This school tends to be apologetic and even to lie and conceal. By doing so, these “Islam is good” people make it impossible to have a successful foreign policy or to understand revolutionary Islamism.

But in the other corner are those who claim that Islam is innately bad, meaning that its followers are inevitably prone to giving full support to revolutions to seize state power and install radical Sharia-imposing regimes. In this concept, Iran, the Taliban, Hizballah, Hamas, al-Qaida, and the Muslim Brotherhood—as well as the far more subtle revolutionaries running Turkey today–have gotten Islam right and any Muslim who doesn’t support them misunderstands his own religion.

There are many important points they miss but here are five of them:

–For most of history, the systematic interpretation and praxis of Islam held by contemporary revolutionary Islamists did not exist. Thirty years ago, the radicals and their ideas were marginal, viewed as crackpot by most Muslims. The Islamists are well aware of this, and are themselves quite critical of Islam as it has been practiced since the seventh century or so.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Obama Rhetoric Straight

Out Of Radical’s Book?
 
   In his major address on the Middle East last week, did President Obama quote from the centerpiece of Marxist community organizer Saul Alinsky’s defining work?
 
   While hailing the Arab uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, Obama laid out his foreign policy using terminology strikingly similar to Alinsky’s mantra.
 
   “There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity,” Obama stated. “Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.”
 
   One of Alinsky’s major themes was contrasting how the world “is” and how “it should be.”
 
   In his defining work, Rules for Radicals, which he dedicated to “the first rebel,” Lucifer, Alinsky used those words to lay out his main agenda – that radical change to collapse the U.S. capitalist system must be brought about by working within the system instead of attacking it from the outside.
 
   “It is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system,” wrote Alinsky.
 
   This is not the first time Obama used that phraseology.
 
   In an April 2009 talk to a London girl’s school, the First Lady recalled that on her first date with Barack Obama he took her to a “community meeting” and taught her about the world “as it is” and “as it should be.”
 
   Alinsky’s ideology is not foreign to Obama. The politician started his career as an Alinsky-style community organizer in Chicago.
 
   Also, the Woods Fund, a nonprofit on which Obama served as paid director alongside terrorist Bill Ayers from 1999 to December 2002, provided capital to the Midwest Academy, a group that trains in the radical tactics of Alinsky.
 
   This column first reported that the executive director of Midwest, Jackie Kendall, was part of the team that developed volunteers for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.
 
   Also, in 1998, Obama participated on a panel discussion praising Alinsky alongside Midwest Academy’s founder Heather Booth, an organizer and dedicated disciple of Alinsky.
 

   The panel discussion followed the opening performance in Chicago of the play “The Love Song of Saul Alinsky,” a work described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “bringing to life one of America’s greatest community organizers.”

 

Obama Draws Moral Equivalence
Between Israeli And Palestinian Deaths
 
   During his major Mideast speech, Obama compared an Israeli who died in a Hamas terrorist attack that targeted civilians to three Palestinian girls killed in an Israeli anti-terror operation in which Hamas had reportedly shot at Israeli forces from near the girls’ home, drawing return fire.
 
   Obama provided two examples of families who “would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past,” drawing a moral equivalence between Palestinian terror and Israeli self-defense.
 
   Stated Obama: “We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones.
 
   “We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. ‘I have the right to feel angry,’ he said. ‘So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate. Let us hope,’ he said, ‘for tomorrow.
 
   Obama was referencing a January 2009 Israel Defense Forces operation in which three daughters of a Gazan doctor, Izzeldin Abuelaish, were killed when a shell struck their home.
 
   The IDF said an investigation had shown that soldiers were returning fire in the direction of areas from which they had been fired upon. Hamas routinely uses civilians as human shields while drawing Israeli forces into urban combat situations.
 
   Israel had entered Gaza in an incursion that December and January after Hamas refused to extend a cease-fire, instead launching a large number of rockets from Gaza aimed at nearby Jewish civilian population zones.
 
   The Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, as referenced by Obama, was Yitzhak Frankenthal, the founder of a far-left Israeli group that blames Israeli “occupation” for Palestinian terrorism.
 

   Frankenthal’s son, Arik, was 19 years old when he was shot in a drive-by Hamas terror attack in July 1994.

