Author Archives: bananabrain

a window of opportunity for an independent kurdistan?

i must start by declaring an interest here, not only as someone who supports a fair and equitable end to the arab-israeli conflict in which israel’s future is secured and a wider lasting peace in the middle east for all its peoples, but also as someone many of whose ancestors came from mosul and kirkuk in kurdistan. i have met many talented kurds and they have invariably been the sort of people who i could get along with and do business with; reasonable, rational and sensitive to the realities of history and politics.

for all these reasons, the issue of kurdistan has been close to my heart for a number of years; it felt very much to me as if it was a pipe-dream, given the geopolitical status quo. the basics are this:

Posted in Activism, Democracy, History, Human Rights, Identity Politics, International Affairs, Misc, Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

apparently we’re all robert spencer now, according to the weasels at “spinwatch”

we at the spittoon have for some time been a target for the not-very-impressive “spinwatch” site, which appears to be the hobby-horse of strathclyde university’s answer to bob pitt, dr david miller. dr miller, we hardly need remind you, appears to think that spittoon authors are without exception rabid “neo-cons”, by which he appears to mean some sort of catch-all imperialism of liberal democracy imposed by force of arms on the bucolic, picaresque and entirely pacifist natives of the middle-east and south asia. as if this wasn’t bad (or inaccurate) enough, we are also supposed to be apostles of islamophobia; apparently it isn’t clear enough to someone who is supposed to be an academic that what we oppose is the virulent political ideology known as islamism – as well as other forms of religious and political extremism; jewish, christian, atheist, muslim, ethnicity-based – we are equal-opportunity anti-extremists, or we certainly try to be.

Posted in Activism, Anti Muslim bigotry, Blogosphere, Dodgy Policy Wonks, Education, European Fascism, Far Right Extremism, Homophobia, Identity Politics, Islamism, Moral relativism, Nutters, Racism, The Far Left, The Left, The Regressive Left | 20 Responses

unfortunately, this is not haredi satire….

i came upon this notice in synagogue this morning. it makes interesting reading – as a piece of satire, of course, which i hoped and prayed it is, but unfortunately, on investigation, it isn’t, although it was, due to its over-the-topness, taken as such by the regulars, which was a relief. i know there are synagogues where it would not occur to anyone to think it might be satire – there is at least one commentator who sympathises, but nevertheless thinks it’s “overstated”!

the state of "yiddishkeit" yesterday

the state of "yiddishkeit" yesterday

anyway, it appears to be (you can download it from here) from one of the increasingly odd sub-groups of the breslover sect of hasidim, who you may have seen in the recent tv documentary partying at their annual jamboree at the sect founder’s tomb in the town of uman in the ukraine. they are regarded as somewhat odd even by other hasidim (in a kind of sufi high-on-G!D hippy kind of way) but they are rather obsessed with the kabbalistic aspects of correct sexual activity, the piece itself being extremely revealing of the attitudes that filter through in much of the discourse from the haredi world, particularly the hasidic bits, so i thought i’d share it, with some translation and commentary:

Posted in Activism, Esoterica, Exegesis, Farce, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Religion, Hermeneutics, Jewish Extremism, Laughs, Nutters, Obscurantism, Sectarianism, Sexuality | Leave a comment

the big society, riots and “spiral dynamics”

obviously, a great deal has been written about the riots to date and a great deal of predictable outpouring has also taken place. what i wanted to offer to this debate is, however, along more behavioural lines.

i have for some time been aware of the powerful analytical frameworks for bio-psycho-social systems developed by the american psychologist dr clare graves and systematised for practical application by don beck and chris cowan in the excellent book “spiral dynamics” (i’m not affiliated with anyone concerned, incidentally). at the risk of sounding like somewhat of a “fanboy”, as i believe it is called on teh interwebs, i am convinced it constitutes an important piece of intellectual real estate for the understanding of complex socio-political systems, particularly in behavioural terms.

Posted in Activism, Blogosphere, Civil Rights, Communalism, Crime, Democracy, Education, Ethics, Exegesis, Human Rights, Identity Politics, Media, Misc, Moral relativism, Multiculturalism, Political Correctnes gone mad!, Politics, The Far Left, The Left, The Regressive Left, UK Politics | Leave a comment

more precision needed – and include me out!

from the excellent-but-ferocious ophelia benson at butterflies and wheels:

“More precision needed. There should be a stamp for that. MPN should be like LOL or TMI.”

i agree. what narks me somewhat (and no doubt there are all sorts of reasons why i am wrong about this) is that this is *precisely* what bothers me about statements about a) religious people and b) the tendentious-as-feck word “judeo-christian”.

