Tuesday, 28 August 2018

John McCain

The world press is full of eulogies and tributes to the deceased Senator John McCain, who died a few days ago, referring to him, amongst others, as a “war hero”. The truth is that the man’s military track record is far from rosy. He was driven by unattractive macho behaviour, losing one aircraft after another, as he went on unauthorised missions or took unnecessary risks. His military and political connections and his money enabled him to leverage this military past and build a political career out of it. He then became one of the Senate’s central supporters of ever more spending on the military.

Moreover, this man gave the despicable right-wing populist Sarah Palin, a world-stage, as he made her his running-mate in 2008. With this choice – which fortunately did not get him into the White House – McCain unleashed the evil that has then won the 2016 Presidential election. Thus McCain – who opposed and sincerely despised Trump – has helped make him possible. We should not forget that.

Nor should we ever forget that beasts cannot be tamed. Attempts, to introduce or install nasty ideas or evil people, with the idea of making use of them, nearly always backfire.

McCain courageously, openly and vociferously criticised and admonished Trump – for which he deserves much credit. It is the shame of the Republican Party that none of McCain’s senior colleagues openly condemn Trump. For this cowardice, they deserve to roast in hell. We should, however, not let our anti-Trump sentiments colour the true picture of McCain.


For anyone who happens to be in Stuttgart on Tuesday, 11 September:

I will be discussing the question of Muslim Antisemitism and my latest book on the subject with the head of Germany’s Turkish community, Gökay Sofuoglu and Baden-Württemberg’s Antisemitism Commissioner, Dr. Michael Blume.

Tickets can be booked at info@hospitalhof.de or +49 711 20168150. Here’s a link with additional information.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

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.