Posted Przemysław Dudek
Every now and then I am really happy that my opinions and decisions are not influential. The pressure on the leaders of nations, heads of the armies and other significant individuals must be overwhelming in many cases. The matters of peace and war seem to be, from my point of view, the hardest ones to analyze. The decision is not a theoretical question in an academic debate but a choice that will end in survival or death of real people.
The recent days have shown that the narration for the need for bombing Iran is not the only one in the Israeli society. The photos of Israelis declaring love towards Iranians and promising NEVER to bomb their country went viral in the social media and were responded by mutual feelings and declarations among some Iranians. Peace is good, war is evil. The ones who declare war are unjust; the justice is always for the peace. If only this could be so simple.
The history of the Jewish people shows that violence is not always unjust, in many cases it is necessary for the higher cause in order to save the lives of families or not to perish as a nation. We celebrate Purim not because Ester convinced Haman to change his plans but because the enemies were killed before they managed to kill the Jews. World War II has shown how people, not demons, can bring horror to the face of earth and the Nazi concentration camps were not liberated by pacifists. Israeli War of Independence was not a conference for global peace and understanding but a violent way to save the newborn country from annihilation.
In my eyes, eyes of a person living in the diaspora, who has never experienced war and lives in a bubble of multicultural circle of friends, war can just be theory. Peace is always. I can only imagine what it feels like to be woken up in Be’er Sheva by the sound of sirens or serve in the army in the Golan Heights. I wish all my Israeli friends could say the same thing, but we do not live in a perfect world. It would be very easy for me to cheer for the “We will never bomb you” slogan while having a cappuccino and updating my status on FB and a part of me really appreciates the good will of the people on the both sides of the conflict but how can one say that peace is justice when Iran will get a nuclear bomb? How can one actually believe that Israel will NEVER bomb Iran when the spiritual leaders of that country tell to: “Kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel”?
In Babylonian Talmud, one of the sources of Jewish sense of Justice, we can read: “if someone comes to kill you, get up early to kill him first.” And I do not feel like having any other option than to say that sometimes justice is war.
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March 25, 2012 | 3:21 pm
Posted Estera Schreibman Poland
Justice. Studying law I found out two things: justice is all in all just a way to remove tensions in community and other - there is no a hundred per cent way to be objective cause a human is just a human. And we all make mistakes. But we as a humankind managed to create rules called law. This useful tool among others is being used when one is harmed by other. Victim has a right to seek justice.
And here enter: culture, tradition, religion and heritage. How can we seek justice? What actions allow us to use force or power? Where defendant can be oppressor? And when people are even? Answers for those questions are in my opinion in all mentioned above.
To be honest I never made an effort in studying in details what Judaism says about justice. I strongly believe my grandmothers passed it to their children. And the message when I think about it is pretty much clear – respect life, never forget injustice or harm in any way and do not rest until enemy is not down.Well, I am granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. My grandmother say: G’d is to forgive, we are to remember.I carry pacifism in my heart but I am very aware of fact that this is not a solution. With pacifism in heart there would be no Jews in Europe after Holocaust and there would not be Eretz Israel.And we cannot forget that. We need to fight for justice and fight with injustice which among many, many names has one called anti-Semitism.
Jewish people never remain silent when it comes to human rights. Silence is what we got during Second World War. Of course none of Holocaust victims can seek justice now. But this is another thing about Jews – collective responsibility and memory. I will never forget what happened to my family but I am not going to seek revenge till the seventh generation. No, that was others idea – communists in Soviet Russia, who decided to throw away Jewish people from Poland in 1968 just because Israel won Sixth Day War. We found other way – we are regaining our strength and focus on building ourselves. And on top of that I dare to think that all injuries we suffered through thousand years made us more sensitive about others – about life, about human rights.
But back to the removing tensions. I am still shocked after killings in France last week. My mind goes around this all the time.
So how can we remove tensions – meaning find justice – after what happened in there? (We can also apply this to Holocaust and many other matters). There are four Jewish people dead - just because they were Jewish. Among them there are little children. Killer is also dead. How can we seek justice now?
