Archive for May, 2010

Syncing Memory. Do Not Disconnect

The Eurovision extravaganza is over for this year. The fans have left Norway, Germany is celebrating and Harel Skaat is probably licking his wounds somewhere in a dark corner. We didn’t win this year either and despite Harel’s Yemenite ancestry and the front-runner rumors, it soon became apparent that Israel wouldn’t even be among the top 10.

Despite warmly appreciated Cypriot efforts to keep diplomatic embarrassments from hurting Harel’s chances, I fear that a slightly bizarre body language and a few high notes sung painfully off-key spoiled whatever possibilities he might have had to bring the competition back to Jerusalem.

Oh, well. No big deal, Harelush. We still love you.

In Sweden, in the meantime, the analysis of the fiasco continues. Markus Larsson at Aftonbladet thinks that the Swedish taste is out of sync with the rest of Europe’s. Maybe he’s right about that, but I must say I start to doubt his judgment when he writes that Sweden has a tendency to vote for “something low-key, elegant and cool”.  

He doesn’t go into details about what he means, but I honestly must say that I’m having a hard time seeing what’s so low-key, elegant or cool with the Swedish entries in the ESC from the last decade: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.

The Swedish taste in music might be out of sync with Europe, but Mr. Larsson’s musical memory is clearly every bit as much out of sync with reality.

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May 31, 2010 at 08:32 Leave a comment

Next Year in Jerusalem?

To our great joy, Harel Skaat delivered in Oslo last night, and qualified for the grand final in the Eurovision Song Contest tomorrow. Harel will compete against some other strong entries, such as Armenia and Azerbaijan.

We know that the competition is tough, but we still haven’t given up hope.

For Sweden, however, all hope is lost since Anna Bergendahl didn’t qualify. This was in fact the first time ever Sweden won’t make it to the ESC final. The young Swedish singer herself was devastated of course, and the nation itself is in a state of shock. On national radio, crestfallen Swedish fans declared that they would throw away their tickets for the final and return home from Oslo immediately. The tabloid Aftonbladet demands the resignation of Christer Björkman, the supreme macher behind the Swedish ESC efforts in the last decade or so. The other national tabloid, Expressen, chooses to blame the system, saying that the selection procedures must change, or Sweden should withdraw from the ESC in order to avoid similar national humiliations in the future.

So far, we have no official comments or words of comfort from the Royal Palace, the government, or Mark Levengood.

May 28, 2010 at 11:04 Leave a comment

How Rumors Get Started

Only a few more days left now until the biggest, though perhaps not the greatest, annual cultural event in Europe – the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Israeli contestant, Harel Skaat, is considered one of the favorites this year, and his entry, “Milim”, has already been translated into both English and French. Even the Swedish experts, who don’t usually waste any superlatives on Israeli songs, seem to have fallen for Harel’s irresistible charm.

Harel Skaat has already arrived in Oslo and according to this clip, his charm is working wonders also on Norwegian school children. Now let’s just hope that they all are equipped with cell phones.

There is, however, one worrying aspect of that generally heartwarming footage. Toward the end of the clip, Harel – who is full of enthusiasm about his meeting with the Norwegian children – says to the reporter: “They’re so cute. I could eat them.”

Now I just hope that no one will alert Donald Boström, Åsa Linderborg or someone else at Aftonbladet of this obvious proof that Israelis eat little children.

May 21, 2010 at 12:25 Leave a comment

Meanwhile, over at the Deep End…

Openly expressed antisemitism is relatively rare in Sweden. Sure, people will say that “the Jews” abuse the Holocaust to support Israel every now and then, but one almost never hears anyone say that the Jews actually caused the Holocaust.

But it happens.

Ove Svidén of the World Peace Foundation claims that the Jews were behind not only the Holocaust, but also Pearl Harbor, 9/11, the murder of foreign minister Anna Lindh, the establishment of the Bank of England and an assortment of other calamities, big and small. His proof for this sensational information? “Spiritual experiences”, according to this article in Dagens Nyheter.

Quite sensational, I must say. A memorable day in the history of modern-day Swedish anti-Semitism, indeed.

