The Conspiracy

Bob Marley and ‘Zion’; Beastie Boy passes; and more. [Required Reading]

Bob Marley’s heirs to Israeli MK: “Stop using ‘Iron Lion Zion'” [Haaretz]

Given the title of the Bob Marley song, it’s probably a given that someone might think to use it for Israel-related material (propaganda or otherwise). But it seems a recent use of the song has raised the ire of Bob Marley’s heirs. Haaretz reports:

“Heirs of Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley have sent a warning letter to MK Aryeh Eldad, threatening legal action over the unauthorized use of the song ‘Iron Lion Zion’ for propaganda purposes.

In the film clip, which was removed from the Internet in light of the warning, the National Union MK can be seen with his grandchildren, while Marley’s song plays in the background. Added to the words of the famous song were phrases that promote Eldad’s political outlook:

‘If you support two states for two peoples, where one of them is Jordan, if you are against the Arab occupation, say ‘Amen.’ Just one hope on the right [wing], Yes.'”

Adam Yauch, member of the Beastie Boys, passes [Forward]

In light of the news that a member of the rap outfit the Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch (may his memory be for a blessing; his life certainly has been), has passed, the Jewish Daily Forward shares some thoughts about the relationship the band’s music had to Jewish culture, identity, and youth.

“For fans like me, the Beastie Boys are inseparable from the times in our lives when we listened to them most. As a teenager starting a non-Jewish high school after years in day school, I spent hours trying to divine crypto-Jewish messages in their music. I’m half embarrassed to admit it, but the first MCA lyric that came to mind when I heard about his May 4 death wasn’t one of his great expressions of social consciousness, like ‘I want to say a little something that’s long overdue/ The disrespect to women has got to be through,’ or his public apology in 1999 for the band’s early misogyny. That came later, when I had to think about Yauch and what he meant. The first thing I thought of was this line from ‘Get on the Mic’: ‘Mike … don’t be so selfish/ Get on the mic ‘cause you know you eat shellfish.’ In what universe other than a Jewish one does that taunt make sense? They were already megastars when the song was released in 1989; were they really still worried about Jewish dietary laws?”

Kabbalah, secretism, and the culture of the elite [Zeek]

In this fascinating piece from Zeek, Hartley Lachter explores the history of Kabbalist thought, and the presumption that historic Kabbalist teachings were reserved solely for the “elite” members of the Jewish faith: the favored, the few (versus the wider public).

“Late 13th century Castilian kabbalists were prolific writers. They composed commentaries on the Torah, explications of the secret meaning of rabbinic texts, detailed interpretations of the kabbalistic meaning of the commandments, poetic allegories, and texts intended to provide a general overview of Jewish law. One genre of kabbalistic writing from late 13th century Castile is the peirush or ‘commentary’ on the ten sefirotor ten divine luminosities that serve as the basic symbolic structure of kabbalistic theosophy (Chavel, 1984, p. 7). Over one hundred of these commentaries were written in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. These compositions vary in length from a single page of text to 60 or 70 folios. The object of these commentaries is to provide a general grounding in kabbalistic symbolism by enumerating how each individualsefira corresponds to biblical names and terminology, letters, colors, directions, heavenly bodies, the human anatomy, and the practice of traditional Jewish law and ritual. An examination of these texts reveals a very different picture of medieval Kabbalah — one in which kabbalists are actively engaged in spreading their doctrine and providing tools to help bring neophytes into the conversation.”

A mirror, or a window: using the Internet as a learning tool [Sh’ma]

In this great piece from Sh’ma, a Journal of Jewish Ideas, Andrew Silow-Carroll explores the downsides to the way in which Internet search engines (one of our primary tools of knowledge seeking online) reinforce our thinking without challenging us to look at new perspectives, etc.:

“The Jeremiah of narrowcasting — targeting a narrow audience — is Eli Pariser, an online organizer and the author of the 2011 book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. In it, he warns how search engines and advertisers link conservatives with other conservatives, liberals with other liberals, cheese lovers with other cheese lovers. While the ‘filter bubble’ provides your own unique universe of online information, you don’t decide what gets in — nor see what gets edited out. ‘The Internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see,’ says Pariser.

Pariser’s warning could well apply to the Foxification of the news business — that is, an explosion of ideologically narrow cable outlets and web sources, from mainstream newspaper sites to blogs to aggregators like the Drudge Report and The Huffington Post, that allow us to tailor our media choices and filter out the messages that clash with our worldviews.

I see the impact of this kind of filtering on the Jewish conversation. For most of my career as an editor, when people would object to the ideas or opinions expressed in an article, they would either argue back or turn the page. In the past decade or so, however, people are more likely to complain about having to see the opinion or article at all in ‘their paper.’ We’ve all gotten spoiled by the ability to consume information in splendid isolation from one another — or, more importantly, in isolation from those with whom we disagree.”

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