I blame his parents, his friends for what happened. I blame people who where whispering into his ear fanatic words. For me they are all responsible as well. I have many Muslim friends and I blame them to – why you always keep saying my dear friends – he was just another bad person. No matter whether he was Jewish or Muslim, he was another evil man.
I want justice. Maybe I am too radical at the moment – but I am just another emotional Jew who is tired to read in headlines like that– and try to understand me I am against victimizing, siege mentality and I have true friends among Muslims. But this time I feel I am very bitter.
I want all people who let and made this 23-year old terrorist do what he did punished. I also want a Muslim world to stop accepting that kind of behavior. Accepting silently.
There are no representatives like European Court of Human Rights in Arab League who would raise to life some commission who would prosecute terrorist organizations who fed up this killer-boy with madness. Another truth about justice is coming to us now – no way to be objective and no way of being even. I do not even know what would be sufficient now.
March 25, 2012 | 3:10 pm
Posted Ian Shulman
If you are curious to get a glimpse of a true Medieval xenophobic rage, you are kindly invited to google ‘Russia elections Jews’ (in Russian, of course). Hundreds of blog posts, YouTube videos, forum discussions and more are willing to disclose the ‘true’ background of the recent presidential and parliamentary elections in Russia. The credibility of the story is rather doubtful: the Jews are back once again to destroy the peace and stability of the country by preventing Vladimir Putin from becoming the president for the third time. Together with vicious democrats and liberals from the EU of the USA Jews are threatening the prosperity of Russia by infusing their false values and putting the Russians on the knees. No alarms: this is not an officially stated opinion of the government and not even an opinion of the majority. However, there is an existing substantial group of Russian society strongly believing in the Jewish conspiracy.
This is not unusual at all, and not only because such trends were arising in Russia regularly for different political occasions. The fact is that many famous personalities of Jewish origin were involved in attempts of providing fair elections, equal chances for all the candidates and all other actions in favour of justice. Oppositioner Boris Nemtsov is marching with thousands of protesters through the streets and squares of Moscow demanding the cancellation of elections’ results; actors, authors and showmen are recording boycotting video-messages, twittering, facebooking, blogging to transfer the message. Finally, legendary oligarch Boris Berezovsky is supporting the initiative from his today’s home in London, almost like Emmanuel Goldstein from Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.
The situation hardly sounds surprising. Jewish people were almost on the side of change in Russia; needless to recall Leon Trotsky and his partners Kamenev and Zinovyev as well as some Jewish roots of Vladimir Lenin. Jewish people inherited a unique legislation system, but unfortunately had a very short time to use it on their own land. Another distinguished trait of Jewish people is their incredible and unexplainable, almost masochistic love to the lands they are inhabiting. It seemed to be an insider’s mission: quietly fighting for the liberation and prosperity of this hostile, foreign, but still as dear country. Obviously, this mission is far from being accomplished.
March 25, 2012 | 2:24 pm
Posted Monika Opalińska Poland
Being a girl with the Jewish origins, Chaje knew what it meant to work hard since she was a child. Born on 25.12.1870 in Kraków, she was the eldest child of Gitel and Herzl Rubinstein. She came from an orthodox Jewish family that at the time was living at Szeroka 14 street at Krakow’s Kazimierz. When she was still just a child, she decided to provide proper living conditions and financial help for her family. (A. Kutylak “Krakowianie: wybitni Żydzi krakowscy XIV-XX wiek.”, Kraków 2006)
In the evenings, without being seen, she slipped out of home to the nearest market, to observe the city which was teeming with live, and listen to men’s conversations about trading and politics.
Chaje knew exactly, what she wanted from life, and she would not allow anybody to decide about her fortune. That’s why she opposed to her father, refusing to marry a wealthy widower chosen for her by a matchmaker. She could not imagine, that she would be with someone without loving him. That was the reason, why she was forced to leave her home and move to her aunt – Rozalia Silberfeld–Beckmann. (www.gazetakrakowska.pl)
After a year she went to Australia, where she spent two years in a Corelaine town living with her uncle who was a shepherd. At the beginning her every day was filled with unsatisfying hard work, bringing nothing more but necessary profit. Forced to live in modest conditions, she was strengthening her will to find what luxury means. Being a waitress in a place, where groups of artists were meeting she wanted to become someone unique, who would be an object of admiration, amusement and a centre of interest.
