UAE says ’sophisticated’ tanker attacks likely the work of a state actor - Reuters
The United Arab Emirates told United Nations Security Council members on Thursday that attacks on four tankers off its coast on May 12 bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor.
In a document on the briefing to Security Council members, the UAE, joined by Norway and Saudi Arabia, did not say who it believed was behind the attacks and did not mention Iran, which has been accused by the United States of being directly responsible.
The attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and trained divers who likely placed limpet mines with a high degree of precision on the vessels under the waterline to incapacitate but not sink them, according to the preliminary findings of the countries’ joint investigation.
“While investigations are still ongoing, these facts are strong indications that the four attacks were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, most likely a state actor,” the three countries said in the document.
If mayors ruled migration : Promises and gaps
On 8th December 2018, two days before the UN Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, some 80 cities around the world convened in Marrakech for the 5th Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development. The cities signed a Mayors’ Declaration, identifying common priorities in the follow up and review process of the Global Compact. On that same occasion, a new initiative called the Mayors Migration Council was launched, to support cities’ engagement in international deliberations and policies concerning refugees and migrants. A couple of months afterwards, on February 9th, 2019, the mayors of the main Spanish and Italian cities launched an alliance to oppose the ‘closed harbours’ policy of the Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini and to denounce the incapacity of the EU to address the situation appropriately.
These are just two recent examples that show how city policies and mobilisation on migration can resonate well beyond municipal and national walls. Can cities’ international mobilisation rescue states (and the EU) from their failure in dealing with migration issues? Cities’ enthusiasts like Benjamin Barber, founder of the Global Parliament of Mayors, have no doubts about the governance capacity of city networks (CN henceforth): ‘Mayors can rule the world because cities represent a level of governance sufficiently local to demand pragmatism and efficiency in problem solving but sufficiently networked to be able to fashion cooperative solutions to the interdependent challenges they face’. Pragmatism and cooperative interaction are presented as the key assets of mayors, cities and, by extension, city networks’ mode of governing global challenges. On the basis of – the still scarce – existing research on city global mobilisation on migration-related issues and of the preliminary results of the MinMUS Project, we can identify the promises and challenges of transnational city networks for the building of a new multilevel governance of international migration.
Is local policy more pragmatic?
The idea that local governments must deal with the situation ‘as it is’, therefore taking distance from abstract – and presumably ineffective – ideological recipes, has underpinned the development of research on local migration policy. However, evidence is contradictory and, especially in the US, studies seem to show that pragmatic attitudes and accommodative solutions are just as likely to occur as decisions aiming at excluding migrants or simply ignoring the issue altogether. What a ‘pragmatic solution’ is cannot be easily established a priori, but will depend on policymakers’ interests, perceptions, and definitions of the situation.
Data collected by the Cities of Refuge project on 27 transnational city networks in Europe show that the most networked cities are leaning towards the centre-left, progressive-side of the political spectrum. And even if membership usually outlasts political shifts, this might not correspond to active participation, as pointed out by research in the field of climate change mitigation. Furthermore, according to Cities of Refuge, cities that adhere to international networks have an average population of 1.5 million, meaning that they are primarily large cities. However, as noted by OECD, while nearly two-thirds of migrants settle in metropolitan and densely populated regions, asylum seekers are more spread across urban-rural areas.
Territorial dispersal of asylum seekers reflects evidence on reception policies collected by the CeasEVAL Project. To face the sense of pressure generated by increasing inflows since 2011, national governments in both federal/regional countries (Germany, Italy and Spain) and centralised ones (Finland, Luxemburg, Greece and Bulgaria), have redistributed asylum seekers all over their territory, including small municipalities in rural and mountains areas. Even though the reaction of local populations has not necessarily been negative, CeasEVAL points out a high level of heterogeneity in the type of accommodation and quality of services provided, as well as in opportunities for effective integration. Policy learning and exchange of best practices would probably be of great interest to these ‘new immigrant destinations’; however, they often do not have the financial, human and political resources required to participate in international network activities.
Hence, the international arena is a highly selective one, which risks excluding those – especially small – cities that might be more in need of accessing knowledge and other – mainly financial – resources in order to deal effectively with the challenges of migration and asylum. Modes of inclusion will also depend on the goals of city networks, which are extremely diverse.
Cities as key players in the multilevel governance of migration?
City networks gather together on a voluntary basis local authorities in order to pursue perceived collective interests or purposes. They lack authoritative power, and therefore have to rely upon horizontal coordination and mutual cooperation to carry out and implement their initiatives. As such, city networks are organisations which aim at realising quintessential multilevel governance policy processes: on the vertical dimension, they interact with institutions operating at different – local, regional, national and supra-national – territorial scales; on the horizontal dimension city networks establish new relations between cities and with non-public actors mobilised at a city level.
To assess these hypotheses, the MInMUS project (website) has carried out an in-depth analysis of four transnational networks on migration, i.e.: the Migration and Integration Working Group of Eurocities, the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism (ECCAR), the Intercultural Cities Programme (ICC) and Welcoming America. Results show that these networks: 1) pursue different agendas and 2) are engaged in different types of policymaking processes.
Regarding agendas, ECCAR and ICC are focused on the promotion of a specific type of local policy, i.e. anti-discrimination and interculture respectively; Eurocities seeks to represent main cities vis-á-vis the European Commission, being involved primarily in lobbying activities; whereas Welcoming America is concerned with soliciting grassroots participation and community partnerships. As for policymaking processes, Welcoming America prioritizes relations with actors such as NGOs, CSOs and private business, whereas Eurocities is more focused on relations with the European Commission and national governments. A more balanced pattern of multilevel political dynamics can be discerned in the other two cases. In particular ICC, starting from 2016, has adopted an explicit multilevel governance approach aimed at promoting cooperation and coordination both on the vertical, i.e. between different levels of government, and on the horizontal, i.e. with non-public actors, dimensions of policy-making.
Multilevel governance, far from being the essence of city networking initiatives, is only one possible mode of policymaking interactions and it is not even the most relevant one. City networks may well find it more convenient or appropriate to pursue other types of policy interactions, centred on a vertical dimension as in the case of Eurocities or on the horizontal dimension as in that of Welcoming America. Multilevel governance seems easier to pursue in the case of networks that are already established as multilevel organisations. This is the case of ECCAR, launched by Unesco in 2004, and of ICC, officially started in 2008 as a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Commission. Patterns of relations and modes of policymaking seem to reflect to a large extent the genesis of city networks and their distinctive policy agenda.
Getting back to our initial question: Can cities’ international mobilisation rescue states (and the EU) from their failure in dealing with migration issues? While one cannot deny the key role played by cities in the managing of migration crises as well as in supporting integration and community cohesion more generally, city networks’ skewed membership that consists mainly of larger and politically progressive cities should make us cautious about their impact on improving migrants’ living conditions at a grassroots level. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the initiative of supranational institutions ‘from above’ has played a key role in favouring cities’ collaboration around specific policy issues such as interculture and anti-discrimination. Indeed, cities and their networks represent a new actor in the multilevel political dynamics around migration; yet whether and to what extent they will be effective in promoting collaborative multilevel governance relations and influencing national government and EU agendas on migration remains to be seen.
Who Was Shakespeare? Could the Author Have Been a Woman? - The Atlantic
On a spring night in 2018, I stood on a Manhattan sidewalk with friends, reading Shakespeare aloud. We were in line to see an adaptation of Macbeth and had decided to pass the time refreshing our memories of the play’s best lines. I pulled up Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy on my iPhone. “Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,” I read, thrilled once again by the incantatory power of the verse. I remembered where I was when I first heard those lines: in my 10th-grade English class, startled out of my adolescent stupor by this woman rebelling magnificently and malevolently against her submissive status. “Make thick my blood, / Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse.” Six months into the #MeToo movement, her fury and frustration felt newly resonant.
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Pulled back into plays I’d studied in college and graduate school, I found myself mesmerized by Lady Macbeth and her sisters in the Shakespeare canon. Beatrice, in Much Ado About Nothing, raging at the limitations of her sex (“O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace”). Rosalind, in As You Like It, affecting the swagger of masculine confidence to escape those limitations (“We’ll have a swashing and a martial outside, / As many other mannish cowards have / That do outface it with their semblances”). Isabella, in Measure for Measure, fearing no one will believe her word against Angelo’s, rapist though he is (“To whom should I complain? Did I tell this, / Who would believe me?”). Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew, refusing to be silenced by her husband (“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, / Or else my heart concealing it will break”). Emilia, in one of her last speeches in Othello before Iago kills her, arguing for women’s equality (“Let husbands know / Their wives have sense like them”).
I was reminded of all the remarkable female friendships, too: Beatrice and Hero’s allegiance; Emilia’s devotion to her mistress, Desdemona; Paulina’s brave loyalty to Hermione in The Winter’s Tale; and plenty more. (“Let’s consult together against this greasy knight,” resolve the merry wives of Windsor, revenging themselves on Falstaff.) These intimate female alliances are fresh inventions—they don’t exist in the literary sources from which many of the plays are drawn. And when the plays lean on historical sources (Plutarch, for instance), they feminize them, portraying legendary male figures through the eyes of mothers, wives, and lovers. “Why was Shakespeare able to see the woman’s position, write entirely as if he were a woman, in a way that none of the other playwrights of the age were able to?” In her book about the plays’ female characters, Tina Packer, the founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, asked the question very much on my mind.
Doubts about whether William Shakespeare (who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and died in 1616) really wrote the works attributed to him are almost as old as the writing itself. Alternative contenders—Francis Bacon; Christopher Marlowe; and Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, prominent among them—continue to have champions, whose fervor can sometimes border on fanaticism. In response, orthodox Shakespeare scholars have settled into dogmatism of their own. Even to dabble in authorship questions is considered a sign of bad faith, a blinkered failure to countenance genius in a glover’s son. The time had come, I felt, to tug at the blinkers of both camps and reconsider the authorship debate: Had anyone ever proposed that the creator of those extraordinary women might be a woman? Each of the male possibilities requires an elaborate theory to explain his use of another’s name. None of the candidates has succeeded in dethroning the man from Stratford. Yet a simple reason would explain a playwright’s need for a pseudonym in Elizabethan England: being female.
Who was this woman writing “immortal work” in the same year that Shakespeare’s name first appeared in print?
Long before Tina Packer marveled at the bard’s uncanny insight, others were no less awed by the empathy that pervades the work. “One would think that he had been Metamorphosed from a Man to a Woman,” wrote Margaret Cavendish, the 17th-century philosopher and playwright. The critic John Ruskin said, “Shakespeare has no heroes—he has only heroines.” A striking number of those heroines refuse to obey rules. At least 10 defy their fathers, bucking betrothals they don’t like to find their own paths to love. Eight disguise themselves as men, outwitting patriarchal controls—more gender-swapping than can be found in the work of any previous English playwright. Six lead armies.
The prevailing view, however, has been that no women in Renaissance England wrote for the theater, because that was against the rules. Religious verse and translation were deemed suitable female literary pursuits; “closet dramas,” meant only for private reading, were acceptable. The stage was off-limits. Yet scholars have lately established that women were involved in the business of acting companies as patrons, shareholders, suppliers of costumes, and gatherers of entrance fees. What’s more, 80 percent of the plays printed in the 1580s were written anonymously, and that number didn’t fall below 50 percent until the early 1600s. At least one eminent Shakespeare scholar, Phyllis Rackin, of the University of Pennsylvania, challenges the blanket assumption that the commercial drama pouring forth in the period bore no trace of a female hand. So did Virginia Woolf, even as she sighed over the obstacles that would have confronted a female Shakespeare: “Undoubtedly, I thought, looking at the shelf where there are no plays by women, her work would have gone unsigned.”
A tantalizing nudge lies buried in the writings of Gabriel Harvey, a well-known Elizabethan literary critic. In 1593, he referred cryptically to an “excellent Gentlewoman” who had written three sonnets and a comedy. “I dare not Particularise her Description,” he wrote, even as he heaped praise on her.
All her conceits are illuminate with the light of Reason; all her speeches beautified with the grace of Affability … In her mind there appeareth a certain heavenly Logic; in her tongue & pen a divine Rhetoric … I dare undertake with warrant, whatsoever she writeth must needs remain an immortal work, and will leave, in the activest world, an eternal memory of the silliest vermin that she should vouchsafe to grace with her beautiful and allective style, as ingenious as elegant.
Who was this woman writing “immortal work” in the same year that Shakespeare’s name first appeared in print, on the poem “Venus and Adonis,” a scandalous parody of masculine seduction tales (in which the woman forces herself on the man)? Harvey’s tribute is extraordinary, yet orthodox Shakespeareans and anti-Stratfordians alike have almost entirely ignored it.
Until recently, that is, when a few bold outliers began to advance the case that Shakespeare might well have been a woman. One candidate is Mary Sidney, the countess of Pembroke (and beloved sister of the celebrated poet Philip Sidney)—one of the most educated women of her time, a translator and poet, and the doyenne of the Wilton Circle, a literary salon dedicated to galvanizing an English cultural renaissance. Clues beckon, not least that Sidney and her husband were the patrons of one of the first theater companies to perform Shakespeare’s plays. Was Shakespeare’s name useful camouflage, allowing her to publish what she otherwise couldn’t?
Shakespeare’s life is remarkably well documented—yet no records from his lifetime identify him unequivocally as a writer.
But the candidate who intrigued me more was a woman as exotic and peripheral as Sidney was pedigreed and prominent. Not long after my Macbeth outing, I learned that Shakespeare’s Globe, in London, had set out to explore this figure’s input to the canon. The theater’s summer 2018 season concluded with a new play, Emilia, about a contemporary of Shakespeare’s named Emilia Bassano. Born in London in 1569 to a family of Venetian immigrants—musicians and instrument-makers who were likely Jewish—she was one of the first women in England to publish a volume of poetry (suitably religious yet startlingly feminist, arguing for women’s “Libertie” and against male oppression). Her existence was unearthed in 1973 by the Oxford historian A. L. Rowse, who speculated that she was Shakespeare’s mistress, the “dark lady” described in the sonnets. In Emilia, the playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm goes a step further: Her Shakespeare is a plagiarist who uses Bassano’s words for Emilia’s famous defense of women in Othello.
Could Bassano have contributed even more widely and directly? The idea felt like a feminist fantasy about the past—but then, stories about women’s lost and obscured achievements so often have a dreamlike quality, unveiling a history different from the one we’ve learned. Was I getting carried away, reinventing Shakespeare in the image of our age? Or was I seeing past gendered assumptions to the woman who—like Shakespeare’s heroines—had fashioned herself a clever disguise? Perhaps the time was finally ripe for us to see her.
