Showing posts from February, 2023

Yafa Yarkoni and the songs of Israel

  Posted on   January 2, 2012   When Yafa Yarkoni passed away this Sunday, a eulogy posted at  Ha’aretz  noted that the legendary singer “was known as the singer of Israel’s wars, [who] entertained Israeli troops beginning in 1948 and was one of Israel’s most acclaimed artists.” The  Jerusalem Post’s  eulogy noted, however, that Yafa Yarkoni “detested” being described as “the singer of the wars.” Given the fact that Yarkoni’s career spanned well over half a century, it is easy to see that she had good reason for rejecting this description with its narrow focus on just a few of her songs. Moreover, it would be wrong to imagine that her “war songs” were the type of songs usually associated with martial music. Among Yarkoni’s famous songs is Bab el Wad, and when ( ex-blogger ) Yaacov Lozowick recommended it yesterday in a tweet as “perhaps her single most important song,” I thought this was finally my chance to mention Yaacov’s wonderful series on Hebrew songs. In the first post of this s

The lowest common denominator

  Posted on   January 19, 2012   In a long essay in  Tablet  magazine, Adam Kirsch argues that “Israel Lobby”-authors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt may have “failed in their stated goal of disrupting America’s close alliance with Israel,” but that it seems “they are winning the war, on the most important battleground of all: that of ideas and language.” Kirsch highlights many of the developments that I’ve addressed in several posts about the mainstreaming of antisemitism, most recently in “When the mainstream left embraces the rhetoric of the far right.” But I think Kirsch makes a very noteworthy point when he reminds his readers that the “Israel Lobby” – which was after all authored by two professors from highly regarded US universities – was widely and harshly criticized by reviewers: To look back on  The Israel Lobby ’s reception today is to see a remarkable unanimity of rejection, from the  New York Times  (“mostly wrong … dangerously misleading”) and  Foreign Affairs  (“

The progressive quest for comparative consolations

Posted on   January 30, 2012   The folks who expected that the “Arab Spring” would lead to a Tweeples-government in Egypt are understandably disappointed by the landslide victory of the Muslim Brothers and the Salafists. But progressives were quick to find a formula that offers comparative consolation: the basic recipe is to simply claim that Egypt’s Islamists are really no worse – and maybe even better!!! – than disagreeable political figures or forces in your own country. Following this recipe, Lisa Goldman, writing for the Israeli left-wing blog +972, claims: citizens of the democratic state of Israel […] freely elected, as the largest faction in its governing coalition after the Likud, the quasi-fascist Yisrael Beitenu party. […] In our Knesset, we also have Kahanists and a large contingent from Shas, which is quite similar to the [Salafist] Nour party. Unsurprisingly, Goldman’s comment was promptly quoted by  The Arabist , where Issandr El Amrani added that “Israelis might mind th

Unveiled: The nun, the hijabi, and Zionist supremacism

  Posted on   December 26, 2015   I didn’t quite trust my eyes: while browsing the output of anti-Israel activists on Twitter, I came across a tweet shared and “liked” by hundreds of users (and re-tweeted by “progressive” anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal) that – as you can see in the screenshot below – compares a Christian nun with a woman wearing a hijab, i.e. the covering for the head and neck that is either mandatory for women or imposed by social pressure in most Muslim countries and societies. Supposedly, this image had led to the suspension of a user who posted it on Facebook – and I’ll get back to this below. But let’s first consider the image that is cut in the tweet shown in the screenshot. When I checked out the full image on the Twitter account of the tagged user, i.e. @Resistance48, I saw that below the pictures of the nun (whose perfect make-up indicates that she’s not a real nun) and the hijab-covered Muslim woman there is the question “What’s the difference..?!” Above

Stephen Walt and the Islamist Lobby

  Posted on   April 2, 2013   When John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their book “The Israel Lobby” in 2007, the respected American scholar Walter Russell Mead argued in a very critical review that this “may be a book that anti-Semites will love, but it is not necessarily an anti-Semitic book.” Mead also noted that the book was “written in haste” and predicted that it would “be repented at leisure.” As it turned out, the assumption that Mearsheimer and Walt would have any regrets about writing “a book that anti-Semites will love” was all too optimistic. Some four years later, Mead commented on reports that John Mearsheimer had endorsed a book written by “a Hitler Apologist and Holocaust Revisionist.” Mead noted politely that “this is not normally the intellectual company a Distinguished Professor at the University of Chicago is expected to keep” and he suggested that “we may even hear some thoughts from Professor Walt about his co-author.” Unfortunately, this was again an all

Teen terrorists made in Palestine

  Posted on   January 7, 2016   Note : This is an updated version of a post first published in November on my TOI blog. * “Child Sacrifice Brings No Honor to the Palestinian Cause” was the title of a recent  Ha’aretz  op-ed by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie. It’s 2015, and one might have hoped there would be no need for an op-ed with such a title. But sadly, there is even a Wikipedia entry for “Child suicide bombers in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict,” and the recent stabbing attacks by Palestinian teenagers – including a boy as young as 11 – are only another reminder of the abusive indoctrination and exploitation of children practiced by Palestinian society for decades. Long before Hamas officials  boasted  in recent years that their efforts to train a “true generation of martyrdom-seekers” were so successful that “Palestinian youngsters … fight and quarrel over performing a courageous suicide operation,” a  Life Magazine  cover story on “Palestinian Arabs” in 1970 included a photo showing a g

Free Gaza tweets for terror and a world without Zionism

Posted on   October 8, 2012   | The still ongoing controversy about  Free Gaza’s propagation of antisemitic material  has revealed the for me somewhat surprising fact that apparently quite a few of the group’s supporters seem to believe that Free Gaza is somehow dedicated to promoting peace and coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians. That is plainly not the case. One of the most recent tweets from Free Gaza is a call to #NormalizeResistance. As I write, this hashtag seems to be primarily used to protest an invitation for Gilad Shalit by FC Barcelona, and the top tweet right now comes from an account set up under the name of  Khader Adnan . We know what Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan means by “resistance” – and as it happens, Gaza’s rulers understand “resistance” in pretty much the same way. It is precisely this kind of “resistance” advocated by Islamic Jihad and Hamas that has led to the “blockade” that Free Gaza opposes: Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, m