New music festival is accused of Israel bias

The hallowed incubator of modernist music at Donaueschingen is under fire over an apparently decommissioned work.

 

Here’s the view of composer Wieland Hoban and a host of familiar fellow-travellers:

(More background here in VAN magazine)

Censorship in Donaueschingen

 

For decades, the Donaueschingen Festival (Donaueschinger Musiktage) has stood not only for new sounds, but also for new ideas and discourses, including controversial ones. Whether dealing with world politics or cultural policy, with globalization or equal opportunities in the music industry, there were generally no taboo topics.

Not in the past, at least; for I was recently forced to acknowledge that there are evidently some restrictions after all. I shared my ideas for a possible new orchestral work with the festival’s artistic director, Björn Gottstein, and asked if he might be interested in taking on the project. As well as outlining some of its anticipated sonic features, I explained that I was intending to make the piece part of my cycle on the Gaza Strip, which deals specifically with the three-week military offensive by Israel between December 2008 and January 2009 and uses documentary material, namely the testimony of an Israeli soldier who participated in the offensive.

After some time for reflection Mr Gottstein finally sent me his response on 16 July, in which he stated that he would rather give other composers a chance, as I had already been featured on the programme in 2016. I was certainly aware of this, and knew that it was an entirely fair argument. My understanding came to an abrupt end, however, when I read the next point: he told me in the clearest possible terms that although he gave composers a free hand in their use of political content, he would not tolerate any criticism of Israel at the festival and would prevent the appearance of any piece on the programme that contained such criticism. (Mr Gottstein expressly denied authorisation to publish the exact words of his statement.)

Though written in a private context, these words were an unambiguous policy statement by a public broadcaster. Mr Gottstein did not respond to my reply, sent the same day, in which I questioned this policy, and he reaffirmed it during a personal encounter on 18 July. It is nothing new that criticizing the state of Israel is a very uncomfortable matter for many in Germany, and that the burden of past German crimes often leads to the view that condemning present injustices is not appropriate in the case of Israel, at least not in Germany. Nor is it news that political pressure is exerted to suppress the topic, as was recently in evidence at the Ruhrtriennale festival.

But I consider it unacceptable for a public debate to be prevented by censorship, whatever the issue. As an employee of a public broadcaster, Mr Gottstein should not be in a position to prevent discussion of a particular topic due to his own personal convictions. Naturally curators can decide which projects they consider productive or interesting; but this is not a matter of one particular project or one particular person, for Gottstein’s words constitute an absolute ban that applies to any and all composers who might be interested in addressing this subject. I and my colleagues listed below believe that this cannot be tolerated. We believe that art must be a forum for the free exchange of ideas and reject every form of censorship.

Wieland Hoban
Composer and translator

Signatories:

