We are now half way to our necessary winter fund-drive goal of $2,000. After Obama took office, the Washington Post announced in a headline: “Bush’s ‘War’ On Terror Comes to a Sudden End.” This inevitably leads us to ask if… Read morePlease support our winter fund drive
Strikes have broken out across the UK in support of a walkout by Lincolnshire energy workers angry at the use of foreign workers. But the xenophobic British National Party is attempting to exploit the issue.
Electronic Journal & Daily Report AFGHANISTAN: BUILDING ON TRADITIONS OF PEACEMAKING Interview with Abdul Aziz Yaqubi, PeaceWork OBAMA’S IRAQ WITHDRAWAL: “A Risk That is Unacceptable”? by Billy Wharton, CounterHegemonic PALESTINE: OBAMA’S FIRST FOREIGN POLICY CHALLENGE New Standards on Self-Determination Needed… Read moreIssue #154, February 2009
Dear World War 4 Report Readers:
We are now half way to our necessary winter fund-drive goal of $2,000.
After Obama took office, the Washington Post announced in a headline: “Bush’s ‘War’ On Terror Comes to a Sudden End.” This inevitably leads us to ask if we have outlived out mission.
But in Obama’s first two days in office, US air-strikes wiped out civilians in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. As commentator Billy Wharton points out in this month’s issue of World War 4 Report, the Obama administration may be equivocating in its pledge to remove all troops from Iraq within 16 months—using an obfuscatory distinction between “combat troops” and “military advisors.” A naval task force is heading towards Somalia to combat pirates. And while Obama’s executive orders on Guantánamo, CIA use of “coercive interrogation techniques” (read: torture), and restriction of states from imposing auto emission standards exceeding those of the EPA are all good and necessary starts—they only call for a review of the Bush-era policies. We are still waiting to see what the new policies will be.
Meanwhile, the contradictions heighten in the Middle East, and the world capitalist system remains in deep crisis—resulting in a wave of rebellion from Latvia to Mexico to Oakland. There has been much progressive and even revolutionary content to these uprisings—but also ugly instances of xenophobia and Jew-hatred.
In other words, while these are definitely much more interesting times than they were a year ago, we aren’t ready to let down our vigilance.
So we appeal to our readers to keep us on the web. If you can only give $10, we understand. But its important that all our readers give something, and do it today. We have an upgrade to pay for, and sources of funding we’d depended on have fallen victim to the financial crunch. If each of our readers give only $10, we won’t have to extend the fund drive another month.
Once again, those of you who gave $25 or more last year are already on the list to receive the new addition in our pamphlet series, Petro-Imperialism: the Global War on Terrorism and the Struggle for the Planet’s Oil, which is now in production, and will include an analysis of the Obama cabinet. If you didn’t give $25 last year, this is your opportunity to get it hot off the presses. They will be in the mail to our supporters in March.
Please help us continue our work at this important historical moment. Please give what you can today.
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From the BBC News, Feb. 1: Scores killed in Kenya oil fire At least 111 people have died in Kenya after an overturned petrol tanker caught fire on a highway and exploded. Reports say the fire broke out after hundreds… Read moreKenya: disaster reveals desperation
China is denying claims aired by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that up to a million Muslim Uighurs have been detained in "re-education camps" in Xinjiang region. But Beijing appears to be imposing harsh surveillance and restrictions on freedom of worship on Muslims throughout China, even requiring those making the pilgrimage to Mecca to be fitted with GPS tracking devices. Yet such methods almost always prove counter-productive, leading to resentment that only fuels the unrest that Chinese authorities are responding to. This week saw mass protests in Weizhou, Ningxia province, after authorities attempted to demolish a newly built mosque which they said had not received construction permits. After days of protest, authorities backed down and agreed to postpone the demolition. (Photo of protest at Weizhou Grand Mosque from Weibo via BBC News)
by Jennifer Blowdryer and Alvin Orloff, Zeek
For years and years, hipsters and avant garde types (at least here in America) liked Jews…a lot. Jews were the chosen people of hip rebellion: antisemitism was the preserve of bigots in small towns, and genteel stuffed shirts from Connecticut. You’d no more hear blood libel off the lips of a beatnik than the Battle Hymn of the Republic. All that, we are sorry to have to inform you, has changed.
With Jennifer’s cute button nose, she is able to pass as gentile at cocktail parties and hipster soirées. Since she loves her Mediterranean-looking Jewish mother dearly, far more than her cocktail-swilling patriarchal line, this is not something she revels in. Nevertheless, she is frequently a fly on the wall at social events full of offbeat types where the Jew-baiting remarks crop up, and crop up they do, with increasing frequency and with alarming use of the old stereotypes.
A tattoo artist refers to another tattoo artist as someone who worries a lot because, you know, she’s Jewish.
Or: It figured Jennifer was Jewish, said I., an SSI recipient just one step away from the streets, since she had a low-income co-op. This street urchin, hiding her middle-class white origins with coveralls and a rasta name, was accusing the Jew of a preternatural cunning. And yet, while it is hard to find a place in Manhattan, one somehow doesn’t imagine the many thousands of gentiles living in rent-controlled or low-income accommodation being called “cunning” for having an affordable roof over their head.
