Sunday, 23 December 2018

Mary Berg's Diary: The children's home in the Warsaw Ghetto

Mary Berg lived in the Warsaw Ghetto, but her situation was unusual. Though she was born in Poland, her mother was an American. 
Jews with American citizenship could possibly be exchanged for German prisoners of war and were imprisoned, not deported to death camps. 
Mary was imprisoned in the Pawiak prison near to the centre of the ghetto.  

Mary survived. She was nineteen in March 1944, when she stepped off a prisoner-of-war exchange ship from Lisbon in New York. 

During the years she lived in the ghetto, she kept a diary. 
A compelling document.
This is an excerpt from her diary.

"Dr. Janusz Korczak’s children’s home is empty now.
A few days ago we all stood at the window and watched the Germans surround the houses. 
Rows of children, holding each other by their little hands, began to walk out of the doorway. There were tiny tots of two or three years among them, while the oldest ones were perhaps thirteen.
Each child carried a little bundle in his hand. All of them wore white aprons.
They walked in ranks of two, calm, and even smiling. They had not the slightest foreboding of their fate.

At the end of the procession marched Dr. Korczak, who saw to it that the children did not walk on the sidewalk. Now and then, with fatherly solicitude, he stroked a child on the head or arm, and straightened out the ranks.
He wore high boots, with his trousers stuck in them, an alpaca coat, and a navy blue cap, the so-called Maciejowka cap. He walked with a firm step, and was accompanied by one of the doctors of the children’s home, who wore his white smock.
This sad procession vanished at the corner of Dzielimy and Smocza Streets. They went in the direction of Gesia Street, to the cemetery.

At the cemetery all the children were shot.
We were also told by our informants that Dr. Korczak was forced to witness the executions, and that he himself was shot afterward.

Thus died one of the purest and noblest men who ever lived.
He was the pride of the ghetto. His children’s home gave us courage, and all of us gladly gave part of our own scanty means to support the model home organized by this great idealist.
He devoted all his life, all his creative work as an educator and writer, to the poor children of Warsaw.
Even at the last moment he refused to be separated from them.

The house is empty now, except for the guards who are still cleaning up the rooms of the murdered children."

August, 1942

Monday, 17 December 2018

A culture without culture

Eight years ago Yael Stone and Geoffrey Rush were appearing together in a theatrical adaptation of the Gogol story, “Diary of a Madman”. They shared a dressing room.
According to Stone, Rush began to send her text messages that gradually became more sexual in nature.
Was she upset by these messages, then?
No, according to her own words, she “enthusiastically and willingly” responded to the texts.

There was one situation that she did object to. They had a shower cubicle in their shared dressing room. Once she noticed that Rush was trying to watch her take a shower through a mirror.
She told him to “bugger off”, though she later also said, “I believe that it was meant with a playful intention...”.

Now she is upset by the eight year old messages. It is now sexual harassment. She is on the warpath against Rush.
But how can it be sexual harassment if you enthusiastically and willingly take part in the sexual “games”?
How can it be sexual harassment if you say yes, not no? 

Yael Stone explained this in an article full of platitudes she wrote for the Guardian a year ago.
According to Stone, it is a “culture” problem.
We live in a patriarchal society where the “abuse of power” (by men) manifests itself “in sexual aggression” towards women.
In other words: men are oppressors and women are their victims. According to Stone, women have been culturally conditioned to accept this.
Therefore, she as a woman is not (never) to blame, because she was culturally conditioned to enthusiastically and willingly take part in her own “sexual harassment”.
As women are always the victims of men, they are not accountable and victims do not have any individual responsibility for their choices and actions.

Why do I care?
I have not seen Yael Stone in anything. I have read that she has some merit as an actress.
Geoffrey Rush, on the other hand, is a great actor. Because of her accusations, he may never work again.

I care because Stone and her friends are dragging western culture into a culture without culture.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Bring Back Dayan's Mad Dog

In a war people get killed. That is why we do not like wars.
In the past, the western countries were not as civilized as today. They accepted these deaths.

Nowadays, the civilized western world does not accept body bags any more.
Diplomacy, give and take, understanding and finding the “real” reasons for conflicts have become the new paradigms.
Clausewitz with his "War is the continuation of politics by other means", is definitely not done.
Singing “Give Peace a Chance” around the campfire whilst holding hands is the new vogue.
The goals and values of “mothers” have replaced the primitive, macho behaviour of male savages.

It helps that no country is attacking the western world. And if the west does decide to go to war, it uses others to do the fighting, like the Kurds in Syria and Iraq.

In Israel it is different. The country is surrounded by enemies who want to destroy it.
Hamas, the enemy in the Gaza Strip, even calls for the slaughter of the entire world’s Jews in language reminiscent of the Nazis.
Israel’s enemies do not mind body bags. In fact their willingness to be killed is their strongest weapon.

Years ago, Moshe Dayan said that “Israel must be seen as a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”
Times have changed. Israel may be in the Middle East, but in values it is part of the civilized western world.

Israel is no longer too dangerous to bother.
It constantly warns Hamas, but Hamas keeps on attacking with rockets, flaming balloons and kites. Israel replies with the destruction of real estate in the Gaza Strip.
When Hamas decides to stop, it calls for a ceasefire and Israel agrees.

This civilized response is what the western world expects from Israel.
When Hamas has replenished its stock of rockets it attacks again. The success of Hamas also emboldens Hezbollah and Iran.

Is this civilized Israeli policy, appeasement or “Realpolitik”?  We will find out in the future.
My personal opinion?
Bring back Dayan’s mad dog.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Falling over a reminiscence: a whimsical smile

Before I made Aliyah, I had lived a sheltered life; never met many foreigners.

