Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Voor wie zich werkelijk verveelt is er altijd nog het weblog van Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn.
Five cartoons that with subjects that recently made the headlines.
Jeff Stahler

Christo Komarnitski

Rob Rogers

Mike Lukovich

Mike Lester

About the leader of the gang that kidnapped, tortured and murdered Ilan Halimi z"l: "Questioned by police, he allegedly said the gang targeted Halimi because he was presumed as a Jew to be wealthy, but denied [...] that he was motivated by anti-Semitism." It is a shame Youssef Fofana ( of 'Ivorian origin' ) cannot apply the logic with which Yasser Arafat used to deny being an anti-Semite: "Me an anti-Semite? I am Semitic myself." I very much appreciate the efforts by French officials to face republican ( and the Republic's historical ) responsibilities regarding the country's Jewish citizens, and I understand that several incidents have caused the autorities to not automatically assume that each and every attack against a Jewish individual or institute in France is caused by anti-Semitism. Still, when anti-Semitism is ( one of ) the obvious explanation(s) of a crime commited against Jews it should unhesitatingly be recognized as such. All anti-Semitic crimes are hate-crimes, but not all hate-crimes are anti-Semitic, and the two categories should not be confused.

Monday, February 27, 2006

While members of Hamas and other terrorists are invited by (would-be-)world-leaders all over the globe, those who fight terror have to think twice before they travel to European countries that most of us thought were - somehow - our allies in the worldwide war against terror. With organizations such as Yesh Gvul helping to create and continue this absurd situation we should not be surprised that in Israel 'Left' and its derivatives are more than ever before becoming an expression of contempt and ridicule.
Apparently Adolf Hitler is not scary enough for Ruby Rivlin. This clown and outgoing Knesset chairman thought it necessary to enlist Benito Mussolini as well for the election campaign for his party, the Likud.
The Torino 2006 Winter Olympics are over. As far as I can remember, never since I made aliyah did I watch and follow so much of a major sports event as during the last two weeks. I did not expect to become so excited or to really enjoy watching ice hockey games, speed skating competitions, ice dancing etc. One thing is sure, winter sports provide us with beautiful pictures. Here are some of the impressions that I liked in particular.

Yesterday Ariel Sharon 'celebrated' his 78th birthday. Normally we wish somebody "Ad me'a we'esrim" ( Till 120!, as far as I know a reference to Moses' age when he passed away ) on his/her birthday but telling somebody that you want him to 'live' 42 more years when he is in such a terrible state is just too cruel. More than two months have gone by since Sharon had his first stroke, and we still have more than a month to go before the Knesset elections. Sadly enough it seems that as long as his heart is beating he remains relevant for Israeli politics, although his impact is weakened by every passing day, by each Qassam rocket that lands somewhere in Israel, by each statement by Nethanyahu/any other rightwing scaremonger/leftwing populist/Mr Ahmadinejad/any senior member of Hamas, by each 'revelation' about yet another link between some member of Kadimah/Sharon's entourage and anything that smells of corruption, etc. etc. I would not mind seeing a Kadimah victory next month and a Kadima-Labor majority after March 28th, but the polls have already started to move towards the right, and four weeks are an eternity in politics, particularly in Israeli politics. Ehud Olmert is an opportunist ( I had a letter published in the IHT saying exactly that, right after Mr Olmert - as Ariel Sharon's loyal mouthpiece - started to preach disengagement ), but except for a stable coalition of Kadimah and Labor I cannot think of a coalition that would be able and willing to solve what I consider the most urgent issue that faces us: determining borders between Israel and what will become some kind of Palestinian state. All other problems that have to be dealt with ( Iran, terrorist threats, Israel's economy, poverty, education, our relations with Europe and the US ) will probably become more 'solvable' after we finally decide for ourselves what the borders of the Jewish state must and will be. The limbo that we have been in for more than a decade now cannot continue much longer. Negotiations with a Hamas-led Palestinian government are improbable, if not a waste of precious time, so unilateral decisions and actions that serve mainly our own interests make sense. It remains ironic that I hope for a victory of a 'party' that was founded by someone who for all of us lefties once was the personification of everything that was wrong with the Right, and that is continued by a bunch of opportunists, many of whom once were the ideological pillars of the Likud. Irony and cynicism are strangers neither in politics nor in history.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Pause in the cartoon war"
In about half an hour we will leave for Tiberias. My parents-in-law are staying in a hotel over there for the weekend, and we are joining them and my brother-in-law and his family for lunch in one of the restaurants right next to the Sea of Galilee. I wanted to write something about Ken Livingstone being suspended for a month as Mayor of London ( a mistake, I think, he should not be turned into a martyr and is not worthy of all the publicity ), about the targeted killings Israel is carrying out against Palestinian terrorists, about the third gold ( and fourth bronze ) medal that was won by a Dutch speed skater at the Winter Olympics, and about the short trip to Holland that I am going to make with our daughter ( to see her grandparents, her uncles and aunts, and in particular her cousins, the two daughters of my sister ) but for lack of time I will only post yet another cartoon about the cartoons, a very good one by Tom Janssen. Shabbat shalom.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The other day I saw an Israeli documentary about a wonderful project that I did not know exists, The Perlman Music Project. It brings together young outstanding musical talents from all over the world, who play, perform and learn together, partly under the guidance of the maestro himself. Itzhak Perlman and his wife seem to be so nice and warm. When I googled to find the project's website I found out that Mr and Mrs Mrs Perlman have a daughter, Navah, who already is "one of the most poetic and admired pianists of her generation". I also discovered a website that I would not imagine exists. Called Beauty in Music, it features "the hottest women in classical music".
During the last couple of days I listened to these CDs:
  1. Prive met uw operasterren ( Opera highlights, a present from the most (in)famous Dutch gossip magazine )
  2. Itzhak Perlman - Concertos from my childhood ( beautiful, very melodious concertos )
  3. Variete d'emotions ( Famous classics, a present from Renault )
  4. Gil Shaham and Jonathan Feldman - Devil's dance ( with beauties such as Bazzini's La Ronde des lutins, William Bolcom's Graceful ghost, and Tartini's 'Devil's trill' sonata )
  5. Olaf Baer and Geoffrey Parsons - Schubert: Lieder

CD nr. 5 I won by naming a musical fragment - Vangelis' Chariots of Fire, if I remember correctly; it was very easy - on a radio show years ago while doing my reserve duty in the army. Normally I do not listen to the radio very often, but where I served a radio was the only entertainment I had. I heard the fragment, called the Voice of Music with my cellphone and heard myself talking on live radio. Several weeks later, I was already back home again, I received the CD in our mailbox.

This morning I put the following albums in my stereo:

  1. Vangelis - 1492
  2. The Best of Jon and Vangelis
  3. The Chieftains - Santiago ( one of the best albums that I know )
  4. and
  5. Edward Elgar: Symphonies 1 & 2 + Pomp and Circumstance Marches ( Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Yehudi Menuhin )

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Three cartoons, not too recent, that deal with Israel's pullout from Gaza.
John Trever Clay Bennett

