Senator McCarthy, anti-communism and anti-Semitism


This 2011 video from the USA says about itself:

The Hollywood blacklist began in 1947 when the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) began to subpoena artists, producers and screenwriters to investigate communist sympathies in Hollywood. Over the next thirteen years, it came to include Charlie Chaplin, Leonard Bernstein, Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Miller, Paul Robeson, Dorothy Parker, Pete Seeger and Orson Welles.

Ten artists, known as the “Hollywood Ten”, originally refused to cooperate with HUAC and were cited for contempt of congress. They were fired and blacklisted by the Motion Picture Association of America the next day in a public announcement. All ten served up to a year in prison, were fined $1,000 and faced great difficulty working in Hollywood again.

In 1950, a pamphlet called “Red Channels” accused 151 actors, writers, directors, musicians and performers of having pre-war connections to left-wing or communist organizations. Those listed were blacklisted from working until they renounced their affiliations and testified to the HUAC. As individuals cooperated and “named names”, the list grew. Altogether some 320 people in the entertainment industry were blacklisted for suspected involvement in “subversive” activities.

“Friendly witnesses” included Gary Cooper, Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney, who claimed the League of Women Voters was a Communist front. HUAC critics, on the other hand, formed the Committee for the First Amendment in support of the Hollywood Ten. It included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Henry Fonda, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. The group flew to Washington D.C. in October 1947 to protest HUAC hearings.

In 1952, the famous director Elia Kazan named eight former friends from the Group Theater in New York as communist party members (his 1954 film “On the Waterfront” is often viewed as a defense of informers). This ended his long friendship with Arthur Miller and inspired Miller’s play “The Crucible” (1953) about the Salem witch hunt of 1692. In 1957, Miller was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to name names.

The blacklist was effectively broken in 1960 when Dalton Trumbo, an unrepentant member of the Hollywood Ten, was publicly acknowledged as the screenwriter of the films “Spartacus” and “Exodus.”

By Larry Tye in the USA, 7 July 2020:

McCarthy was anti-Communist. Was he also anti-Semitic?

Was the anti-Communist Senator Joe McCarthy also an anti-Semite?

That question assumes new resonance in this era of spiraling xenophobia. And there’s fresh evidence in the Wisconsin lawmaker’s personal and professional papers, which I was the first person to gain access to as part of researching my book, “Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy,” which was published on Tuesday.

Any assessment of McCarthy’s attitudes towards Jews has to begin in 1950, as he was launching the Red-baiting crusade that would turn his name into an ism.

One of his first targets, Anna Rosenberg, was such a star when she worked for the War Manpower Commission during World War II that General Eisenhower made her the first female recipient of the Medal of Freedom and President Truman bestowed a Medal for Merit. When the Korean War was gearing up, Secretary of Defense George Marshall tapped Rosenberg to find the troops needed to fight there, protect Europe, and safeguard the homefront. Never had the Defense Department offered such an influential posting to a woman — never mind a Hungarian-born, liberal-leaning Jewish woman.

Within a day, a chorus had formed to oppose her nomination, uniting critics of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, racial desegregation, Zionism, and the Nuremberg verdicts. It wasn’t just her gender and politics that enraged them, but the conviction that anyone named Rosenberg ipso facto was a Soviet spy.

McCarthy was already acquainted with this nefarious crowd, some of whom denied Jesus Christ had been Jewish. As early as 1946, the senator had heard about Gerald L.K. Smith, who would later warn his followers to “keep the Zionist Jew Anna Rosenberg from becoming the dictator of the Pentagon.” He met early on and seemed impressed with the Holocaust-denying Ku Klux Klansman Wesley Swift, who would later instruct congregants of his Church of Jesus Christ-Christian that Rosenberg was not merely a “Jewess” but “an alien from Budapest with Socialistic ideas.”

While he was an instinctual people person, McCarthy was an increasingly indiscriminate judge of character. He listened to a callow staff eager to please him and a coterie of professional anti-Communists out for scalps, rather than to the Republicans on the Armed Service Committee who joined Democrats in unanimously approving Rosenberg’s nomination. In the end, McCarthy was forced to do an about-face, joining the overwhelming majority of senators who confirmed her by a voice vote.

Was his attack on Rosenberg driven by anti-Semitism? The Senator’s own words over the years offer grist for that theory, as even his closest friends acknowledged in interviews. He’d referred to his own lawyer as “a Hebe”.

That lawyer was self-hating Jew and self-hating closet gay homophobic witch hunter Roy Cohn.

A Jewish businessman he suspected of cheating him was “a little sheeny”, another anti-Jewish slur. Years later, according to Army General Counsel John Adams, he repeatedly called a staffer he disdained “a miserable little Jew.”

