Tuesday, August 24, 2010

RIP Conny Mus

Terwijl ik vorige week op een avond laat in ons hotel aan het zappen was kwam ik er via het nieuws op RTL4 achter dat Conny Mus plotseling was overleden. In tegenstelling tot vele anderen wier woorden ik de laatste dagen gehoord en gelezen heb was ik nooit zo onder de indruk van de journalistieke kwaliteiten en passie van Conny Mus. Integendeel, ik denk dat hij in zekere zin liet zien wat er mis is met een deel van de buitenlandse journalisten hier en aan de andere kant van de Groene Lijn. Lang geleden reageerde ik nog op een interview met hem in HP/De Tijd ( zie hier, het derde deel van de posting ). Voor alle duidelijkheid: dit betekent in de verste verte niet dat ik de kritiek van iemand als Yochanan V. deel, mensen als YV laten in grote mate zien wat er mis is met de Israelische hasbara, maar dat is weer een heel ander verhaal. Anyway, ondanks mijn bedenkingen bij alle professionele lof die de laatste paar dagen postuum over Conny Mus is uitgestort, ben ik er zonder meer van overtuigd dat hij voor zijn naasten en bekenden een goede vriend en een erg hartelijke en joviale man en collega was. Onze kinderen hebben drie keer mede dankzij hem een geweldige dag in de haven van Jaffo gehad, samen met vele tientallen andere Nederlandse en Israelische kinderen. Alleen daarom al verdient hij dit korte in memoriam. Hij ruste in vrede.

Sail 2010

Deze prachtige foto, gemaakt in de haven van Amsterdam tijdens Sail 2010 ( waar ik vorige week vrijdag ook was met twee van onze drie kinderen - de derde kreeg op dat moment samen met mijn vrouw een rondleiding in de Amsterdam Arena; we hadden het al gauw bekeken, na een kort bezoek aan het ING Pirateneiland smeerden we hem richting de stad ), vond ik op het weblog van Rob Fransman. Wat hij schrijft over de boom 'van Anne Frank' kan ik overigens alleen maar volmondig onderschrijven.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recommended reading, old and new

When I come across an online article that I like and/or find interesting, I often save a link to it under Bookmarks. Since I haven't posted any real posting for quite a while, my list of 'articles to refer to and write about' has grown very long. Many of the articles are about topics that may still be relevant but are not very interesting anymore ( e.g. Israel's absurd efforts to prevent a brilliant linguist who happens to be Jewish and anti-Zionist from entering the Westbank, or Wallander's creator who wants to punish a language for the deeds of those who speak and write that language ), but some of them appear to have a slightly longer shelf life. A number of those articles was written and published several months ago. Here is a personal selection, in random order ( only when more than one article by one author is mentioned, I ordered those articles chronologically ). From each article I quote one or more lines.

  • Carlo Strenger: "Israel will have to decide: it cannot rebrand itself as a liberal, creative and progressive country without being one. Our business sector, our artists and academics are mostly progressive, liberal and creative. But their impact on how Israel is perceived will remain negligible as long as Israel’s politicians and emissaries keep harping on victimhood and survival and as long as its policies are repressive".
  • Eldad Yaniv: "Zionists are not settlers. Zionists are not racists. Let the Zionists return to their own borders".
  • Ari Shavit (1): "Israel was established because its founders created facts on the ground with one hand and won diplomatic recognition of those facts with the other. Israel was established because its founders recognized when time is on the side of Zionism and when time is working against it. But over the last few decades, that insight into time has gotten lost, as has the wisdom of equilibrium. The illusion has sprung up that military might and economic prosperity are enough to assure our future. A dangerous dissonance has developed between visible reality and its invisible counterpart. The relative quiet that the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service and high tech have granted us has become a toxic quiet. It has allowed us to celebrate our lives without seeing the circumstances of our lives. It has allowed us to ignore the threats that are closing in on us. The argument about time is an argument about life and death. On the eve of the Yom Kippur War, the right thought there was still time. On the eve of the intifada, the right thought there was still time. Today, too, when the threat of rocket fire and the threat of the occupation are tangible and immediate, the right thinks there is still time. But the truth is that there is no time. If we don't act in time, time will beat us".
  • Ari Shavit (2): "Obama and Netanyahu must wake up. The deal is a familiar one: determined American action vis-a-vis Iran in exchange for a determined Israeli initiative vis-a-vis Syria and Palestine. This deal can be closed only by these two leaders, who will look each other in the eye next Tuesday in the Oval Office. If they don't change their ways and learn how to work with each other, Obama and Netanyahu will bear personal responsibility for the results of the third Lebanon war".
  • Akiva Eldar (1) (on Independence Day, about the Saudi peace plan as a basis for peace negotiations, and about Israel's constant and ongoing refusal to take it seriously): "It is true that we are entitled to replace the hand extended in peace and neighborliness with a hand that digs the foundations for more outposts and more graves. After all, we are independent". Israel Harel, Haaretz' pet-settler, claims that the Saudis have never been serious about their peace-plan, that it was nothing more than a PR stunt. After all, "even Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted the formula of two states for two peoples". Yeah, right, that is why the latter is working so hard towards a one-state solution, and why he fails so miserably in convincing the whole world of his good intentions.
  • Gadi Baltiansky (about Avigdor Lieberman and his influence): "For now, his face has become the nation's face, and everyone will have to decide for themselves whether this is an ugly or an attractive face. The world sees Lieberman in us, and when Israel looks in the mirror it sees Lieberman. Perhaps Israel is losing, but Lieberman's victory is so great thus far that even if he does eventually disappear from the public stage, the Liebermans will remain".
  • Amnon Abramovich: "Israel can exist another 50 years without peace. Yet it would have trouble surviving another decade, with the occupation intact, as a Jewish nation-state that is democratic and legitimate.[...] The next disengagement would have to be wiser, more secure, and marketed differently in the region and in the world – yet it is inevitable."
  • Shlomo Avineri: "Identity is a matter of self-definition, not external definition. Just as Jews are not the ones who will determine whether the Palestinians are a people or not (there are more than a few of us who have yet to be reconciled with the existence of the Palestinian people ), Salman Masalha cannot determine whether the Jews are a people or not. It is a question of self-determination."
  • Ha'Aretz: "A government that behaves this way cannot be fixed. Israel's helm is not in good hands."

