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What Might Be Done for Gazans Beyond Hamas?

By: EdwardTeller Monday August 25, 2014 1:16 am

This is a question many of us have asked ourselves.

Gazans have been equated with the people who are in political and paramilitary power there from the beginning of Hamas control, which was brought about by an election run more fairly than many in jurisdictions of the USA.  The three Israeli invasions of Gaza since Hamas’ electoral victory have not diminished Hamas’ control over the besieged enclave, nor provided more security to the citizens of the invading nation.  Polls in Israel show massive support for a military move that is being more universally condemned than any previous Israeli act of aggression.  Polls in Gaza show no diminution of support for Hamas.

Do Gazan Palestinians who would like to move beyond Hamas having eliminated Fatah corruption have any sort of chance or agency in forcing a change that would remove the onus of their being test cases for defending the bombing of schools, hospitals, EMTs responding, refugee collection centers and so on?  I’m not sure they do.  Hamas controls 99% of the weapons in the “Strip.”

A MyFiredoglake diary early Sunday provoked me into writing about this.  The author opened with:

There is a great divide between proof Islamists sacrifice their women and children, and those willing to believe it as they prefer to focus on blaming Jews and Israel at every opportunity.  Although the evidence of Islamist behavior is overwhelming, many prefer to blame the sticks growing that block their view of the forest–obviously because the sticks are a political tool of the ruling class.

Uh, sort of OK, but the author went on:

Elected governments who drag out people into the street and shoot them without due process, are accepted by the blogger crowd, because those elected officials say those killed were helping Jews and Americans.  The hell with due process.  And people are allowed to elect anyone they want–without being held accountable for the actions that follow, because they are fighting a war against Jews and Americans.

Not OK.  I was offended for a few reasons, and commented:

Liberal bloggers’ inability to frame Hamas accurately or with some sort of overall condemnation has more to do with not wanting to further right-wing myths and memes than with sympathy for the political position Hamas occupies and represents.

This diary links to some questionable documentation to back its thrust, as observed in comments above.

I’ve condemned Hamas on a number of issues in the past, and will probably continue to do that. I have no idea what it must be like right now in Gaza for the average well-educated Palestinian who is not comfortable with Hamas being in charge. The population at large is far worse armed than I am, or my neighbors, or most Alaskans and Americans, or – most certainly – almost any West Bank colonist. Hamas functionaries and apparatchiks have 99% of the weapons there, so I’m not sure how a rational person might take them out through some sort of resistance move or movement. Then again….

I take issue with the diary author’s use of the term “Jews.” It strikes me as borderline, as this blog and almost all credible lefty blogs don’t think of Zionist colonialism as a “Jew” issue. Partly because many of us are Jewish (I am not) and resent being co-opted by people who have hijacked one of history’s great faiths.

It isn’t like it up to liberal bloggers to help Gazan inmates figure out how best to get themselves delivered from the latest unruly iteration of their Kapos.

I am glad to see MyFiredoglake provide a forum for a writer who challenges what the author perceives to be some sort of blinders or blocked vision by “the left.”  I wish it had been better written.

 

Two Interviews with Max Blumenthal from Yafa-Tel Aviv and Ramallah

By: EdwardTeller Saturday August 16, 2014 1:06 pm

In the aftermath of the month-long Gaza slaughter, author and journalist Max Blumenthal is in Israel and Palestine.  Two videos have been posted on Youtube within the past few days which are important documents for at least a few reasons.

Longtime Firedoglake readers are probably aware that I have been following Blumenthal’s progress since he showed up at our door in September, 2008, looking for a Wasilla, Alaska base from which to investigate aspects of Sarah Palin’s Fundamentalist Christianist beliefs.

His two books, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, and Goliath:  Fear and Loathing in Greater Israel, were both covered here in our book salons.  Media reception of the two books could not have been more different than what occurred.

The first, a scathing look at racism, weird religious practices, intimidation and organizational modes among Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christians within the framework of the GOP Right over the years, was warmly welcomed by the media.  The book, partially through media praise and coverage, became a New York Times bestseller.  It has turned out to be prophetic, and is widely regarded to be so.

