Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nick Cave vs the anti-Israel bigots

Three cheers for the Oz rocker performing in Israel on principle

Not content with being the coolest man in rock, now Nick Cave wants to be the most principled, too. The Aussie rocker, of Bad Seeds legend, has said he is performing in Israel this week not only in spite of the BDS movement, but because of it. Yes, it is precisely because self-righteous Israel-bashers in the worlds of art and entertainment are forever imploring the likes of Cave not to set foot in the apparently uniquely wicked nation of Israel that he is determined to do just that. As one headline put it: ‘Nick Cave: BDS is the reason for my trip to Israel.’ Now that’s what I call rock’n’roll spirit.

Cave played in Tel Aviv last night and will play there again tonight. At a press conference bigging up the rock god’s arrival in the Holy Land, he said: ‘I like Israel and Israelis.’ That’s a borderline revolutionary statement these days, when hating Israel stands alongside crying over Brexit and fearing the Daily Mail as a baseline requirement for entry into the closed, strange world of the chattering class.

Yet while Cave might like Israelis, he doesn’t like censorious campaigns telling musicians which nations — and more importantly which peoples — they may perform for. He describes the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) pressure on singers and bands to dodge the Jewish State as an attempt to ‘shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians, and to silence musicians’. And so he decided to take ‘a principled stand’. ‘You could say, in a way, that BDS made me play Israel’, he brilliantly quipped. This might be the first time Israelis should be grateful to BDS: it has brought them Mr Cave and his Bad Seeds.

Cave saved much of his ire for Roger Waters, prog-rock dullard turned fumer against Israel. It was Waters and his Artists for Palestine who wrote an open letter to Cave last month imploring him to call off his Tel Aviv dates. Hilariously, the letter — also signed by Ken Loach, John Pilger, Mike Leigh, Judith Butler and other luminaries of the Israel-fearing dinner-party set — threw Chomsky in Cave’s face: ‘Noam Chomsky has recently said he’s opposed to any appearance in Israel that is used to cover up the denial of Palestinian human rights. We hope you will agree with him.’

Cave doesn’t agree with him! Blasphemy, I know. ‘Stand for freedom’, the letter contradictorily implored — it’s a funny freedom that wants to deprive one nation and one nation only of the right to enjoy the art and ideas of outsiders — and Cave has stood for freedom. He has stood for his freedom to perform in Israel and the freedom of Israelis to hear him. Cave said musicians shouldn’t have to suffer this ‘public humiliation from Roger Waters and Co’ every time they flirt with the idea of performing in Israel.

Cave’s defiance of the increasingly nasty cultural pressure to avoid Israel — and Israelis — should be cheered. For however much the BDS lot try to present their erection of a censorious moral forcefield between Israel and the rest of the world as a progressive campaign, on a par with artists’ refusal to play in South Africa during Apartheid (the impact of which has always been vastly overstated by self-loving cultural types in the West), in truth BDS is a species of bigotry.

In singling out Israel for special censorious treatment — they wouldn’t raise a peep if Cave played in China, or Britain, for that matter, which has caused more destruction in the Middle East in recent years than Israel has — they enact a special demonisation of this nation and its inhabitants. They depict it as uniquely foul, uniquely problematic, a disproportionate source of the world’s ills. They exercise explicit double standards, heaping on Israel an unforgiving judgement that they do not apply to any other nation on Earth, including nations whose militarism is far more destructive than Israel’s.

And in engaging in acts of censorship — whether they’re shutting down Israeli film festivals in London, forbidding Israeli academics from coming to our universities, or getting musicians to cancel trips to Israel — they chill international engagement and stymie the exchange of ideas and art. They speak the language of freedom while executing acts of global censorship designed to deprive Israelis of our culture, and us of theirs.