Or: A gay synthpop musician mentioned he was only being nice to a Jewish producer because he had to “play the game” while his art curator boyfriend claimed another friend of theirs talked a lot because, yes, he was Jewish.
Nor is the plague confined to gentiles. One composer of unusual chamber music threatened to hit Alvin for referring to him as a Jew. “It’s a religion and I’m an atheist.” Alvin’s suggestion that Jewishness (as distinct from Judaism) is an ethnicity was met with a petulant silence. This attitude was rendered all the more ironic by the fact that the composer in question is a hook-nosed Hebrew descendant of Holocaust survivors who issued his ludicrous denials in second-generation Yiddish inflections.
There have always been frustrated, jealous, intolerant people looking for scapegoats. These are just a few contemporary examples. What’s worrying is that they feel free to express themselves in openly racist ways here and now—even to deny their own visible heritage. Why is it so unhip to dig the Jews?
It’s unhip because the hip people from the Left—avant garde’s traditional partner in subversion—are scapegoating the Jews. Although sometimes beginning as justifiable opposition to certain Israeli policies, leftist anti-Zionism frequently slips into opposition to Israel’s right to exist, which then gets extended to Jews generally. If, as German socialist August Bebel once said, antisemitism is the socialism of fools, then the Left is now in serious danger of extreme foolishness. Legitimate criticism of Israel, on occasion, slides into Jew-baiting. Some examples:
— After the attacks of 9-11, literary relic Amira Baraka claimed that the Israelis were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center. This libel was not met with snorts of derisive laughter from his beatnik-era cohorts, but impassioned defenses of his inalienable right to self-expression and to be poet laureate of New Jersey. It was left to solid citizens and the state government to argue that racism was squaresville.
— Israel’s influence in American politics is also exaggerated to outlandish extents. Ralph Nader, for example, recently characterized Bush and the Congress as “puppets” of Ariel Sharon. Why the largest and most powerful empire in the history of the world would take orders from the small, albeit feisty, nation of Israel would seem to pose quite a conundrum—unless one believes in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or some watered-down contemporary alternative. When questioned, Nader claimed that he was only denouncing the influence of the American Israeli Political Action Committee, something commonly done in the pages of the New York Times. Nader’s statement was met with cheers from both his earnest progressive supporters and the neo-Nazis of the “National Stormfront.”
— Adbusters, a magazine popular amongst anti-capitalists, ran a list of prominent neo-conservatives with asterisks next to the names of the Jews. Why, oh why, the article asked, was it wrong to point out that the architects of the Bush administration’s Middle East policies were disproportionately Jewish? Of course, one might ask: Was there an accompanying list of anti-war leaders with asterisks next to the disproportionately high number of Jewish names? Nope.
— And recently, we walked into a bookstore in San Francisco and discovered a series of satiric anti-rightwing stickers (you know the ones, “Bush/Cheney, four more wars”) and found one that read “Palestinians out of Palestine, Jews for Genocide”—implicating all Jews in a demonized Zionism. Of course it was supposed to be humorous overstatement. Ha, ha, ha. Unlike, say, witches or female-to-male transsexuals, Jews are now fair game in the über-trendy Mission district. If these people are at the cutting edge of the culture, what is it that the culture is going to end up cutting?
In the future, this hipster antisemitism is only going to get worse. As the Middle East Crisis (or Middle East Culture, as one wag prefers to call it) gets bloodier and more apocalyptic, and memories of the Holocaust and general Jewish victimhood fade, those who instinctively side with the underdog will become less sympathetic, churning out worse and worse message stickers. How to respond?
One strategy is to infiltrate, like the nonracist, skinhead, punk gag band, Jewdriver. With Aryan Sharon on bass, the band performs signature songs like “Don’t Jew Me Like That.” Their official band drink? Cherry Manishewitz. They don’t let a little thing like being Jewish interfere with being skinheads. We like this strategy. Getting huffy and confronting racists—ADL-style—is less likely to produce more of a softening of feeling than say, an all-Jewish episode of Elimidate. And why hold your next Young Jewish Voices event at the Sol Goldman Y? Instead, impose it on an unsuspecting general public, perhaps in restaurant-type setting. The great Hasidic Jews of New York have begun to show up not just at lap-dancing parlors, but at gay clubs, open mics, and poetry slams. These inter-minglings still create a festive air (that hat, those curls!) but soon it’ll become such an everyday thing that nobody will notice or object. Here we defer to Quentin Crisp’s dictum that true integration comes not through outraged protest, but boredom.
To end on a hopeful note, the turnaround from hipsterdom to mainstream is about five years (see bell-bottoms and nose rings). This means that antisemitism will be back in vogue amongst the suburban masses before the end of this decade, and hence, anathema to the hipster, who will once again love Jews. After all, what’s not to love?
This piece first appeared in the January 2005 edition of Zeek: A Journal of Jewish Thought and Culture. We felt this was an all too appropriate time to reprint it, given the global anti-Jewish backlash in the wake of Israel’s Gaza aggression.
August Bebel page from the Marxists Internet Archive
“Stormfront” neo-Nazis dig Ralph Nader
From our Daily Report:
Venezuela: gunmen ransack Caracas synagogue
World War 4 Report, Feb. 1, 2009
Reprinted by World War 4 Report, Feb. 1, 2009
Reprinting permissible with attribution