Mitchell Abidor

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    Review

    Revolutionary Bandits

    April 17, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    A new history of the revolutionary criminals who rejected any possibility of revolution coming from the degraded masses—and turned their revolt into an individualistic one.

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: The Candidate We Deserve

    December 3, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor We were discussing politics, my wife and I, and I said, "Who knows, maybe it’ll be Trump against Bernie in the general election, and we’ll see which way America chooses to go when presented with the clear choice between decency and vileness." Joan said she wouldn’t want to see that choice presented, so I told her that she clearly supports Clinton, since a Bernie supporter would say: We want Bernie to be the candidate, which means we want him to face whoever the Republicans ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: That's Not Who We Are?

    November 29, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor SO EVEN THOUGH the U.S. has only accepted 1,200 refugees — most of them women and children — from war-torn Syria and Iraq, and the process to enter this country is so onerous that it takes a year and a half to two years, plenty of time for them to freeze to death or die of disease in a camp, the House of Representatives has decided that we’re too liberal and we should block this immigration entirely. Those on the side of the angels have said this is wrong, and almost all of ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: France's Other Wave of Terror

    November 18, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor AS PARIS RECOVERS from the latest terrorist attacks, and as France bombs ISIS-held cities and its president and legislature threaten its democracy, it is perhaps a good time to remember that Paris and France were once before the targets of a wave of terrorism — one that lasted several years, counted innocent bystanders as its victims, and to which the government’s reaction was the curbing of democracy. This was the wave of attacks by the anarchist "propagandists of the deed" ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: BDS and Free Speech in France

    November 11, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor IN LATE OCTOBER, France’s highest appeals court issued a decision with such alarming implications that it deserved far greater notice outside that country than it has received. The court determined that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is in violation of French law prohibiting discrimination based on national origin. The court has, in essence, determined that simply protesting against Israel's policies is an anti-Semitic act. The dreams of Netanyahu have been f...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Justice Ginsburg, aka the Notorious Smallie Bigs

    November 9, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Notorious RBG, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik. Dey Street Books, 2015, 240 pages. I SAT DOWN to read Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik’s book on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Notorious RBG, with some trepidation. Though I had seen the authors speak and was impressed by their sincerity, intelligence, and articulateness, I still harbored fears about the book. The cover, showing Ginsburg in her robes, her lace jabot, and a crown like that worn in a famous image ...

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  • Writings Grid

    The Uncivil Servant: German Cinema in Nazi Times

    April 5, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   OCCASIONALLY DERIDED for being too broad and hasty in its estimation of individual films, Siegfried Kracauer’s 1947 study, From Caligari to Hitler, nevertheless stands as a classic of film criticism. Its old-fashioned, Old-World vision of German cinema from its beginnings until the arrival in power of Hitler, and its focus on the unity of vision in works across countless directors and on the ways they expressed German inter-war psychology, were both ambitious and ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Sattouf's Childhood in the Middle East

    October 22, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East (1978-84), by Riad Sattouf, 2015, Metropolitan Books. WHEN RIAD SATTOUF'S graphic novel, The Arab of the Future, was published in France in 2014, it met with almost unprecedented success for a graphic novel, indeed, for almost any kind of novel. It sold an unimaginable 200,000 copies and met with strong reactions, both positive and negative. It was praised for its honesty, and was condemned as sp...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Visiting the Central Cemetery in Vienna

    October 15, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor CEMETERIES HAVE LONG been my favorite places to visit on my travels, not least because almost all of the people who matter to me can be found in them. No place in the world equals Paris’ Montparnasse cemetery, where within a hundred yards of each other the great writers Samuel Beckett, Julio Cortázar, and E.M. Cioran can be found, the three of them not all that far from Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Susan Sontag. No gathering of the living can equal this. Friends wonder wha...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Bambi in Vienna

