Why Pass on the Trauma? A Conversation with Avraham Burg

On bloggingheads.tv, I’ve interviewed Avrum Burg about his nearly new book, The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes.  I say nearly new, because the book came out earlier in Israel, where it was roundly attacked, mostly by people who hadn’t read it but knew precisely what it said. I’m told that this … Read more

Fire the Founders! Fire the Founding Opposition!

On the flight back from South Africa I began reading Andrew Feinstein’s After the Party. Feinstein was a young member of parliament representing the African National Congress in South Africa’s new democracy after 1994. While his own involvement with the ANC only began in earnest with the transition to democracy, he revered the people who had succeeded in overthrowing apartheid.

By August 2001, Feinstein had quit parliament, forced out because he had pushed for a full investigation of the arms-purchasing scandal that has led to the top ranks of the party. Even beforehand, he was furious with President Mbeki Thabo’s surreal refusal to deal with the AIDS pandemic sweeping through South Africa. Mbeki insisted that poverty, not a virus, caused the disease, and that Western pharmaceutical companies were trying to bankrupt Africa by selling dangerous and useless drugs. It was a conspiracy theory turned into a national policy of ignoring a plague.

The tie between the arms scandal and AIDS denial was the transformation of the ANC from a liberation movement embracing a wide variety of opinions to a top-down party where dissent was crushed. No questions about AIDS, no questions about government officials and their relatives getting rich in the process of buying unnecessary, inferior and overpriced arms.

As an aside, yes, Feinstein is Jewish, marginally.

Read more

The Belabored Party

My wife occasionally mentions a repeated gag on the fake news broadcast on Saturday Night Live in the 70s. After other mangled news, the announcer would say, “And Franco is still dying.” Given what he could expect in the next world, it’s no wonder he was slow about moving there.

But the record for slow political deaths surely belongs to Israel’s Labor Party.

Read more