Then there was the backing McCarthy got from notorious Jew-haters like Smith, founder of the America First Party, and the backing he gave William Dudley Pelley, the fascist activist and writer. McCarthy liked to shock friends by pulling out his copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, calling it inspirational or saying “that’s the way to do it.”

Religious bigotry resurfaced as an issue in 1953, when McCarthy went after what he said were spies in the U.S. Army generally, and especially at a Signal Corps facility in New Jersey. Forty-one of the 45 civilians suspended at Fort Monmouth were Jews, or 95%, whereas 25% of its overall civilian workforce was Jewish, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which urged the Army secretary to do a full-fledged study of possible prejudice. Nearly all those targeted by McCarthy would be reinstated, but not before their lives were upended and they were left to wonder why.

“There is an assumption,” said Allen Lovenstein, a Jewish engineer at the fort, “that there is an anti-Semitic movement.”

Interestingly, Senator McCarthy generally did not lash out against higher-profile Jews, such as Albert Einstein — at least not in public. Among his papers, I found a never-delivered draft of a speech about Einstein, the Nobel Laureate in Physics who was also an avowed Socialist, a pacifist and gay rights advocate, a Jewish-German refugee, and a sufficient worry to the FBI that it kept a 1,449-page file on him.

“I don’t challenge the legal right of Professor Einstein to be a Communist, a fellow traveler, or just a plain political dope,” McCarthy wrote in the draft dated October 1950. “Albert Einstein is one of the great scientific geniuses of all time. On the other hand, it is clear that Albert Einstein has grossly abused the privileges which he has been accorded by the gift of American citizenship.”

The text, which was crossed out with a dark pencil and a pink note saying “Cut from Atomic Scientists’ Speech”, claimed Einstein had “been affiliated with not less than 27 Communist-front organizations,” and ended with this line of poetic vituperation: “The clichés of the rabble-rousing soapbox Socialist pour from his pen as easily as his cosmic equations.”

Did he hold back for fear of being accused again of being anti-Jewish, or because an adviser cautioned temperance when it came to the revered genius? The Senator’s papers do not explain.

The truth is that there is evidence on both sides of the was-he-or-wasn’t-he anti-Semitic question, much the way there is today with the divide over how to balance President Donald Trump’s embrace of anti-Semites with his strong support of Israel and closeness to Orthodox Jews (including his daughter and son-in-law). McCarthy had Jewish friends as well as aides, and he boosted Israel … .

What’s clear, however, is that McCarthy’s reckless accusations and trampling of witnesses’ rights were offensive to age-old Jewish values, with or without overt anti-Semitism. That’s easy to say in hindsight, but was also the verdict of Jewish Americans at the time. They were the one religious group that consistently and overwhelmingly rejected McCarthy, with 15% viewing him favorably and 71% unfavorably.

Einstein captured that Jewish outrage better than anyone. “America”, he wrote, “is incomparably less endangered by its own Communists than by the hysterical hunt for the few Communists that are here.” And he advised colleagues called to testify before legislative panels probing communism to refuse, even if it meant “jail and economic ruin.”

Larry Tye, a longtime reporter for the Boston Globe, is the author of eight books, including the just-published “Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy.”

Swiss Alps wildlife, documentary film


This 19 June 2020 video says about itself:

The Swiss Alps: Wild Animal Paradise | Free Documentary Nature

Gentle, green meadows, rugged rock faces, mysterious lakes, dense forests, tall mountains, low-lying river deltas, quietly meandering mountain streams and smack dab in the middle, a unique fauna – THIS is Switzerland! We trace the elementary power of nature and present animals and plants in landscapes that have hardly ever been touched by mankind.

Switzerland is an alpine country, but it is also Europe’s surge tank. Rivers such as the Rhine and the Rhone have their sources here. Glaciers, crevasses, icy cold caves and the underwater dome of the Verzasca are the unusual settings we chose for this film. We meet with rare, selected animal species and present their behavioural patterns, such as the Swiss or Arven jay [meaning the spotted nutcracker], the lynx and albino catfish. Cold, wind, snow and extreme locations demand adaptation that make us marvel.

Film on north Norwegian fjord wildlife


This February 2020 video says about itself, translated:

Fjord (Norway’s Magical Fjords) – trailer

The Norwegian fjords are one of the most impressive regions in Europe. A surprisingly rich underwater world lurks in the deep, cold waters: from vast coral reefs full of luminescent sea creatures to herring-hunting killer whales and humpback whales. Award-winning nature filmmaker Jan Haft reveals the special diversity hidden in the dark water and shows underwater behaviour that has never been seen before. Fjord is an intimate portrait of a unique wilderness.

On 13 June 2020, I went to see this film about northern Norway. Most chairs in the cinema were kept empty, to make spatial distancing against the coronavirus possible.

