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Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

Andy Hamilton’s Search for Satan

‘Award-winning comedy writer and performer Andy Hamilton (creator and star of Radio 4’s acclaimed infernal comedy Old Harry’s Game) explores just who the devil Satan is, where he comes from and what he has been up to all this time’. 



The Pope Resigns: Uygur’s Take

‘Benedict XVI always cast himself as the reluctant pope, a shy bookworm who preferred solitary walks in the Alps to the public glare and the majesty of Vatican pageantry. But once in office, he never shied from charting the Catholic Church on the course he thought it needed — a determination reflected in his stunning announcement Monday that he would be the first pope to resign since 1415 (12 Feb 2013)’.

Charlie Hebdo: Nothing is Sacred!!!

The police protection provided for journalists proves that a physical threat is taken seriously. In this story, offended Muslims are thought to pose a potential danger to French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. It prizes freedom of expression to an extent many consider extreme. In its turn, Charlie attacks what it considers extreme, and always has. No subject is untouchable, certainly not religion, not even the Prophet Mohammed. Those at the paper don’t see it as inciting hatred, but as pushing thinking beyond conformism. The publishing director Charb (Stephane Charbonnier) said: “What? We can’t lampoon Mohammed in France? Yes we can. We can caricature everyone in France. I don’t hold it against a Muslim for not laughing at our drawings, but he’s not going to tell us what law we have to follow. I live under French law. I don’t live under the law of the Koran.” The team at Charlie Hebdo has a history of not backing down, with a mantra that says no one’s going to do their thinking for them. Charb said: “It’s plain to see that the sole subject that poses a problem is radical Islam. When we attack the Catholic extreme right, very strongly, no one talks about it in the papers. But we’re not allowed to laugh about Muslim fundamentalists. Well, there’s a new rule that will have to be written up, but we won’t respect it.” Charlie won’t be bullied. Last year someone burned the offices with a Molotov cocktail and its website was hacked as it was preparing an issue commenting on the Islamist electoral victory in Tunisia, an issue headed ‘Sharia Hebdo’. Even veterans of left politics in Europe have said the satirists are masochists, pushing as hard as they do. The paper started out called ‘Hara-Kiri’. It was shut down by the Interior Minister in 1970, a few days after a fire in a disco had claimed more than 140 lives. Then the father of the Fourth Republic, General de Gaulle passed away in his home, and it ran the headline: ‘Tragic dance in Colombey – one dead.’ It came back from the ban, borrowing the leader’s first name in its new masthead – or was that just a coincidence?  As British parallels to this approach to the sacred we can perhaps cite Monty Python or Private Eye. Only lack of readers put Charlie Hebdo out of business for a decade. Resurrected in 1992, it put the boot into all faiths, the Jews as well, and the editors faced lawsuit after lawsuit. They weren’t gentle with politicians either. An early reader slammed them as ‘dumb and nasty’ (‘bête et méchant’). They made the label their motto. They say what many people might say behind closed doors, only they put it in print, and say damn the risk (26 Sept 2012).

Bulgaria in the News: Israeli Tourist Bus Attacked

An explosion has killed at least four people on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in the eastern Bulgarian city of Burgas, Bulgarian officials say. More than 20 people were also injured when the bus exploded at Burgas airport, by the Black Sea. Witnesses told Israeli TV that someone boarded the bus and a huge explosion immediately followed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later accused Iran of being behind the explosion. “All the signs lead to Iran,” he said in a statement. “Israel will respond forcefully to Iranian terror.” Iran has made no public comments to the Israeli accusations. Wednesday’s blast came on the 18th anniversary of a deadly attack on a Jewish community centre in Argentina. Israel blamed Iran for that attack – a claim denied by Tehran (18 July 2012).

The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made an immediate response: “I was deeply saddened and angered to learn of today’s terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The United States condemns in the strongest terms this heinous terrorist attack against innocent civilians. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their loved ones. The United States stands ready to offer any assistance necessary, and we will work with our partners in Bulgaria, Israel and elsewhere so that the perpetrators can be apprehended swiftly and brought to justice for this appalling crime”.[i]  In contrast, what was Hillary Clinton’s reaction to the death of Assad’s relatives in Damascus???  The news agency published this update: “White House says violence is not the answer in Syria but attack on Assad’s inner circle shows “window is closing.” White House says international community needs to act in a unified way. White House says it has no information on Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s whereabouts; White House goes on to say the U.S. is closely monitoring Syria’s military facilities and believes its chemical stockpile remains under government control”.[2]

One day some people get killed in a terrorist attack and their deaths are seen as a sign of a “window [that] is closing”. On the same day, some other people die as a result of another terrorist attack but they were “innocent civilians” who lost their lives in a “heinous terrorist attack”. In both cases, the victims were semites, Arab Muslims and Israeli Jews . . . or rather, followers of the secularist Baath regime in Syria and inhabitants of a European nation state based in the Middle East, where the religion one professes to follow determines one’s ethnic and legal status.

