Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Jewish journalist detained for questioning before being allowed to enter... Israel

A well-known American Jewish journalist, Peter Beinart, was detained for questioning by Israel’s secret service, at Ben Gurion airport. The observant Jew from New-York was on his way with his wife and two young kids to celebrate a family event in Israel.

In his article I Was Detained at Ben-Gurion Airport Because of My Beliefs , Beinart writes “An Israeli government led by men who respect neither liberal democracy nor the rule of law now knows it has kindred spirits in Washington. […] Israel, like America, is getting uglier. And yet I can’t imagine not coming here. I’ll keep doing so until they bar me outright.” 

Israel’s security services have been questioning more and more people about their political views. This would not have become a public issue and excited the Israeli as well as Jewish media outside Israel, had the detained not been well-known and influential. That influential, that Bibi Netanyahu half-apologised, by explaining that Beinart’s questioning had been an administrative mistake by a local officer.

Nobody ever gets excited when Palestinians or less-known left-wing activists are given a hard time. Will anything change after this has come out? Probably not: Doubtlessly the whole brouhaha serves the political interests of Netanyahu and his camp: many, who oppose Israeli government policy, will now think twice before they speak freely. A wonderful future to look forward to. 

American Justice – Justice?

A Jury in the US has determined that Monsanto’s herbicide glyphosate has caused a claimant’s cancer and awarded him 289 million dollars in damages.  

This notion of punitive damages is wrong, constitutionally and morally. It is the role of government to penalise, directly or through the courts, companies that have acted criminally. If fines are levied, they should be collected by the state. Fines, just like jail sentences, are a matter between the state – representing its citizens – and the culprit. Damages to a claimant should only reflect the pain, loss of pleasure, life, etc. of that specific claimant.

It should, of course, also be the role of governments, to ensure that dangerous substances are not granted approval. So, in this case, we have possible supervisory negligence that should be investigated.

Punitive damages, such as these $289 million, are also impractical, as there are 4000 more glyphosate cases waiting to be heard. Are each of them going to be awarded 289 million – or is it first come, takes all?

Salzburg Abusing Mozart – Again

Salzburg has – as one knows – abused Mozart during his lifetime. Occasionally, to keep up this tradition, the Salzburg Festival comes up with opera productions that are no less than abuse.

The only Mozart opera included in this year’s festival is the Magic Flute. Lydia Steier – a name to avoid! – an American, who did not understand what this opera is about, turned the Magic Flute into a children’s fable, read by an actor in add-on bits between the arias. This may be the way to explain an opera to Americans in the Midwest. It is totally absurd to do so in Austria with the most-performed opera in the German speaking world. We do not need your stupid texts, Ms. Steier. Take them home and stay there.

Sadly, the production was also not top quality musically.

For the prices they charge, the state subsidy and the commercial sponsorship they get, EVERY Salzburg production must be TOP quality. It does not suffice, to be lucky with one’s Salome and Pique Dame. Salzburg should not be allowed to produce less than the best; especially when it comes to Mozart.