THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
BN-W and Educate-Empower wish you all a New Year that is happy, healthy, spiritually uplifting, and financially sound!
The monitor of the film(s) listed above is farther down in this eNewsletter. Despite the hyped nominations of the others and its mixed reviews, “Seven Pounds” is the best of the three. Yes, it’s a serious film and not the happy-go-lucky Will Smith people prefer to see, but it’s primarily about the gift of life, the gift of a better quality of life, doing acts of kindness for nothing in return, and people expressing sincere gratitude over the “little things.” With all that’s happening these days, including the massacre of so many innocent civilians in the Gaza onslaught, we need more films with a theme of generosity and compassion.
INTERESTING WEB SITES/LINKS/ARTICLES :
“Change” is on the way, right? From Barack Obama’s “change.gov” site, here’s a list of his transition agency review team leads and members. A whole lot of people involved in filling those nearly 8,000 jobs Obama must oversee – do you know anyone? Obama’s Cabinet member picks is complete as well as some key staff positions. Basic background details of these nominees/appointees and photos of them can be found at these sites:
Links to an organizational structure chart of the United States government are here:
Although this edition of BN-W was going to focus on both of the “Obama Issues” reported in BN-W #94, due to the continuous humanitarian disaster occurring yet again between Israelis and Palestinians in the very dense strip of Gaza, which is near the African – not Middle Eastern – country of Kemet (also known as Egypt), this edition of BN-W will focus on the history of the conflict. The very biased American media coverage on this issue will also be pointed out. Some international sources provide more balanced reporting or at least the other side of the story, includingAljazeera English (view/listen to its live stream or atLivestation).
Not surprisingly, the first of the “Obama Issues” referenced has already conveniently, intentionally, and very strategically begun; the timing of this – during Hanukkah, on Sabbath, holiday vacations, year-end celebrations/reviews, right before 2009 rolls in, and, of course, just before the upcoming Israeli elections in February and 25 days before Obama is inaugurated, which places – or should that be “forces” – this situation squarely at or near the top of an American agenda. How convenient for spotlight seekers. And the issue is yet another militarily uneven attack on Palestinian people and property in Gaza by the Israeli occupying force with weaponry that was purchased with our American tax dollars. Obama is being rather quiet on this issue (although he did reference the plight of the Palestinians in early 2008), but he sat in Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years – and Wright was against the mistreatment of Palestinians just as he was adamantly and actively against South Africa apartheid (which Israel staunchly supported and backed). Although Obama is surrounded by many pro-Israel people, let’s hope he takes an evenhanded approach on this issue.
Gaza is a tiny strip of land that borders on the corner of Kemet (KMT). It is about 6-1/2 miles wide and 25 miles long and is approximately twice the size of Washington, DC. There are about 1.5 million people crammed in there. After 38 years, Israel finally completed the “Gaza Disengagement Plan” in September 2005 by removing the Israeli settlers (many of whom were paid to move to Israeland settle on Palestine land) and disassembling thesettlements. The Israeli government, however, never really left or gave up control and still had command over the air and sea space; violated the rights of Palestinians/Gazans; continued to make life miserable for the citizens (body searches, verbal abuse, and more); continued checkpoints/roadblocks; less than a year after “disengagement” bombed the electric-power station, thus forcing the residents to rely on Israel for electricity; and other restrictions and blockades. The West Bank is also another occupied territory with many Israeli settlers; the Israeli government has been breaking up families and disrupting lives in an effort to force Palestinians/Gazans out of there and into Gaza. Following are links to maps of the territories in question.
Gaza Strip (yellow)
Detailed Gaza Strip (before disengagement)
[with checkpoints, settlements, etc.]
To get a more rounded viewpoint of the roots of the conflict, the role that Zionism plays in the “creation” of Israel must be recognized. While we normally don’t quote much from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) because of its extreme bias, the ADL describes Zionism this way: “ Zionism is the Jewish national movement of rebirth and renewal in the landof Israel – the historical birthplace of the Jewish people…. History has demonstrated the need to ensure Jewish security through such a homeland.” ADL’s description – not ours – and certainly many others would take issue with that description. One of those “others” is Jews Against Zionism (JAZ), which describes the purpose of its site this way: “ to explain why traditional Jews do not support Zionism (the return to the land called ‘ Israel’) and why the Zionist ideology is totally contrary to traditional Jewish law and beliefs and the teachings of the Holy Torah.” JAZ also writes: “We implore and beseech our Jewish brethren to realize that the Zionists are not the saviors of the Jewish People and guarantors of their safety, but rather the instigators and original cause of Jewish suffering in the Holy Land and worldwide. The idea that Zionism and the State of ‘ Israel’ is the protector of Jews is probably the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the Jewish People. Indeed, where else since 1945 have Jews been in such physical danger as in the Zionist state?!” Read the full article and much more on the JAZ site. Same religious affiliation, but very different opinions!