 

Obama’s Faith Advisor: I Was Taught Lies
 
   Obama’s faith adviser, Eboo Patel, declared that everything he was taught about Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson and American “fairness” and “equality” was wrong.
 
   The statements by Patel mark the latest in a series of controversial remarks about the U.S. to be reported by this column.
 
   In February 2010, Obama named Patel to his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
 
   Patel, a Muslim activist, is the founder and executive director of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, which says it promotes pluralism by teaming people of different faiths on service projects.
 
   Speaking to the progressive Sojourners magazine, Patel described his early experience with the social action Catholic Worker movement founded by anarchist Dorothy Day.
 
   “It is impossible for me to overstate the impact of Dorothy Day and Christian social justice work, because it came at such a fragile and flammable time of my life,” he stated.
 
   Continued Patel: “Basically, and this happens to a lot of people, you come to consciousness and realize that everything you were taught was wrong – about fairness, about equality, about Christopher Columbus, about Thomas Jefferson.
 
   “At 17 or 18 years old, I raged. I felt like that was the only thing I knew how to do, and, to an extent, that was what was encouraged in the kind of identity politics/social justice crowds that were around.”
 
   Patel’s reference to “rage” comes from his book, where he talked about rage he felt against the U.S. after claiming to experience prejudice.
 
   Patel stated the Catholic Worker movement gave him a “way to have a radical view of the world – radical equality, radical peace, radical possibility – that is love-based, not anger-based.”
 

   Sojourners magazine is the publication of a ministry by the same name professing a devotion to the pursuit of “social justice.” Sojourners was founded by Jim Wallis, who is also a member of Obama’s faith council.

 

 

   Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for Internet giant WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York’s 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m.

Israeli Left’s Checklist For Academic Freedom

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

With so much recent debate in Israel about academic freedom, I thought it would be constructive to describe the current politically correct ideas about academic freedom held and proliferated by the academic left:
 
● There is only one correct point of view, that of the radical left. It is the main function of universities to operate as centers for the proliferation of radical leftist ideology and for indoctrination into progressive thought.
 
            ●* There is no reason for any courses to provide students with any point of view other than the correct one. Students should express correct ideas if they expect to pass the course.
 
● Faculty members who express opinions that leftist colleagues and students might find offensive must be prohibited and suppressed. Ditto for those who dare to criticize organizations like the New Israel fund; that criticism makes some people feel offended and sad.
 
● While faculty members who express opinions leftist students might find offensive should be fired or at least disciplined, there is nothing wrong with radical anti-Israel faculty members using their classrooms to lecture students on why IDF soldiers resemble Nazis, why terrorist attacks against Israel are morally just, why Israel should be destroyed, why Jews are morally inferior.
 
● Academic freedom means anti-Israel radical faculty members have the right to denounce and demonize Israel and call it foul names, but no one has the right to criticize radical anti-Israel faculty members or accuse them of disloyalty.
 
● Criticism of anti-Israel faculty members is McCarthyism and must be suppressed at all costs, at all times. It is also incitement.
 
● There are those who claim real commitment to freedom of speech is exhibited by defending the free-expression rights of those with whom one disagrees. This is nonsense. Politically-correct defenders of academic freedom should not be expected to criticize the anti-democratic suppression of the freedom of speech of people on the right.
 
● Because there is only one correct view, and it is a radical leftist anti-Israel view, those adhering to this view must be hired and promoted even if they have no academic publication records at all or only very thin ones. This is how one shows solidarity in the struggle for peace.
 
● Leftist anti-Israel faculty members are entitled to unlimited freedom of speech, but donors to Israeli universities, elected politicians, students, and non-leftist faculty members are not. They have no cause to interfere in university matters that do not concern them.
 
● Israeli taxpayers are not entitled to any accountability or say in Israeli universities. It is their job to pony up the funds that keep anti-Israel faculty members in their cushy jobs, where the latter can, without interference, advocate attacks against, harm to, and boycotts of those very same taxpaying citizens. Taxpayers who express reluctance to finance academic sedition are anti-democratic, unhygienic troglodytes.
 
● Students who dare disagree with the correct ideas of radical anti-Israel faculty members should have their grades lowered.
 
● Students who go to prison because they refuse to serve in the IDF deserve university backing and support, but those who go to reserves do not – and should be barred from entering classrooms in uniform.
 
