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Celebrity blogging by an editor who doesn’t much get into such stuff

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shameless expoitation
So, what set THIS off? It was seeing this thing in my news feed, my mixed feelings about it and my wonder about how someone without much in common with me might take it. A now septuagenarian old buzzard getting into the possible thoughts of a 30-year-old woman? Can it be more than just a dirty old man’s appreciation? Photos by Ralph_PH and Eric Jackson.

Although I was brought up not to believe in celebrities…

(a personal take by Eric Jackson, on an issue of interest to Democrats)

I WONDER if Miley Cyrus is laughing. She got typecast in this syrupy Hanna Montana stuff and then went to extremes, sometimes creepy ones, to disassociate herself from that persona.

At the time my reaction was “Yuck!” and some wondering about where she would be at as a musician / actress when she got done with that phase.

One might say “entertainment nepotism” — she’s the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus and the goddaughter of Dolly Parton — but is she just this dizzy privileged lady who is where she’s at because of her connections? Well, she has a mind of her own. Wants to control the content of her work, endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 even if Dolly Parton pointedly denied that SHE would endorse a candidate. Miley has associated with Democrats but also Republicans, and seems to concur with her dad, who said “The last thing the world needs to hear from me is my opinion on which side, or which tribe, I’m on.” She also has met Trump, and without calling him out, says she understands him. MAYBE as one real person behind a false persona at one point might understand a guy with this oversized false persona with puny creep behind it.

Thing is, although Miley Cyrus did not hit the campaign trail for Democrats this past year, she DID hit the campaign trail for abortion rights, with her own Happy Hippie Foundation teaming up with Planned Parenthood for the cause. And in her punk rock breakaway from Disney crap and the relatively low pay she got for that, was that a LESBIAN video she did with Dua Lipa?

Like her dad and her godmother, Miley Cyrus tries to stay partisan-neutral. And maybe she actually is, even if her stands on certain issues put her at odds with the Republicans in “the garbage fire” of current US politics that Parton describes. Her dad, too, tries to stay away from the “obvious good old boy” MAGA stuff but doesn’t denounce it either — yet he very much DOES denounce the culture of bullying which affects both parties but is a hallmark of MAGA. And I wonder if Miley is pained by all the articles that describe her recent hit about the breakup of her marriage as a “revenge song.”

For all country musicians with a progressive thought or two in their heads, the redneck aspect of that music scene gives pause for discretion. Look what they did to Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks — they were so badly vilified that Democrats with allied ideas were frightened of what might happen were the association made. Her dad is stuck in that business scene and could be destroyed by its reactionary elements. Her godmother has gone beyond that with her acting, I think — but when her 9 to 5 cast mates Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda said scathing things about Donald Trump, Dolly Parton kept her silence.

Miley Cyrus has broken free, maybe because she CAN, unlike some others close to her. Culturally, I think she’s one of us, but not to be taken for granted, nor used. We don’t ride into office on her fame, but we should ride into office on issues that she says are dear to her heart.

So I wonder if she laughs or cries when her former persona is used by a legendary buffoon whose name will be remembered in American history after all of us are dead and buried.

 

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¿Wappin? All things and people pass / Todas las cosas y las personas pasan

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Crosby
David Crosby in 2012. Wikimedia photo by SolarScott.

To cheer up a hurting editor on a Friday
Para animar a un redactor herido en un viernes

Erika Ender – Abrazame
https://youtu.be/chzrpOa4VDc

Crosby Stills & Nash – Long Time Gone
https://youtu.be/CVW9sOsXAjU

Esperanza Spalding – Tiny Desk Concert
https://youtu.be/2arc30068Wk

Buddy Rich & Harry James – Seven Comes Eleven
https://youtu.be/M-tkwdSQ4MA

The Petersens – Here Comes The Sun
https://youtu.be/DF5emO1X0HA

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
https://youtu.be/TpGPBoS5nTE

Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz – The Girl From Ipanema
https://youtu.be/sVdaFQhS86E

Marc Anthony & Juan Gabriel – Yo Te Recuerdo
https://youtu.be/49y7QVQY1-o

Dionne Warwick – Don’t Make Me Over
https://youtu.be/dDblF-J6qvY

Romeo Santos – Solo Conmigo
https://youtu.be/69ppp5Ipook

 

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PRD, Una Gran Alianza Triunfadora

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voting
Una jornada electoral pasada. Foto de archivo de Eric Jackson.
them

 

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To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

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Manly, Miller, Harvey & Griffey: “The most dangerous Negro”

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King
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses an interfaith civil rights rally at San Francisco’s Cow Palace in 1964. Photo by George Conklin.