Kibbutz Magen, where I lived for almost six years, was like a Jewish United Nations.
The founders of the kibbutz were young Romanian Holocaust survivors. In the 1950s an Israeli youth group joined the kibbutz and in the early 1960s my group came: young Jews from Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and I.

Then there were the miscellaneous: a group of young people my age from Eastern Europe who were brought up on the kibbutz because their parents, who lived in Israel, were not able to support them, and a small group of young French Jews.

It is a few months before the Six Day War.
I am out of paratrooper training and allowed to go back to my border kibbutz in the Negev more often.
I have my room back which is next to my best friend Tzvi, who originated from Austria. My other good friend is Avraham who came from Poland.

During my roomless period when I was doing paratrooper training, I used to sometimes sleep on a stretcher in Gad’s room.
Gad came originally from Romania and was a bit older than me.

Miriam was from France. We were as different as chalk and cheese. We hardly spoke to each other.
She lived next door to Gad.

On one Friday night I ended up in Miriam’s room. Cannot blame it on alcohol, because there was no booze on the kibbutz.

I had forgotten something.
I had a New Zealand cousin who lived with his wife and two young daughters on nearby kibbutz Nirim. My cousin and his wife liked to pamper me.
He was coming the next day to pick me up on an old Egyptian motorbike with sidecar for a Shabbat lunch with them in Nirim.

My cousin turned up and went to my room. Kibbutz rooms are never locked. He walked in and saw that my bed had not been slept in.
He went next door to ask Tzvi where I was. Tzvi did not know.

Then the two of them went to Avraham’s room to see if he knew where I was. He did not know.
There are now three of them looking for me.
They went round to Gad’s. He did not know where I was either.

The four of them are now standing together trying to figure out where I am. They are standing right outside Miriam’s window.
I got dressed and walked out of Miriam’s room.
The look of surprise on their faces was wonderful.

Avraham died a few years later from a wound he received in the Six Day War. My cousin died of cancer. I do not know if the other people in my story are alive or dead.

When writing about people from my past I see them again; usually as silhouettes. That is a bitter, sweet experience.
I remember them with a whimsical smile, but I am also sad because it is the past.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Anne Frank just for Jews

The two major Anne Frank organizations in Europe have their domicile in Amsterdam and Basel.

In Amsterdam, the "Anne Frank Stichting" only has authority over the house where she was hidden, and has little connection to the Jewish community.
It is an NGO that markets Anne Frank and the Holocaust as a general warning against discrimination, racism and bigotry in modern society.
They spend their profit on projects against discrimination.

The "Anne Frank Fonds" in Basel has the intellectual copyright for her diary. It was set up by Otto Frank and is run by Jews.
They spend their profit on left-wing Jewish things.
The two Anne Frank organizations do not get on well with each other.

The Basel Anne Frank sees all Jews as the “descendants” of Anne Frank, because she was Jewish and the victim of antisemitism.
The Amsterdam Anne Frank is not so categorical, as it emphasizes the story of Anne Frank as a general warning against prejudice and discrimination. 
Therefore, all who suffer from prejudice and discrimination are her "descendants".
This goes some way to supporting the left-wing misappropriation of the legacy of Anne Frank and the Holocaust.

The left-wing misappropriation does not deny the Holocaust.
Far from it, it emphasizes that the Jews who were killed were the victims of a terrible slaughter caused by discrimination, racism and bigotry.
Essential is the emphasis placed on Jews being victims in the past.
According to the misappropriation, today’s live Jews, the Zionists, are not victims. They are the oppressors; perpetrators of indiscriminate killing of innocents. The modern equivalent of the Nazis.
Therefore, the victims of today's live Jews are the real descendants of Anne Frank and the Jews killed in the Holocaust.
For these people, Palestinians like Ahed Tamimi are modern-day Anne Franks.

Wait a minute, you may say, many of these "modern-day" Anne Franks have the same hatred of Jews as the Nazis who killed the original Anne Frank. They even use the same language.
The misappropriation will reply that this is the fault of the live Jews themselves. If they had not oppressed the Muslims, the Muslims would not want to slaughter them.
This is similar to the viewpoint of Nazi apologists of the Holocaust. 
They maintain that if the Jews had not tried to control the world, Hitler would not have had to kill them.
The misappropriation of the legacy of Anne Frank is an example of the new left-wing form of antisemitism.

There are some variations on the position of live Jews in the misappropriation.
When fascists attack Jews, the Jews are victims.
When Muslims attack Jews, the Muslims are the oppressed rising up against the oppressors, the Jews.

Is there no Anne Frank left just for us live Jews?
Yes there is, the Anne Frank after the diary, in Bergen-Belsen; covered in lice, cold, starving, little more than a skeleton and dying from typhus.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

My guys, Shakespeare and Pope

A culture is the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.
Many British people see the rules, habits and interference of the EU as an attack on their culture and national identity. 
I could probably fill a book with examples.

I have been an expat for 50 years. Not so long ago, I switched back to talking and writing in English.
I did not comment on Brexit because it does not affect me and I do not completely understand it as an economic phenomenon.
I can understand Brexit as a cultural phenomenon. As a reaction to the “unheimlich” feeling that outsiders are chipping away at your ideas, customs and social behavior.
It is not only the EU, but the EU is a concrete enemy.

I had two good school friends. One was Welsh the other was from Malta. We were inclusive. We read (British) Shakespeare and recited (British) Pope together. The Battle of Hastings was part of our history.