This is nothing like a progressive movement. It is prejudiced, intolerant agitation for the treatment of Israel as different to all other nations, and for the shutting down of any mingling between Western artists and Israeli people. The bottom line is this: if your movement jeers and boos as a violinist plays Max Bruch’s beautiful concerto just because that violinist is from Israel — as happened at the Proms a few years ago — then you are doing something dreadfully wrong.

These philistines for Palestine do nothing to advance Palestinian people’s interests, or art and culture; they’re only interested in making a showy display of their Israel-loathing credentials and thus their adherence to what the new cultural elite considers to be moral decency.

More musicians and thinkers and writers should join Cave in engaging with Israel precisely because it has become so worryingly verboten to do so. Because boycotting Jewish things and people is never, ever a good idea.


Just Be Honest, Millennials, and Say You Don’t Want Kids

“We can’t afford it.”

“We live under crushing student loan debt.”

“We can’t take on a mortgage.”

“We like the weather.”

Just admit it already, millennials: You don’t want children. I say this as someone who did want children and made life choices and personal sacrifices when I was still single that put me on the path to having children. I also say this as someone with more than one couple in her life who wants children they are thus far unable to have. I know what struggles they are going through emotionally, mentally, and physically that stem from the ache of that want. Because of them, I know what it means to truly want something versus to feel obligated to want something you couldn't care less about. And also because of them, I can rightly call anyone who makes up an excuse for why they “can’t” reproduce a hypocrite and a liar.

By now I’m plenty familiar with the money woes of millennials. “We’re buried by student debt!” “We can’t get jobs!” “How are we supposed to pay for new lives when we can’t pay for our own?” The whole financial argument is based on the presumption of responsibility. As in, “Look at how responsible I am, choosing not to have children until I can afford them!” Bull. Look no further for proof of hypocrisy than Kylie Ora Lobell’s reasoning as to why she and her husband couldn’t possibly give up their expensive L.A. lifestyle for a cheaper neck of the woods:

    "LA is one of the most expensive cities in the country, but for our careers, we have to be here. It’s either here or New York, and we tried that. We were way worse off there.

    Sometimes we fantasize about moving to Phoenix or Las Vegas, where huge houses rent for less than $2,000 a month and we could maybe even save up and buy something in a few years.

    And then I think about how few opportunities I would have to meet important people, and how nobody there is in my industry. I know it would be a huge loss. Plus, I love the weather in LA, we have lots of friends here, and, as Orthodox Jews, we can thrive. There are many synagogues and kosher restaurants."

Sure, they’d have kids, but man, that L.A. weather. Who can give up sunny skies for kids? Who can resign themselves to being a webmaster anywhere other than L.A.? Who can choose to prioritize kids over career goals? And the restaurants, oh the restaurants!

If you really wanted a child and had to move to Alaska in order to make that happen, you’d build a cabin under the Northern Lights and freeze together in perfect pregnant bliss. Just ask the couples who have gone tens of thousands of dollars into debt to schedule IVF treatments around tough work schedules and angry bosses. They’d take an Alaskan yurt in a snap if it meant having the baby they truly wanted.

When I arrived, my parents did yard sales to buy diapers and danced their way to the pharmacy, grateful for a healthy, happy child. Money, or the lack thereof, isn’t the governing force behind the decision to have a child. A willingness to put that child ahead of every other goal or personal preference (yes, even the average temperature) is what makes you choose to have a child.

Reducing a baby to a budgetary line-item is absurd. Justifying yourself as a responsible adult for choosing not to add another expense to your account is idiotic. And constantly seeking my approval for your poor life choice illustrates how immature you truly are.

Dear Millennials: You aren’t fooling anyone but yourselves. You’re just not ready for children. Perhaps you don’t think you ever will be. Or maybe you’re just too contented with yourself right now to bother with the idea of putting someone else’s life ahead of your own. Whatever your true motive is, stop masking it behind this sudden obsession with fiscal responsibility.

If you truly cared about your finances, you wouldn’t have wasted so much money on a useless degree to begin with. Try pontificating on that instead, will you? Maybe then, at least our children might not make the same life-wrecking mistakes you apparently did.


