Category Archives: Israel

Daily Oddities, July 23rd, 2009

We’ve got lots to talk about today, so lets get right down to the real serious stuff.

Globe: Things still really suck for EU little cousins Bulgaria and Romania, where infighting, corruption and graft are making it difficult to get anything done. Vote-buying, which we’ve mentioned before, is easy when your political power is less valuable (and less real) than a few kilos of sugar. Someone finally explains the decriminalization of homosexuality in India, which was confusing us, and scientists learn that chimps really had AIDS all along.  Chief Rabbis have threatened to un-kosher certain veggies for overspraying, and the first trials of a new swineflu vaccine are underway in the land down under!

California: As we repored earlier, it’s going to be a hot motherfucker in the Southland this weekend. Which apparently won’t stop people from lining up around the corner for social services from the Mexican Consulate (brought to you by the department of obvious feature stories).

If you want social services in Brooklyn: Brokelyn’s got a special report on all the places you can recieve medical care if you haven’t got a pesky little thing called insurance. Which could come in handy if you happen to run into one of the CRAZY RABID RACOONS terrorizing the boroughs or if you happen to be part of the half of New York City that is overweight.


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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Brooklyn, Daily Oddities, Israel, it's a small world, Los Angeles, Swine Flu

Daily Oddities: July 17, 2009

Os Gemeos

Recognize this? It's the unfinished mural by Os Gemeos, whose work adorns the facade across from the Stillwell Avenue Subway in Coney Island

It’s another day in the neighborhood, and Oddities are all around us. In fact, I’d say it’s a banner week for weird.


Despite preliminary approval for the city’s first Wal-Mart, Brooklynites are still fighting the man, while the Man uncovers coaching documents for Chinese immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. Classic Man-hating gutter punks (so familiar to any resident of the Bay Area) have infultrated Williamsburg, an underground climbing gym in Greenpoint closes after the Local writes them up, then eliminates the post, and Animals also had a banner week of weird: Jerry Stiller will never again visit Sea World after watching a film that depicts the terror of trained dolphins, the Brooklyn girl who baked a kitten (whose name is the same as my mom’s kitten) tells off animal activists and Sad Panda, the poster child of weird,  is Missing!!! In non-weird or animal related news, Brokelyn has your best bets for book-swapping in the borough. Plaza de Armas it ain’t, but worth a look for bibliophiles.


FailedMessiah has a map of Orthodox riots in Israel and child-star Rubina Ali thinks Nicole Kidman is “weird” because she’s “afraid of the sun” and doesn’t come out of her trailer.

More to come…

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Brooklyn, Daily Oddities, Immigration, Israel

Your Intifada was Made in China: Commodity Fetishism Killing Palestine

A version of this is up at Mother Jones, but this one is too hard for the homepage.


Oh the keffiyeh. How long have I waited, in vain, for you to die? Before it was the emblem of the hipster generation, the keffiyeh (spelled many ways but worn only one) was the preferred and only headdress for PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and the symbol of Palestinian nationalism. What fatigues were to Fidel, the oragamied scarf was to Arafat.

Thanks to an late aughts explosion of popuarity, the symbol of intifada is now second only to the Che t-shirt for its global ubiquity and collegiate rebel chic. Today, you can buy this fashion juggernaut from half of all street vendors on Earth for a cool five bucks. There are in existance people who are “too cool” for the keffiyeh, but in all my wanderings through Williamsburg, the Mission and Silverlake, I haven’t met them. If Urban Outfitters and Rachel Ray couldn’t kill it, it seemed as though nothing could.

For all of you who were waiting on the “I told you so” moment, here it is.

According to a heart-wrenchingly earnest video by web-magazine Monocle, the global keffiyeh craze  is about to force Mr. Hirbawi, 76, the last keffiyeh factory owner in Palestine, out of business.

That’s because the one you’re wearing (and, increasingly, they ones they’re wearing) are made in China. Ironically, global support for Palestinian-statehood-as-fashion-accessory has put yet another nail in the coffin of the Occupied Territories’ beleaguered economy.

Here’s how it happened: Back in ’87, during the first intifada, intifadniks couldn’t get enough of Mr. Hirbawi’s $25 scarves. Looser export restricitons meant that Israelis could rep them too, and slowly but surely the scarf and its emblematic pattern began appearing in the West. By the time the second intifada rolled around in 2000,  hardcore activists and the super cool already had them. Somewhere between then and now, the keffiyeh reached its tipping point, and hipsters’ insatiable lust for the scarf lured Chinese manufactures into the gig. Being the Chinese, they were able to undercut the Palestinians by an order of magnitide, and out-export them at every turn. Fast forward about a decade, and globalization killed the keffiyeh.

Is it yet another case of globalization ruining the world, or are Chinese keffiyehs just a natural outgrowth of Marx’s commodity fetishism? After all, what can’t be commodified these days?