Alejandro T. Acierto, sound artist and performer
Jack Adler-McKean, tubist
Patrícia Sucena de Almeida, composer
Udi Aloni, filmmaker
Pedro Alvarez, composer
Samuel Andreyev, composer
Pavlos Antoniadis, pianist and musicologist
Avshalom Ariel, composer and producer
Jessica Aszodi, soprano
Derek Ball, composer
Daphna Baram, comedian and director of the Israeli Committee Against House                        Demolitions
Mark Barden, composer
Ronnie Barkan, Israeli dissident
Richard Barrett, composer
Bernardo Barros, composer
Jeanie Barton, singer and composer
Günther Basmann,  musician and music therapist
Rolf Becker, actor and trade unionist
Maarten Beirens, musicologist
Esther Bejarano, musician and anti-fascist
Avi Berg, artist
Alberto Bernal, composer
Susan Blackwell, lecturer in linguistics
Philipp Blume, composer
Santiago Bogacz, composer
Dante Boon, composer
Mark Braverman, theologian and peace activist
Andreas Bräutigam, violinist
Haim Bresheeth, filmmaker, photographer and film scholar
Seth Brodsky, musicologist
Samuel Cedillo, composer
Carolyn Chen, composer
Noam Chomsky, linguist and author
Amy Cimini, musicologist
Rhona Clarke, composer
Siobhán Cleary, composer
Anne E. Cooper, poet, photographer and writer
Glenn Cornett, arts venue owner and composer
Nico Couck, guitarist
Frederik Croene, composer
Vincent Daoud, saxophonist
Raymond Deane, composer
Louis d’Heudieres, composer
Bill Dietz, composer and writer
Laurence Dreyfus, musician and musicologist
Henk van Driel, musician and painter
Jason Eckardt, composer
Dietrich Eichmann, composer
Thomas Eisner, violinist
Nancy Elan, violinist
Hajdi Elzeser, pianist
James Erber, composer
Turgut Erçetin, composer
Marc Estrin, novelist
Ray Evanoff, composer
John Fallas, writer and musicologist
Brandon Farnsworth, curator and musicologist
Tobias Faßhauer, musicologist
Amanda Feery, composer
Dror Feiler, composer
Gordon Fellman, sociologist
Mikail Fernstrom, composer and artist
Norman G. Finkelstein, author and political scientist
Michael Finnissy, composer
Sylvia Finzi, visual and sound artist
Mark Fitzgerald, musicologist
Heather Frasch, composer
Michael Gallope, musician and musicologist
Stephen Gardner, composer
Annie Garlid, violist and musicologist
Amit Gilutz, composer
Sumanth Gopinath, musicologist
Orlando Gough, composer
Annette Groth, sociologist, journalist and former German MP
Bnaya Halperin-Kaddari, composer
Mena Mark Hanna, musicologist and composer
Sam Hayden, composer
Iris Hefets, psychoanalyst and author, head of Jewish Voice for Peace Germany
Honor Heffernan, singer and actor
Björn Heile, musicologist
Dré Hočevar, composer and performer
Aaron Holloway-Nahum, composer and conductor
Mehdi Hosseini, composer and festival director
Julia Huizenga, painter
Martin Iddon, composer and musicologist
Erik Janson, composer
Graeme Jennings, violinist
Jewish Voice for Peace Germany
Fergus Johnston, composer
Seth Josel, guitarist
Georg Karger, double bassist
Dominik Karski, composer
Seth Kim-Cohen, writer and musician
Naveen Kishore, publisher
Leo van der Kleij, photographer and visual artist
Axel Klein, musicologist
Trevor Knight, composer, musician and actor
Mark Knoop, pianist
Martyna Kosecka, composer and conductor
Uday Krishnakumar, composer
Clara Latham, composer and musicologist
Michael Leslie, pianist
Les Levidow, musician and academic
Divina Levrini, musician and peace activist
Liza Lim, composer
Adi Liraz, interdisciplinary and performance artist
Peter van Loon, music machine builder
Michelle Lou, composer and sound artist
Ryszard Lubieniecki, composer and accordionist
Julien Malaussena, composer
Irmi Maunu-Kocian, arts administrator
Clint McCallum, composer and performer
Timothy McCormack, composer
Savas Michael-Matsas, writer
Cornelia Mitter, graphic artist
Idin Samimi Mofakham, composer, performer and festival director
Ryan Muncy, saxophonist
Max Murray, composer and tubist
Vidyanand Nanjundiah, biologist
Jan Nederlof, painter
Lewis J. Nielson, composer
Andrew Noble, composer
Laudan Nooshin, musicologist
Keith O’Brien, composer
Anne-Marie O’Farrell, composer
Jonathan Ofir, violinist and conductor
Ian Pace, pianist and musicologist
João Pais, engraver, performer and composer
Joan Arnau Pàmies, composer
Ilan Pappé, historian
Yoav Pasovsky, composer
Hadas Pe’ery, composer and sound artist
Stefan Pohlit, composer and ethnomusicologist
Mauricio Pauly, composer
Marek Poliks, composer
Ian Power, composer
Alwynne Pritchard, composer, performer and curator
Stephanie Reiss, physicist
Heather Roche, clarinettist
Sara Roy, political economist and author
Matthew Rubenstein, pianist
Rhian Samuel, composer
Carlos Sandoval, composer
Ruben Mattia Santorsa, guitarist
Maximilian Sauer, sound director
Fabienne Séveillac, mezzo-soprano and artistic director
Richard Scott, composer
Avi Shlaim, historian
Alexander Sigman, composer
Jurgen Simpson, composer
Adrian Smith, musicologist
Nirit Sommerfeld, singer
Aureliana Sorrento, journalist
Michael Spencer, composer
Gavin Steingo, musicologist
Lester St. Louis, cellist and composer
Sarah Streatfeild, violinist
Tom Suárez, violinist, composer and author
Alex Temple, composer
Alice Teyssier, flutist and soprano
Marcelo Toledo, composer
Peter Tregear, musicologist and performer
Pilgrim Tucker, community organiser
Tanya Ury, artist, writer, poet and activist
Ine Vanoeveren, flutist
Jackie Walker, political activist
Fredrik Wallberg, composer
Naomi Waltham-Smith, musicologist
Roger Waters, musician and activist
Barbara Balba Weber, lecturer for music outreach
Ian Wellens, musicologist and festival organiser
Ian Willcock, composer
Rachel Beckles Wilson, musicologist
Jeremy Woodruff, composer
Seth Parker Woods, cellist
Claudius von Wrochem, cellist and music outreach practitioner
Ahmad Yacoub, electrical engineer
Arash Yazdani, composer and conductor
Franck Yeznikian, composer
Somaye Zadeh, musician and poet
Slavoj Žižek, philosopher
Moshe Zuckermann, historian

