german cannabis

Nothing seems to move when it comes to the Belgian campaign to change the hundred years old prohibitionist drugs law and to decriminalise the possession of cannabis for personal consumption. In Germany however, where social-democrats, greens and right-wing liberals are negotiating a new government, decriminalisation of recreative use seems to be on its way.

learning from israel

It still works: yelling ‘Antisemitism!’ as soon as the Israeli apartheid regime is being criticized. It works in Germany, it works in France, and most of all it works in the United States. One of the recent cases involves the City Council of Seattle. They voted down 5-4 a bill that would have prohibited the... Lire la Suite →

taliban and islamism

A friend of mine, living in North Africa and a hajji himself, sent me a reaction.  The Taliban have learnt a few things, he wrote; they will now deceive more skilfully than before. They might grant some rights to women, should they be interested in the recognition of their Islamic emirate by the US – but I think they really don’t care. And make no mistake, the Taliban’s victory is a victory for the whole Islamist Muslim world, just like when they all stood behind Saddam Hussein when he bawled against the US. Every single fact that might humiliate the US or the Western world, is perceived as a victory. That’s the game Erdogan’s playing, and that the Taliban will be playing. In addition, next year it will be a hundred years since the fall of the last caliphate, the Ottoman empire. It’s hard to imagine a more symbolic restart.

invisible women

Being an old white male myself – and thus by definition an oppressor and exploiter of everyone and everything which is not old and white and male – I try to stay alert (not woke, please, not woke)to the experiences of (some) women by following Caroline Criado Perez’ website and newsletter Invisible Women. I write (some) women, since by far the largest part of the information on her website deals with the stories of well-situated, white or at least western women – while a great many women in this world aren’t even in the material situation to experience the concrete discriminations, contempt and fears she mentions. On the other hand of course, mutatis mutandis, the displays of supposed male superiority may well be universal, ubiquitous and structural.

consumer responsibility

Nevertheless, the industry has discovered that a benevolent part of the consuming population is willing and able to consider and decide whether a specific purchase is promoting a better life (for themselves, for society, for the world in general) or not. And it is more than willing to support these committed  customers in choosing the right stuff. What that finally comes down to is what Berlin-based philosopher Byung-Chul Han calls ‘self-exploitation’. You pay the postal charges, but if you want your package to be delivered to the addressee within a week, you better bring it yourself, since ‘to save the climate’ postal service is reduced to the minimum. If despite everything you decide to fly to your holiday resort, you can pay an extra CO2-supplement. If you don’t want all your fruit and vegetables pre-packed in plastic, you can by re-usable baggies at the checkout. And if necessary, public authorities will force you to do the right thing, such as p.e. separating plastic waste.

yiddish

In three weeks, I’ll sit the exam Yiddish Level 1 at Universiteit Antwerpen. It feels a bit strange taking an exam again, after so many years of giving them. But apart from that, am I expressing my Jewishness through the studying of Yiddish language? I don’t think so.

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