“But there again – that’s a matter of fact, not something that can just be declared from the armchair as if it were self-evident. Are Muslims as “diverse” as any other group of people living in the UK? Are all groups living in the UK exactly as diverse as each other, neither more nor less? I don’t see why that would be the case. It’s certainly not impossible that there is something about Islam and/or the history of people who emigrate from majority-Muslim countries that makes Muslims as a group tend to be different from other people as groups, including being less “diverse.” That’s something to find out, not just to announce as a necessary truth. Or a sacred cow…”

Posted in Anti Muslim bigotry, Antisemitism, Blogosphere, Freedom of Religion, Homophobia, Human Rights, Islamism, Jewish Extremism, Moral relativism, Multiculturalism | Leave a comment

“it is more important and impressive for G!D to Work through natural law than through supernatural miracles”

i have been, for some time, a supporter of the “zoo rabbi”, r. natan slifkin, who had the temerity to come out publicly in favour of evolution and has struggled with numerous attacks on his positions and, of course, the inevitable ad hominems and various disgraceful attempts to discredit his work by people of whom decidedly better should be expected.the zoo rabbi

i came across this particular gem of an essay  from his website today. it is an elegant argument for the ability to reconcile scientific and religious viewpoints:

“…Even if the Darwinian mechanisms were inadequate, presumably G!D had some sort of means of transforming creatures via natural law, which science would eventually discover. Dissing the neo-Darwinian explanation would mislead people into thinking that it necessarily happened in a supernatural manner.

Posted in Blogosphere, Christian Evangelical Nutters, Defamation, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Religion, Jewish Extremism, Nutters, Obscurantism | 1 Response

is honest dialogue compatible with the exposure of dishonest dialogue?

we at the spittoon seem spend a lot of time both criticising people who appear to be disingenuous, swivel-eyed fundamentalist weasels and their stooges, as well as calling for honest, open-hearted dialogue and support for a stronger, more liberal society in which both jews and muslims have a role to play, not just as citizens, but as jews and muslims. we believe both in the robust defence of liberty and the principles of democracy as well as aspiring to a better, more peaceful future in which people of differing religions, cultures and points of view will be able to live together – call it a messianic vision, if you like, or even “roddenberry-lite”, but we don’t see why people can’t “sit under their vine and fig-tree, with nobody to make them afraid“.

Posted in Activism, Anti Muslim bigotry, Antisemitism, Blogosphere, Civil Rights, Democracy, Entryism, Freedom of Religion, Human Rights, Identity Politics, Interfaith, Islamism, Jewish Extremism, Multiculturalism, Racism, UK Politics | 27 Responses

kabbalah loony-fest: global aftershocks continue

“Since we decided to do this conference, it seems to me the energy has gone insane all around the world.”

thus karen berg of the kabbalah centre.

it seems that the “energy” has indeed “gone insane” from the “power of peace” conference: the brothers of centre aficionado lisa tchenguiz have just been arrested in connection with an investigation into the collapsed icelandic bank kaupthing.

obviously, the kabbalah centre will be rushing to claim credit for this turn of events, it having about as much to do with their conference as the other effects they claim.

i think someone has tattooed the wrong letter triad on their bum.

Posted in Crime, Esoterica, Farce, Nutters | 2 Responses

the kabbalah loony-fest and the levers of power and influence

if the kabbalah centre are to be believed, their recent “power of peace” conference was responsible for the current reshaping under way in the middle east. according to the founder’s wife, karen berg:

“Since we decided to do this conference, it seems to me the energy has gone insane all around the world.”

according to her, this is because of the butterfly effect. as usual, proper science is being pressed into service as pseudo-scientific twaddle in order to bolster outrageous claims of causality and influence, but as we know from that deepak chopra-caused earthquake, that’s nothing new.

what is somewhat more worrying is the attendee list at the conference. a quick scan reveals the following:

  • philanthropist / socialite lisa tchenguiz, also known as “britain’s richest divorcée” and sister of the property magnates and entrepreneurs vincent and robert tchenguiz – so presumably, like other celebrity aficionados, a key target for flattery and significant personal and family funding.
Posted in Esoterica, Nutters, Obscurantism | Leave a comment

not in our name – and not in the name of Torah

usually, when responses to the latest act of settler militancy are announced, they tend to fall into four different categories:

1. standard “deplore and condemn” statements from the peace camp, from leftie organisations like peace now, b’tzelem, adalah, rabbis for human rights and so on.
2. standard “you see what we have to deal with, this just makes peace more difficult” statements from the palestinian authority and allied bodies
3. standard “vowing revenge on the zionists” rhetoric from the likes of hamas and its fellow travelers.
4. anodyne PR-speak from the military authorities making excuses for why they weren’t able to prevent the incident or prosecute the people involved

what is usually absent is the voice of religious traditionalism – except, unfortunately when it is supporting the obscene “price tag” policy that is bringing the settlement enterprise into further disrepute.

Posted in Activism, Anti Muslim bigotry, International Affairs, Israel/Palestine, Jewish Extremism | 12 Responses
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