Tuesday, March 29, 2005

In the past week several articles in both the International Herald Tribune and Ha'Aretz were particularly interesting. I will refer to them here in no specific order. Again, Bradley Burston provides us with possible scenarios for Israel's near political future. This time he gives us the nightmare scenarios for Sharon and for the settlers and their supporters. After yesterday's vote against a referendum on the disengagement plan, we can cross off the first episode in Sharon's nightmare scenario. Plenty of episodes remain. In yesterday's editorial Ha'Aretz called for stronger political backing for forceful IDF and police actions against rightwing extremists who hurt Palestinian property and people and some of whom probably will not refrain from using violence against our armed forces if and when the disengagement will become a reality. Roger Cohen gave an insightful analysis of much of the anti-American mood and resentment in countries like Korea and Germany: "Asking for gratitude, or expecting it, will get America nowhere. The cold war is history - even if relics like North Korea remain - and people live in the present. The struggle to defeat the Soviet Union is part of a heroic American narrative, but in the Middle East, as in Asia and Latin America, that victory involved acts of hypocrisy, ruthlessness or worse that are more alive in the minds of many people than the heroism. Those people form the generation in power. " Another resentment, one that I did not know anything about, appeared in yesterday's IHT: that of local American farmers who are not too happy with the arrival of Dutch colleagues who flee the restrictions of large-scale farming in the European Union. In the same issue I read an article with background information on the case of poor Terri Schiavo-Schindler. Clearly a lose-lose-lose situation, with poor Mrs Schiavo being condemned to die of starvation. One article in yesterday's Ha'Aretz made me very angry, another contained a glimmer of hope. According to Eli Ashkenazi an Israeli report with data about malignant diseases in communities with more than 10,000 residents left out all but one of the Arab communities in the country. I agree with attorney Khaider Ala from the Center Against Racism, who says in the article "The report has produced two different groups. [...] One, an overprivileged group, whose lives are dear to the state and to the Health Ministry; a second, whose lives are of no importance to the state. The state must implement an economic and social policy that will ensure the health of all its citizens." Although I failed to listen to the radio when the song "In my heart" was broadcast ( simultaneously on Israeli Army radio and by the Palestinian Broadcasting Authority ), I applaud the efforts by David Broza ( whom I admire any way, he made some excellent records and wrote some beautiful songs ) and Said and Wisam Murad to show that Palestinians and Jews do have much in common and - with a little help from our friends and a little more effort from our leaders - could and can live and work together. Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam dedicated a whole posting to this initiative. Last but not least, two interesting articles on Jewish culture. On the occasion of Purim, Michael Handelzalts wrote about the origins of the script in which Hebrew is written, as well as on the origins of the word 'semitic', as in anti-Semitic and in Semitic languages. Hagai Hitron tells us about a new double CD, with recordings commemorating the musical tradition of the Ashkenazi community of Amsterdam.

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