● Calling for world boycotts of Israel is academic freedom. Denouncing such callers as traitors is McCarthyism.
 
● Academic diversity means having Ashkenazim, Mizrachim, women and Arabs in the same department all expressing the same leftist anti-Israel ideas. It never means including non-leftists in an academic department to achieve diversity by expressing dissident non-leftist ideas.
 
            ● There is no reason for students to be exposed to any ideas other than those of the radical anti-Israel left, including in course readings and lectures. There is no reason for leftist faculty members to balance their own biases in class by mentioning the views of those who disagree with them.
 
● Faculty chat lists should be censored so that leftists may freely insult non-leftists, but no one should be allowed to answer them in kind.
 
● Whenever a radical leftist is presented with documentation of facts that contradict leftist theology, the leftist must insist that no facts have been presented at all.
 
● No facts contradicting leftist theology are admissible. They must be dismissed as being “right-wing.”
 
● The only permissible set of policies that may be advocated for Israel is that of accommodation to the just demands of the Arabs. If peace has not been achieved, it is because Israel has not been accommodating enough.
 
● Churning out anti-Israel hate propaganda must always be counted as scholastic achievement and research.
 
● Watchdog groups like Isracampus or NGO Monitor should be suppressed for their questioning of leftist orthodoxy.
 

● Critical thinking must never involve criticism of the radical left.

 

 

            Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

   President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, has argued that certain forms of speech that promote “racial or gender inequality” should be illegal, this column has found.
 
   In her 1993 article “Regulation of Hate Speech and Pornography After R.A.V.,” for the University of Chicago Law Review, Kagan writes: “I take it as a given that we live in a society marred by racial and gender inequality, that certain forms of speech perpetuate and promote this inequality, and that the uncoerced disappearance of such speech would be cause for great elation.”
 
   In a 1996 paper, “Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine,” Kagan argues that it may be proper to suppress speech because it is offensive to society or to the government.
 
   Kagan’s name was also on a brief, United States V. Stevens, dug up by the Washington Examiner, stating: “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.”
 
   Meanwhile, in her undergraduate thesis at Princeton, Kagan laments the decline of socialism in the country as “sad” for those who still hope to “change America.”
 
   Titled “To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933,” the paper argues that infighting caused the decline of the early socialist movement. Kagan asks why the “greatness” of socialism was not reemerging as a major political force.
 
   “In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism’s glories than of socialism’s greatness,” writes Kagan.
 
   “Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force? Why, in particular, did the socialist movement never become an alternative to the nation’s established parties?” she asks.
 
   In the senior thesis, Kagan, who graduated from Princeton in 1981, addresses infighting in the socialist movement.
 
   “Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP [Socialist Party] exhausted itself forever and further reduced labor radicalism in New York to the position of marginality and insignificance from which it has never recovered.
 
   “The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism’s decline, still wish to change America,” she writes. “Radicals have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism; it is easier, after all, to fight one’s fellows than it is to battle an entrenched and powerful foe. Yet if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope.”
 

   Her thesis was dedicated to her brother “whose involvement in radical causes led me to explore the history of American radicalism in the hope of clarifying my own political ideas.”

 

Axelrod’s Communist Connection

 

   Newly uncovered correspondence quotes a purported communist activist claiming to have served as political mentor to President Obama’s Senior Adviser David Axelrod.
 
   The correspondence is highlighted in this reporter’s new book, The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and other Anti-American Extremists. The book exposes evidence of Axelrod working closely with a pair of communist activists who boasted of aiding Axelrod’s political career; it ties Obama to the same activists as well.
 
   The book also documents how Don Rose, founder of the pro-communist Hyde Park Voices and member in the 1960s of a purported Communist Party front, the Alliance to End Repression, boasted of his relationship with Axelrod:
 
   “Your dad and I ‘mentored’ and helped educate [Axelrod] politically,” Rose wrote to Marc Canter – the son of David S. Canter, who co-founded the Voices newspaper and was named as a communist in the late 1960′s by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, “which is perhaps why you may recall seeing him hanging around the house.”
 
   “I later wrote a reference letter for him [Axelrod] that helped him win an internship at the Tribune, which was the next step in his journalism career,” Rose admitted, referring to an internship Axelrod landed at the Chicago Tribune in 1977.
 
