Jonathan Cook’s Favorable Mention of Tikun Olam
In an extensive article about anything and everything to do with covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the western media, Jonathan Cook makes favorable mention of Tikun Olam:
The final battleground in Israel’s “spin war” is outside Israel—on internet sites and in overseas newsrooms, especially those in the U.S. and those with a global reach.
Increasingly important among the new media platforms are blogs—especially ones by dissident American Jews such as Philip Weiss at Mondoweiss and Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam. Weiss has helped to establish and nurture an online community of mainly Jewish writers that speaks with a refreshing clarity about Israel’s occupation and the power of the Israel lobby in the U.S. Silverstein, meanwhile, has broken several important stories about Israel leaked to him by Israeli journalists who could not report the issues themselves because of the increasing use of gag orders and censorship.
The readership for these overseas blogs, including among Israelis, is steadily rising. The sites are also freeing Israeli bloggers to become more outspoken: they can relay back to Israeli audiences information from foreign websites without the risk of being first to break censorship rules.
On my worst days I sometimes do feel like a “dissident Jew.” But most of the time I consider myself a full fledged member of the tribe and don’t cotton to the apologists who try to paint me as a marginal (or dissident) figure. I’m sure Cook used this term for reasons of his own having nothing to do with these personal issues of mine. But I thought it important to make a note of this in case anyone sought to tar me with the brush of being a “dissident” and hence sidelined figure in the American Jewish political discourse.
Another interesting story included in this essay is Cook’s fraught relationship with The Guardian, an experience I’ve also had there. Though Cook had a much longer-term relationship with that paper than I managed.
H/t to reader Linda.
14 thoughts on “Jonathan Cook’s Favorable Mention of Tikun Olam – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I often feel like a “dissident” Israeli; that’s not something I have a problem with, considering how authoritarian most Israelis are.
FWIW, I read Cook’s phrase as meaning “Jews who are dissidents” not “dissidents dissenting from Judaism.”.
Shunra is closer to the mark. I think Cook phrased himself wrongly. Anyone who criticizes Israel is a dissident, whether Jewish or not. It means to disagree, or be at variance with the established government. It is a dissension from Zionism, not Judaism.
Anyhow, Richard, you deserve Cook’s approbation. And we all know you’re not a dissenting Jew.
A little OT but you mentioned you had trouble getting published in “The Nation.” This article says The Nation is kind of a hack magazine for Democrats anyway:
There’s so much pressure out there to toe the line. You feel like a “dissident jew”? Even some of my activist friends think I’m anti-Semitic because I post some articles critical of Israel on my FB wall, including yours.
Phil Weiss wrote a front page feature story for The Nation & his blog is sponsored by The Nation Institute. Other good folks publish there like Neve Gordon, Roi Ben Yehuda, etc. But you have to be connected (or at least better connected than I) to be published there & I’m not.
Richard, don’t feel bad if the Nation doesn’t publish you. Although I have long been a sponsor of the Nation and the Nation Institute, and know Katrina vanden Heuval fairly well, I have become disillusioned with their editorial policies, especially as it involves promoting Obama’s agenda to the point of nausea. Yes, they have a few good writers, and Nation Books has published some of my latter day heroes such as Chris Hedges, et al., I rarely read the magazine anymore. Be independent, and carry on as you are. Get tied up with MSM and you will no longer be your own man.
In the final analysis, whether dissident or not, the man-in-the-street Israeli, the average Palestinian, the typical Druze, the common or garden variety Christian and, almost certainly, the few atheists still around, all of these want to see some closure in the matter, not the perpetuation of this interminable conflict that has spanned whole generations.
After sixty plus years of confrontation and tension, bloodshed and death, the concern uppermost in the minds of most people must be – how in God’s name is this thing ever going to get settled? Now that the nuclear option is being pressed into service, that concern must be even more of an issue.