Finding her new goal, she was determined enough to run her own business. The idea of it came from observing women that surrounded her, who were greatly interested in Helena’s flawless skin. She knew, that she owed it to the small and inconspicuous jar of skin cream, that her mother had put into her travel bag, before she left. Krakowian skin cream made by dr Lykulsky became an object of desire for local women. Later on Helena found out that bringing the specific back from Poland was not profitable, so she acquired a formula and started to produce the cream on-site, calling it “Valaze”. (L.Woodhead “Helena Rubinstein I Elizabeth Arden. Barwy wojenne.”, Warszawa 2004)
Helena knew exactly that her business was based on a rule of „inaccessibility”. That’s why she kept on affirming that the goods were still being imported from Krakow, and made by high ranked specialists, even if truly she was the one, who was taking care of the production. Moreover, she knew that she needed a powerful potency of advertising, and because of that all she wanted was to put some advertisements about her products and her beauty salon in a local press as often as it was possible. A great part in developing Helena’s business played Edward Titus, journalist with Polish origins, whom she married later. (www.luksusowe-zycie.bloog.pl)
Flattering article about the specimen and the producer written by Titus raised the interest level of the product, providing an effective advertisement. Using the different ways of autopromotion, easiness of making contacts and good intuition about marketing, Helena soon acquired a fair number of about 15 thousand orders. That forced herself to be completely devoted to the arduous process of production. During the night, she personally made the mixture, put it into jars and labeled them.
That extremely enterprising woman didn’t settle for beauty salons in Australia. Shortly she started to run new ones in world’s capital cities like Paris, London and New York. Rubbinstein always said that „there are no such a thing like ugly woman, there are only lazy ones”. In her speeches she ruthlessly crushed her competition, blaming them for low quality of products and attempts of copying her specimens. She employed many members of her family, what was the main reason why her company was called “Polish mafia” by her biggest rival – Elizabeth Arden. (www.gazetakrakowska.pl)
Next episodes of Madame /so called by Titus/ showed us, that her development is a succession of her hard work and trust in her own abilities. As a child, Chaje constantly dreamt about exclusive clothes brought from Paris, and great art pieces, so badly desired by her. In the following years those dreams turned into friendships with many prominent characters like Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Rouault or Derain. She acquired the art pieces of remarkable artists, knowing that one day they will be much more appreciated. Even Salvador Dali designed powder-boxes for her, obliging himself to paint her portrait.
After moving to London, Madame totally charmed the English aristocracy with her uniqueness. The success of the second Valaze salon was as spectacular as the first one. During the period of time she spent in England, her two sons were born – Roy (1908) and Horace (1912). She became even more self-confident and obstinate. “Valaze”, initially just a name of a skin cream, turned into a whole line of cosmetics. In 1912 Helena opened another institute of beauty in Paris. She created the first lipsticks and cassette powders, expanding her business onto new beauty treatments. Once more she earned a huge amount of admirers and achieved an amazing success. In 1915 another salon was opened in New York. It developed so fast, that it influenced the opening of new salons in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. (L.Woodhead “Helena Rubinstein I Elizabeth Arden. Barwy wojenne.”, Warszawa 2004)
Helena’s strong character had let her outlast the parting with husband Edward Titus, his moving to the rival company onto the main manager position and his affiliation with company owner – Elizabeth Arden. Even though it was a hard period of time for Helena, she kept her mind sobriety and great marketing talent. In 1928, before the great financial recession, she had sold her American establishment stock for 8 million dollars, just to buy them back after the stock market breakdown with 6 million of profit, paying just a sum of 2 million dollars. Two years after her divorce, Madame got married once again – with a 15 year old younger Georgian prince Artchil Gourielli – Tchkonia. (www.kobieta.newsweek.pl)
Jean Cocteau once called Helena „the Empress of Beauty”. That amazing woman was managing her company until the end of her days. She kept on saying, that work makes people happy, because only at work they can find a real sense of life. Despite a lot of duties she had, she still found time for supporting artists’ communities and establishing many foundations. Fascination of art let her fill her residences with sophisticated art pieces from all over the world.