In line with the JAZ outlook, Malcolm X wrote this article –Zionist Logic – in September 1964 for The Egyptian Gazette, in which he asks: “ Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves just based on the ‘religious’ claim that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a new Moroccan nation … where Spain used to be, as the European Zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine?” Former Zionist Benjamin Freedman described as an “anti-Semitic Jew” by the ADL gave a speech in 1961 in which he spoke about the reasons World War I happened, which included the Zionists asking for Palestine in exchange for bringing the United States in as an ally with the British – even though Jews and the U.S. were pro-German. Listen to audio or audio/text or read text. He also talks about the origins of the Balfour Declaration(read more here and here), which was a November 2, 1917letter of assurance requested by Zionists that after victory Britain would “pay” them with Palestine as agreed for bringing the U.S. into WWI.
As for the history of the Palestine/Israeli conflict, there’s a lot of information out there. But the links below seem to be sufficient in terms of a lack of an obvious bias as well as content and date consistency that matches with other materials reviewed on this topic. Some topics covered are Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism in 1897, who acknowledged his reason for creating it was political and had nothing to do with Judaism and that initially he just wanted a place for Jews to settle and wasn’t particularly interested in Palestine; the Balfour Declaration; 1967 Six Day War; Israeli attack on the USS Liberty (also see Cynthia McKinney story below); War of Attrition; 1973 Yom Kippur War (aka The October War); Oslo Agreement; and much more.
Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict [detailed report]
NPR – The Mideast: A Century of Conflict(Audio/Transcript)
We shared the video documentaries in our last eNewsletter – Occupation 101 and Peace, Propaganda & Promised Land– with you in previous BN-W eNewsletters and online at theResource Directory. Considering the latest crisis in that region, if you haven’t already, it would be wise to look at these two videos and use your critical thinking skills to get a more balanced understanding of the situation and the mindset at play. The biased slant from politicians and in the mainstream American media only provide the same barrage of talking points – code words: Hamas, rockets, right to defend itself, terrorists, terrorism – that reflects some very effective lobbying and public relations campaigning (on Capitol Hill and in the media) on the part of Israel. It’s amazing how every local and cable news report have the same modus operandi and never stray from the code words yet try to claim “unbiased” reporting. Effective PR drilling indeed!
Extremely biased and propagandized examples include this 12/30/08 New York Times Editorial “War Over Gaza” and this no-fear performance by CNN’s Nic Robertson in “Under Fire in Israel” (was he the only one out there?). Keep performing like that, Nic, and your job is safe; you’ll keep the perks of a television job and that paycheck rolling in! Does he even realize that Israelis are lucky to have sirens/surveillance drones to “warn” them? Do the Palestinians have any such warning system in place beforethe onslaught of high tech U.S. weapons that include “pilotless jets…warplanes, F-16s and God knows what” that bombard innocent children and women? They surely have no safe houses and bomb shelters – as do the natural born citizens of Israel as well as its many settlers. It would be interesting to see him dodge bombs and 21st century weapons coming at him in Gaza – oh no, he can’t, the Israeli government refuses to allow journalists in that territory even though it was ordered to do so by the Israel Supreme Court! Fortunately, in the former example, readers scolded the editorial for being “insipid,” “a joke,” and “lame.” Should the comments in that link be removed from the NYT site, here is some of what the readers wrote:
“While Hamas’ rockets were inexcusable, this editorial fails to capture the length and depth of the Israeli siege that starved Gazans of their basic necessities.”
“Does anyone have an independent thought in the U.S. that isn’t written for them by some Israeli public relations rep. Israel is not ‘defending’ itself by targeting civilian infrastructure…. Colonialism does not breed peace, and Israel is a colonizing power, armed to the teeth by the U.S. which has done nothing good for Israel except keep it in denial over decisions it has to make.”
“Half of Gaza’s citizens are children. Families are reported now to be scavenging, not for garbage scraps with which to feed their children – that too, is apparently running out. No, what some are now turning to is a bit more modest than that – families are resorting to feeding their children grass.”
“Does anyone even think you will be fair regarding Israel and Palestine? Israel is always right according to you.”
“Somehow in this country, the oppressors and the occupiers are the good guys and the oppressed and occupied are the bad ones.”
“Isn’t it time for the Times to take a more objective view of the Israel/Palestine issue?”
“It’s amazing how far the NYT goes to coddleIsrael and condemn/demonize the Palestinians. It is also amazing how little Palestinian lives matter to the NYT. Let’s be a bit more blunt: there is no possibility of peace in the Middle East so long as the US is the water carrier for Israel.”
“There can only be a conflict of this depth and length with two parties participating. There are many parts of what is called Israel today that were never part of the original lands taken to form the state of Israel – every month there are more lands appropriated/stolen/taken, then bull-dozed and new Jewish Settlements arising overnight. How on earth did anyone ever think this was acceptable behaviour? Who in the world would quietly and meekly walk away from everything they ever had? Which of us would ever allow anyone to come in and brutally throw us and our children out of our homes and appropriate them, putting strangers in there in your place? It was madness at the start to think that this was going to work out well or be acceptable.”
