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Total number of comments: 21 (since 2009-08-02 14:51:36)

Ethan Heitner


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  • Proposal for a Direct Action, Yom Kippur 5775
  • 'Israel today, Israel tomorrow, Israel forever,' Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says at NY rally
    • Holy shit. I can't believe I'm still shockable, but I'm shocked at that speech by Hakeem Jeffries. Is there a list anywhere of electeds in attendence at this event?

  • Diaspora Jews must speak out against the Israeli Law of Return
  • Remembering the Warsaw Ghetto uprising
    • Fascinating indeed. In the Zionist history I was given growing up, we were always told that with the notable exception of the Vilna partisans, Jews were not welcomed in Polish anti-Nazi partisan units--- that in fact they turned over Jews they found to the Nazis, even as they were fighting the Nazis.

    • Also caught my eye in the NYT today was this review of what sounds like a very interesting art exhibit exploring themes of Zionism, counterhistory and the fates of Polish Jewry, from Israeli artist Yael Bartana:
      "The narrative that unfolds among the three videos concerns a kind of reverse Zionism, the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland, initially a fictive campaign to rebuild the Jewish population of Poland that Ms. Bartana is apparently turning into a reality.

      In “Mary Koszmary (Nightmares),” a youthful leader stands before a microphone in the abandoned National Stadium in Warsaw exhorting an invisible audience to return, build new settlements and plant trees. Upon finishing, he is greeted by a small delegation of children and teenagers, wearing red neckerchiefs, who could be Israeli, German or Soviet.

      In “Mur I weiza (Wall and Tower),” a horde of wholesome-looking young men and women, redolent of 1930s propaganda films, build a ’30s-style kibbutz in a once Jewish neighborhood in Warsaw, complete with watchtower and barbed wire that also conjure concentration camps. From the tower they unfurl a red flag whose motif resembles the German eagle.

      “Zamach (Assassination)” occurs after the assassination of the young leader in the first video: an enormous bust of him worthy of Lenin is dedicated in a city square as hundreds of demonstrators and helmeted police look on. "

  • Freedom Funnies: There is a checkpoint around this center!
  • In three cities, pension fund TIAA-CREF urged to end complicity in Israeli occupation
    • What do you propose to replace it? Nonrhyming blank verse? May have more literary sophistication but works much less well to keep a crowd together and active. I'd much rather chant (especially if the chants are funny and innovative, as Adalah-NY's tend to be) than listen to boring speeches or stand around in stony silence.

    • It is in my anecdotal experience especially those BDS activists who are union members who would like to work on making their union pension funds more ethical by divesting from Israel, but most of the strategic discussions I have witnessed have focused on the fact that it is not practical yet. It is precisely because most union leadership in this country is so "staunchly pro-Israel" as you point out that any divestment campaign within the union would be extremely difficult. The TIAA-CREF campaign has been a massive undertaking and is still going to be a long road until victory. I'm not saying those union campaigns won't come-- but it's going to be a tough fight that we want to be well prepared for.

  • Pro-Israel activists break new ground -- an anti-Arab hate video
  • The things I miss (confessions of an activist)
    • First off, I want to start with a salute to Sarah and all the many activists who are out there sacrificing their time, their energy, and so much more for the cause of justice. It was hearing my roommate's stories of the struggles she faced at SJP that inspired me to turn her stories into a comic. Part of that story, Phil, is learning when engaging with the enemy is actually just a drain of your time, your resources, your spirit.
      What do we get out of it?
      The comic is called "Nothing Normal About It" and addresses the idea of "normalization." You can read it in full here:
      Of course, the stories that Sarah and other activists I know share are not addressed: after all, we want to have fun, we want to be able to enjoy our life, we want to do things the easy way out, but for many Palestinian activists (and their allies) they choose to take on the burden of doing something to make this world better.

  • Aharon Appelfeld's rage at the German language (and Arendt's need for it)
    • I don't know what this is supposed to prove. "There are varying degress of anti-gentilism among Jews"-- so what? Does that in any way lessen or excuse what happened in Europe? Let us also remember that the Nuremberg laws which codified racism were passed well before the start of the war. Many disgusting scenes of anti-semitism were quite public well before the war-- making elderly Jews wash the streets with a toothbrush or their beards, forcibly expelling Jews from universities and places of employment. I do not know what your intentions are, but the sum of your arguments seems to me apologist.

      For that matter, why should non-Palestinians care about Palestinians? Why should anyone stick their neck out for anyone? But plenty of people do. And we know from their example that it was perfectly possible for others and for us.

    • Anton Shammas writes in Hebrew (beautifully). Several Israeli Jews from Arab countries continued to write in Arabic (there was one, an Iraqi, who died a few years ago who I remember reading insisted on continuing to write in Arabic only).

  • RIP MCA: Yauch challenged Islamophobia and US militarism in the Middle East on MTV in 1998
    • Clinton sent cruise missiles to destroy a civilian pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, in retaliation for the Kenya embassy bombings, which remains an oft-cited example of pre-9/11 state terrorism perpetrated by the U.S. for those of us who remember. Many, like Chomsky, cite a figure of thousands of deaths caused, not by the strike itself, but by the lack of vital medicines that the plant produced for a very poor nation.