[1] “Attacks in Bulgaria” U.S. Department of State (18 July 2012). http://statedept.tumblr.com/post/27502127326/attacks-in-bulgaria.

[2] “From Syria” Reuters (18 July 2012). http://live.reuters.com/Event/Syria/35181764.

The Holocaust Industry in Top Gear: The Miss Holocaust Pageant

Israel hosted the first Miss Holocaust Pageant. The contestants were primarily judged on personal stories of survival (29 June 2012).

The Second World War ended in 1945, but the State of Israel is still taking full advantage of the events for propaganda and other questionable P.R. purposes nearly seventy years later . . . Israel claims that 200,000 Holocaust survivors are currently living in Occupied Palestine, referred to by some as the Promised Land or the State of Israel . . . 300 contestants and 14 finalists between the ages of 74 and 97, and the winner is Hava Hershkovitz, a mere spring chicken in Holocaust terms at a sprightly 79 . . . The newly-crowned Miss Holocaust 2012 did not mince her words either: “It’s not easy at this age to be in a beauty contest, but we’re all doing it to show that we’re still alive”.[1]

[1] “Beauty pageant crowns ‘Miss Holocaust Survivor’” The Sun (30 June 2012). http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4401571/Beauty-pageant-crowns-Miss-Holocaust-Survivor.html.

American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein

American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein is a 2009 documentary film about the life of the American academic Norman Finkelstein, directed and produced by David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier. The documentary features Finkelstein and several of his supporters and opponents, including Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz. The film made its world premiere in Chicago as part of the 2009 IFP Chicago Underground Film Festival and won the audience choice award for best documentary. It was a part of the Sheffield Doc/Fest, IDFA in Amsterdam and Hot Docs in Toronto. It won the Cinema Politica Audience Award in 2010. Jerusalem Film Festival describes the work of the filmmakers as: “the most talked-about documentary films of the last months, a fascinating portrait that confidently walks that tightrope known as balance” The film had its television premiere on Yes Television in Israel in May 2010. In April 2011 the film aired on Al Jazeera English worldwide and in the US on Link TV and selected PBS stations.

Atheist or Agnostic??? Reasonable or Faithful???

I just stumbled across this video on Facebook. It is the astrophysicist Neil De Grasse Tyson explaining his position on the vexing issue of religion: ‘Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson claims the title “scientist” above all other “ists.” And yet, he says he is “constantly claimed by atheists.” So where does he stand? “Neil deGrasse, widely claimed by atheists, is actually an agnostic”’.

Richard Dawkins, “Darwin’s Rottweiler”, famously adheres to the same position, namely that there are certain things which cannot be known – “known unknowns”, as it were – and that he therefore is happy to state that he is an agnostic, adding however, “I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low”.[1]  It seems to me that admitting that one cannot be sure about the existence of a supernatural deity is but a natural and even logical thing to do . . . The recent phenomenon of New Atheism has produced many outspoken and aggressive atheist who are always talking about their belief in reason, somehow forgetting that the human being is not a reasonable creature. Man is an irrational animal that in the course of its evolution has achieved self-consciousness and a remarkable mastery over the natural world. Following the writings of the famous biologist Desmond Morris, one could describe man as a primate that has acquired carnivorous habits as a result of its changed habitat. From a forest-dwelling ape, happily feeding on freely available vegetables and fruits, man’s ancestor entered the wide open landscape and into competition with carnivorous wolves and big cats to ultimately become the most successful predator dwelling on earth. As a living thing, man’s ultimate fixation is procreation and the acquisition of digestible foodstuffs. Far from being a paragon of rationality, man is constantly subject to his or her sexual urges. Man’s ability to be cognizant of his (or her) own existence does turn him (or her) into a most peculiar animal, but at the end of the day, man is but an animal, man is but a naked ape wearing clothes as a means of controlling his (or her) constantly present sexual urges . . . Man is not controlled by reason, but by his procreational compulsion to ensure the survival of the species and the continuation of certain genetic material . . . and, to paraphrase Freud, civilization is but the outcome of a constant struggle to control the human sex drive . . . or as phrased by Adam Christian, “Freud notes that civilization’s antagonism toward sexuality arises from the necessity work of building communal bonds based on friendship. If the activity of the libido were allowed to run rampant, it would likely destroy the monogamous love-relationship of the couple that society has endorsed as the most stable”.[2]

[1] John Bingham, “Richard Dawkins: I can’t be sure God does not exist” The Telegraph (24 February 2012). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9102740/Richard-Dawkins-I-cant-be-sure-God-does-not-exist.html.

[2] Adam Christian, “Chapter 5”, ‘Civilization and Its Discontents Summary and Analysis’. GrAdeSaver. http://www.gradesaver.com/civilization-and-its-discontents/study-guide/section3/.