His recent book, a scathing look at racism, weird religious practices, intimidation and organizational modes among Israeli and American Zionists within the context of Israeli history since the Nakba, was coldly, brutally treated by most of our American media.  Or ignored.  Soon after publication, with the events of this winter, spring and summer,  it has turned out to be profoundly prophetic.  But this resonance is largely being avoided, at least by our mainstream media outlets.

During the year-long bogus peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, the late Spring cynical Israeli rampage through the West Bank, and Operation Protective Edge, Max has written a series of articles on these events, while touching upon many other subjects about which he has gained familiarity or authority.  During the past week, in the wake of the heavy-handed police presence in Ferguson, Missouri, numerous articles have cited Max’s seminal 2011 article, From Occupation to “Occupy”: The Israelification of American Domestic Security.

The following two interviews contain some common material.  Rather than post just one,  I feel it important to post both, as each touches unique material the other does not.  It is important to note that among the most strident criticisms of Blumenthal’s Goliath were those claiming the book exaggerated or over-emphasized the degree of racism in Israel, that it underrated the extent of influence liberals have in Israeli society, or that it simplified something that is very complicated and cannot be understood without some sort of Zio-centric “context.”  In both interviews Max ties in the content of Goliath and its prophetic aspects with powerful, sordid and tragic events that have occurred since its publication last year.

I.  The German webcasters, Jung & Naiv, interview Max Blumenthal on a hill overlooking the port of Yafa and the settler city of Tel Aviv:

II.  Cenk Uygur interviews Max Blumenthal, who was in Ramallah,  on The Young Turks:

The Upcoming Alaska Primary

By: EdwardTeller Friday August 15, 2014 10:48 am

Alaska U.S. Senate GOP Primary candidates prepare to debate in Anchorage in mid-August

On Tuesday, Alaskan super voters will go to the polls to decide a few important contests. The two most important for the future of the state are the GOP three-way contest to oppose Sen. (D) Mark Begich’s US Senate seat in November, and a voters’ referendum on Alaska’s tax structure for the oil industry.

Unprecedented amounts of money are pouring into our state, which, after decades of GOP and Democratic Party neo-Liberal governance, may be about to enter a huge economic and financial tailspin.  Briefly, however, this summer and fall, Alaska TV and radio stations are seeing windfall profits in the millions of dollars in ads against incumbent Begich, against GOP candidate Dan Sullivan, and against repeal of Alaska Senate Bill 21.  This Outside level of spending, by Karl Rove’s PAC, by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, by British Petroleum, Conoco-Phillips and Exxon-Mobil, is enormous, with over $10 million being spent to influence less than 125,000 voters.

The three-way GOP U.S. Senate primary has seen former Alaska Attorney General and Commissioner of Natural Resources, Dan Sullivan (not to be confused with current Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, who is running in the GOP primary for the Lieutenant Governor slot) raising far more money than his two opponents combined.  They are former Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell and Tea Party favorite, Joe Miller.  Miller, who beat incumbent U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary in 2010, only to lose to her in the general election, is trailing both Sullivan and Treadwell in the polls, but his followers are ardent, and are notoriously difficult to poll accurately.  Sen. Begich has no serious challengers in the Democratic primary.

The voters’ referendum on oil taxes pits the big oil companies against reformers who feel the tax system put in place by the 2013 Alaska Legislature gives far too much away to the giant corporations.  The referendum is on the primary ballot instead of the general election slate because the oil companies managed to co-opt legislators into extending their 2014 session in such a way as to force other ballot initiatives onto the November ticket.  As these initiatives (legalizing cannabis, raising the minimum wage, and protecting salmon stocks from mega mines such as Pebble) are popular with progressives, the oil companies wanted the vote on their taxes to be held in the primary, where voter turnout is more conservative, more hardened.

Here are two videos that focus on the GOP Senate primary, and on the oil tax referendum.