‘The most dangerous Negro’: Three essential reads on the FBI’s assessment of MLK’s radical views and allies

edited by Howard Manly, The Conversation

Left out of GOP debates about “the weaponization” of the federal government is the use of the FBI to spy on civil rights leaders for most of the 20th century.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the targets.

As secret FBI documents became declassified, The Conversation U.S. published several articles looking at the details that emerged about King’s personal life and how he was considered in 1963 by the FBI as “the most dangerous Negro.”

1. The radicalism of MLK

As a historian of religion and civil rights, University of Colorado Colorado Springs Professor Paul Harvey writes that while King has come to be revered as a hero who led a nonviolent struggle to build a color blind society, the true radicalism of MLK’s beliefs remain underappreciated.

“The civil saint portrayed nowadays was,” Harvey writes, “by the end of his life, a social and economic radical, who argued forcefully for the necessity of economic justice in the pursuit of racial equality.”

2. The threat of being called a communist

Jason Miller, a North Carolina State University English professor, details the delicate balance that King was forced to strike between some of his radical allies and the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

As the leading figure in the civil rights movement, Miller explains, King could not be perceived as a communist in order to maintain his national popularity.

As a result, King did not overtly invoke the name of one of the Harlem Renaissance’s leading poets, Langston Hughes, a man the FBI suspected of being a communist sympathizer.

But Miller’s research reveals the shrewdness with which King still managed to use Hughes’ poetry in his speeches and sermons, most notably in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech which echoes Hughes’ poem “I Dream a World.”

“By channeling Hughes’ voice, King was able to elevate the subversive words of a poet that the powerful thought they had silenced,” Miller writes.

3. ‘We must mark him now’

As a historian who has done substantial research regarding FBI files on the Black freedom movement, UCLA labor studies lecturer Trevor Griffey points out that from 1910 to the 1970s, the FBI treated civil rights activists as either disloyal “subversives” or “dupes” of foreign agents.

Screenshot from a 1966 FBI memo regarding the surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr.
National Archives via Trevor Griffey photo

As King ascended in prominence in the late 1950s and 1960s, it was inevitable that the FBI would investigate him.

In fact, two days after King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, William Sullivan, the FBI’s director of intelligence, wrote: “We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security.”

Editor’s note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation’s archives.The Conversation

Howard Manly, Race + Equity Editor, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Editorials: Early campaigning; and Single standards about classified documents

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Nito
At the cathedral in Anton, PRD leaders paid their respects to the Cristo Santo de Esquipulas and, as best they could, tried to show their Christian devotion and affinity to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The Martinelistas and Rómulo Roux were also working Anton for the festival. Photo from Gaby Carrizo’s Twitter feed.

The sordid motions of early campaigning

The Electoral Tribunal was ADAMANT. No political campaigning for the 2024 elections at the Thousand Polleras Parade in Las Tablas. This time, no open distribution of booze or gifts, no campaign literature to be passed out. But politicians were there to be seen and – they hope – become associated with some Panamanian cultural traditions.

Overlapping in time, more or less the same thing played out in Anton for the patron saint’s celebration. A bit different, there was the attempt to associate political leaders and would-be leaders with God. It’s hard to say which sort of deceit is more harmful – the damage to religion when clergy or the faithful swallow the lures, or the damage to the public interest when politicians believe their own propaganda and proceed to play God when in public office.

