Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rock Bottom

Even though I haven't actually read any of the Harry Potter series, nor seen any of the movies, and even if their global success has been more the product of some well-designed marketing than of their literary merit, their author has, nevertheless, accomplished something remarkable.

So I thought I'd share an interesting quote from J.K. Rowling that I came across in an unlikely place:

“I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised…I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

An absence of Schadenfreude

Despite my criticism of its government, its military, and its founding ideology, there has always been one positive fact about the State of Israel that has provided a true - if generally non sequitur - argument in its defense:

Out of all the Middle Eastern states, within the territory it captured in 1948, freedom of expression has been the strongest.

It's been hardly ideal, mind you, considering that people were still jailed for advocating against Zionism, but it has still, traditionally, been legal for people within the Green Line to write, talk, and demonstrate for the Palestinians, about what has happened to them, and it has remained legal for some of them (particularly Jews) to point out the problems that Zionism has wrought.

All of that is changing.

With the passage of these laws, Netanyahu and Lieberman have again changed the score in the Middle East, and not in Israel's favour. Where the Arabs are moving towards freedom, laying down their lives for the right to write and say what they want, the Knesset is curtailing those rights. While the Turkish government is finally making some move to reduce the restrictions on Kurdish culture and language, the Israeli government is making it illegal to talk about what happened to the Palestinians in 1948.

I don't say this with any schadenfreude. It would be nice to feel some pleasure at watching the State of Israel descend into fascism, but it isn't humanly possible. It is, however, possible to hope that this signals the conflict entering its final phase, and that Zionism will finally be forced to take a look at itself in the mirror to see what it has become.

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