jew on this

critical, progressive ideas from pondering jews

Category: cool and random

NAA: Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism

by R.S.

The National Archives of Australia have published (and have for some time) files on the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism. The folder is marked ‘Secret’, the ‘Department of Immigration’ and ‘To be passed on by hand’ which (obviously) is pretty tantalizing. This is an important part of Australian left wing diaspora history.

From the files I have looked at it looks like the Council was interested in speaking to Immigration about their concerns for former Nazis, war criminals, and other assorted fascists entering the country and already living in the community. Time and again they bring up examples of fascists and other involved in violence entering the country, and time and again Immigration brushes  off the concerns. At the same time the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and others were keen on ensuring that everyone knew (believed) that the JCCFAS were a communist front that wasn’t really interested in antisemitism.

The Secretary Ernest Platz – reffo, journo, commo – is a central figure in these communications.

The files include claims that the JCCFAS were supportive of the Soviets persecution of Jews (with my superficial understanding this seems ridiculous given the context of the rest of the files, but it might need further scrutiny given the blind eye segments of the left turned to Stalinism).

Click here to access the files (then click ‘view digital copy’). The Normal Rothfield Papers, held by the University of Melbourne, may also be of some interest to those interested in this history.



Judith Butler on Walter Benjamin’s ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’

by R.S.

Angelus Novus, described by Benjamin in his ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’. Butler: “It’s kind of a freak of an angel. Oh Well”.

Here is Judith Butler speaking on Walter Benjamin’s ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’.

Click here for Benjamin’s paper

I converted the youtube video into an mp3 so I can listen to it and have uploaded it here. Wait. No. WordPress wont let me do that, but if this is something that interests you, you can go here, drop the youtube link in, and it will do it super quickly.

There is a really sweet spot around the 24 minute mark where the class shifts tone and Butler speaks of the day to day considerations of running a class room, and the kinds of containment that feels so familiar as someone who has worked in university classrooms. Brief and probably insignificant, but nice nonetheless.

Related beautiful essay:

Taussig, M, (200) ‘Walter Benjamin’s Grave: a profane illumination’

music break

by tobybee

when I’m working I tend to need to listen to music to be able to get anything done. alas, my computer in my office isn’t mine, and doesn’t have my music on it. and so I daily turn to youtube, and today found this gem to get me through the morning. listen and watch some Fela Kuti from Berlin, 1978, for great music and amazing fashions

(and because there should always be an explicitly Jewish connection, I’ll draw your attention to this rad project combining the music of Fela Kuti and Shlomo Carlebach)

did you know…

by tobybee

… that Alec Baldwin has a radio show? I recently discovered it, and it’s rather delightful. And, did you know that originally it was planned that West Side Story would be a battle between Jewish and Irish gangs, but a decision was made to change it during the writing process? How rad would it have been if it there had been Jewish gangs in there! I learned that fun fact listening to Baldwin talk to two of Leonard Bernstein’s kids, Alex and Jamie Bernstein. I highly recommend taking a listen, and then going through the archives and listening to them all.

Also, having been called a race traitor in the last week, I offer this thought from Leonard Cohen:
not a jew

(via vladislava)

some readings etc…

by tobybee

a couple of articles for you to read (via zunguzungu’s sunday reading mind explosion):

My Molesters: I was sexually assaulted three times before I was 20. Here’s why I never told my family or the police., by Emily Yoffe

[…] The next event came when I was 15, a freshman in high school. I was at the house of a friend, “Diane.” We had been doing homework together, and it was time for me to go. It was winter, cold and dark, so her father offered to give me a ride. He was a quiet man, a bit of a nebbish, and on the brief ride we talked innocuously about school. He pulled up just short of the driveway to my home, turned off the engine, then turned to face me. His voice choked with emotion, he started babbling about how men have sexual needs. If a man’s wife won’t have sex, he said, that leaves him angry and frustrated. I knew I should just open the door, but I was so shocked that I froze. Then he lunged at me, a hand on each breast, his face pressed to mine. I pushed him away, got out of the car, and ran into my house.