Go through the ancient sacred texts of any religion that has stood the test of time and you will find political value judgments in them. Look at the history of human progress – the abolition of slavery, national and international laws about the humane treatment of prisoners, the global notions that aggressive wars of conquest and genocide are crimes against all humanity – and you will notice that religious people were deeply involved in the movements for these things.

However, let’s not buy into notions that God approves oppression, or transactional politics, or the assertion of one tribe’s innate superiority over another. And let’s not hear ANY of that stuff from secular public authorities.

 

take him away
We can immediately dispense with any and all notions that the Republican-led US House of Representatives has any commitment to the truth. Which observation, however, gets nobody else off of the hook – politicians, media people or voters. Public domain photos in a montage by Eric Jackson.

The facts will vary, but let’s have single standards

Of course Joe Biden’s private possession of classified documents should be investigated, both by Congress and by a special prosecutor. The House is committed to destruction and deceit these days, but the Senate should take up these matters and go much farther afield into the whole classification system and justice for those who have been caught up in it.

Once upon a time, somebody came to The Panama News with a tale about how a certain business that had just opened in Panama city was a front for a DEA sting. Seemed like a true story, but one that could not be verified by US government sources, who won’t talk to the press about such things.

Beyond ambitions to get a titillating scoop, beyond journalistic ethics about verifying the facts, beyond the public right to know about foreign government operations on Panamanian soil, there are other duties owed, regardless of nationality or political allegiance. Publish a tale like that and the people involved would have their lives placed at risk. Not out of love for the DEA, nor loyalty to the US State Department, this editor sent a note to the ambassador at the time, warning that if the story was true then word was on the street which could get US agents killed. No “Is it true?” questions or any of that – making a diplomat squirm while evading really isn’t part of journalism even if it might play well on Fox. Turns out that business shut down rather immediately. No act of courage here. It’s as if a lawyer finds out that a client is en route to killing somone, and immediately has the decency to warn said someone. It’s as if, annoyed by the Panama Canal Authority’s sleazy information control games as an editor might be, refraining from publishing things about the locations of canal security cameras were such information to be learned.

There are hierarchies of duty. One of which is not to be a repeater for propaganda in favor of war crimes. One of which is to call out a foreign policy based on lies when that stuff becomes topical in the news. One of which is to defend freedom of the press, and freedom of information unless there is a strong countervailing interest in a particular situation.

But, but… ESPIONAGE! As in the antique World War I Espionage Act, that gets into classification of information and its breaches.

The Panama News is for dropping US espionage charges against Julian Assange and retroactively pardoning Reality Winner. The latter was put in the difficult position of defending the United States and her oath to defend the US Constitution and other oaths to keep classified documents secret. She did the right thing and warned about Vladimir Putin’s meddling in US elections – and then saw some very creepy Democrat activists try to raise a hue and cry about Donald Trump’s “treason” (which that never was) while not saying a word in Winner’s defense.

Can we cut out the spy thriller stuff, the hyper-partisan propaganda and the double standards? Donald Trump and Joe Biden are both under investigation for improper possession of classified government documents. Good prosecutors’ investigations will go way beyond those simple things and into the nature of those documents and who they were used or intended to be used. Cooperation versus obstruction, candor versus deceit, acknowledgment versus derision of the authority of the law – all of these circumstances would be proper lines of inquiry.

Can senators recognize that laws are not immutable, that needs change with time, that when there is a history of abuses it becomes a proper legislative purpose to correct those abuses?

There is something awry with the US document classification system and it behooves certain public officials to look into it. With not just one single standard, but a series of them. A single standard for handling secret documents. A single standard for obstruction of justice. A single standard that distinguishes unintended mistakes from intentional conduct. A single standard that recognizes the democratic right of an electorate to make informed choices to be properly balanced against official secrecy. A single standard that impedes the use of classification as a cover for criminal activity by people in high places.

Yes, investigate Joe Biden. Investigate Donald Trump. Review the entire classification system. Do these things without telling enemies of the United States where to plant their bombs. Ask and answer questions with respect for people’s intelligence. Even if one party and the one house of Congress it dominates are dedicated to lies and obstruction.

 

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Bear in mind…

Your path is at your feet whether you realize it or not.

