Thursday, September 29, 2011

In memory of Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)

“Karşı karşıya olduğumuz sorunlarla sürekli bir şekilde bombardıman altında olduğumuz için kendimizi tamamen bunalmış hissettiğimizde, sinek kuşunun hikayesini hatırlarım.  Dev bir ormanda büyük bir yangın çıkmış. Ormandaki bütün hayvanlar kaçışmışlar ve ormanın yanmasını üzüntü içinde seyretmeye başlamışlar. Kendilerini son derece tükenmiş, çaresiz ve güçsüz hissediyorlarmış. Küçücük bir sinek kuşu hariç. Sinek kuşu, ‘bu yangını söndürmek için bir şeyler yapmalıyım’ demiş ve en yakındaki dereye gidip gagasına bir damla su almış, sonra ormana kadar uçup yangının üzerine bırakmış. Olabildiğince hızlı bir şekilde bir aşağı, bir yukarı uçup, damlaları yangının üzerine bırakıyormuş. O sırada bütün diğer hayvanlar çaresiz bir şekilde yangını seyrediyorlarmış. Aralarında kocaman hortumlarıyla çok daha fazla su taşıyabiliecek filler bile varmış. Sinek kuşuna sormuşlar: ‘Ne yapabileceğini sanıyorsun ki? Sen küçük bir kuşsun, bu yangın ise dev gibi. Seni kanatların küçücük, gagan minicik. Her seferinde ancak bir damla su taşıyabilirsin.” Onlar cesaretini kıracak sözler söylemeye devam ederken, sinek kuşu hiç vakit kaybetmeden uçmaya, yangını söndürmek için gagasıyla su taşımaya devam etmiş. O arada da dönüp diğer hayvanlara cevap vermiş: ‘Yapabileceğimin en iyisini yapıyorum.’ Bence hepimizin yapması gereken de işte bu. Her zaman o sinek kuşu gibi olmalıyız. Çok önemsiz bir insan olabilirim, ama hiçbir zaman gezegen tükenirken durup seyreden o hayvanlar gibi olmak istemiyorum. Ben sinek kuşu olacağım, elimden gelenin en iyisini yapacağım.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011 Israel at 60

I've come across a list, developed by in 2007, wherein 12 thinkers, writers and statesmen on how Israel will respond to its challenges over the next 60 years. Sadly, the only one worthy of blogging is that of Daniel Barenboim, the Internationally celebrated Israeli maestro...

For Israelis and Palestinians to live together, there are two possibilities: One is two states; the other, a bi-national state. A bi-national state is totally unacceptable to Israelis, because it would mean the end of the Jewish state. The two-state solution is becoming increasingly impossible because of the settlements. I'm pessimistic in the short term because I see neither of the two solutions actually working today.Thousands of Israelis go to bed at night and dream that they wake up in the morning and the Palestinians won't be there. And it's not going to happen. And thousands of Palestinians go to sleep at night dreaming they wake up in the morning and the Israelis will not be there. It's not going to happen, either.
I believe in the right of the Jewish people to live there. The Zionist idea was not meant to be an idea of a conquering nation that holds on to conquered territory for over forty years and builds settlements. If Israel is to be a state for the Jews, why hold on to territory where there are no Jews and artificially put them there, in settlements?
I find a carefree celebration of 60 years totally out of place. Jewish blood, Israeli blood runs through my veins, but at the same time my heart also beats for the Palestinians.
The rest of the list is here

Monday, September 12, 2011

Unknown Klimt discovered in Dutch house

© 2011 AFP

"A previously unknown painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt has been discovered in a private home in the Netherlands, Austria's Standard newspaper reported.
The 90 centimetre (35 inches) by 90 centimetre work was assessed by Alfred Weidinger, deputy director of Austria's Belvedere museum, which holds the world's largest Klimt collection, Standard said its Saturday edition.
The landscape, called "Seeufer mit Birken" (lakeside with birch trees) was painted in 1901. The Dutch owner told the paper that his ancestors bought the work at an exhibition in the western German town Duesseldorf in 1902.
Klimt (1862-1918) was a symbolist painter who also gained prominence for his sketches."

Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary. Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and of the group's periodical Ver Sacrum ("Sacred Spring"). He remained with the Secession until 1908. The group's goals were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists, to bring the best foreign artists' works to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine to showcase members' work. Klimt's 'Golden Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and success. Many of his paintings from this period used gold leaf; the prominent use of gold can first be traced back to Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I(1907) and The Kiss (1907–1908).

Thursday, September 01, 2011

News from the lowlands...

Multiculti-Dutch, yes, but not in my backyard

Non-immigrant Dutch people say they want their children to grow up in a multicultural society, but would actually prefer their own kids to live in a white neighbourhood and go to a non-mixed school.
This is the conclusion of research carried out by the monthly magazine . A cross-section of parents, 588 in all, were interviewed for the piece.
The magazine says 80 percent of the Dutch-background parents acknowledge the advantages of growing up in a society made up of different cultures. However, 57 percent worry about the position of their white children in a mixed-race society.

Free speech - no thanks!

The debate about freedom of speech has become increasingly incendiary in the wake of the Norway attacks. Freedom of speech is seen as a cornerstone of modern democracy. Not just Norway itself, but also the Netherlands is now wondering where the balance lies between fear of inciting violence and the right to express controversial opinions.

"Tofik creates a breeding ground for violence against Geert Wilders. Exterminate that Moroccan insect!"
That's a recent tweet by an anonymous activist under the name Stop Left. It was a response to the call by Green Left MP Tofik Dibi for a debate in parliament on the implications for the Netherlands of last month's attacks in Norway. The person who carried out the attacks, Anders Breivik, cited Dutch politician Geert Wilders as one of his inspirations. Dibi is pressing charges against Stop Left for inciting violence.
The threatening tweet illustrates how incendiary the debate about freedom of speech has become in the wake of the Norway attacks. As freedom of speech is seen as a cornerstone of modern democracy, the Dutch now ask: Where does the balance lie between fear of inciting violence and the right to express controversial opinions?

First Amendment for the Netherlands?
In fact, the Dutch debate about the limits of free speech was already heated before the Norway attacks. In June, Wilders was acquitted on hate speech charges, a verdict that has changed the legal landscape, making prosecutions under the current hate speech laws more difficult.
Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party and a partner of the current minority government, now wants to scrap the hate speech law altogether. He is preparing a constitutional amendment for the Netherlands - similar to the US Free Speech First Amendment - which would vastly expand the rights to free speech.
'Hate palaces'
True to form, Wilders did little to moderate his speech in the wake of the Norway attacks. After condemning the violence, and calling it a "slap in the face for the global anti-Islam movement", he later went on to reiterate his call to fight perceived Islamification.
"We have too much mass immigration from Muslim countries and too many hate palaces - [Labour Party leader Job, ed.] Cohen calls them mosques, I believe. Immigrants are still over-represented in crime statistics. Enough is enough."
Wilders does not advocate violence. But many have questioned whether he contributes to a climate that encourages violence against Muslims or immigrants. Then came this summer's double whammy: Wilders' vindication in court for what even the chief judge called "gross and denigrating" language and then, just four weeks later, Anders Breivik killing 77 people in Norway.
In his ‘manifesto' Breivik praised the Netherlands and quoted Wilders several times. Some feel it is time to reign in freedom of speech.
Under attack
But the fear of violence is not limited to one side. Wilders has been under 24-hour protection since another violent incident back in 2004, which brought the freedom of speech debate to the fore: the murder of Theo van Gogh.
Van Gogh, one of the most outspoken public figures in the Netherlands, was killed by a young Muslim ostensibly in the name of religion. His murder was widely perceived as an attack on freedom of speech.
Wilders, and former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, another outspoken critic of Islam, both refused to be silenced at the time and have continued to voice their opinions in spite of repeated threats on their lives.
Since the murder of Van Gogh, Geert Wilders and his followers have been pushing the boundaries of freedom of speech. Partly as a consequence, freedom of speech has gained even more importance as a perceived fundamental right among the Dutch public. This comes at times at the expense of freedom of religion, and the rights of minorities, rights traditionally seen as a cornerstone of ‘tolerant' Dutch society.
The new parliamentary year gets underway in just a few weeks. Wilders will seek to expand freedom of speech in the Netherlands, while Tofik Dibi and others will question whether things haven't already gone too far. With the events in Norway hanging as a dark cloud on the horizon, the debate over free speech is as divisive as ever.

RNW/ John Tyler