Again, I didn’t say anything. Diane’s dad was the kind of man my father, a former college boxer, had contempt for. I imagined that if I told my father, he wouldn’t call the police but instead would go to Diane’s house and punch her father in the face. That would make things unpleasant in school the following day. A part of me thought her father was pathetic. High school boys were more adept at making passes.

Yids, by Jenna Brager

[…]The desire to keep Yiddishkeit alive signals less nostalgia than a political urgency grounded in a cultural history of resistance–a need to discover a relevant, lived Jewishness not over-invested in the propaganda of a dubious and oppressive “homeland.”

This interesting piece also gives a shoutout to dear friend of the blog vee, and her wonderful tumblr Ekh Lyuli Lyuli

also, one jewy image from nyc pride march yesterday, from the congregation beth simchat torah float:

at the front of the float – Y-Love (yay!)

at the back of the float – homonationalism par excellence (boo!)

Paul Robeson, Yiddish and Opera Houses

by R.S.

My grandparents had a records of Paul Robeson singing at Carnegie Hall that I always loved. Here are some youtube videos I found.

Here he sings ‘The Warsaw Ghetto Rebellion’ in Yiddish, performed in Moscow in 1949. The context of Stalinist repression is central to the description of the publication of this on youtube. His son (quoted in the youtube description) says that lyrics translate roughly as:

Never say that you have reached the very end
When leaden skies a bitter future may portend;
For sure the hour for which we yearn will not arrive
Arid our marching steps will thunder: we survive.

In this video he sings ‘Vi azoy lebt der kayser? (How does the czar live, how does the tsar drink tea?)’ Lyrics are subtitled.

Here Robeson sings for workers at the Opera House site, as it was being built. I love the songs he sings – ‘Old Man River’ and ‘Joe Hill’. ‘Old Man River’ for the inversion of lyrics from the original and defeated Showboat tune (“Ah gits weary / An’ sick of tryin’; / Ah’m tired of livin’ / An skeered of dyin’, / But Ol’ Man River, / He jes’ keeps rolling along!”) to the fighting lyrics of later years (“But I keeps laffin’/ Instead of cryin’ / I must keep fightin’; / Until I’m dyin’, / And Ol’ Man River, / He’ll just keep rollin’ along!”). And ‘Joe Hill’ because it is just such a great song and no one sings it quite like Robeson.

In any case, the picture of him singing on a worksite, in the dust of what is now an elite institution, always – somehow – slightly out of reach, is something special.

Some beautifully spoken words

by R.S.

Have been watching some spoken word lately and thought I’d share some of the ones our readers might like.

These are so beautiful.

Elaina M. Ellis, ‘Cuz I’m a Poet, Cuz I’m a Jew’

Phil Kaye, ‘Teeth’

Sparkle, ‘Unknown Jew’

Robbie Thorpe, ‘Message from the Streets’

Saul Williams, ‘Not In Our Name (The Pledge of Resistance)’

Suheir Hammad, (unknown title,  performing in Ramallah)

Suheir Hammad, ‘First writing since’

Suheir Hammad, ‘Not Your Erotic, Not Your Exotic’

Allen Ginsberg, ‘Kaddish’ (excerpt, read by Jonathan Freund)

Taylor Mali, ‘What Teachers Make’

Miles Walser, ‘Nebraska’ [Contains descriptions of violence]

Sarah Kay, ‘Hands’

Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye, (title unknown)

Kendra Urdan, ‘To every man who never called himself a feminist’ [contains descriptions of violence]

les matzarables…

by tobybee

I’m just getting ready for my seder tonight, so i leave you with a gut yontif, a hope that your seder is fun, fulfilling and tasty, and that, at some point over the next week you (and I!) find the time to reflect on what freedom and slavery means today, for jews, egyptians, and everyone else. (sorry – that potentially sounds a bit trite. hopefully you can take the meaning of what I’m saying, even if my language is a bit banal…)

good luck finding the afikomen tonight!