 

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  • Hilary says:

    Disgraceful stance from Björn Gottstein.

    • steven holloway says:

      +100 And another disgraceful stance by NL in dismissing circa 180 signatories, few of whom, I am sure, he has ever heard, let alone known, as “…familiar fellow-travellers”. He probably adverts to Chomsky and Finkelstein.Thus he gives a ludicrous bias to the post and, sure enough, along come commenters such as Mike Schachter, he of the “Nazi Left” slur, a sort of professional Jew who loves to call Jews such as I ‘anti-semitic Jews’, as he did in comments on an earlier post, simply because we express some compassion for suffering people and a just solution to a seemingly intractable problem — made intractable by such people as the fanatical individuals who post comments on this site as if their identity depends on it — and mayhap it does, but sometimes it amounts to identity grounded in hate.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Lot of familiar poseurs on the list. The world needs more statements like this from the Nazi left.

  • James says:

    It raises an interesting point. I deeply disagree that that military operation was an injustice – it was a “defensive” rather than an “offensive” as Hamas had been raining missiles and rockets down on Israel. This orchestral piece would clearly make a political/polemical point with which Mr Gottstein either feels is not based in fact or fairness (as I suspect I would) or that he feels that Germany has no right to make, given its history regarding the Jews. I would agree with this last point as well. Germany should stay off the subject; it has, frankly, sacrificed the right to criticise the world’s only Jewish state. Don’t worry, if there are criticisms to be made, very many others will do it and in a (if history is anything to go by) disproportionate manner. There are counter-arguments to be made on Mr Gottstein’s decision, and I don’t know what the official guidelines of his organisation say, but in my opinion he is right.

  • Wieland Hoban says:

    The work was not decommissioned, I made an offer that was rejected.

  • Helene Kamioner says:

    Three cheers for Gottstein!!!

  • John Borstlap says:

    We pick-up this text with pincers, like anthropologists excavating the site of an exotic tribe in an impenetrable jungle. Who is Wieland Hoban?

    “In his music, Wieland Hoban strives to create a multi-layered discourse and experience. He examines questions of context and re-contextualisation, of flow and stasis, and looks for ways to find differentiations between parameters and states in all aspects of the music.”

