Saturday, August 28, 2010

But can he?

A glittering event, a magnificent photo opportunity. The President of the US, The Prime Minister of Israel, the Head of the Palestinian Authority, assorted Arab leaders, very many TV cameras. A festive launch of the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. And a clear deadline - within a year the negotiations will be concluded, and there will be an agreement, and there will be peace.

It has happened before. In November 2007, President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice convened the leaders at Annapolis, and the speeches were delivered, and the cameras clicked and transmitted everything live all over the world. And then Bush left the parties alone, to talk to each other, and lay down for a good nap after an excellent meal prepared by the White House cooks. And the parties talked and talked and talked, and meantime the bulldozers worked full steam and the settlements grew apace and the occupation continued to trample the Palestinians to the ground. And a year after the grand conference, there was no peace to be signed. One year after Annapolis, the government of Israel launched an offensive on the Gaza Strip and killed 1300 Palestinians, including hundreds of children.

But this time it will not be like that. It will be completely different. Something has changed. The President of the United States has changed. Barack Hussein Obama is not George W. Bush. He has promised to completely change Bush's policies in all spheres, internal and external. That is why he was elected. He will not settle for an empty photo opportunity. He will take personal charge, and push and pressure with all his force - if not immediately after the conference, at least after the Congressional elections in November. He will not allow the occupation to go on and the settlements to continue growing. When Obama makes a promise he keeps it, by hook or by crook. If Obama promises a peace agreement by September 2011, that's exactly what is going to happen. "Yes, we can!".

Maybe. But Obama still has to prove that he really can.

The Hall of Culture has no smell

Bertolt Brecht was among the most prominent playwrights of the Twentieth Century. A very political and a very left-wing playwright. "The Caucasian Chalk Circle" is among the most well-known plays, which is presented again and again worldwide – and also in Israel. A very political play, a play dealing with fundamental political issues of social justice and revolution. Also with who has the right over the land, those who lived and cultivated it for generations, or those who came to settle and develop the land and erect grandiose enterprises on it. Issues which, among others, are also very relevant to us and to the Palestinians.

The Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv recently embarked on a new production of "The Caucasian Chalk Circle", which got critical acclaim. The theatre management, like those of other major theaters in Israel, signed a contract to present the play in the "Hall of Culture" recently erected at the settlement of Ariel, in the heart of the occupied West Bank.

In the eyes of the management, the Ariel hall is no different from any other venue for presenting a theater play, and the settlers' money has no smell. But at least some of the actors have a different opinion. They raised their voices in a protest petition and declared their total refusal to perform at a settlement established in an occupied territory, and thereby become accomplices in the violation of International Law.

Ron Nachman, mayor of the settlement of Ariel, vehemently attacked the actors. "Their decision to mix political opinions with their artistic work is unacceptable and smacks of hypocrisy. If they want to be actors, let them play and not mix culture with politics. What, Brecht said that theater is political in its very essence? Brecht? Who is Brecht to teach me about the theater?"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The blog goes on vacation

This blog goes on vacation until the last week of August. Bye!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Is Israel singled out - and why?

Googling for "Israel singled out" + "anti-Semitism" would immediately get you many thousands of results. All over the world, supporters of the policies enacted by the government of Israel are busily churning out article after article, repeating with minor variations the same message - Israel is being unfairly singled out, harshly criticized for the kind of acts which others are allowed to get away with, and the motive is anti-Semitism.

In a way, this is a second line of defense. There had been a time when this kind of people took the line that Israel can do no wrong. That it is an utterly wonderful place, little short of an utopia, a vibrant democracy and the only one in the Middle East, the home of tireless and dauntless pioneers who made the desert bloom. But this way of looking at things had become increasingly difficult to sustain. There have been too many unsavory TV footages of Israeli soldiers broadcast into every home around the globe, too many nasty revelations, quite a few of them by Israel's own dissident citizens...

It is far easier to freely admit that Israel is not blameless, that some of its actions and policies do deserve criticism - but as a matter of fact... the rest of what became quite a long article you can read at: The Other Israel