Friday, April 29, 2016

It Can't Happen Here

“[Jeremy] Corbyn [head of English labor party] has to answer why there are special criteria for anti-Semitism as if it is somehow considered a more acceptable form of racism, discrimination and bigotry,” he [Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress] said in a statement.

Anti-Semitism on the left?! No way, impossible, absurd.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A crude but seemingly necessary treatise on Nader/Naderism, and the 2016 election.

Let me start in 1930s Germany. Hitler's on the rise. But much of Germany is divided between the Socialist Party (SPD) and the Communist Party (KPD). Together, they might have blocked the Nazis.

But Stalin decreed the KPD should attack the SPD as social fascists, that is, no better than Nazis.

Moving on: 2000 Presidential election, United States. No Stalin involved. Just inherited if not genetic propensity for left stupidity.

Ralph Nader declares that the Democrats (Gore) are no different than the Republicans (Bush.)

Nader/Naderism makes enough of a difference in the election to assure Bush of victory, esp. in Florida. No, Bush is not Hitler, but the Bush invasion of Iraq is a titanic geopolitical disaster. It's not the Wermacht invading the Soviet Union, but bad enough.

Nader is not running now. But Naderism lives on.

If you think Hillary = Trump, and won't vote for her, therefore, you are infected.

Enjoy your ethical/politcal purity and too bad for the rest of us.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Only Text, quoth Yahweh . . .

The essential moment of the story of Pesach, for me, is on Mt. Sinai, and in particular, the 2nd commandment. The rest was kind of boiler plate: honor yr father and mother, do not covet, don't kill (more than absolutely necessary), etc..

But in the 2nd commandment Yahweh says something truly original for a change: NO GRAVEN IMAGES!

Given the age, this means, only text will do, only text is for me.

And since alphabetic text was the hot shit new thing in the world at the time, he meant alphabetic text.

(Not hieroglyphics, or cuneiform 2.0.)

Yahweh was promoting alphabetic text, only alphabetic text. Other media were treyf.

The Greeks mastered alphabetic text at about the same time, wrote some pretty good stuff in their version of it, I hear. But it never occurred to them that for the sake of this revolutionary new, and more universally accessible medium, they had to give up sculpture, painting, drama, etc.

Zeus was illiterate and didn't care how you worshiped him.

Yahweh, he was a McLuhanite.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Rabbi Ben Zion Gold, 1923 - 4/18/2016

Rabbi Ben Zion Gold passed away on April 18, age 93. I got to hear him deliver Yom Kippur sermons at Harvard Hillel when he presided over its Conservative Minyan, chat with him when we crossed paths at the Cambridge Public Library (yes, for all the resources available at Harvard he liked being local), and interview him in the course of writing about his spare and eloquent memoir, "Life of Jews in Poland before the Holocaust," a book I can't recommend too highly.

Rabbi Ben-Zion Gold, "The Life of Jews in Poland before the Holocaust: A Memoir"

First appeared in the Jerusalem Report, 2007

It took Rabbi Ben-Zion Gold twenty years to complete his spare, powerful memoir, which originated as a message to his daughters, both of them born in the United States after World War II. Gold, born in Poland in 1923, was the only member of his family to survive the concentration camps, and hoped his book would help acquaint his children "with the lives of their paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, whom they had never met because they were murdered by the Nazis." In the course of writing, Gold decided to direct the book toward a wider readership, but the crisp, plainspoken style of a letter to kin serves him well throughout. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bernie, keep it going, going past the election . . .

There are those who argue that, given his decisive defeat in NY, Sanders should drop out of the race and leave the field to Clinton. In his new column, Frank Rich makes some telling points about why it's to Hillary's advantage to have Sanders in the race.

He writes: 

Monday, April 18, 2016

NY primary


Hello NY friends and others on the eve of the NY primary.

As a New Yorker in exile, let me say there's a whole lot I don't trust about Hillary, that I, in fact, dread about her. But when it comes to brass tacks, as opposed to rhetoric, there's just as much I dread about Bernie.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sanders & Zionism

Who cares, at this point, about the Village Voice? Does it still  exist, and if it does, after one brute shrinkage and shredding of writers after another, is there anything ever worth reading in it?

For the most part, no, there isn't; it's junk. But J.J. Goldberg, roving editor of the still vibrant The Forward (,  took the occasion of a crappy polemic in the current version of Voice to make an interesting surmise about the origins of Bernie Sanders's democratic socialism. The polemic, which Goldberg dissects in all its fatuous detail, charges Sanders with insufficient feeling for Israel and for Zionism. Goldberg argues that, au contraire, Sanders's democratic socialism derives precisely from an essential tradition of Zionism itself.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bernie & anti-Semitism

My thanks to Ivan for posting this:

What I found disturbing is not the brute anti-Semitism — Jews control everything, the banks, the media, etc.. The existence of such sentiments and beliefs should be regarded as a given, though they are not nearly as preponderant or lethal here in these United States as in other historical circumstances.

What's disturbing is Sanders's effort to deflect the discussion into a dialogue about  Israel and Palestinians.

But the remarks did not pertain to the Israel/Palestinian issue. They were directed at Jews, per se, here, there, anywhere.

They were directed at Bernie Sanders.

And Bernie didn't step up and say, wait, this is pure and simple anti-Semitism. I oppose it, and hope everyone in this audience does too.

He didn't say that.

He ducked. The bullet was aimed at him, Brooklyn Jew that he was, and he ducked.

The left generally prefers to duck issues of anti-Semitism, and divert toward deep discussion about Israel, as did Bernie.

As, in fact, do many Jews, leftist or not, who express themselves vicariously and passionately about the Middle East, but are pretty much inert or helpless when it comes to anti-Semitism in the "Diaspora" where they happen to live.

I support the existence of the State of Israel, but its existence and the complications with regard to it, have in many ways blinded or distracted the rest of us.

In some ways, and in some cases, we are more helpless than we were before there was an Eretz Israel.

Israel exists and yet so does anti-Semitism. It doesn't seem to go away. Sometimes we are dumbfounded, blinded and without response.

(Let me indulge the following fantasy. If, in response to the Jew-killing attacks in Paris, Netanyahu had not said, make aliyah, we love you, but instead, we'll arm you where you are, and send in elite Israeli fighters to train you, well, I would have quite enjoyed that response. The gap between Israel and Diaspora is too wide. Israel fights, rightly or wrongly, just the right amount or too much, whereas we, out here, mostly just argue about Israel.)

Saturday, April 9, 2016


So much attention grabbing nothingness in the media, esp. the social media, which has the function of magnifying everything.

Did 84 year old Gay Talese insult women when he said there were no female journalists who inspired him when he was coming up though many female writers of fiction inspired him deeply by how well they wrote?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Paglia again yet again

Now comes Camille Paglia again to, as if we were longing for her latest outbursts.

I wrote a response to her last, remarkably awful book, "Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars."

Monday, April 4, 2016

chess tables

I've said it before and will say it again: Cambridge is going. The new version will not be an interesting landing place for new immigrants and their culture, which might revitalize the city. That can and does happen elsewhere. But it's not how Cambridge changes.

Cambridge changes by going ever more upscale.