Chan Lowe

It is almost amusing to see and hear rightwing politicians and others point at the Hamas victory in the elections for the Palestinian parliament nearly a month ago and say "You see? That is what you get from disengagement." Yesterday former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon, whose opposition to the disengagement led to his tenure of office not being extended, once again said that Israel's disengagement from Gaza was one of the major factors that led to the victory of Hamas. He also talked about the dangers of the coalition between Hamas and Iran. Maybe he is right, there is no doubt that he knows more about our enemies than I do. Still, I wonder if he believes that without the disengagement Hamas would not have won. We will never know, but I find it hard to believe that the organization would not have played a decisive role in the Palestinian government after the elections. I would like to ask Mr ya'alon if he honestly believes that Israel's continued presence in Gaza would have prevented contacts between Teheran and Hamas. It is not as if no such contacts existed before August 2005. Disengagement did not stop terrorism, but I do not think that anybody had the illusion that it would. The terrorists are not more able or dangerous, more successful or determined than they were seven months ago. We still face the same dangers, only at least we are able to minimize our contact with their main safe haven. That safe haven existed when our soldiers endangered themselves needlessly, it still exists today. Just imagine that our soldiers still were inside the Strip today, we would not have been one bit safer and they would have been sitting ducks even more than they were before Sharon pulled them and the settlers out from Gaza. Claiming that the disengagement brought Hamas to power - i.e. also claiming that the Palestinians would not have become fed up with Fatah and corruption - and/or that a continued Israeli presence in Gaza would have made our world any safer is just as naive as believing that further disengagement will bring us peace. Realists in Israel have stopped looking for peace long ago, I am afraid. The maximum we can ask for today is an end to - most of - the occupation, a permanent border between Israel and some sort of Palestinian state, and a government that starts to take care of the internal problems that threaten us just as much as - and probably even more than - Hamas and the ayatollahs combined. Since a negotiated solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is virtually impossible as long as the Hamas is democratically pulling the strings on the other side of that conflict, to me it seems that if we want to achieve those three goals further unilateral disengagement is a conditio sine qua non.
Op de website van de Telegraaf kwam ik deze foto tegen. Het bijbehorende artikel vertelde me dat prinses Maxima en de Belgische prinses Mathilde vandaag in de Grote Kerk in Breda het eerste en laatste deel van de zevendelige Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Literatuur overhandigd kregen. Als ik een tekstbalonnetje moest verzinnen voor wat Mathilde tegen Maxima zei, zou ik dat als volgt invullen. Andere suggesties zijn natuurlijk welkom.
  1. "Ze denken zeker dat we dit nog gaan lezen ook!"
  2. "Wat zal ik bij De Slegte voor twee delen uit een serie krijgen, denk je?"
  3. "Wie zal de serie eerder uit hebben, Filip of Willem Alexander?"
  4. "Ken je die van die jongens die naar Parijs gingen? Die gingen niet!" (*)

(*) Ik zou hier uit dezelfde literaire bron natuurlijk ook een meer koninklijke mop kunnen citeren ( over postzegels ), maar dat zou in deze context iets te ver gaan.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Yesterday the Washington Post had an enlightening opininion article by Flemming Rose, the editor at the Danish Jyllands-Posten who commissioned the twelve cartoons about Mohammed that sparked - with a delay of several months - so much verbal and physical violence among Muslims all over the world. In the article he explains why he thought and thinks that Europeans ought to confront the fact that as far as Islam is concerned they apply a form of censorship that is out of the question when it comes to discussions or satire regarding other religions. An example: "At the end of September, a Danish standup comedian said in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he had no problem urinating on the Bible in front of a camera, but he dared not do the same thing with the Koran." I think I agree with him, and I applaud him for holding on to his conviction in spite of the physical danger he obviously exposes himself ( and others ) to. If you have seen the cartoons and you are familiar with cartoons and other forms of satire in the West, you know that the twelve pictures in which Mohammed - I find it hard to 'recognize' him in the cartoons, I believe most of them rather picture Muslims in general, or even more the fanatics among them - is featured are quite soft. So many times much harsher criticism has been aimed by Western cartoonists at other religions and population groups: "...the same cartoonist who drew the image of Muhammed with a bomb in his turban drew a cartoon with Jesus on the cross having dollar notes in his eyes and another with the star of David attached to a bomb fuse. There were, however, no embassy burnings or death threats when we published those." Mr Rose says: "...by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims." Unfortunately, if the whole affair shows one thing, it is that some Muslims in Europe are simply unwilling or unable to be or become an integrated part of the societies where they have chosen to live or stay: "...if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy." The orchestrated or at least unrestrained outbursts of violence in countries such as Iran and Syria, the use of anti-Semitism to 'counter' the insults to Islam, plus the demonstrators' burning of the flags of Israel and America - two countries where the official reactions to the cartoons were very reserved and not always encouraging for the proponents of free speech - prove that, whether we like it or not, all this is much less about the boundaries of the freedom of expression than about the wars that are going on within the Muslim world as a whole and between part of that world and the West. As long as Western leaders bend backwards to convince themselves and their so-called allies that there is no such war, and as long as Western diplomats take the first flight to Saudi-Arabia or to any other powerful Muslim dictatorship to restore international calm after extremist and not so extremist Muslims have started to rant and rave once again, the West will keep losing another war, that against terror. Flemming Rose, who used to be a correspondent in the Soviet Union, tells us something important about censorship that makes sense, although the suggested comparison between communism and Islam falls short in many ways : "If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants." At least not all hope seems to be lost. According to Mr Rose, the reactions of most Muslims in Denmark show that they are aware of the fact that their extremist co-religionists threaten them as much as - or even more than - non-Muslims. In my opinion, that awareness is the key to our victory against Islamism and Islam-inspired terror.
It is time, again, for some cartoons about the cartoons.
Scott Stantis