   The newspaper later hired Axelrod full-time. At the age of 27, Axelrod became the youngest Tribune writer when he served as the City Hall Bureau Chief and a political columnist for the publication. 
 
   Axelrod worked again with Rose and Canter when Obama’s future top adviser was hired in 1987 to aid in the successful reelection campaign of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. Washington himself was supported by a coalition of communist and socialist groups.
 
   Canter, a key Chicago political fixer, was reportedly instrumental in convincing Washington to first run for election in 1981.
 
   Rose and Axelrod then worked together again, running the 1992 senatorial campaign of Carol Moseley Braun, whose election was notoriously aided by a massive voter registration drive led by Obama himself at Chicago’s Project Vote.
 
   Rose was later an organizing member of Chicagoans Against the War in Iraq, the group that invited Obama to speak at its October 2, 2002, antiwar rally in Chicago – an address that propelled Obama to national attention.
 
   The rally was organized by Marxist Carl Davidson and extremist activists Marilyn Katz and Bettylu Saltzman.
 
   Davidson is a notorious far-left activist and former radical national leader in the anti-Vietnam movement. He served as national secretary for the infamous Students for a Democratic Society anti-war group, from which Ayers’ Weathermen later splintered.
 
   Davidson is also a founder of the New Party, a controversial 1990s political party that sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far left.
 

   The Manchurian President contains new evidence, including an exclusive interview with Davidson himself, indicating that Obama was a New Party member.

 

   Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for Internet giant WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York’s 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m.

Yes, I.F. Stone Was A Soviet Spy

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Back in 1994 the Monitor marked the fifteenth anniversary of the passing of radical journalist I.F. Stone with an unsentimental look at the career of the detestable old commie symp. The column was picked up by FrontPageMag.com and generated comment on several other conservative websites and blogs.

The feedback to the piece was almost all positive, but there was one complaint that animated many readers who contacted the Monitor. What bothered them was that no mention had been made in the column of Stone’s employment by the KGB, allegations of which had been circulating for years after Stone’s death and that seemed to have been confirmed with the opening of KGB files following the demise of the Soviet Union.

As the Monitor saw it, however, the evidence based on those initial KGB reports seemed somewhat circumstantial, and besides, there was more than enough with which to damn Stone based on his own prolific writing.

But as Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and Alexander Vassiliev make clear in their new book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (Yale University Press), there can no longer be any doubt about Stone’s ties to Soviet spymasters.

Stone, born Isadore Feinstein, was praised in life and eulogized in death by mainstream journalists for his supposed independence and iconoclasm, and he remains an iconic figure to many in the media.

In 1953, after years of writing for liberal and left-wing publications, he started his own newsletter, I.F. Stone’s Weekly, which by the time Stone closed it down in 1971 enjoyed a circulation pushing 70,000.

By then, of course, the tenor of the times was such that Stone, unemployable in the 1950’s, had became a regular recipient of awards and accolades from his peers. Forgotten or overlooked in the rush to lionize Stone was his history as a shameless apologist for Stalin.

Stone’s insistence on viewing the Soviet Union as worthy of support, even in the face of the Moscow Trials and Stalin’s purges and executions, led his otherwise sympathetic biographer Robert Cottrell to write that “there was something disingenuous in [Stone’s] willingness to suspend judgment or to refuse to criticize still more forcefully the terror that was being played out in Soviet Russia….”

Cottrell described how Stone came to be seen by anti-Communist leftists as “an apologist for the hammer-and-sickle”; how Richard Rovere, a writer during that period for The New Masses, a radical journal, viewed Stone as a Stalinist who played “fast and loose with the facts”; and how James Wechsler, a writer with The Nation and later an editor at the then-liberal New York Post, dismissed Stone as “a fairly regular apologist for the Communists.”

When a group of American writers and academics broke ranks with the pro-Soviet Left in 1939 to form the Committee for Cultural Freedom, Stone and other die-hards signed on to a vociferous public campaign lambasting “the fantastic falsehood that the USSR and the totalitarian states are basically alike” and commending the Soviet Union for “steadily expanding democracy in every sphere.”

Stone would not split with the Soviets until 1956, disillusioned by a visit he made to Moscow in the spring of that year and the Hungarian crisis a few months later. But he never lost his instinctive hostility to free market capitalism, nor was he ever inclined to extend to the United States even the slightest benefit of doubt in any international dispute.