If there is a cultural war going on, I am on the side of Shakespeare and Pope.

Monday, 8 October 2018

"There is no pride in being Dutch"

In the Netherlands, May 4 is Remembrance Day and May 5 is Liberation Day.
The Dutch dead from the Second World War and later conflicts are remembered, and the liberation from Nazi Germany is celebrated.

The Netherlands used to be inhabited by people born there or born in a (former) Dutch colony.
These people could relate to the commemorations of important events in recent Dutch history.

Then the, mainly Muslim, immigrants came.
They were “victims” of the west and certainly did not relate to these Dutch events. The remembrance of Dutch Jews (more than half of the war dead) was also a sore point.

Was not this remembering and celebrating too nationalistic?
For some it was. They proposed that every ethnic group remember their own dead and celebrate their own liberation on the two days.

In practice, these ethnic groups already commemorated the national remembrance and liberation days of the countries they came from.
Now on May 4 and May 5 they could have second commemorations.
They have the Dutch nationality and live in the Netherlands, but there is no need for them to commemorate Dutch events.

Many ethnic Moroccan youths used to hang out on the streets of the Diamond neighbourhood in Amsterdam.
In their Moroccan sub-culture the house is a place for the women and there are strict rules there.
On the streets they rule.

The youth workers of the Dutch organization “Streetcornerwork” were specialized in working with these “at risk” youths, who were also responsible for much of the harassment and bullying in the neighbourhood.

As I was supposed to write the local government’s policy for these youths, I thought it would be a good idea to meet some.
Joost said he would take me around their hanging-out places in the evening.
It was winter and that evening was very cold. I said to Joost, ”it is too cold for the youths”.
He said they would be there, and he was right.

There were three youths hanging out, doing nothing, in front of a shop door.
They knew and trusted Joost. As I was with him they were friendly towards me.
I said to them, “Look, you were born and bred here. Why do you still say you are Moroccan and not Dutch?”
One of the youths replied, “There is no pride in being Dutch”.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

A big, small story: the synagogue of Aalten

Aalten is a small municipality and village in the east of the Netherlands that extends to the German border.
It is a charming area with well-kept houses and plenty of walking and cycle paths. People still greet strangers there.

Not all Jews in the Netherlands lived in the big cities. There were small groups living throughout the country.
Jews first arrived in Aalten and the neighbouring village of Bredevoort in the 17th century.
In 1850 a small synagogue was built on the main street of Aalten.

In 1930, an estimated 70 Jews lived in the village. After Hitler’s rise to power, their number was augmented with German Jewish refugees.

During World War II, 51 of Aalten's 85 Jews were hidden by local non-Jews, and thereby survived the war.
The hidden Jews were supported by money collected from the congregation of the local Dutch Reformed church.
Religious books and ritual objects of the synagogue were hidden by the local population for the duration of the war. The building itself was ransacked.

The village had proportionally the highest number of people in hiding during World War II. At one point, Aalten hid 2,500 Aalten Jews, German Jews and non-Jews, amidst its population of 13,000.

After the war, most of the Jewish survivors left; too few remained to keep up the synagogue. For decades nothing was done with the building.

In the early 1980s there were discussions in the municipality about selling the building.
This led to an initiative by a small group of Aalteners to restore the synagogue and use it for Jewish services and as a memorial for their murdered Jewish neighbours.
The group established a foundation called, “Friends of the Aalten synagogue”.
And here begins my connection to the story. One of the initiators was the father of my son-in-law.

The initiative was successful. Contributions came from the congregation of the local Dutch Reformed church and the municipality and province.
In 1986, the synagogue was again consecrated and it started its new life as a house for both religious and cultural functions.

In December, 2000, during the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the synagogue, a plaque bearing the names of the Jews of Aalten who were murdered in the Holocaust was unveiled on the wall of the synagogue.

A new Torah scroll, written in Israel by Joseph Giat, was dedicated in 2005. As less than ten Jews now live in Aalten, the scroll is mainly used in the larger municipality of Enschede.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Mark My Words

I like to predict the future.
Actually I am pretty good at it. When I lived in the Negev, most of my weather forecasts were correct.

My attention is now focused on the follow-up to the excesses of MeToo. I do not mean the exposure of the misuse of power for sex.
I am referring to the sexual McCarthyism.

Historically speaking, hatred, bigotry and the dumbing-down of public discourse are an inherent part of American culture.
However, the specific context for these activities is subject to change.  

I predict a central role for Valerie Solanas in the follow-up to the excesses of MeTooI know she is dead, but I see her as a symbol for the future.
Not because she tried to murder Andy Warhol fifty years ago. Nobody cares about that now.
There are five other reasons that make me think she will appeal to a future generation of gullible, hysterical cretins.

·       She was a trailblazer in foul-mouthing.  In her time it was not usual for women to use variations of “fuck” in every sentence. She did, and in that sense can be considered quite modern.

·       She suffered from chronic paranoid schizophrenia. A true victim of patriarchy.

·       She started an organization called SCUM in 1967, an acronym for Society for Cutting Up Men.
In her SCUM manifesto she calls for the elimination of all men.
Well, why not if they are the cause of all evil?

·       She was obnoxious and obsessive. A bit like Linda Sarsour.
In 1968 she was sentenced to three years in the New York State Prison for Women for trying to murder Warhol. After her release in 1971, she stalked Warhol and others over the phone.
This led to her being arrested again. After this release, she was institutionalized several times before she faded out of the public eye.
A true victim of institutional misogyny and paternalism.