Agnes Martin

When a foreign adversary knows that an American official has deceived or withheld vital information from our government, it creates a fundamental counterintelligence vulnerability that can render that official irreparably compromised.

Raja Krishnamoorthi

One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.

Niccolo Machiavelli

 

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Today is International Voter Registration Day for US citizens living abroad

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vote
Federal law generally gives US citizens living abroad the right to vote absentee in the states from whence they come, but you must register every election year. This may be an election year in the place where you vote but you don’t know it.

Heroic or creepy as you may see it, the politicians don’t let up. Neither should you.

It’s an “off year” for US elections, after some surprising midterms that leave the United States with divided and unstable government that might flip with a few special elections, party switches, absent legislators or indictments. It’s hard to imagine, for example, that there won’t be a special election to replace George Santos in the Long Island / Queens district that sent the impostor to Congress.

In fact, we have already had a consequential by-election in the USA this year. The Virginia State Senate was at 21-19 in the Democrats’ favor, but with a couple of Dems who would vote with the Republicans against abortion rights. On January 10 Democrat Aaron Rouse flipped a red district to blue, thus depriving the Republican governor of the votes he’d need to pass anti-abortion legislation that he wants.

Also in Virginia, in a usually safely Democratic 4th Congressional District, voters go to the polls to replace veteran US Representative Donald McEachin, who was re-elected but died before he could be sworn in for a new term. In that race Democratic State Senator Jennifer McClellan will square off with Republican pastor and businessman Leon Benjamin Sr. Either way the race goes, the narrow division in the House of Representatives will be affected.

Do insurrectionist members of Congress get indicted / convicted for January 6, 2021? Does a Florida congressman who’s apparently a short-eye perv get busted on jailbait charges? In some of those districts the party in control and the sort of person who wins will not much change. In others there might be changes. And there may be some Republican members who walk away from that party’s MAGA-dominated caucus in disgust. Your vote just might swing control of the House in another direction before the term of the 118th Congress has run.

Register now, online, for all 2023 elections

ANYWAY, what to do?

There are several groups and campaigns that help Americans living abroad to get registered, two of them systematic and reasonably up to date.

There is the governmental Federal Voter Assistance Project, originally created for US military personnel stationed overseas but now serving any US citizen residing abroad.

There is the non-governmental Vote From Abroad, originally created by Democrats Abroad but serving any US voter living outside the USA, even helping Republicans to register and vote.

What other elections are scheduled for this year?

  • Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi elect state governors.
  • Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia hold legislative elections.
  • There are many mayoral elections. Among the biggest are Chicago; Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and San Antonio in Texas; Denver and Colorado Springs in Colorado; Philadelphia; Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis in Tennessee; Tampa and Jacksonville in Florida; Hartford, Connecticut; Kansas City, Missouri; Tucson; Salt Lake City; Charlotte and Fayetteville in North Carolina; Portland, Maine; and Indianapolis.
  • Major city council elections include Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Seattle.
  • Wisconsin will elect a supreme court justice, with the retiring one having taken stands to restrict voting rights and embraced anti-scientific theories about how COVID is spread.
  • The Eastern Band of Cherokees, the Cherokee Nation and the Chocktaw Nation of Oklahoma will have tribal elections.

Register today, learn more about who’s running, what’s at stake and where they stand and choose well.

 

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Tribunal Electoral, Las nuevas cédulas

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new cedulas

 

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Jolley & Lantian, Conspiracy theories

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they want you to think it's the Illuminati but it's the Obliterati
Belief in conspiracy theories is often linked to lack of trust in institutions. Graphic by Marko Aliaksandr — Shutterstock.

Bullying, power and control: why people believe
in conspiracy theories and how to respond

Daniel Jolley, University of Nottingham and Anthony Lantian, Université Paris Nanterre – Université Paris Lumières

From vaccine uptake to violent extremism, conspiracy beliefs are linked to distrust in major institutions or powerful figures.

Research developed in the last decade shows how conspiracy beliefs can be linked to people’s lack of control in their lives, feeling threatened or even workplace bullying.

