Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 4th, 2016

The new Israeli apartheid:

Poll reveals widespread Jewish support (47%) for policy of discrimination against Arab minority

And this poll was held in 2012: Just figure how pervasive is this current apartheid penchant and trend.

Catrina Stewart. 23 October 2012

A new poll has revealed that a majority of Israeli Jews believe that the Jewish State practises “apartheid” against Palestinians, with many openly supporting discriminatory policies against the country’s Arab citizens.

A third of respondents believe that Israel’s Arab citizens should be denied the vote, while almost half – 47 per cent – would like to see them stripped of their citizenship rights and placed under Palestinian Authority control, according to Israel’s liberal Haaretz newspaper, which published the poll’s findings yesterday.

About 20 per cent of Israel’s nearly eight million people are Israeli Arabs, Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship and live within the borders of Israel proper.

The views echo hardline opinions usually associated with Israel’s ultranationalist and ultraorthodox parties, and suggest that racism and discrimination is more entrenched than generally thought.

The poll, conducted by Israel’s Dialog polling group, found that 59 per cent out of the 503 people questioned would like to see Jews given preference for public-sector jobs, while half would like to see Jews better treated than Arabs.

Just over 40 per cent would like to see separate housing and classrooms for Jews and Arabs.

The findings “reflect the widespread notion that Israel, as a Jewish State, should be a state that favours Jews,” wrote Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli journalist and blogger. “They are also the result of the occupation … After almost half a century of dominating another people, it’s no surprise that most Israelis don’t think Arabs deserve the same rights.”

Human rights groups have long decried existing Israeli policies that discriminate against Arabs, citing classroom shortages, smaller municipal budgets, and unequal property ownership rights as proof of Israeli Arabs’ status as second-class citizens.

That many Jews believe that Israel has adopted “apartheid” policies is surprising, given that the term is usually deployed only by Israel’s most vociferous critics, and suggests that the government-led narrative that the Jewish State is the only democracy in the Middle East is unconvincing to some.

But such self-awareness does not mean that Israelis are ashamed of it.

Nearly 70 per cent of those questioned would object to the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank obtaining the vote if Israel was to annex the Palestinian territory, suggesting that they effectively endorse an apartheid regime.

Nearly 75 per cent favour separate roads there for Israelis and Palestinians – although most view such a step as “necessary,” rather than “good.” Although nearly 40 per cent support annexation, that remains a distant prospect for the moment.

The survey “lays bare an image of Israeli society, and the picture is a very, very sick one”, wrote Gideon Levy in Haaretz in a piece to accompany the poll. “Now it is not just critics at home and abroad, but Israelis themselves who are openly, shamelessly, and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists.

If such a survey were released about the attitude to Jews in a European state, Israel would have raised hell. When it comes to us, the rules don’t apply.”

In the three years since Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party took control of the Knesset in an uneasy coalition with religious and ultranationalist parties, rights groups have charted a shift to the right that has accompanied a stalemate in efforts to find a solution to the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Many now see the two-state solution, even though publicly backed by Mr Netanyahu at the outset of his term, as an increasingly distant prospect, given the expansion of Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem – territories that along with Gaza the Palestinians want as their future state.

That leaves the prospect of a one-state solution, an outcome favoured by some Palestinians, but anathema to Israel as it would threaten the country’s Jewish majority.

Many Israelis also fear such an eventuality because it would undermine the Jewish State’s democratic values if it were forced to adopt discriminatory policies to retain its Jewish character.

(Actually, all the new laws passed in the Knesset are demonstrating that Democratic processes are thrown out the window. The elected Palestinians can be revoked by the majority of the Knesset)

59% want preference in public jobs for Jews over Arabs

49% want the state to treat Jews better than Arabs

33% object to Israeli Arabs having the right to vote

69% object to giving Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank

74% support separate roads for Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank

42% object to their children going to the same schools as Arabs

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The dark side of success?

“It is so hard to know anything.

So impossible to trust oneself.

Even to know what there is to trust.”

As much as we may aspire to adopt Thoreau’s luminous definition of success and seek to reap the intrinsic rewards of creative labor rather than its extrinsic material manifestations, we live in an era where creativity and commerce are harder and harder to disentangle.

And yet, as Amanda Palmer aptly observed in considering the sticky question of success, “part of the struggle of actually finding happiness as an artist is the daily fight to not define success the way the rest of the world defines success.”

But this is hardly a modern problem.

Wedged in time between Thoreau and Palmer, and a generation before Joni Mitchell bemoaned the dark side of success, another icon of creative culture brushed up against the harsh reality of how personally and creatively trying public and commercial triumph can be.

Having just attained significant critical acclaim, financial profit, and public recognition for the 1937 novella Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902–December 20, 1968) found himself in an unfamiliar and surprisingly uncomfortable position.

“I beat poverty for a good many years and I’ll be damned if I’ll go down at the first little whiff of success,” he wrote in an extraordinary letter of creative courage as he all but destroyed a manuscript that didn’t live up to his standards of style and integrity, setting out to rework it into what became The Grapes of Wrath — the novel that earned Steinbeck a Pulitzer in 1940 and paved the way for his Nobel Prize two decades later.

But even as he labored at his masterpiece, the demons of fame, publicity, and commercial success kept beckoning from the sidelines.

Writing in Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (public library) — his magnificent testament to the power of the diary as a tool of discipline and a hedge against self-doubt — Steinbeck laments in an entry from early 1938:

People I liked have changed. Thinking there is money, they want it. And even if they don’t want anything, they watch me and they aren’t natural any more…

I’m tired of the struggle against all the forces that this miserable success has brought against me. I don’t know whether I could write a decent book now.

That is the greatest fear of all. I’m working at it but I can’t tell. Something is poisoned in me.

So animated is Steinbeck by this inner tumult that he addresses his pages directly, casting them at once as the sin and the salvation:

You pages — ten of you — you are the dribble cup — you are the cloth to wipe up the vomit. Maybe I can get these fears and disgusts on you and then burn you up. Then maybe I won’t be so haunted. Have to pretend it’s that way anyhow.

When Of Mice and Men became a bestseller, Hollywood approached Steinbeck for a film adaptation — but he wasn’t without ambivalence about an offer the payoff of which would have dazzled most.

If anything, he viewed it with double disgust, for he felt that the superficiality of such commercial courtship took him away from the deeper problems at the heart of his work: his profound concern with the fate of the destitute migrant workers who inspired The Grapes of Wrath.

Over and over, Steinbeck makes clear that he sees working for profit as a failure of the imagination on behalf of the artist — a smallness of ambition that distracts from the larger human concerns that creative work ought to address.

(That was the position of Steve Job: If you don’t focus on the motivation of the designers for their products, marketing and profit will disintegrate your company)

In the same diary entry, he winces at the gaping disconnect between Hollywood’s motives and his, underpinned by the vulnerable trepidation that engaging with such commercial work might gradually poison his own reasons for creating:

I really don’t care about the moving picture. Really don’t — but those people who are starving — what can be done?

And the people with panaceas of all kinds. Will you lend your name to this and to this? What do I care about my name?

It is battered and completely out of shape anyway. It hasn’t any meaning and I haven’t any meaning.

“Seen about your luck.” I got no luck. “Send one hundred dollars.” Luck! He thinks it is luck. He is poor and he thinks I am rich. And he seen about my luck. In the cheap welter, he seen about my luck.

He seen about my destruction only he couldn’t understand that. The Greeks seem to have known about this dark relationship between luck and destruction. (Not only the Greek authors: It is a universal observation)

It is so hard to know anything. So impossible to trust oneself. Even to know what there is to trust.

Although Steinbeck seems gladdened, however self-consciously, at the perks of fame — “Got the iron gate [in exchange] for an autograph,” he notes in one diary entry — by the fall he observes with contemptuous fascination the effect his public success has on his private life.

In an entry from October 11, he writes:

Letter from my cousin Grace — first in 22 years… And the interest is solely because of the publicity. Seems to affect every one. She’ll be denying the relationship before long now. Every one will. To work.

A couple of days later, in an entry that calls to mind Susan Sontag’s admonition that “publicity in general is a very destructive thing, for any artist,” Steinbeck resolves with disgruntlement on par with Kierkegaard’s:

The mail this morning — just a mass of requests. Driving me crazy…

It becomes increasingly apparent that I must make a stand against joining things as I have against speaking. The mail is full of requests to use my name.

Another request to be a clay pigeon. I won’t do any of these public things. Can’t. It isn’t my nature and I won’t be stampeded.

And so the stand must be made and I must keep out of politics. Now these two things are constantly working at me.

It’s hard not to think of C.S. Lewis who, in contemplating the ideal daily routine, pointed his warm wit at the issue and observed: “It is essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail.”

But for Steinbeck this became less a matter of happiness than one of spiritual survival.

In a supreme twist of irony, the very pestilence of publicity requests he so bemoaned as a distraction during the months he spent writing The Grapes of Wrath swelled to towering proportions once the novel was published — it sold feverishly, bringing the author fame and notoriety beyond his wildest expectations.

“I don’t think I ever saw so much [money] in one place before,” he wrote to his friend Elizabeth Otis during the initial wave of excitement as he witnessed the fruition of a dream he had dreamt, however warily.

But then excitement festered into resentment as the dream darkened into a nightmare.

So Sisyphean was the barrage of requests — invitations to countless committees, speaking offers, strangers asking for money — that it prompted Steinbeck to exclaim in an Associated Press interview a few months after the book’s publication:

Why do they think a writer, just because he can write, will make a good after-dinner speaker, or club committeeman, or even a public speaker?

I’m no public speaker and I don’t want to be. I’m not even a finished writer yet, I haven’t learned my craft.

This, perhaps, is what Sontag meant in her admonition

1. — that extraneous engagements of any kind are invariably at the expense of the very craft which rendered the artist desirable for whatever is being requested in the first place;

2. that every yes to such publicity requests ripples into a thousand little no’s to the daily demands of the dogged labor upon which all great art is built.

It takes enormous clarity of conviction and creative purpose to recognize that busy is a decision and remember that “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Steinbeck’s Working Days remains the immensely inspiring record of how an artist of rare genius and integrity chose to spend his days — fighting self-doubt with discipline and finding joy not in extrinsic acclaim but in rewards as intimate as the pleasure of the perfect pen.

Complement it with Steinbeck’s equally elevating and idealistic wisdom on falling in love and his meditation on the creative spirit and the meaning of life.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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