Mike Lane

John Trever

Ingrid Rice

Henry Payne

Dan Wasserman

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dutch speed skater Marianne Timmer got her third Olympic gold medal ( eight years ago she won the 1000 and 1500 meters competition in Nagano, Japan ) by winning the 1000 meters competition today. Look at the tiny gaps between the fastest six competitors:
  1. Marianne Timmer ( Ned ) 1:16.05
  2. Cindy Klassen ( Can ) 1:16:09
  3. Anni Friesinger ( Ger ) 1:16.11
  4. Ireen Wuest ( Ned ) 1:16.39
  5. Kristina Groves ( Can ) 1:16.54
  6. Barbara de Loor ( Ned ) 1:16.73

Jews often say that anti-Semitism is not our problem, but that of the non-Jews. Now that anti-Semitism has struck such a powerful and visible pact with extremist and not-so-extremist Islam, we might reconsider our position on that. It is definitely our problem, the brutal murder of Ilan Halimi z"l in France appears to be the most shocking recent proof of that. Instead of abusing the a-word ( or the Shoah and Hitler ) for superficial political and personal interests, Israeli politicians and other Jews who are supposed to lead their communities all over the world should try to focus on what really threatens us, and to act accordingly. Not the whole world is against us, we only have to recognize and appreciate our true allies, to know how to address them and how to enlist their help - and what help to offer them.
In two of her e-mails Barbara, an American DBI-visitor who regularly sends me highly useful feedback, wrote some lines that would make wonderful quotes. I wanted to use them in one of my comments ( she gave me her permission ), but for lack of time I will just quote them here, they are funny and their message is clear even without any context:
  • About Iran: "I think the only solution is to send Ahmadinejad on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney!"
  • About the US and Iran: "We have "Stupid" in the White House and "Nutcase" in Iran, sounds like trouble to me."