Conspiracy theories are defined by psychologists as “explanations for important events that involve secret plots by powerful and malevolent groups” without any basis in fact. Followers point a finger at groups they think of as powerful, from scientists and doctors to minority groups such as Jewish people, and blame them for events or societal change.

Conspiracies, where powerful figures secretly plot to undermine something or someone, do exist. The Watergate scandal involved a break in at the US Democratic National Committee headquarters by burglars connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign.

The burglars were caught wiretapping phones. Nixon tried to cover up the crimes but journalists uncovered his role in the conspiracy. But the difference here is that there is evidence to back up what happened.

However, conspiracists insist their theories are true even when there is no evidence that holds up to scrutiny. Still, conspiracy theories can be persuasive. Millions of British people believe in at least one. It’s a worldwide phenomenon.

Psychology of conspiracy theories

Studies in the early 2010s showed how non-pathological factors, such as uncertainty, are linked to why people turn to conspiracy beliefs. In 2017 psychologist Karen Douglas and colleagues argued the wide appeal of conspiracy theories is their promise to satisfy psychological needs. These include desire for certainty, control and meaning, and to maintain a positive image of yourself and the groups you identify with.

Terrified young woman in a medical mask and protective surgical sterile glovesConspiracy theories can make feelings of anxiety worse. Lia Kos/Shutterstock

Feelings of anxiety and threat increase during a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. People want to make sense of turbulent societies.

But conspiracy theories do not satisfy the psychological needs that make us reach for them. A 2021 study found conspiracy beliefs don’t lessen anxiety or uncertainty. If anything, there is some evidence people’s sense of existential threat and anxiety increases when they engage with conspiracy theories.

A less well understood factor is collective discrimination, where a group experiences being harmed by another group.

But researchers are getting closer to finding out why conspiracy theories are adopted by a group of people. It can be linked to lack of trust in institutions or society. Work in 2002 showed discrimination experienced by African Americans was associated with their heightened beliefs that HIV is made by humans deliberately. This idea still circulates today.

Research in 2020 found discrimination experienced by gay men in the UK was connected to their conspiracy beliefs about HIV being human-made. Such research underscores the links between conspiracy beliefs and distrust in powerful figures found in minority communities.

In a study into how conspiracy beliefs develop, Greek participants who thought their country historically suffered more than other nations were more likely to be conspiracy theorists. Research with similar study designs have found the same results in French and Polish participants.

Linked to bullying

Our recent research was inspired by previous work linking conspiracy theorizing and people’s sense they are being victimized. We focused on workplace bullying. Unlike collective discrimination, bullying is personal, with a power imbalance between the bully and the victim.

Bullied victims report increased feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Being bullied seems to increase the risk of believing in a conspiracy theory.

We carried out two studies. The first study recruited 273 British participants online. We measured participants’ past experiences of workplace bullying by asking them report whether they experienced a range of incidents, such a colleague withholding information which affects a co-workers’ performance. The more negative acts a participant has suffered, the stronger their tendency to engage in conspiracy theorising.

Participants who experienced workplace bullying were more likely to report increased paranoia – to wonder what hidden reason another person may have for doing something nice for them.

In the second study, 206 British participants were asked to imagine they had joined a new work place in the last six months. Half were asked to imagine being bullied in the new workplace (for example being shouted at) or being welcomed. Those who were asked to imagine about being bullied reported an increased general belief in conspiracy theories.

Tackling conspiracy beliefs

Our work highlights how conspiracy beliefs can form in response to circumstances that could happen to anyone. When a hostile environment primes us to search for meaning, we may find a conspiracy explanation appealing.

Research has also started to find solutions to the problem. In 2018 one study found giving people a greater feeling of power reduced the intensity of conspiracy beliefs. Encouraging people to think analytically, which prompts deliberate processing of information, also helps curb the emergence of conspiracy beliefs. Developing these skills in adolescents and conspiracy believers is essential.

Challenging people’s misconceptions about how popular conspiracies are could be effective. For example, one study found giving information to UK parents with anti-vaccine beliefs about other UK parents who did vaccinate their children reduced conspiracy beliefs.

We do not know what tools will work outside of the lab. Mentorship for bullying victims, which has been shown to help people feel more secure, could be a promising place to start. And considering the devastation conspiracy theories can wreak, we can’t afford not to try.The Conversation

Daniel Jolley, Assistant Professor in Social Psychology, University of Nottingham and Anthony Lantian, Associate Professor in Psychology, Université Paris Nanterre – Université Paris Lumières

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Ben-Meir, Nothing short of tragic

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Israeli police raid the Heredi Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem to remove the Palestinian flags raised by the Jewish community. This was in the last days of the previous government.

On the march to destroy Israel as we know it

by Alon Ben-Meir

The creation of Israel was the realization of a dream of its founders, envisioning the gathering of the Jews in a safe, secure, free, and just state that would end millennium-old persecution of the Jews. It is nothing short of tragic, however, that the newly-formed Netanyahu government is betraying every single principle of the country’s founders’ vision, to the detriment of the country.

Righting the Wrong

For the past four decades, I have been a keen observer of Israel. I taught scores of courses and wrote several books and hundreds of articles and essays, featuring the country’s uniqueness. I praised its democratic institutions, revered its untainted judiciary, admired its inner strength and ingenuity, applauded its discoveries in so many fields, and marveled over its emergence as a technological powerhouse. And despite all odds, Israel became a powerful country, resolute, committed to the rule of law, exemplifying freedom and democratic principles in a sea of autocratic nations. The country earned the admiration of its friends and the envy of its foes, while realizing much of its founders’ dream—despite their many ideological differences, many of Israel’s founding fathers, including Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Theodor Herzl, and David Ben-Gurion, believed in a homeland for all the world’s Jews with a democratic form of government, acknowledging that the Arab inhabitants of the land were there to stay.

But as the country grew and prospered and became a formidable military power, it began to lose sight of its founders’ vision and the core reasons behind its creation. I have never shied away from intensely criticizing, when warranted, many Israeli governments who have pursued misguided and often counterproductive policies in the past. Now I am utterly at a loss for words to describe my revulsion about the makeup of Netanyahu’s new government which is poised to pursue disastrous policies that will inflict a deadly blow to the values on which the country was built while setting the nation on an unparalleled, perilous path.

The curse of the occupation

Israel’s founding fathers could have never envisioned the country becoming an occupying power, subjugating millions of indigenous Palestinians, robbing them of their land, stifling their freedom, destroying their farms and evicting them from their homes, and treating them with disdain and brazen inequality. All while, nearly every day another young Palestinian is killed. The Palestinians are not innocent by any measure, but what would Israeli Jews have done under such a ruthless occupation when, as the Palestinians live with today, only hopelessness and despair remain the order of the day?

To think that the historically oppressed and persecuted Jews have become the oppressor defies every Jewish value and every human right and moral tenet that the Jews themselves have championed so assiduously over the centuries. To be sure, the occupation is a curse from which Israel will suffer in the future just as much if not more than the Palestinians.

Endemic corruption

Israel’s founders would have never imagined that the country would one day be governed by a thoroughly corrupt prime minister who is on trial in three separate cases on charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. He put his personal interest above the country’s and shamelessly pushed to realize his long-held dream of making Israel authoritarian with him at the helm, where Jewish supremacy reigns.

Netanyahu formed the most racist, homophobic, and far-right government in Israel’s history. He divided and subdivided the ministries to appoint cronies and criminals like Shas’ Aryeh Deri, Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Religious Zionist’s Bezalel Smotrich to posts of which they have little or no knowledge at all only to satisfy their inflated egos and blind ambition. Millions are appropriated for these newly established ministries which are bound to clash with one another as their functions and responsibilities either overlap or are loosely defined, which is a recipe for chaos.

