The UN and the Israeli Double Standard: Dara Horn Was Right

Last year, author Dara Horn put for a troubling theory in her history/nonfiction book, People Love Dead Jews: Reports From a Haunted Past. Her hypothesis was the non-Jewish world speaks fondly and mournfully of Jews who are no longer among the living. But when it comes to those of us who are alive and kicking, that’s another story entirely.

Last week, the United Nations ratified a resolution denouncing Holocaust denial. Don’t get me wrong, this is super important, given that antisemitism is back at a rate that has not been seen for decades. But while this is happening, they continue with their usual double standard of targeting Israel more than any other nation.

The UN’s charter states the following:

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

Clearly, they have failed at their mission.

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Filed under Books, History, International News, Judaism, World News

It Could Happen Here: Why America Is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable – And How We Can Stop It Book Review

For more than 200 years, Americans have taken comfort in that our democratic nation was solid. Our beliefs and freedoms would be with us forever. Until recently, I think most of us had this perspective. The last few years have proven that in reality, we are on extremely shaky ground.

It Could Happen Here: Why America Is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable – And How We Can Stop It, by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, was published earlier this month. The grandson of a Holocaust survivor, he knows all too well what happens when hate consumes a nation. In the book, he calls out antisemitism, racism, and hatred of all kinds. His warning is loud and clear for anyone who is willing to listen: we are at a tipping point. Unless we do something when there is still time, this country that we know and love will be nothing but a shell of its former self.

Greenblatt could have offered platitudes or pie in the sky ideas. Instead, he offers real-world ideas that are applicable to anyone who has felt ostracized because of who they are. This is a book that we should all be reading and applying to our everyday lives. It is possible to undo the damage. We just need the courage, the backbone, and the balls to do what needs to be done.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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Filed under History, National News, Politics

People of the POD: Diversity is Possible

These days, there is a lot of talk about diversity and learning to get along. But talk is cheap. We have to walk the walk if we want our actions to match our words.

In the wake of the hostages that were taken at the synagogue in Texas a couple of weeks ago, it would have been easy to turn to anger and despair. It is a sad fact that after 5000 years, Jews are still dealing with antisemitism and the lies that come from it.

But there is still a little bit of light in the darkness. On the 18th, the People of the Pod podcast released a special episode relating to the events of the 15th. As the news unfolded, local Jewish, Muslim, and Christian clergy waited at a nearby church, hoping and praying that the hostages would come out alive.

Listening to the interviews, I could see the light in the darkness. There are good people in this world. If only there was enough to stop hate in its tracks.

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Filed under National News, Podcast, Judaism

RIP Meatloaf

Every decade has its own music artists that represent the period. There are few that transcend time, entertaining generations of fans.

Meatloaf was one of those performers. He passed away last Friday at the age of 74.

Both a versatile singer and a respected actor, he moved between both mediums seamlessly. On stage, he was a powerhouse vocalist whose theatricality made his performances extra special. If I could have seen him in concert, I would have. I’m sure that it would have been nothing less than a bucket list experience.

I love the Beauty and the Beast inspiration for this video. It’s just perfect.
The best part of this video is the voice of the female character. Instead of just giving him what she wants, she hits back with equal force.
A reboot of a Celine Dion song, it is sad, sweet, and full of regret.

Thank you, sir, for the years of joy you have given us. Rest in peace.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Feminism, Music

The 49th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade Could be It’s Last

The anniversary of any legislation that enfranchises a formerly disenfranchised people should be one of remembrance and respect.

Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of Roe V. Wade. If things go a certain way, there is a good chance that it would be a thing of the past. The choice of whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term and care for the child that comes out of that pregnancy is not the decision of the government. It is a decision that is deeply personal. The only people concerned are the ones that have a hand in making that decision.

If Roe is either completely overturned or is rendered toothless, the potential of a patchwork of state laws is very real. Depending on where the pregnant person lives and the income they bring in, they could at best have access to a safe abortion or at worst use the coathanger method of ending the pregnancy. If the pregnant person survives, the physical repercussions on their body does not fade quickly or easily.

We all know that having children is a blessing. But it is also a responsibility that I think some pro-life people conveniently forget. Not every child is blessed to have parents who are able to emotionally and financially support them.

At the end of the day, Roe is about a pregnant person (a woman to be specific) deciding their own destiny. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which some believe that a woman either does not have the right to or is unable to draw her own conclusions. For that reason alone, the fight for Roe must continue on.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Politics

The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation Book Review

The Diary of Anne Frank has been read by millions of readers since it was published in 1947. The ending is both hopeful and devastating. The one question that still leaves us hanging after 70+ years, is who was responsible for the betrayal of the residents of the Annex?

The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, by Rosemary Sullivan, was published this month. The book follows the multi-year search led by FBI investigator Vincent Pankoke to answer the question once and for all. Using modern cold case investigative methodologies and working with a team of historians and other experts, no detail is left to the wind. Every clue is followed to the bitter end, leading to a suspect that if proven to be the one, has gone undetected for nearly a century.

