Friday, August 21, 2009

Link Carnival (Formerly Link Parade)

1) Judge Judy: Judy Bachrach Plays Judge, Jury, and Executioner

Over at Muslimah Media Watch Safiya (of Safiya Outlines) writes incisively about Judy Bachrach's ridiculously Islamophobic article "Twice Branded: Western Women, Muslim Lands" (No, I did not link to that shit. If you want to read it there is a link in Safiya's essay. Or you could just follow your nose...) MMW's essays are always reliably good and if you are a white, western feminist who thinks her secular feminist ideals put her at odds with Islam, this is the blog for you. And this post, which elegantly deconstructs the Feminist Orientalism (yes, that is a thing) at work in articles like Bachrach's, is a great place to begin. Too often, Orientalist and Islamophobic attitudes expressed on the putative US "left" via discourses like feminism are unquestioned. This post questions the hell out of them. Go and read it.

tags: Politics is Culture, Representation, Islamophobia, Orientalism, Feminism, Fear Mongering

2) The Kominas: National Tour

Ted Swedenburg's great blog hawgblawg covers Arab and Muslim culture and politics and he reports that (Muslim/Punk) Taqwacore icons The Kominas are gearing up for a national tour. Good.

tags: Culture is Politics, Performance, Mark Your Calendars, Upcoming

3) My Life As a Deaf Child, part 1

Speaking of Muslim punks... friend-of-the-blog playwright Sabina England, who blogs as Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist at The American Dream is Dead has written a terrific memoir in three parts. Here are the links to part 2 and part 3. Some of you may know Sabina from the interview she did here at the Pomegranate and some of you may be new to her smart, funny, crazy work. (I told her recently that she is Batman: always working out, loves studying the criminal mind and driven by righteous purpose. Seriously, if she starts wearing a cape get the hell out of Gotham.) This memoir is good way to discover her as an artist and I encourage you to check it out.

tags: Culture is Politics, Review, Representation

4) Toronto gallery that severed ties with Palestinian rights activist found in violation of city’s non-discrimination code

Muzzlewatch, a site that "tracks efforts to stifle open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy" follows up on an earlier post about how artist/Yiddishist/Klezmer performer Reena Katz's community-based art installation at Toronto's historic Kensington Market area lost the funding of the Koffler Center for the Arts when they discovered her support for Palestinian rights. While no one suggested at the time that her politics, which were not an element of the proposed piece, were the cause for the cancellation, Katz and curator Kim Simon write, "The Koffler Centre for the Arts dissociated from Katz and the commissioned project in early May, 2009 because of her political work for Palestinian human rights, and subsequently sent a defamatory press release across the country, falsely claiming that Katz supports the extinction of the State of Israel. Since late May, we have been in legal negotiations with the Koffler about moving forward with the project and we have now reached an agreement." Further, the Toronto Arts Council (TAC) has determined that the Koffler Centre violated the City of Toronto’s non-discrimination policy with their actions. In May Muzzlewatch reported, "Theirs is a simplistic, narrow and ultimately pathetic form of Jewishness which primarily worships Jewish nationalism --a form of idolatry-- and tries to impose a mythical monoculture on a rich, varied and argumentative tradition-- which has a history of including political Zionists and non or anti-Zionists." Can I get that on a t-shirt?

tags: Politics is Culture, Zionism, Installation, Anti-Art

5) Amnesty International ends role in Leonard Cohen's Tel Aviv concert

Amnesty International has withdrawn from a role coordinating the distribution of funds to charity for Leonard Cohen's upcoming concert in Tel-Aviv. This comes on the heels of pressure from pro-Palestinian activists. Proof that the boycott works, folks. But... Amnesty took great pains to make clear that it takes no official position on the boycott. Sure, okay.

tags: Zionism, Culture is Politics, Palestine/Israel, Boycott

Discuss amongst yourselves.


  1. thanks for linking me, bro! Much appreciated.

    -Batman ;-)

  2. I read the article by Safiya. This attitude by some within the Western feminist community is rife. The lady even has the nerve to come back and argue with Muslim women.

    It is complete arrogance and racism to assume that they know what is best for Muslim women. I see it all of the time at other blogs where the assumption is that they need help from Western feminists, and that usually the hijab is the formost issue in their lives.

  3. Joseph, I think your blog ate my comment again. If it didn't then just delete this comment, as the earlier one was much better.

    Anyway, Safiya's post is just brills. Bachrach actually responded on thread to her, with some silly, butthurt, ruffled-feathers nonsense. "I'm a journalist, and YOU'RE not, so I WIN!" ::: foot-stamp ::: So childish. I think it's safe to say that Safiya won this argument. Go, bloggers.

    I was really upset about the Reena Katz debacle. I adore Klezmer music and Yiddish songs and applaud any efforts to perform them or simply educate others about these marvelous traditions. One of my favorite singers, Israeli Chava Alberstein, has been a long time peace activist and supporter of Palestininian rights. During the first Palestinian uprisings in the 1980s (before "intifada" was a dirty word...sigh) she voiced her support for Palestinians. As a result, she received death threats daily, and many Israeli radio stations banned her music. And she's not even all that radical! There is definitely pressure on Jewish people both in Israel and abroad to "fall in line" with regard to I/P dialogue. Many years ago, Tom Friedman visited my campus as a guest speaker. During the Q&A session, he was heckled and booed by a group of about ten people, who called him a "traitor" and a "self-hating Jew." Why? Because he was critical of the Israeli government's policies towards Palestinians. Friedman's stance then was actually on the conservative side of moderate (2 state solution and ending of illegal settlements, but no relinquishing of the occupied territories and "selective" return of displaced Palestinians), but because he had defied the lockstep nature of Zionist rhetoric, he was being attacked, and his "Jewishness" was in question. Once again, this was Thomas-Friggin-Friedman. It was absolutely astonishing. Now, Friedman's a cool customer, but he was definitely rattled, as we all were, by the vehemence of his detractors. They were only silenced when a Holocaust survivor stood up and spoke out on behalf of Friedman AND Palestinian rights. I knew right then that the only way that this discussion could ever move forward would be if sensible people got the crazy folks to shut the fuck up. And soon, 'cause while we proselytize and yip-yap, babies die.

    SIGH. Someday, huh?

  4. Fiqah,
    yeah, it must have eaten your first comment because I didn't even see it, so I am glad you sent another. (That has happened before and I am not sure why--some Blogger-glitch? Berf.)

    @Fiqah @Abu Sinan
    Cosign on Safiya. Props to her.

    I think there is a larger point here about "new" vs. "old" media. Bottom line for me is: new media is incredibly useful for progressive movements. I think that's true whether we are talking about Palestinian rights or anti-globalization or whatever. Thanks to cheap access to technology--video, digital photography, blogs, social media etc.-- authority is not invisible anymore.

    Progressive bloggers, especially from under or misrepresented groups are an important part of that shift.

    I also think reactions like Bachrach's show how deeply entrenched Islamophobia and Orientalism are in the west, a dynamic that gets reproduced in the media. The fact that she was compelled to come online to defend her bullshit racist point of view, which would have gone unquestioned before, means Safiya already won.

  5. P.S.
    For those of you who haven't checked it out yet it's very instructive to see the comment thread that follows Safiya's article on MMW. Bachrach's "responses" are comedy gold.