·       She was openly lesbian in a time that it was not acceptable.
More than that, she challenged the idea that gender is binary, as well as the accepted norms of sexuality and performative gender. This makes her acceptable to the queer community.

I see a future coalition of the followers of Valerie Solanas and the growing army of transgenders.
Of course I cannot see all the details in my crystal ball.
For example, I cannot see if all male foetuses will be aborted in the womb or if some men will be kept on sperm farms.

Getting back to the Negev.
I predict sun for tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

In a world of psychic epidemics, a stolen kiss is a capital crime.

“Jewish continuity” in the US means perpetuating Jewish identity from generation to generation.
The leading academic proponent of this continuity is the prominent Jewish sociologist, Steven M. Cohen.

Some Jews on the extreme-left in the US object to Jewish continuity.
Elianna Yolkut is a New York-based freelance rabbi, a gay "rabbi without borders". 
In Haaretz she wrote that the "Jewish community is obsessed with statistics, and continuously talks of the relationship between numbers and Jewish continuity." 
According to her, this was wrong.
Instead, she argued, the community should concentrate on the "powerful messages Judaism can bring to the world, and to Jewish community; message of love and responsibility, of hope and possibility, of compassion and commitment."

Eliana Yolkut is not worried about the size of the Jewish community, for her Judaism is only an aesthetic collection of beliefs. She calls this "Jewish wisdom". 
Therefore, anybody can be a "Jew", if they are liberal and feminist and agree with her platitude-ridden interpretation of Judaism. 

Stephen M. Cohen has been professionally assassinated by MeToo. 

The New York Jewish Week found eight women who complained of sexual misconduct by him over a period of three decades.
They accused him of inappropriately making passes at the wrong women.

Cohen's downfall differs from other MeToo downfalls because some of the women who accused him also oppose his work. 
They are now taking the opportunity to intellectually stone him by trashing his professional achievements.

There was a political struggle between Cohen and a colleague, Keren Mcginity. 
Cohen wrote about the importance of in-marriage, Jews marrying Jews, for "Jewish continuity".
McGinity is a proponent of intermarriage. She objects to "descent" being the determining factor for deciding who is a Jew.

After Cohen's shaming, she commented that "Cohen’s departure from the field will create space for more people to do the same work, opening the door to different perspectives and methods."
However, McGinity was also his most vocal accuser of sexual misconduct. 
That is an amazing coincidence.

Some women on the extreme-left go farther. These ultra-universalists and postmodernist fanatics maintain that in-marriage and the whole idea of Jewish continuity is racist, sexist, patriarchal and misogynist.

Kate Rosenblatt, Ronit Stahl, and Lila Corwin Berman wrote the following in The Forward: 
"Most troubling about the data-driven mode of Jewish continuity conversations are its patriarchal, misogynistic, and anachronist assumptions about what is good for the Jews."

Rokhl Kafrissen writing in The Forward (where else?) maintains that the "sexism" of the alleged abuse cannot be separated from "the patriarchal agenda Cohen spent decades pushing.” 
How “surprised can we be,” she wondered, “that a man whose entire worldview hinged on women having more babies turned out to have no respect for women when it came to personal sexual boundaries?”

Cohen and McGinity were on a date. She said he, "wrapped his arms around me, pressed his body against mine, and forcefully kissed my neck...".
McGinity and her ultra-universalist and postmodernist supporters vilified him for that. 
Now they are trying to vilify the idea of Jewish continuity.

And Cohen then, what about his future?
It is goodbye Mr. Cohen. In a world of psychic epidemics, a stolen kiss is a capital crime.

Friday, 3 August 2018

The new anti-Semitism

When does criticism of Zionism and Israel morph into anti-Semitism?
Actually it is quite simple.
Zionism is the belief that Jews are a people and have a right to self-determination in the land they originally came from.
It is part of the identity of the overwhelming majority of Jews.
When you vilify or demonize this right to self-determination, you are an anti-Semite.

A few concrete examples to illustrate this "new" antisemitism in practice.

First example.
British forces liberated the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen in April, 1945. There is a well-known BBC radio report from Richard Dimbelby on the immediate aftermath of the liberation. 

There is also a lesser-known radio report from Patrick Gordon Walker.
He reported that 5 days after the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, a Jewish chaplain held an eve of the Sabbath service.
Amidst the thousands of corpses that were still lying in the open and the walking dead, those who could, started to sing. 

They sang “Hatikvah” (The Hope).
The theme of this song reflects the Jews' 2,000-year-old hope of returning to the Land of Israel, restoring it, and reclaiming it as a sovereign nation.
“Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

If you call this hope of the Bergen-Belsen survivors colonial, imperialist, fascist or racist, you are an anti-Semite.
If you compare this hope of the Bergen-Belsen survivors to Nazism, you are an anti-Semite.

Second example.
“If Not Now, When?” is the title of a book written by Primo Levi, an Italian survivor of Auschwitz.
In his book, Levi tells the story of a group of Jewish partisans behind German lines during the Holocaust. They seek to survive and continue their fight against the Nazis.

They have a dream that motivates them; the dream of reaching Palestine and taking part in the development of a Jewish national home.
The novel won both the Premio Campiello and the Premio Viareggio.

If you call this dream of the Jewish partisans colonial, imperialist, fascist or racist, you are an anti-Semite.
If you compare this dream of the Jewish partisans to Nazism, you are an anti-Semite.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018


The kibbutz only accepted groups of Swiss volunteers.

The Swiss were polite, hard workers, did not smoke pot and could often play an instrument, which was a bonus for the kibbutz orchestra.
Strange that, a Marxist-Zionist kibbutz being enamored with the most bourgeois of bourgeois volunteers.