The ranks of Shakespeare skeptics comprise a kind of literary underworld—a cross-disciplinary array of academics, actors (Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance are perhaps the best known), writers, teachers, lawyers, a few Supreme Court justices (Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens). Look further back and you’ll find such illustrious names as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Henry James, Sigmund Freud, Helen Keller, and Charlie Chaplin. Their ideas about the authorship of the plays and poems differ, but they concur that Shakespeare is not the man who wrote them.
Their doubt is rooted in an empirical conundrum. Shakespeare’s life is remarkably well documented, by the standards of the period—yet no records from his lifetime identify him unequivocally as a writer. The more than 70 documents that exist show him as an actor, a shareholder in a theater company, a moneylender, and a property investor. They show that he dodged taxes, was fined for hoarding grain during a shortage, pursued petty lawsuits, and was subject to a restraining order. The profile is remarkably coherent, adding up to a mercenary impresario of the Renaissance entertainment industry. What’s missing is any sign that he wrote.
From January 1863: Nathaniel Hawthorne considers authorship while visiting Stratford-upon-Avon
No such void exists for other major writers of the period, as a meticulous scholar named Diana Price has demonstrated. Many left fewer documents than Shakespeare did, but among them are manuscripts, letters, and payment records proving that writing was their profession. For example, court records show payment to Ben Jonson for “those services of his wit & pen.” Desperate to come up with comparable material to round out Shakespeare, scholars in the 18th and 19th centuries forged evidence—later debunked—of a writerly life.
To be sure, Shakespeare’s name can be found linked, during his lifetime, to written works. With Love’s Labour’s Lost, in 1598, it started appearing on the title pages of one-play editions called “quartos.” (Several of the plays attributed to Shakespeare were first published anonymously.) Commentators at the time saluted him by name, praising “Shakespeare’s fine filed phrase” and “honey-tongued Shakespeare.” But such evidence proves attribution, not actual authorship—as even some orthodox Shakespeare scholars grant. “I would love to find a contemporary document that said William Shakespeare was the dramatist of Stratford-upon-Avon written during his lifetime,” Stanley Wells, a professor emeritus at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute, has said. “That would shut the buggers up!”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
October 1991 Atlantic cover
In 1991, The Atlantic commissioned two pieces from admittedly partisan authors, Irving Matus and Tom Bethell, to examine and debate the argument:
In Defense of Shakespeare
The Case for Oxford
By contrast, more than a few of Shakespeare’s contemporaries are on record suggesting that his name got affixed to work that wasn’t his. In 1591, the dramatist Robert Greene wrote of the practice of “underhand brokery”—of poets who “get some other Batillus to set his name to their verses.” (Batillus was a mediocre Roman poet who claimed some of Virgil’s verses as his own.) The following year, he warned fellow playwrights about an “upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers,” who thinks he is the “onely Shake-scene in a countrey.” Most scholars agree that the “Crow” is Shakespeare, then an actor in his late 20s, and conclude that the new-hatched playwright was starting to irk established figures. Anti-Stratfordians see something else: In Aesop’s fables, the crow was a proud strutter who stole the feathers of others; Horace’s crow, in his epistles, was a plagiarist. Shakespeare was being attacked, they say, not as a budding dramatist, but as a paymaster taking credit for others’ work. “Seeke you better Maisters,” Greene advised, urging his colleagues to cease writing for the Crow.
Ben Jonson, among others, got in his digs, too. Scholars agree that the character of Sogliardo in Every Man Out of His Humour—a country bumpkin “without brain, wit, anything, indeed, ramping to gentility”—is a parody of Shakespeare, a social climber whose pursuit of a coat of arms was common lore among his circle of actors. In a satirical poem called “On Poet-Ape,” Jonson was likely taking aim at Shakespeare the theater-world wheeler-dealer. This poet-ape, Jonson wrote, “from brokage is become so bold a thief,”
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
Buy the reversion of old plays; now grown
To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
He takes up all, makes each man’s wit his own
What to make of the fact that Jonson changed his tune in the prefatory material that he contributed to the First Folio of plays when it appeared seven years after Shakespeare’s death? Jonson’s praise there did more than attribute the work to Shakespeare. It declared his art unmatched: “He was not of an age, but for all time!” The anti-Stratfordian response is to note the shameless hype at the heart of the Folio project. “Whatever you do, Buy,” the compilers urged in their dedication, intent on a hard sell for a dramatist who, doubters emphasize, was curiously unsung at his death. The Folio’s introductory effusions, they argue, contain double meanings. Jonson tells readers, for example, to find Shakespeare not in his portrait “but his Booke,” seeming to undercut the relation between the man and the work. And near the start of his over-the-top tribute, Jonson riffs on the unreliability of extravagant praise, “which doth ne’er advance / The truth.”
From September 1904: Ralph Waldo Emerson celebrates Shakespeare
The authorship puzzles don’t end there. How did the man born in Stratford acquire the wide-ranging knowledge on display in the plays—of the Elizabethan court, as well as of multiple languages, the law, astronomy, music, the military, and foreign lands, especially northern Italian cities? The author’s linguistic brilliance shines in words and sayings imported from foreign vocabularies, but Shakespeare wasn’t educated past the age of 13. Perhaps he traveled, joined the army, worked as a tutor, or all three, scholars have proposed. Yet no proof exists of any of those experiences, despite, as the Oxford historian Hugh Trevor-Roper pointed out in an essay, “the greatest battery of organized research that has ever been directed upon a single person.”
Emilia Bassano’s life encompassed the breadth of the Shakespeare canon: its low-class references and knowledge of the court; its Italian sources and Jewish allusions; its music and feminism.
In fact, a document that does exist—Shakespeare’s will—would seem to undercut such hypotheses. A wealthy man when he retired to Stratford, he was meticulous about bequeathing his properties and possessions (his silver, his second-best bed). Yet he left behind not a single book, though the plays draw on hundreds of texts, including some—in Italian and French—that hadn’t yet been translated into English. Nor did he leave any musical instruments, though the plays use at least 300 musical terms and refer to 26 instruments. He remembered three actor-owners in his company, but no one in the literary profession. Strangest of all, he made no mention of manuscripts or writing. Perhaps as startling as the gaps in his will, Shakespeare appears to have neglected his daughters’ education—an incongruity, given the erudition of so many of the playwright’s female characters. One signed with her mark, the other with a signature a scholar has called “painfully formed.”
“Weak and unconvincing” was Trevor-Roper’s verdict on the case for Shakespeare. My delving left me in agreement, not that the briefs for the male alternatives struck me as compelling either. Steeped in the plays, I felt their author would surely join me in bridling at the Stratfordians’ unquestioning worship at the shrine—their arrogant dismissal of skeptics as mere deluded “buggers,” or worse. (“Is there any more fanatic zealot than the priest-like defender of a challenged creed?” asked Richmond Crinkley, a former director of programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library who was nonetheless sympathetic to the anti-Stratfordian view.) To appreciate how belief blossoms into fact—how readily myths about someone get disseminated as truth—one can’t do better than to read Shakespeare. Just think of how obsessed the work is with mistaken identities, concealed women, forged and anonymous documents—with the error of trusting in outward appearances. What if searchers for the real Shakespeare simply haven’t set their sights on the right pool of candidates?
Read: An interview with the author of ‘The Shakespeare Wars’
I met Emilia Bassano’s most ardent champion at Alice’s Tea Cup, which seemed unexpectedly apt: A teahouse on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it has quotes from Alice in Wonderland scrawled across the walls. (“off with their heads!”) John Hudson, an Englishman in his 60s who pursued a degree at the Shakespeare Institute in a mid-career swerve, had been on the Bassano case for years, he told me. In 2014, he published Shakespeare’s Dark Lady: Amelia Bassano Lanier, the Woman Behind Shakespeare’s Plays? His zeal can sometimes get the better of him, yet he emphasizes that his methods and findings are laid out “for anyone … to refute if they wish.” Like Alice’s rabbit hole, Bassano’s case opened up new and richly disorienting perspectives—on the plays, on the ways we think about genius and gender, and on a fascinating life.
Hudson first learned of Bassano from A. L. Rowse, who discovered mention of her in the notebooks of an Elizabethan physician and astrologer named Simon Forman. In her teens, she became the mistress of Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, the master of court entertainment and patron of Shakespeare’s acting company. And that is only the start. Whether or not Bassano was Shakespeare’s lover (scholars now dismiss Rowse’s claim), the discernible contours of her biography supply what the available material about Shakespeare’s life doesn’t: circumstantial evidence of opportunities to acquire an impressive expanse of knowledge.
Bassano lived, Hudson points out, “an existence on the boundaries of many different social worlds,” encompassing the breadth of the Shakespeare canon: its coarse, low-class references and its intimate knowledge of the court; its Italian sources and its Jewish allusions; its music and its feminism. And her imprint, as Hudson reads the plays, extends over a long period. He notes the many uses of her name, citing several early on—for instance, an Emilia in The Comedy of Errors. (Emilia, the most common female name in the plays alongside Katherine, wasn’t used in the 16th century by any other English playwright.) Titus Andronicus features a character named Bassianus, which was the original Roman name of Bassano del Grappa, her family’s hometown before their move to Venice. Later, in The Merchant of Venice, the romantic hero is a Venetian named Bassanio, an indication that the author perhaps knew of the Bassanos’ connection to Venice. (Bassanio is a spelling of their name in some records.)
Further on, in Othello, another Emilia appears—Iago’s wife. Her famous speech against abusive husbands, Hudson notes, doesn’t show up until 1623, in the First Folio, included among lines that hadn’t appeared in an earlier version (lines that Stratfordians assume—without any proof—were written before Shakespeare’s death). Bassano was still alive, and by then had known her share of hardship at the hands of men. More to the point, she had already spoken out, in her 1611 book of poetry, against men who “do like vipers deface the wombs wherein they were bred.”
Prodded by Hudson, you can discern traces of Bassano’s own life trajectory in particular works across the canon. In All’s Well That Ends Well, a lowborn girl lives with a dowager countess and a general named Bertram. When Bassano’s father, Baptista, died in 1576, Emilia, then 7, was taken in by Susan Bertie, the dowager countess of Kent. The countess’s brother, Peregrine Bertie, was—like the fictional Bertram—a celebrated general. In the play, the countess tells how a father “famous … in his profession” left “his sole child … bequeathed to my overlooking. I have those hopes of her good that her education promises.” Bassano received a remarkable humanist education with the countess. In her book of poetry, she praised her guardian as “the Mistris of my youth, / The noble guide of my ungovern’d dayes.”
Bassano’s life sheds possible light on the plays’ preoccupation with women caught in forced or loveless marriages.
As for the celebrated general, Hudson seizes on the possibility that Bassano’s ears, and perhaps eyes, were opened by Peregrine Bertie as well. In 1582, Bertie was named ambassador to Denmark by the queen and sent to the court at Elsinore—the setting of Hamlet. Records show that the trip included state dinners with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, whose names appear in the play. Because emissaries from the same two families later visited the English court, the trip isn’t decisive, but another encounter is telling: Bertie met with the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, whose astronomical theories influenced the play. Was Bassano (then just entering her teens) on the trip? Bertie was accompanied by a “whole traine,” but only the names of important gentlemen are recorded. In any case, Hudson argues, she would have heard tales on his return.
Later, as the mistress of Henry Carey (43 years her senior), Bassano gained access to more than the theater world. Carey, the queen’s cousin, held various legal and military positions. Bassano was “favoured much of her Majesty and of many noblemen,” the physician Forman noted, indicating the kind of extensive aristocratic associations that only vague guesswork can accord to Shakespeare. His company didn’t perform at court until Christmas of 1594, after several of the plays informed by courtly life had already been written. Shakespeare’s history plays, concerned as they are with the interactions of the governing class, presume an insider perspective on aristocratic life. Yet mere court performances wouldn’t have enabled such familiarity, and no trace exists of Shakespeare’s presence in any upper-class household.
And then, in late 1592, Bassano (now 23) was expelled from court. She was pregnant. Carey gave her money and jewels and, for appearance’s sake, married her off to Alphonso Lanier, a court musician. A few months later, she had a son. Despite the glittering dowry, Lanier must not have been pleased. “Her husband hath dealt hardly with her,” Forman wrote, “and spent and consumed her goods.”
Bassano was later employed in a noble household, probably as a music tutor, and roughly a decade after that opened a school. Whether she accompanied her male relatives—whose consort of recorder players at the English court lasted 90 years—on their trips back to northern Italy isn’t known. But the family link to the home country offers support for the fine-grained familiarity with the region that (along with in-depth musical knowledge) any plausible candidate for authorship would seem to need—just what scholars have had to strain to establish for Shakespeare. (Perhaps, theories go, he chatted with travelers or consulted books.) In Othello, for example, Iago gives a speech that precisely describes a fresco in Bassano del Grappa—also the location of a shop owned by Giovanni Otello, a likely source of the title character’s name.
Her Bassano lineage—scholars suggest the family were conversos, converted or hidden Jews presenting as Christians—also helps account for the Jewish references that scholars of the plays have noted. The plea in The Merchant of Venice for the equality and humanity of Jews, a radical departure from typical anti-Semitic portrayals of the period, is well known. “Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?” Shylock asks. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” A Midsummer Night’s Dream draws from a passage in the Talmud about marriage vows; spoken Hebrew is mixed into the nonsense language of All’s Well That Ends Well.
What’s more, the Bassano family’s background suggests a source close to home for the particular interest in dark figures in the sonnets, Othello, and elsewhere. A 1584 document about the arrest of two Bassano men records them as “black”—among Elizabethans, the term could apply to anyone darker than the fair-skinned English, including those with a Mediterranean complexion. (The fellows uttered lines that could come straight from a comic interlude in the plays: “We have as good friends in the court as thou hast and better too … Send us to ward? Thou wert as good kiss our arse.”) In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the noblemen derisively compare Rosaline, the princess’s attendant, to “chimney-sweepers” and “colliers” (coal miners). The king joins in, telling Berowne, who is infatuated with her, “Thy love is black as ebony,” to which the young lord responds, “O wood divine!”