Workplace gender quotas are an insult to women

Five years on from the European Commission’s failed attempt to boost the number of women on company boards, it has again announced proposed legislation, which if implemented, would lead to the introduction of gender-quotas for company boards.

The commission tried to introduce gender-quota legislation back in 2012, with a proposal that 40 per cent of non-executive board positions at publicly listed companies must be occupied by women. The legislation was not received well. Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden rejected the law arguing that Brussels was intruding into domestic affairs, while, according to one report, Hungary and Poland rejected it on ‘ideological’ grounds.

The commission’s latest proposal echoes this previous, unpopular attempt to get women into top jobs. But this time, the legislation will propose that companies whose non-executive directors are over 60 per cent male will be required to prioritise women when considering candidates of equal merit for director posts.

It is a typically and, in this case, ironically paternalistic piece of EU legislation, and, therefore, an affront to any woman who takes her autonomy seriously. In the UK, for example, women face few actual barriers when it comes to education and employment – more women than men study at university, and women under the age of 45, when taking hours and type of employment into account, earn the same as men. And, of course, actual discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal, so women who seek high-paying, top-jobs are already at no disadvantage to their male counterparts.

But what this legislation suggests is that the only way women can become company directors is thanks to the helping hand of the European Commission. This does down women, rather than lift them up. If women aren’t taking up top positions in companies, it is not because they are being held back educationally or professionally.

Indeed, if there is an issue, it is to be found in the arena of child care, where women are still expected to take responsibility for childrearing. So, maybe, instead of thinly veiled insults about our womanly ability to secure top positions, we should be asking questions about how better to balance professional and family life for working women and men?

Quotas to redress gender-balance in companies are antithetical to the idea of women’s liberation, especially at a time when women are doing better than ever before in professional and public life. I cannot imagine anything quite as insulting as knowing I was hired for the job on the basis of my genitals, rather than my credentials. We don’t need a leg-up, least of all patronising quotas, to succeed in the workplace.


Goodbye Goldilocks? Calls for Australian parents to ditch traditional fairy tales in favour of gender-neutral books showing 'men in caring roles and women as scientists'

Children should be read gender-equal books instead of fairy tales of knights and princesses.

That's the view of former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who believes exposing children to gender-neutrality at preschool could help solve issues of pay disparity and violence towards women later in life.

'A lot of what our children see and are taught is subconscious gender stereotyping and what we have to do is really shift that, and we won't shift that until the social norms change,' she told The Sunday Telegraph.

Ms Broderick said children's literature in Scandinavian countries helps 'children understand that boys and girls can do anything.

'Their picture books are ones which show men in caring roles and women as scientists, through to looking at the division of unpaid work and the role of women in building the economy.

'I think we really need more of that approach here and it's not just putting all the men in caring roles and all the women as scientists. It is showing men and women in the diversity of roles,' she said.

Critics have slammed Ms Broderick's call as 'political correctness gone mad'.

Kevin Donnelly, director of the Education Standards Institute, told the publication that there was a real risk of 'damaging boys'.

'It is wrong to try and attempt to indoctrinate children with a politically correct gender agenda. 'It runs counter to human nature and what most parents want for their children - and it could be damaging to boys and their development'. 'Biologically girls and boys are different. Girls have a more nurturing role as mothers and wives which is different to what men are.'

Critic and entrepreneur Dick Smith told the paper: 'I'd much rather we weren't trying to make young girls aggressive by changing the messages they are getting. I'd much rather young girls continue to be nurturing, kind and understanding.'

Sam Page, CEO of Early Children Australia, told the paper he applauded Ms Broderick's call to introduce children to gender-equal ideas through books at school and wants parents to get board too.

'We've had examples where parents and dads have been really upset when boys dress up in dresses or traditional girls clothing as part of their normal play.

'While I don't think we should get rid of fairy tales altogether, we do need to contextualise and balance them with contemporary stories as well,' she said.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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