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Brooklyn, Eastside, Economy, Israel, Palestine

the things i like to write about (are weird)

From time to time, when I am writing, I have this thought—which I occasionally post on FB:

“sometimes i sit down and i write some shit and i think, holy mother of G-d i am a sick, terrible person. at least i’m thin”

Usually in those exact words . Anyone who knows me knows that i write a lot (despite not having posted here in about a week—srry!), both for a living/school and in my free time. It’s like that quote from Karn’s piece about cigarette smoking in NYC—”I won’t be able to quit. It comes from inside me”

I’ve gotta tell you, the shit i write for work is bad enough (Tamil Tigers, stabbings, rape/murder and a measles epidemic, and that’s just this week), but in spite of or because of this, the shit i write after work is even worse. Sometimes I read through what I’ve written for the night and then i think, motherfucker, i need some valium or a quarter of a xanax or something. Because of course I’m really not writing about these things—I’m writing about a doomed love affair and a laundromat chain and some IED taxi cabs—and yet they come out of me. Which is why if the Kindle ever generates a tag-cloud for fiction, I’ll have to throw myself from the Verrazano Bridge.


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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Bibliomania, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Coney Island, India, Israel, it's a small world, Reimagineers, Sri Lanka, Taxis

Oops, I almost forgot! Cigarettes now $9/pack in NYC

Why not try Hi-Tar Noblesse, the IDF's preferred cigarette? (just $20 a carton!)

Why not try Hi-Tar Noblesse, the IDF's preferred cigarette? (just $20 a carton!)

It’s official—cigarette prices jumped 62-cents a pack nationwide on Wednesday, bumping the cheapest brand over $9 in NYC. You weren’t really thinking of quitting, were you? Not now. We were having so much fun!

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Brooklyn, Economy, Israel

Gaza: an editor’s note (camels on the b-roll)

*I post this out of love, because even (and often) the most earnest among us are also the most absurd.

I was trolling Facebook as I often do when i came across a friend’s photo album from a recent Gaza mish. I am sharing this in violation of my own rules to make a point about EDITING. Not Israel. So we’re clear.

If it please the court, People’s 1:

*This camel was hit by white phosphorus. While she survived, her baby was killed during the Israeli bombardment.* (this is the original caption)

*This camel was hit by white phosphorus. While she survived, her baby was killed during the Israeli bombardment.* (this is the original caption)

Are you listening world? Israel killed this camel’s baby!

Y’s photo album was full of disturbing photos with even more disturbing captions—ie, the face and body of a grimacing little boy who suffered severe burns after a kerosene tank exploded in his home (it wasn’t clear, btw, if the karosene tank exploded as the result of military action or mishandling…which itself would be a result of crippling poverty in the wake of military action, but is nevertheless and extremely significant difference) with the caption “The nurse at Al-Shifa’a says that Omar is unlikely to survive due to the burns.” Does it seem a bit, I don’t know, self-serving and self-righteous and kind of misanthropically cynical to post gruesome naked photos of some doomed  twelve year-old you’ve never met before on you FACEBOOK PAGE? Am I alone in feeling shocked  that someone allegedly committed to a cause that is not only nationalist but humanitarian wouldn’t exercise more discretion? I was going to let it pass, until I came across the camel.

Listen Y, if you’re out there. I think you’re great and your mish was an important one. Bad, nasty stuff is/was/will be happening in Gaza, and it’s great you were there to report it. But is it so much to ask that you report, or at least that you edit critically? If you’re going to exploit somebody else’s brother/son/cousin (and lets be real, posting the 3rd degree burns on his ass is exploitation) a child who is—you believe— about to die, have the decensy to leave the bereft camels for the b-roll. That’s all I’m saying.

ADDENDUM: If you’re writing graf long captions for all your photos and then you get to a picture of Jabalia and all you can say about is “Jabalia” … people live there, you know. And if that’s all you’ve got, it’s been looking like that—that’s why its Jabalia.

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Israel, Palestine, The Liberal Media, United Nations

The Obama Admin. Workout Plan


Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press

Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press



  Whether you want Presidential proportions in time for bikini season, or you’re still struggling after that New Years resolution, consider the 44th President your new role model. 


  The Guardian gaped at Obama’s formidable workout regime back in November, which quotes from a Men’s Health article in which the President copped to a 45-minute daily routine that alternates between cardio and strength training. Unfortunately, the details are still fuzzy. 

But the Commander-in-Chief is not the only one hyping the body-mind connection. 

White House Chief-of-Staff, No. 2 Man and all around sabra hottie Rahm Emanuel mimics Obama’s exhausting workout schedule, swimming a mile at the Y most mornings. According to the New York Times:

 On days he does not swim, he works out — and conducts business — at the House gym: 25 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes on the elliptical, 120 sit-ups, 55 push-ups and many sweaty conversations with his former colleagues.

Want inaugural abs? Be a patriot, and follow the example.

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Filed under Israel, OBAMA