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On the occasion of the Czech Center’s presidency of the European Union National Institute for Culture in New York (EUNIC), a symposium: F(o)unding Culture was organized by Czech Center New York and the Aspen Institute Prague.
The first panel (which included: Benjamin Barber, Wendy W. Luers, Krzysztof Czyzewski, Jan Bondy, Fritzie Brown and Andreas Stadler) addressed the ‘concept of advancing public diplomacy through the arts’ and lessons learned from the experience of the US and Central Europe in securing ‘sustainable development in the field of art and culture.’
In his remarks, Benjamin Barber (Senior Research Scholar at CUNY) addressed the idea of ‘art for the public good’, suggesting that “democracy permits arts to flourish and arts permit democracy to flourish.”
Since the 1913 Armory Show and the arrival of Dadaism, Cubism, and Surrealism to America’s shores, the artworld in the US has delighted in its assault on tradition, nature and form — fomenting a counter-culture and contributing to a band of rebels — all in the spirit of freedom. The resulting culture of no fear, no rules, no boundaries or regrets is dominating American society, undoing the bonds and trust between people, and being exported to the world.
It’s interesting how America uses her culture to destabilize other countries and even torture people (see music used on prisoners at Guantanamo) all in the spirit of advancing democracy — without realizing the toxic effect it has had on her own people. Democracy and society don’t work if everybody is a rebel.
At the annual Turkish American Parade and Festival, held today in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations, one couldn’t help but be concerned over Turkey’s pivot to support the rebels seeking to overthrow the Syrian government.
A woman we spoke with said of Turkey’s Prime minister Recap Tayyip Erdogen: “He’s lost his mind.” She added that he’s undermining the progressive secular path set forth by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s first president, who ruled from 1923-38.
That part of the world continues to be destabilized by American, Israeli, British and Sunni gangsters. The truth doesn’t get out. In Turkey it’s because of government censorship and the incarceration of thousands of prisoners of conscience. In the U.S. it’s because of lying propagandists, like Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, who point to the “murderous tyranny” of Bashar al Assad (his description), without admitting that Syria’s actions came in response to the murderous intervention of Syrian sovereignty by countries such as the U.S. and Israel.
On 5/6 the German Consulate, in association with the American Jewish Committee (AJC), hosted a discussion — Jewish Renaissance in Germany: Challenges and Opportunities. The speakers included Dr. Raphael Seligman, Publisher of “Jewish Voice from Germany,” and David Marwell, Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC.
In 1989 there were 28,000 Jewish people in Germany; today there are 240,000+, in 100 Jewish communities.
In his remarks Eugene Dubow of AJC talked about opening an AJC office in Berlin in the mid-90′s — which, he quipped, has been called the “embassy of American Jews.” Mr. Dubow added that the AJC has crafted a ‘leadership and democracy development program’ that is being used by schools throughout Berlin.
Mr. Seligman, whose family returned to Germany in the 50′s and then moved to Israel, said that in Berlin today “we have an official Jewish community of 12,000, but there are 15,000 Israelis — which are not part of the community, because they don’t want to pay taxes.” He lamented the fact that in the 50′s the Jewish community in Berlin was religious but today the new synagogue, that cost 20 million euros, sits empty.
Analysis: You have a situation in Berlin where a Jewish organization from the U.S. is teaching Germans about leadership and democracy, while at the same time more than half the Jews living in Berlin don’t pay taxes to Germany. For democracy to work, community and solidarity are not optional. Jewish people rightly want others to be in solidarity with them; they too need to be in solidarity with others.
A Democracy might be established by individualists (self-centered humans) but it can not be sustained by them.
Former Bollywood actress Laj Bedi, now living in a Harlem senior home, was touched by grace in a transforming experience that her granddaughter turned into a short film — which premiered at the NYIFF.
If advancing spiritually is central to the good life, Laj Bedi has it.
Film cast includes: Shelle Davis, David Andrew Stoler (Director) & Purva Bedi.
Photographs: Stephen Wise
Baseball was introduced to the people of Manipur by American GIs during World War II. Since then the country, bordering on Burma, has come under the control of India. With a corrupt government and guerrilla insurgency, the nation is poor and underdeveloped. A recent initiative, aided by Major League Baseball and Spalding, sent baseball equipment and baseball ‘envoys’ to Manipur to train coaches — many of whom are women. A film crew went along and a powerful story of human solidarity and possibility was documented.
Would that world leaders spent as much money proliferating sport’s envoys and equipment as they do weapons. It would be a different world.
Photo: Jeff Brueggemann, formerly with the Minnesota Twins and a baseball envoy in the movie, and Mirra Bank, the film’s director, attending the NYIFF.
Update: The Only Real Game received the Best Documentary Award at NYIFF.
In conjunction with Season of Cambodia: A Living Arts Festival, Topaz Arts in Woodside, Queens is hosting an exhibition of work by three Cambodian women artists. The show is called “1975″ and runs from April 26–May 26, 2013.
Artists: Anida Yoeu Ali, Amy Lee Sanford and LinDa Saphan; Curated by Chuong–Dai Vo.
Historically significant, “1975″ is an exhibition that presents the contributions of diasporic Cambodian artists in the construction of a post-war and post-genocide society. Seizing power in 1975, the Kmer Rouge regime killed 1.7 million people and left another one million as refugees. “This exhibition highlights three women who are among the new generation of artists creating a new cultural scene in Cambodia and rebuilding the country.”
“The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission has a fifty year program for the study of the latent and delayed effects of radiation as well as the possible genetic effects in the human. Their preliminary report indicates that, if future bombings parallel the Japanese picture the casualty distribution by type will be approximately…”
After the ‘A’ Bomb: Emergency Care in Atomic Warfare (Thomas Nellson & Sons, 1951)
On Easter Sunday a World War I monument in Queens, New York was festooned with Easter rabbits and eggs. Many American Christians have the view that the U.S. military is the guarantor of the nation’s security, freedom and way of life. Many Jews have the same view in Israel. And now the government of North Korea shares that view, saying that their nuclear weapons are their ‘treasure” and “the life of the nation.”
Jesus Christ came into the world offering the way of peace and fullness of life. Sadly, many of his own people rejected the invitation — opting for nukes over the Spirit, the Man of Steel over the Son of Man, and death over life.