Tuesday, April 27, 2004


"I insist on law and justice for myself; and if I do not receive it I shall overturn the world making it into a desert and a wasteland. There can be no salvation for mankind if my part in it is denied. In the beginning God created my demand. It makes no difference whether it is palatable or not. This is my stand for which I am prepared to fight, suffer and dedicate my life."

Ze’ev Jabotinsky - poet, rebel, 20th century Zionist leader

Yom Ha'azmaut Sameach l'Coolam! Happy Independence Day to All!

Monday, April 26, 2004

Yom HaZikaron. Today is Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers. I leave you my small contribution, from the pen of Amir Gilboa:

And My Brother Was Silent

My brother returned from the field
In gray clothes.
And I feared that my dream would prove untrue
And I began at once to count his wounds.
And my brother was silent.

Then I dug in the pockets of his trenchcoat
And found a bandage, dry and stained.
And on a frayed postcard her name
Beneath a picture of poppies
And my brother was silent.

So I undid the pack
And took out his belongings, memory after memory.
Hooray, my brother, my brother the hero
Here I found your decorations!
Hooray, my brother, my brother the hero
I will sing your name proudly!
And my brother was silent.
And my brother was silent.

And his blood cried out from the ground.

The Dreamers. There is an argument to made that pornography is the only truly honest form of cinema. Or, to be precise, all cinema is pornographic, but only pornography has the courage not to turn away at the moment of truth. However transparent their artifice, all pornography ultimately slams up against the reality of conjoining organs, and thus even the most contrived and absurd of scenarios is inevitibly redeemed by the unblinking gaze. Bernardo Bertolucci has always attacked this border between blinking and not blinking. Between the cutaway and the unrelenting visible. His cinema stems from the knowledge that film is the most erotic of all the arts, his camera relentlessly hanging suspended before moments that shatter the line of artifice and the real. The Dreamers is not a great film. But it attacks that line more violently then any mainstream film of recent memory. It testifies to cinema's dangerous power, as it leaves it to us whether or not to blink, or look away. To Bertolucci flesh and cinema are interchangeable, the conjuring of lights as real as the resistant skin. For him, we are all seated in the front row, recieving the moving shadows on the wall. Like the denizens of Plato's cave, cited to such extraordinary effect in a darkened room lit with shafts of translucent sunlight in his young masterpiece The Conformist. That film was set in Paris too. But a Paris younger and deeper then this one. The Dreamers's Paris barely exists. Its children take to the streets while Bertolucci's nymphs gather in Bachannalian entropy between walls, barely cognizent of the world-shaking events outside. Bertolucci has always been more interested in the politics of flesh than the politics of paper and fist. His three actors negotiate themselves by jealousy and need, seeking after the impossibility of conjoining. Like all Bertolucci's films, this also is a tragedy: the tragedy of the human self at war with its other, its second twin. Our essential alienation at mortal battle with our desperate need for communion. To Bertolucci, sex and cinema are tragic, for they both offer transitory, momentary glimpses into an impossible communion. Lovers are joined for an instant, then forever seperate. Movies last only an hour or two, then the lights come up. His French twins were once conjoined, but now they bear only the scars. So they are tortured: they have known the impossibility of absolute oneness. Once, says one of them, we were the same person. Like all Bertolucci's protagonists, they destroy themselves by hurling themselves against the wall that seperates all of us, one from another. Even in the streets, among the mob, there is no solidarity, and we, as the young American does, stand aside: watching. As we are watching in darkened cinemas and caves, lit by flickering shadows on the wall. As Bertolucci's merciless camera is watching. As the world was watching in those days in 1968 he desperately wishes to impart to us, in his own futile search, perhaps, for communion.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