Maria was a shy and demure Swiss volunteer.
She used to stare at me a lot. It was a sad and forlorn look, a bit unnerving.
I started talking to her and we hit it off. My friends noticed we were spending time together, and ribbed me about her name.

One thing led to another, but she had demons she was battling.
After a time she told me about them.

A few years earlier she had worked as an au-pair in Rabat, Morocco.
One day she missed her stop on the bus to her host family and had to walk back a stop, past a park.
Two men grabbed her, pulled her into the park and raped her.

Eventually we did start a relationship. It was the kind you start not knowing where it is heading.
Actually, it turned into a mainly passionate physical relationship that lasted for about two months. Then she returned to Switzerland.

We were not really suited for each other. She used to try to entice me with stories about how she could make delicious cheese fondue.
I am not too keen on cheese fondue, I am a meat person.

She returned nine months later, hoping to renew the relationship. However, I was with another girl.
She was very civilized about it. We shook hands. The Swiss are good at keeping up appearances.

The Zionist in me

I have met American and British Jews who downplay antisemitism by saying, “It could never happen here”.
I have never met any Dutch Jews who say that. They know it could happen here and anywhere.

Over half of the Dutch victims of the Second World War were Jews.
In the run up to Remembrance Day in the Netherlands there are usually some programmes about Dutch Jews.
I remember listening to a radio programme where four Jewish women, children of Holocaust survivors, were being interviewed. 

The interviewer asked the women if the Holocaust still had an effect on their daily lives.
One woman replied that before she could make a new friend, she always asked herself if that person would have hidden her during the war.
I remember thinking to myself, “she can’t have many friends”.

“Never again” implies there could be other attempts to annihilate the Jewish people. 
However, next time we will not be beholden to others, we will not ask anybody to hide us.
We will rely on ourselves

Sunday, 15 July 2018

I do not give a faecal matter

There were many political differences in my unit.
However, when push came to shove we trusted each other completely.
We had to, our survival depended on it.

Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the Forward, has never had to worry about survival. She is a liberal Democrat who lives in New York.
She has never really had to fight for anything.
Wrote an article, "Should We Celebrate The 50th Anniversary Of The Six Day War — Or Despair?". 
It sounded like she was sorry we won.

During a lull in the fighting, someone turned on a transistor radio. He tuned it to a Syrian station in Hebrew. They were boasting about how they were going to exterminate all the Jews.
We knew why we were fighting.
Women and children on my border kibbutz were not evacuated. Where could they go?
This was an existential war. We won and the people of Israel survived.

And I don't give a s**t about what Jane Eisner and her friends think.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Teenage Rocks

"Like a rock, I was strong as I could be
Like a rock, nothin' ever got to me
Like a rock, I was something to see
Like a rock"

In 1963 I went to Paris with two schoolfriends. A third schoolfriend was already there, selling the New York Herald Tribune on the Champs Elysees.
The newspaper flogger had a student room. We resided in a small room in a cheap hotel. My two friends had the bed.
I slept on a camp bed next to a bidet that smelt like it was connected to a sewer.

I did not like Paris then.
People used to stare at me because my hair was a bit too long for their comfort zone. 1963 was the very beginning of the musical and cultural revolution, and the frogs were not yet into it.

Everything was so expensive. We used to buy food and water at a supermarket whose name for us was pricks unique ("prix unique"). Then we would sit outside eating our bread and cheese and drinking our water.
Quite a few people commented on that. Fortunately, my French was not good enough to understand the finesses of what they were saying.

I stayed on after my two friends returned to London.
On one of my walkabouts I met an American who was a few years older than me. Nice chap from Connecticut. He was travelling around Europe on his own.
We teamed up for the rest of my stay in Paris.

After Paris he was going to stopover in London for a few days. I offered take him on an evening tour of the Big Smoke's hot spots. He accepted my offer.

A week later we met up at Piccadilly Circus tube station. I then proceeded to show him Soho, London’s nefarious den of iniquity and moral turpitude.
We went into a coffee bar for a drink. There were no free tables, so we sat down at a table where a man was finishing a salad.
He was an American in his late forties who was also travelling around Europe on his own. A friendly middle-aged man who wanted to chat.

The "old man" said he had once been young and idealistic. As strong as a rock. However, life had destroyed his youthful ideals and strength.
Then he started to give us advice about women. One remark he made has stuck in my mind. It was, “you are lucky, you can get it for free. I have to pay for it”.

After he left, we laughed about him. What a silly old fogey who talked too much. We would never be like that. 
Nowadays, I think his remark may have a deeper philosophical significance.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Falling over a reminiscence: meet the tough guys

I did the night milking of the sheep as my shift for the following day.
After I had finished, it was off to the truck that would take us and the Swiss volunteers on a trip to Masada. It was one of the perks they received for coming to our kibbutz.

The truck set out before dawn. On the way we joked and flashed our Uzis to impress them.
Then it was rushing up the difficult side of Masada. We pushed and pulled them, laughing and showing off.
Not much to see at the top except old stones. So we all ran down to the truck.
Last one down is a wimp, and I can assure you it was not one of us.

Next stop, the springs of Ein Gedi and finally the Dead Sea, our camping spot for the night.
After a sober meal we built a bonfire and sat round it. Gidon strummed on his guitar and the Swiss and the Jews sang gospels and folk songs together in broken English.

The poor dears were completely exhausted and turned in early to sleep under the stars.
They could dream peacefully about their cheese fondues and clocks, because we guarded them.
Not all of us at the same time, but one after another. Even we needed some sleep.