March 24, 2012 | 3:04 am
Posted Mendelssohn X
Originally posted on Jewdyssee
Let there be no doubt: The remarks of the official representative of the EU, Mrs.Ashton, comparing the Toulouse terror victims to Israeli operations in Gaza, were more than just ignorant, they also showed a terrible attitude towards the comlexity of the Jewish state. We all, European and Israeli Jews should stand united against such an obvious lack of information among Europe´s Elite. But this morning I have more wrath against a journalist of YNET News than against Ashton. How irrational. But unfortunately it is just as necessary.
The article called „The day Europe died“ basically reproduces the dogma that most Israelis seem to believe as it is deeply connected to the essence of Zionism. Europe is a museum, a vacation spot, but not a place for Jews to live anymore. And let me guess where the Jews should move to. So this journalist and those who support him expect the „diaspora Jew“ to behave just accoding to the Zionist prejudice against THE diaspora JEW. He should be fearful (because of the terror), grab his stuff and run away to Israel instead of staying and fighting. While in Israel even known leftwingers such as Hadag Nahash make tracks like „Rak Po“ (Only here) about how terror attacks can be scary but are never allowed to break one´s spirit, the lives and existences of European Jews is seen as a mere step towards packing the suitcase. Maybe the first step to be accepted in your own existence, is to accept other people´s right to exist? And here there is indeed a problem. A problem at the very core of modern Jewish identity. For me it is very important to have a good, no, AMAZING relationship with Israel. Not just because of relatives and friends, but also because I deeply believe that the creation of a Jewish state has been among my Top 3 events of the 20th century besides my parents meeting and the evolution of Germany as a tolerant and open society.
So while for me my relationship to Israel is unshakeable, Israelis seem to have a problem with ME. And yes, I do understand it. In order to live in the middle east among enemies in a harsh climate without many natural resources, you need to believe in it 150%. It only works in the first place when you perceive all diaspora life as an illusion. So my Zionist Alter Ego would say: There have always been times of tolerance in the diaspora, but in the end it will always end in a holocaust. This is the dogma. The vatican. It is the result of a history writing in myths rather than in facts. Because there was no secular Jewish history writing until the times after the French Revolution, the Zionists just took religious scripture and believed everything besides the word „God“. And then it really doesn´t matter anymore if one gets kicked out of Jerusalem by the Romans or if one gets kicked out of Ukraine by Chmielnicki after helping Polish landlords oppressing Ukranian farmers. Hannah Arendt was very right about this: one of the reasons why there are so many Antisemitic conspiracy theories is that the official Jewish history is completely idealized and taken from religion. It is a known fact that Jews played a major role in transatlantic slave trade, but if you find stuff about this only in publications of Neonazis and Islamists, you will end up always feeding them with unnecessary support. And you yourself start to believe like many Israelis that Jews were always nice and peaceful and never fought back until the Israeli evolved and started saying „I don´t wanna kill, but if I have to, I do“. As if the whole world history was some kind of Braveheart-Movie without Mel Gibson.
And don´t get me wrong, if such a brainfuck was necessary in order to create the Jewish state, it was all worthwile. But now it´s not the 19th century anymore. And I do understand that Israel needs to keep up its Jewish population, also through Aliyah. And if Orthodox Jews asked me where they should live, I would always tell them to live in Israel. Cheaper kosher food and you can always wear a Kipa in the streets. But I do hope that Israelis realize that gathering all Jews in one place is something only God and Hitler have talked about so far, and that modern globalized identity cannot always look out for everyone´s ideological dreams. My dream is that one day Israelis can be proud of WHO and WHERE they are and tolerate that there are other people in the world who call themselves also Jews and also don´t like if other people try to make decisions FOR them.
March 24, 2012 | 2:58 am
Posted Monika Opalińska
Natural resources were always for Africa the biggest blessing but at the same time the most devastating curse. For many hundreds of years Europeans were colonizing African land and getting profits from its wealth as well as forcing aboriginal population into slavery. The second half of the twentieth century raised hope that after reaching independency the situation of the African countries will change for better. However, it wasn’t about to happen, not at all.