  • Netanyahu goes looney tunes on Israeli Independence Day
    • I didn't catch all of it, Bibi is talking about the many great things they have accomplished in 64 years of independence, technology that the whole world uses, computers, cell phones, etc. etc. standard talking points, then he says and the parrot and cat repeat the popular shabbos song from the beginning of Psalm 133, as King James translates it: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"

  • Freedom Funnies: ‘You Can’t Just Continue’ Part II
    • @Denis-
      Yeah, so, in the past 30-40 years most people have realized that comics, as a medium, are not an inherently "simpler" or "easier" artform suitable only for children or simpletons. There have been a staggering number of beautiful counterexamples of adult, intelligent, complicated comics and it's a little silly to still have to be making this argument in 2012. Suffice to say I recommend you get yourself to a library or bookstore. You'll have to figure out what your tastes are, but some of my favorite complicated, adult cartoonists are:
      Chris Ware, Eddie Campbell, David B. (French cartoonist), David Mazzuchelli (Asterios Polyp), Seth Tobocman (check out his War in the Neighborhood), Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, etc. etc.

      Really, check them out, you'll be doing yourself a favor. I'm not going to make any claims about my work in particular, but again, you aren't talking about my work, you are making very broad assertions about the medium I work in.

      Unrelated is your question of propaganda.

      Propaganda can also be for adults, you know.
      I think you are raising interesting points about fiction vs. documentary nature. It is true: I am taking the recorded words of an interview with Annemarie Jacir and adding a layer of interpretive drawing in order (I hope) to augment, clarify, and add visual impact to her words.

      I don't think that's a bad thing tho. I don't think propaganda is necessarily a dirty word. I'm really dedicated to the idea that visuals can make complicated ideas easier to understand, can add clarity, can make things memorable, beautiful, etc. I think that is the basic principle behind all graphic design, and I think it is sort of inescapable:
      you actually literally cannot present "just the truth," "the bare facts" without embedded it in some sort of style, some sort of presentation-- even a plain sheet of white paper with words printed on it is a visual presentation that haselements one can make conscious choices about. As we used to say in my lit theory classes, the thing about "style" and "content" is that that they are the same. You cannot separate them cleanly.

      To me, the problem with Captain Israel is not that it is propaganda. The problem is that it is poorly done, aesthetically ugly propaganda espousing a hateful rhetoric.

    • Ok, now I don't understand you. At first I thought you were in favor of "Doonesbury"-style satire and I was like, yes, it would be awesome, I'm just not the artist to do it.

      Now you are rejecting fiction entirely as a medium for artistic expression regarding politics? I'm not even going to engage with that, it seems too absurd on the face of it. Suffice to say I actually credit much of my development as an anti-Zionist Jew to reading Hebrew and Arabic literature, from A.B. Yehoshua's "Facing the Forest" to Anton Shammas' "Arabesques" to Elias Khoury's "Gate of the Sun." I think fiction is incredibly powerful, precisely because facts can be contested.

      But I'm not even sure why you bring that up in this discussion, because these particular "Freedom Funnies" comics are non-fiction interviews with actual people. It leads me to suspect that you took one look at the word "Funnies" in the title, immediately lept to your pre-conceptions of what a comic is, and failed to read the comic in front of you.

      And then you end by pissing on my entire medium. Of course, if you believe that "'funnies' appeal to half-functional, lazy minds that can’t be bothered sorting it all out" I'm not sure why I'm bothering to talk to you. You're the literary snob version of a Zionist claiming that all Arabs are racist bloodthirsty savages ;).

    • Man, I was also pretty pleased with the drawing of the Israeli soldier using one hand as a hand-puppet with the tragedy and comedy theater masks. Tho maybe that was a stretch as a metaphor for how Israel uses cultural institutions to whitewash or distract.

    • Chaos4700-
      Who is the Israel supporter you are referring to? I'm hoping not Denis, but all I read in their comment was a critique of the comics' manner of presentation, not of the politics.
      I have been around these forums long enough to note that there may be a tendency to leap to attack anyone who offers dissenting viewpoints, which I think is unhealthy.

    • Hi Denis-
      Hopefully you see more differences between my comics and Captain Israel than just which side of the debate we are on. While I agree that satire is a great weapon, it's not one that I always feel I have in my arsenal.

      Anyways, I'm using "funnies" a bit sarcastically and a bit in the sense of the word "comics"-- they are not funny, they are not comic. But that's what the artform is, from Joe Sacco and Chris Ware to Mutt and Jeff. Cartooning can have a wide variety of registers, targets, modes, just like writing prose. I thought it would be interesting to use my platform at Mondoweiss to interview Palestinian artists, and talk to them about making art under apartheid.

      I also really hate the use of "graphic novel" to mean comics that are serious.

  • Responding to commenters on recent bannings
    • Thanks for these clarifications and honestly for taking tough choices. Mondoweiss readers, remember, nobody is owed a platform and your rights of free speech don't mean you have the right to be given one. The job of an editor is, in part, to decide what speech to feature in a publication, and what the limits of discourse are to be, and that is perfectly appropriate.

  • Bachmann comes to Manhattan for Zionist org's Brandeis dinner

Showing comments 21 - 1