The first is one of the few debates when candidate Sullivan deigned to appear on stage with the other two.  The debate was held on August 12th in Anchorage:

I am predicting that Joe Miller’s supporters will do far better than the polling indicates.

The second video item is a comparison between Alaska’s oil tax structure to those in several other areas.  It purports to show that rather than over-taxed here, as the industry’s supporters stridently claim, the companies enjoy enormous profits here, compared to the rest of the U.S. or globally:

In spite of the oil companies outspending the pro-referendum supporters about 40 to one, the most recent polls show the vote to be too close to call.

Talk by Ali Abunimah, FDL Book Salon Author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, Cancelled by Evanston Public Library – Updated X 2

By: EdwardTeller Sunday August 3, 2014 10:46 am

Ali Abunimah, Journalist

Author Ali Abunimah, who we hosted at a Firedoglake Book Salon on May 18th, has been rudely cancelled from giving an August 11th public talk on the book we featured, The Battle for Justice in Palestine, by the Evanston (Illinois) Public Library:

Evanston Public Library in the north shore suburbs of Chicago has canceled a talk I was scheduled to give on 11 August about my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine.

I consider this to be a politically motivated and blatant act of censorship.

It fundamentally contravenes the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights which states, among other things, that libraries “should challenge censorship” and “should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.”

I learned about the cancelation like everyone else, from a Tweet from the library’s account that my talk would be “rescheduled,” and from the fact that the event has been removed from its calendar.

I have written the following letter to the library’s Director:

Director Karen Danczak Lyons,

I was informed this morning that you have decided to cancel the upcoming book event featuring Ali Abunimah, who was to talk about his recent work, The Battle for Justice in Palestine.  In a Saturday tweet from Evanston Public Library’s Twitter account, it was announced that “We will reschedule Ali Abunimah’s talk. With this complex issue, we now plan to schedule more speakers on other dates too.” Apparently, the author found out about this cancellation through social media, rather than by a courtesy call from you or your staff.

On May 28th, I hosted Mr. Abunimah at Firedoglake’s weekly Book Salon.  The book salon’s editor understood that the book raises “complicated” questions, yet saw no need to cancel the author’s appearance or to “schedule more speakers” for some reason or another, to balance or offset what Mr. Abunimah has written about, or might have written in his salon comments.

Mr. Abunimah is a compelling writer, journalist and commentator.  I hope you are aware that in his many appearances over the past few months to speak or write about his book, no credible person has raised a single issue claiming Mr. Abunimah’s book is questionable in terms of accuracy, veracity or content.

To have cancelled this important voice on such a timely issue appears to me – and to a host of others – as blatant, perhaps even craven censorship.  The method of letting the word out on this cancellation through social media before ensuring the author had been informed should be held up as a sterling example of unprofessional behavior on your part, or on that of your staff.

Sincerely,

Philip Munger

Should you want to support Ali Abunimah, the Library Director’s work email address is director@epl.org.

Update – Monday morning:  Ali Abunimah updated his EI blog post to reflect that Lesley Williams, the library’s director of adult services has emailed him Friday, to notify him of the cancellation:

On Friday, I received an email from Lesley Williams, director of Adult Services at the library:

Dear Mr. Abunimah,

I am very sorry to have to write to you today. A few weeks ago, when I was talking to the Evanston Library administrative team about your appearance here, I told my director that I was looking for a pro Israeli speaker for sometime in the fall. She told me she would be more comfortable if we had that nailed down before your reading.

Today she told me that since I have not yet confirmed a pro Israel speaker she want[s] us to cancel your appearance on the 11th. This was of course an enormous shock. I am hoping she will allow us to still have the program, but sponsored by Neighbors for Peace and not as a library sponsored event, but merely a room rental.

Williams said that members of Neighbors for Peace were discussing that option, and added:

Please accept my abject apologies. I had no idea the program would be cancelled if I didn’t confirm an Israeli speaker before the 11th. I explained to her [the director] that re-scheduling a high profile writer and speaker like yourself will not be easy, but she is firm on the notion of “balance.”