    September 30, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Bambi’s Jewish Roots and Other Essays on German-Jewish Culture, by Paul Reitter. Bloomsbury Academic, 2015, 296 pages. PAUL REITTER'S Bambi’s Jewish Roots, a collection of the author’s reviews and essays, provides the reader with cause for reflection not only in every selection, but virtually on every page. In examining German-language Jewish writers from the fin de siècle to the inter-war period, Reitter eschews academic jargon (though he is himself...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Hofstadter's Prescient Insight

    September 24, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    Understanding the Tea Party Half a Century Before It Was Launched by Mitchell Abidor   IN HER COMMENT on the conversation Nick Jahr and I had at this website on Bernie Sanders, Anna Wrobel cited Richard Hofstadter’s analysis of populism. Not only do I agree with the paraphrased opinion of the great historian, but I have become increasingly convinced that Hofstadter (1916-1970) is perhaps the greatest guide there is to American political life and history, and that his books are a necessary part...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Corbyn and Sanders as Fruits of Our Defeat

    September 9, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor THE SMASHING VICTORY of Jeremy Corbyn in the contest for leadership of the Labour Party has been compared to the Bernie Sanders moment here in the U.S. These men of clear leftwing principles, who stand up for those principles without any concern for polls, do indeed have much in common, though of course the immediate difference is apparent: Corbyn is now the head of the leading opposition party in Parliament, while we can only hope we’ll live so long as to see Sanders as the ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: The Black Panthers, Heroes and Maniacs

    September 6, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor ON A PURELY PERSONAL LEVEL, Stanley Nelson’s engrossing film The Black Panthers, Vanguard of the Revolution has led me to revise what I’ve been saying for decades about my youthful love for that organization. I’ve maintained that I was right to support them, but it was for all the wrong reasons. In cynical hindsight, they seem to me to have been all about posturing and insanely violent rhetoric that led to their demise and led the white New Left — which had, indeed, treated t...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: A Failed Paean to a Kosher Communist

    September 1, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The House of Twenty Thousand Books, by Sasha Abramsky. New York Review Books, 2015 (published in Great Britain in 2014), 336 pages, $27.95 CHIMEN ABRAMSKY was the scion of a long line of important East European rabbis. After following his rabbi father into exile from Soviet Russia and spending time in Palestine, he landed in England where, instead of following in his ancestors’ footsteps, he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and, fro...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Bernie and the Black Lives Matter Movement

    August 13, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor FOR THE SECOND and almost certainly not the last time, Bernie Sanders has been blocked from speaking by people from the Black Lives Matter movement. Though in Phoenix he was able to get in a few words at the Netroots Conference, in Seattle he was unable to speak at all. Yet again, the suicidal instincts of the American left have kicked in. Yet again the American left is proving itself to be foolish, cowardly, and self-destructive. It regularly provides the answer to the quest...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: New York and the Folk Revival

    August 9, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    An Exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York by Mitchell Abidor FIFTY YEARS AGO, on July 25, 1965, Bob Dylan appeared at the Newport Folk Festival backed by an electric band and set off a storm that’s hard to imagine today. Try to imagine (or remember) people booing, shouting, and writing screeds about and against a musician changing styles. The events surrounding Dylan’s apostasy are covered thoroughly, thoughtfully, and entertainingly in Elijah Wald’s new book, Dylan Goes Electric, whic...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: For Bernie

    July 31, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor IT IS ONLY NOW, when I’m old enough to receive a pension and Social Security, that I will be actively supporting a Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders. I must have supported Eugene McCarthy for ten minutes in 1968, because among my political memorabilia from the Sixties, in a box with my countless Black Panther buttons (“Free the Panther 21,” “Free Huey,” “The Spirit of Fred [Hampton] Lives: I am a Revolutionary”) is a McCarthy pin. I was quickly cured of any of my illusions...

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  • Articles

    Honest Abe and the Children of Abraham

    July 27, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    Much Ado About the Inconsequential by Mitchell Abidor From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents Reviewed in this essay: Lincoln and the Jews, by Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shappel. Thomas Dunne Books, 2015, 288 pages. THERE HAVE BEEN some sixteen thousand books written about Abraham Lincoln, few of them, I’d wager, dedicating many pages to his chiropodist (as podiatrists were then called). Issachar Zacharie was a man who made magnificent claims about his education, which was in reality a...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: The Dark Side of Gay Marriage

    July 6, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor BUT THERE IS A DARK SIDE to gay marriage. Our friend Dan was visiting from St. Louis, a city in a state where he thought he’d never live to see the possibility that he could wed. And now it’s law. A law that brought two sad truths home to him. He wondered: “So am I a spinster now?” And he lamented: “Well, now I guess marriage is just one more thing I’ve failed at.”   Mitchell Abidor, our contributing writer, is the recipient of a Hemingway Grant from the French Ministry ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: History and Civics Lessons

    June 28, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor [caption id="attachment_37583" align="alignleft" width="233"] John Calhoun, by Matthew Brady[/caption] THIS HAS BEEN a week for exposing the public's general ignorance about American history and our entire political system. My 7th-grade social studies teacher, Miss Kelly, told us that if we remembered everything we learned through the 6th grade, we’d seem like geniuses all our lives. Back then that was true: Who remembers the patroon system anymore, or learns about it? Expla...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Richard Pryor's Daughter Onstage

    June 7, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    "Fried Chicken and Latkes" by Mitchell Abidor RICHARD PRYOR was a unique figure in American comedy, his comedy developing from light and silly early routines to the pointed and profane humor of his later years, when he became a comedic god. He had, we learn in "Fried Chicken and Latkes," “either six or maybe seven children,” one of whom, Rain, has a one-woman show of that title running at The National Black Theatre, located in the heart of Harlem, until June 28. Rain, as we can infer from the ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: A Zetz! "Yiddish Fighting Words" at YIVO

    May 11, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor I WAS NOT a red diaper baby. In fact, when I was a kid, ideas in general were as rare as bacon on Yom Kippur in my house. After supper, my father would go into the living room, lie down on the couch, and snore the evening away. He wasn’t alone in this: All of my friends’ exhausted fathers did the same, though some fell asleep in a chair rather than on the couch. No issues of the day, no great historical questions agitated my father, nor did they matter to Irving Glasser, Nat ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: The Thugs Are Loose

    May 4, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor THE THUGS ARE LOOSE on the streets of Baltimore and New York, and the papers and the TV news are full of scenes of violence. Unlike the rioters and demonstrators frauds like Geraldo Rivera call “thugs,” these thugs wear uniforms, and they kill. And when they kill, until now they have almost always walked. The killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore has vastly complicated the explanation for the police killings over the past year. The protests and outrage in 2014 and 2015 have r...

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  • Articles

    Le Groupe Manouchian

    May 2, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    Betrayed Heroes of the French Resistance? by Mitchell Abidor From the Spring, 2015 issue of Jewish Currents IT WAS LATE FEBRUARY, 1944 when the German Occupation authorities in France decided that the time had come to stage the trial of a group of Resistance fighters they’d captured the previous autumn. Under ordinary circumstances, trials of partisans weren’t held, and if they were, they were never public; fighters were captured, tortured, and sent before the firing squad. But this group was ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Albert Maysles' Last Film

    April 25, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor ALBERT MAYSLES, the documentary filmmaker who directed, along with his brother David (who died in 1987), three classic films, Salesman, Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens, died in March of this year at age 88, just before the release of his final film, Iris. His earlier films, aside from their pure cinematic genius, said something profound about America. Salesman, about a door-to-door bible salesman, was also about the nexus between cash and religion, and the desperation just be...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Atatürk and the Third Reich

    March 31, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    How the Turkish Revolution Inspired the Nazis by Mitchell Abidor Reviewed in this essay: Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination, by Stefan Ihrig. The Belknap Press of Harvard Univerity Press, 2014, 320 pages. THE 20TH CENTURY was one of revolutions in all corners of the world, revolutions that promised much and, in the end, delivered little. What is left of the Russian Revolution but a leadership cult and repression? And of the Chinese Revolution but a voiceless and super-exploited working class? And...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Simon Radowitzky, "Why I Killed"

    March 22, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    Translated from the Spanish, with commentary, by Mitchell Abidor The Russian-Jewish anarchist Simon Radowitzky (1891-1956), served twenty years in the worst of Argentina’s prisons for his part, at age 18, in the assassination of Ramon Falcón, the police chief of Buenos Aires responsible for the 1909 massacre of workers at a May Day demonstration, who had gone unpunished for his actions. In a statement widely published in the anarchist press he explained his deed: Why I Killed I killed because...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Spain's Podemos, Next Up in the Democratic Struggle

    February 22, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor AS SYRIZA in Greece confronts the harsh realities of implementing the promises it made to the Greek people to halt the austerity measures that have destroyed Greek life and society, another leftwing party in Europe continues to mount in the polls: Spain’s Podemos ("We Can"), which 28 percent of Spanish voters say they would vote for in national elections. Barely more than a year old, the party, an outgrowth of the Indignados, Spain’s Occupy movement, has six deputies in the E...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Syriza and the Occupy Movement

    January 26, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor SYRIZA, THE COALITION OF THE RADICAL LEFT has won the Greek elections and, though they are described as left-wing and “anti-austerity,” make no mistake about it: This is the first victory of a small “c” communist party in history. I have no Greek, and so can’t comment on the party’s Greek documents and website, but the websites in countries whose language I can read make this clear with homages to Lenin, the October Revolution, the communist resistance to the Nazis in Greece ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: If Charlie Wasn't Always Charlie, How Can We Be Charlie?

    January 16, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor LAST SUNDAY, the day of the great marches in France, which were attended by nearly 10 percent of the French populace, a friend who lives in France half the year wrote to say that he was on his way to his town’s demo, and forwarded an email from a Trotskyist group attacking the rallies as class collaborationist and calling on people to refuse to participate in this union sacrée with the parties of the bourgeoisie. All I could think was that it was because of silly sectarianism...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: The Crime of Dancing in the Street

    January 10, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor A COUPLE OF THOUGHTS about the NYPD’s actions over the past few weeks: Though they are quick to blame Mayor de Blasio for fostering an anti-police atmosphere that they say, on the basis of no facts, caused the killing of two officers, police never seem to look at their own conduct. Nothing is more foreign to a cop, not only in New York but, as we have lately seen, almost anywhere, than self-reflection. A clip has been circulating that is in many ways as horrible as the film...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: End-of-the-Year Films to See

    January 3, 2015Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor THE YEAR PAST wasn’t a great year for film, but ended with a flurry of releases by some of the most important filmmakers working today. The best of them is Two Days, One Night by the Belgians Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Sandra (pictured at right, played by brilliant Marion Cotillard, intentionally drab) wants to return to work after a medical leave for depression, but the bosses have decided that her return should be put to a vote: she can return, but if she does so the wo...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Cuba, Another Perspective

    December 21, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor SO LET US IMAGINE two men in a café in Havana, discussing the opening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US: The older of the two shakes his head in disbelief. “Raul sold us out. Can you imagine that he agreed to this without having the embargo lifted as a precondition?” His friend nods and chimes in: “Right, and he didn’t demand that the U.S. military base in Guantanamo be closed down, or even the prison. Or that the U.S. swear never to violate human rights by en...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Women in the IDF

    November 29, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Reviewed in this essay: Zero Motivation, a film by Talia Lavie TALIA LAVIE'S DELIGHTFUL FILM about life in the IDF, Zero Motivation, is a radical change from the films we usually see about Israel. The soldiers featured in this film are neither conscientious heroes nor rage-filled brutes. Lavie instead takes us to a base in Israel’s desert south and an administrative unit staffed entirely by women doing their two-year mandatory service. The enemy here is not the Palestinians,...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Counting German Jews

    November 23, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Loyal Sons: Jews in the German Army in the Great War, by Peter Appelbaum. Valentine Mitchell, 2014, 347 pages. IT'S LONG BEEN A HISTORICAL TRUISM — and truth — that Hitler’s rise to power and the consequent Holocaust were to a large extent the fruits of the German defeat in World War I and the iniquitous Versailles Treaty. Peter Appelbaum’s fascinating Loyal Sons: Jews in the German Army in the Great War makes a convincing case that the germs of thos...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Death of Klinghoffer, Death of Free Speech

    October 23, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor AND SO NOW John Adams’ opera The Death of Klinghoffer has begun its run at the Metropolitan Opera, and the promised campaign against it has taken the form of demonstrations and interruptions of the first performance. If the conduct of the greater part of the Jewish community was repellent during the recent war on Gaza, smearing all critics as stooges of Hamas, these demonstrations are further sign of the moral thuggery that has become part of the standard operating procedure ...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Patrick Modiano's Missing People

    October 9, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor I WAS ONCE ASKED an interesting question by a new acquaintance: If I could have written any book in the world, what would it be? Without any hesitation I answered, Rue des Boutiques Obscures (translated as Missing Person) by Patrick Modiano. Since discovering him thirty-five years ago, I have evangelized for his novels, to little avail, since only eight of the twenty-eight have been translated into English. Now that he has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, with his work cit...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: "The Decent One"

    September 28, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor IT'S CERTAINLY A TRUISM that no one is only one thing, and even if there is some element that dominates a person’s existence, or our vision of that existence, people have multiple facets and are viewed differently by all who know them. The most caring of husbands and loving of fathers can also be a killer. The most brutal of killers can also be a loving father and husband. That this applies to the men behind the Nazi genocide is the lesson of Vanessa Lapa’s astounding film Th...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: The New Lynch Law

    August 19, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor THE WAR ON TERROR has seen Americans surrendering civil and constitutional rights — like those against illegal search and seizure — on which we have long prided ourselves. We grumble, but in the end we say that it’s only those doing something wrong who really have anything to fear, and in our search for the chimera of safety we allow injustices to continue. What we have surrendered in fighting crime is far more horrible, and has been brought home over the past few weeks with...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: The Ingathering that Never Happened

    August 8, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Zionism is the expression of our being fed up with being ruled by goyim. -Yeshayahu Leibowitz WHILE RESEARCHING MY POST ON THE FLIGHT OF JEWS FROM FRANCE Jewish Currents editor Lawrence Bush asked me to research comparative numbers for Jewish emigration from the U.S. and France. This turned out not to be easy: every article, every table consulted gave a different figure for the same periods. But no matter where I looked, the numbers themselves were something of a shock. Howe...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Fleeing France

    July 22, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor TWO PLANES CARRYING 430 French Jews landed in Israel on Wednesday, July 16th. All of them were new immigrants about to settle in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Netanya, Ashdod, or Ashkelon. Former Soviet refusenik and current head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, said that "More and more people are asking whether Jews have a future in France. But no one doubts that French Jews have a future in Israel." The increase is striking: in the first two months of 2014, the number of Fren...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: Soccer and Murder in Israel

    July 15, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor THE NEWS THAT THE MEN RESPONSIBLE for the burning alive of Muhammad Abu-Khudair first met as supporters of the Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem, and were involved with its most radical group of fans, La Familia, should surprise no one. The killers were certain to be either settlers, supporters of the far right, or ultra-Orthodox, and in Israel there is one place where all of these faces of Israeli reaction meet: Teddy Kollek Stadium, the home of Beitar Jerusalem. The te...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Balls, Bites and Bombs

    June 28, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    Uruguay's National Psychosis by Mitchell Abidor The end of the first round of the World Cup — a round of wonderful, exciting play and some wretched officiating — was crowned by l’Affaire Suarez. Luis Suarez, a forward for Liverpool and the Uruguayan national team, with about ten minutes to go in his team’s game against Italy, bit the shoulder of an opponent. Horrific as this might seem, Suarez was, in fact, a double recidivist, having already been suspended twice for the same offense, as well a...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: A Response to Bush's Broadside

    June 15, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Lawrence Bush complains in his "broadside" post about progressive Jews embracing Jewish identity that "It is only when Jews act as a religious community, or in service of narrow self-interest, that Jews are portrayed as Jews in America. When they act in the name of our finest humanistic traditions, in a univeralist cause, their Jewishness goes unmentioned." He uses the Mississippi Freedom Summer volunteers, a third of whom he identifies as Jewish, as an example. The first qu...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: A Jewish Progressive's Guide to the World Cup

    June 11, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor For the next month, from June 12 – July 13, the world will be watching the soccer World Cup in Brazil, a quadrennial event that draws more viewers than any other sporting event in the world. Increasing numbers of Americans are also drawn to it, and the press has been full of articles helping viewers work through the 32 teams filed to choose one to root for. Which team should a progressive Jew support? Of the 736 players on the rosters, there’s only one Jew, Kyle Beckerman of...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: What's the Message of the September 11th Museum?

    May 22, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor The New York Times published an article on May 16 about people's reactions to the opening of the September 11 Memorial Museum, in which I was quoted as saying, “I won’t visit it anytime soon. It promises to be filled with gawking, ghoulish out-of-towners who will overwhelm the New Yorkers, who lived through the sorrow of those days and will have a hard time getting in.” My wife questioned the legitimacy of my point of view, and my dismissal of visitors as "ghoulish gawkers,"...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant in Argentina: Memories of the Junta

    May 18, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Memory is an important word in South America, the memory of the crimes of the military dictatorships of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Argentina which suffered under a vicious military regime from 1976-1983, has established — like many of its neighbors — a number of sites aimed at reminding visitors of the torture, murder, and disappearances of those years. Most strikingly, ten years ago they converted the main torture center, the Naval Mechanic’s School (ESMA) in Buenos Aires, into...

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  • Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: The Success of a Failure

    April 22, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    Our Contributing Writer Retires by Mitchell Abidor "The journey towards idleness is the journey of a lifetime." -Tom Hodgkinson, “How to be Idle” On April 1, 2013 the long, slow climb to the middle that I described in Blog-Shmog came to an end and I retired after nearly forty years of work for the Health and Hospitals Corporation, New York’s municipal hospital system. I picked April 1st for sentimental reasons: My wedding anniversary is also April 1st, so I wanted all the good things in my lif...

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    The Uncivil Servant: In Protest of Ultra-Orthodox Jews

    April 1, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    Am I Being Anti-Semitic, or Do They Deserve It? by Mitchell Abidor Some time ago, I spent several months translating the correspondence of the French novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline, a ferocious Jew-hater and Nazi collaborator. Reading his rants, I felt a certain unease. That unease returned while reading, for a future review article for Jewish Currents, David Nirenberg’s brilliant and dense Anti-Judaism, an analysis of the ways in which hatred of and opposition to Judaism — even in the absence...

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    The Uncivil Servant: "Omar" and the Occupation's Contagion

    March 2, 2014Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor In 2005, the Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, in his brilliant Paradise Now, audaciously had us follow, get to know, and even sympathize (or at least empathize) with two young Palestinians sent to carry out a suicide attack. Their drives, their beliefs, and their hesitations all made Said and Khaled real to us, not mere bogeymen to be dismissed as lunatics. Abu-Assad’s new film, the Oscar-nominated Omar, does the same, but is in many ways far more complex. [For our inter...

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