Bassano’s life sheds possible light, too, on another outsider theme: the plays’ preoccupation with women caught in forced or loveless marriages. Hudson sees her misery reflected in the sonnets, thought to have been written from the early 1590s to the early 1600s. “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, / I all alone beweep my outcast state, /And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, /And look upon myself and curse my fate,” reads sonnet 29. (When Maya Angelou first encountered the poem as a child, she thought Shakespeare must have been a black girl who had been sexually abused: “How else could he know what I know?”) For Shakespeare, those years brought a rise in status: In 1596, he was granted a coat of arms, and by 1597, he was rich enough to buy the second-largest house in Stratford.
Read: What Maya Angelou meant when she said ‘Shakespeare must be a black girl’
In what is considered an early or muddled version of The Taming of the Shrew, a man named Alphonso (as was Bassano’s husband) tries to marry off his three daughters, Emilia, Kate, and Philema. Emilia drops out in the later version, and the father is now called Baptista (the name of Bassano’s father). As a portrait of a husband dealing “hardly” with a wife, the play is horrifying. Yet Kate’s speech of submission, with its allusions to the Letters of Paul, is slippery: Even as she exaggeratedly parrots the Christian doctrine of womanly subjection, she is anything but dutifully silent.
Shakespeare’s women repeatedly subvert such teachings, perhaps most radically in The Winter’s Tale, another drama of male cruelty. There the noblewoman Paulina, scorned by King Leontes as “a most intelligencing bawd” with a “boundless tongue,” bears fierce witness against him (no man dares to) when he wrongly accuses Queen Hermione of adultery and imprisons her. As in so many of the comedies, a more enlightened society emerges in the end because the women’s values triumph.
I was stunned to realize that the year The Winter’s Tale was likely completed, 1611, was the same year Bassano published her book of poetry, Salve Deus Rex Judæorum. Her writing style bears no obvious resemblance to Shakespeare’s in his plays, though Hudson strains to suggest similarities. The overlap lies in the feminist content. Bassano’s poetry registers as more than conventional religious verse designed to win patronage (she dedicates it to nine women, Mary Sidney included, fashioning a female literary community). Scholars have observed that it reads as a “transgressive” defense of Eve and womankind. Like a cross-dressing Shakespearean heroine, Bassano refuses to play by the rules, heretically reinterpreting scripture. “If Eve did err, it was for knowledge sake,” she writes. Arguing that the crucifixion, a crime committed by men, was a greater crime than Eve’s, she challenges the basis of men’s “tyranny” over women.
“I always feel something Italian, something Jewish about Shakespeare,” Jorge Luis Borges told The Paris Review in 1966. “Perhaps Englishmen admire him because of that, because it’s so unlike them.” Borges didn’t mention feeling “something female” about the bard, yet that response has never ceased to be part of Shakespeare’s allure—embodiment though he is of the patriarchal authority of the Western canon. What would the revelation of a woman’s hand at work mean, aside from the loss of a prime tourist attraction in Stratford-upon-Avon? Would the effect be a blow to the cultural patriarchy, or the erosion of the canon’s status? Would (male) myths of inexplicable genius take a hit? Would women at last claim their rightful authority as historical and intellectual forces?
I was curious to take the temperature of the combative authorship debate as women edge their way into it. Over more tea, I tested Hudson’s room for flexibility. Could the plays’ many connections to Bassano be explained by simply assuming the playwright knew her well? “Shakespeare would have had to run to her every few minutes for a musical reference or an Italian pun,” he said. I caught up with Mark Rylance, the actor and former artistic director of the Globe, in the midst of rehearsals for Othello (whose plot, he noted, comes from an Italian text that didn’t exist in English). A latitudinarian doubter—embracing the inquiry, not any single candidate—Rylance has lately observed that the once heretical notion of collaboration between Shakespeare and other writers “is now accepted, pursued and published by leading orthodox scholars.” He told me that “Emilia should be studied by anyone interested in the creation of the plays.” David Scott Kastan, a well-known Shakespeare scholar at Yale, urged further exploration too, though he wasn’t ready to anoint her bard. “What’s clear is that it’s important to know more about her,” he said, and even got playful with pronouns: “The more we know about her and the world she lived in, the more we’ll know about Shakespeare, whoever she was.”
Such Ado: The Fight for Shakespeare’s Puns
Shakespeare in Love, or in Context
In the fall, I joined the annual meeting of the Shakespeare Authorship Trust—a gathering of skeptics at the Globe—feeling excited that gender would be at the top of the agenda. Some eyebrows were raised even in this company, but enthusiasm ran high. “People have been totally frustrated with authorship debates that go nowhere, but that’s because there have been 200 years of bad candidates,” one participant from the University of Toronto exclaimed. “They didn’t want to see women in this,” he reflected. “It’s a tragedy of history.”
He favored Sidney. Others were eager to learn about Bassano, and with collaboration in mind, I wondered whether the two women had perhaps worked together, or as part of a group. I thought of Bassano’s Salve Deus, in which she writes that men have wrongly taken credit for knowledge: “Yet Men will boast of Knowledge, which he tooke / From Eve’s faire hand, as from a learned Booke.”
The night after the meeting, I went to a performance of Antony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre. I sat enthralled, still listening for the poet in her words, trying to catch her reflection in some forgotten bit of verse. “Give me my robe, put on my crown,” cried the queen, “I have / Immortal longings in me.” There she was, kissing her ladies goodbye, raising the serpent to her breast. “I am fire and air.”
Actor Will Smith joins $46m investment into #eSports organisation Gen.G
Smith joined by investment partner and Japanese soccer star Keisuke Honda
Screamin’ sirens and flashin’ lights
Screechin’ tires in the nights
No escape from the black & white
May be a hooker, jaywalker, street belt offender
HELP, MURDER, POLICE
Help, somebody please
It’s a crime wave - what has life come to be?
Up an alley, and down the street
Better strap yourself in your seat
Or the next officer you meet
Will bash your head until your red and leave you dead
HELP, MURDER, POLICE
Help, somebody please
It’s a crime wave - what has life come to be?
If you want to avoid the cops
Keep on goin’ and never stop
Whenever you see a donut shop
Better still, let’s have a ball and kill ’em all now
HELP, MURDER, POLICE
Help, somebody please
It’s a crime wave - what has life come to be?
HELP, ME MURDER, POLICE
Help, somebody please
Kill the pigs!
Merci pour les paroles @sinehebdo et pour l’original. Je pensais bien à toi et à ta compil, dans un premier temps je l’avais même pingué pour te le signaler. Puis j’ai effacé le ping n’étant plus très sur de moi (je te l’ai déjà dit mais je ne comprends pas l’anglais, ayant suffisamment de problème avec le français)
HELP, MURDER, POLICE
Help, somebody please
It’s a crime wave - what has life come to be?
HELP, ME MURDER, POLICE
Help, somebody please
Kill the pigs!
un refrain écrit en 67, toujours d’actualité : Kill the pigs !
help the police murder
On this day, 6 April 1968, just two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, 17 year old Black Panther “Little” Bobby Hutton was murdered by police in Oakland, California. Hutton had been the very first recruit to the Black Panther Party. He had been involved in a shootout with police until he surrendered. He left his weapon, took off his shirt and emerged from the basement where he was holed up, barechested with his hands up. He had been advised by a comrade to surrender naked, but he was embarrassed and left his trousers on. Police shot him at least 10 times, killing him. Six days later, over 1000 people came to his funeral, at which actor Marlon Brando delivered the eulogy. His killing spurred rapid growth of the BPP.
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Drone Surveillance Operations in the Mediterranean: The Central Role of the Portuguese Economy and State in EU Border Control
Much has been written in the past years about the dystopic vision of EU borders increasingly equipped with drone surveillance (see here: ▻http://www.europeanpublicaffairs.eu/high-tech-fortress-europe-frontex-and-the-dronization-of-borde, here: ▻http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2018/10/the-next-phase-of-european-border-and.html, here: ▻https://www.heise.de/tp/features/EU-startet-Langstreckendrohnen-zur-Grenzueberwachung-4038306.html and here: ▻https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2018/11/role-technology). Yet, when the first joint drone surveillance operation of #Frontex, the #European_Maritime_Safety_Agency (#EMSA) and Portuguese authorities was launched on 25 September 2018, there was a lack of response both from the media and concerned activists or researchers. Yet, the EMSA offered details about the operation on its website, and Frontex as well. In addition, Frontex mentioned in its press statement parallel operations undertaken in Italy and Greece in the same period.
These operations were a crucial step for the setup of the joint European information system for border surveillance, #EUROSUR. The drone surveillance program in the context of Frontex operations is a major step in the operational setup of the EUROSUR program that aims to integrate databases and national coordination centres of 24 European countries. EUROSUR was officially introduced with a policy paper in 2008, and the system itself was launched on 1 December 2013 as a mechanism of information exchange among EU member states. But it is not yet fully operational, and drone surveillance is commonly seen as a central component for full operationability. Thus, the cooperation between the EMSA, Frontex and the Portuguese state in the recent operation is a crucial milestone to achieve the aim of EUROSUR to create a unified European border surveillance system.
This is why the operation launched in Portugal in September 2018 is of higher significance to the ones in Italy and Greece since it includes not only national authorities but also the EMSA, located in Lisbon, as a new key actor for border surveillance. EMSA was founded in 2002 as a response to various shipping disasters that lead to environmental pollution and originally focuses on monitoring the movement of ships, with a focus on the safety of shipping operations, environmental safety at sea and the trading of illegal goods via maritime transport.
In 2016 the EMSA was allocated 76 million Euros in a bid for the production of drones for the surveillance of the Mediterranenan in the context of Frontex missions. EMSA`s bid foresaw that drones would be hired by EMSA itself. EMSA would run the operation of drones and share real-time data with Frontex. The largest part of this bid, 66 million Euros, went to the Portuguese company #Tekever, while smaller portions went to the Italian defence company #Leonardo and to the Portuguese air force that will operate drones produced by the Portuguese company #UA_Vision. At the same time, the successful bid of Tekever and the integration of Portuguese authorities in surveillance operations catapults Portugal onto the map of the defence and surveillance industry that profits immensely from the recent technological craze around border surveillance (see here, here and here).
Lisbon-based Tekever set up a factory for the production of drones in the Portuguese mainland in #Ponte_de_Sor, an emerging new hub for the aerospace industry. Together with French #Collecte_Localisation_Service, which specialises in maritime surveillance, Tekever founded the consortium #REACT in order to produce those specific drones. Under the Portuguese operation, ground control, i.e. the technical coordination of the flight of the drones, was located in Portugal under the authority of the Portuguese air force, while the operation was coordinated remotely by Frontex experts and Portuguese authorities in the #Frontex_Situational_Centre in Poland where data were shared in real-time with EMSA. This first operation is a crucial step, testing the technical and administrative cooperation between EMSA and Frontex, and the functionality of the drones that were specifically produced for this purpose. These drones are lighter than the ones used in Greece and Italy, and they are equipped with special cameras and #radars that can detect ship movements and receive emergency calls from the sea. This allows to run data collected by the drones through an algorithm that is programmed to distinguish so-called ´#migrant_vessels´ from other ships and boats.
The Portuguese government has set up a number of initiatives to foster this industry. For example, a national strategy called #Space_2030 (#Estratégia_Portugal_Espaço_2030) was launched in 2018, and the newly founded #Portuguese_Space_Agency (#Agência_Espacial_Portuguesa) will begin to work in the first months of 2019. The fact that border surveillance is one of the larger European programs boosting the defence and surveillance industry financially has not generated any controversy in Portugal; neither the fact that a center-left government, supported by two radical left parties is propping up surveillance, aerospace and defence industries. The colonial continuities of this industrial strategy are all too visible since narratives like ‘from the discovery of the sea to the technology of space’ are used not only by industry actors, but also, for example, by the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK on its website. In this way, social and political #domination of non-European territories and the control of the movement of racialized bodies are reduced to the fact of technological capability – in the colonial period the navigation of the seas with optical instruments, astronomic knowledge and ships, and today the electronic monitoring of movements on the sea with drones and integrated computer systems. The Portuguese aerospace industry is therefore presented as a cultural heritage that continues earlier technological achievements that became instruments to set up a global empire.
The lack of any mention about the start of the drone surveillance programme does not only demonstrate that border surveillance goes largely unquestioned in Europe, but also that the sums spent for surveillance and defence by EU agencies create incentives to engage more in the defence and surveillance industry. This goes all the more for countries that have been hit hard by austerity and deindustrialisation, such as Portugal. The recent increase of 9.3 billion Euros for the period 2021 to 2027 for border surveillance funding in the EU with the creation of the #Integrated_Border_Management_Fund focused on border protection, is a telling example of the focus of current EU industrial policies. For the same period, the European Commission has earmarked 2.2 billion Euro for Frontex in order to acquire, operate and maintain surveillance assets like drones, cameras, fences, and the like. In this situation, the political consensus among EU governments to restrict migration reinforces the economic interests of the defence industry and vice versa, and the interest of national governments to attract #high-tech investment adds to this. Those lock-in effects could probably only be dismantled through a public debate about the selective nature of the entrepreneurial state whose funding has decisive influence on which industries prosper.
While the Portuguese government does not currently have a single helicopter operating in order to control and fight forest fires that have caused more than 100 deaths in the past two years, much EU and national public funding goes into technology aimed at the control of racialized bodies and the observation of earth from space. At the same time, there is considerable concern among experts that surveillance technology used for military means and border security will be rolled out over the entire population in the future for general policing purposes. For this reason, it remains important to keep an eye on which technologies are receiving large public funds and what are its possible uses.
Des drones en renfort dans l’#opération_Sophia
Pour renforcer la surveillance aérienne, après le départ des navires, l’opération Sophia déployée en Méditerranée (alias #EUNAVFOR_Med) va bénéficier d’un renfort d’au moins un drone #Predator de l’aeronautica militare.
L’#Italie a indiqué sa disponibilité à fournir un drone à l’opération Sophia, selon nos informations confirmées à bonne source. Ce pourrait être un #MQ-9A Predator B, la version la plus avancée et la plus récente du drone, d’une longueur de 10,80 m avec une envergure de plus de 20 mètres, qui peut voler à 445 km / heure. De façon alternative, selon les moyens disponibles, un MQ-1C Predator A, plus modeste (longueur de 8,20 m et envergure de 14,80 m), pouvant voler à 160 km/heure, pourrait aussi être déployé.
