Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mother, did it need to be so high?

Once again, I shake my head over the insipid, posing politics of some celebrities, even if they did write a clever lyric from time to time. Is it just knee-jerk naïveté that's led Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters to stump for a cultural boycott of Israel, or is there something more insidious behind his “plea to my colleagues in the music industry, and also to artists in other disciplines, to join the cultural boycott against Israel"? Regardless of motive, destructive is what destructive does. And Israeli musician Kobi Oz offers this cogent response to Waters’ silly solipsism.

I was deeply disappointed to learn that you have [built] a wall between yourself and your Israeli fans… What you may not realize is that most Israelis believe in a two-state solution. But this vision is not as easy to turn into a reality as you may think... I’m surprised that you would choose to side with the extremists who don’t believe in dialogue.

I come from a small town in Israel called Sderot. My hometown is frequently bombarded with missiles from Gaza — eight years of children living in fear, eight years of running to bomb shelters. Yet I meet and play music with my Palestinian colleagues. When there is bad news, we do not boycott each other; we argue. Even when it’s hard, we try to keep in touch, because we know that peace starts with musicians playing together, with the two peoples getting to know each other... We could sign an agreement with a moderate regime and suddenly find ourselves confronted with a fundamentalist enemy. We withdrew from Gaza and got Hamas. We pulled out of southern Lebanon, and now Hezbollah dominates the Lebanese government. We gave back the Sinai, and now Egypt is a great unknown. Still, we yearn for peace.

We try to talk with our neighbors in the Palestinian Authority, where life is getting better for ordinary Palestinians. If Hamas’s leaders would stop the bombardment of Israeli civilians and stop calling for our destruction and start having a normal relationship with their brothers in Ramallah, I’m sure that most Israelis would want to talk to them, too. And our wall, which you want to see dismantled, will fall when we have lasting quiet.

But in the meantime there are events like the murders in Itamar. Terrorists sneaked into a family’s home while they were sleeping and cut their throats. That settlement was outside of our security fence — they did not have this “appalling edifice,” as you called it, to protect them. A father, a mother and three kids — one a 3-month-old infant — paid the price. Should we give up the fence that has made the last few years mostly free of suicide bombers? If we did, would you stand by our soldiers when they go out to intercept terrorists, or would you continue tying our hands while we fight to protect our citizens’ lives?

I didn’t hear your voice, or the voices of your friends in the BDS movement, when thousands of Qassam rockets were being launched at my hometown and neighboring communities after we got out of Gaza. We only heard the world’s voice when we fought back... At your age you ought to be suspicious of open-and-shut narratives of the sort embraced by the BDS movement, and be willing to look more deeply at the other side. Of course, we Israelis have plenty of room for improvement and could do more to pursue peace. But you should understand that if we are cautious, it is because our very survival is at stake. If you truly want to be helpful in bringing about peace, embrace the power of dialogue, not boycotts. Music is for breaking down walls, not for building new ones.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dan Henderson: Love Hurts

I've crowed about Hendo before, but seeing him climb the mountain and capture Strikeforce's light heavyweight title at age 40 raises him to mutant madman status, earning him that rare and special love I have for warriors like Rick Lenchus and Randy Coulture. My son Benjy tells me Hendo's fighting bums now but I don't buy it. Comparing Strikeforce's top guns to the UFC's may be like pitting the Doom Patrol (or maybe the Metal Men) against the Justice League of America with Superman, but you know what they say about any given Sunday. And watching Hendo lay out Michael "The Mouth" Bisping some years ago was up there with a Bukowski reading. So feed this lion anything he needs to keep his roar, baby. There's kryponite in that heavy right. Saturday night, Strikeforce's reigning 205-lbs. champion Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante met Dan Henderson for the first time. More acurately, his jaw met Hendo's right. Henderson, the two-time Olympian wrestler, former UFC tournament champion, and two-division Pride champion, is now Strikeforce's light heavyweight king of the hill.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday my Brother

"If you can count your friends on the fingers of more than one hand, you're either a fool or a liar."
--Dave Vnenchak, circa 1978

Happy birthday Dave.

Ms. Nagdim

Nothing will make you feel closer to Chabad than working in Lakewood.