It’s that time again: Eurovision!
Every year it disappoints me, yet every year I return. And once more, the Eurovision Song Contest is upon us. For the uninitiated (though I can’t imagine there are that many people unaware of exactly what this affair entails), I have selected some of my favourite Eurovision winners from ABBA to Loreen, both of whom are Swedish, by coincidence I presume. My selection indicate two things: first, that Eurovision had a kind of musical peak between 1974 and 1982; and second, I started watching Eurovision after 1997, and in spite of the overall decline in quality, I keep doing so.
ABBA, “Waterloo” (Sweden, 1974)
Marie Myriam, “L’oiseau and l’enfant” (France, 1977)
Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta, “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” (Israel, 1978)
Johnny Logan, “What’s Another Year”(Ireland, 1980)
Nicole, “Ein Bisschen Frieden” (Germany, 1982)
Another slap in the face from Netanyahu
From Peace Now:
Following a rumoured freeze, and Secretary Kerry’s continuing efforts to launch negotiations, Israel announces intent to establish four new settlements by legalizing existing illegal outposts.
On Tuesday, the Government submitted a formal response to Peace Now’s Supreme Court petition against six illegal outposts. In the response the government declares its intention to legalize four outposts, in isolated areas.
The Civil Administration has been instructed to begin a process of legalizing the outposts of Ma’ale Rehavam, Haroeh, Givat Assaf, and Mitzpe Lachish. The former government had previously promised to remove the illegal construction built on private land, but had not declared its intention to legalize the outposts.
The Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the petition on Wednesday, May 22nd.
All of these proposed new settlements — retrospectively legalised ones — are located outside of the Security Barrier and beyond the boundary line drawn by the Geneva Initiative, both of which form the basis for a future border between Israel and Palestine to be finalised in negotiations. This move is, therefore, another slap in the face delivered by Benjamin Netanyahu to his coalition partners Yesh Atid and Hatnua, his few partners for peace in the Palestinian Authority, as well as Secretary of State John Kerry who has been working diligently in recent weeks to restart the peace process.
View New settlements (16/5) in a larger map
Joseph Massad’s problem with rooted cosmopolitans
Joseph Massad’s op-ed, “The Last of the Semites”, demonstrates above all that the Columbia professor knows very little about not a lot.
His essay — of that length by virtue of the fact that no-one seems to have thought to edit it down — hinges on that old idea that Zionism is racism. In this case, Massad applies this cliché not just in the usual way to indicate prejudice towards non-Jews. No, he believes Zionism is explicitly anti-Semitic. Zionism, according to Massad, emerged not as a response to European anti-Semitism but in sympathy with its racialist precepts:
When Zionism started a decade and a half after Marr’s anti-Semitic programme was published, it would espouse all these anti-Jewish ideas, including scientific anti-Semitism as valid. For Zionism, Jews were “Semites”, who were descendants of the ancient Hebrews. In his foundational pamphlet Der Judenstaat, Herzl explained that it was Jews, not their Christian enemies, who “cause” anti-Semitism and that “where it does not exist, [anti-Semitism] is carried by Jews in the course of their migrations”.
Zionism, Massad thinks, was anti-Semitic not only of this reason but because it represented a “continuation of the Haskalah quest to shed Jewish culture and assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture,” which of course is a total perversion of Jewish history and what Herzl actually thought and wrote.
In part, the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment, was related to assimilation but in the main it was an attempt to synthesis traditional Judaism with the modern ideas of the Enlightenment, including liberalism, nationalism, egality, and emancipation. Zionism emerged throughout the nineteenth century (not bang on 1897, as Massad understands it) as a product of this intellectual and cultural shift in the sense that its claim was that Jews are equal to all others and as deserving of statehood as anybody else. It is not, as Massad seems to think, some declaration of Jewish supremacy.
But it is also a by-product of the Haskalah: it is a reflection of the actual, lived Jewish experience in nineteenth-century Europe, and the waves of anti-Semitism that came with Jewish emancipation and entry into the professions from which Jews had previously been barred. Massad doesn’t seem to wish to acknowledge that anti-Semitism affected Jews in this way, at all.
Church of Scotland Insults Jews With Denial of Claim to Israel
The injection of theology into the Israeli-Palestinian real estate dispute has rarely proved helpful, particularly in cases where one side seeks to make a claim to all the land at the expense of the other.
The Church of Scotland’s laughably regressive new document, “The Inheritance of Abraham?: A Report on the ‘Promised Land,” which wilfully mischaracterises and then dismisses Jewish claims to a state in Palestine, is equally as unwelcome.
Its premise is that Zionism is not a national but a religious ideology, grounded in specific and unconditional biblical claims to the Land of Israel. The position of Zionism is that “God promises the land to the Israelites unconditionally,” it says, adding that “Zionists think that Jewish people are serving God’s special purpose.” As such, “Christians should not be supporting exclusive or even privileged divine right” to any territory. “If Jesus is indeed the Yes to all God’s promises, the promise to Abraham about land is fulfilled through the impact of Jesus, not by restoration of land to the Jewish people.”
When it isn’t promoting supersessionism — the notion that the truth of the New Testament renders irrelevant the claims of the Old — it’s borderline anti-Semitic.
“It has to be recognized that the enormity of the Holocaust has often reinforced the belief that Israel is entitled to the land unconditionally,” it states, but “Christians must not sacrifice the universalist, inclusive dimension of Christianity and revert to the particular exclusivism of the Jewish faith because we feel guilty about the Holocaust.”
Rather, “the Jewish people have to repent of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians between 1947 and 1949. They must be challenged, too, to stop thinking of themselves as victims and special.”