Houthi rebels, Soros funding, Holocaust portrayals and Quebec heavy handedness
Many observers of Israel’s continuing efforts to strengthen ties with the region reacted with dismay to the news that Houthi rebels in Yemen had fired a missile in an apparent attempt to disrupt Israeli president Israel Herzog’s official visit to the United Arab Emirates.
According to a January 30 Politico report, the UAE intercepted the missile fired by the rebels and it does not appear to have claimed any lives or to have disrupted President Herzog’s meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
The same cannot be said of an attack by the rebels on a fuel station two weeks previously that killed three people and injured six people.
The attack comes at a critical juncture, as Israel seeks not only to bolster its ties to other Middle East nations as envisioned in the Abraham Accords, but also to cultivate closer ties with nations outside the Middle East.
Practice What You Preach
A report by Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher that appeared in the New York Times on January 29 is entitled “Democrats Decried Dark Money. Then They Won With It in 2020.” The title says it all. This piece details how contributions to the Democratic Party war chest from anonymous donors far exceeded the total funds from such sources going to the Republican Party during the 2020 race. To be more exact, the article states that 15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations supporting Democratic candidates spent over $1.5 billion in 2020, compared to $900 million spent by the same number of nonprofits on the GOP side. The nonprofits in question are not tightly regulated and do not always disclose where the money they receive is coming from, the article tells us. In the authors’ view, the deployment of such money from anonymous sources is remaking the political process in the U.S., and in 2020 benefited the Democratic Party far more than its rival.
The article does an excellent job of laying bare the hypocrisy on display here. It mentions the left’s professed aversion to the role of corporations in politics in the Citizens United case. It acknowledges the increasing role, in the dark money sinkhole, of megadonors such as George Soros. But the article could perhaps have gone even a bit further and frankly acknowledged that the party that casts itself as the party of voting rights and economic populism, favoring the increased participation of the disadvantaged members of our society, has increasingly turned into the vehicle and tool of the most powerful and superrich elites.
Intellectual Freedom in Tennessee
On January 27, the website Book and Film Globe ran a piece by editor Neal Pollack entitled “The Maus That Roared: Tennessee school board bans Art Spiegelman’s book just in time for Holocaust Remembrance Day.” As its title suggests, the article details efforts by the school board of McMinn County, Tennessee, in the form of a 10-0 vote, to expunge Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus from curricula. Maus, an account of the Holocaust making use of animals as its characters, is widely considered a powerful and revolutionary work of literature, one that brings home all the horror of the Holocaust in a wrenching manner, but the school board evidently felt that the profanity and depictions of violence in the graphic novel, including the murder of children, make Maus unsuitable for school libraries and curricula.
Punishing the Skeptics
It is one thing to believe in the wisdom of getting fully vaccinated against Covid-19. It is another matter to enact punitive measures against those who, for one reason or another, have not received vaccinations. The province of Quebec, as BBC News reported on January 11, has deemed the latter course of action to be necessary. Quebec’s premier, François Legault, has announced that Quebec will slap as-yet unspecified fines on the roughly 12.8% of the province’s population who are still unvaccinated. This decision, which Quebec is the first province to implement, comes on the heels of other strict measures such as requiring proof of vaccination to shop in cannabis and liquor stores, the article reports. Hospitals are overwhelmed and more than 12,000 people in the province have died from Covid-19.
The tough new measure, as stated above, makes Quebec an outlier among Canada’s provinces. On the one hand, you have to admire Quebec for going its own way and not receiving dictates from Ottawa about how to handle urgent public health matters. It is well for the province to asset its independence from a confederation that continually threatens to subsume its distinct cultural and linguistic identity.