I will keep you informed of what gets decided. Let’s hope for the best.

As noted, I learned from the library’s Twitter feed today that the event has now been canceled.

I called Ms. Williams this morning, noting that I had hosted the author here at one of our book salons in May, and that we felt no need to provide a so-called “pro-Israel” viewpoint to counter what the author has to say about his book or other events.

Update Two – Monday Evening, Cougar Mountain, Washington:

Late this afternoon, Evanston Library director Karen Danczak Lyons reported that she’d just spoken with Ali Abunimah by phone and that “we’re back on track.” The program has been rescheduled for the same date, August 11, at 7:00 PM in the large community room of the main library.

Danczak Lyons said she anticipates that demand may exceed capacity, and that tickets for the free event will be available at the library in advance; information about how to get them will be posted at the library website. She has also arranged for the program to be filmed, and Abunimah’s book will be available for purchase.

“This will be the first of a series of discussions that we’ll have in the coming months, which was always my intent, because this is an important topic,” she said. None of those programs have been scheduled yet.

Saturday Art: My Poem for Gaza

By: EdwardTeller Friday July 25, 2014 11:43 pm
Google map of Gaza

Google map of Gaza

Almost 40 years ago, after showing my girlfriend (now my wife) my latest poem, she diplomatically told me that poetry was perhaps “the least of my many artistic talents.”  Since then, I haven’t written many verses, though I’ve set over 50 by others to song.

However, the ongoing Gaza butchery has shaken me to the core.  I am not alone.  This has been a pivotal event for many others.

How dare this shitty little country, run by audacious ingrates and uncouth boors, dictate a new paradigm for blowing up hospitals?  How dare their ambassadors and spokes-creeps drive more stakes into the heart of what little remains of 21st century ethics and humanitarianism?

On the way to the Anchorage airport Wednesday evening, my wife and I cried as we listened to Democracy Now.  Ms. ET is far less political than me, but the stories of this atrocity cannot pass one by.

My poem is partially derived from the King James Version of the Old Testament books of Lamentations and Hosea.  The quote from Albert Einstein is from an April 1938 speech he gave at the Commodore Hotel in New York City, and is based on my own re-transcription of a long-ago deleted article on it in the New York press.

The poem is for Siun.

Poem for Gaza

Prologue:

Gaza, ancient city by the azure sea,
“How doth this city sit so solitary?

“She that was full of people!
How is she become as a widow,
a mother of countless orphans
and parents with unburied children!”

I.

The prophets warned the kings, the generals, the courtiers,
The scribes, the rabbis, the lesser soldiers and teachers.

Now, let these craven men come before the Lord:
“Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them,
As thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions:
For my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.”

Her courtiers cry out: “Distant Brazil, you be a cultural giant,
A diplomatic dwarf, for daring to condemn our campaign
to make alien hospitals the newest baths of blood.”

Her generals cry out: “World, we demand one child per hour
to satisfy our replacement for YHWH – our Lockheed-HP-Motorola-
Caterpillar-SodaStream Moloch.”

Her rabbis call out: “Scalp their children’s foreskins,
make them trophies to your bravery,
rape their women, steal back their pride, for it is yours.”

Her soldiers call out: “Make your shots count.
Aim at the pregnant woman’s belly and you get two for one.”

Her teachers call out: “There is no Palestine, no Palestinians,
No people there, but rather our land waiting to be sanctified
By our return – when the other is no longer there.”

Her scribes write: “They are lesser beings than we,
Less deserving of life, happiness, health, pride or dignity,
for we are G*d’s chosen, they are scum between our toes.”

Yet G*d senses a flood of falsehoods from these flagrant proclamations:
“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel:

“For the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land,
Because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

“By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing rapine,They break out, and blood toucheth blood.

“Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein
Shall languish, with the beasts of the field,and with the fowls of heaven; Yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.”

II.

The prophets of ancient times are to become united
With the prophets of our own. Einstein was the harbinger:

I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs On the basis of living together in peace
Than the creation of a Jewish State.