Four pictures that I took in Paris last December

The Arc de Triomphe in the evening sun

The Montparnasse tower

The Eiffel tower and the Hotel des Invalides, seen from the Montparnasse tower

The Montparnasse cemetery, seen from the Montparnasse tower

That I have been posting hardly any extensive postings of my own for quite a while is not due to a lack of post-worthy subjects. The opposite is true, there are almost too many things that I would like to comment upon and write about. Iran - its efforts to become a nuclear danger, linked to its threats towards Israel, its calls for a 'reevaluation' of the Holocaust and its role in the Muhammad-cartoons affair -, that bloody cartoons affair and everything that it entails, events in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Syria, the ways in which Israel(is) respond(s) to and deal(s) with these issues, political and electoral developments in Israel itself, I could turn writing about all that into a fulltime job. Unfortunately I do not really have any spare time these days, and blogging still is a hobby, not much more than that. My main focus is - and should be - on my PhD thesis, for about nine more months. That is one of the reasons why lately I have used so many cartoons and references to other people's articles. Another reason is that I love good cartoons, and for me this is a good way to save cartoons that deal with issues that I am interested in. My weblog is first and foremost a way to formulate, express and record my personal feelings and opinions. Once in a while I like to read things that I wrote months or years ago ( in two months' time DBI will be celebrating its third anniversary ), and cartoons give a good, concise impression of what made the headlines on any given moment. Sharon, Iran, Hamas, the Danish cartoons, they all inspired cartoonists all over the world to make some of their best creations. In other words, you can expect more cartoons on this weblog in the coming months. I will try to also post pictures, short remarks and references, plus every now and then a longer posting, either on personal subjects or on more newsworthy issues. Although there were some short gaps during the last three years, I am amazed that I am still blogging, and quite satisfied with the overall content of DBI. Again, it is only a hobby, not much more than that, so if I disappoint some regular, very attentive readers by only occasionally writing an extensive opinion piece, I apologize. After I finish my PhD - d.v., Be'Ezrath HaShem, Insha'Allah - I probably will also write about my research once in a while. Right now I am too involved with it, and it also would be unwise to share too many details with other people. So be patient, keep coming, I will make sure to add something on a more or less regular basis.
This weekend I listened to the following CDs:
  1. Clannad: Dulaman
  2. Clannad: In Concert
  3. Clannad: Landmarks
  4. Greensleeves: Works by Vaughan Williams, Delius, Butterworth, and Elgar
  5. Country Gardens: Works by Vaughan Williams, Delius, Warlock, Grainger, Frank Bridge, Coleridge-Taylor, German, Coates, and Elgar

For today I selected the following CDs:

  1. and
  2. Bach Edition: Concerto transcriptions ( for harpsichord ) after various composers
  3. and
  4. Bach Edition: English Suites 1-6
  5. Puccini: Orchestral Works

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Robert Ariail

Robert Ariail

Robert Ariail

Mike Keefe

Jerry Holbert

Jeff Parker

Ed Stein

Seven great cartoons on Iran going nuclear.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Zojuist kreeg ik een telefoontje van Arnoud, alias Verbal Jam. Hij bevindt zich momenteel in een kibbutz, tien minuten rijden van waar ik woon. Morgen vliegt hij al weer terug naar Nederland. We hadden per mail afgesproken om te kijken of we elkaar vandaag zouden kunnen ontmoeten, maar dat lukte niet. Uit eigen ervaring weet ik hoe weinig tijd je soms kunt hebben als je voor een of twee weken op familiebezoek in 'den vreemde' bent, dus ik wist al dat de kans dat we elkaar zouden zien miniem was. Toch leuk dat Arnoud nog even belde. Hij heeft nog wat kattebelletjes met Israelische impressies op zijn weblog gepost, kijk hier maar.
Now playing:
  1. and
  2. and
  3. Georg Philipp Telemann: Concertos ( Brilliant Classics )
  4. and
  5. Beethoven: Complete Music for Cello and Piano ( Philips Classics; performed by Richter/Rostropovich + Francaix/Gendron )

Do not let the weather icon in the righthand margin of this weblog fool you. It says 'partly cloudy', but the rain has been pouring down for most of the morning today. Even worse weather is expected later today.
By drafting Adolf Hitler for their election campaign, Bibi and the Likud do what so many on the Israeli Right love to do: contributing to the trivialization of the Holocaust and of other crimes committed by the Nazis. I am not a member of the fanclub of any of the candidates for the prime ministership after March 28th, but G'd help us if the Likud becomes the largest party and Bibi will be Prime Minister again. As much as Olmert is an opportunist, I would rather see him and not Bibi lead the next government. The only time Mr Nethanyahu became Prime Minister he did so after Yitzhak Rabin was murdered and Hamas and Islamic Jihad had carried out dozens of suicide attacks, thus scaring Israelis away from Peres and Oslo, right into the arms of the Likud and Bibi, who - not unlike today - except for fueling the fears of the Israeli public did not have to mount any serious political campaign. It worked in 1996, and now that the polls show that support for unilateral disengagement and the establishement of borders for the Jewish state are stronger than fear of Hamas and the Palestinians, maybe the introduction of Hitler into the election campaign will do the trick again.
Tom Janssen ( Dialogue; down with Israel )
Rob Rogers
Monte Wolverton
Mike Keefe

Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle
If the reports about American and Israeli attempts to bring a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority on its knees by cutting off the outside funds to the Authority (*) are true, some of these cartoons, that were all published right after the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections, might some become outdated, so I'd better post them today.
(*) A very good idea, knowing how successful both Israel and the US have been when it comes to bringing about regime changes through manipulation and outside interference.
Yesterday the legendary Israeli singer Shoshana Damari passed away. About a week ago she was hospitalized. Born in Yemen more than eighty years ago, she came to Israel at the age of two or something like that. Her most famous song was Kalaniyot ( anemones ). I never was a great fan of hers, I did not like her voice - which was very recognizable - very much, but still, it is impossible not to have respect for her distinguished career. Her latest contribution to Israeli music was on the second album of the Idan Raichel Project. She sang two beautiful songs written by Raichel. Click here, then again on the Out of Depths album, and then on the first and the last song. You will hear fragments of the songs and get a really good impression of the voice of the late Mrs Damari.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A beautiful picture of a Dutch speedskater, Sven Kramer. Yesterday evening I was unable, for technical reasons, to post the picture. As I wrote before, I am not a real sportsfan, but I remember me and my whole family sitting whole weekends in front of the television to watch athletes such as Hilbert van der Duim, Hein Vergeer, Leo Visser, Bart Veldkamp, Yvonne van Gennip and others win gold and silver medals at European and World Championships and the Olympics. The Dutch have always 'produced' wonderful swimmers and speedskaters, both men and women, and whenever one of them wins an Olympic medal I feel a strange and irrational kind of pride, no matter how far I live from Holland and now matter how little interest I have in sports. On Saturday Sven Kramer earned the silver medal during the 5000 meter competition, the next day Ireen Wuest won the gold medal and Renate Groenewold the silver medal in the women's 3000 meter competition. A very impressive gesture was made yesterday by the American speedskater Joey Cheek, who won the 500 meter competition. He said he wanted to give a meaning to the press conference that was held in honor of his winning the gold medal and told that he donated his prize money ( 25.000 Euro ) to Right to Play, an organization initiated by Johan Olav Koss, a Norvegian former - and very successful - speedskater. The organization aims at 'creating a healthier and safer world for children through the power of sport and play'. Cheek said his money will be donated to a project for children who fled Darfur. Kol HaKavod!
PS: Just read that Ireen Wuest will put up for auction the suit that she wore during her golden race. The proceeds will also be donated to Right to Play.

Monday, February 13, 2006

( Cartoonist-in-the-era-of-internet-and-globalization )

( A profession with a future ; "VIP? Politician? Captain of industry?(*)"; "Cartoonist!" )

Two cartoons by Klaus Stuttmann, a cartoonist for the German ( Berlin ) daily Der Tagesspiegel who 'created' a German-Iranian version of the Danish Mohammed-cartoon affair. In order to make clear how absurd the use of the Bundeswehr ( the German army ) during the coming soccer world championship is he drew four Iranian football players ( it says Iran on their shirts ) with explosive belts right next to four German soldiers ( "Why during the World Cup the Bundeswehr should definitely be deployed" ). The Iranians are famous for their sense of humor, so immediately the cartoonist was bombarded with online death threats etc. The two cartoons that I post here he made after that.

(*) I made a free translation of Promi and Wirtschaftsboss
Only some light postings today. A few hours ago I brought a very good friend of mine to the train station, this afternoon he flies back to Holland. Yesterday we made a short trip to the 'hanging bridges', a tourist attraction in a park of the Jewish National Fund right next to where we live. Here are some pictures. Now I am going out for lunch with my neigbor, who is about to finish his three weeks' maternity leave. We will probably go to a Druze village nearby.