(On Israel, Stone consistently toed the leftist line. Before 1948 he was opposed to the idea of a Jewish state, preferring a binational arrangement for Arabs and Jews, and his attacks on Israel became ever more frequent and shrill after the Six-Day War. By the mid-1970s the viciousness of his diatribes was such that the non-Jewish novelist James Michener termed them “palpably anti-Zionist, probably anti-Israel, and potentially anti-Jewish.”)

Talk of possible KGB ties, which began to circulate in the early 1990’s, was pooh-poohed by Stone’s defenders as nothing more than an attempt to smear the reputation of a fearless speaker of truth to power. And, as the authors of Spies acknowledge, those earlier reports “were suggestive but not conclusive.”

Now, however, the authors present new evidence, based on KGB files, indicating that Stone (codename: Pancake) did indeed have ties to Soviet intelligence.

“The documentary record,” they write, “shows that I.F. Stone consciously cooperated with Soviet intelligence from 1936 through 1938. An effort was made by Soviet intelligence to reestablish that relationship in 1944-45; we do not know whether that effort succeeded.

“To put it plainly, from 1936 to 1939 I.F. Stone was a Soviet spy.”

Different Modernist Trajectories: Schoenberg, Kandinsky, And The Blue Rider At The Jewish Museum

Friday, December 26th, 2003

Schoenberg, Kandinsky, and the Blue Rider
Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10128; (212) 423-3200
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 3p.m.
$10 adults; $7.50 students and seniors, children under 12 free; Thursdays 5 to 8 p.m.; pay-what-you-wish.
Until February 12, 2003

 

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) and Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) were two of the most
important modernist artists in the early twentieth century. Kandinsky has been justly credited with the invention of non-objective abstract painting, while Schoenberg took music to what may have been its most radical frontier, atonal composition. Each contributed highly original creations that permanently influenced Western culture for the next century. In 1911, their paths crossed, and an influential friendship began that lasted for the next twelve years, ending in 1923 over the issue of Judaism. The current exhibition, Schoenberg, Kandinsky, and the Blue Rider at the Jewish Museum expertly traces this brief but fascinating artistic relationship.

On January 2, 1911 Kandinsky, along with fellow Expressionist painters Franz Marc, Gabriele Munter, and Alexi von Jawlensky, attended a concert in Munich of Schoenberg’s compositions, including Second String Quartet (1907-08) and Three Piano Pieces (1909). It
amounted to a pilgrimage of radical artists to hear the latest in modern music. They weren’t disappointed. Franz Marc wrote an artist friend exclaiming, “Can you imagine a music in which tonality (that is, the adherence to any key) is completely suspended? I was constantly reminded of Kandinsky’s large Composition, which also permits no trace of tonality.”.

Kandinsky was similarly moved and immediately made two small drawings that quickly transformed the concert hall stage into an abstract composition. The next day, he painted Composition III (Concert), possibly as a direct reaction to the quiet and purposeful dissonances of Three Piano Pieces. Within two weeks, he wrote to Schoenberg to discuss their common artistic interests.

Composition III (Concert) marks the genesis of their friendship. The bold integration of fields of primary reds, yellows and blues are interrupted by dissonances of nervous black lines, suggesting at times figures or trees before they dissolve into abstraction. Kandinsky wrote in
1912 in On the Spiritual in Art, “Color is a means of exerting a direct influence upon the soul. Color is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano, with its many strings.” Similarly Schoenberg wrote, “Dissonances are only different from consonances in degree; they are nothing else than more remote consonances.” One of the many pleasures of this exhibition is that the Jewish Museum has provided free headsets (sponsored by Mayor Bloomberg) that allow one to listen to the music and view the artworks simultaneously to fully appreciate the intimate relationship.

Much to his surprise, Kandinsky discovered that Schoenberg was somewhat of an artist himself, albeit a self-taught amateur. Schoenberg had been making paintings and drawings; self-portraits, portraits, set designs, fantasies and nightpieces since 1908 and in October 1910, had his first exhibition of forty-two paintings. His work is deeply introspective, echoing
explorations into the unconscious that Freud had begun in his revolutionary Interpretation of Dreams in 1900.