Apart from practical considerations,
My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism
Resists the idea of a Jewish State,
With borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power,
no matter how modest.

I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain
Especially from the development of a narrow nationalism
within our own ranks,
Against which we have already had to fight strongly,
Even without a Jewish State.

We are no longer the Jews of the Maccabee period.

A return to a nation in the political sense of the word,
Would be equivalent to turning away from the spiritualization
of our community
Which we owe to the genius of our prophets.

The harbinger has not yet brought a Messiah,
And his message has been unheeded countless times.

Is the messenger who will bring peace yet among us?
Is it a man or a woman?
How long must we wait?

Blatant Racism Toward Israeli Bedouins – The Iron Dirt Dome

By: EdwardTeller Monday July 21, 2014 8:22 am

Sunday, as fighting escalated in the open prison grounds of Gazagrad, a desperate rocket, fired from the internment camp’s interior killed an Israeli Bedouin citizen.  The Association for Human Rights in Israel reports:

In Israel, two civilians have been killed. One was a Bedouin, the 32-year-old Oudi Lafi al-Waj, who lived in an unrecognized village in the Negev (Naqab) desert, near Dimona. Several Bedouin children have also been injured by rocket fire since Israel began ‘Operation Protective Edge.‘ Bedouin villages do not have air raid sirens, nor are they covered by Iron Dome. They also lack bomb shelters. In the wake of al-Waj’s death, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a non-governmental organization, ‘submitted an urgent request’ this morning to the Israeli High Court for an answer on the petition the organization filed last week requesting that the state provide bomb shelters for the Bedouin. But in a Sunday hearing at Israel’s High Court, the ‘state expressed its position that there is no need to provide additional protective facilities to these communities, and advised the Bedouin residents to protect themselves by lying on the ground,’ ACRI reports. The organization added that ‘officials claimed that protecting the Bedouin villages was a low priority.’ [emphasis added]

Part of the reason these non-Jewish, second-class citizens of the apartheid state are being advised to “lie on the ground” is that if they were to build adequate bomb shelters in their villages, they would most likely be demolished by Israeli police or military forces:

In the State’s formal pleadings to the court, it claimed that the responsibility to provide protective facilities rests primarily on homeowners, but did not refer to the fact that most of the houses in these communities are simple shacks that are particularly vulnerable to damage and provide no protection. They also did not refer to the fact that the current legal situation forbids any construction in these communities and that any construction would be subject to a demolition order. [emphasis added]

Writer Max Blumenthal has been among the most assiduous in gathering evidence of longtime Israeli racism and institutional apartheid policies toward its Bedouin citizens.  A small sample, from February, 2011:

Yesterday morning, the Bedouin village of Al Arakib withstood the 18th pogrom against it by the Jewish National Fund and Israeli riot police. I mentioned in my last post that I would begin promoting actions to hold the Jewish National Fund accountable for violently ethnic cleansing Al Arakib in order to build the GOD TV Forest of Hate. Now here is something everyone who reads this blog (minus the professional hasbara trolls) can and should do: Join the Jewish Voice for Peace call in campaign to demand that the JNF cease demolishing villages like Al Arakib. Tell your local JNF office to stop the pogroms against the indigenous population of the Negev. To be sure, this is a minor action that will probably yield only dismissive responses from JNF representatives, but it is important to apply pressure and get them on the record.

In recent Firedoglake diaries about the ongoing assault on Gaza, several commenters have defended Israeli conduct.  Please show up here, my deluded, Zionist friends, and explain how not providing protection to citizens in harm’s way because of their ethnic background does not constitute blatant and enduring apartheid?

In recent years, village residents and human rights organizations have turned repeatedly to the Ministry of Defence and the Home Front Command to provide protective facilities for these villages. Most of the letters were ignored. One of the responses provided to Physicians for Human Rights – Israel in 2009 explained that while advocacy activities were planned for village residents, there was no intention to provide any protective facilities to any Bedouin communities apart from Rahat [a Bedouin <strike>gated community</strike> forced relocation camp. [emphasis added]

At least Marie Antionette wanted France’s second class citizens to be able to “eat cake.”  The Israeli High Court wants their Bedouin citizens to “eat dirt.”