Speaking at conferences: A complete guide
6 mistakes beginners make… and how to avoid themOffstage, I am a data scientist, leader, and decision intelligence engineer. When I’m invited to give a talk, I turn into a theatre company of one. Everything from actor to director to costume designer.The bad news is that the same goes for your talk, whether you know it or not. Unfortunately the skills that got you the speaking position might be entirely different from what you need to dazzle your audience.The good news is that industry and academia are stuffed to the gills with novice speakers who don’t realize that public speaking is theatre, so it’s fairly easy to set yourself apart in a crowd of newcomers to the stage. To help you out, here are some practical tips along with a list of newbie mistakes to avoid.Planning your contentSpeech lengthA (...)
Microsoft Orleans — Dashboard Update — CPU/Memory Stats
Microsoft Orleans — Dashboard Update — CPU/Memory StatsOrleans LogoQuick update to a post I did a while back regarding Orleans Dashboard — additional reporting metrics for your cluster!As a refresher, Orleans is a virtual actor model framework — a framework that can be used to build new, distributed “primitives”. These primitives’ work can be farmed out to a cluster of nodes as a means of getting “work” done faster than what would be possible if working constrained to a single piece of hardware.In a previous post:How to set up Microsoft Orleans’ Reporting DashboardI had pointed out:Currently CPU/Memory usage is not visible from the .net core implementation of Orleans. Hopefully something will be done to remedy that in the future? Perhaps it’s a limitation of the API available in netstandard?This (...)
Elon Musk is not reading articles online about how to become Elon Musk
If you Google ‘How to become Elon Musk’, you will come across thousands of articles that address that question in one way or another. Either they are answers on Quora to that specific question itself, or they are indirect answers to that question with titles ranging from ‘10 ways to think like Elon Musk’ (Forbes) to ‘8 things that Elon Musk does before 8am’ (Medium).You can substitute Elon Musk with any successful entrepreneur, author, sports person, actor, CEO, musician, politician, nobel laureate and you will see similar results.The Internet is full of literature on how to do things like, how to think like and how to become any of these successful people.The Internet is full of this literature because it attracts clicks.People love short cuts. They want to learn how to become successful in (...)
Pétition de personnalités britanniques (Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel, Mike Leigh, Julie Christie, Maxine Peake, Wolf Alice, Roger Waters, Caryl Churchill, Al Kennedy) contre la tenue de l’Eurovision en israel et sa diffusion par la BBC.
The BBC should press for Eurovision to be moved from Israel
The Guardian, le 29 janvier 2019
Traduction en français:
La BBC devrait faire pression pour que l’Eurovision n’ait pas lieu en Israël
The Guardian, le 29 janvier 2019
Peter Ahrends, architect
Amir Amirani, filmmaker
Jonathan Arndell, architect, artist
Roy Battersby, director
Bloody Knees, band
brave timbers, band
Jen Brister, comedian
Carmen Callil, publisher, writer
Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso, performer
Julie Christie, actor
Ian Christie, film historian, broadcaster
Chipo Chung, actor
Caryl Churchill, playwright
Michael Darlow, tv writer and director
Paula Darwish, musician
April De Angelis, playwright
Tam Dean Burn, actor
Drones Club, band
Nancy Elan, violin
Gareth Evans, producer, curator
Peter Gabriel, musician, founder WOMAD festival
Lots Holloway, singer, songwriter
Rachel Holmes, writer
Brigid Keenan, author
Patrick Keiller, artist, filmmaker
Reem Kelani, musician, broadcaster
AL Kennedy, writer
Desmond Lambert, musician
Mike Leigh, writer, director
Ken Loach, director
Sabrina Mahfouz, writer
Miriam Margolyes, actor
Yann Martel, writer
Declan McKenna, singer, songwriter
JD Meatyard, musician
Pauline Melville, writer
Giuliano Modarelli, musician, composer
Object Blue, DJ
Maxine Peake, actor
Jocelyn Pook, composer
TJ Rehmi, composer, producer
Reverend & the Makers, band
Leon Rosselson, songwriter
Alexei Sayle, comedian, author
David Scott, music producer
Nick Seymour, musician
Sarah Streatfeild, violin
Roger Waters, musician
Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer
Wolf Alice, band
à 00:16:00 un gangster parle de sa passion pour le cinémà et comment c’était pratique d’avoir les locaux pour tuer et torturer en face de la salle de projection.
C’est le film le moins apprécié par l’office de tourisme indonésien car il montre que le pays est gouverné aujourd’hui par les assassins de 1965/66 qui se font un plaisir de se vanter de leurs crimes devant la caméra.
CONTEXT, BACKGROUND AND METHOD
First Encounter with the 1965-66 Massacres – The Globalization Tapes
In 2001-2002, Christine Cynn and I went to Indonesia for the first time to produce The Globalization Tapes (2003), a participatory documentary project made in collaboration with the Independent Plantation Workers Union of Sumatra. Using their own forbidden history as a case study, these Indonesian filmmakers worked with us to trace the development of contemporary globalization from its roots in colonialism to the present.
The Globalization Tapes exposes the devastating role of militarism and repression in building the global economy, and explores the relationships between trade, third-world debt, and international institutions like the IMF and the World Trade Organization. Made by some of the poorest workers in the world, the film is a lyrical and incisive account of how our global financial institutions shape and enforce the corporate world order. The film uses chilling first-hand accounts, hilarious improvised interventions, collective debate and archival collage.
Several scenes in The Globalization Tapes reveal the earliest traces of the methods we refined in the shooting of The Act of Killing: plantation workers stage a satirical commercial for the pesticide that poisons them; worker-filmmakers pose as World Bank agents who offer microfinance to ‘develop’ local businesses – offers that are both brutal and absurd, yet tempting nonetheless.
While shooting and editing The Globalization Tapes, we discovered that the 1965-66 Indonesian massacres were the dark secret haunting Indonesia’s much-celebrated entrance into the global economy. One of the military’s main objectives in the killings was to destroy the anti-colonial labour movement that had existed until 1965, and to lure foreign investors with the promise of cheap, docile workers and abundant natural resources. The military succeeded (The Globalization Tapes is a testament to the extraordinary courage of the plantation worker-filmmakers as they challenge this decades-long legacy of terror and try to build a new union).
The killings would come up in discussions, planning sessions, and film shoots nearly every day, but always in whispers. Indeed, many of the plantation workers were themselves survivors of the killings. They would discretely point out the houses of neighbors who had killed their parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles. The perpetrators were still living in the same village and made up, along with their children and protégés, the local power structure. As outsiders, we could interview these perpetrators – something the plantation workers could not do without fear of violence.
In conducting these first interviews, we encountered the pride with which perpetrators would boast about the most grisly details of the killings. The Act of Killing was born out of our curiosity about the nature of this pride – its clichéd grammar, its threatening performativity, its frightening banality.
The Globalization Tapes was a film made collectively by the plantation workers themselves, with us as facilitators and collaborating directors. The Act of Killing was also made by working very closely with its subjects, while in solidarity and collaboration with the survivors’ families. However, unlike The Globalization Tapes, The Act of Killing is an authored work, an expression of my own vision and concerns regarding these issues.
THE BEGINNING OF THE ACT OF KILLING
By the time I first met the characters in The Act of Killing (in 2005), I had been making films in Indonesia for three years, and I spoke Indonesian with some degree of fluency. Since making The Globalization Tapes (2003), Christine Cynn, fellow film-maker and longtime collaborator Andrea Zimmerman and I had continued filming with perpetrators and survivors of the massacres in the plantation areas around the city of Medan. In 2003 and 2004, we filmed more interviews and simple re-enactments with Sharman Sinaga, the death squad leader who had appeared in The Globalization Tapes. We also filmed as he introduced us to other killers in the area. And we secretly interviewed survivors of the massacres they committed.
Moving from perpetrator to perpetrator, and, unbeknownst to them, from one community of survivors to another, we began to map the relationships between different death squads throughout the region, and began to understand the process by which the massacres were perpetrated. In 2004, we began filming Amir Hasan, the death squad leader who had commanded the massacres at the plantation where we made The Globalization Tapes.
In late 2004, Amir Hasan began to introduce me to killers up the chain of command in Medan. Independently in 2004, we began contacting ‘veterans’ organizations of death squad members and anti-leftist activists in Medan. These two approaches allowed us to piece together a chain of command, and to locate the surviving commanders of the North Sumatran death squads. In early interviews with the veterans of the killings (2004), I learned that the most notorious death squad in North Sumatra was Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry’s Frog Squad (Pasukan Kodok).
During these first meetings with Medan perpetrators (2004 and 2005), I encountered the same disturbing boastfulness about the killings that we had been documenting on the plantations. The difference was that these men were the celebrated and powerful leaders not of a small rural village, but of the third largest city in Indonesia (Greater Medan has a population of over four million people).
Our starting point for The Act of Killing was thus the question: how had this society developed to the point that its leaders could – and would – speak of their own crimes against humanity with a cheer that was at once celebratory but also intended as a threat?
OVERVIEW AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE METHODS USED IN THE ACT OF KILLING
Building on The Globalization Tapes and our film work outside Indonesia, we had developed a method in which we open a space for people to play with their image of themselves, re-creating and re-imagining it on camera, while we document this transformation as it unfolds. In particular, we had refined this method to explore the intersection between imagination and extreme violence.
In the early days of research (2005), I discovered that the army recruited its killers in Medan from the ranks of movie theatre gangsters (or preman bioskop) who already hated the leftists for their boycott of American movies – the most profitable in the cinema. I was intrigued by this relationship between cinema and killings, although I had no idea it would be so deep. Not only did Anwar and his friends know and love the cinema, but they dreamed of being on the screen themselves, and styled themselves after their favorite characters. They even borrowed their methods of murder from the screen.
Of course, I began by trying to understand in as much detail as possible Anwar and his friends’ roles in the killings and, afterwards, in the regime they helped to build. Among the first things I did was to bring them to the former newspaper office directly across the road from Anwar’s old cinema, the place where Anwar and his friends killed most of their victims. There, they demonstrated in detail what they had done. Although they were filming documentary re-enactment and interviews, during breaks I noticed that they would muse about how they looked like various movie stars – for instance, Anwar compared his protégé and sidekick, Herman to Fernando Sancho.
To understand how they felt about the killings, and their unrepentant way of representing them on film, I screened back the unedited footage of these early re-enactments, and filmed their responses. At first, I thought that they would feel the re-enactments made them look bad, and that they might possibly come to a more complex place morally and emotionally.
I was startled by what actually happened. On the surface at least, Anwar was mostly anxious that he should look young and fashionable. Instead of any explicit moral reflection, the screening led him and Herman spontaneously to suggest a better, and more elaborate, dramatization.
To explore their love of movies, I screened for them scenes from their favorite films at the time of the killings – Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah and, ironically, The Ten Commandments topped the list – recording their commentary and the memories these films elicited. Through this process, I came to realize why Anwar was continually bringing up these old Hollywood films whenever I filmed re-enactments with them: he and his fellow movie theatre thugs were inspired by them at the time of the killings, and had even borrowed their methods of murder from the movies. This was such an outlandish and disturbing idea that I in fact had to hear it several times before I realized quite what Anwar and his friends were saying.
He described how he got the idea of strangling people with wire from watching gangster movies. In a late-night interview in front of his former cinema, Anwar explained how different film genres would lead him to approach killing in different ways. The most disturbing example was how, after watching a “happy film like an Elvis Presley musical”, Anwar would “kill in a happy way”.
In 2005, I also discovered that the other paramilitary leaders (not just the former movie theater gangsters) had other personal and deep-seated relationship to movies. Ibrahim Sinik, the newspaper boss who was secretary general of all the anti-communist organizations that participated in the killings, and who directly gave the orders to Anwar’s death squad, turned out to be a feature film producer, screenwriter, and former head of the Indonesian Film Festival.
In addition to all this, Anwar and his friends’ impulse towards being in a film about the killings was essentially to act in dramatizations of their pasts – both as they remember them, and as they would like to be remembered (the most powerful insights in The Act of Killing probably come in those places where these two agendas radically diverge). As described, the idea of dramatizations came up quite spontaneously, in response to viewing the rushes from Anwar’s first re-enactments of the killings.
But it would be disingenuous to claim that we facilitated the dramatizations only because that’s what Anwar and his friends wanted to do. Ever since we produced The Globalization Tapes, the thing that most fascinated us about the killings was the way the perpetrators we filmed would recount their stories of those atrocities. One had the feeling that we weren’t simply hearing memories, but something else besides – something intended for a spectator. More precisely, we felt we were receiving performances. And we instinctively understood, I think, that the purpose of these performances was somehow to assert a kind of impunity, to maintain a threatening image, to perpetuate the autocratic regime that had begun with the massacres themselves.
We sensed that the methods we had developed for incorporating performance into documentary might, in this context, yield powerful insights into the mystery of the killers’ boastfulness, the nature of the regime of which they are a part, and, most importantly, the nature of human ‘evil’ itself.
So, having learned that even their methods of murder were directly influenced by cinema, we challenged Anwar and his friends to make the sort of scenes they had in mind. We created a space in which they could devise and star in dramatisations based on the killings, using their favorite genres from the medium.
We hoped to catalyze a process of collective remembrance and imagination. Fiction provided one or two degrees of separation from reality, a canvas on which they could paint their own portrait and stand back and look at it.
We started to suspect that performance played a similar role during the killings themselves, making it possible for Anwar and his friends to absent themselves from the scene of their crimes, while they were committing them. Thus, performing dramatizations of the killings for our cameras was also a re-living of a mode of performance they had experienced in 1965, when they were killing. This obviously gave the experience of performing for our cameras a deeper resonance for Anwar and his friends than we had anticipated.
And so, in The Act of Killing, we worked with Anwar and his friends to create such scenes for the insights they would offer, but also for the tensions and debates that arose during the process – including Anwar’s own devastating emotional unravelling.
This created a safe space, in which all sorts of things could happen that would probably elude a more conventional documentary method. The protagonists could safely explore their deepest memories and feelings (as well as their blackest humor). I could safely challenge them about what they did, without fear of being arrested or beaten up. And they could challenge each other in ways that were otherwise unthinkable, given Sumatra’s political landscape.
Anwar and his friends could direct their fellow gangsters to play victims, and even play the victims themselves, because the wounds are only make-up, the blood only red paint, applied only for a movie. Feelings far deeper than those that would come up in an interview would surface unexpectedly. One reason the emotional impact was so profound came from the fact that this production method required a lot of time – the filmmaking process came to define a significant period in the participants’ lives. This meant that they went on a deeper journey into their memories and feelings than they would in a film consisting largely of testimony and simple demonstration.
