is-real-thing: endless solutions

It is difficult to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian issue in anything approaching what could be termed a “common sense” way. The conventional wisdom is that we are even handed, or that some form of pseudo-historical junk science as religion “special status” serves to mitigate some minor inconsistencies.

Sigalit Landau. Venice Biennale 2011. are the motif with the greatest presence in the exhibition and their location in the conference room increases their presence tenfold – twelve pairs of shoes (the number of the tribes of Israel). The circle of shoes tied to one another emphasizes the circle in which the debaters are trapped, unable to untie or open the knots. The shoes are also a metaphor for a state of wandering and being a refugee, subjects frequently addressed by Landau. Abandoned or grouped shoes are linked to the Holocaust in Israeli consciousness, as well as in Landau’s consciousness, and she explicitly referred to this subject in The Endless Solution exhibition. Read More:

Clausewitz established the well known axiom that, “war is the continuation of policy,”. This is being written out of existence, instead of armed aggression as the extension of politics, the policy-spin is that man’s impulse to fight is dominant, almost a gene, part of our DNA, a first reflex. In this brave new world, the rational is sacrificed for the irrational with the obvious connection between politics and war debunked and a new relationship between conflict and human nature proposed and promoted in its place. In the interpretations of these new military theorists, war is transformed from a means to an end into an end in itself, the product of forces beyond human control – whether human nature, sexual characteristics or “culture.”

---Engler argues that Canadian policy in the Middle East is not really about winning Jewish votes because there aren’t enough Jewish votes to make a big difference in Canadian elections. Fowler, on the other hand, claimed that this was the main motivation for the Harper government’s policies in the Middle East. Instead, Engler maintains that the real goal of Canadian foreign policy in the Middle East is to support the American empire, which benefits from having a strong ally such as Israel in an oil-rich region.---

How else can the gratuitous bombing of Libya be explained by Canada and the U.S. under the guise of benevolent activity, freedom and liberation. Every war is the product of deliberate, calculated decision. No war is ever conducted without political purpose. Men do not fight because they are of a particular culture or sex, but because they are the instruments of reasoned and deliberate policy. If you want to comprehend war, look at politics. Theories which summon up the rage of the unconscious, the spectre of willed machines and smart bombs,the march of human automatons, and the famished and self-generating “military industrial complexes” have contributed to the belief that war is beyond human comprehension and control. Without a rational guiding principle, war can be presented as an unstoppable technological progression of violence and mass destruction. The so-called “endless cycle”. Machines are made to appear to govern men in combat, and any civilian damages are “glitches or bugs” in an efficient machine.

---Jordan boy trying to sell something to Israeli soldiers circa. 1970. Read More:

…In Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid, he ( Yves Engler ) points out that in the 18th and 19th centuries, Christians, not Jews, were the foremost proponents of creating a Jewish state in the Middle East. Engler recounts that the leading 19th-century Christian Zionist in Canada was Henry Wentworth Monk, who in 1881 supported the establishment of a fund to buy land in Palestine for European Jews. … Engler’s book shows how Canada’s representative on the 1947 UN Special Committee on Palestine, former Supreme Court justice Ivan C. Rand, pushed for Israel to receive a greater share of the land in Palestine. Rand vigorously opposed the creation of a binational state. Engler’s book also describes how then-diplomat Lester Pearson “worked feverishly to broker a partition plan acceptable to Moscow and Washington”….

---Ram Katzir. ---This colouring book contains simple line drawings based on controversial and historical images of Nazi propaganda. An installation in 1996 at Casco designated two tables, one too big and the other too small to sit comfortably, for visitors to colour and contribute to the book. The project then travelled through various cities, related to the Holocaust. Read More:

…“If you look at Pearson’s record on Israel, he didn’t care about what the indigenous population had to say in 1947,” Engler says. “He cared about what Washington had to say or what London had to say, what Moscow had to say, and maybe a little bit about what the Jewish Zionist lobby in this country had to say.” Read More:

The unstoppable-technology theories have the practical effect of denigrating politics, and absolving those responsible from blame. Wars do not begin by themselves: they are launched because external political interests decide war is expedient to the powers that be. The loss of rational principle in war also permits the military kahunas to portray war – at least the wars of which they disapprove – as the activity of crazies governed by deep-seated , repressed impulses. This is especially true since the end of the old political charade of East and West that used to suggest at least a veneer of ideological differences. As we see today, wars are invariably seen in anthropological terms. Conflicts which have been spawned by Great Power realpolitik are redefined as wars caused by ancient tribal and ethnic animosities, unfathomable sectarian gripes;  culture, not politics, is swallowed whole to be the well-spring of militarism.

