Tag Archives | Criticism

How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic

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Peter Vidani writes at This Is Not Jewish:

If you’ve spent any time discussing or reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I guarantee you’ve heard some variation of this statement:

OMG, Jews think any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic! 

In the interests of this post, I’m going to assume that the people who express such sentiments are acting in good faith and really don’t mean to cause pain to or problems for Diaspora Jewry.  For those good-faith people, I present some guidelines for staying on the good side of that admittedly murky line, along with the reasoning why the actions I list are problematic.  (And bad-faith people, you can no longer plead ignorance if you engage in any of these no-nos.  Consider yourselves warned.)  In no particular order:

  1. Don’t use the terms “bloodthirsty,” “lust for Palestinian blood,” or similar.  Historically, Jews have been massacred in the belief that we use the blood of non-Jews (particularly of children) in our religious rituals.  This belief still persists in large portions of the Arab world (largely because white Europeans deliberately spread the belief among Arabs) and even in parts of the Western world.  Murderous, inhumane, cruel, vicious—fine.  But blood…just don’t go there.  Depicting Israel/Israelis/Israeli leaders eating children is also a no-no, for the same reason.
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Rolling Balls through the Mind: On the Virtues of Laziness

I could have a job, but am too lazy to choose it;

I have got land, but am too lazy to farm it.

My house leaks; I am too lazy to mend it.

My clothes are torn; I am too lazy to darn them.

I have got wine, but I am too lazy to drink;

So it’s just the same as if my cup were empty.

I have got a lute, but am too lazy to play;

So it’s just the same as if it had no strings.

My family tells me there is no more steamed rice;

I want to cook, but am too lazy to grind.

My friends and relatives write me long letters;

I should like to read them, but they’re such a bother to open.

I have always been told that Hsi Shu-yeh

Passed his whole life in absolute idleness.

But he played his lute and sometimes worked at his forge;

So even he was not so lazy as I.… Read the rest

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Let’s stop trying to teach students critical thinking

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Socrates, the father of critical thinking. lentina_x, CC BY-NC-SA

Many teachers say they strive to teach their students to be critical thinkers. They even pride themselves on it; after all, who wants children to just take in knowledge passively?

But there is a problem with this widespread belief. The truth is that you can’t teach people to be critical unless you are critical yourself. This involves more than asking young people to “look critically” at something, as if criticism was a mechanical task.

As a teacher, you have to have a critical spirit. This does not mean moaning endlessly about education policies you dislike or telling students what they should think. It means first and foremost that you are capable of engaging in deep conversation. This means debate and discussion based on considerable knowledge – something that is almost entirely absent in the educational world.… Read the rest

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Op-Ed: What is Israel Supposed To Do?

[Disclaimer: Some readers seem to think that everything posted by our contributors is a direct endorsement. This is not the case. We want to promote different viewpoints to spark conversation. Again, pieces written on this site DO NOT reflect Disinfo’s views as a company.]

Disinfo has posted a lot of articles and arguments condemning Israel and their actions in the past few weeks. But the most recent video from Abby Martin at Russia Today has me questioning some things. It showcases a debate between Max Blumenthal (journalist and author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel) and Morton Klein (president of the Zionist Organization of America).

For one, and I have to bring this up, is that Martin was by no means an impartial moderator. Her intentions, despite what she may have claimed, were not to showcase another side to the argument. But with her track record of condemning Israel, who would actually expect her to be impartial?… Read the rest

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Fox News PR Department Waged War on Critical Bloggers With Sock Puppet Accounts

NPR reporter David Folkenflik’s new book Murdoch’s World accuses Fox News’ PR department of using scores of fake commenter accounts to challenge negative – even neutral – articles in the blogosphere on Fox News. Employees were even expected to challenge other negative comments on the same posts, a tactic shared with unhinged stalkers, trolls and basement dwellers the world over.

Via Media Matters:

On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins.

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Wikileaks Movie ‘The Fifth Estate’ and Why It Misses the Point

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT1wb8_tcYU

The story of Wikileaks is complex and goes beyond the Hollywood world of “goodies vs baddies”. Even so a big budget film is due to be released about it soon and it’s likely to be annoying. The trailer has already irritated me, both the title and a key quote in there seem misplaced.

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

Quoting a famous figure doesn’t make what you’re saying any more or less true and poor Mr Wilde is so famously quotable he often ends up looking wrong when de-contextualised like this. People don’t always tell the truth when granted anonymity, obviously. In fact there’s a counter argument to this quote which carries more weight in this context, it involves the ring of Gyges a philosopher called Plato and the fact that when hidden from view people often do the wrong thing.… Read the rest

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In Defense of the Hipster: Part 2

HipsterShark2PART 2: AUTHENTICITY IS BULLSHIT, or: POP IS THE NEW PUNK

(Part 1, titled “What Is A Hipster, And Why Does Everyone Hate Them? or: You’re So Fake (And So Am I), can be found here.)

As noted in Part 1, the main thrust of the criticisms against hipsters have roots in a notion of authenticity.  Lorentz mentions the words “authentic” and “inauthentic” a dozen times in his article, and the Adbusters piece is just as bad. It’s a fair charge to say that hipsters fetishize the authentic, as Lorentz does. This is hardly unique to hipsters, though; one can find it in practically any sub-culture. It’s so common that I find it disingenuous to use it as a criticism of hipsters and Hipsterism. The problem, as I see it, is that notion of authenticity being used is utter bullshit.

Some years ago, before I became a hipster or had even heard of hipsters, I was confirmed as “real” at a party by a group of counter-culture kids.… Read the rest

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