Different scenes used different methods, but in all of them it was crucial that Anwar and his friends felt a sense of fundamental ownership over the fiction material. The crux of the method is to give performers the maximum amount of freedom to determine as many variables as possible in the production (storyline, casting, costumes, mise-en-scene, improvisation on set). Whenever possible, I let them direct each other, and used my cameras to document their process of creation. My role was primarily that of provocateur, challenging them to remember the events they were performing more deeply, encouraging them to intervene and direct each other when they felt a performance was superficial, and asking questions between takes – both about what actually happened, but also about how they felt at the time, and how they felt as they re-enacted it.
We shot in long takes, so that situations could evolve organically, and with minimal intervention from ourselves. I felt the most significant event unfolding in front of the cameras was the act of transformation itself, particularly because this transformation was usually plagued by conflict, misgivings, and other imperfections that seemed to reveal more about the nature of power, violence, and fantasy than more conventional documentary or investigative methods. For this same reason, we also filmed the pre-production of fiction scenes, including castings, script meetings, and costume fittings. Make-up sessions too were important spaces of reflection and transformation, moments where the characters slip down the rabbit hole of self-invention.
In addition, because we never knew when the characters would refuse to take the process further, or when we might get in trouble with the military, we filmed each scene as though it might be the last, and also everything leading up to them (not only for the reasons above), because often we didn’t know if the dramatization itself would actually happen. We also felt that the stories we were hearing – stories of crimes against humanity never before recorded – were of world historical importance. More than anything else, these are two reasons why this method generated so many hours of footage (indeed, we have created a vast audio-visual archive about the Indonesian massacres. This archive has been the basis of a four-year United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council project called Genocide and Genre).
After almost every dramatization, we would screen the rushes back to them, and record their responses. We wanted to make sure they knew how they appeared on film, and to use the screening to trigger further reflection. Sometimes, screenings provoked feelings of remorse (as when Anwar watches himself play the victim during a film noir scene) but, at other times, as when we screened the re-enactment of the Kampung Kolam massacre to the entire cast, the images were met with terrifying peals of laughter.
Most interestingly, Anwar and his friends discussed, often insightfully, how other people will view the film, both in Indonesia and internationally. For example, Anwar sometimes commented on how survivors might curse him, but that “luckily” the victims haven’t the power to do anything in today’s Indonesia.
The gangster scenes were wholly improvised. The scenarios came from the stories Anwar and his friends had told each other during earlier interviews, and during visits to the office where they killed people. The set was modeled on this interior. For maximum flexibility, our cinematographer lit the space so that Anwar and his friends could move about freely, and we filmed them with two cameras so that they could fluidly move from directing each other to improvised re-enactments to quiet, often riveting reflection after the improvisation was finished.
For instance, Anwar re-enacted how he killed people by placing them on a table and then pulling tight a wire, from underneath the table, to garrote them. The scene exhausted him, physically and emotionally, leaving him full of doubt about the morality of what he did. Immediately after this re-enactment, he launched into a cynical and resigned rant against the growing consensus around human rights violations. Here, reality and its refraction through fiction, Anwar’s memories and his anticipation of their impact internationally, are all overlaid.
The noir scenes were shot over a week, and culminated in an extraordinary improvisation where Anwar played the victim. Anwar’s performance was effective and, transported by the performance, the viewer empathizes with the victim, only to do a double take as they remember that Anwar is not a victim, but the killer.
The large-scale re-enactment of the Kampung Kolam massacre was made using a similar improvisational process, with Anwar and his friends undertaking the direction. What we didn’t expect was a scene of such violence and realism; so much so that it proved genuinely frightening to the participants, all of whom were Anwar’s friends from Pancasila Youth, or their wives and children. After the scene, we filmed participants talking amongst themselves about how the location of our re-enactment was just a few hundred meters from one of North Sumatra’s countless mass graves. The woman we see fainting after the scene felt she had been possessed by a victim’s ghost. The paramilitary members (including Anwar) thought so, too. The violence of the re-enactment conjured the spectres of a deeper violence, the terrifying history of which everybody in Indonesia is somehow aware, and upon which the perpetrators have built their rarefied bubble of air conditioned shopping malls, gated communities, and “very, very limited” crystal figurines.
The process by which we made the musical scenes (the waterfall, the giant concrete goldfish) was slightly different again. But here too Anwar was very much in the driver’s seat: he chose the songs and, along with his friends, devised both scenes. Anwar and his cast were also free to make changes as we went.
In the end, we worked very carefully with the giant goldfish, presenting motifs from a half-forgotten dream. Anwar’s beautiful nightmare? An allegory for his storytelling confection? For his blindness? For the willful blindness by which almost all history is written, and by which, consequently, we inevitably come to know (and fail to know) ourselves? The fish changes throughout the film, but it is always a world of “eye candy”, emptiness and ghosts. If it could be explained adequately in words, we would not need it in the film.
For the scenes written by the newspaper boss Ibrahim Sinik and his staff, Sinik enlisted the help of his friends at state television, TVRI. He borrows the TVRI regional drama studios, and recruits a soap opera crew. In these scenes, our role was largely to document Anwar and his friends as they work with the TV crew, and to catalyze and document debates between fiction set-ups. In our edited scenes, we cut from the documentary cameras to TVRI’s fiction cameras, highlighting the gap between fiction and reality – often to comic effect. But above all, we focused our cameras on moments between takes where they debated the meaning of the scene.
The Televisi Republik Indonesia “Special Dialogue” came into being when the show’s producers realised that feared and respected paramilitary leaders making a film about the genocide was a big story (they came to know about our work because we were using the TVRI studios.) After their grotesque chat show was broadcast, there was no critical response in North Sumatra whatsoever. This is not to say that the show will not be shocking to Indonesians. For reasons discussed in my director’s statement, North Sumatrans are more accustomed than Jakartans, for example, to the boasting of perpetrators (who in Sumatra were recruited from the ranks of gangsters – and the basis of gangsters’ power, after all, lies in being feared).
Moreover, virtually nobody in Medan dares to criticise Pancasila Youth and men like Anwar Congo and Ibrahim Sinik. Ironically, the only significant reaction to the talk show’s broadcast came from the Indonesian Actors’ Union. According to Anwar, a representative of the union visiting family in Medan came to Anwar’s house to ask him if he would consider being president of the North Sumatra branch of the union. According to Anwar, the union was angry that such a large-scale production had occurred in North Sumatra without their knowing about it. Luckily, Anwar had the humility to tell them that he is not an actor, that he was playing himself in scenes made for a documentary, and therefore would decline the offer.
Anwar and his friends knew that their fiction scenes were only being made for our documentary, and this will be clear to the audience, too. But at the same time, if these scenes were to offer genuine insights, it was vital that the filmmaking project was one in which they were deeply invested, and one over which they felt ownership.
The Act of Killing : don’t give an Oscar to this snuff movie | Nick Fraser | Film | The Guardian
It has won over critics but this tasteless film teaches us nothing and merely indulges the unrepentant butchers of Indonesia
The Act of Killing won the documentary prize at the Baftas last week and is the favourite to win the much-coveted Oscar. I watch many documentaries on behalf of the BBC each year and I go to festivals. I’m a doc obsessive. By my own, not quite reliable reckoning, I’ve been asked by fans to show The Act of Killing on the BBC at least five times. I’ve never encountered a film greeted by such extreme responses – both those who say it is among the best films and those who tell me how much they hate it. Much about the film puzzles me. I am still surprised by the fact that so many critics listed it among their favourite films of last year.
For those who haven’t seen the film, it investigates the circumstances in which half-a-million Indonesian leftists were murdered in the 1960s, at the instigation of a government that is still in power. You might think this is a recondite subject, worthy of a late-night screening for insomniacs or atrocity buffs on BBC4, but, no, the film-maker Joshua Oppenheimer has made the subject viewable by enlisting the participation of some of the murderers. He spent some years hanging out with them, to his credit luring them into confessions. But he also, more dubiously, enlisted their help in restaging their killings. Although one of them, the grandfatherly Anwar, shows mild symptoms of distress towards the end of the film, they live in a state of impunity and it is thus, coddled and celebrated in their old age, that we revisit them.
So let me be as upfront as I can. I dislike the aesthetic or moral premise of The Act of Killing. I find myself deeply opposed to the film. Getting killers to script and restage their murders for the benefit of a cinema or television audience seems a bad idea for a number of reasons. I find the scenes where the killers are encouraged to retell their exploits, often with lip-smacking expressions of satisfaction, upsetting not because they reveal so much, as many allege, but because they tell us so little of importance. Of course murderers, flattered in their impunity, will behave vilely. Of course they will reliably supply enlightened folk with a degraded vision of humanity. But, sorry, I don’t feel we want to be doing this. It feels wrong and it certainly looks wrong to me. Something has gone missing here. How badly do we want to hear from these people, after all? Wouldn’t it be better if we were told something about the individuals whose lives they took?
I’d feel the same if film-makers had gone to rural Argentina in the 1950s, rounding up a bunch of ageing Nazis and getting them to make a film entitled “We Love Killing Jews”. Think of other half-covered-up atrocities – in Bosnia, Rwanda, South Africa, Israel, any place you like with secrets – and imagine similar films had been made. Consider your response – and now consider whether such goings-on in Indonesia are not acceptable merely because the place is so far away, and so little known or talked about that the cruelty of such an act can pass uncriticised.
The film does not in any recognisable sense enhance our knowledge of the 1960s Indonesian killings, and its real merits – the curiosity when it comes to uncovering the Indonesian cult of anticommunism capable of masking atrocity, and the good and shocking scenes with characters from the Indonesian elite, still whitewashing the past – are obscured by tasteless devices. At the risk of being labelled a contemporary prude or dismissed as a stuffy upholder of middle-class taste, I feel that no one should be asked to sit through repeated demonstrations of the art of garrotting. Instead of an investigation, or indeed a genuine recreation, we’ve ended somewhere else – in a high-minded snuff movie.
What I like most about documentary film is that anything can be made to work, given a chance. You can mix up fact and fiction, past and present. You can add to cold objectivity a degree of empathy. You will, of course, lie to reluctant or recalcitrant participants, in particular when they wish not to divulge important pieces of information. And trickery has its place, too. But documentary films have emerged from the not inconsiderable belief that it’s good to be literal as well as truthful. In a makeshift, fallible way, they tell us what the world is really like. Documentaries are the art of the journeyman. They can be undone by too much ambition. Too much ingenious construction and they cease to represent the world, becoming reflected images of their own excessively stated pretensions.
In his bizarrely eulogistic piece defending The Act of Killing (of which he is an executive producer), Errol Morris, the documentary maker, compares the film to Hamlet’s inspired use of theatre to reveal dirty deeds at the court of Denmark. But Hamlet doesn’t really believe that theatrical gestures can stand in for reality. Nor, we must assume, did his creator. A more apt analogy than Morris’s might come from Shakespeare’s darkest play, Macbeth. What would we think if Macbeth and his scheming wife were written out of the action, replaced by those low-level thugs paid to do bad business on their behalf? We might conclude that putting them centre stage, in the style of The Act of Killing, was indeed perverse and we’d be right.
There are still half-forgotten, heavily whitewashed atrocities from the last century, such as the Bengali famine allowed to occur during the second world war through the culpably racist inattention of British officials; the never wholly cleared-up question of Franco’s mass killings; or the death of so many millions in the 1950s as a consequence of Mao’s catastrophic utopianism. Those wondering how to record such events will no doubt watch The Act of Killing, but I hope they will also look at less hyped, more modestly conceived depictions of mass murder. In Enemies of the People (2010), the Cambodian journalist Thet Sambath goes after the murderers of the Khmer Rouge. He finds Pol Pot’s sidekick, but it is the earnest, touching quest of Sambath himself that lingers in the mind, rather than the empty encounters with evil-doers. Atrocity is both banal and ultimately impossible to comprehend.
Writing in 1944, Arthur Koestler was among the first to gain knowledge of the slaughter of eastern European Jews and he estimated that the effect of such revelations was strictly limited, lasting only minutes or days and swiftly overcome by indifference. Koestler suggested that there was only one way we could respond to the double atrocity of mass murder and contemporary indifference and that was by screaming.
I’m grateful to The Act of Killing not because it’s a good film, or because it deserves to win its Oscar (I don’t think it does), but because it reminds me of the truth of Koestler’s observation. What’s not to scream about?
Nick Fraser is editor of the BBC’s Storyville documentary series
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Sean Penn producing ’Khashoggi murder film’ in Istanbul | Jamal Khashoggi News | Al Jazeera
Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker Sean Penn has reportedly begun filming a new documentary about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this year.
Penn, accompanied by a crew of around 10 including bodyguards, was spotted shooting in front of the consulate building in the Turkish city on Wednesday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Je ne suis pas encore sur que Sean Penn soit un barbouze, mais son aventure en Bolivie pour faire s’évader un escroc, en installant au préalable une relation d’amitié simulée avec le président Evo Morales, a laissé de mauvais souvenirs ici :
How Borders Are Constructed in West Africa
The E.U. has led an expensive and often contradictory effort to modernize African borders. Author #Philippe_Frowd looks at the gap between policy and outcomes.
Over the past 15 years there has been a surge in E.U. spending on borders outside Europe. The impact of this funding on West Africa has received little attention until recently.
A new book by Philippe M. Frowd, an expert on the politics of borders, migration and security intervention, seeks to correct this. In “Security at the Borders: Transnational Practices and Technologies in West Africa,” Frowd details both the high politics and everyday culture clashes that have shaped European interventions and the way they have been received in countries like Senegal.
An assistant professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, Frowd coins the term “border work” to denote how everything from training to technology to migration deals work in combination with each other. Here in conversation with Refugees Deeply, he shares some of his main observations.
Refugees Deeply: You talk about tracing the “who” of border work in West Africa. Can you explain your findings?
Philippe Frowd: One of my book’s points is to use the term “border work” to identify how seemingly disparate practices such as negotiating migrant readmission agreements, deploying citizen identification technologies, funding border management projects and routine police cooperation actually combine. To try and make sense of what seems to be a bewildering but also often opaque set of actors operating at the intersection of these fields in West Africa specifically.
One of the most striking developments of the past 10-15 years has been the phenomenal growth of E.U. border security-related spending, much of it in “third countries,” mainly in Africa. This has gone hand in hand with a growing salience of “border security” on the part of many African states as a way of understanding flows at borders.
One of my main findings was the sheer diversity of actors involved in determining policies, experiences and practices of borders in the region. The African Union is the successor to the Organisation of African Unity which accepted Africa’s inherited borders in 1964, and the A.U. continues to provide assistance for demarcation of borders and dispute resolution. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is one of the guarantors of free movement in the region and generally pursues an ambitious agenda of greater harmonization (e.g., of visa policy).