It will be interesting to see how Israeli policies toward its other second class (i.e. – non-Jewish) citizens are influenced by the pressure of events in the wake of the current criminally disproportionate response to Palestinian rocket barrages.

Metropolitan Opera Censors Masterpiece by Renowned Composer John Adams

By: EdwardTeller Thursday June 19, 2014 12:53 pm
An actor leaps through the air on stage as two others in robes watch

A look at a great operatic composer’s most controversial work.

Every serious list of America’s greatest living composers has neo-Romantic post-Minimalist composer John Adams at or near the top. His 2002 commemoration to victims of September 11th, 2001, On the Transmigration of Souls, won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for musical composition. He has won five Grammies for recordings of his work. His most important orchestral works, Short Ride on a Fast Machine,  Harmonielehre, The Chairman Dances and Tromba Lontana are performed on a weekly basis all around the planet by the world’s top orchestras. His three full-scale operas and four other opera-like works are regarded as the most significant contribution to that genre by any American.

His three operas, Nixon in China (1987), The Death of Klinghoffer (1991) and Dr. Atomic (2005) are all held to be major masterpieces. His unique approach to opera, by basing them on real events and combination of real utterances by historic figures and fictional dialogue are all deep collaborations with poet and playwright Alice Goodman. Although all three are regarded as iconic in terms of the post-Minimalist music Adams created for them, one has stirred controversy because of its subject matter.

Since its premiere, The Death of Klinghoffer has had its detractors. The subject of the opera is the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, and the murder of one of its passengers, the disabled, wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, who was Jewish. The hijackers were members of the Palestine Liberation Front. The Metropolitan Opera has a production of Klinghoffer scheduled for the upcoming season. However, on Tuesday, their management announced they will not broadcast the performances of it, because of “rising anti-Semitism in Europe.” You read that right:

The Met decided to cancel its planned Nov. 15 Live in HD transmission of Klinghoffer to movie theaters and a radio broadcast after discussions with the Anti-Defamation League. The league praised the Met’s decision, saying that ‘while the opera itself is not anti-Semitic, there is a concern the opera could be used in foreign countries to stir up anti-Israel sentiments or as a vehicle to promote anti-Semitism.’

Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said that he remained a champion of the works of Mr. Adams, and that he does not believe the work is anti-Semitic. But he added that he was reacting to the concern among Jews that the live transmission to theaters around the world ‘would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.’

The composer is understandably upset: 

Mr. Adams, one of America’s foremost composers, said that he did not understand why the cinema transmission and radio broadcast were still being canceled if Mr. Gelb and the Anti-Defamation League agreed that the work is not anti-Semitic, though some critics have said otherwise. And he said he had been concerned by what he called ‘the really completely unjust charges’ about his opera, especially by people who have not heard it.

‘The really ironic and sad fact is that the content of this opera is more relevant in 2014 than it was even in 1991, when it was premiered,’ Mr. Adams said. ‘I think the people that are inflamed and upset about its production are people who are intent about trying to control their message. By canceling it, the Met has yielded to that intimidation.’

Mr. Adams, who praised Mr. Gelb’s support of his work and his ‘grit and determination’ to stage ‘Klinghoffer,’ said that he feared that without the global transmission, which is often followed by television broadcasts, many thousands of people would be deprived of the chance to see the work and make up their own minds about it.

‘I’m just afraid that most people will have a sort of Wikipedia opinion about this opera,’ he said. ‘They’ll say, “Oh, that’s the opera that’s been accused of anti-Semitism,” and leave it at that. And that’s really very sad — it’s very hard when something’s been stained with an accusation like that, it’s almost impossible to wash it out.’ [emphasis added]

I have tried to follow the performance history of Death of Klinghoffer since its premiere in 1991. At the time, I was seriously considering writing an opera about Edward Teller’s role in Project Chariot, a late 1950s plan to use four hydrogen bombs to create a new harbor in northwestern Alaska. I wanted to model it somewhat after John Adams’s first opera, Nixon in China, so was interested in how Adams’s voice was developing in his second opera.