Next morning, after breakfast everybody piled into the truck and we went back to the kibbutz.
I was on time to do the afternoon shift for that day. I had not missed a day’s work.

Why did we do it?
Why? Because that is what tough guys do.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Intersectionality: rationalized hatred

I am reading that some of my American Jewish sisters are disillusioned/upset/shocked because the leaders of the Women’s March have refused to condemn the manifest anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan.
Actually, it would have been out of character for them to condemn Farrakhan.

The basic idea of these modern “feminists” is simple and does not begin with women: there is a overarching global struggle between the good guys (the oppressed) and the bad guys (the oppressors). 
This is garnished with a sauce of anti-white “identity politics”.

The bad guys are “right-wing”: racist, sexist, fascist, Nazi, capitalist, imperialist, colonialist, Zionist, white supremacist, etc., etc.
The west is full of bad guys, especially in America and Israel.

The good guys are “left-wing”, even if they do not know it.
Hamas is a pan-Islamist organization that oppresses women, kills gays and calls for the genocide of all Jews in the world.
Yet Judith Butler supports Hamas and says it is part of the “global left”.
Why? Because Hamas is fighting the Zionists, represents oppressed Muslims (identity politics) and is being hounded by the imperialist regimes of the west.

In this superficial hotchpotch of global “intersectionality” and “identity politics”, the perpetrator is more relevant than the victim.
The anti-Semitism at Charlottesville was bad because it came from “the right”, the oppressors. The anti-Semitism of Farrakhan was not condemned because it came from an ally, a representative of the oppressed Muslims and Blacks.

Linda Sarsour and friends do not organize marches in support of oppressed Iranian women, because Iran is also part of Judith Butler’s “global left” and fighting the Zionists, imperialists and white supremacists.

It is a very simple ideology. Not really feminism, but an attempt to harness women to a “global struggle”. Of course, if you are a Zionist woman you will not be accepted by this movement.
You are an enemy, one of the oppressors.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

We all love a dead soldier

I have two different scenarios for my new film.

Scenario 1.
A young soldier is guarding an airport.
He sees a bearded man, who looks North African, approaching the entrance of the terminal building.
The man is wearing too many clothes for the time of year. He is sweating and only has a glove on one hand.
He is constantly looking around furtively.

The soldier approaches the man and asks to see his ID.
The man blows the soldier and himself up. He was wearing a bomb belt and the detonator was taped to the hand that was covered by the glove.

The dead soldier is a hero. He is lauded in the media. His brave action forced the terrorist to detonate his bomb belt early. 
Many lives were saved.

Scenario 2.
The man does not blow the soldier and himself up. He just hands over his ID. The soldier asks him to come to a room in the terminal while they check the ID.

It later turns out that the man has the flu, that is why he was wearing too many clothes and sweating. He has a rash on one of his hands, that is why he was wearing the one glove.
He suffers from involuntary muscle contractions, that is why he was constantly looking around furtively. 
They keep him in the room for about an hour. He almost misses his plane.

A few days later the story is headlined in the media: “Racial profiling at the airport”.
Left-wing politicians and columnists are indignant. They bemoan this latest example of systemic discrimination of Muslims and Islamophobia. They call for a change in policy and the sacking of those involved.

Many Muslims and their left-wing supporters take to the streets in demonstrations against racial profiling, discrimination and Islamophobia. An internet petition is started that receives tens of thousands of signatures.
The government apologizes. The Prime Minister goes on television to say that he was also outraged when he heard the story.
He says that he has taken the necessary measures to make sure that this type of abuse could never happen again.

The soldier is given other duties. He is told that he should not expect to ever be promoted.
Shortly afterwards he leaves the army.

On second thoughts, I will write a blog instead of making a film.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Falling over a reminiscence: Hine ma tov, the bitter and the sweet

I was allowed to rest for a couple of days after my travels: London, Paris, Marseille, Haifa, Negev.
Then: why not go and pick oranges until you decide what work you want to do?
So I started picking.

One of the women picking oranges was from the Romanian group who had started the kibbutz. She worked very fast and hard. I kept my distance from her when working, did not want to be shown up by some wisp of a woman who could work much better than me.

Her name was Hagit.
When we took a break she was the last person to stop, and after a break she was the first person to start again.
She was always smiling and had a very expressive, friendly face. Yet she never spoke or joined in the singing.

I asked someone from my group why Hagit never spoke. The answer was, they experimented on her.
That was enough answer for me. I did not need to know more.

The swarm of young women with whom I picked oranges were a happy, touching lot.
Always giving me a touch, a push, a stroke, a hair tousle, a peck on the cheek, a squeeze or a hug. It was the equivalent of sibling affection. A "hine ma tov" kind of thing.
At the time, very un-British and foreign to me.

They were inclined to sing a lot as well. Hebrew and partisans’ songs.
Do not get me wrong. I have nothing against “Bella Ciao”.
Except, I do not appreciate hearing it at the crack of dawn, when the sun has not started shining yet and it is cold, and I am lamenting the fact that I did not go to bed an hour earlier the night before.

I was relieved when I managed to escape to the sheep.
Much harder physical labour, but a paradise for einzelgängers. Sheep keep their distance and they do not sing.

Nowadays, I smile a sad smile when I think of my happy Jewish sisters picking oranges. With their songs they were celebrating our rebirth: Am Yisrael Chai.
I miss those touches, pushes, strokes, hair tousles, cheek pecks, squeezes, hugs and hine ma tov feeling.

