forty shades on a sea of grey

Its an industry in itself. An entire substrata of entertainment, a part of the military industrial entertainment complex known as the Israel Protest industry which is something straight out of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle; the country serving as film set for these productions and like most of pop culture the critical content is neutered, distilled and spoon fed to a mass market which creates an aesthetic of dissent, a means of asserting identity by vampiring another culture without the risk of authentic engagement while at the same time operating out of an environment, call it the dissenters tourist industry, where they can sleep in comfort, eat well,  and return the next day to the set for more agitation and filming.

---This strategy was displayed recently at the University of California at Davis, where a handful of protesters disrupted a February 27 presentation on “Defending the Israeli Image,” featuring a former member of the Israeli Defense Forces and a Druse woman whose father and brother had fought in the IDF. The loudest of the protesters, an Indian man, called an IDF veteran a child molester and accused him of rape. The heckler announced, “I will stand here and heckle you until you leave... my only purpose is that this event is shut down.” The heckler repeatedly demanded that security officials arrest him, taunting the crowd: “Remove me! Remove me! ...I would love to be arrested.” Despite this plea, campus security permitted the disruption to continue for quite some time, telling retired faculty member George Rooks, “We have been instructed by our superior not to stop hecklers, and if you try to stop the hecklers, we have been instructed to close down the program.”---Read More:

Kind of like calling the film Cabaret an authentic reprsentation of Weimar Germany. Its a bit of a game. The leftist radical is something of the righteous yuppie, a builder of social capital like Naomi Klein, the superficial Marxism of a James Cameron and a certain earnest form of messianism subsumed within the secular structure. When you look at it, the young adults at Amona, also tortured between the conflicting and antagonistic juxtaposition of religion and Zionism really got smashed out by the IDF, the army, unidentified soldiers smashing skulls; by contrast the leftists in comparison are coddled, they have nice bicycles are block the road with them, are well dressed, hip, and really, their antagonism for Zionism should have led them to take a few clubbings, rubber bullets, or trampling by horse at Amona as well. Not “cool” . No t-shirt to wear for it. Y’know its a wardrobe thing.

---Irish artist, Nicky Larkin was pro-Palestinian--until she actually visited Israel and the West Bank, for her upcoming film Forty Shades of Grey. ---Read More:

Call it an atheistic messianism as opposed to a religious one, but they are both at a locus between a saving power and danger, where maybe ultimately redemption consists in a release form this dialectic of salvation and danger. Certainly, the intensity of Israel, geographically in the center of the world, Jerusalem, does posit the apocalyptic possibility of divine violence, a very volatile and unpredictible redemption from what some see as an obscene dimension of law- religion- and others as the artificial structure of state law and to them flimsy legacy of the European enlightenment. …

( see link at end) …Irish filmmaker Nicky Larkin once hated Israel. As a standard Irish leftist–an intellectually depraved drone–he felt duty bound to revile the Jewish State and adore the Palestinians.

But then Larkin went to Israel to make an anti-Israeli movie and the scales gradually fell from his eyes.

I used to hate Israel. I used to think the Left was always right. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. Now I see why Israel has to be hard. Now I see the Left can be Right — as in right-wing. So why did I change my mind so completely?…

Strangely, it began with my anger at Israel’s incursion into Gaza in December 2008 which left over 1,200 Palestinians dead, compared to

y 13 Israelis. I was so angered by this massacre I posed in the striped scarf of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation for an art show catalogue.

Shortly after posing in that PLO scarf, I applied for funding from the Irish Arts Council to make a film in Israel and Palestine. I wanted to talk to these soldiers, to challenge their actions — and challenge the Israeli citizens who supported them.

I spent seven weeks in the area, dividing my time evenly between Israel and the West Bank. I started in Israel. The locals were suspicious. We were Irish — from a country which is one of Israel’s chief critics — and we were filmmakers. We were the enemy.

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial, authorised by administrative order rather than by judicial decree. Inherited from the pre 1948 British Mandate emergency regulations, administrative detention is deemed illegal by international law, which says it can be used only in the most exceptional cases, as the last means available for preventing danger that cannot be thwarted by less harmful means. Israel has extended the use of administrative detention since it occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, enabling the state to hold prisoners indefinitely without charging them or bringing them to trial….

Khader Adnan’s story is emblematic of many other detainees. Like them, he was taken in a night raid from his home; he claims he was beaten and humiliated by Israeli soldiers and began his hunger strike in protest. Evidence and allegations were not made available to Mr Adnan or his lawyers; the only allegation made was that he is a ‘high risk’ to Israeli security.

According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, there are currently 307 administrative detainees not charged with any crime. During the second Intifada the number of detainees rose to the thousands, including children, some of whom are held in solitary confinement without access to their parents or lawyers, for several weeks. Read More:

… ( see link at end) Then I crossed over into the West Bank. Suddenly, being Irish wasn’t a problem. Provo graffiti adorned The Wall. Bethlehem was Las Vegas for Jesus-freaks — neon crucifixes punctuated by posters of martyrs.

These martyrs followed us throughout the West Bank. They watched from lamp-posts and walls wherever we went. Like Jesus in the old Sacred Heart pictures.

But the more I felt the martyrs watching me, the more confused I became. After all, the Palestinian mantra was one of “non-violent resistance”. It was their motto, repeated over and over like responses at a Catholic mass.