I know it is only January, but I can already see this book topping the list of best books of 2022. It is a heart-pounding thriller that kept me hooked until the final page. As we got closer to the end, I wanted to know who was responsible. If nothing else, it is a reminder that getting justice is still possible, even when those directly affected are no longer with us. When it closed for the last time, I knew that there was a light in the darkness. Perhaps history will not repeat itself and we will finally learn the lessons of diversity and respect.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Feminism, Books, Writing, History

Mansfield Park Character Review: Maria Bertram

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

For most of human history, a woman’s choice has been marriage, and uh, marriage. If she was lucky, she received a basic education or was taught in the style that was “appropriate” for a lady. This idea was especially persistent among the upper classes. From an early age, girls were prepared for the day when they would no longer be a Miss and become a Mrs. On the surface, this life seems relatively simple. But upon deeper reading, it is easy to see how frustrating these constraints could be.

In Mansfield Park, Maria Bertram is fully aware of what her future holds. The eldest daughter and third child of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, she enjoys the perks of status, wealth, and beauty. Behind closed doors is another story. Both of her parents are emotionally distant from their children. Her father is all about business. Her mother prefers to spend more time with her dog than her offspring. The only adult in the room is her aunt, Mrs. Norris. But Mrs. Norris is not there to pick up the pieces left behind by her sister and brother-in-law. Selfish and self-gratifying, she indulges her sister’s kids in hopes of getting a piece of the pie.

Of all of the young men in the area, Maria’s choice of future husband is Mr. Rushworth. His appeal is his fortune and the escape she will have from an unhappy household. Willing to overlook the fact that he is both stupid and physically unattractive, it is the out she is looking for. Shortly after accepting Mr. Rushworth’s proposal, the brother and sister duo of Mary and Henry Crawford joins the Bertram’s social circle. Both are charming, intelligent, and the life of the party. Knowing full well that her marriage is one of convenience, Maria has no problem flirting with Henry. She also ignores that he is also flirting with her younger sister, Julia.

Expecting a proposal from Henry, she is disappointed that he does not act on their flirtation. This leads her to marry her fiance and take Julia with them on her honeymoon. Upon starting her new life as Mrs. Rushworth in London, Henry comes back and picks up right where they left off. This leads to an affair, a failed elopement, and being excised from polite society due to her status as a divorcee who left her husband for another man.

To sum it up: The choices we make define how we live our lives. Even when those choices are limited, the actions we take have an impact. Maria could have ended her engagement to Mr. Rushworth, which might have opened the door to a respectable life and a happy marriage. But she chose another path, leading to disgrace and humiliation.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

The Power of the Dog Movie Review

Toxic masculinity represents a time in human history in which men were expected to be men. There was little room for feelings or expressing themselves in an open or healthy manner.

The 2021 Netflix film, The Power of the Dog, is based on the book of the same name by Thomas Savage. In Montana in 1925, brothers Phil and George Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons) have taken over the running of the family ranch. Phil is a man’s man in every sense of the word, George is considerate and emotionally open.

On the road to the market, they eat at a restaurant owned by Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst) and her teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Rose is a widow who has been forced to change her life to support herself and Peter after the abrupt passing of her late husband. Phil’s callous and cruel jokes drive both mother and son to tears. George tries to make up for his brother’s actions, which turns into a marriage proposal. When Rose and Peter enter Phil’s orbit as his sister-in-law and nephew, this new reality turns his world upside down. Taking the boy under his wing, Phil swings between mocking Peter and teaching him how to run a ranch.

The question is, has Phil started to change, or is this a ploy to continue his brutish ways?

This is supposed to be one of the best movies of 2021. Whatever it is that made this film special, I don’t see it.

It has nothing to do with the performers or the story itself. Director and co-screenwriter Jane Campion does what she does best. Cumberbatch once again proves that he is one of the most versatile actors in the business. Plemmons and Dunst are well cast for their roles and the perfect ying to Cumerbatch’s yang. Smit-McPhee is a young actor who solely based on his one role, has a bright future. The problem is that I was on the verge of being bored and wondering why I should care about these characters.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix

Michelle Go Should Be Alive

If there is one thing New York City is known for, it is our subway system. It is the lifeblood of not just the city itself, but of the region. Without it, NYC would not be what it is.

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Last weekend, Michelle Go was shoved toward a subway car by a homeless man as it barreled into the Times Square station. She did not survive. The accused, who will not be named on this blog, has a history of previous arrests and emotionally disturbing encounters with riders.

There are two theories as to why Ms. Go was targeted. The first is that the accused has severe mental health problems and should not have been on the streets. The problem with this accusation is that it casts a shadow on everyone who lives with a mental illness. The truth is that most of us who live with it are just trying to get by. If such an act happens, we are more likely to be the victim, not the perpetrator.

The second theory is that she was targeted because of her ethnicity. It is sadly not the first time this has happened and will not be the last time. Back in November, Bew Jirajariyawetch was chocked one station south of where Ms. Go was killed. Ms. Jirajariyawetch is a model originally from Thailand.

My feeling is that both played a role in Ms. Go’s death. Which as a rider of the NYC transit system scares the shit out of me. I should not be afraid to get on the bus or train. But until the city does what they need to do to protect straphangers, I am forced to be more vigilant than I have been before.

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Filed under Mental Health, New York City

Flashback Friday: Animal Cribs (2017-2019)

When it comes to our pets, we love them as if they were our own children.

Animal Cribs aired on Animal Planet from 2017 to 2019. Antonio Ballatore is both a respected designer and an animal lover. This reality show followed Antonio and his team as they renovated the client’s homes to fit the needs of the humans and the nonhumans who called the property home.

I enjoyed this program when it was on the air. It was an interesting take on what could have been standard for this genre. I loved the passion that Ballatore had for not only his work, but for the creatures who would call his creations home.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review