    So, what he does is not creating music but theory. But what kind of theory, is it philosophy, psychology, politics, chemistry, sociology, astrology, vivisectomy? Maybe a mix with bits of these things. Since the protest is directed against one of the hubs of sonic art, there must be sound art involved. And indeed – his work is conceptual, in the sense that sound is used to illustrate or demonstrate concepts which, in themselves, have no contact point with music:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2_Eca2UQiY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlyZIbxrKyA

    What is the Donaueschingen Festival? As the text says:

    “For decades, the Donaueschingen Festival (Donaueschinger Musiktage) has stood not only for new sounds, but also for new ideas and discourses, including controversial ones. Whether dealing with world politics or cultural policy, with globalization or equal opportunities in the music industry, there were generally no taboo topics.”

    Not even the word ‘music’ is mentioned, and rightfully so: it is a sonic organisation, obsessed with ‘newness’ – like the newspapers and tabloids – and ‘discourses’ – like postmodernist discussions about texts beyond which there is no reality (Derrida), and where the world is seen exclusively in terms of power structures in the arena of class warfare (Foucault).

    The Donaueschingen Festival has never been free of taboos, since its raison d’être has always been the particular freedoms provided by WW II’s result of Stunde Null, that is: we begin all over again from a blank slate and forget musical tradition as it has evolved since the 9th (!) century. So, protesting against a ‘taboo’ at the DE Festival, as if taboos were out of place there, is nonsensical, as the accusation of ‘censorship’ is. You can imagine the train of thoughts of Mr Gottstein: a sonic protest against Israeli politics will mobilize Jewish protests, which will in turn provoke Palestinian protestations and the usual antisemitist accusations, a media whirl, criticism of the festival leadership, while all of this has nothing to do with the noble aim of the festival: offering a platform for undiluted sonic explorations for people who like that sort of stuff. So he wanted to prevent upheavel and tried to stop it in the bud, thereby forgetting that even sound is not at mr Hoban’s mind, but politics, and thinking of Hoban’s interest in Adorno and Sloterdijk he could have anticipated the dialectics of calculated objection beforehand. You’re damned if you do and if you don’t.

    Adorno advocated indigestible ugliness and sonic terror in music as the only honest answer to the Holocaust (Philosophie der neuen Musik), and Sloterdijk uses his extensive bookshelves to create infinite series of theoretic air bubbles, hoping to impress audiences with his monologues. Mr Hoban operates in a field which is neither music, nor philosophy, nor politics, so he should not object to some obstacle which – in its weird way – has some relationships with the reality of the world.

    The tone and pretentions of this protest text, based upon the theoretical right to be offended and censored, is reflecting the immature longing to be able to transgress boundaries and obstacles, because life can only be lived to the full in total freedom from any limitation, a sentiment we find in its purest form in the protestations of toddlers, who still have the trajectory of learning before them.

    Mr Gottstein should read a bit more, so that he could look over the fence and find something more relevant to do, because really, the ‘Donaueschinger Stallgeruch’ is not a serious thing, it is a regressive product of war trauma and erosion of cultural awareness.

  • Tom Hase says:

    Could people please stop to misuse the term “censorship”? If a state forbids performances of your work, that is censorship. If a festival chooses not to perform your work, it may have good or bad reasons, but it can by definition not be censorship. If a radio station decides not to broadcast your opinion piece, it can by definition not be censorship. If a company or person decides not to buy your product, it can by definition not be censorship. And it has nothing to do with freedom of speech as well. Freedom of speech means that you can say whatever you want in the privacy of your own room or in front of people who are willing to listen to you. It does not mean that other people have to listen to you, provide a platform for your opinion or that you have the right to harass them.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      +10

    • John Borstlap says:

      Correct. And it should also be clear that Mr Hoban wants ‘public debate’, not music, and wants to use the DE Festival as a platform for his political opinions which are, in the same time, disguised as sound art.

    • Tamino says:

      “Freedom of speech means that you can say whatever you want in the privacy of your own room or in front of people who are willing to listen to you.”

      No. that is not what freedom of speech means.

      Freedom of speech means freedom of speech. That you have the right to express your opinion in public. As with any freedom rights, it finds its limits when the freedom or basic human rights of others are compromised by it. I don’t see Mr. Hoban or his fellow signatories compromising anyone’s basic human rights.