Yet other actors, such as the E.U. and U.N. specialized agencies (such as the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime), tend to have agendas driven by primarily Western security concerns. Then there are the more immediately visible police and gendarmeries who directly enact border controls. More recently, the G5 Sahel force consistently invokes border security and transnational crime.
Beyond simply tracing who does what, there is tracing the interconnections and tensions between these different institutions. Looking sociologically at the diverse range of actors, we can see how knowledge is a crucial part of the equation: What is the vision of borders, security and migration each actor puts forward? On one hand, institutions like ECOWAS are focused on legal mobility rights while those such as Interpol envision mobility as a regulated, digitally legible practice. The range of actors who contribute to this border work is often a patchwork in which uneasy bedfellows co-exist. E.U. funding, for instance, goes to supporting free movement projects at the ECOWAS level but also to train and equip the security forces of states like Niger to crack down on irregular migration routes. West African borders are the product of the balance of forces between this range of competing visions.
Refugees Deeply: Can you talk us through the way in which border practices move between different regions. Is there a model for the process of emulation?
Frowd: Border security is made up of everyday routines but also of various digital and other technologies, both of which are potentially mobile. I point to a couple of ways that these tools of doing border security can travel: One of these is emulation of existing (often Western) methods and standards, but this also goes alongside what I describe as “pedagogy” and the role of exemplars.
“West African borders are the product of the balance of forces between this range of competing visions.”
All of these interact in some way. As an example, a border management project led by the IOM [International Organization for Migration] might include training sessions during which members of the local police and gendarmerie learn about key principles of border management illustrated by best practices from elsewhere. Emulation is the desired outcome of many of these trainings, which are the backbone of international border security assistance. The EUCAP Sahel missions, for example, put a heavy emphasis on training rather than equipping so there is a strong faith that mentalities matter more than equipment.
Equipment also matters and plays its part in shaping how border security works. Biometrics, which aim to verify identification using some kind of body measurement, require ways of reading the body and storing data about it. Senegal adopted, in one decade, a range of biometric technologies for national I.D. cards and controls at borders. There is a very obvious mobility of technology here (a Malaysian company providing e-Passport infrastructure, a Belgian company providing visa systems) but movement of border practices is also about ideas. The vision of biometrics as effective in the first place is one that I found, from interviews with Senegalese police commanders, was strongly tied to emulating ideals of modern and selective borders found elsewhere.
Refugees Deeply: In your work you identify some of the gaps between policy goals and to actual outcomes and practices. Can you talk us through the greatest discrepancies?
Frowd: Some of the discrepancies I found showed some interesting underlying factors. One of these was the shifting role of global private sector companies in frustrating public policy goals. Not through deliberate sabotage or state capture, but rather through the diverging incentives around doing border work. In the case of Senegal’s biometric systems, the state has been keen to make as coherent an infrastructure as possible, with connections between various elements such as biometric passport issuance, automated airport arrivals for holders of this passport and systems such as the national I.D. card. Given the need for private companies to compete based on technological advantage, rival systems made by rival companies could not interconnect and share data without sharing of valuable corporate information.
Another underlying factor for the discrepancies I point to is that, once again, the sociological dynamics of the people doing the border work come into play. Many border management projects bring together a diverse range of actors who can have competing visions of how security is to be performed and achieved. For instance the ways police and gendarmerie competed over border post data in Mauritania leading to separate databases. It can also happen at a larger scale through the lack of integration across the donor community, which leads to a huge amount of duplication.
Refugees Deeply: You spent a section of your book on Spanish-African police cooperation to show the limits of European knowledge and technology. You mention a clash of cultures, can you elaborate?
Frowd: This is a particularly salient point today for two reasons. First because we are hearing more elite (e.g., Frontex) discourse about the “reopening” of a migration route to Spain. Second because Spain itself is increasingly active in E.U. projects across the Sahel. My book tells some of the story of Spanish security ambitions in Africa. But these ambitions, and those of other Western partners, have hard limits. Some of these limits are quite straightforward: Climate is often a barrier to the functioning of surveillance technologies and some countries (like Mauritania) are harder to recruit international experts for if they cannot or do not bring their families along.
In terms of Spanish-African cooperation, much of the narrative about clashes of cultures comes down to perceptions. One of the elements of the clash is a temporal one, with Spanish security officials often considering local partners as existing at a completely different stage of progress.
More broadly in terms of the limits of knowledge itself, the ambitions of experts to implicitly recreate aspects of European best practice are flawed. Part of this form of border security knowledge involves supporting technological solutions to make African mobility more legible to states. This comes up against the reality that movement in West Africa is already quite free but highly informalized. European experts are well aware of this reality but seek to formalize these flows. A police expert I spoke to recently suggested co-located border posts, and many international funders are supportive of specific I.D. cards for residents of border regions. This is not to impede movement, but rather to rationalize it – in much the same way that common I.D. standards and databases underpin free movement within Europe.
Security at the Borders. Transnational Practices and Technologies in West Africa
Borders are not just lines in the sand, but increasingly globalised spaces of practice. This is the case in West Africa, where a growing range of local and international officials are brought together by ambitious security projects around common anxieties. These projects include efforts to stop irregular migration by sea through international police cooperation, reinforcing infrastructures at border posts, and the application of new digital identification tools to identify and track increasingly mobile citizens. These interventions are driven by global and local security agendas, by biometric passport rules as much as competition between local security agencies. This book draws on the author’s multi-sited ethnography in Mauritania and Senegal, showing how border security practices and technologies operate to build state security capacity, transform how state agencies work, and produce new forms of authority and expertise.
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Ashton Kutcher and Pharrell Williams among Stars and Supporters at FIDF Western Region Gala Chaired by Haim and Cheryl Saban
For the 12 th year, FIDF National Board Member and major supporter Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, chaired the star-studded gala. Guests included prominent business, philanthropic, and political leaders and celebrated names in entertainment, fashion, sports, and technology, including Ashton Kutcher; Pharrell Williams; Gerard Butler; Andy Garcia; Fran Drescher; Ziggy Marley; David Foster; Katharine McPhee; David Draiman; A. C. Green; Ralph Sampson; Robert Horry; Josh Flag; Israeli actress and star of hit Netflix show FaudaRona-Lee Shim’on; Israeli actor Yaakov Zada Daniel, also of Fauda and an FIDF IMPACT! scholarship recipient; Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg; business magnates and philanthropists Dr.Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, Serge Azria, and Florence Azria; Managing Member of R.H. Book LLC and Chairman of Jet Support Services Inc. Robert Book and his wife, Amy; Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his wife, Joelle; GUESS Founders Maurice and Paul Marciano; FIDF National Chairman Rabbi PeterWeintraub; FIDF National President RobertCohen; FIDF National Board Member and Western Region President Tony Rubin and his wife, Linda; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Western Region Executive Director Jenna Griffin.
My Dinner with Herve (2018)
A look at the life of French actor Hervé Villechaize, co-star of the hit ’70s TV series “Fantasy Island”, who took his own life in 1993 at the age of 50.
Israeli lawmaker’s attack on celebrity Jewish-Arab marriage echoes Nazi ideology
MK Oren Hazan accused TV anchor Lucy Aharish of seducing Fauda actor Tzahi Halevi in order to hurt Israel – and Netanyahu said nothing
Yossi Verter SendSend me email alerts
Oct 11, 2018
Knesset Member Oren Hazan (Likud), he of the infamous selfie celebrating the passing of the nation-state law, has identified a terrorist cell. This cell has a single member – TV anchorwoman Lucy Aharish.
This week the Arab journalist carried out a terrorist act intended to lower the Jewish birthrate when she married actor Tzahi Halevi. “She seduced a Jewish soul with the aim of harming our country and preventing more Jewish offspring from perpetuating the Jewish line,” the racist, ignorant and repulsive MK tweeted.
Substitute the word “German” for “Jewish” here and you’ve got the Nazi racial doctrine. Talk of racial purity, prevention of “assimilation,” seduction of the male and hostile exploitation of his fine, pure seed for nationalist purposes. In the name of such an ideology, six million Jews were murdered in Europe.
Next week, the Knesset opens its winter session. The Likud MK will address the parliament from the podium. He will vote in committees. No boycott will be imposed on his party faction. He will not be penalized. He will exchange high-fives and pats on the back with the gang who appeared in the selfie. They deserve each other.
Tzachi Halevy and Lucy Aharish.Vered Adir, David Bachar
But something can still be done. A few months from now, when an early election is announced, Likud will hold a primary for its slate for the 21st Knesset. Like the rest of the bunch who were elected on the basis of their districts in the last primary, this time Hazan will have to run on the national list. There the hurdle is much higher. The last time around, when he ran in the Samaria district, he needed just 2,000 or 3,000 votes. This time he’ll need 20,000 to gain a top-20 slot (the district winners will be ranked after them). Whoever marks Hazan’s name on the ballot despite this repugnant tweet and everything else we now know about the guy will directly harm Likud.
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In any event, given the party’s primary system, at least a third of the current MKs will likely be gone in the next Knesset. The math is simple: Twenty-nine will run for re-election (all but Benny Begin). Plus, four candidates not currently in the Knesset are likely to be elected to the list: Gideon Sa’ar, Danny Danon, Yoav Galant and Nir Barkat. That makes 33. The national list that comprises the top 20 will include no more than 18-19 of these people. In other words, we’ll have to bid farewell, happily or otherwise, to some 15 MKs.
On Thursday we waited in vain for the Likud chairman (and Hazan’s selfie buddy) to denounce the disgusting tweet. Netanyahu chooses his condemnations carefully. What starts with “droves of Arabs are streaming to the polls” culminates in the seduction by Arab women of Jewish men so as to suppress the Jewish birthrate.
We also waited in vain for any fatherly scolding from the prime minister of his elder son Yair for his hateful, invective-filled Facebook post aimed at Television News Company analyst Amnon Abramovich. No point expecting any such thing from Netanyahu. They are all his sons.
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I CAN take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged. Yet when we talk about theatre this is not quite what we mean. Red curtains, spotlights, blank verse, laughter, darkness, these are all confusedly superimposed in a messy image covered by one all-purpose word. We talk of the cinema killing the theatre, and in that phrase we refer to the theatre as it was when the cinema was born, a theatre of box office, foyer, tip-up seats, footlights, scene changes, intervals, music, as though the theatre was by very definition these and little more.
I will try to split the word four ways and distinguish four different meanings—and so will talk about a Deadly Theatre , a Holy Theatre , a Rough Theatre and an Immediate Theatre . Sometimes these four theatres really exist, standing side by side, in the West End of London, or in New York off Times Square. Sometimes they are hundreds of miles apart, the Holy in Warsaw and the Rough in Prague, and sometimes they are metaphoric: two of them mixing together within one evening, within one act. Sometimes within one single moment, the four of them, Holy, Rough, Immediate and Deadly intertwine.
Peter Brook: ’To give way to despair is the ultimate cop-out’ | Stage | The Guardian
Sixty-five years ago, Kenneth Tynan identified the qualities of a young Peter Brook as “repose, curiosity and mental accuracy – plus, of course, the unlearnable lively flair”. Now 92, Brook may walk more slowly than he did but those gifts are still abundantly there. He is as busy as ever, with a new book full of aphoristic wisdom, Tip of the Tongue, and a new stage project, The Prisoner, due to open in Paris next year.
When we meet in London, he has just caught up with a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at the National Theatre, which he calls “one of the greatest musicals I’ve ever seen – a perfect combination of palpable emotion and dazzling spectacle”. To those who think of Brook as some kind of theatrical monk, dedicated to empty spaces and a refined austerity, his rapture over Follies may come as a shock. But Brook’s early career embraced everything from Shakespeare and boulevard comedy to opera and musicals. He directed Irma La Douce in the West End and Harold Arlen’s House of Flowers on Broadway.
While a new generation may be unaware of the diversity of Brook’s career, he has never forgotten his roots. We meet shortly after the death of his old friend, Peter Hall. “One of Peter’s supreme qualities,” he says, “was charm – and it was something I saw in two now forgotten figures of British theatre who shaped my life. One was Sir Barry Jackson, a fine old English gentleman who came from a Midlands dairy-owning business, founded Birmingham Rep and took over the theatre in Stratford, where he asked me to direct Love’s Labour’s Lost when I was only 21. In his way, he was a quiet revolutionary.
“The other big influence was the West End producer Binkie Beaumont who had that mysterious thing called taste. If Binkie wanted me to change some detail of lighting, costume or design, he would ring up and say, ‘You do see, don’t you?’ in a way you couldn’t argue with. All these figures had a charm that, in the theatre, achieves far more than tantrums or bullying.”
If it’s a quality Brook recognises, it’s because he clearly possesses it. But his current preoccupation is with the sometimes irreconcilable differences between the French and English languages. Given that he has made Paris his base since 1971, when he founded the International Centre for Theatre Research, it is a subject on which he has necessarily become an expert. Do the differences between the two tongues make the translation of Shakespeare into French virtually impossible?
“Not impossible but certainly very difficult. Take a famous phrase from Macbeth, ‘Light thickens.’ You can turn that into French, as Ariane Mnouchkine did, as, ‘La lumière s’epaissit.’ But the well-trained Cartesian French mind is unable to cope with the illogicality of the thought. A British actor will savour every syllable of a Shakespearean line while a French actor will drive to the end of a sentence or a speech with a propulsive rhythm: the thing you never say to a French actor is, ‘Take your time.’ The one translator I’ve worked with who overcomes these obstacles is Jean-Claude Carrière. He has the ability to render the underlying idea rather than the precise words and whose language has the clarity of a freshwater spring.”
Brook understands what divides cultures. As he says in his book, “if in English we speak words, the French speak thoughts”. Yet he also sees common factors, especially in the universal search in actors for ever greater self-disclosure. “If we were transported back to the Elizabethan theatre,” he says, “I think we’d be shocked by the crudity and coarseness of what we saw. Over the centuries, there has been a quest for finer acting but, when I started out, the theatre was still a place of artifice. It was the age of grand design by people like Oliver Messel and Cecil Beaton, of big wigs and heavy makeup. What we see now, partly because of the influence of the camera and smaller stages, is a stripping away of the layers of pretence until the personality of the actor becomes visible.”
