Israel has very recently become a center of innovation, second in absolute achievement only to the United States, and on a per-capita basis dwarfing the contributions of all other nations, America included. How Israel is treated by the rest of the world thus represents a crucial test for civilization. Will we pass it?
...This tiny embattled country, smaller than most American states, is outperforming European and Asian Goliaths ten to 100 times larger. In a watershed moment for the country, Israel in 2007 passed Canada as the home of the most foreign companies on the technology-heavy NASDAQ index; it is now launching far more high-tech companies per year than any country in Europe...
Just as Hong Kong ultimately reshaped the Chinese economy in its own image when Deng Xiaoping mimicked its free economy, Israel could become a force for economic liberation in the Middle East, reaching out to Palestinians and other Arabs with the blandishments of commercial opportunity.So wouldn't it be better for Israel's impoverished neighbors to move away from a self destructive, self defeating war footing and instead try to join it on the economic bandwagon?
We have long maintained that politics of any kind should be kept separate from entertainment and science. We happen to be renting the DVD of Jonathan Demme's excellent 1980s concert film "Stop Making Sense," featuring the Talking Heads led by David Byrne. By coincidence, this stomach-turning development just emerged in the news:
Some 50 celebrities, artists and filmmakers, including actors Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, musician David Byrne and filmmaker Ken Loach, have accused the Toronto International Film Festival of "complicity with the Israeli propaganda machine" over its spotlight this year on Tel Aviv.
The 2009 festival will present 10 films by local filmmakers on the Israeli metropolis, for its City to City program, which each year focuses its lens on a different city.
The choice led to protests that the film festival was "staging a propaganda campaign" on Israel's behalf, given "the absence of Palestinian filmmakers in the program," said an open letter to festival organizers, AFP reported.
The program "ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories" after a "mass exiling of the Palestinian population" in 1948, according to the letter.
"Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city's past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto," AFP reported the letter as saying.
The controversy started on August 28, when Canadian filmmaker John Greyson withdrew his film from the festival in protest.We don't expect much from Hollywood airheads such as the artist formerly known as "Hanoi Jane," but David Byrne is a brilliant musician who clearly has the capacity to do his own research.
Unlike the surrounding dictatorships with non-existent human rights records, Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East and where its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion (or non-religion) have the right to vote and to exercise freedom of speech. [If you've seen any movies from Israeli film industry, you'll note that they generally tend to be highly critical of the policies of the government and military, and hardly constitute propaganda.] And if David Byrne is concerned about "apartheid," he should ask why the United Nations and the Arab regimes force people to live in refugee camps rather than granting them legal status and resettling them into their countries.
Adds the Washington Times, "Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici complained that Mr. Greyson is now trying to shut down the voices of filmmakers in the only country in the Middle East that allows free expression."
By the way, is there any sovereign nation on earth other than Israel that the U.S. and the international community can try to tell its citizens where to live?
Leaving politics aside, here is a very cool video of David Byrne's 21st-Century bike rack designs: