How the Left Failed America in 2016 (by Jesse Brenner)

Ok so a lot of people are mad right now.  Pissed.  Fucking angry.  Full of righteous and/or holy rage.  I am all of the above, but most of all, my already delicate spirit is shattered to a million pieces of magic mirror bits.  Is it Trump himself that has me in such a state?  Well, sure.  How can he not be. It’s also the ignorance and Lemming-esque zombie-voting of rural America and how easily they continue to be manipulated.  But most of all, it is supposed liberals, radicals, progressives, whatever — who felt that NOT electing Hillary Clinton will somehow — in either the short and/or long terms — result in the realization of their noble but hard to pin down and quantify goals.

8f2c614788cb9e472680e99e93ae663e.jpgI’ll always be pissed at my friends who voted for Nader in 2000, leading to the election of George W. Bush, but the 2016 Election abandonment of the Democratic candidate was worse in a number of ways.  Firstly, while the accusation that Bush and Gore were basically the same guy in 2000 was simply not the case, the charge that Trump-Hillary was a similar dynamic is insanely far from the truth, and those who claim equivalence between Trump and Hillary are sorely lacking in historical perspective and clearly didn’t spend time actually reading her platform, which became increasingly progressive through the influence of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others.  Indeed, this was the most progressive Democratic agenda since LBJ in 1964, maybe since the FDR New Deal in 1930s.

The irrational hatred of the Right towards the Clintons PALES in comparison to the irrationality of the hatred of the Left towards Hillary.  Other than earning some money giving fully legal speeches to some corporations, what exactly makes her so horrible?  The FBI smeared her with the “email-gate” controversy (no evidence of any wrongdoing), accusations of mishandling of the Clinton Foundation (not much evidence there, but that’s not Hillary’s zone anyways), the notion that she is somehow some corrupt insider who DARED to try and make change ON THE INSIDE! OH THE HORROR!

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Alhambric Is Back! Time to take down Trump

Dear friends and supporters: I know I’ve left this blog out to pasture since I attained my M.A. in Comparative Religious Studies at Temple University, but from the failed “Arab Spring” to the Dog Days of Trump, I’m back.  Actually, we are back.  I have an army of brilliant, compelling and passionate friends ready to get this Revolution rebooted.  I’m not going to say much here, but know this: This is going to be ground zero of the end of fascism and hate through thought, art, creativity, and innovation.  Just wanted to let you know we are back, and stay tuned.  Super heady and exclusive works will be available right here in just a few days.  So stay tuned, sign up, and get ready to fight with a righteous rage that will change the world and make you feel truly alive.  The Bizzle can promise you that.

How European textbooks misrepresent the history of Islam and Muslims

By Jesse Brenner

This is taken from an interesting essay by Dr. Fauziya Al-Ashmawi of the Department of Arabic Language and Islamic Civilization in the University of Geneva, Switzerland for the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).  Overall, an insightful analysis of the difficulty in establishing “objectivity” in pedagogy, and the many ways in which European textbooks misrepresent Islam and Muslims, especially in their historical treatment.  Some of his criticisms are perhaps overly dogmatic, such as the following:

[In some European textbooks] The Quran is presented as “the book in which Muhammad tells Muslims what God taught him” and not as the holy book of the Muslims containing the words of Almighty God.

The sort of “presentation” here that Dr. Al-Ashmawi uses as an example of European mispresentation of Islam via pedagogy, is in fact in line with certain notions of “secular” education, in which non-Muslims are being taught about Islam in a way that is attempting to respect Islam while simultaneously historicizing it.   One of course requires the full context of the textbook(s) being examined.   For example, if the textbook in question also refers to the Torah as “the book in which Moses tells Jews what God taught him and not as the holy book of the Jews containing the words of Almighty God,” we could argue that this establishes a level playing field among the various religions in terms of how they are taught. However if one holy book is presented as “holier” or more “authentic,” than clearly this would need to be addressed in the name of both fairness and accuracy.   The question I would have for Dr. Al-Ashmawi is whether we could agree on a compromise terminology, for example: “The Quran, which Muslims believe is holy and contains the words of Almighty God, contains the teachings that God revealed to his Prophet Muhammed.”

Of course, the central problem is the thorny issue of historicization of religion in general.  For many believers, even talking about the origins of religion can be offensive, because the notion of “origins” is in direct contradiction to the eternal, universal and infinite qualities associated with the “revealed” religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.  However, there is a growing movement of Muslim thinkers like Tariq Ramadan who argue that approaching Islam as “historical” is not only appropriate and respectful, but is in fact a critical task for Muslims that will allow ultimately lead to greater piety and strengthened belief.