Bad news

One of the reasons that I find it hard to find real inspiration for this blog by watching the news on television, or by reading online articles, is that the local and regional news often is so frustrating, or even depressing. Of course on a micro-level there are many good things going on, but few of those things make any headlines in any major media. To give you an impression of some of the headlines that I see as proof that things are not really going in the right direction in the Holy Land, here are a few news items that made headlines in the last week or so:
  • The Minister of Defense has started to interview possible candidates for the post of Chief of Staff of the Israeli army. This process has already become tainted because of a real or forged document aimed at building a positive image of one of the candidates, and a negative image of another. Whether the document is genuine or not does not matter, the mere fact that it was created and plays a role in the decision process says much about the dangerous mix of politics and the military, a mix that has always existed but seems to play a more central role than ever before. I heard one analyst explain that Ehud Barak, who supposedly favors an attack against Iran, wants to find a Chief of Staff who - unlike Gabi Ashkenazi, the current CoS, whose term was not extended for a fifth year - will support him in that approach. I really hope that any decision about such an attack will be taken solely on the basis of professional, i.e. military, arguments and considerations. But of course I know that that hope is quite vain.
  • Big Ultra-Orthodox Brother is watching you, or The ayatollahs are right here among us.
  • An example of quality journalism, paid for by Israeli taxpayers ( I will not shed a tear on the day when the IBA ceases to exist; not that I have too much sympathy for UNRWA, or that this particular news report is representative for the level of professionalism at the IBA, it would be unfair to claim that ).
  • Two examples of the respect for democracy in what still is the only democracy in the Middle East ( or: In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king ). Of course, the fact that I am able to write this without having to truly fear for my safety or for that of any of my loved ones, is proof that in spite of all its flaws Israel remains a democracy. But still...
  • I believe that the situation of the Israeli Arabs - and consequently, of the Jewish Israelis, and of the Palestinians - would be better if they had better leaders. I'm not sure if the claims against MK Zuabi are based on reality, but I don't think that - to use just one example of problematic choices by Israeli-Arab leaders - her participation in the Turkish anti-Israeli flotilla contributed in any positive way to the position of Israel's Arab citizens.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Boeken te koop