    • william osborne says:

      It’s a tricky issue regarding the government. The German government is the main financial supporter of the festival by a huge margin, and it is administered by the South German Radio which is all but nominally a state institution funded by mandatory fees the government collects from every household. In actual reality, it is the state radio of Baden Württemberg. Private individuals and organizations can forbid whatever speech they want, but the government can’t. The problem is that the DE Festival is for all practical purposes a government organization. The legal veils covering that are completely transparent.

      Perhaps these 180 signatories are fellow travelers (ironically a term that was made commonplace by McCarthyism,) but by that measure, surely the hateful politicians surrounding Netanyahu are as well.

      It is very likely a good idea for Germany to stay out of the debate. Cultural activities in Germany critical of Israel could easily be falsely represented in ways that would actually harm the Palestinian cause.

      And it is true that there is no shortage of criticism of Netanyahu’s politics of hatred. This very recent op-ed in the NYT by Ron Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, is a notable example:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/opinion/israel-ronald-lauder-nation-state-law.html

        • william osborne says:

          Yes, I noted the response and was please that the NYT allowed both sides to state their views. Unfortunately, I do not think Naftali Bennett really represents what Israel is, even he claims he does.

          • Helene Kamioner says:

            With all due respect, what is your version of “what Israel is?”

          • william osborne says:

            I don’t have a view of what Israel is, but I can say that there are certain things it is not.

          • Helene Kamioner says:

            What Israel is and always was and always will be is a Jewish State and to that I say Amen and Hallelujah. Am Yisroel Chai. Not all people who live in France, Italy, Germany,, or Ireland are French, Italiian, German or Irish, and not all peoples who live in Israel are Jewish as you I am certain are aware. Israel today is a dream come true for Jews who consider this amazing country their ancestral homeland, and along with a few million other Jews are ecstatic.All the BDSers and Afders and terrorists can scream and lie, but Israel belongs to the Jews.

          • Helene Kamioner says:

            Lauder’s Statements in The New York Times are misguided

            https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/lauders-critique-of-israel-is-misguided/

          • william osborne says:

            In Israel, 74.5% of the residents are Jews of all backgrounds, and 20.9% are Arabs — one out of every five people.

          • Tamino says:

            Mrs. Kamioner, the ‘ancestral homeland’ idea is mythological nonsense, regardless how many people believe that.
            That justifies nothing. No group of people in this world can claim land, based on some ancestry going back 2000 years.
            What is needed are reasonable and peaceful solutions for the people living there today.

      • Tom Hase says:

        There is a big difference between direct decisions of the government and decisions by entities which are funded (largely or completely) by the public (which by the way means by the taxpayers, not the government…). It is a general principle in Germany that cultural activities are funded by the public – it does not mean that they are controlled by the government, and as a matter of fact the views and opinions expressed by cultural entities are often radically different from the government’s. Also, different cultural entities have different motives, agendas etc. They are not politically neutral by any means, and they are not supposed not be. There is, however, a variety of cultural activities which taken together cover a wide spectrum of preferences and political opinions. The fact that one festival does not perform works with a certain type of political message has nothing to do with censorship.

        • william osborne says:

          And yet that is exactly the principle of separation between the government and the arts organizations it funds that appears to be broken, or at least deeply in conflict. It seems likely that almost all involved with the Donaueschingen Festival, from administrators to artists, would be sympathetic to Hoban’s initiative, but it is fear of the government, their main funder, that makes them reticent. He who pays the piper calls the tunes. Censorship by the government takes many forms and uses many methods. We tend to overlook or rationalize those cases that suit our ideological biases.

          OTH, there are other very legitimate reasons why Gottstein has made the decision he has. It’s just that this case the government/private relationship is not as cut-and-dry as you describe it. It is exactly these gray areas where we should be most wary.