This beautiful film shows the importance of the billions of herring wintering in the fjords for the food chain. Killer whales attack them: then, dead herring drift upwards as food for herring gulls. Other dead herring sink to the bottom, as food for seastars, crabs, lantern shanks and flatfish.

Apart from humpbacks and orcas, the film mentions a third cetacean species: harbour porpoises. Unfortunately and unnecessarily, the film says, each year 10,000 porpoises die as bycatch in fishing nets in Norway.

In winter, the fjords are mostly frozen, stopping much sunlight from shining underwater. That attracts a deep-sea species which cannot stand much light: Periphylla periphylla, the helmet jellyfish.

The film also pays attention to wildlife in the mountains around the fjords. Like Megabunus diadema, a harvestman species. And bird species: capercaillie, bluethroat and ruff.

Young Egyptian filmmaker dies a political prisoner


This 3 May 2020 video says about itself:

Egypt: Shady Habash, filmmaker who mocked el-Sisi, dies in prison | Sky Singapore

Shady Habash dies in Cairo’s Tora Prison, say lawyers, after two years in detention for directing video mocking el-Sisi.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 3 May 2020:

22-year-old film-maker dies in Egyptian jail after two years behind bars without trial

A YOUNG artist detained without trial in Egypt for two years for making a film mocking President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has died in prison, his lawyers say.

Shady Habash, who was just 22, died on Saturday in Cairo’s Tora prison complex. Lawyer Ahmed el-Khwaga said the cause of death was not known. Friends published a letter he wrote from prison last October in which he said he was “going mad or dying slowly because you’ve been thrown in a room two years ago and forgotten.”

Rights lawyer Khaled Ali said he ought to have been released two months ago, having served the maximum jail time pending investigation.

African pangolins, documentary film


This 2019 video says about itself:

Eye of the Pangolin is the story of two men on a mission to share the wonder of all four species of African pangolin on camera for the first time ever.

Follow their extraordinary journey to remote locations on the African continent, from arid savannah to exotic jungles. Become captivated by these extraordinary creatures as the filmmakers meet the people who are caring for and studying pangolins in a desperate attempt to save them from being poached and traded into extinction.

Filmed in Ultra High Definition, this ambitious documentary is freely available online for commercial-free viewing.

Our goal at Pangolin.Africa is to make Eye Of The Pangolin one of the most widely watched wildlife documentaries ever. If enough people learn to care for this animal, there is a chance that it can be saved. So please share this film with everyone you believe will be touched by this magical creature. If we don’t do something now, the illegal wildlife trade to the east will ensure that pangolins will disappear from the planet within the next 10-20 years.

The film is directed and narrated by Bruce Young, co-director of the award-winning Blood Lions documentary.

Due to the sensitive nature of some of the content on the film, we would recommend an age limit of 13 years or younger.

Copyright ©2019 Pangolin Africa NPC. All rights reserved

Curveball, new film on Iraq war lies


This 26 February 2020 German video says about itself (translated):

Curveball – in the Berlinale Talk 2020 with director Johannes Naber & actor Sebastian Blomberg

Knut Elstermann welcomes director Johannes Naber and actor Sebastian Blomberg to the Berlinale Talk.

Johannes Naber observes with a great deal of ingenuity the emergence of an unlikely friendship between two men who are overwhelmed by the absurd drama that they themselves triggered. And he warns us from the start: This is a true story – unfortunately. His outrage is contagious. Even those who already know the facts will be stunned by the surreal events that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

By Stefan Steinberg in Germany:

Curveball—Germany’s role in the Iraq war

Curveball by German director Johannes Naber valuably turns a knife in a wound that many in the American and German intelligence communities and governments no doubt hoped had long since healed—the way in which the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on entirely fraudulent and lying justifications.

Naber has made a number of notable films, including the immigrant drama The Albanian (2009), Age of Cannibals (2013) and Heart of Stone(2019).

At the premiere of Curveball in Berlin, a festival representative introduced the film, but said he could not read out its title. The film festival lists it merely as “Untitled”. The film’s name is currently the subject of a US lawsuit. After seeing Curveball, one can see why both the American and German intelligence agencies are exerting considerable influence to prevent its distribution.

Naber’s film is a political satire rooted firmly in factual evidence carefully researched by the director and his team. It begins in Iraq where German biologist Dr. Arndt “Desert Fox” Wolf (Sebastian Blomberg), a biological warfare specialist employed by the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), fails to find any evidence of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The head of the BND, Schatz (Thorsten Merten), is eager to outdo the CIA and be the first to prove that Iraq possesses dangerous nerve gas. An opportunity opens up when an Iraqi seeking asylum in Germany, Rafid Alwan (Dar Salim), claims he worked as a chemical engineer in Iraq and has inside knowledge of the country’s chemical weapons programme.