The fact that Mr. Svidén is one of the Center Party’s – hopefully soon to be former – candidates in the parliamentary elections in September doesn’t exactly make the story any less sensational.

UPDATE: Already yesterday, the Stockholm district of the Center Party announced that Mr. Svidén no longer is a candidate for that party in the upcoming elections. They’ve also asked the Center Party to revoke his party membership, and the president of the Stockholm district, Per Ankersjö, strongly condemned Mr. Svidén’s antisemitic rants on his blog.  All according to this article in Svenska Dagbladet.

May 15, 2010 at 18:43 2 comments

A Critique of Confused Criticism

On International Workers’ Day earlier this week, the mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, participated in the traditional demonstration in Malmö. The tabloid Expressen noted that he marched under the slogan “Stop the occupation of Palestine”, and the paper’s reporter asked Mr. Reepalu if he didn’t think that to be ill-advised, considering the criticism that has been directed at him due to his positions on the Middle East conflict over the last few months. The mayor answered that it was his right to express how he felt about this issue and that he had no intention of hiding it.

And I agree with him completely.

The reason I do, is that – whatever Expressen might claim – no one has questioned Mr. Reepalu’s right to express the opinion that Israel should end the occupation of Palestinian lands. What people have been criticizing, is the fact that the mayor called Zionism a supremacist ideology, indicated that the local Jews in Malmö are to blame for antisemitism directed against them, that they should speak out against Israel if they want to avoid harassment, and that some hidden Israeli lobby is directing a campaign to shut him up.

That’s the problem – not that he wants the Palestinians to have a state of their own. If the support of a Palestinian state was an indicator of antisemitism, then I would be an antisemite too – and so would the majority of Israelis, for that matter.

One could have hoped that Expressen wouldn’t conflate the two quite separate issues.

May 6, 2010 at 11:33 1 comment

Israel: the Bridgehead of Western Homo-Imperialism in the Middle East

The Norwegian multicultural media outlet Utrop reports of a visit by a Palestinian gay rights organization to Oslo recently. Haneen Maikey, spokesperson for the organization, expressed her annoyance that Western media reports favorably on gay rights issues in Israel at the expense of Palestinian society. Israel is presented as liberal and open to the LGBT community, and the Palestinian society as homophobic.

 She labels it “homo-imperialism in Western media”.

What irks Haneen Maikey is that this form of “imperialism” gives the impression that the Palestinian LGBT community suffers more from Palestinian homophobia than from Israeli occupation.

The logical consequence must be that Western media should refrain from reporting on homophobic persecution of Palestinians and how Palestinian lesbians and gays escape to Israel to live openly there. Instead of “romanticizing Israel”, Haneen Maikey thinks that Western media should focus on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

First of all: romanticizing Israel? What Western media does she refer to? Please send me a link – it would do my blood pressure much good.

Secondly: if the Palestinian gay rights activists actually think that there’s too much emphasis on the situation of the Palestinian LGBT community in the media, then Palestinian lesbians and gays surely don’t need any enemies.

You can read the whole surreal article here.

May 3, 2010 at 06:52 Leave a comment

A Traffic Light onto the Nations

Jerusalem traffic can be extremely annoying, but according to the prestigious British newsmagazine The Economist, it’s even worse – it’s racist.

According to a recent article, the “traffic lights flick green only briefly for cars from Palestinian districts while staying green for cars from Jewish settlements for minutes.”

The media watchdog CAMERA points out that the Jerusalemite traffic lights, like other traffic lights all over the world, are set according to the traffic flow and not the ethnicity of the motorists. An empirical study carried out in the wake of the article in The Economist also, quite unsurprisingly, confirmed that the allegedly racist traffic lights indeed are green for shorter periods of time for traffic from roads with less traffic – disregarding if that traffic comes from a Jewish or Arab neighborhood.

But who needs empirical data? CAMERA points out that The Economist’s claim of racist traffic lights joins other urban myths surrounding Israeli oppression of the Palestinians – such as the aphrodisiac bubble gum, poisonous candy and stripper assassins.

May 2, 2010 at 11:56 1 comment


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