Category Archives: Falafel and more

Anything related to Israel or being Jewish.

Of cartoons, blasphemies and hypocrisy

Everybody is now aware of the events following the publication of the danish cartoon. The cartoon depicts the prophet Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban. The message of the cartoon (as I understand it) is that Islam is being used as a pretext to justify suicide bombings.

Islam prohibits drawings or sculptures of Mohammed. Judaism has similar prohibitions. Fair enough. The cartoon breaks this rule, and so it’s considered blasphemy by some muslims. Yes. The cartoon can be seen as offensive and distastefull. But 40+ dead? Violent protests against European countries? Burning embassies and consulates? It’s beyond ridiculuos.

Paco Calderón, one of the sharpest and most talented cartoonists in México made an excellent cartoon about the the whole thing (it’s in Spanish). It also shows the original images that started it all! (good, because if you haven’t seen them, you’ll have a hard time finding them now).

Andrew Sullivan, writer for Time magazine, had an essay in the February 13, 2006 magazine. When speaking about the fact that the non-muslim Danish cartoonist dared to draw Mohammed (gasp) he says, quote: "I eat pork, and I’m not an anti-Semite. As a Catholic, I don’t expect atheists to to genuflect before an altar."

Now, to close, I want to tell you about the hypocrisy part. Unlike the Danish cartoon, which was published by an independent newspaper in a country with full freedom of speech, the following links contain cartoons published in countries in which there is very limited or no freedom of speech by state-run newspapers. You look at them and judge which cartoons are more offsenive, libelous and unfair. I will tell you one thing: none of the following cartoons triggered mass protests, murders nor burning embassies.

Anti-Semitic Cartoons in Qatar’s Al-Watan.
Political Cartoons in the Arab Media.
Israelis/jews as nazis.
Israelis/Jews As Hitler
Israelis/Jews Controlling U.S. Government
Classical Anti-Semitic Caricatures of Jews
Cartoons from the Arab World
Major Anti-Semitic Motifs in Arab Cartoons

Enough. Remember, these are mostly recent cartoons, from the 1990’s and 2000’s. Some come from countries with peace accords with Israel and full diplomatic relations.

Feel free to use the comments section if you feel I’m wrong or innacurate. Or if you have some ideas for more cartoons.

An evening with Ehud Barak

Last night, I went to a conference by the ex-Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Ehud Barak at the University of Texas, in the LBJ Auditorium.
First thing I noticed, when I got there, is that security was tight. There was a very long line outside waiting to be screened with metal detectors, etc. I don’t know if this is customary for this kind of events (it wasn’t like that last year when Bill Clinton spoke) or if security was specially tight because the speaker is an israeli ex-Prime Minister.

