Haggai's Place

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Your humble narrator is...
...a research analyst at a think tank in the Washington DC area. Born in Israel, raised in Kentucky, movie fanatic and sports nut.
My first-hand account of the Palestinian divestment conference at the U. of Michigan
Archives

:: Saturday, April 03, 2004 ::

These guys must be on different DVD web forums
Not surprisingly, I certainly haven't seen anything like this on the DVD sites that I read:
According to an outstanding report from Ivan Watson of NPR, for the equivalent of 50 cents, you can buy "surprisingly sophisticated" DVDs and cassettes glorifying the Iraqi resistance. Amazingly, the propagandists operate with impunity, listing the name and Fallujah address of their production studio and the name of each DVD, secure in the knowledge that the U.S. hasn't--and won't--shut them down. Titles like "Fallujah" and "Rage" intersperse TV news footage of the occupation with "traditional Sunni Arab songs of praise." In one DVD, scenes from a Libyan movie showing Arab tribesmen killing European soldiers in a pitched desert battle are displayed while a voice chants:
Good for you, brave men. You have terrified America, and its Army. America will lose. We will pave the roads for them with bullets. The prophet Mohammed's flag will fly high over this land, and America will retreat from this defeat.
The insurgents are not portraying themselves as Baathists, surely for the reason that they know they can generate no popular support that way. They show footage of bleeding Iraqis in a Fallujah hospital with the visible date "April 2003." That was when panicked American soldiers reacted to a Fallujah mob by firing into the crowd. For the insurgents' propaganda purposes, this is their origin myth: that they are an authentic liberation force reacting to the brutality of a foreign conqueror.
That's not something that more troops or more force is likely to resolve. Tough task for everyone involved.
2:28 PM
:: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 ::
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I saw this movie last night, and it's really amazing. The story itself is based on some pretty interesting ideas: basically, what might happen if you could have a medical procedure done to erase every single memory of someone from your mind? What if you realize that you don't want all of them erased? What if you meet that same person again? But what makes this movie great is how all these remarkable images, juxtaposed in some very strange ways, blend together to tell that story. It keeps folding back on itself as the main characters travel through their memories. It's about as purely cinematic as anything I've seen that I can remember, which, as a movie junkie, is what makes it work so well for me. There's really no way to describe it adequately without seeing it.
10:58 AM
:: Monday, March 29, 2004 ::
Anti-Israel bigots, unite!
I saw an item a few weeks ago about a request from Senator Jay Rockefeller, the highest ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans to provide details about "how much information [they]... received from the Israeli government and how much information this office shared with the Israelis" regarding the Iraq war. This was characterized in some circles as evidence of the Democrats engaging in "fringe activity" and "bigotry" regarding Israel, as it supposedly represented the exact same thinking as those who claim that the Iraq war was a Zionist plot from the beginning.

So now let's hear what Ze'ev Schiff of Ha'aretz has to say about the report from a special Knesset panel that was investigating Israeli intelligence regarding the Iraq war:
The Knesset panel walked into a "minefield" with regard to relations and cooperation between Israeli intelligence and other intelligence agencies around the world. It's not just that the report contains a hint that these intelligence agencies feed each other with assessments that repeat themselves. But it also hints that it cannot be ruled out that the assessments forwarded by Israeli intelligence "passed from hand to hand, and played a central role in the formulation of the assessments of a foreign agency and finally returned to the original agency as the assessment of another intelligence body." This is, of course, one possible speculation, but it would be interesting to hear what foreign intelligence agencies that have close relations with Israel have to say about this.
Hmmm, what intelligence agencies have "close relations with Israel" and were actively involved in gathering and disseminating intelligence regarding Iraq? I simply can't imagine who they're talking about.

And who dares to imply that American/Israeli coordination of Iraq intelligence might even have existed, let alone resulted in some major screw-ups, as Senator Rockefeller was wondering about? Another Ha'aretz article about the Knesset panel specifies some of its members:
[Labor MK Haim Ramon], Likud MKs Ehud Yatom and David Levy, Shas MK Eli Yishai, Shinui MK Ilan Leibowitz, and former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit, who served as an adviser.
The panel was headed by Likud MK Yuval Steinitz. So this anti-Israel bigotry has apparently gone beyond just the Democrats, and now includes Knesset members from Labor (left), Likud (right), Shas (ultra-orthodox), and Shinui (ultra-secular), along with former Mossad chiefs. I guess the "moral clarity" of the GOP is the only remaining refuge from this "fringe activity."
10:54 AM
:: Sunday, March 28, 2004 ::
Lord of the Rings in concert
On Friday, I drove all the way to Columbus, OH and back (about 3 1/2 hours each way) to see the US premiere of the Lord of the Rings symphony by Howard Shore, the composer of the music for the movies. He also conducted the symphony, which basically consists of selections from the three soundtracks. It was a tremendous show, with great lead singing on the Two Towers and Return Of The King scores by a Norwegian singer named Sissel. She was also the singer of the main theme in Titanic--not the gratingly overblown Celine Dion song that was overplayed like crazy back when the movie was out, but the nice subtle version of that theme used a few times within the movie itself.

The concert was in the 75-year-old Ohio Theatre in Columbus, which is really beautiful, but it had one major drawback for me, an almost total lack of leg room. They must not have been designing seats for people my height (6 feet) back in the 1920s. The show was sold out, so it looked like I would end up packed into my seat like a sardine. But the two rows behind me ended up being almost totally empty, so I moved back a row where there was slightly more leg room, and that was tolerable.
3:31 PM

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