Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Dance Speeds Up

This morning I received an e-mail from a writer for the dance magazine I blogged about earlier this week in response to a scathing e-mail I sent to the magazine's editor and advertising head following our exchange..

Excerpts below; More about this writer's views here (scroll down to the first article). Judge for yourselves...

As a writer for Dance Europe magazine and a long term resident of Ramallah I ... have to confront the reality of the Israeli occupation possibly more than even you do, and whilst I do not claim any universal solutions to the Middle East conflict, I know that verbal or physical confrontation never works.

Similarly, I have learnt that in such a highly politicized environment, it does not take any moral courage to divorce art from politics, but it does lead to serious moral consequences...
Discussion, listening and sharing of perspectives is a far greater remedy to the political strife in the Middle East than sensationalist abuse and accusation, wouldn’t you agree?

To this end, and whilst I understand that labeling people “anti-semitic” might serve as an effective bulwark against your own moral introspection, I would urge that you learn to distinguish between the Jewish people and the military policies of the Israeli government. To not do so not only blemishes Judaism, it also presses your own argument over the brink of hysteria.

...In the meantime, you might consider reaching for some peace for yourself and others by drafting an apology to Emma and Naresh for some of the more derogatory accusations you presented in your email and weblog...if there is one thing that I have learnt from years of having to confront a harsh military occupation on a daily basis, abusing others (whatever your position) is simply an abuse of power- the illusory power of being unreachable and unscathable. It is only when you are willing to come down to a more vulnerable level of sensitive, human interaction that you find solutions and inner, as well as outer, peace.

Breaking this down to its simplest components, this is about a dance story and a magazine's policy. I haven't lived under occupation but I know what discrimination feels like. Neither is okay.

18 comments:

Dorftrottel said...

It's very simple, really. How many other countries are boycotted by this magazine?
Or do the magazine's editors and writers think Israel is the only country in the world whose policies mean it should be condemned?

It they do think that, then they're probably blinded by their own self-righteousness.

ontheface said...

Nicholas Rowe reminds me of a conversation I had with a Palestinian journalist in Ramallah last week. The Palestinian journalist really went off on the foreign volunteers who come to the PA with their partisan agendas. "We need sophisticated people with a balanced, intellectual point of view!" said my journalist friend. "These foreigners just throw oil on the fire and they don't know what they're talking about. They're making things worse."

I should add that the other Palestinian journalists who were sitting with us in the Ramallah cafe agreed with him.

bob said...

Keep up the fight Stephanie!

Stephanie said...

Correct, Dorf...And if you go to the magazine's listing of dance companies by country, the proof is in the ommission (Israel) and listings like China (Tibet) and Russia Chechnya) and...

Anonymous said...

Lisa: Sadly, there are Palestinians who have expressed support of a boycott of Israel(and of other, even worse means.) The non-indigenous Nicholas Rowe types don't make things better, of course, but there's a fair amount of indigenous hatred. Not all Palestinians are secular, peace-oriented journalists.

Judy said...

What I really love about Nicholas Rowe's response is his blithe lack of awareness when he defends Dance Europe's boycott of all Israeli news and writing with turns of phrase like
"Discussion, listening and sharing of perspectives is a far greater remedy to the political strife in the Middle East than sensationalist abuse and accusation" and
"It is only when you are willing to come down to a more vulnerable level of sensitive, human interaction that you find solutions"

So where's the discussion, listening, sharing and sensitive human interaction in Dance Europe with Israelis, then?

Counterpunch, which you link the Nicholas Rowe article from, has a notorious track record as an ultra left rag that publishes anti-semitic conspiracy theorists like Gilad Atzmon, and whose editor himself writes similar conspiracy theories about the US being Israeli-occupied territory.

See
http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2004/09/the_ugly_and_th.html

ontheface said...

Anonymous, thanks for the insight. I kinda noticed that there were a few people around here who aren't in love with peace. They seem to be spread out in pretty equal proportion on both sides of the conflict.

But I'll definitely keep your wise words in mind the next time I'm wandering around Balata or Deheishe with my peace-loving Palestinian journalist friends.

Anonymous said...

Lisa: We agree on the main thing, which is that boycotting Israel's wrong. I don't mean to take up too much comment space here on the separate question of how much desire for peace--and on what terms--there is among Palestinians. We wouldn't persuade each other, and anyway I realize it's not the topic of Stephanie's original post. I'll just say that in the run up to the recent Pal. elections, there was a lot of reliance by Israel and the West on the poll findings of a particular prominent peace-desiring secular Palestinian, Khalil Shkaki. Apparently he didn't poll a representative sample of Palestinians, his results were thus skewed, and everyone was surprised that Hamas won by as great a margin as it did. You allude to the problems that can occur when people from outside the region come in and misinterpret things. My point is just that people from within can do the same.
I don't see what the point of mentioning Balata and Deheishe can be, other than to say that there are reasons for Palestinian anger. But you'll notice that I never said that there weren't such reasons. The question is whether the existence of Balata and Deheishe makes a boycott of Israel justifiable. If it doesn't, than the call for a boycott is no more justifiable coming from a Palestinian than coming from someone from outside. There is a single standard.

Anonymous said...

