Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Medieval bigotry. Image of Jewish moneylenders from a French manuscript. Note the characteristic hats, hooked noses, and the closed door that represents the clandestine nature of the transaction.
What I have below is actually the skeleton of a blog entry I started five days ago and never finished. I ran out of steam, saved it as a draft, and, as often happens, completely lost the blog muse. "Strike when it's hot" seems to be the better course as far as blogging goes.
I haven't really returned to the blog because I've been lazy, uninspired, and depressed by the dark muggy northeast weather. I haven't really been lazy -- I've been working like crazy to get ready for my research trip -- but I've been blog-lazy. The only recreation I've really had has been cooking and watching soccer (Alas! Spain has once again disappointed us, losing to France 3-1). I still think I will present the following examples of how insane this world is getting, but stripped down to the minimum of commentary. They do, after all, speak for themselves.
Exhibit One: I was watching Ghana beat the Czech Republic in World Cup soccer and I was surprised when one of the players, John Paintsil, celebrated the win by exhibiting a small Israeli flag. Apparently Paintsil plays professional soccer for Tel Aviv, and he took out the flag in order to greet the fans who had traveled from Israel to see the game. This would have remained nothing but a curiosity were it not for the reaction to the small piece of cloth in Paintsil's hands. Ghanaian embassies in Arab countries received death threats. The government of Libya summoned the Ghanaian ambassador for consultation, and the Ghanaian foreign minister had to meet with Arab ambassadors to calm the "situation."
Exhibit Two: The Presbyterian Church (USA) recently voted to revise a policy that called for divestment from companies that sold military technology used by Israel in the occupied territories. One example is Caterpillar, which sells the bulldozers Israel uses to destroy Palestinian homes. As divestment goes, this case was mild. It never came to be a full policy, and was restricted to specific companies. It was not an attack on the Israeli economy on the whole, just on specific policies that have been widely seen as violations of human rights.
One may or may not agree on the policy. However, the rhetoric used to discuss divestment by its critics was extreme. Former CIA director R. James Woolsey, a Presbyterian layman, spoke at the conference and claimed the divestment policy put the church "clearly on the side of theocratic, totalitarian, anti-Semitic, genocidal beliefs." This was said, even though some American and Jewish groups support divestment. Calling someone genocidal is a great way to spur intelligent debate on an important issue.
Exhibit Three: A Greek professor was denied admittance to the United States when trying to get to a SUNY academic conference. He was detained at JFK, questioned about his political beliefs, and then sent back to Greece, told that there were "technical difficulties" with his visa.
Like I said, I believe all this speaks for itself.
Posted by Liam at 8:28 PM