Typical of many contemporary Austrian Expressionists, color is used to express his psychological state. Red Gaze (1910) expresses Schoenberg’s belief in “the instinctive nature of the unconscious, unhampered by all that was acquired through taste, education or skill.” The harrowing gaze, typical of many of his self-portraits, becomes a premonition of the abyss of war and revolution that Europe would be plunged into in a few short years.

Schoenberg only painted between 1908 and 1911, a period in which he first introduced and explored atonality. The intense hostility of critics and the public to his music may have influenced his interest in this totally different medium. As a visual artist, his work is limited, even though Kandinsky was impressed enough to invite him to exhibit with the new group of radical artists.

It was the first Blue Rider exhibition. The museum has assembled a handsome selection of paintings and artists that were in the first exhibition, including the Guggenheim’s Yellow Cow (1911) by Franz Marc. The Blue Rider group, although never a formal movement, was extremely influential as a proponent of Expressionism, abstraction and the use of symbolic color in early Modernism. Schoenberg’s inclusion is an important indication of how seriously he was considered by fellow modern artists.

Schoenberg had converted to Protestantism at the age of 23 because of his “profound identification with German culture, especially the music of Bach and Brahms.” His path of apostasy would be abruptly blocked by events of the 1920′s.

After the Blue Rider exhibitions, the idealism and hope of this generation could lead to such exclamations as, “Schoenberg’s music leads us into a new realm, where musical experiences are no longer acoustic, but purely spiritual. Here begins the ‘music of the future.’” (Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art. This idealism was abruptly shattered by World War I in 1914. For eight years, Kandinsky and Schoenberg lost touch. In the 1920′s, they both resumed their artistic work, respectively pushing the boundaries of modernism. Kandinsky’s work became less lyrical and more formalistic and geometrical, while Schoenberg developed atonalism into the radical twelve-tone method that elevates dissonance into a fully structured musical aesthetic.

In 1923, Kandinsky invited Schoenberg to teach in Weimar where the artist was involved with the new Bauhaus movement. Schoenberg, under the impression that Kandinsky had made anti-Semitic remarks, harshly refused, declaring, “It cannot be. For I have at last learnt the lesson that has been forced upon me during this year, and I shall not ever forget it. It is that I am not a German, not a European, indeed perhaps scarcely even a human being but I am a Jew. I give up hope of reaching any understanding. It was a dream.”

Kandinsky offered a denial and affirmation that, “I love you as an artist and a human being. I think least of all about nationality – it is a matter of the greatest indifference to me.”  Nevertheless, the relationship was effectively terminated by Schoenberg. Here the exhibition rather sadly ends. 


The story, however, does not end there. A detailed reading of the excellent catalogue reveals much more. Ten years later, Kandinsky fled the Nazis to France where he spent the war, dying right after the liberation of Paris in 1944. His radical early abstract work, deeply influenced by his own musical ideas and the compositions of contemporary composers, including Schoenberg, is ensconced in the canons of the greatest early modern paintings. While he was artistically eclipsed by the brasher and ultimately more recognizable work of Picasso, he remains a seminal source of modernist creativity.

Schoenberg’s contribution would take a different path. He observed postwar anti-Semitism as early as 1921, and one might assume an artistic reaction with composition of Die Jakobsleiter in 1922, even though the catalogue states that his “first artistic exploration of his Jewish identity” began with Der biblische Weg (The Biblical Way) in 1927. He wrote the libretto for the groundbreaking opera Moses und Aron in 1928, and completed the first and second acts in 1932 just before he fled the Nazis in 1933.

On his way to American exile, Schoenberg reconverted to Judaism in Paris, with artist Marc Chagall as a witness to the ceremony. The wayward son had returned to his people, a great modernist composer found in Jewish motifs a fruitful source of his creativity.

Kandinsky still provides an essential foundation for our visual culture, liberating us with the very music of the visual experience. Similarly, in a struggle of a totally different nature, Schoenberg’s pioneering musical explorations and singular use of Jewish subjects, especially in the seminal opera Moses und Aron, establishes a life-giving inheritance for Jewish composers.
We are the inheritors of both traditions.

Richard McBee is a painter of Torah subject matter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at www.richardmcbee.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/different-modernist-trajectories-schoenberg-kandinsky-and-the-blue-rider-at-the-jewish-museum/2003/12/26/

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