That may be true but isn’t something being lost – above all, the delight in impersonation? “You obviously have to reconcile inner depth with outer skill but I think back to some of the actors I have worked with. With Olivier, there was nothing he couldn’t do as an actor except to reach the deepest sources of humanity itself. Gielgud, in contrast, had little of Olivier’s gift of impersonation but the fine, pure, sensitive heart of the man himself was always there. Scofield, too, had that same gift for revealing his inward self.”
I find myself questioning Brook’s argument. I can think of one particular Olivier performance where, confronted by the extremes of human suffering, he seemed to dive into his very soul to call up cries of monumental despair. The production was Titus Andronicus at Stratford in 1955. The director? None other than Brook himself.
Given Brook’s belief in acting as a form of self-revelation, I’m intrigued to know how he feels about gender-fluid casting. “I’d answer that,” says Brook, “by pointing out how I worked consistently from 1971 to break down all the racial stereotypes in casting not by declarations of intent but by everyday practice. I think the same applies to issues of gender. You can change things not by preaching but by doing – or, as they used to say to me when I worked in Germany, ‘Just get on your horse.’
“I’d only add that since men have exploited and abused women for centuries, we should applaud any movement that attempts to rectify the injustices of history. Did you see Glenda Jackson as King Lear? I’ve only seen a few moments of it on screen, but what struck me was that Glenda made no attempt to impersonate masculinity but simply brought her own unique qualities to the role in a way that transcended gender.”
Possibly the most resonant statement in Brook’s new book concerns the impact of live performance. “Every form of theatre,” he writes, “has something in common with a visit to the doctor. On the way out, one should always feel better than on the way in.” But “better” how? Physically, spiritually, morally? “I think this derives from the artist’s sense of responsibility to the audience,” he says. “People have entrusted themselves to you for two hours or more and you have to give them a respect that derives from confidence in what you are doing. At the end of an evening, you may have encouraged what is crude, violent or destructive in them. Or you can help them. By that I mean that an audience can be touched, entranced or – best of all – moved to a silence that vibrates round the theatre.
“You can, of course, encourage an audience to participate through joy, as happened in Follies. But I was struck by how when we toured Battlefield” – drawn from The Mahabharata and dealing with the apocalyptic impact of a great war – “around the world, on good nights there was that moment of tingling silence that suggested we had reached out to the audience.”
But theatre does not exist in a vacuum. Brook has lived through more international crises than most of us. Has he ever been tempted to throw up his hands in horror at a world filled with nuclear threats, environmental disasters and political malfunction from Trump to Brexit? He answers by talking at length about the Hindu philosophy of Yugas in which world history goes through cycles from a golden age to one of darkness in which everything is chaos and turmoil. The point is that the wheel eventually turns and humanity renews itself.
All very well in the long term but, in the meantime, how do we survive? “We swim against the tide,” says Brook, “and achieve whatever we can in our chosen field. Fate dictated that mine was that of theatre and, within that, I have a responsibility to be as positive and creative as I can. To give way to despair is the ultimate cop-out.” That seems the distilled philosophy of a director who miraculously still retains the curiosity that Tynan singled out a lifetime ago.
L’article d’une DJ israélienne à propos des annulations récentes. Quelques points à noter :
1) elle n’est pas surprise de l’annulation de Lana del Rey
2) elle est surprise en revanche de l’annulation de DJs, car ce milieu n’était pas touché par la politique et BDS, et elle se demande si ce n’est pas le début de quelque chose...
3) elle cite Gaza, la loi sur l’Etat Nation, les arrestations d’activistes à l’aéroport, mais aussi la proximité entre Trump et Netanyahu, qui influence surtout les artistes américains
4) on apprend que tout le monde sait qu’il y a des artistes, et non des moindres, qui même s’ils ne le disent pas ouvertement, ne viendront jamais en israel : Beyoncé, The Knife, Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire, Deerhunter, Sonic Youth, Lil Yachty, Tyler the Creator, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Vince Staples, Moodymann, Kyle Hall, the Martinez Brothers, Ben UFO, DJ Ricardo Villalobos, Matthew Herbert, Andrew Weatherall... C’est ce qu’on appelle le boycott silencieux...
5) il y a aussi le cas de ceux qui ne viennent que si les concerts sont organisés par des Palestiniens : Acid Arab et Nicolas Jaar
6) même si cela me semble faux, le fait d’accuser certains artistes de boycotter parce que c’est à la mode est un aveu que BDS a le vent en poupe dans le milieu de la musique
The Day the Music Died : Will BDS Bring Tel Aviv’s Club Scene to a Standstill ?
Idit Frenkel, Haaretz, le 7 septembre 2018
Lana Del Rey should have known better. And if not Del Rey herself, then at least her managers, PR people and agents.
As the highest-profile artist who was scheduled to appear at the Meteor Festival over the weekend in the north, it was clear she’d be the one caught in the crossfire , the one boycott groups would try to convince to ditch an appearance in Israel. That’s the same crossfire with diplomatic, moral and economic implications that confronted Lorde, Lauryn Hill and Tyler, the Creator: musicians who announced performances in Israel and changed their minds because of political pressure.
Del Rey, however, isn’t the story. Her cancellation , which included some mental gymnastics as far as her positions were concerned, could have been expected. Unfortunately, we’ve been there many times and in many different circumstances.
Tsunami of cancellations
The ones who caught us unprepared by drafting an agenda for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict turned out to be DJs like Shanti Celeste, Volvox, DJ Seinfeld, Python and Leon Vynehall, who also dropped out of Meteor. Why was this unexpected? Because Israel’s nightlife and clubbing scene – especially in Tel Aviv – had been an oasis regarding cultural boycotts, an extraterritorial hedonistic space with no room for politics.
The current tsunami of cancellations, while it might sound trivial if you’re untutored in trance music, could reflect a trend with effects far beyond the Meteor Festival. In the optimistic scenario, this is a one-off event that has cast the spotlight on lesser-known musicians as well. In the pessimistic scenario, this is the end of an era in which the clubbing scene has been an exception.
Adding credence to the change-in-direction theory are the cancellations by DJs who have spun in Tel Aviv in recent years; Volvox, Shanti Celeste and Leon Vynehall have all had their passports stamped at Ben-Gurion Airport. And those times the situation wasn’t very different: Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister, the occupation was decades long and there were sporadic exchanges of fire between the sides.
Moreover, two of the DJs spearheading the struggle on the nightlife scene regarding Mideast politics – the Black Madonna and Anthony Naples – have been here, enjoyed themselves, been honored and promised to return, until they discovered there’s such a thing as the occupation.
Americans and Brits cancel more
So what has changed since 2015? First, there has been a change on the Gaza border, with civilians getting shot. These incidents have multiplied in the past three months and don’t exactly photograph well.
Second, news reports about the nation-state law and the discrimination that comes with it have done their bit. Third, the arrests and detentions of left-wing activists entering Israel haven’t remained in a vacuum.
Fourth, and most importantly, is Donald Trump’s presidency and his unconditional embrace of Netanyahu, including, of course, the controversial opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. As in the case of Natalie Portman’s refusal to accept a prize from the state, the closeness between the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government – under the sponsorship of evangelical Christians – has made Israel a country non grata in the liberal community, of which Hollywood is one pole and nightlife the other.
It’s no coincidence that the DJs canceling are either Americans or Brits on the left; that is, Democrats or Jeremy Corbyn supporters in Labour – people who see cooperation with Israel as collaboration with Trump and Britain’s Conservative government.
Different from them is Honey Dijon, the black trans DJ from Chicago who in response to the protest against her appearance at the Meteor Festival tweeted: “All of you people criticizing me about playing in Israel, when you come to America and stand up for the murder of black trans women and the prison industrial complex of black men then we can debate. I play for people not governments.” Not many people tried to argue with her. Say what you will, contrarianism is always effective.
The case of DJ Jackmaster
Beyond the issue of values, at the image level, alleged collaboration can be a career killer, just as declaring a boycott is the last word in chic for your image nowadays. That’s exactly what has happened with Scotland’s DJ Jackmaster, who has gone viral with his eventual refusal to perform at Tel Aviv’s Block club. He posted a picture of the Palestinian flag with a caption saying you have to exploit a platform in order to stand up for those who need it. The flood of responses included talk about boycotting all Tel Aviv, not just the Block.
Yaron Trax is the owner of the Block; his club is considered not only the largest and most influential venue in town but also an international brand. Trax didn’t remain silent; on his personal Facebook account he mentioned how a few weeks before Jackmaster’s post his agent was still trying to secure the gig for him at the Block.
“Not my finest hour, but calling for a boycott of my club at a time when an artist is trying to play there felt to me like crossing a line,” Trax says. “Only after the fact, and especially when I saw how his post was attracting dozens of hurtful, belligerent and racist responses – and generating a violent discourse that I oppose – did I realize how significant it was.”
Trax talks about the hatred that has welled up in support of Jackmaster’s Israel boycott – just between us, not the sharpest tool in the shed and someone who has recently been accused of sexual harassment. As Trax puts it, “The next day it was important to me to admonish myself, first off, and then all those who chose to respond the way they responded.”
In a further well-reasoned post, Trax wrote, “I have always thought that people who take a risk and use the platform that is given to them to transmit a message they believe in, especially one that isn’t popular, deserve admiration and not intimidation or silencing.” Unsurprisingly, the reactions to this message were mostly positive.
Notwithstanding the boycotters who have acceded to the demands of Roger Waters and Brian Eno – the most prominent musicians linked to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement – there are plenty of superstar musicians like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and the Rolling Stones who have come to Israel as part of their concert tours, even though they suffered the same pressures. The performers most vocal about their decision to appear in Israel have been Radiohead and Nick Cave.
At a press conference on the eve of his concert, Cave expressed his opinion on the demand to boycott Israel: “It suddenly became very important to make a stand, to me, against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians.”
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke took the message one step further and tweeted: “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government. We’ve played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others. As we have in America. We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America.” As Yorke put it, music, art and academia are “about crossing borders, not building them.”
There’s a lot of truth in Yorke’s declaration, but whether or not musicians like it, appearances in Israel tend to acquire a political dimension; any statement becomes a potential international incident. Thus, for example, after Radiohead’s statement, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan saluted the band, and after Cave’s press conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted “Bravo Nick Cave!”
The trend continues when we step down a league from the A-listers, like Beyoncé, who doesn’t intend to perform in Israel despite her annual declaration that she’ll come “next year.” There’s the second level, the cream of international alternative rock and pop – refusals to appear in Israel by bands “of good conscience” like the Knife, Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire and Deerhunter.
The most prominent voice from this territory is that of former Sonic Youth guitarist and vocalist Thurston Moore. Yes, he appeared with his band in Tel Aviv 23 years ago, but since then he has become an avid supporter of BDS, so much so that he says it’s not okay to eat hummus because it’s a product of the occupation.
At the next level of refusers are the major – and minor – hip-hop stars. In addition to Lil Yachty and Tyler, who canceled appearances, other heroes of the genre like Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper and Vince Staples have refused from the outset to accept invitations to Israel. It’s quite possible that the connection between BDS and Black Lives Matter is influential. As early as 2016, Black Lives Matter published a statement supporting BDS and declaring Israel an “apartheid state.”
Which brings us to electronic music and the cultural phenomenon that goes with it – the club culture. In numerical terms, club culture is smaller, but the information that flows from it on the ground or online flows much faster.
Moreover, not only is club culture more sensitive to changes and far more alert to ideas and technological advances, its history is marked by struggles by oppressed groups. It can be said that African-Americans, Hispanics and gay people were the first to adopt the “night” way of life, back in the days of New York’s clubs and underground parties in the ‘70s. Accordingly, these groups have been the ones to nurture this lifestyle into today’s popular culture. Hence also the association with movements like BDS.
Boiler Room Palestine
Indeed, the current trend points to a step-up in the discourse; in the past year the top alternative culture magazines – of which the electronic music magazines play a key role – have published articles surveying musical and cultural happenings in Palestinian society.
The online music magazine Resident Advisor has had two such stories, the first about a workshop for artists with the participation of the Block 9 production team, musicians Brian Eno and Róisín Murphy (formerly of Moloko) and American DJ the Black Madonna. The workshop, which included tours, discussion groups and joint musical work, was held at the Walled Off Hotel in Ramallah, also known as Banksy’s hotel because of the street artist’s involvement in its planning in the shadow of the separation barrier.
The second article surveyed the Palestinian electronic scene and its leading players – promoters, DJs and producers who are operating despite the restrictive military regime. In addition, the writer accompanied the production of Boiler Room Palestine in Ramallah in June. (The wider Boiler Room franchise has been the world’s most popular pop party for the past five years.)
Another example includes the style magazine Dazed, which wrote about the cultural boycott movement immediately after the cancellation of Lorde’s concert, and just last month New York Magazine’s culture supplement Vulture set forth its philosophy on the boycott (also in the context of Lana Del Rey). It predicted that the awakening we’re seeing today is only in its infancy.
This partial list isn’t a clear declaration about “taking a stance” – after all, progressive media outlets in culture laud Israeli artists (for example Red Axes, Moscoman and Guy Gerber) or local venues, like the Block club. But if you add to these the scores of Facebook battles or Twitter discussions (like the one Del Rey found herself in), you’ll get noise. And noise generates questions, which generate more noise and raise consciousness. And from there to change on the ground is a modest distance.
’These are people who slept on my sofa’
Refusals of invitations or cancellations of concerts in Israel by artists didn’t begin with BDS or the increasing volume of the past two years. After all, a visit to Israel all too often requires an intrusive security check. It’s hard to complain about a DJ who isn’t keen to have his underwear probed.
Also, there’s a stratum of artists who’ve appeared in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Haifa and have decided to stop coming – unless there’s a Palestinian production. Two examples are the French band Acid Arab (Parisians Guido Minisky and Hervé Carvalho) and the American producer – and darling of the hipster community – Nicolas Jaar . Jaar appeared in Tel Aviv a bit under a decade ago, just before he became a star, while Acid Arab not only performed in Tel Aviv but was also involved in projects with Israeli musicians – so plenty of people called the duo hypocrites.
“I have no problem with strong opinions, but in the case of Acid Arab it annoyed me at the personal level – these are people who slept on my sofa, recorded with local musicians, and the day they put up their post announcing they wouldn’t play in Tel Aviv, they also asked me to send them some music,” says Maor Anava, aka DJ Hectik.
“I have no problem with people changing their minds on the go; it’s clear to me that a visit to the separation fence can do it, but what bothered me is that it’s entirely a PR and image move, apparently at the advice of their agent,” he adds.