Crippling the judiciary

The founding fathers would have never fathomed that an Israeli government would seek to cripple the judiciary and especially the independence and authority of the Supreme Court. Netanyahu appointed Yariv Levin to be the Justice Minister, a methodical schemer who has been aiming for years to weaken the High Court’s independence. Levin is now planning, under Netanyahu’s instruction, to pass an “override clause,” to which most Israelis are opposed, that can overrule, even with a majority of one in the Knesset, any decision by the Supreme Court, which is considered the crown jewel of Israel’s jurisprudence, and give politicians greater weight over the appointment of judges.

The Supreme Court is the only institution with the power to restrain government actions and protect the democratic principles of the country. Now the government wants to usurp that power in order to undermine Israel’s democratic institutions with limited judicial recourse, as well as disrupt Netanyahu’s corruption charges without the Court’s interference. Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon put it succinctly when he said that Netanyahu’s proposals show “the true intentions of a criminal defendant” who is “ready to burn down the country and its values… in order to escape the dock.”

Historic defiance

Israel’s founders would be shocked to realize that the country that was established precisely for the purpose of gathering the Jews from any corner of the world, regardless of their religious orientation—conservative, reform, or religious—is planning to put restrictions on who qualifies as Jewish. Netanyahu appointed Avi Maoz, a bigot par excellence as the Czar in charge of the “Department of Consciousness of the Jewish State” within the newly-formed Office for Jewish National Identity, who is now preparing to restrict the immigration of any Jew whose Jewish roots may be questionable. His Noam Party is targeting LGBTQ persons, especially from the media, while intensely criticizing’ ‘radical feminists.’

Adding insult to injury, Israel still allows the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate to control marriage by not permitting civilian and same-sex marriages, opposing gay rights, and refusing to recognize marriages conducted by Reform or Conservative rabbis, which continues to alienate millions of Jews. This will only further strain the already severely stressed relations with diaspora Jewry. As Rabbi Esther Lederman, the Union for Reform Judaism’s director of congregational innovation and leadership said, “The attacks made against Reform and Conservative conversions could threaten the identity and the status of Jews who want to make Aliyah from North America.” This will substantially reduce Jewish immigration to Israel which defies one of the main premises behind Israel’s establishment in the first place.

The damning consequences of Netanyahu’s ill-fated government

The founders of the State of Israel were dreaming of a country where Jews from the world over will live in harmony, and together forge a new society where democracy and equality reign supreme, where freedom of speech and religion are guaranteed, where human rights are zealously protected, and where political differences are respected. Instead, Netanyahu has created anything but an egalitarian government; only one which is racist to the core.

Dire polarization

The new government is polarizing the Israelis in every political, social, and religious setting, discriminating against minorities, attacking secularism, rejecting feminists and LGBTQ persons, and harassing human rights organizations. To be sure, Netanyahu has singlehandedly undermined every pillar of Israel’s democracy. His new government will be democratic in name only, fundamentally authoritarian, not unlike Poland, Hungary, and Turkey, with no scruples, fascist at the core, racist, and the most extremist right-wing government in Israel’s history that will earn the country nothing but mockery, scorn, and contempt.

Forfeiting Israeli-Arab normalization

The prospect of normalizing relations with other Arab countries will diminish completely as long as the occupation remains in force and as long as Ben-Gvir (currently National Security Minister, whose focus will be on security in the West Bank and who will be eager to rain havoc on the Palestinians) and Smotrich (Finance Minister) are in the government. Recently, the Saudi foreign ministry affirmed what it has been stating all along, Saudi Arabia’s “solid stance of standing by the brotherly Palestinian people.” But now, leave it to the xenophobic Ben-Gvir to exacerbate the conflict with the Palestinians, making it impossible to reach an agreement, thus forfeiting the prospect of normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that could have followed. The cancelation of Netanyahu’s visit to the United Arab Emirates was meant to send a clear message to Netanyahu that his new government’s policy toward the Palestinians is totally unacceptable, and that every Arab state will land on the side of the Palestinians under any circumstances.