1900. Saw the five hour version of Bertolucci's epic last night on TV. I saw the original years ago on VHS in the four hour english version and thought it a magnificent failure. Now I think its one of the greatest movies I've ever seen. The extra sweep and slower pacing lent the film an extraordinary sense of passing time. Of social history in microcosm. The whole political history of twentieth century Italy told through a single town, a single family, and finally a single friendship. Like all Bertolucci's films, the movie is ferociously explicit. Even pornographic. But pornographic in the best sense: as in brutally, even viciously honest. Refusing to cut away from the earthen humanity of shit or come or blood or evil or dirt or death. He may be the only major filmmaker left on earth who refuses to lie with the camera, and this elevates him. It elevated Spielberg in the same manner in Saving Private Ryan, whose slaughterhouse depiction of war lifted an otherwise mediocrity into the cinematic stratosphere. Bertolucci's cinematic violence, in all senses of the word lifts 1900 out of agitprop and makes it a stark yet opulent meditation on the human condition. On the war between master and servant, earth and sky, bullets and flesh, hunger and plenty, nature and machine, collective and individual, equality and self. When Gerard Depardieu's communist partisan fires his machine gun into the air shouting "the padrone is dead!" he is only as defiant as his alter ego, Robert DeNiro's landlord, who smiles with a smile laden with rueful irony and whispers "the padrone is still alive." The indissoluble twinning of the these two archetypes: the priveleged powerful and the wretched of the earth, cannot be broken even in the film's tightrope-walking final moments, when Bertolucci's agitprop finally becomes literally manifest.

But Bertolucci's cinema is of equal parts sadism and love. His characters brutalize, betray and slaughter eachother. Yet none is condemned. Dominique Sanda's spoiled, decadent aristocrat is a closet virgin. Donald Sutherland's vile fascist cries out in wounded anguish as his wife is brutally beaten. DeNiro's weak-willed padrone is wounded irretreviably by his inarticulate yet innocent love for his wife. All of them are given their moment of altuism from their author. And Bertolucci's camera floats serenely around them all. Never raising its voice. There is no cruelty left unmentioned in this film, but there is also no quiet moment of longing, loss or warmth left undepicted. It is a deeply political film yet, like all Bertolucci's films, it ultimately loves people more than politics. It is a tale finally of the impossibility of human connection. And, with it, the tragedy that we are all condemned to seek it endlessly. Forever in battle with our other self.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Treason Doth Never Prosper. Mordechai Vanunu, living proof that leftist ideology can indeed lead to treason, goes free today after eighteen years. He is likely to spend his remaining years doing everything possible to undermine and compromise Israel's security. Needless to say, this is a disgusting miscarriage of justice. The man should be in jail for the rest of his life. His many leftist fellow travelers should be in there with him.

Monday, April 19, 2004

News Flash: Israel Haters Don't Know What They're Talking About. An excellent post discussing the Rantisi assassination in regards to international law. Bottom line: those who claim the targeted assassinations are violating international law are full of it. Surprise, surprise. I'm always skeptical of self-appointed experts in international law who accuse Israel and the US of all manner of crimes but never have a cross word to saw about Iraq, North Korea, or Arafat for that matter. One would think they would do a little reading before they started lying their heads off. Of course, in their case that would involve learning to read...

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Wages of Insomnia. The condition does have its advantages. Just saw the news of Abdul Rantisi's most welcome liquidation on CNN. The racist hypocrisy, hand-wringing, and morally reprehensible condemnations are thick on the ground already. My favorite was British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who called the killing of terrorists by security forces "unlawful". He is apparently forgetting that the British SAS spent most of the 1980s machine-gunning every IRA terrorist they could get their hands on. Those damn double standards again...

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Innocents Abroad. While reading about some of Michael Moore's latest intellectial atrocities, I came across a mention of Sean Penn's trip to Iraq. Having just checked out a pretty devastating deconstruction of Oliver Stone's love note to Fidel Castro, I got to thinking about why so many otherwise semi-intelligent Leftists seem to be totally unable to understand the nature of totalitarianism and the manner in which it maintains control. Orwell claimed that, having spent all their lives in a free society, artists and intellectuals in democratic countries simply can't concieve the magnitude of oppression and violence that exists in unfree societies. Certainly that has to be doubly true for pampered Hollywood actors and directors, or tenured professors at major universities. These are people who spend their lives being indulged, even encouraged, in the use of free speech. They are celebrated for their depictions, analysis, and often brutal criticism of their own societies. As much as they may enjoy crying wolf about McCarthyism, the truth is that they have never beenn silenced in their lives. They have never had strange men come knocking at the door at three in the morning because they published a displeasing article, or took part in an anti-government petition. They have no fear of being stripped of their jobs or their homes, or dragged off to prison without trial. And when they do entertain such fears, it is always from the safe remove of indulgent fantasy.

