Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fuck You, Hizballah

"Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you." - Deuteronomy 16:20

"I don't know about the rest of you but I'm not celebrating, I'm
goddamned rejoicing!" - Steve (Daniel Craig) in Munich (2006)


It's been nearly sixty years since the State of Israel declared its independence, and as Hizballah's warnings following the assassination of arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh clearly demonstrate, the world still has yet to be made safe for Jews and Judaism. Muslims can harp on all they like about Islamophobia, but when have they ever been as persecuted or pursued as we Jews have? In fact, I would say it is patently hypocritical of them to complain about anti-Islamism when the Arab-Islamic world is a bastion of anti-Semitism of the nastiest, Nazi-esque sort.

There are certain people the world is better off without. Saddam Hussein was one such individual, and Imad Mughniyeh was another. That one ended his life hanging from a noose in Baghdad while the other was blown to smithereens in Damascus makes no difference to me; each time, I've shed no tears over their passing from this world into the next...they've joined Hitler and Milosevic in Hell.

Would it have been better for "Hajj Imad" Mughniyeh to have been captured, tried in a court of law, convicted (as he surely would have been) and then executed? Maybe, but we'll never know - Syria gave the mass murderer sanctuary. Normal routes to justice could not be...pursued. By anyone but the Syrians. And unless they broke character, they wouldn't do in such a valued, revered ally (unless, of course, they could spin it a certain way).

Now, Hizballah has threatened to strike out at Jewish and Israeli targets worldwide in retaliation for Mughniyeh's death. "Let this war be open," Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah informed his supporters - and the world. He has not declared a new war, but rather issued a call to arms for the continuation of a war which began years ago (and not with the Second Lebanon War of 2006). As a result, security measures, which already tend to be high at Jewish and Israeli-connected locales, have been beefed up once again.

Once again. Once again, Jews are supposed to fear for their lives and the lives of their children. Jewish houses of worship, centers of learning and love of God, are once again in danger of being attacked by those waging a modern Crusade against the infidel Zionists and their compatriots. Once again, Israel has gone on high alert. Once again, we wait for the blood of innocents to be shed so that the blood of murderers can be seen as having been avenged.

I haven't the slightest doubt that Hizballah has the operational capabilities of striking anywhere it wants to: When you get right down to it, Tucson is just as vulnerable as Jerusalem (andy you don't necessarily have to remember the 9/11 terrorists' and Hamas connections to this city), or New York. My concern is not localized, though; a terrorist attack against Jewish targets in South America, or Africa, or Europe is really an attack against Jews everywhere.

We might not all agree on the applicability of certain religious laws or interpretations of Torah, and we may differ markedly when it comes to our support for, or affiliation with, the State of Israel. Our stand on intermarriage can cause serious rifts within our families, and end friendships with fellow members of the tribe.

Back in ancient times, in our own Promised Land, we Jews weren't immune from civil war.

In modern times, we've come pretty close to picking up where they left off.

However, those differences between us matter little to Hizballah, al-Qaeda, Hamas, et al. Just as it was with the Nazis, to them a Jew is a Jew - Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, unaffiliated or even atheist. Islamist bombs are blind to the arbitrary fault lines between and within a people. Terrorist-launched missiles can be aimed, but rockets don't discriminate as to who they kill and who they spare.

But while we're reminded once again that it's dangerous to be a Jew - if it's ever been safe - I can't say I'm not proud to be Jewish.

"Justice, justice shall you pursue..."

And justice has been done.

Fuck You, Hizballah.

I designed this flag, by the way. Months ago.



Jews worldwide urged to be on their guard after assassination

Hezbollah Chief Declares War on Israel After Militant Commander's Death

Israel embassies on high alert following Mughniyah killing

U.S. Official: World 'Better Place' With Death of Hezbollah Figure

Monday, February 11, 2008

Whining About Winehouse, the Grammys

In my honest opinion, celebrating Amy Winehouse is akin to democratic politicians celebrating dictators, or U.S. soldiers celebrating terrorists. Regardless of talent, when you reward a human for her self-destructive tendencies - call me cynical, but I seriously doubt Winehouse won those Grammys despite her erratic habits - the message being sent is that it's okay to be a druggie who skips shows, so long as you can write songs and sing 'em.

Well, I suppose it doesn't really matter, in the end. Except for all the musically-talented kids who'll OD because the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gave 'em a pass to do so. We so frequently publicly reward that which we inwardly deplore, and still people wonder how it is that terrorists can scare us as they do. Gawrsh, it's a mystery!

And let me tell you something else: The years Norah Jones and John Legend won their Grammys, the hype surrounding them made those awards quite predictable. The same went for this year: I knew beforehand that the Recording Academy was going to set on a pedestal a singualr personality, and anyone who knew that could also read the tea leaves and would've been able to tell that someone was likely going to be Amy Winehouse. Remember, we're not talking about the people celebrating the music; we're talking about insiders celebrating insiders, just like at the Oscars.

They'll pick who they want, not who we want (even if, sometimes, those preferences do coincide).

You wanna know the great thing about the Recording Academy? They think we were born yesterday. Of course, we're too busy prostrating ourselves before them to take the time and use the energy to disabuse them of that notion. If you ask me, given what we know about her and the way she acts, Amy Winehouse was just as shocked as Captain Renault in this classic scene (one of my favorites in any movie) from Casablanca:

Obviously, I'm not all that impressed. I'm not saying those who win Grammys shouldn't revel in having won the acceptance of their peers on such a wide scale, an acceptance they feel they so desperately need even if they pretend to not care one way or the other. I am saying, however, that we shouldn't be celebrating them as much as we do, because we haven't any say. We change our schedules - organize our lives - around watching the Oscars or the Grammys or the Emmys...but does watching those events change our lives?

Do these awards shows celebrate our professed democratic ideals, or mock them?

In a Republic, we're all supposed to be in the same boat. But all the lights, all the smoke, all the mirrors of major awards shows such as the Grammys demonstrate not only that there is an elite, but how much they see themselves as being above ordinary citizens. Keep in mind, there's nothing inherently wrong about these shows, and I'm not advocating that we should do away with them. For all my cynicism on the matter, I'm still taken in by the spectacle on occasion. To a point.

I do think, though, that the time spent watching the Oscars or Grammys might often be better spent watching however many movies or listening to however many albums can be fit into the same amount of time those broadcasts take up. Or heck, read a book. Remember what books are? Go out for dinner. Something. You can always see the parts of the Oscars or Grammys you wish to see online anyway, or at least will be able to one day. Why let those "stars" who care little for you determine your schedule?

I guess, in the end, what I'm trying to say is think for yourself. Don't choose the music you listen to based on whether an album won a Grammy, or on how many Grammys an artist earned. Listen to what you like, and if it happens to have the elites' stamp of approval, so be it. The same goes for movies - just because a film hasn't won an Oscar doesn't mean you don't have a right to see it, or shouldn't see it. No matter how talented an artist, or innovative or pleasing an album, or entertaining and mind-blowing a movie, the only recognition that really matters is the one you award.

For all their faults, our politicians recognize this.

Why do you think John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama want your vote so much? Their legitimacy is judged by how much proof of our approval they can garner and show off. An endorsement from a prominent or respected political figure may be the equivalent of a Grammy or Oscar in the Industry of Politics (a.k.a. Government), but in a country of one man, one vote, getting the Kennedy clan to back you doesn't really matter unless Massachusetts likes you too.

Same goes for Arizona: Just 'cause the Governor says she likes you doesn't mean Arizonans will actually choose you.

Ain't that right, Barack?