I should have hugged them back more.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The cat in me

There is a tall tree in one of my neighbour’s garden. A young, male cat keeps on climbing into the tree and getting stuck there.
It is the way cats are. They like to climb up trees so that they can look down and oversee everything.

1970, I am 24, living in Amsterdam, have no money and I need a job.
People said try the docks in the north of the city.

I had some painting experience, so I went to the site hut of a company that painted ships.
They were working on an oil tanker for Shell. 
I took my girlfriend along for support. I thought that might help, as she spoke Dutch and had the kind of looks that turn men’s heads.
When we walked in the men stopped work and came over to talk to us. I was not used to such a positive reception
My girlfriend flashed her smile, fluttered her eyelashes, and I had a job.

Two groups of workers were employed there: the Dutch and “guest workers” from the Rif region of Morocco. How much you earned was determined by a differentiated pay scale. Only the Dutch were given the higher-paid jobs.

During a break, I saw two Dutchmen and two guest workers sitting opposite each other on crates. One of the Dutchmen had a map.  He asked the guest workers to show where Morocco was on the map. They could not. The Dutchmen said they were dumb and laughed at them.

As I was standing, I was looking down at all four of them. I smiled and thought to myself, all of you are dumb fuckers to me.
Over the years I have developed the same looking down attitude to much of Dutch society.
You may think I am arrogant.
So be it. It is the cat in me. The way I am.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Holocaust in the Netherlands was a business model

Jews have been living in the Netherlands since the 16th century, mainly in Amsterdam.
The history of the Dutch capital is so intertwined with Jews that it used to be known as “Jerusalem of the West”.
Much of the slang of Amsterdam is made up of Yiddish loanwords.
Mokum (מקום), the Yiddish word for "place" or "safe haven" is an often used other name for Amsterdam.

There was little vitriolic anti-Semitism in the Netherlands.
An example: when the Dutch National Socialist party (NSB) was established in 1931, it left out all mention of Jew-hatred in it's manifest.
How does one then explain that some 75% of Dutch Jews were killed during the Holocaust, the highest percentage of all occupied Western Europe?

One of the major reasons was the collaboration of the local authorities. There were very brave individual acts of resistance, but general speaking all of Dutch society collaborated with the German occupier.
“On the whole, the Dutch reacted to the German occupation, including the persecution of the Jews, with a high degree of cooperation, following their reputed tradition of deference to authority.
This did not change when the deportations started, and it lasted until the beginning of 1943, when Germany’s prospects for winning the war appeared to be fading after the Battle of Stalingrad.” Yad Vashem.

The Germans had relatively few troops and police in the Netherlands to enforce the occupation. A strong presence was not necessary, the place was so peaceful for them. Off-duty soldiers walked about unarmed.
They had to rely on the local authorities for the persecution of the Jews.

The Netherlands was a victim of occupation by Germany but a partner in the Holocaust of Dutch Jews.
Dutch police rounded them up and the Dutch railways transported them to a transit camp and later to the German border.
There was not one case of sabotage. Eichmann praised the Dutch effusively for the efficiency of the operation.

The Germans paid the Dutch for the deportation of the Jews. They paid a lot. If they did not pay on time the Dutch authorities sent them a reminder.

After the end of the war, on 17 September 1945, the new Dutch Minister of Transport, Steef van Schaik, addressed a group of railway workers in Utrecht.
He praised them for their collaboration in the deportation of the Jews. He said the income from the deportations was necessary for the economy and more important than the lives of the Jews.

"The unfortunate victims were taken to the concentration camps in your trains. There was rebellion in your hearts. Yet you did not do that, and that is honourable.
It was an obligation that the Dutch government demanded of you, because the railway is also one of the pillars on which the economic life of the Dutch people is based..."

The Holocaust in the Netherlands was a business model.

Monday, 22 January 2018

The economic mistake of importing migrants from non-Western countries.

The population of western Europe was falling because of an alarmingly low birth rate.
The working population as a percentage of the total population was declining even faster, as people were living longer after retirement.
A declining number of wage earners was working to support a growing number of people (mainly old people) who did not work.
A recipe for economic disaster.

The first major measure taken to combat this problem was the encouraging of women, especially those with (young) children, to join the labour market.
For example, in the 1990s many children's day care centres were built in the Netherlands and the building and operational costs were subsidized.
Unfortunately, the influx of more women into the labour market did not have enough of the desired positive effect.

The second measure taken was the raising of the retirement age. A logical step: More people working and paying taxes, and less people living off the paid taxes.
However, raising the retirement age is politically speaking a very sensitive issue. Therefore, it will only be raised gradually and the (limited) positive effects will only be felt in the distant future.

The aforementioned measures were piecemeal.
There was one simple solution, or so people thought. Import younger migrants, especially from countries with a high birthrate.

Germany was the country that needed younger migrants the most.
The Bertelsmann Institute warned, in a report in 2015, that within the next 15 years half of all German workers will become pensioners.
Furthermore, without migrants, Germany’s labour pool is likely to shrink from its current 45 million people to 29 million by 2050.
According to the Bertelsmann Institute, Germany needs 500,000 migrants a year until 2050.

Three economic cheers for the refugee crisis then?
Unfortunately no.
The main presumptions of the advantages of importing young labourers, are that they have the skills the economy needs and that they will enter the labour market. This was the case with the “guest workers” of the 1950s and 1960s.
However, these workers did not need any special skills and they had to work or they would be sent back to the countries they came from.