Damaging US-Israeli relations

US-Israel relations will too be adversely affected. President Biden made clear his opposition to expanding the settlements and warned Israel not to even contemplate further annexation of any Palestinian territories. The tension between Washington and Jerusalem will continue to rise as Biden and Netanyahu simply do not see eye-to-eye on a host of other issues, especially how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. Although US-Israel relations are solid and have hardly been affected by the political orientation of successive US administrations and Israeli governments, this is the first time that the US has expressed profound concern about the makeup and the extremism of the new Israeli government and how its policies might affect their bilateral relations.

Intensifying antisemitism

Although antisemitism has existed from time immemorial and Israel continues to sound the alarm about the upsurge of antisemitism, not once has any Israeli government attributed, at least in part, the rise of antisemitism to the continuing occupation. There should be no doubt that given what it stands for and the intent of the new government to expand the settlements and annex more territories in the West Bank, antisemitism will only continue to grow. The continuing occupation reminds the whole world of Israel’s ruthlessness in the territories. Indeed, the new Israeli government will make matters worse and unless the occupation comes to an end, antisemitism will continue to rise, and anti-Jewish incidents will become increasingly common around the world.

Nurturing a fifth column

Instead of fostering social cohesiveness and encouraging Israeli Arabs to become an integral part of Israel’s social and economic mainstream, the new government is poised to intensify discrimination against this constituency which represents more than 20 percent of the population. Further alienation and discrimination against Israeli Arabs by the new government will nurture enmity from within, unquestionably precipitate social unrest, and increasingly push Israeli Arabs towards militancy, becoming a fifth column once a new major violent flare up between Israel and the Palestinians occurs, which will be only a matter of time under this chauvinistic government.

What Netanyahu has done, to be sure, is nothing short of a political coup d’état. He is a master schemer, with no scruples, no morals, and no allegiance to the country for which millions of Jews have been yearning and dying for. Instead of forging peace he is preparing the next generation of Israeli youth to fight the next war and sacrifice their lives on the altar of his ego and the egos of his fanatical gang. Netanyahu is dangerous, a menace to the future of the Jews in and outside Israel, and his government must speedily be toppled before it’s too late.

Yes, under the new Israeli government led by autocrats, messianic zealots, and corrupt and power-hungry bigots, Israel will be marching on a dark and sorry trail that will grow ever darker, obliterating its character as a democratic country and rendering it nothing but a pariah and an apartheid state. It will be reviled by the international community, constantly on the defensive and living by the gun to survive.


Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a retired professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He taught courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies for over 20 years.

 

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¿Wappin? An intelligent and festive mood / Un ambiente inteligente y festivo

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The opening show at this year’s Panama Jazz Festival.
La gala inaugural del Festival de Jazz de Panamá de este año.

Música para cuando ya no eres un niño
Music for when you’re not a kid anymore

Erika Ender – Así eres tú
https://youtu.be/oVEP8nkcANs

Charles Mingus – Music for “Todo Modo”
https://youtu.be/sdAmme1-kmU

Joss Stone – Never Forget My Love
https://youtu.be/9Z8dhPjb6SA

Hank Jones – Young No More
https://youtu.be/-Lfaw6K8AlE

Patricia Zarate Pérez – Ni Chicha Ni Limona
https://youtu.be/m7OK_E4togQ

Ulpiano Vegara – Mi Perdición
https://youtu.be/AA3Blk2cf8Y

Olga Tañon – Vivo La Vida
https://youtu.be/bWTfpdD4nRM

Wynton Marsalis & Pedrito Martínez – Changó
https://youtu.be/1j0j_uIq7jU

Ángela Aguilar – La Llorona
https://youtu.be/owsZaSZ3GuA

David Gilmour – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Live At Pompeii)
https://youtu.be/CiXNIjGX1hY

Melissa Aldana – Los Ojos de Chile
https://youtu.be/n0BAsntB_3A

Randy Weston – African Cookbook
https://youtu.be/sda6b_0Kiak

Larissa Liveir – Wicked Game
https://youtu.be/2e-LyJcxhsI

Ella Ferguson & Dweezil Zappa – Peaches En Regalia
https://youtu.be/TOywUUqDuBE

Jahaziel Arrocha & Eray Farrera Trio – Live Jam
https://youtu.be/zbJbknSrbk0

 

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