the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Lebanon

Letter to Paris #2

Dear Tara,

As I sign of peace in a political world, I will not link to articles that insinuate that Islam is a religion of violence, because that is something I strongly detest when I see it written by conservatives.   How about you refrain from linking to articles that state that “the Jewish fundamentalist belief of being God’s chosen people has allowed Israel to believe it can do as it will?”

As I wrote in your comments:

“While I believe the Palestinian leadership and the Arab world bear much of the responsibility for the problems in the middle east — along with Israel — and I particularly blame Iran for arming Hezbollah to the teeth in this current conflict (they sent off a drone today that neared Tel Aviv), I would never say that Arab violence comes out of the religion of Islam.

So, I hope you will agree with me that the statement that the central Jewish concept of “the chosen people” means they can “do as they will” is completely horrendous, and a total misinterpretation of what it is about — moral duty, not superiority. The concept of the chosen people is completely bound to the idea of keeping the commandments that bring a people closer to God. For a journalist to use the “chosen people” line as an explanation for Israel’s entry into Lebanon smacks of the most abhorent anti-Semitism.

If Jews really believe that they were chosen as a ‘superior’ people who can do as they will, they would be the most stupid people that ever existed, especially after being driven from their homeland, forced to wander the world for centuries, made to live like second class citizens, tortured, and murdered by both Muslim and Christian. What luck to be so chosen!”

Letter to Paris


Sometimes I read personally bloggers lamenting the fact that they only write about the mundane events of their lives rather than getting involved into the big discussions of the day:  politics, war, etc.  They almost feel unworthy to be writing on the blogosphere next to their more serious brethren.

I don’t feel this way.

I’m not a big fan of political blogs, despite their popularity.  The readers are usually people of the same political persuasion patting each other on the back until some outsider breaks in to write something controversial.  Then, all hell breaks loose as insults fly.

I believe that personal bloggers are way more important than political bloggers.  It is the personal that will eventually bring people together.  Despite differences, most people everywhere want the same things:  love, shelter, sex, and good food.  I might want a corned beef sandwich and you might want a shish-kebab, but when it comes down to, it is the same basic  want.  I wish there was more cross-cultural blog reading going on.  I love to read about a Muslim woman’s life in Mauritius (Fitena).  I learn so much from her.  And hopefully, she’s learning something about American Jews like me (I just hope she doesn’t think that all Jewish men have an unhealthy relationship with a talkative penis — that’s even worse that Jews having horns!)

Personal bloggers tend to be more open to civilized discussion.  

For example, Tara Bradford is an American journalist living in Paris.   She writes a blog titled Paris Parfait, which she describes as a muses about a “parfait sundae” of art, antiques, culture, poetry and politics.  In the last few weeks, she’s been very upset about what is going on in Lebanon and has written some excellent posts about the conflict there.   Although they are written very passionately, I’ve complained about the one-sidedness of her arguments because she seemed to blame the situation more on Israel than on Hezbollah and Iran.  She could have just dismissed me, but instead, she invited me to write a post on her site, expressing my differing views.  (link here)

Now, that is a definition of a mensch.

Personal bloggers rule!


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Bad News Neilochka

Happy Bastille Day!


I’ve always had a love for things French, from Rabelais to my favorite movie director, Eric Rohmer. I have a few blogging friends in Paris, and I love to read about their beautiful city. But sometimes I wonder — has there ever been a positive thing said about Israel by a French leader? And why not?

I support Israel’s current bombardment of Lebanon, although I’m sad that civilians are being injured and killed. But why is Jacques Chirac always the first out of the gate to call Israel’s offensive as “totally disproportionate”?

Bachar El Assad and Jacques Chirac

“One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communication,” Chirac said during an interview.

What would he do if Spain went into France tonight and kidnapped some French soliders? Wouldn’t the French people want to take action? Was the storming of Normandy by the Allies a “totally disproportionate” action? Or was the Nazi presence acceptable? Was the storming of the Bastille disproportionate?

France has a long history in the Middle East, including past colonies in Morocco, Lebanon, Algeria and Tunisia. Millions of Arabs murdered by French soldiers in the past. Maybe that explains French guilt over the Arab world. Does it also explain why Chirac was the only western head of state at Syrian despot Hafez el Assad`s funeral?

These two men had a long relationship. After being pressed by Jewish groups, Chirac finally questioned Assad about former Nazi Alois Brunner, who was living in Syria. Brunner, a top Nazi operative, is believed responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Jews deported to death camps between 1942 and 1945. He once was commandant of the squalid French transit camp at Drancy. Assad’s simple answer to Chirac’s question: he would “examine the issue.” I guess that was good enough.

President Giscard d’Estaing provided asylum to Ayatollah Khomeini who resided in Neauphle le Chateau near Paris and, on 1 February 1979, arrived in Teheran on a special Air France flight. Two generations earlier, France extended similar hospitality to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a close friend of Heinrich Himmler and enthusiastic advocate of the “Final Solution.” Although the French government was obligated to detain this war criminal and bring him to law, they lodged him in a villa in the fashionable Paris suburb of Rambouillet.

General de Gaulle was well-known for using the phrase: “le peuple juif, sûr de lui meme et dominateur” (the Jewish people, self-confident and domineering). De Gaulle was an admirer of Charles Maurras, a monarchist-nationalist-Catholic thinker and politician with strong anti-Semitic feelings.

According to the Canadian historian Henry Weinberg, “De Gaulle implicitly characterized the Israelis as arrogant, expansionist war hawks who seek every opportunity to achieve their imperialistic aims, as militarists spoiling for a fight. He also ‘invited’ the Jews to keep a low profile, implying that Israel’s right to live in security was linked to the ‘humility’ of its political behavior.

Which basically meant that Jews were OK, as long as they remained wimpy. You know, like the nice non-aggressive ones who agreed to go onto the friendly trains to Germany.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Life is a Cabaret

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