All through its history, some individuals and Zionist organizations, and members of the Klinghoffer family have objected to one aspect of the opera or another. The first objection to which Adams responded was his depiction of some of the Klinghoffer’s friends, and his creation of fictional characters to portray them. They were perceived to be caricatures of some sort of Jewish stereotype. Adams deleted the scene. At least two scholarly papers have been written about how this deletion marred the opera’s form and balance.

The most authoritative person to claim the opera is anti-Semitic and romanticizes terrorism is the curmudgeonly Richard Taruskin, now a professor of musicology at Cal Berkeley:

Does The Death of Klinghoffer romanticize the perpetrators of deadly violence toward the innocent? Its creators tacitly acknowledged that it did, when they revised the opera for American consumption after its European premieres in Brussels and Paris. In its original version, the opening ‘Chorus of Exiled Palestinians’ was followed not by a balancing ‘Chorus of Exiled Jews’ but by a scene, now dropped from the score, that showed the Klinghoffers’ suburban neighbors gossiping merrily about their impending cruise (‘The dollar’s up. Good news for the Klinghoffers’) to an accompaniment of hackneyed pop-style music.

That contrast set the vastly unequal terms on which the conflict of Palestinians and Jews would be perceived throughout the opera. The portrayal of suffering Palestinians in the musical language of myth and ritual was immediately juxtaposed with a musically trivial portrayal of contented, materialistic American Jews.

As recently as last winter, the LA Opera pulled out of a co-production of the opera, leaving Long Beach Opera to produce it alone, which was a heavy financial burden for the company.

The most often-performed extract from the opera is a set of choruses, depicting displaced Jews and displaced Palestinians, in turns. They are choral masterpieces. Before September 11th, 2001, the Boston Symphony and chorus had programmed the work to be performed that fall. They cancelled after numerous complaints that the choruses “romanticize terrorists.”

The composer’s responses to criticisms and cancellations over the work’s 23-year history are studies in restraint. The opera is more like an oratorio or passion than what we generally consider an opera to be. More opera-like than most of those by fellow minimalist Philip Glass, Adams really does succeed in having a neutral point of view. Apparently that isn’t enough for some who are upset whenever Palestinians are treated even-handedly in comparison to Israelis or to Jews.

No doubt there will be new developments between now and the November production. Will any of the number of other living Pulitzer Prize winning American composers come to John Adams’s defense? There are at least 30 of them.

Or are they concerned about ruining their futures?

John Adams said he learned that the Metropolitan Opera was scrapping plans to transmit his opera The Death of Klinghoffer to movie theaters around the world when the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, told him on Sunday by telephone that he had gotten ‘unimaginable pressure’ from some Jewish groups that oppose the work. [emphasis added]

The Chorus of the Exiled Palestinians, from Penny Woolcock’s film of the opera:

Photo by Robert Hubert Smith released under a Creative Commons No Derivatives license.

Doug Fine Discusses His Book, Hemp Bound, At The Booksmith, in Haight-Ashbury

By: EdwardTeller Saturday May 31, 2014 11:10 pm

Sunday afternoon, I will be hosting author Doug Fine here at the Firedoglake Book Salon. We will be asking him questions about the subject matter of Hemp Bound: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution.  Last year, we had him here to discuss the paperback edition of his book on the medical cannabis growing scene in California, Too High to Fail.

His new book concentrates on non-medicinal and recreational uses of hemp, in a variety of industrial applications.  Having read all four of Doug’s books, I regard this as his most important.

Here is an hour-long presentation on the book he gave at The Booksmith, in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District, around April 23rd.  I shopped at The Booksmith on December 21st, while Christmas shopping on my first trip to that historic area since October, 1968.