Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Mideast Media Sampler 6/04/13: What Both Zubin Mehta and Alicia Keys See in Israel

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

1) Music lives in Israel

Arsen Ostrovsky interviewed Zubin Mehta
 about performing Israel:
According to Mehta, "it's hard to find an emblem of cultural, national pride that burns as bright as Israel's success in classical music." He adds "the amount of culture going on in a small country like Israel is amazing."

Mehta, who is a Parsi Indian from Bombay, first performed in Israel "by chance" in 1961, when at the age of twenty-five, he filled in as a substitute conductor for Eugene Ormandy.
...

Asked what draws him to Israel, Mehta says: "I keep on coming back because the people love music. They need it and that's why I'm here, to do whatever I can."
Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta conducting the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at the
Jamshed Bhabha Theatre(NCPA) in Mumbai, October 9, 2008
Credit: Wiki Commons


This is especially notable in light of what Alicia Keys told the New York Times on Friday, explaining why she would perform in Tel Aviv despite pressure to boycott Israel.
In a statement to The New York Times, Ms. Keys said on Friday: “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”
The New York Times mentioned a number of celebrities who urged her not to go to Israel or who boycotted Israel recently.

(On June 4, 2013)
Roger Waters - 16177 Twitter followers
Elvis Costello - 45933 Twitter followers
Stephen Hawking - 189276 Twitter followers
Alicia Keys - 13926058 Twitter followers

Alicia Keys is a lot bigger than her critics.

2) The Hezbollah hatefest continues

Nearly a year and a half ago, New York Times reporter, David Kirkpatrick profiled Sheikh Yussuf Qaradawi. After allowing that Qaradawi supported suicide attacks against Israel, as if it were some eccentric belief of the cleric, Kirkpatrick portrayed him as a virtual Thomas Jefferson of the Arab spring:
On Friday, he struck themes of democracy and pluralism, long hallmarks of his writing and preaching. He began his sermon by saying that he was discarding the customary opening “Oh Muslims,” in favor of “Oh Muslims and Copts,” referring to Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority. He praised Muslims and Christians for standing together in Egypt’s revolution and even lauded the Coptic Christian “martyrs” who once fought the Romans and Byzantines. “I invite you to bow down in prayer together,” he said.

He urged the military officers governing Egypt to deliver on their promises of turning over power to “a civil government” founded on principles of pluralism, democracy and freedom. And he called on the army to immediately release all political prisoners and rid the cabinet of its dominance by officials of the old Mubarak government.

“We demand from the Egyptian Army to free us from the government that was appointed by Mubarak,” Sheik Qaradawi declared. “We want a new government without any of these faces whom people can no longer stand.” And he urged the young people who led the uprising to continue their revolution. “Protect it,” he said. “Don’t you dare let anyone steal it from you.”
I wonder if Kirkpatrick would find Qaradawi's latest remarks as uplifting. Last week in Qatar, Qaradawi called for a jihad against Syria.
“Every Muslim trained to fight and capable of doing that (must) make himself available” to support the Syrian rebels, the cleric said at a rally in Doha late Friday.

“Iran is pushing forward arms and men (to back the Syrian regime), so why do we stand idle?” he said, branding Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which means the party of God in Arabic, as the “party of Satan.”
...

“How could 100 million Shiites (worldwide) defeat 1.7 billion (Sunnis)?” he exclaimed, “only because (Sunni) Muslims are weak”.
For good measure Qaradawi also singled out the Alawites:
He denounced Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, as "more infidel than Christians and Jews" and Shiite Muslim Hezbollah as "the party of the devil."
Philip Smyth noted last week the way Hezbollah portrays the war they're fighting exacerbates the sectarian divisions.
An undeniable trend, which has also become much more widespread, is the insistence that every dead Hizballah member was a “Defender” of Damascus’s Sayda Zaynab Shrine. During earlier announcements and funerals, the Zaynab Shrine and it’s protection were invoked quite regularly, but this shift demonstrates a more full acceptance of the narrative that all Hizballah members who are dying in Syria are “Protecting the Lady Zaynab”. On Facebook, albums holding the pictures of Hizballah’s dead from Syria have been entitled, “The Campaign to Defend Saydah Zaynab’s Shrine” to “Zaynab’s Defenders”. The narrative disregards whether these fighters were serving in the countryside near Qusayr, Damascus, or elsewhere within Syria. Instead, the main theme is that all actions executed in Syria are done to protect the Zaynab Shrine. Of course, this promotes more sectarian aspects of the war in Syria and with Hizballah’s involvement.
Two years ago, Barry Rubin wrote:
The Islamists will be weaker, subverting each other’s attempts to take over or control various countries and movements. Yet growing sectarianism can also lead to really nasty communal massacres of Muslims by Muslims, as has already happened in Iraq. Syria is the place to watch for that development.

Finally, in competing to show their militancy and effectiveness in backing terrorism, the rate of attacks by both sides could well increase. Trying to prove that one is the “proper” Islamist side representing “authentic” Islam will also likely lead to reckless risk-taking, which a naïve West—assuming everyone wants to be a moderate and acts “rationally” according to their own definition—will be ill-equipped to handle.
With the increasing sectarianism


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and violence ...



we are seeing that scenario play out.

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