Saturday, May 31, 2008

10 quotes collected on a rainy Saturday morning:

I do that sometimes. I take a vitual walk through a certain landscape, and I take away a small pebble from each location in which I happen to loiter. Mostly I walk where the scenery is pleasing to my eye, or at least, not offensive. Sometimes, quite deliberately, I leave the sun- bathed streets with their intelligent and healthy-looking passers by, and turn into a dark and somewhat mephitic alley, strewn with garbage in which unidentified slimey creepies crawl, a place where shady characters lurk. Can you guess which alley I happened to cross this morning, from among the ten quotes? I'll give you a hint: someone caracterized my curiousity about such places as follows: "Noga, you frighten me: you must have a very high, how to call it, emetic threshold, to deal with this vile crap" :-)

1. I have been reminded of the books I used to read about the Rothschild family. When other nineteenth-century banks made loans to conservative regimes or to countries at war, no one seemed to notice. But when the Rothschilds did it, the pamphleteers could scarcely control their indignation. Indeed, it would take a great many shelves to contain all the shrill anti-Rothschild polemics produced by Victorian antecedents of Hitchens and his ilk.

2. But what is funny is a person of the left objecting, as Byrnes does, to the cheek of people of the right claiming to speak for liberal values, and then mounting as a defence of the left this abject parallelism of choice: for us, liberty, fraternity and equality; for others, race, religion and tribe - 'their own paths and values', no less. And if these paths and values, let us just say, demean other people, then what? (Source)

3. The change in the health ministry domain of responsibilities is nothing short of revolutionary.

I shudder trying to imagine what kind of tasks are now under the umbrella of Hamas tourism ministry... (Source)

4. But no-one wants to think about that now. That stuff? they think. It's been done to death. It's just a lever that that obnoxious country with its obnoxious citizens are pulling so they can go about their obnoxious business. Holocaust Day is Blackmail Day, the ultimate victimisation scam. Concentration camp guards? Journalists doorstepping Ken Livingstone. Massacres, tortures and death camps? Chapman Brothers.

No, maybe it doesn't go exactly like that most of the time. In order to feel safely good about yourself you can't go quite that far. Yet. But once you get a few people feeling good about themselves in thinking this, you too might start to feel good about yourself. That's how it works. You hardly realise it.

Part of you resents the sense of obligation anyway. It's as if you were guilty of something you had nothing to do with. Why should these people make you feel guilty? Only barbarians do the kind of things that are supposed to have happened then. You're not a barbarian. Why should you feel that you even possibly could be? Why should you be in any danger of feeling bad about yourself? That's if it happened. Or was it all fiction, a kind of post-modern paradigm? And the secret thought: Perhaps they had it coming to them anyway. Oppressors. Obnoxious people. (Source)

5. In a July 2005 speech, Ahmadinejad asked: "Is there an art more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal that the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity. Those who wish to undermine this principle undermine the foundations of our independence and national security. They undermine the foundation of our eternity." (Source)

6. "When the sun came out, I could see people. I tried to talk to them, but I didn't understand what they were saying. Frantically, I started running after black people, I thought I could find someone who could speak my language."

Eventually, at a bus station, he found an Arabic speaker, who told him he was in Birmingham, England, and gave him £5 and directions to a police station. It was September 2004 – about a month since his journey had begun. (Source)

7. For amid all the doleful news, there is a hopeful tide. Opinion is turning slowly against extremism. The über-analyst Dennis Ross says that he has noted it among the Palestinians. Michael Young writes that opinion is shifting against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Peter Bergen, Paul Cruickshank and Lawrence Wright have in their different ways written about the intellectual crisis afflicting Al Qaeda. It may not happen over the next four years, but as Ross has noted, where Islamists rule, they wear out their welcome. (Source)

8. NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I guess there are two possibilities. One, I think I’m more effective than I have been in the past. I draw fairly large audiences. And I think Israel is now facing a major public relations challenge. They’re losing the moral ground. They’re losing. And that’s plain. And I can say, in my own small way, I’ve contributed to isolating Israel in public opinion.

And the second possibility is that I did spend some time in Lebanon in January, when I—where, among other things, I met with several leaders of Hezbollah, and that received fairly wide publicity, and that may have prompted the outrage or the decision. (Source)

9. I'm always slightly amused by these inane popularity polls. Anyone who knows just a bit of the history of this country knows that our forefathers thought very little of Europeans. Europeans were considered as corrupt and effeminate (little has changed in 232 years). America was by design the "anti-Europe." The fact that Europeans hate us today means we are doing something right. John Adams must be smiling in heaven*. (Source)

* As I was fortunate enough to catch the splendid HBO mini-series "John Adams", I'm in a position today to appreciate this comment more fully...

10. When Stephen Harper laid a wreath at Auschwitz, a reader calling himself baltzera objected. “I got a bad feeling about this one,” he wrote. “Getting a little too close to Americans and Jews, aren’t we folks? … I’m stuck here watching my Canada deteriorate and become another vassal of Zionist and American imperialists.” Later baltzera added: “I’m thinking of vacation next year and have to watch my spending. Which is cheaper? A day pass to Disney’s theme park or Dachau.” (Source)


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