---Alan Schechner's Self Portrait at Buchenwald: It's the Real Thing (1993) was shown at the exhibition Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art (March 17th - June 30th, 2002).Following the publication of the Mirroring Evil exhibition catalogue in January 2002, newspapers, Jewish organizations as well as other groups singled out Schechner's image for criticism and leveled accusa

s of 'obscenity', Holocaust manipulation and moral indignation. The Real Thing is a digital photomontage in which Schechner inserted an image of himself into a photo by Margaret Bourke-White (1945) of emaciated survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Schechner looks like a well-fed fashion model as he holds a can of Diet Coke with a sparkling highlight lens flare. Read More:

Indeed they are presented as such: the popular mobilisations of third world nationalists like Saddam, Sudan, Bin-Laden,  Milosevic, etc.  But the real record is that contemporary militarism is a policy generated in the West in an attempt to redeem the authority of unpopular governments, providing some moral leverage to the grubby business extracting taxes and new sources or revenue.

Time and again, Western leaders have sought out the international stage to promote an impression of decisive action. Standing up to third world leaders with little fire-power and even less support is a bargain way for Western politicians to stand tall in the Teddy Roosevelt mold in the world. Military intervention overseas provides a less intractable arena for policy-makers than domestic politics, where politicians and their programs seem incoherent and time-biding exercises.

---Joshua Neustein. Boots. 1969.---There is no denying the sweeping presence of the Holocaust in Israeli public life – on television, in ceremonies, memorials, books, political demagogy, and even on the street. As an Israeli and as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I can attest that the Holocaust has always been there, breathing down our necks, as a looming threat that may descend upon us once again, and after 1967 as a pretext for Israel’s military power and its charged relations with the Arab world. Over the course of time, the official memory of the Holocaust, supplemented by the trauma of local wars, has intensified the country’s anxiety, transforming it into an ideological instrument justifying the oppression of others. Read More:

Even though he was elected on the basis of tackling and resolving America’s domestic problems, promoting social equality and acting as an “agent of change” Barack Obama has been front and center regarding military intervention in the third world. By and large, after the Clinton and Bush acts, the American electorate have been unenthusiastic about Obama’s ass-kicking: from the turkey shoots in Iraq/Afghan, to drone responsible civil murder in Pakistan to Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Yves Engler, regarding Canada, notes that Pierre Elliott Trudeau adopted more progressive policies in the Middle East than those of his predecessors, but Engler attributes this to Trudeau’s wish to advance the business interests of Canadian corporations. The same motivation, he says, explains Trudeau’s reluctance to criticize apartheid and the Indonesian government’s repression in East Timor.

Engler’s book focuses some attention on Canada’s cooperation with the Mossad, Israel’s spy service, as well as on how Canadian registered charities generate money to finance Jewish settlements in territory seized by Israel. He dismisses media reports that the Harper government’s strong support for Israel is rooted in a desire to attract Jewish votes, noting that there aren’t enough Canadian Jews—whether wholeheartedly pro-Israel or not—to make a significant difference in federal elections. Instead, he links Canada’s steadfast support for Israel to its desire to help prop up the American empire, which benefits enormously from having a strong ally in the Middle East. Read More:

---Tom Sachs. ---For Lévi-Strauss bricolage is connected to the fetishist apprehension of a limited number of embodied signs that hold sway over the world. The combination of these elements in bricolage is constrained by their embodied meanings, each of which contributes to the structure of significance in a society. Of course, brands seek to hold such a sway over the imaginations of consumers, and their meanings are certainly policed by incessant propaganda, and litigation against those who violate them (the Barbie Liberation Organisation, for example, which hacked the voice-boxes of the dolls to make them say ‘Math is hard!’.) So Sachs, with pieces like Prada Toilet, uses the technical methods of bricolage to break with and illumine the brand’s mythic elements. Read More:


Where our current conflicts call out for a clear explanation, the academics’ and think-tanks mystification of the war drive only serve as an excuse for Western militarism. All conceivable variables and their permutations come into play; biological, to the cultural, to the psychological is invoked to explain war. That is, all variables with the exception of the interests of those developed powers that have been at the forefront of promoting militarism, part of a broader game plan to flame and tame world real estate in a monopoly board game with China. Obviously, we should identify the drive towards war where it belongs which is in the political machinations of the Western elites who, left or right follow the same course.