Mijn "Wie maakt me los?" kreeg een supersnelle reactie. De boeken hebben inmiddels een nieuw onderkomen gevonden bij andere boekenliefhebbers, vlakbij waar ik woon.
Te koop aangeboden, partij boeken. Vraagprijs 100 shekel/20 Euro. Alle boeken zijn in goede tot zeer goede staat. Kunnen worden afgehaald in de buurt van Haifa, of verzonden worden ( met betaling van de verzendkosten; als je in Nederland woont kan ik de boeken binnenkort verzenden, wanneer ik in Nederland ben ). Als je belangstelling hebt kun je contact opnemen, liefst per e-mail ( zie de link hierboven). - Frits Bolkestein - Moslim in de Polder - Frits Bolkestein & Mohammed Arkoun - Islam & de democratie - V.S. Naipaul - Among the Believers - Philip Roth: The Gost Writer + Zuckerman Unbound + The Prague Orgy + The Anatomy Lesson + Reading Myself and Others - Selma Leydesdorff - De mensen en de woorden - Joerg Meidenbauer - Lexicon van historische misverstanden - Charles Groenhuijsen - Amerikanen zijn niet gek - Sanne Terlouw - Het Rozeneiland - Emerson Vermaat - Het is allemaal de schuld van...Joden en Amerikanen! ( Anti-Amerikanisme, Anti-Zionisme, Anti-Semitisme ) - Chaya Brasz - Transport 222 + Irgoen Olei Holland - A.B. Jehoshua - Naar een normaal Joods bestaan - Meir Shalev - De bijbel nu - Victor Ostrovsky - By Way of Deception + The Other Side of Deception - Dan Raviv & Yossi Melman - Every Spy a Prince - Ronald Payne - Mossad - Chaim Potok - Wanderings + The Book of Light ( beide gesigneerd door de schrijver ) - Ian Buruma - Murder in Amsterdam - Jonathan Safran Foer - Everyhting is Illuminated - Drie zo goed als nieuwe kinderboeken van Bert en Ernie: Verhalenboek, Het beste bedtijdboek. deel uit Lekturama-serie - 3 boekenweekgeschenken ( Esther Verhoef, Rinus Ferdinandusse, Arthur Japin )

Tony Judt, 1948 - 2010

Only a few years ago did I learn that Tony Judt was one of Israel's fiercest critics. I never really followed what he said and wrote about the country which he once loved very much ( if I understand this article correctly ). I 'knew' him as a historian, though, that is, I read three of his books, and used them for my PhD thesis ( Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944 - 1956; The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century; and Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 ). All three books are very, very well written and based on a convincing use of good, relevant and interesting sources. So I will mainly remember and continue to remember Judt the historian. As for his criticism of Israel and Zionism, that does not seem really relevant for me right now. I absolutely disagree with his preference for a binational state, although I do believe that Israel's current non-policies will eventually lead to just that. Still, I am afraid that I cannot deny that Tony Judt's two criticism-related quotes that I read in the aforementioned article contain at least some truth. In 1983 ( 27 years ago ) he labeled Israel a " belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno state ", something which I think in a way is more true or at least less untrue today than it was then ( on Wikipedia, this quote is dated in 2003; according to the Wikipedia-entry he wrote that Israel is on its way to become...., a point which I in more than one way find it hard to argue with today ). Also, he said a few years ago that " the line you take on Israel trumps everything else in life ". Look at the comments on the article about his passing away, and you will see that he was totally right about that. I doubt if any of those who express joy or satisfaction at his death ever read any of his historical works. May his memories be a blessing.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

La Rafle

Has any of you seen La Rafle? The site of the movie looks promising, I would like to learn more about this movie. For obvious reasons its subject interests me very, very much.

Nederland gedoogland

De politieke ontwikkelingen in Nederland - met een centrale rol voor Geert Wilders, die onevenredig veel invloed lijkt te krijgen terwijl hij nauwelijks politieke verantwoordelijkheid voor het regeringsbeleid hoeft te nemen, en min of meer datgene kan blijven doen en roepen waarmee hij groot is geworden, zonder zijn politieke handen al te vuil te maken - hebben Tom Janssen de afgelopen dagen geinspireerd tot drie zeer treffende en geinige spotprenten.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Maak je borst maar nat

Ik neem aan dat dit slechts een voorproefje is van het populistische geneuzel en het inhoudsloze geleuter dat Nederland de komende jaren - geen maanden, je mag aannemen dat de PVV van de fouten van de LPF geleerd heeft; bovendien, zelfs als er geruzied wordt binnen de Beweging, dan nog bevinden Wilders c.s. zich in een dusdanig comfortabele positie dat ze wel gek zouden zijn om 'hun' coalitie op de klippen te laten lopen - te wachten staat. Nederland begint hoe langer hoe meer op Israel te lijken, heb ik de indruk. En nee, ik bedoel dat niet als een compliment.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Bleakness & Colors

I feel less and less inspired to write about what is going on here in Israel. Often, when I feel like blogging about this or that, some action is undertaken by the Israeli or the Palestinian enemies of reason, or some stupid decision is made by the powers that be which causes me to lose any motivation that I might have. This is only one example of such actions and decisions, here's another. I leave it to others ( click here, or here, for instance ) to express what is also my anger and frustration about the lack of sense and direction of the current government and opposition in this country. I can't blame those foreign and Israeli journalists who in the coming days and weeks will take this excellent opportunity to paint the bleakest possible picture of the Jewish state.
Since I don't really know what I should write ( about ), I post here two pictures that my brother took recently, together with the wife of one of his best friends, who is studying to become a professional photographer. I don't know who made which of the pictures, but I really love the colors on both.