From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

But, we thought we were rid of that Jew, er, Ernest Bloch. Or: Jewish composers and Jewish Beauty Queens, oh my!This week’s swastika cartoon from Egypt’s leading newspaper offers what we might call a variation on a theme. Rather than using the Nazi symbol to refer to the genocidal Apartheid Zionist entity—er, Israel— this week the Nazi Swastika refers to George W. Bush. Because comparing him to, say, Stalin or Pol Pot would have been way too subtle. And, as always, the dripping blood is a nice touch.

Al-Ahram also publishes a nice letter from Amr El-Zant, who writes from Pasadena and quite rightly takes issue with the bigotry recently espoused by the paper’s music critic. That’s right, folks, at Egypt’s leading newspaper, even the music critic can’t resist when it comes to matters Judaic. Indeed, how dare the Cairo Opera House host a concert that includes “spiritual Judaic music”!

Amal Choucri Catta's article ' Scared and profane ' ( Al-Ahram Weekly , 17-23 April), where it is implied that playing Jewish inspired music is "offensive" at this time, actually offends me personally quite a bit. It pains me to read such bigotry. It is not a pleasant experience to hear it from somebody obviously as cultured as she is, but then so were the folks inhabiting the Weimar republic.

Barenboim played Wagner in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and still got the Israel prize, despite the protestations of Holocaust survivors and opportunist and nationalist politicians. Why can't people play Bloch in Cairo? And yes, by the way, Tel Aviv's Mann auditorium did present, repeatedly, Muslim inspired music (e.g. the Andalucian orchestra).

Israel has had a strong Arabic music revival in the last decade on the popular, "world" and classical fronts. Most auditoriums in Israel would be happy to host an Arabic music ensemble from Egypt. If it weren't for the "anti-normalisation" thought police, those musical groups who wished to would have played there decades ago.

The rhetorical question Ms Catta asks, while certain of a negative answer, reflects her ignorance and lack of curiosity. It results from blocking what is thought to be politically incorrect. It is the bigotry born of ignorance that sustains the conflict.

In honor of Amal Choucri Catta’s delightfully progressive critical sensibility, I’m going to pop into the CD player Pierre Fournier’s version of Ernest Bloch’s Schlemo.

In other news, “I Coulda Been a Contender (if it hadn’t been for the death threats)”:

Israeli girls donning evening dresses participate in a beauty pageant in the neighborhood of Gilo, an area Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed as part of Jerusalem, Tuesday June 15, 2004. Eight Palestinian girls from the nearby West Bank town of Bethlehem, all of them Christians, were to participate in the Miss Barrier Line contest, named after the line that separates the West Bank from the neighborhood but the girls, citing threats on their lives from fellow Palestinians, slowly backed out over the past months. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

It’s somewhat curious that although the AP identifies the Palestinian girls as Christians they offer no such identification for either the Israeli girls or the “fellow Palestinians” who threatened the (Christian) Palestinian contestants. Beauty pageants always struck me as notably lame, to be sure, and I suspect this one is probably another example of Zionism’s inherently oppressive nature, crass ideological underpinnings, and all that, y’know? Shabbat shalom, and have a nice weekend!

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