As mentioned by BN-W before, Arabs and Jews (and certainly the media) have a long history of undesirable treatment toward people of African descent – including active involvement during the early years of enslavement in Africa, through the Middle Passage/Transatlantic slave trade, and then in the United States of America – which is why some Blacks don’t get too involved in this issue. We fully understand that viewpoint, but we also identify with those such as Cynthia McKinney and many others who clearly see this as an issue of humanity – particularly with so many innocent children getting ruthlessly killed, maimed, and terrorized. See McKinney’s live – and unedited – interview about her encounter with an Israeli vessel on her trip to Gaza here (CNN) or here (YouTube) and read about her trip here: CNN or Black Agenda Report. CNN’s Karl Penhaul (who provides starkly different reporting than Robertson) was on the boat as well and provides more about the ramming incident here: Voyage of Dignity.
The above live interview links (and the Black Agenda Reportarticle) to the McKinney interview have a reference to theUSS Liberty attack by Israelis on the United States – which killed 34 American crew members and wounded 174 – during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. This incident is “ the only peacetime attack on a U.S. naval vessel that, to this day, the Congress of the United States of America formally refuses to investigate.” The Israelis called it “mistaken identity” and, of course, the U.S. went along with it, but the people who were on board tell a completely different story in this documentary. Read the FAQ and summary and view this insightful documentary at:
What’s also interesting about this McKinney story is that the edited version that aired later on CNN deleted the reference to the USS Liberty attack and tried to portray McKinney as a messy, argumentative, and failed politician. View the media manipulation here: CNN edited McKinney story.
If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to email@example.com and request that it be sent to you. As always, we highly encourage you to see these films for yourself and, if applicable, make your own judgment call on the N-word usage – appropriate/inappropriate? necessary/unnecessary? sensible/nonsensical? does it add to or take away from the film’s concept? does the N-word have to be used at all? is there a valid reason for doing so? is it mandatory for the scene(s) to be effective? what are the circumstances/situation that necessitate any use of the word? is it just thrown in for humor, fear, crime, insult? are other culturally insulting slang terms used as much as the N-word in the film? Lots of questions and a whole lot of reasons to wonder what’s the real purpose and thought process behind why these entertainers, writers, directors, producers, executive producers, distributors, and studios/studio heads and executives give the “greenlight” for these crews to liberally use (or allow to be used) the N-word.
FEATURE FILM(S) :
D O U B T
[Release Date: 12/12/08]
Starring Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams; screenplay written by John Patrick Shanley; directed by John Patrick Shanley; produced by Scott Rudin, Mark Roybal; executive produced by Celia Costas; studio – Miramax Films
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NOTE : Meryl Streep is a pretty good actress – some may even say excellent – but why does it always seem like a mandatory, obligatory, or an expected rite of passage to nominate her for awards? The very serious topic of child sexual abuse is the focus of the film. The acting from all players is on point. Unfortunately, the film leaves you dangling by not giving enough or the proper closure.
S E V E N P O U N D S
[Release Date: 12/19/08]
Starring Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Michael Ealy, Barry Pepper, Woody Harrelson; screenplay written by Grant Nieporte; directed by Gabriele Muccino; produced by Todd Black, James Lassiter, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Will Smith; executive produced by David Crockett, David Bloomfield, Ken Stovitz, Domenico Procacci; studio – Columbia Pictures
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Intense film about self-imposed atonement, the gift of life, and finding unexpected love. Excellent acting by Rosario Dawson; Smith is good although he wears a pained expression throughout most of the film. Smith and Rosario have good chemistry and their love scene is very tastefully done. The soundtrack of this film is also a standout.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
[Release Date: 12/25/08]
Starring Taraji P. Henson, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett; screenplay written by Eric Roth; directed by David Fincher; produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Cean Chaffin; executive produced by [not listed]; studio – Paramount Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures
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NOTE : Taraji P. Henson and Cate Blanchett both do very well. Brad Pitt handles a never-done-before role decently with the longing showing in the eyes and facial expressions often but the passion is missing sometimes; he plays it a little too understated at times. Film is overall good but a little too long; somewhat forced emotions; a little preachy on life advice; and surprisingly anti-climactic with father/son reunion scene and it seemed to be the acting and not necessarily the script – the chemistry wasn’t there between the actors.
BN-W Monitor Coming Soon : “Not Easily Broken”[Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson]; “Notorious” [Angela Bassett, Derek Luke]; “Madea Goes to Jail” [Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam]; “The Soloist” [Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr.]; “Hurricane Season” [Forest Whitaker]; and more…
Also Coming : Part II: Black-Jewish Relations; Music Monitors