Second thing I notice, is lots of people wearing t-shirts from different jewish or pro-Israel organizations (i.e. Hillel, Texans for Israel). Many “I love Israel” t-shirts too. Also, lots of people wearing pro-palestinian t-shirt with flags and kefiahs around their necks. The atmosphere was very politically charged.
I sat three rows from the top. The second row behind me was left empty, even though the auditorium was packed. In the last row sat 8 or so people that looked like UT students. They were there to protest, I assume, Israel’s policies regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Too bad Mr. Barak is no longer the Prime Minister, nor is he even a member of the Knesset anymore. I guess they wanted to make a point. They stood up with their backs to the speaker during the full length of the conference, about two hours. They were, at least, mostly quiet.
The conference was interesting, but nothing groundbreaking for someone who is familiar with Barak’s ideology, and has kept up with the news for the last years. He has a very very strong Sabra accent… surprising for someone who went to the University in the US. He talked about Iraq (good), about unilateralism in the international scene (bad), terror (bad), war on terror (good), Camp David, Yasser Arafat, Gaza Pullout, etc.
To me, the most interesting part was at the end, during the Q&A part. The organizers took written questions, screend (censored?) them and passed read some to Barak. Stupid things like “Do you have a cowboy hat?”. What a waste of time. Barak then stopped the guy questioning him and said, more or less:
“I see there are some palestinian supporters here, let’s let them ask questions.”
A guy sitting somewhere in the middle of the auditorium immediately jumped up and asked, in an aggressive tone, about settlement policies during his government, and about the negotiations in Camp David, arguing why he never revealed maps detailing his offer to Arafat. Barak answered all the questions and talked about some of the things that happened, like how Clinton was infuriated with the outright, complete rejection of the offers even as a basis for negotiations. A second student, wearing an israeli shirt was next to ask a question, but Barak cut him, saying he wanted to give a chance to the supporters of the palestinians to speak up. So a third student, wearing a “Free Palestine” t-shirt stood up and asked, in an educated and eloquent manner, on how Israel can reject, on a moral and legal basis, the right of return of palestinians to Israel proper. Barak’s answer was good, going back to his childhood begore the establishment of the State of Israel, the UN’s partition plan, the War of Independence and jewish refugees from the time other arab countries got independence.
All in all, it was a very interesting conference. I was, perhaps not surprised, but happy to see Barak in speak straight, concise and to the point, as he is known to do. However, I was somewhat surprised to see such a heavy atmosphere surrounding the whole event, where a lot of people did not go to listen but to make a political statement. I never experienced it at this level back in Mexico… not even in Israel. These last days, there has been a marked increase in antisemitic posts to my other website, some of them outright attacks on jews that we had to delete from the message forum and block accounts and things like that. This is the worse it’s been since the website was placed online three years ago. Makes you think.
My friend Jason Schwartz presented him… cool. He’s also mentioned in this article.

Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite

Yesterday, a sad, terrible, deplorable thing happened in Paris.
In the middle of a manifestation against the war in Iraq, in which you could see hundreds of people wearing keffiah (traditional arab head-wear) and carrying Iraqi and Palestinian flags, two counselors in the jewish zionist youth movement Hashomer Hatzar happened to walk by. One of them 25, the other 18, were first insulted by the crowd, then phisycally attacked. They ended in the hospital.
During this whole thing, you could hear insults against jews. On a loadspeaker, one of the manifestants yelled (roughly, my french is not so good) “Nous, les musulmans, nous les Arabes, nous pouvons nous promener la tute haute dans la rue. Eux (jes juifs, ndlr) sont obligs de se cacher. Un verset du Coran dit : Ce que l?on vous a inflig, vous pourrez l’infliger. Mais la patience est une vertue. Sachons attendre, la roue va tourner.” – it translates: “Us muslims, us the Arabs, can walk around on the streets with our heads high. Them (the Jews) are forced to hide. A verse from the Coran says: Those who inflicted upon us, you can inflict on them the same. But patience is a virtua. We must know to wait. The wheel will turn” (excuse any errors on this translation).
After this, the members of Hashomer had to go to the place where they carry out their activities and lock themselves inside, while outside many people went out of the path of the manifestation to yell, hit on the doors and terrorize them. There were about 150 kids inside, between the ages of 6 and 15 most of them, about thirty in their early twenties or less.
I am myself a member of Hashomer and went as a kid and as a counselor in Mexico for about 12 years of my life. What happened in France is shameful, a true showing of violent antisemitism. The saddest part, is the weak covergae by the French and world media and the apathy shown by the French government on the face of such event inside their own society.

Shana Fleszler is a counselor in Hashomer Hatzair Paris, and a personal friend. She told me about what happened over there (she was in the middle of the whole thing, of course). My disbelief is incredible. I post this humble words as a show of support for the people of Hashomer and for those that were personally attacked. Refuah shlema (health) to them. I hope I can help to raise consciousness in any way.

Last, I’d like to briefly sum up the ideology of the Hashomer Hatzair movement. This is an educational movement, started in Poland in 1917. It is a left wing movement which that founded over 85 kibbutzim and is one of the strongest advocates of dialogue with the Palestinians and the formation of a viable Palestinian state through territorial concessions.
Links:
Article in Proce-Orient (Google translation)
Article in JT Digipresse (Google translation)

Elections in Israel

Low voter turnout, overwhelming advantage in polls for Likud’s candidate Ariel Sharon and an ongoing war in the territories are the background of today’s elections.

In one, maybe two hours we should have the results.