Roee Rosen. To Live and Die as Eva Braun exhibition. 1997. ---Roee Rosen’s interactive installation Live and Die as Eva Braun (fall 1997). By critically viewing the importance of the Holocaust in the formation of Israeli identity, both shows caused a scandal and infuriated many Holocaust survivors to the point that the Minister of Education was called upon to cancel the exhibitions. One of the most radical responses is quoted at the beginning of my essay. The other, by Haim Dasberg, a Holocaust survivor who responded to Ram Katzir’s project, reflects the difficulties in turning the gaze from the victim to the victimizer: What do I care about the murderer? After all that I have been through, do I still have to explain, understand, and relate to the way the poor bastard became a murderer? If the museum wants to deal with the lesson of the Holocaust, let it screen documentary films, display authentic photographs and paintings inspired by the horror. But where do they get the nerve to make playful use of a picture where a Jew’s side-locks are being shaved off? . . . They are taking our open wound and treating it lightly.Read More: image:


Harper is not the first Canadian PM to express such support. As Yves Engler’s book makes clear, Canada has consistently ignored or glossed over Israel’s occupation and annexation of Palestinian lands and its imposition of an apartheid system in which Palestinians are routinely denied their human rights. In the occupied West Bank, for example, Palestinians have been pushed into enclaves “encircled by a massive wall, had their water and land appropriated and are subjected to daily humiliation at military checkpoints.”

The 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza live in an open-air prison cut off from the outside world and denied adequate supplies of food, water, medicine, electricity and the building materials needed to rebuild after Israel’s devastating 22-day armed assault that left more than 1,200 Palestinians dead….

Alan Schechner. ---Klein's espousal of Spinozistic philosophy elucidates his particular perception of Zionism. In Klein's view, the Zionist ideology implements Spinoza's percep tion of man vis-à-vis society and universe. Whereas Spinoza presents the theoretical grounding for man as defender and preserver of the divine force in humanity, the Zionist struggle to reassert human dignity embodies the hope of victory of humanism over tyranny. The Zionist ideal of the return to the land reconfirms the pantheistic notion of man's indelible affinity with nature and the divine. In the reality of the emerging totalitarian regimes, Jewish freedom to cultivate the ancestral land counteracts the threat of man's dehumanization; in that sense, Jewish national rebirth becomes the emblem of humanity's moral rebirth. The sequence of poems entitled "Greeting on This Day" (1929) glorifies those who redress injustice through action. The Zionists vigorously implement the humanistic ideal by asserting the right of the Jewish people to life and freedom; rather than passively rely on God's intervention, they enact the divine purpose of human existence....Read More: image:

…Engler documents the many ways in which Canada supports Israel’s continued occupation in a myriad of ways—everything from sales of military equipment and close co-operation between our spy agencies to the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-deductible donations that support Israeli institutions such as universities, parks, the military and, in some cases, illegal settlements in the West Bank. Palestinians, meanwhile, find it difficult to raise money in Canada because many of their charities have been listed as illegal terrorist organizations.

Finally, Engler points to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, a group of members of parliament who plan to submit a report to the Harper government this spring. The Coalition says it will not try to persuade Harper to outlaw legitimate criticism of Israel, but it could, for example, seek a ban on Israeli Apartheid Week held every year on university campuses to protest against the oppression of Palestinians. Jewish groups claim that IAW is inherently anti-Semitic and are calling for universities to ban it. Engler argues IAW should widen its focus so that it not only condemns Israeli government actions, but also protests against Canada’s complicity in supporting Israel’s apartheid regime. Read More:


Alan Schechner art. ---Massacred Palestinians who were being bombed by Israeli fighter jets in their refugee camps demanded heroes and heroism, and the PLO had to give them some, even if they were not legitimate heroes. The German police at the time were going to take the PLO out, no matter what, and no matter how much the Germans endangered the lives of the hostages, and they presumably had Israeli consent. An Arab League diplomat revealed this recently when he broke his silence in an interview on Ziyarah Khassah on Al-Jazeera. He should know: he was the negotiator with the Palestinian guerillas in Munich. It can be argued that the Palestinians risked the lives of the hostages by taking them hostages, even if they did not intend to kill them. That is true. This is similar to the moral perils entailed by hijacking: the hijackers, any hijackers, are responsible, and should be held responsible for whatever endangerment to the lives and health of victims. Quite true. But it is also true that the "State of Israel" has taken a nation hostage, and has been endangering the lives of millions of Palestinians since the inception of the Israeli state. It is a question of who is retaliating against whom. --- REad More: image:

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