And, of course, these folks are used to play-acting. They are practitioners of illusion and abstraction. They may know, deep down, that Castro or Saddam is playing an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors with them, but they are used to such exercises and, after all, these are people who are prone to thinking the worst of their own government in all circumstances, so such innocent parlor games on the part of its enemies are easy to forgive.

But none of this is forgiveable. It is not ultimately so difficult to discern the outlines of an oppressive society. As John Burns, the excellent NY Times Iraq correspondent has pointed out, you merely have to listen to what isn't being said, to where the silences are, to what people will not talk about. Leftists in totalitarian regimes are often highly impressed by the way its citizens sing their praises. The people always seem to be happy and contented, despite their government's ill reputation. Which is precisely the point: People in free societies complain all the time. They complain that their taxes are too high and their health care is bad. That their garbage isn't picked up on time. That things cost too much. That their salary isn't sufficient. The whole plethora of minor inconveniences and petty frustrations is given voice because it can be spoken without fear. Only totalitarian regimes are perfect, because to state otherwise brings the most dire of consequences or, at the very least, the paralyzing terror the thought of such consequences evokes. The fact that the otherwise intelligent seem to be unable to make this most elementary of deductions says a very great deal about what they are capable of knowing and seeing when their politics are involved. Or perhaps, like most ideologues, they can see only what they wish to see.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Context. Its important to note, however, that Bush's so-called concessions to Sharon are not really anything new. Even the Clinton-Barak plan at Camp David II, which went way too far in terms of concessions, proposed to retain most of the major West Bank settlement blocs. What makes this significant is the official acknowledgement of the United States that the EU/UN approach to the peace process is a failure and bankrupt in every possible way. It is also signaling to the Palestinians that their campaign of racist mass slaughter has gained them nothing and cost them much. Both very, very encouraging developments.


WASHINGTON (AP) - In a historic policy shift, President Bush on Thursday endorsed Israel's plan to hold on to part of the West Bank in any final peace settlement with the Palestinians. Bush also ruled out Palestinian refugees returning to Israel, bringing strong criticism from the Palestinians.

An elated Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said his plan to pull back from parts of the West Bank and Gaza, hailed by Bush, would create "a new and better reality for the state of Israel."

Wow. First real good news in a long, long time.

Monday, April 12, 2004


I have no patience for those who claim that treason is merely the accusation of those seeking to shut down debate, as if ideas had no practical implications and extremists do not actually mean what they say. I say this now: this is treason. Those who made it and those who declaim its virtues are traitors.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Noam the Nastardly Necro-communist.

Chomsky’s response to the grim fate that has befallen Vietnam has been to rally to the SRV’s defense and to blame everything on the U.S. In 1975 he celebrated Saigon’s collapse.[27] In 1977 he declared that he would not sign any letter that would be distributed through the American media that protested human rights violations in Vietnam. In fact, he disputed claims that any significant violations were taking place and he reminded people of the “unprecedented savagery” of America’s attack against Vietnam. He did acknowledge the existence of the reeducation camps, but insisted that some of the individuals in them deserved their fate. He also attacked the credibility of refugee reports, while happily using the reports of visitors to Vietnam who shared his politics. In later years, Chomsky simply argued that any problem that was occurring in Vietnam was the fault of the United States. The U.S. war, he insisted, guaranteed that the Communists would establish a Stalinist state. “Imposing harsh conditions on an impoverished Third World society,” he claimed, “….more or less compel[s] them to resort to draconian measures.”[28] Moreover, the SRV’s reeducation camps were the best that could be expected, and the level of political repression was typical for a nation recovering after a war.[29]

From the indispensible FrontPageMag comes yet more proof that Noam Chomsky, besides being a traitor, a racist, an anti-semite, a collaborator with mass murder, a totalitarian, and a vicious liar is, also, a thoroughly disgusting human being.