Here are some more tidbits from his essay:

“What arouses one’s astonishment is the absence of any dates of significance to non-European countries. Thus the history of civilizations and peoples to the south of the Mediterranean is no more than a footnote to world history, which revolves around Europe. If this remark applies to European history books, it applies also to history textbooks from south of the Mediterranean. Their history revolves around the bygone glory of its civilization. This leads us to a definition of the general phenomenon which has been called ethnocentricity.”

“Perhaps the most striking example of the phenomenon of wilful disregard is the West’s refusal to give Arab Muslim philosophers credit for the European Renaissance in the fifteenth century.”

“We have remarked that before they explain the concepts and principles of Islam, most writers of school history books in countries north of the Mediterranean begin by talking about the swift and fearful spread of Islam, the swift conquests undertaken by the Prophet of Islam and his successors, and the way Arab warriors came in a specific and definite mould; that is to say that they were fierce raiders who inspired terror, who could not be defeated, and who constituted a continual and severe threat to their neighbours.  History textbooks in countries south of the Mediterranean, especially religious education books, present the culture and civilization of Christian Europe according to Islamic understandings of the Jews and the Christians as they are talked about in the Quran. In most of these books, we find concepts of Christianity, the concept of the Virgin Mary, the Christ and his miracles and his ascension into heaven, explained in terms of what is in the Quran. Sometimes Quranic verses are quoted in confirmation of the concepts mentioned.  In all history textbooks north and south of the Mediterranean, the Crusades constitute an important chapter. We have remarked that the writers of these books contrive by various means to give watered down versions in order to maintain the relations of good neighbourliness currently existing between the countries north and south of the Mediterranean. However, this does not diminish the fact that reading the school history books of the two sides gives us a feeling that the accounts are completely different and sometimes totally contradictory. There is a clear discrepancy between the crusades as they are presented by Muslims and the crusades as they are presented by Westerners, those destructive wars which spread terror and death in the Middle Ages.”

Read the full text here:

http://www.isesco.org.ma/english/publications/islamtoday/13/P6.php

Spain’s Economy: Crisis? Disaster? Chance for Renewal?

The story of Spain’s economy is a long and complex one, and has always involved meta-global factors. Here is but the latest chapter.

Bailout Of Spain Could Spell Trouble For Euro

The New York Times (Nov 24, 2010)

MADRID — Europe so far has survived the bailout of Greece. The financial rescue of Ireland also is manageable. Even if Portugal becomes the third country to succumb and seek aid, as many people widely predict, it is unlikely to push Europe to the financial brink.

But any bailout of Spain — with an economy twice the size of the other three combined — could severely stress the ability of Europe’s stronger countries to help the financially weaker ones, and spell deep trouble for the euro, Europe’s common currency. Even though Spain, like Ireland, has adopted an austerity plan to help it avoid the need for a bailout, it still could need aid if its banking system proves frailer than the government thinks it is, as was the case in Ireland.

This troubling possibility has unnerved lenders, with Spain’s borrowing costs rising even though Madrid has cut its deficit and the country’s banks maintain they have sufficient strength to absorb their bad real estate loans. “Europe can afford the collapse of Ireland, even perhaps that of Portugal, but not that of Spain, so Spain’s ultimate line of defense is in fact this knowledge that it’s too big to fail and that it represents a systemic risk for the euro,” said Pablo Vázquez, an economist at the Fundación de Estudios de Economía Aplicada, a research institute here. Continue reading

Subliminal: Mizrachi poster-child for the contradictory mess that is Israeli “political culture”

“In the past, critics have viewed Subliminal’s mass appeal with an elitist suspicion that led them to dismiss him as a populist rightwing extremist. But with such broad strokes, critics also forfeit the chance to explore the complexity, contradiction, and outright confusion that characterizes Subliminal’s music, lyrics, and public persona, and the problematic political culture that he represents. For anyone seeking to understand Israel’s right turn in recent years—a trend exemplified by the government’s decision to require loyalty oaths from its non-Jewish population—Subliminal’s music seems like a good place to start…

“How does a nice Jewish boy from the Tel Aviv suburbs appropriate a cultural form of protest once reserved for inner-city black youths? I sat with Subliminalone evening this August, drinking coffee in a quiet bistro in the modest northern Tel Aviv neighborhood where he grew up and still lives, just a few houses down from the home of Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni. He is dark skinned and wide bodied, with a trim beard and black clothes, and the first impression he gives off—by his own admission—is the air of an Arab. If not for his Cheshire-cat smile, he could easily be mistaken for an intimidating figure. (“When I go abroad people are always surprised to meet me,” he said. “No one believes Jews could look like me.”)