A very timely introduction at this point would be that of some modern-day Golem, a legendary creation of immense and unbridled power. Although not noted for being overly astute, this creature, as legend has it, served as protector for the local Jewish community in various times of trouble.
In this, the seventh decade of this time of trouble, when such a protector for all communities is needed now more than ever, where, oh where I wonder, could one find a champion capable of so monumental a task?
Well, he could be closer than we think. Maybe, he is where we think.
‘…Yet all the suns that light the corridors of the universe shine dim before the blazing of a single thought, proclaiming in incandescent glory the myriad mind of Man… ‘
I thought the Golem legend was a warning against such unbridled power, for even if it is put in service of the Good (we all agree what exactly that is, no?), by definition it remains uncontrollable and will in time, like the broom of Goethe’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, work to the detriment of its would-be master.
As I’m not a Jew, I can’t claim any real scholarship on the subject of Golems (I’m assuming that is the plural) although I would agree they could become problematic after a while, much as was the case with HAL in the film 2001. Indeed, most fictional robots, of which the Golem may be considered the forerunner, do seem to exhibit this tendency, that of slowly deviating from their design parameters, and almost always to the detriment of their creators.
Perhaps an interesting analogy here might be derived from the quote with which I ended my first comment. This was from the film ‘Fantastic Voyage’ (1966) where the plot line then has become curiously prescient today, much as in the manner of Life imitating Art. The medical fraternity has since been busy exploring various methods that attempt to repair the human body exclusively from the inside.The days of the trusty scalpel and cranial drill may soon be at an end.
In the film, the situation briefly was this.
A man will die unless a blood clot is removed from part of his brain. Unfortunately, the clot is inoperable using conventional surgery and it can only be accessed ‘internally’ and that in the most literal manner. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know its all about miniaturisation and posits a quite novel use for the lazer in the treatment of neural pathways. Needless to say, all ends well, the patient survives and, as I’m given to understand, the film received two Oscars (best art direction; best special effects 1967).
In the Israeli-Palestinian context, the customary tools have proved inadequate, unable to get anywhere near the site of the problem. They are now considered too blunt, too archaic to perform the procedure required.
Thus, a different, ‘internal’ approach may have to be adopted.
OK, so something new has to enter the lists; experimental, never been tried before, maybe not even considered.
But, if it could mean life instead of death for the patient, then the choice has to be clear for all of us.
And never forget; we are the patient here; but also the physician. And, as it is, we’re both dying.
A first class case of “Physician, Heal Thyself” – and in whatever way will work.
To the best of my knowledge there is but one figure that matters when it concerns religion. It’s funny how often people try to convince you they know what’s in your head better than you do! Even their own canon says there’s only but one creator and ultimate decision maker (and it basically forbids you to act as an undue agent thereof). No one can tell you that you aren’t Jewish, Richard. You are a very admirable Jewish man. Kudos.
Richard, the only reason I put so much faith in your work is because you are a Jew.
Good heavens! What a bigoted remark!
For the record, the only reason I put so much faith in Richard’s work is that he has a great record of reporting facts (often being the first in the world to report them!).
I am not a good writer, and did not think that my comment would be taken in a negative light. The discussion was whether Richard was a dissident American Jew, and Richard being labeled as such. Richard said he didn’t like being marginalized by the apologists, and surprised by the dissident adjective by Jonathan Cook.
Richard’s analysis of the Israeli Palestinian conflict gives the media “spin” clarity, for bigoted people like myself. His perspective is discerning and insightful, and for me, an education. Tikun Olam, hebrew for make the world a better place, …. and that it does. I had not heard this before, and upon discovering this blog, I felt an instant affinity for Richard’s perspective.
We see enough racism everywhere else, let’s not drag it in here, please. It was not my point and I am sorry for being vague.
Bernie Madoff is a Jew. A lot of people put faith in his work, particularly other Jews. Religion is no more a guarantor of good character than skin color or the size of one’s nose. Hey, come to think of it, was Pinocchio anti-Semitic?