  • Edgar says:

    When it comes to legitimate critique of Israel, especially by those who indeed do care about the perilous state of its democracy in the terrible wake of apartheid policies toward Palestinians and all other non-Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, free speech goes out the window – certainly in, but not limited to, the (Dis)United States of America.

    In stating this, I am, in Norman’s reprehensible words, a “fellow-traveler”. I take being called such by him as a badge of honor (and am sure that I find myself in the eminent company of, for example, Israeli citizens like Daniel Barenboim).

    No wonder, then, that anti-Semitism is on the rise, as those who care for, and because of this at times harshly criticize, Israel, are vilified as “anti-Semites”, thereby allowing real anti-Semites to become evermore “salonfähig”.

    The German publicist and publisher Abraham Melzer, in his eminently important book “Die Antisemitenmacher: Wie die neue Rechte Kritik an der Politik Israels verhindert” [The Antisemitsim Manufacturers: How the New Right Obstructs Critique of Israel Policy; my own attempt at title translation] makes the compelling arguments.

    Read it, if you can. Available auf Deutsch only, though…

  • william osborne says:

    It might be worthwhile to comment on the photo Norman included of Stockhausen. His mother, who suffered mental problems, was euthanized by the Nazis. There is hardly any composer who stressed the themes of unity and universalism in the world more than Stockhausen — even if his 9/11 comments were beyond bizarre. And we might note that there was no group that stood more strongly against totalitarianism and suffered more for it in the 20th century than the modernists. I do not say this so much as an aesthetic defense of the movement as simply to make it clear that it would be absurd to equate modernism or Donaueschingen with some sort of reactionary believes. The reason the Germans so extol modernism is exactly because it stood so strongly against Hitler.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes, and thereby they gave Hitler a form of posthumous authority which is entirely self-destructive. However nonsensical, un-artistic, juvenile, primitive and indigestible modernism is, at least audiences can enjoy the self-affirmation of being on the moral right side of history. But it is a totally crazy notion. Hitler was a vegetarian, does that mean that vegetarians are to be suspected of totalitarian sympathies? And what about his great love of dogs? What can be seen as a short, understandable postwar reaction, has ‘entartet’ into a self-destructive establishment, and the erstwhile idealistic platforms for utopian progressiveness have become nonsensical playgrounds for the musically-challenged:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwlCD2y2tBA

      Now imagine that the current Germans are the inheritors of one of the greatest musical traditions the world has ever seen. But it has been locked-up behind the doors of a museum culture where it is practiced safely as if within the glass boxes surrounding historic artifacts…. they can happily enjoy Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Wagner, with the clean conscience that it’s all done and over with. Would they not get a bit nostalgic about it, in the sense of: that’s what we were? While they are listening to their Lachenmann, who wants to freeze the postwar ‘Stunde Null’ for ever and has declared music to be dead?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5hLUU2NrUA

      The question about the nazi critique of modernism is not a black-and-white matter, in the way of: if these criminals dislike that art, it must be really good.

      Those nitwits annexed the classical arts to obtain respectability and that was not quite offered by the then avantgardes which explored transgressions.

      http://subterraneanreview.blogspot.com/2018/08/entartete-kunst.html

  • william osborne says:

    Also a comment in defense of Norman. The purpose of Wieland Hoban’s idea for Donaueschingen was to provoke thought and discussion. The festival rejected his offer, but Norman has probably given it a far wider forum. Norman states his opinion on the matter, but allows for others to state theirs, and even in the most provocative terms. Dialog like this is part of moving toward solutions.

  • JoBe says:

    Jackie Walker among the signatories, she who has been expelled *twice* from the British Labour party for anti-Semitism… That says a lot.

    • steven holloway says:

      All it says is that 1/180th. of the signatories have been expelled from the Labour Party for anti-Semitism. If you were one of 180 signatories to a statement, I wouldn’t assume that all the signatories were idiots.

