Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Weekly Update

I haven't blogged for a while, so I figured I'd roll a bunch of crap together and see what happens. Enjoy.

Israel stuff: First off, happy belated Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) to Israel. It's 59. Seven more years 'til Social Security benefits kick in. I hear the U.N.'s senior discounts start at 60... hang in there.

Anyway, I'd like to post a link to this excellent column by the Post's Richard Cohen dealing with the double standard surrounding Israel, especially among activist groups. He points out that while Israel certainly has problems it needs to address, singling them out from all the nations of the earth for a boycott is somewhat unfair.

Now I often criticize Israeli policy in this space, and in my mind rightfully so, but I realize that compared to a whole host of other nations, Israel's actually pretty good. In fact, I challenge anyone to make a list of governments that aren't doing something immoral. I think the Federated States of Micronesia might be on there. Also Tuvalu, which gets somewhat of a free pass because it's so much fun to say.

So why do people single out Israel? Cohen thinks it might be a little bit of latent anti-Semitism. There's an argument for that, and it's worth pursuing. I would, however, posit this alternative explanation: out of all the countries in the world with high-profile problems, Israel is the only one that might actually listen to Western griping (and I include my own country in this statement).

Of course, some of you might be thinking, "wait, Jeff, don't you spend more time criticizing Israel than criticizing, say, Zimbabwe, and doesn't that make you a hypocrite?" Valid question (though I would argue that I probably aim more barbs at our government than at Israel's, all told). I don't like human rights abuses anywhere; not here, not in France, not in Africa, not in Israel. And not by anyone; white, black, Asian, Arab, Jew... anyone. It's easy to explain why I criticize American abuses: I live here. I believe in American ideals. And I get annoyed when they get undermined. It's a little bit more difficult to explain why I criticize actions by a govermnent halfway around the world in a country I've never been to.

The answer is this: while I'm creeped out by religious states in general, I'm still Jewish and as such I still have some sort of connection to a Jewish state. And I single the Jewish government of Israel out because God singled out the Jews from all the nations of the world, holding us to a stricter moral code than all the rest of the people. We're supposed to set an example, to be a light unto the nations or something, and when Israel chooses to do something that I see as contrary to Jewish morals I get annoyed (even if it's the geopolitically expedient choice). So there are some things that Israel does that bug me, even though these things wouldn't bug me if any other country did them.

I guess this is in and of itself a double standard - I'm okay with Jews holding Israel to a higher moral standard but not with non-Jews doing the same. But that's one I can live with.

A second note: I was (for whatever reason) reading some Israeli and Palestinian rap lyrics the other day and I noticed a trend - both Israelis and Palestinians rapped about how they wanted peace but they - especially the Palestinians - put some sort of qualifiers on it. I then began to notice how this is a common trend in all the rhetoric around this debate.

Around the same time, I heard about Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley sitting down at the same table and agreeing to work out their differences peacefully, and I realized this: the issues that divided Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland haven't gone away. They simply became less important than ending the violence. My point: peace will not come to the Middle East until everyone on both sides decides that whatever they're fighting for is less important than peace. (Mainstream and left-leaning Israelis are probably closest to this frame of mind right now.) And I don't see the problems between Israelis and Palestinians being worked out until the violence stops. Make of that what you will.

Oh, and when I was looking for Palestinian rap lyrics Google led me to Woman Honor Thyself, who is a friend of Michael's, is listed under his "Some Smart Right Wingers" category, and has commented at ONAF before. For some reason, this amuses me.

Things To Do In Florida When You're Dumb: You could convince yourself that Rep. Robert Wexler's comments on The Colbert Report stating that cocaine was "a fun thing to do" was anything but the ridiculous joke that it was and issue a primary challenge to him because of it... like Ben Graber.

Money quote from Graber: "There are many ways to look at it. Maybe he was shocked and the truth came out." Actually, Mr. Graber, there's only one non-stupid way of looking at it - as a JOKE. Wexler's one of my favorite representatives - if Floridians can't understand Wexler and Colbert's sense of humor, they deserve the shitty representation that they'll end up with.

F#&$in' Censorship Commission: The FCC has, in the wake of the Tech shootings, decided to try to ban TV violence along with TV sex. This is at once uplifting and disgusting. It's good to see the FCC finally realize that it's probably worse for kids to see violence than it is for them to see sex or hear "naughty words." But it's disgusting that the FCC still thinks it should be allowed to play parent to the world, and ridiculous that it seems to have forgotten the existence of the "off" switch. (And that TVs now come with a lot of parental controls.) The proposed ban is even more insidious because the FCC is trying to extend its authority into cable television, which is currently government censorship-free.

Word has it that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is going to introduce the legislation. Mountaineers, e-smack your senator around a bit for me.

Joe Biden Will Eat Your Young, Too: Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (played by Sean Astin) has guaranteed that electing a Democratic President will be deadlier for the average American than electing a Republican. Geez, the scare tactics are starting a little early, aren't they? At this rate, Republican attack ads will be showing Hillary Clinton flying planes into buildings by June '08, and by election time Barack Obama will be wearing a C4 vest wherever he goes. I really hope that he's sufficiently embarrassed by these remarks to apologize for them (in which case I call dibs on "Rudolph the Red-Faced Mayor"), but I doubt it. I just hope that Americans aren't dumb enough to fall for this kind of crap.

In Barney We Trust: Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is introducing a bill lifting the Internet gambling ban. Frank says, "Why anyone thinks it is any of my business why some adult wants to gamble is absolutely beyond me." Couldn't agree more, Barney.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Is there anything specifically to indicate that the FCC's actions were catalyzed by the tragedy at Virginia Tech? I thought maybe it was just Censorship Week or something.

As for the Wexler thing, I'm confused. You're trying to tell me that some people don't know how to differentiate between jokes and comments that are meant to be taken literally? Well, I've certainly never encountered that in my own personal experiences, but I'll take your word for it...