Nowadays Africa is mostly governed by dictatorships. Still, African people cannot fully benefit from their goods just for themselves. Africa has many opportunities in the economic field to join the leading and outstanding world potentates. Despite the wide range of natural resources Africa has the most important resource, that is young and ready to work people who want to and intend to explore the whole continent. However children usually do not have the chance to grow up in loving and caring families that could shape them into the strong minded society. Instead of books they too often are given guns…
One of the most horrific examples, not the single one though is the Lord’s Resistance Army – the rebel group of Joseph Kony that since 1987 “stole” around 30 thousands of children. What’s really startling is that young boys are forced to kill with cold blood even the members of their own families and girls are turned into sexual slaves.
This appalling ordeal of breaking human rights and barbarous abusing of children lead to make 30-minute advocacy film created by a nonprofit organization called Invisible Children. Movie’s raising popularity gave the idea to start Kony 2012 Action.
Nowadays It happens to disturb the minds of not only thousands but already millions of people. This thrilling story stays in hearts and wakes conscience so strongly that each day the number of the people involved in the action grows every minute. In the action the most important role play the social internet sites. The very similar situation took place during The Arab Spring, when members of this venture were also using the same ways of communication through the net. Living in the twenty first century people have a great possibility to spread this information all over the world. The main goal of this campaign is to make the issue visible to the eyes of the nations. Hopefully it will bring to justice one of the most atrocious criminal.
The worldwide action shows that when people work as a group they can create a very powerful voice. It raises hope when it can be heard that many famous celebrities, politics and businessmen are joining this action. Many organizations and communities are already involved in the movement and bring on the fame for Kony’s video.
I owe the knowledge about Joseph Kony and this story to “Jewrnalism project”. To be honest if the leader of the group Klaudia Klimek hadn’t posted the video on the facebook, I would never know about this formidable situation. It only proves how great influence and power has the voice of all communities. Especially when it can be derived from such an experienced nation as Jews who keep on trying to help other countries fight with the atrocities of the human race.
I believe that young open minded and full of energy people that connect into groups can become a meaningful strength that will manage to change the world and make it a better place. We all should be concerned about other people’s life and future. We can ever let neither African nor any other children to grow up in fear about their own life. It’s the duty of all the people in the world to provide help in building safe and fair environment for future generations.
So let’s not only stop for a moment and think about how devastating that is but also start doing something about it! Even if it will be only getting the Kony 2012 Action kit and donating a few dollars for the campaign it will still mean a lot for those children who deserve better future and life in a world free of violence and atrocities.
March 23, 2012 | 4:08 am
Posted Mendelssohn X
Originally posted on Jewdyssee
Recently an Israeli journalist friend of mine posted cartoons from the NY Times that showed a mighty and hideous Netanyahu controlling his American puppet. It is a bit more sophisticated than the usual caricatures we know from Der Stürmer or Al Manar. This is pretty scary although one has to admit that Netanyahu does get more standing ovations in the US congress than Obama and for some reason the Republican nominees who usually don´t agree on anything, all but Ron Paul agree on an absolute support of Israel as if it was their grandmother.
So is it Antisemitic to make a cartoon about that? Probably not by defintion, but given the fact there is a history of anti-Jewish caricatures paving the way towards a genocide this might be the point where us Jews should get in the mood that Muslims are in when some American redneck burns a Quran. I´m not saying we should buy a NY Times and step on it while filming and lighting it up and afterwards put in on YouTube, but we should definitely think about whether these lost sensitivities by a New York newspaper which is seen by many Neonazis as part of the Jewish World Conspiracy, signifies a shift in the harshness that Israel is facing in international spheres even among the closest allies.
