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A Deadly Poison

As a companion to yesterday’s piece, here is an example of the kind of thing that the current Israeli administration (and a sizeable xenophobic tranche of the Israeli population) would like to get away with; the kind of thing that leads them and accuse the West of anti-semitism when it quite rightly exposes their hypocrisy.
It’s a subjective account of the situation, of course, but there is enough evidence out there already to prove that stories such as this are, more often than not, reflective of the sad truth for the people who actually have to live there, to live through it. Like the differences between the Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland, foolish notions of pride, power and material wealth (obscured by the wounded shield of religion) have combined in the Middle East to create a deadly poison.

On the ‘New’ Anti-Semitism

There’s a thought-provoking piece in yesterday’s Guardian regarding the ‘political correctness’ of anti-semitism supposedly spreading throughout Europe.
I’ve read it a couple of times, and I have to say, a lot of the charges I find difficult to accept. Not only that, but I were so inclined, I could easily take some of the anti-gentile sentiments expressed as a personal affront to my own character.
Now don’t get me wrong — it is plainly obvious that anti-semitic sentiments are indeed growing throughout Europe. But to say that they have any sort of ‘politically correct’ justification by way of European governmental attitudes and policies is absurd.
I think that part of the problem could be that most people have a tendency to generalise, which polarises issues and obscures the truth. For example, European animosity towards the United States — sure, George Bush and his cronies are the enemy, but where is the basis for hating the whole nation? It’s the confusion of a specific issue with a more general one. It’s the mob mentality. Thinking along these lines, its easy to see how animosity towards the current Israeli government can be confused en masse with anti-semitism.
That doesn’t make it right, of course. Since when is the firebombing of a school ever right? Or the desecration of a graveyard? It’s really sad that people are so blinded by misguided hatred that they would commit such despicable acts. But to say that this might be an example of how anti-semitism has become politically-correct in Europe shows an obvious lack (or even refusal) of mutual understanding.
“These days,” says Ariel Sharon, “to conduct an anti-semite policy is not a popular thing, so the anti-semites bundle their policies in with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” But doesn’t Mr. Sharon seem to be making a dangerous generalisation himself? Why must animosity towards the policies of the current Israeli government always be equated with animosity towards the state of Israel itself? Why must anti-Israeli sentiment always be equated with anti-semitism?
When Sharon and his ilk make statements such as the above, I feel completely misrepresented and untimately insulted. For instance, I have no problem with the existence of Israel — why shouldn’t they have their own country? I just happen to believe that the Palestinians are entitled to their own homeland too, without having to live in fear of Israeli (not Jewish, _Israeli_) persecution. But somehow, in their warped vision, this belief brands me as an anti-semite.
I happen to believe that Ariel Sharon is a despicable man, blatantly racist war criminal. But do I despise him because he is Jewish? Of course not! His religion doesn’t play a part in my equation. But it sure seems he’d like the world to believe that his Jewishness is the sole reason for the world’s hatred towards him and his oppressive, aggressive policies.
Working through the confusions and generalisations and misunderstandings clouding the issues involved is headspinning. There is so much dangerous rhetoric quoted in this article, perpetuating the vicious circle that hides the harsh reality of the situation, that it’s difficult to know where to begin, and practically impossible to see the end.
I could write an essay on all of this. But such a task would be far too frustrating.

Viva Puroresu!

Instead of posting new writings here over the last week (and trust me, I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff on the way, going back _weeks_ and probably horribly out of date by now but still worth writing about in my opinion) I’ve been enjoying a compilation of _puroresu_ TV tapings from May and June of this year, featuring New Japan’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament, courtesy of the good folks at Golden Boy Tapes.
For those who don’t know, _puroresu_ is the romanised Japanese term for professional wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling is not only one of the most successful wrestling promotions in Japan, but also one of the biggest in the world. Its roster has featured some of the greatest professional wrestlers who have ever lived, including my all-time favourite, Jushin Thunder Liger. Seeing that Liger was competing in this year’s Super Juniors tournament — New Japan’s annual showcase for their top junior heavyweight talent — was all the incentive I needed to get myself a copy. And I wasn’t disappointed.
I haven’t seen New Japan wrestling in years, not since Ring Warriors came to an end on Eurosport back in the late 90s. The Japanese wrestling ‘strong style’ is quite different to the American product most people are used to; plotlines and feuds drive the action, but the stories are told in the ring rather than with silly vignettes. The emphasis is on solid mat wrestling mixed with high impact power moves, spectacular acrobatics influenced by Mexican _lucha libre_, and these days a heavy nod to the shootfighting style made popular by Pride, Pancrase and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In other words, its just much more dynamic and exciting to watch (even if the commentary is all in Japanese).
Being sick to death with American wrestling as it is now — if you saw the crap they shoveled out with this year’s Survivor Series, you’d know what I mean — watching these New Japan shows has rekindled my love of the sport. I’m now looking forward to catching up on all the great stuff that I’ve been missing, as well as checking out some of the newer promotions that are setting Japan on fire like Pro-Wrestling NOAH, Toryumon and Osaka Pro (definitely Osaka Pro — home of the wonderful Ebessan, a deity of vocational prosperity with a bad-ass corkscrew moonsault).
And you never know, this gaijin might learn some Japanese along the way.

Pancakes of the World

My first contribution to Omnivore, entitled Pancakes of the World, is now online for your reading pleasure.
Please try to ignore the handful of spelling mistakes and poor choices of words, the faults of which are entirely my own. I’ll do a better job next time, I promise.

South Africa Snaps

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At long last, I present a modest selection of the many photos I took when I spent a week in what used to be the Transvaal region of South Africa at the end of the summer, divided loosely between views of the Eastern Lowveld and of the southern tip of Kruger National Park.

Kids Show

What do you get if you cross Sesame Street with Chris Morris’ Jam?
Why, you get Kids Show, a fourteen minute masterpiece of good ol’ fashioned subversive sickness from some of the more damaged brains behind South Park and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
While it may be a little tame by our standards, the American psyche is probably too delicate for the likes of Brass Eye, so seeing that they’ve come this far is mighty impressive, I must say.
The pilot can be downloaded here or here (24MB Windows Media file).
You will laugh, by Jebus, and you will like it.
(If you’re easily offended, however, you might want to steer clear.)

Milestone

Entry No. 583: Two years old today. Had a nice big cake and got lots of presents. Did nothing special, besides writing this. Everybody loves me! Nobody really gives a fuck. And I love you all too! I don’t care, you all suck anyway. Happy birthday to me! Happy fucking birthday to me.