Lisa: One more thing I have to say, though I realize I'm taking up quite a lot of space and I'll understand if Stephanie deletes this. If there were as much support for Likud on the Israeli side as there evidently is for Hamas on the Palestinian side, I'd be less skeptical--though I'd still be skeptical--about a statement saying that people undesirous of peace could be found in equal proportions on both sides of the conflict. But as things stand, there is Kadima, and there is Labor, both of which command too much support for a claim re. equal proportions to be sensible. Is the claim based on a Shikaki poll? He sometimes gets things wrong.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephanie said...

No plans to delete. This is the type of healthy dialogue the subject at hand necessitates...slf

Moochy said...

HI,
Just saw your blog for the very first time, and I am impressed to say the least, keep it up.

And about Anti-semits, just walk the streets in Europe, no one can deny that.

Happy Purim

Anonymous said...

Moochy wrote: "And about Anti-semits, just walk the streets in Europe ... "

Thanks Moochy, that's good to hear. Makes me feel less guilty about we're doing to the Pals down here!

anonymous1 said...

I've called myself "anonymous1" since I'm the one who made all the anonymous comments _except_ for the last one, in which another anonymous commenter responded oddly to Moochy. Note that response: sarcasm about feeling less guilty about the plight of the Palestinians. From the response one might think that Moochy had claimed that anti-Semitism in Europe justifies bad treatment of the Palestinians by Israel. But Moochy made no such claim. The question is: is it necessary, every time anti-Semitism in Europe is mentioned, to also mention injustices that the Palestinians are suffering? I don't see why that should be necessary. For example, racism and sexism are both bad, but it's not necessary to mention sexism every time one mentions racism, or vice versa.

Anonymous said...

anonymous1 wrote: "is it necessary, every time anti-Semitism in Europe is mentioned, to also mention injustices that the Palestinians are suffering?"

Is it necessary, every time Zionism is criticized, to also mention antisemitism? And if it's not necessary then why do so many Jews do it?

Let's not pretend that we don't know how the game is played. What you call "antisemitism" is what makes the Zionist machine run. It silences our critics and simultaneously stifens our resolve. Read Herzl, read Jabotinksy. They WORSHIPED antisemitism. And so, it seems, do you.

anonymous1 said...

AnonymousI don't worship antisemitism, nor is it clear to me on what basis you draw the inference that I do. Let's replay the sequence of comments: i. Moochy wrote that there is anti-Semitism in Europe; ii. you--or some other anonymous poster--wrote (sarcastically, I presume) that the antisemitism made you feel less guilty about what's being done to the Palestinians; iii. I wondered whether it was necessary to mention Palestinian suffering each time one complains about antisemitism; iv. you asked whether it was necessary to mention antisemitism every time Zionism is criticized.

A boycott, though, is an odd form of criticism. And when one country is boycotted and others that are far, far less just aren't, it's fair to wonder whether there's more than just criticism of Zionism going on.

From this you infer that I worship (or, as you put it, WORSHIP) antisemitism? You should ask whoever taught you logic--if anyone did--for your money back.

Anonymous said...

It's true we all see what we want to see, but if I replayed the sequence of events I would see first some individuals at Dance Europe who expressed an opposition to Zionism. This was then immediately condemned as "antisemitism" on the grounds that they had not opposed every other evil in the world first. Moochy (knowing as we all do just what is expected of him or her in such a situation) chimed in to confirm the verdict, offering the proof that he can't walk down a European street without being positively barraged with the stuff.

It's all about "antisemitism." It's the same in all these so-called "Jewish" blogs. It's the new religion of the Jews.

anonymous1 said...

We're not talking about the mere "expression of opposition" to Zionism. We're talking about a boycott of Israel, about the requirement only in its case that dance companies explicitly make a political statement dissociating themselves from government policy. Dance Europe doesn't require of, say, the Russian companies that are featured on its list that they condemn Russia's policy in Chechnya. You say that Dance Europe doesn't condemn other evil _first_. Where do they condemn other evil _at all_? What other countries are excluded in the way Israel is? In Israelis' case, and only in their case, people are guilty in Dance Europe's eyes until proven innocent.

Given that only Israelis are treated in this way, and given that for all the injustice of the occupation, there are even worse injustices in other places, the question arises: why single Israel out?

Does one have to "worship" anti-Semitism in order to wonder whether it might be in play in this case?

The problem with a (radical! subversive! applecart upsetting!) thesis like "antisemitism is the new religion of the Jews," in addition to its being false, is that it can itself be believed in dogmatically. Incontrovertible evidence of anti-Semitism can be presented to one, and one will not see it as anti-Semitism.

In Dance Europe's case, it's possible that we're just talking about anti-Israeli bigots, not anti-Semites.

But if they were to turn out to be anti-Semites are you sure you'd be able to recognize them as such? I have my doubts whether you would be, because your claim that antisemitism is the new religion of the Jews is itself a reality occluding belief (which I won't dignify by calling a religion.)

I'm done debating you. Note that Stephanie has already given you more space than Dance Europe gives Israelis. But you claim that the problem isn't with that magazine, but with "so-called 'Jewish' blogs" like Stephanie's.

You have a very special way of reasoning.