Here in Berlin, Germany, it would be unthinkable that a newspaper publishes something like this. Really? Yes, but this is more because it is a taboo. But it´s not an unbreakable taboo like pedophilia, it is more a taboo like tax crimes. You don´t do that because you will cause a discussion about the Nazi past, of which everyone is too bored. It has a lot to do with Germany being part of the Atlantic friendship thing with the US since the times of the Marshall plan and the Berlin Air Lift. The first post-war chancellor Konrad Adenauer said in an interview that reconciliation with the Jews is also needed because of the power they have in the US. This was the 50s. Later the 1968 Generation opened up the discussion about the Nazi past and started loving the Kibbutz and Woody Allen, but it also came along with the New Left and it´s criticism of American Imperialism and everything that America supports, including Israel. It´s kind of like 1967 is for Israel, you gained Jerusalem and access to the Western Wall, but you also got the occupation. In other words, don´t ask me why it works so well. I highly doubt it would stay this way if one day there would be a major split between the USA and Israel. Philip Roth has dealt with this question in his novel „Plot against America“ in which Charles Lindbergh becomes the first openly Antisemitic US president. If Germany would stand alone as Israel´s supporter there would be for sure populists here who understood the political potential in this situation. Freeing oneself from the guilt feelings, and joining in with the majority of the people of the world. This sounds terrible now. It would not happen in the 1938 way, but it would happen in the Erdogan way. So as much as I still hope for Israel returning to the Rabin path and join Obama in policies worthy of the 21st century, I still prefer sometimes to deal with a Republican who likes me, than with caricatures that look life threatening to my existence. But I would not admit that in public. Not because I´m a diaspora Jew who is too fearful to speak out, but just because…come on – Republicans, Christian Evangelicals, Rupert Murdoch, seriously, with all the respect to the coalitions Israel has to engage in, I really would prefer Manu Chao, Christopher Hitchens or Cornel West. Dammit, when I think about it, being Jewish really IS hard. Maybe I should assimilate?
But you cannot escape being a Jew! But that was just Hitler, most Antisemites were not racially oriented and Christians were fine with baptizing. Man, the only things that kept and keep me in is the fact that my mother always sang „Erev Shel Shoshanim“ so I would fall asleep and listen to the Exodus theme all the time. Okay, and the hotness of Israeli women that contributed so much to my early 20s. So much more convincing than the theory. Fuck this, tough times coming up, please Hashem, save your people once more, and please make them understand that although they became tired of the Kibbutz mentality, this secular Zionism was definitely they way to go towards a better future and please give them the strength and the eyes to see that their recent secular self-hatred that makes them say things like “At least the National Religious still know what they are fighting for” is something most of their ancestors would be really ashamed of. It´s okay, we can do this “A Nation that dwells alone”-thing, I got your back, but please work on the marketing. After all the 1990s surfer macho with flip flops and sunglasses was much better and meaningful than those rightwinged self-knotted Kipa guys or Danny Danons you are sending over now. Just because all the Bamba and Bissli is gone afterwards doesn´t mean that anyone is listening to that shit. We cannot help being depicted in cartoons, but at least we should not look like one.
March 22, 2012 | 4:10 pm
Posted Ian Shulman/ Austria
All I knew about the second largest city of Slovakia was that most of Jewish families I have encountered in Vienna have their roots in Kosice. When I told them I was going to visit the town during my Slovakia trip, the reaction was as if I am making a long-awaited journey to the abandoned home, where there are still places to visit and messages to pass. I felt the commitment to bring some news from ‘home’. What I’ve seen in Kosice was the magnificent Habsburg city with some definite Soviet surroundings. The most Jewish element I have encountered was the figure of Golem on the logo of the pub (and brewery) of the same name. I could only guess the ghosts of former synagogues in the shapes of theaters or philharmonics buildings, which still seems to be the most favorable option of a second life.
The doors of the old synagogue building were opened to me by Mark and Martina, two young people from the local Jewish community. Once abandoned building is undergoing a long and thorough renovation at the moment. It is a part of a community centre, hidden in one of the inner yards of the old city. The stripped walls of the temple and pigeons’ scream somewhere under the roof could have persuaded me that Jewish life here has disappeared decades ago. In reality, the true glimmers of life happen here each Thursday, when rabbi Stiefel from Piestany gathers a group of local young people in a tiny room of the community center. He teaches the basics of Judaism, but as important as his classes are, the main thing remains the meeting itself - since that’s probably the only occasion when the young generation of Kosice Jews can spend some time together. Mark confirms, that even though he finds the classes of rabbi Stiefel interesting, the main reason why he and his friends attend the meetings is the social part of it. Such idea first seem strange to him, as neither him, nor his parents were involved in any community activities; now Mark can’t wait for the next Thursday. Probably that’s the best story I can tell about Kosice to my Viennese homesick friends.