Yet when I interviewed Hind Khoury, a former Palestinian government member, she sat forward angrily in her chair as she refused to condemn the actions of the suicide bombers. She was all aggression.

This aggression continued in Hebron, where I witnessed swastikas on a wall. As I set up my camera, an Israeli soldier shouted down from his rooftop position. A few months previously I might have ignored him as my political enemy. But now I stopped to talk. He only talked about Taybeh, the local Palestinian beer.

Back in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2011, I began to listen more closely to the Israeli side. I remember one conversation in Shenkin Street — Tel Aviv’s most fashionable quarter, a street where everybody looks as if they went to art college. I was outside a cafe interviewing a former soldier.

He talked slowly about his time in Gaza. He spoke about 20 Arab teenagers filled with ecstasy tablets and sent running towards the base he’d patrolled. Each strapped with a bomb and carrying a hand-held detonator.

The pills in their bloodstream meant they felt no pain. Only a headshot would take them down.

Conversations like this are normal in Tel Aviv. I began to experience the sense of isolation Israelis feel. An isolation that began in the ghettos of Europe and ended in Auschwitz.

Israel is a refuge — but a refuge under siege, a refuge where rockets rain death from the skies. And as I made the effort to empathise, to look at the world through their eyes. I began a new intellectual journey. One that would not be welcome back home.

The problem began when I resolved to come back with a film that showed both sides of the coin. Actually there are many more than two. Which is why my film is called Forty Shades of Grey. But only one side was wanted back in Dublin. My peers expected me to come back with an attack on Israel. No grey areas were acceptable.

An Irish artist is supposed to sign boycotts, wear a PLO scarf, and remonstrate loudly about The Occupation. But it’s not just artists who are supposed to hate Israel. Being anti-Israel is supposed to be part of our Irish identity, the same way we are supposed to resent the English.

But hating Israel is not part of my personal national identity. Neither is hating the English. I hold an Irish passport, but nowhere upon this document does it say I am a republican, or a Palestinian.

My Irish passport says I was born in 1983 in Offaly. The Northern Troubles were something Anne Doyle talked to my parents about on the nine o’clock News. I just wanted to watch Father Ted.

So I was frustrated to see Provo graffiti on the wall in the West Bank. I felt the same frustration emerge when I noticed the missing ‘E’ in a “Free Palestin” graffiti on a wall in Cork. I am also frustrated by the anti-Israel activists’ attitude to freedom of speech.

Free speech must work both ways. But back in Dublin, whenever I speak up for Israel, the Fiachras and Fionas look at me aghast, as if I’d pissed on their paninis.

This one-way freedom of speech spurs false information. The Boycott Israel brigade is a prime example. They pressurised Irish supermarkets to remove all Israeli produce from their shelves — a move that directly affected the Palestinian farmers who produce most of their fruit and vegetables under the Israeli brand.

But worst of all, this boycott mentality is affecting artists. In August 2010, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign got 216 Irish artists to sign a pledge undertaking to boycott the Israeli state. As an artist I have friends on this list — or at least I had.

I would like to challenge my friends about their support for this boycott. What do these armchair sermonisers know about Israel? Could they name three Israeli cities, or the main Israeli industries?

But I have more important questions for Irish artists. What happened to the notion of the artist as a free thinking individual? Why have Irish artists surrendered to group-think on Israel? Could it be due to something as crude as career-advancement?

Artistic leadership comes from the top. Aosdana, Ireland’s State-sponsored affiliation of creative artists, has also signed the boycott. Aosdana is a big player. Its members populate Arts Council funding panels.

Some artists could assume that if their name is on the same boycott sheet as the people assessing their applications, it can hardly hurt their chances. No doubt Aosdana would dispute this assumption. But the perception of a preconceived position on Israel is hard to avoid.

Looking back now over all I have learnt, I wonder if the problem is a lot simpler.

Perhaps our problem is not with Israel, but with our own over-stretched sense of importance — a sense of moral superiority disproportional to the importance of our little country?

Any artist worth his or her salt should be ready to change their mind on receipt of fresh information. So I would urge every one of those 216 Irish artists who pledged to boycott the Israeli state to spend some time in Israel and Palestine. Maybe when you come home you will bin your scarf. I did.Read More:


( see link at end) :

A foreign reporter from Spain, who loves Israeli red wine, told me once how every foreign correspondent dreams of being stationed in Israel. “This is a foreign correspondent’s paradise!” she said. “Where else can you go to restaurant in a city such as Tel Aviv, grab a drink, or go dancing on Dizengoff Street, and sleep at a fancy hotel, when the only thing that separates you from your authentic ‘battle field’ report is a 45 minute drive into Jerusalem or Bil’in and Naalin?

Indeed, Israel holds a strange dissonance that we have developed throughout our years of living by the sword. The south is bombed, one million citizens sit in bomb shelters, but 15-20 kilometers away – everything is just the same. We have created a situation where little Israel consists of two parallel universes. The foreign activists fit perfectly into one and only one of those universes – the good, comfortable and quiet one.

The second reason was explained to me by two Swedish activists who loved the mixture of Arak and fresh grapefruit juice in their cocktails. I asked them once this one clichéd question that always comes to mind – “So why Israel of all places? Why not Syria? Egypt? Russia or China?” One of them put on a serious face. “Are you insane?” he asked me. “These are all extremely dangerous places!”

And that’s when it hit me.Read More:,7340,L-4219636,00.html

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