    • Tom Suarez says:

      Jackie Walker was not expelled from Labour for anti-Semitism. She, like others, was expelled for anti-Zionism.
      https://mondoweiss.net/2018/03/zionism-semitism-israel/

      • steven holloway says:

        Very true. The exhaustive, and exhausting, campaign to confuse the two or make them synonymous has been a lobbying success that ranks with the triumphs, hither and yon, of the pharmaceutical, energy, banking, climate denial industries, etc. And the efforts to equate any criticism of any Israeli policy with anti-Semitism are just as crooked. (I write this as, I have oft been informed on this world-class intellectual forum, an anti-Semitic Jewish snowflake, aka, a moderately elderly retired professor of History specialising in foreign policy and in the history of ideas.)

  • Tom Suarez says:

    Slipped Disc is the last venue on earth to discuss, rationally, the “conflict” [sic] in Israel-Palestine. I would like, however, to respond to James’s comment that Cast Lead was defensive on Israel’s part due to the Qassam rockets from Gaza.
    This is an understandable assumption, given the quality of news about the issue, but it is a complete misunderstanding of the situation.
    The Israeli siege of Gaza began in 1948. After the Zionist militias pushed many of people it had ethnically cleansed into Gaza, it shot on sight any who tried to return home. The militias — by then the IDF — continued raids into Gaza, including several massacres. The level of the siege varied with the times, but it has never ended. But Israel now dates the siege to the election of Hamas in 2006, for obvious political reasons.
    The Israeli attacks on Gaza have never stopped — we only hear about it when it is more than usual. The people are trapped there by Israel (and Egypt in cooperation, bought by $1b US aid). Israel micro-controls everything — what they may have, who may leave, who may enter, who may get medical care, etc. In the case of Cast Lead, Israel selected US election day (1st Obama election) to launch an unprovoked attack on Gaza — election day, to be extra sure it would not hit the Western press. Hamas retaliated. Israel had its pretext. Would we have blamed the people trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto (yes, I am making the analogy) had they lobbed over the barrier whatever they could hobble together?
    No, nothing Israel does can be called “defensive” until it ends its siege.
    I also take issue with calling Israel “the Jewish state” (as above), indeed consider it to be a libel against Jews and Judaism.

    • Furzwängler says:

      As Mr Lebrecht said somewhere else: ‘S ist genug!

    • James says:

      Tom, your summary is so full of misconceptions that I can’t even begin to argue with it – there just isn’t enough time. I would suggest you read Alan Dershowitz’s book “The Case For Israel” where, even if you don’t agree with his take, you will get some of the facts. Sorry if that sounds patronising, I’m just so tired of correcting the same misconceptions and combating the same prejudices again and again. Had the Palestinians accepted Barak’s or Olmert’s very generous peace proposals, this would all have been over by now. But more to the point, my post was about whether this constitutes censorship and whether or not I agree with the decision (I do).

      • Tom Suarez says:

        James, thanks.
        Yes, I read Dershowitz’s book cover-to-cover years ago, along with the earlier Joan Peters work upon which it is based.

        • Helene Kamioner says:

          this is all basic and general al jazeera propaganda and I find it boorish, inaccurate and unqualified. when these terrorists accept Israel and throw out hamas, plus stop killing for a living because their leaders are eating up all the profits, there might be some semblance of neighborliness…but i doubt it.

          • Tamino says:

            It would be easier to take your position, if it wasn’t for the right wing in Israel killing Rabin and the whole ambition for a peace process, and if related people, mainly through covert means, hadn’t created Hamas in the first place. Because, you know, you need strong enemies, to justify your own expansionist and hard line agenda.
            If Hamas didn’t already exist, Netanyahu et al would really have to create it.

        • James says:

          Ah, that Joan Peters plagiarism claim – originally made by Norman Finklestein, the man who wrote the disgusting book “The Holocaust Industry” – is a usual refrain of those seeking to undercut Dershowitz and not engage with his points, and said claim has been fully analysed and debunked by Dershowitz in his follow-up book The Case For Peace. I’m heading out of this conversation now – just too busy, sorry.

          • Hilary says:

            Nonetheless, he did read the Dershowitz book. You somewhat patronisingly assume he didn’t. Credit , where credit is due!

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