“The son of immigrant parents—his father fled Tunisia and his mother Iran—Subliminal, 31, came of age during the chronically unstable days after the Oslo peace accords. Like many teenagers at the time, he listened to American rappers like Public Enemy, N.W.A, and Notorious B.I.G. Like other youth around the world, Subliminal found a message to which he could relate in those rappers’ dissident culture and protest lyrics. “I have always been a proud Zionist,” he explained. “But when I was growing up, being a Zionist was tantamount to being the outcast. The prevailing vibe around me was more in tune with the anarchic messages of [popular Israeli rock artist] Aviv Geffen and his motto that we were ‘a fucked-up generation.’”

Read more at Tablet Magazine…

Cadiz, Spain: The Oldest Living City in Western Europe?

Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Cadiz Province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.

Cadiz, the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula and possibly of all southwestern Europe,[1] has been a principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century. It is also the site of the University of Cádiz.

Despite its unique site — on a narrow spit of land surrounded by the sea — Cadiz is, in most respects, a typically Andalusian city with a wealth of attractive vistas and well-preserved historical landmarks. The older part of Cadiz, within the remnants of the city walls, is commonly referred to as the Old City (in SpanishCasco Antiguo). It is characterized by the antiquity of its various quarters (barrios), among them El Populo, La Viña, and Santa Maria, which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of town. While the Old City’s street plan consists largely of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cádiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted by numerous parks where exotic plants, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Columbus, flourish.

The city was originally founded as Gadir (Phoenician גדר“walled city”) by the Phoenicians, who used it in their trade with Tartessos, a city-state believed by archaeologists to be somewhere near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, about thirty kilometres northwest of Cadiz. (Its exact location has never been firmly established.)

Cadiz is the most ancient city still standing in Western Europe.[1] Traditionally, its founding is dated to 1104 BC[4] although no archaeological strata on the site can be dated earlier than the 9th century BC. One resolution for this discrepancy has been to assume that Gadir was merely a small seasonal trading post in its earliest days. Continue reading

Yehuda al-Harizi: The Medieval Jewish “Aristotle” + “Chaucer”?

Woe to the fools like wild asses they bray,
Beside fountains of Eden yet thirst they all day,
Manna before their eyes but their eyes are blind,
They go forth to gather but none do they find.
-Yehuda al-Harizi

al-Harizi’s decision to translate the most popular Arabic work of the age, move back to the East, and span the full generic range available to him in his own work, also indicates an acute and often very moving awareness of the need to document a past about to be lost.  His position, then, for the Hebrew/Jewish culture of the Levant is analogous to that of Aristotle’s in the Hellenic world and Chaucer’s in medieval Europe.  All three gather paradigms in an attempt to fend off the sweeping effects of changing orders without realizing the overarching trajectory of their gestures, the fact that their work would go on to reanimate the life of forms by sustaining the specific knowledge contained within them.
-Ammiel Alcalay, After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture

Yehuda Alharizi, also Judah ben Solomon Harizi or al-Harizi (Hebrewיהודה בן שלמה אלחריזי‎, Yehudah ben Shelomo al-HariziArabicيحيا بن سليمان بن شاؤل أبو زكريا الحريزي اليهودي من أهل طليطلة‎, Yahya bin Sulaiman bin Sha’ul abu Zakaria al-Harizi al-Yahudi min ahl Tulaitila) was a rabbi, translator, poet and traveller active in Spain in the Middle Ages (in Toledo? – 1165, in Aleppo – 1225). He was supported by wealthy patrons, to whom he wrote poems and dedicated compositions.

He was a rationalist, conveying the works of Maimonides and his approach to rationalistic Judaism. He translated Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed and some of his Commentary on the Mishnah, as well as theMahbarot Iti’el of the Arab poet al-Hariri, from the Arabic to Hebrew.

Alharizi’s poetic translation of the Guide for the Perplexed is considered by many to be more readable than that of Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon. However, it has not been very widely used in Jewish scholarship, perhaps because it is less precise. It had some influence in the Christian world due to its translation into Latin.[1]

Alharizi’s own works include the “Tahkemoni”, composed between 1218 and 1220, in the Arabic form known as maqama. This is written in Hebrew in unmetrical rhymes, in what is commonly termed rhymed prose. It is a series of humorous episodes, witty verses, and quaint applications of Scriptural texts. The episodes are bound together by the presence of the hero and of the narrator, who is also the author. Another collection of his poetry was devoted to preaching ethical self-discipline and fear of heaven.

Harizi undertook long journeys in the lands of the Middle East. His works are suffused with his impressions from these journeys.

He not only brought to perfection the art of applying Hebrew to secular satire, but he was also a brilliant literary critic and his maqama on the Andalusian Hebrew poets is a fruitful source of information.[2]

[Source: Wikipedia]