“We’ve reached a situation in which a boycott of Israel is the trendiest thing and situates you in the right place in the scene – as a supporter of the Palestinian freedom fighters against the terrible Zionist occupier, something that can get you to another three big festivals. If you performed in Tel Aviv, apparently they’d do without you.”
Thus at the end of last year, Acid Arab and Nicolas Jaar appeared in Haifa and Ramallah at parties produced by Jazar Crew, the only electronic collective in Israel that isn’t afraid to mix in politics.. So it surprised no one when Jazar received laudatory – and justified – coverage not only in Bar Peleg’s Haaretz piece but also in Resident Advisor.
Is the party over?
So are we seeing the onset of the electronic boycott of Tel Aviv, one of the world’s clubbing capitals? Well, the city is still a flourishing center of parties and club events every week. “ As of today it hasn’t yet happened that we’ve directly encountered an attempt by the cultural boycott to influence artists who are slated to appear at the club,” Trax says.
“But we’re definitely seeing a change in the surrounding behavior. Nasty responses that people are leaving for a DJ who announced an upcoming gig with us have led to fewer famous DJs announcing appearances at the Block – even those who always promote themselves.”
He notes a slowdown in the past two years. “A number of DJs who used to appear with us – Moodymann, Kyle Hall, the Martinez Brothers – have announced they won’t be returning, ” Trax says, referring to three American acts. “But there isn’t any set reason why. If the cultural boycott has an influence here I wouldn’t be surprised, because the Detroit junta is very political. And this also applies to UFO,” a successful British DJ and a high-profile voice in the European underground arena.
Not all DJs who have chosen not to come to Israel have taken their stance amid the strengthening of the BDS movement. Some of the top people in the dance industry – including star Chilean-German DJ Ricardo Villalobos and British DJs and producers like Matthew Herbert and Andrew Weatherall – have for years been refusing to spin in Israel. They’ve made clear that this is their way of opposing Israel’s activities in the territories.
Another great DJ, Tunisian-born Loco Dice who lives in Germany, is also considered a vocal opponent of Israel. But in December he played at the Block, and Trax doesn’t recall any signs that his guest was hostile to the country. This shows that a change of awareness works both ways.
There’s a similar story: the decision by DJ Tama Sumo of the Berghain club in Berlin to play in Israel after a long boycott. She and her partner DJ Lakuti, a pillar of the industry, donated the proceeds of her Tel Aviv set to an organization for human rights in the territories.
“As of now I don’t feel that the names who have decided to stop coming will change anything regarding the Block, because our lineup of VIPs isn’t based on them,” Trax says. “But if the more commercial cream of the clubs – DJs like Dixon, Ame and Damian Lazarus, or the big names in techno like Nina Kraviz, Ben Klock, Jeff Mills or Adam Beyer – change their minds, that will be a real blow to us, and not just us.”
Amotz Tokatly, who’s responsible for bringing DJs to Tel Aviv’s Beit Maariv club, isn’t feeling much of a change. “The cancellations or refusals by DJs and artists based on a political platform didn’t begin just this year. I’ve been encountering this for many years now. There are even specific countries where we know the prevailing mood is political and tending toward the boycott movement. For example England. The rhetoric there is a priori much stronger,” Tokatly says.
“But take Ben UFO, who has played in Tel Aviv in the past. When we got back to him about another spinning gig he said explicitly, ‘It simply isn’t worth it for me from a public relations perspective, and it could hurt me later on.’ DJs like him make their own calculations.”
Tokatly doesn’t believe in a “Meteor effect” that will send the visiting DJ economy to the brink of an abyss. “I’m giving it a few weeks to calm down, and in the worst case we won’t be seeing here the level of minor league DJs who have canceled due to the circumstances,” he says.
“In any case, they’re names who would have come here – if at all – once a year. Regarding artists who have a long-term and stable relationship with the local scene, we haven’t seen any change in approach yet.”
Unlike Trax and Tokatly, Doron “Charly” Mastey of the techno duo TV.OUT and content director at Tel Aviv’s Alphabet Club says the recent goings-on haven’t affected him too much; his club is unusual in that doesn’t base itself on names from abroad.
“I don’t remember any case of a refusal or cancellation because of political leanings,” he says. “But with everything that’s happening now regarding Meteor, and if that affects the scene down the road and the airlift to Tel Aviv stops, I’m not at all sure that’s a bad thing.”
Mastey has in mind the gap between the size of the audience and the number of events, parties and festivals happening in Israel right now. “The audience is tired, and indifferent,” he says.. “And if this kick in the pants – of cancellations – is what’s going to dismantle the scene in its current format, then it will simply rebuild itself. I hope in a way that’s healthier for everyone.”
In any case, if the rest of the world has realized that it’s impossible to separate politics from anything, and definitely not from club culture, which started out as a political and social movement, then the best thing we can do is try to hold the discussion in an inclusive a way as possible. An Israeli DJ working in Berlin who requested anonymity thinks that these ideas should be taken one step further.
“Nowadays, for artists who want to go to Israel, two proposals are on the table,” he says. “Support the boycott or support the occupation. These two things are depicted even if they aren’t accurate, and between the two options there are a thousand more levels.”
He believes there is scope for taking action. “The local scene must know how to fill the vacuum and craft alternatives to the boycott’s demands,” he says. “For example, by showing artists other ways to take a stand, whether by cooperating with Palestinians or suggesting that they donate the proceeds of their Tel Aviv appearances to a human rights group.”
The voices calling for a cultural boycott of Israel, whether in sports, concerts or the subfield of electronic music, aren’t going to disappear. If anything, they’re only going to grow louder.
Moreover, if we take into account the complexity of the conflict, maybe we should seek to communicate these insights in a way that drops the imagery of absolutes like left-right, bad-good, Zionist-anti-Semitic. The club culture exists to connect extremes, not separate people. Our demand to continue a vibrant electronic scene is just as legitimate as that of the boycott supporters’ attempts to create awareness.
Even if we don’t agree with the idea of the boycott, it’s still possible to accept the realization that there are people who think differently – who want to perform for the other side as much as they want to perform for us. This doesn’t make them an existential danger.
Moreover, as the Israeli DJ working in Berlin says, the Israeli scene needs an arsenal of proposals for constructive activism; it must provide alternatives to the BDS call to boycott – and not automatically flex an insulted patriotic muscle. This might not be the easiest thing to do, but hey, this is Israel. It’s not going to be easy.
Plusieurs DJs rejoignent le mouvement #DJs For Palestine pour le boycott d’Israël
Les Inrocks, le 13 septembre 2018
#DJsForPalestine : quand la scène électronique se joint au mouvement BDS
Matthieu Foucher, Vice, le 19 septembre 2018
Lana Del Rey’s Israeli Concert Cancellation Inflames Boycott Fears
Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, le 11 septembre 2018
While much of the action so far has involved music, the boycott movement does have a rising number of supporters from the film industry. In the U.K., Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), The Night Of star Riz Ahmed and A-list British directors Mike Leigh (Peterloo) and Asif Kapadia (Amy) are among the 1,200 signatories to a pledge from Artists for Palestine UK who vowed to “accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
Other Hollywood figures have stepped forward, not to endorse BDS personally, but to defend those who make a stand and choose to boycott Israel. Mark Ruffalo, James Schamus, John Cusack, Viggo Mortensen and Julie Christie signed an open letter defending Lorde’s “freedom of conscience” when she was attacked by outspoken Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s World Values Network, which took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post branding the singer a “bigot.”
Plus de 140 artistes (dont une vingtaine de français) de 18 pays, dont des participants à l’Eurovision signent une lettre appelant au boycott de l’Eurovision 2019 si elle a lieu en israel:
Eurovision, ne blanchissez pas l’occupation militaire et les violations des droits humains par Israël
The Guardian, le 7 septembre 2018
Boycott Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel
The Guardian, le 7 septembre 2018
L-FRESH The LION, musician, Eurovision 2018 national judge (Australia)
Helen Razer, broadcaster, writer (Australia)
Candy Bowers, actor, writer, theatre director (Australia)
Blak Douglas, artist (Australia)
Nick Seymour, musician, producer (Australia)
DAAN, musician, songwriter (Belgium)
Daan Hugaert, actor (Belgium)
Alain Platel, choreographer, theatre director (Belgium)
Marijke Pinoy, actor (Belgium)
Code Rouge, band (Belgium)
DJ Murdock, DJ (Belgium)
Helmut Lotti, singer (Belgium)
Raymond Van het Groenewoud, musician (Belgium)
Stef Kamil Carlens, musician, composer (Belgium)
Charles Ducal, poet, writer (Belgium)
Fikry El Azzouzi, novelist, playwright (Belgium)
Erik Vlaminck, novelist, playwright (Belgium)
Rachida Lamrabet, writer (Belgium)
Slongs Dievanongs, musician (Belgium)
Chokri Ben Chikha, actor, theatre director (Belgium)
Yann Martel, novelist (Canada)
Karina Willumsen, musician, composer (Denmark)
Kirsten Thorup, novelist, poet (Denmark)
Arne Würgler, musician (Denmark)
Jesper Christensen, actor (Denmark)
Tove Bornhoeft, actor, theatre director (Denmark)
Anne Marie Helger, actor (Denmark)
Tina Enghoff, visual artist (Denmark)
Nassim Al Dogom, musician (Denmark)
Patchanka, band (Denmark)
Raske Penge, songwriter, singer (Denmark)
Oktoberkoret, choir (Denmark)
Nils Vest, film director (Denmark)
Britta Lillesoe, actor (Denmark)
Kaija Kärkinen, singer, Eurovision 1991 finalist (Finland)
Kyösti Laihi, musician, Eurovision 1988 finalist (Finland)
Kimmo Pohjonen, musician (Finland)
Paleface, musician (Finland)
Manuela Bosco, actor, novelist, artist (Finland)
Noora Dadu, actor (Finland)
Pirjo Honkasalo, film-maker (Finland)
Ria Kataja, actor (Finland)
Tommi Korpela, actor (Finland)
Krista Kosonen, actor (Finland)
Elsa Saisio, actor (Finland)
Martti Suosalo, actor, singer (Finland)
Virpi Suutari, film director (Finland)
Aki Kaurismäki, film director, screenwriter (Finland)
Pekka Strang, actor, artistic director (Finland)
HK, singer (France)
Dominique Grange, singer (France)
Imhotep, DJ, producer (France)
Francesca Solleville, singer (France)
Elli Medeiros, singer, actor (France)
Mouss & Hakim, band (France)
Alain Guiraudie, film director, screenwriter (France)
Tardi, comics artist (France)
Gérard Mordillat, novelist, filmmaker (France)
Eyal Sivan, film-maker (France)
Rémo Gary, singer (France)
Dominique Delahaye, novelist, musician (France)
Philippe Delaigue, author, theatre director (France)
Michel Kemper, online newspaper editor-in-chief (France)
Michèle Bernard, singer-songwriter (France)
Gérard Morel, theatre actor, director, singer (France)
Daði Freyr, musician, Eurovision 2017 national selection finalist (Iceland)
Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir, musician, Eurovision 2017 national selection finalist (Iceland)
Mike Murphy, broadcaster, eight-time Eurovision commentator (Ireland)
Mary Black, singer (Ireland)
Christy Moore, singer, musician (Ireland)
Charlie McGettigan, musician, songwriter, Eurovision 1994 winner (Ireland)
Mary Coughlan, singer (Ireland)
Luka Bloom, singer (Ireland)
Robert Ballagh, artist, Riverdance set designer (Ireland)
Aviad Albert, musician (Israel)
Michal Sapir, musician, writer (Israel)
Ohal Grietzer, musician (Israel)
Yonatan Shapira, musician (Israel)
Danielle Ravitzki, musician, visual artist (Israel)
David Opp, artist (Israel)
Assalti Frontali, band (Italy)
Radiodervish, band (Italy)
Moni Ovadia, actor, singer, playwright (Italy)
Vauro, journalist, cartoonist (Italy)
Pinko Tomažič Partisan Choir, choir (Italy)
Jorit, street artist (Italy)
Marthe Valle, singer (Norway)
Mari Boine, musician, composer (Norway)
Aslak Heika Hætta Bjørn, singer (Norway)
Nils Petter Molvær, musician, composer (Norway)
Moddi, singer (Norway)
Jørn Simen Øverli, singer (Norway)
Nosizwe, musician, actor (Norway)
Bugge Wesseltoft, musician, composer (Norway)
Lars Klevstrand, musician, composer, actor (Norway)
Trond Ingebretsen, musician (Norway)
José Mário Branco, musician, composer (Portugal)
Francisco Fanhais, singer (Portugal)
Tiago Rodrigues, artistic director, Portuguese national theatre (Portugal)
Patrícia Portela, playwright, author (Portugal)
Chullage, musician (Portugal)
António Pedro Vasconcelos, film director (Portugal)
José Luis Peixoto, novelist (Portugal)
N’toko, musician (Slovenia)
ŽPZ Kombinat, choir (Slovenia)
Lluís Llach, composer, singer-songwriter (Spanish state)
Marinah, singer (Spanish state)
Riot Propaganda, band (Spanish state)
Fermin Muguruza, musician (Spanish state)
Kase.O, musician (Spanish state)
Soweto, band (Spanish state)
Itaca Band, band (Spanish state)
Tremenda Jauría, band (Spanish state)
Teresa Aranguren, journalist (Spanish state)
Julio Perez del Campo, film director (Spanish state)
Nicky Triphook, singer (Spanish state)
Pau Alabajos, singer-songwriter (Spanish state)
Mafalda, band (Spanish state)
Zoo, band (Spanish state)
Smoking Souls, band (Spanish state)
Olof Dreijer, DJ, producer (Sweden)
Karin Dreijer, singer, producer (Sweden)
Dror Feiler, musician, composer (Sweden)
Michel Bühler, singer, playwright, novelist (Switzerland)
Wolf Alice, band (UK)
Carmen Callil, publisher, writer (UK)
Julie Christie, actor (UK)
Caryl Churchill, playwright (UK)
Brian Eno, composer, producer (UK)
AL Kennedy, writer (UK)
Peter Kosminsky, writer, film director (UK)
Paul Laverty, scriptwriter (UK)
Mike Leigh, writer, film and theatre director (UK)
Ken Loach, film director (UK)
Alexei Sayle, writer, comedian (UK)
Roger Waters, musician (UK)
Penny Woolcock, film-maker, opera director (UK)
Leon Rosselson, songwriter (UK)
Sabrina Mahfouz, writer, poet (UK)
Eve Ensler, playwright (US)
Alia Shawkat, actor (US)