Many of the non-Western migrants who have entered Europe in recent years do not have the skills the current economy needs, and their continuing residence in western Europe is not dependent on having a job.
In fact, the welfare society in western Europe gives little incentive for choosing to work in low paid jobs, instead of living from benefits.
Recent statistics from the Dutch economy highlight the problem.
First and second generation migrants in the Netherlands with a "non-Western" background make up 12.7% of the population. Yet they receive 49.9% of all social assistance benefits.

The solution of importing non-Western migrants to solve the economic problem of a low birth rate and an ageing population has backfired.
The lack of labour participation by these migrants has exacerbated the economic problems.

Then there are the social problems.
Many of the migrants from non-Western Muslim countries do not support the basic tenets of a parliamentary democracy. They are misogynists, homophobes and anti-Semites.
This has led to conflicts and polarization. It could lead to the destruction or implosion of the pluralist democracies of western Europe.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Catch-22 of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands

Dutch Jewish organizations and Dutch Jews are outraged that the attack on the Jewish restaurant in Amsterdam is not being treated as a hate crime. This was the straw that broke the camel's back, as routine incidents of verbal and low-level physical attacks on Jews by Muslims are not even investigated by the police.

The determining questions are, why are Muslim attacks on Jews not classified as hate crimes and why are they not investigated?
The answer is a Catch-22 reasoning.

Muslim attacks on Jews are “a priori” considered to be motivated by the existence and/or actions of the state of Israel. Therefore, the motivation for the attacks is not the victims’ adherence to the Jewish religion or their Jewish ethnicity, but the attackers’ perception that identifies the victims with the state of Israel.
For the Dutch authorities these kinds of attacks are not hate crimes.

Religious animosity towards Jews expressed during the attacks makes no difference.
The Islam is a peaceful religion. Therefore, the attackers’ misconception of the Islam is presumed to be the result of the existence and/or actions of the state of Israel.

The “a priori” (presupposed) determinant that the attack is not a hate crime is important.
Because of this, for an attack to be classified as a hate crime, it must at first be established that there is no “Israel” component in the attackers' motivation.
Accordingly, the conclusion that the attack was a hate crime can only be reached after an investigation.
In Amsterdam only 40% of complaints are investigated. Hate crimes, like attacks on Muslims, have priority and are investigated. As explained, verbal and low-level physical attacks on Jews are not considered to be hate crimes. Therefore, they have no priority and are not investigated.

Verbal and physical attacks on Jews by Muslims are a priori not considered to be hate crimes. They can only be classified as such after investigation.
However, as they are a priori not considered to be hate crimes, verbal and low-level physical attacks on Jews by Muslims have no priority, and are not investigated.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Long live the Lilliputians

There is this old American film director.
He is very famous and still making a film a year. Most of them are not that good anymore. Because he is so famous, actors and actresses work for him for almost no pay.

He has often been accused of being a licentious sod.
Recently, accusations by his adoptive daughter have resurfaced. These specific accusations were investigated 25 years ago by “sex abuse experts” at the Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. They found no evidence of abuse.
However, nobody cares about the trifling issue of evidence and the New York Times and other mainstream media have been rigorously pushing the accusations. Pouring petrol on the blazing fire of moral outrage.

If you are accused of male licentious behavior, you are damned for life. Your name must be struck from the annals of film history.
Therefore, I cannot mention the name of this old American film director on my blog. I have had to find an alias for him.

He is licentious, neurotic and a Jew, but there are quite a number of Hollywood sexual miscreants who fit that description. No hope there for an alias.
Eventually, I just translated his original surname, Konigsberg, into Hebrew. His alias became “Har Hamelech”. The wonder-feminist Gal Gadot has paved the way for the use of Hebrew names in Hollywood.

Hamelech has a new film coming out. Three young actors are now sorry they performed in his film. They are donating their salaries to anti-abuse charities.
Lucky that Hamelech does not pay much.

The most famous actor with ex post facto regret is Timothee Chalamet. He has been tipped as an Oscar-candidate for his performance in “Call Me By Your Name”.
His rejection of the old, licentious Hamelech has created a positive buzz for him.
He is donating his “entire” salary to Time’s Up, the LGBT Centre in New York, and Rainn (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).

The second sorrynik is Rebecca Hall. She is donating her salary to Rainy Day and Time’s Up.
She apologizes to other women and calls her donation a “small gesture and not one intended as close to compensation.”
Hall made her name in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”, one of Hamelech’s better films. I suppose she regrets that as well.

The third actor on the list is Griffin Newman. Nothing special about him. Trashing Hamelech is his first moment of glory.

It is now quite possible that Hamelech’s new film may not be released. I wonder if they will burn it?

Monday, 15 January 2018

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Canadian-style

Charles Édouard Dutoit is an 81-year-old conductor who was born in Switzerland. He has had a very successful career.
He enjoyed much respect in Canada. In 1995, he was named a Grand Officer of the Ordre National du Quebec for his inspired musical direction of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
In 1997, he was made an honorary member of the Order of Canada.
At the end of 2017, Dutoit was accused of a number of sexual assaults and one rape.
He denied the accusations: "Whilst informal physical contact is commonplace in the arts world as a mutual gesture of friendship, the serious accusations made involving coercion and forced physical contact have absolutely no basis in truth."
After the accusations, no orchestra wanted Dutoit anymore.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation mulled banning his recordings with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
However, they found this too extreme as, “the recordings of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra make up an important part of our Canadian classical repertoire on CBC Radio Two.”
The head honchos found a solution to the problem: they decided to no longer credit him as conductor during broadcasts of his recordings.
Dutoit is now the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named of CBC Radio Two.
Can you imagine the future in Canada?
Art galleries without the names of the painters. Books without the names of the authors.
An intellectual trou à merde.