Antique Dictator for Sale

by R.S.

Found this last night. Titled ‘United we Rise’ by the People Project, it is a mushup of Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator (1940), with some guitar riffs and photos from the recent revolutions in the Middle Eat/North Africa.

Anyway, check it out. It is beautiful:

(hat tip @kissability)

jews and sport

by tobybee

Ta-Nehisi Coates is great. I don’t really have anything to add to this post he wrote the other day, so I’ll just share it. (Actually, that’s a lie – I often laugh at the idea of Jews playing sport too, so I’d have to suggest that he’s not antisemitic to do so. Also, he’s totally right – ‘the intellectual assassin’ is the best nickname ever. and totally a jewish nickname. LOVE IT. Plus his larger point is spot-on too.):

The Secret Relationship Between the Blacks and the Jews

Talking in comments, I realized that I’ve taken Mike Tomlin’s presence, as a black head coach in the Super Bowl, as unremarkable. I don’t know that that’s objectively true, but the fact that I haven’t given it much thought says something.

I was joking that I’d actually been thinking about Aaron Rodgers Jewish ancestry, more than Mike Tomlin’s immediate African ancestry. That sent me to Wikipedia’s list of “Jews In Football (American.)” Does the fact that I laughed at the very existence of this list make me anti-Semitic? Somehow the fact that somewhere there’s probably a “Blacks In Chemistry (Legal)” somewhere makes me depressed.

Oh well the list is pretty interesting–Sid Luckman, Lyle Alzado, Igor Olshansky, Andre Tippet, and my personal favorite, Ron “The Intellectual Assassin” Mix:

“Because he had a Juris Doctor in Law degree, Mix was nicknamed “The Intellectual Assassin” for his physical play. Mix was called for a mere two holding penalties in ten years.”

Greatest. Handle. Ever. Anyway, whenever Jews and athletics comes up I think about this hilarious editorial from the days when they dominated basketball:

“New York Daily News sports editor Paul Gallico wrote in the mid 1930s that basketball “appeals to the Hebrew with his Oriental background [because] the game places a premium on an alert, scheming mind and flashy trickiness, artful dodging and general smartalecness.” We see how qualities such as cunning and wiliness were posited as the keys to Jewish basketball success and how these kinds of statements were indicative of early 20th century America.”

“Flashy trickiness” and “general smartalecness.” Hilarious. It’s really amazing how prejudice adjusts itself to the times. During the Civil War, blacks were thought to be–not just lazy and cowardly–but actually physically weaker then whites. Indeed, up until the turn of the century “scientists” were predicting that the frail and sickly black race would die out.

Then Jack Johnson utterly destroyed Jim Jeffries–and the myth of the hyperstrong, ape-like, black man was born. Suddenly whites couldn’t compete because blacks were “natural” athletes, who degraded contests of skill and technique with brute athleticism. It’s lasted all the way up to Marlin Brisco and Warren Moon. Somehow, prejudice finds a way. Until it doesn’t.

also, a couple of friends last night were asking me for recommendations for blogs to read, so I thought I’d share with y’all the sites online I regularly visit:

since he’s on topic, gotta start with Ta-Nehisi Coates.
then there’s there’s our catastrophe, zunguzungu, fyi or die, the drum, +972 magazine, This is Africa, Tenured Radical, Lisa Goldman, Ekh Lyuli Lyuli, Joan Nestle, Jewschool, I studied abroad in Africa!, leonine anti-heroine.
and the recent discoveries of fuck yeah jewish women and fuck yeah jewish men. they go along with fuck yeah queer jews (which i wish would post more regularly!).
and just for fun, Go Fug Yourself and Shit My Students Write.
So yep, I guess they’re the blogs that I check on a regular basis (that is, every couple of days). God bless the time for reading that unemployment brings! Any others that I should be looking at?