Wolf is given the job of interrogating “Curveball”, the alias given to the Iraqi engineer. In exchange for revealing what he knows (in fact, a pack of lies), Alwan requests he be released from incarceration in a German asylum centre and given citizenship.

After a series of interrogations, Alwan takes a hint from Wolf himself and reveals that the reason for the failure of all the intelligence services to find Iraqi WMD is the “ingenious” use by the Hussein regime of trucks and trains to move the huge chemical vats containing dangerous gases. Absurdly, the two men agree on a crude childish diagram drawn on a napkin purporting to show a truck mounted with the massive vats. Finally, the BND leadership have a scoop to present to their American “cousins”—and it’s champagne all round for those concerned. The German chancellor at the time, Gerhard Schröder, also sends his congratulations to the BND.

Desperately seeking evidence to justify a US intervention in Iraq, the CIA is only too willing to accept the scraps from the BNDs’s table. It organises the kidnapping of “Curveball” in Germany in order to present him as its own source. Feeling some obligation to the Iraqi fraudster, BND asset Wolf attempts to rescue him in a hilarious escape scene.

Wolf confronts the CIA agent responsible for the kidnap plan and argues in favour of reliable evidence. The CIA agent is unrepentant: “The truth doesn’t count, only justice matters.” Wolf goes on to ask what gives the CIA the right to distort the facts. “We make the facts”, the female agent responds.

Towards the end of Curveball, documentary footage is shown of US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous presentation to the UN Security Council in February 2003 in which he regurgitated Curveball’s lies to justify America’s subsequent attack on Iraq. In his report, Powell stated that Iraq’s weapons programme included “biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails,” an “extensive clandestine network” to supply “its deadly biological and chemical weapons programmes” and the obtaining of “sufficient fissile material to produce a nuclear explosion.” All of this, according to the secretary of state, represented “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”

Powell’s presentation included a sketch of a truck loaded with chemical vats based on Curveball’s original napkin drawing. According to one senior US official, Curveball’s lies were “the main pillar” of Powell’s report to the UN. Sitting in the UN meeting is the German Green Party leader, Joschka Fischer, who listens quietly to Powell’s report. BND biologist (in the meantime made redundant) Wolf watches Fischer at home on television and asks, “Why doesn’t he say something?”

Fischer was German foreign minister in the government headed by Schröder (Social Democratic Party, SPD). Schröder’s head of chancellery with responsibility for liaison with Germany’s intelligence services was Frank-Walter Steinmeier (also SPD), currently the country’s president.

Naber’s Curveball graphically demonstrates the duplicity and criminality of Germany’s role in the Iraq war. As chancellor, Schröder publicly declared the German government opposed a new war in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Germany’s intelligence agency was providing the lies that Washington used to legitimise its assault on Iraq in the name of the “war on terror.”

Naber wants to counter what the director declares to be “a false portrayal here, an idealised idea of how we Germans operate in the world.” It is important, he argues, to tell the truth and question the role of the secret services and politicians responsible at that time, such as Fischer, Schröder and Steinmeier: “So that children at school can no longer be taught that we were the good ones when it came to the Iraq war.”

To heighten the comedic effect of his film, Naber presents the leading BND figures as provincial careerists in thrall to their American counterparts. In so doing, however, the director runs the risk of seriously underestimating the methods and character of the German ruling elite, which has been trying to achieve greater independence from the US since the reunification of Germany in 1989-1990 and is once again flexing its ruthless imperialist muscles.

In that process, the ruling class draws upon the traditions of Nazism. The BND itself emerged from the Gehlen Organisation (1946-1956), named for Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s chief intelligence officer on the Eastern Front in World War II. After the war, he was recruited by the CIA and headed German intelligence from 1956 to 1968 in close cooperation with the US intelligence agency.

The US bombardment and invasion of Iraq war began a month after Powell’s testimony. Naber’s film ends with statistics detailing the massive loss of Iraqi lives in the subsequent carnage, a mass murder for which Germany also bears direct responsibility.

The end credits also note that “The head of the state chancellery at that time is the current federal president”—i.e., the Social Democrat Steinmeier. This credit was greeted with loud applause from the Berlin audience who clearly approved of this unmasking of Germany’s leading sanctimonious war-monger.

Naber’s film is due to open in German cinemas in September of this year as “Film ohne Titel” (Film Without a Title).

Japanese militarism abused ´comfort women´, new film


This 6 August 2019 video from South Korea says about itself:

Japanese-American director Miki Dezaki is in Korea with his ‘comfort women‘ documentary film “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground Of The Comfort Women Issue“. For over the span of 3 years, he had been tracking down vivid stories across Korea, the U.S. and Japan to make his film.

His film is distinguished from existing wartime sexual slavery documentaries in that it contains stories about activists who support the victims and interviews of Japan’s so-called ‘far-right revisionists’. The film had immense repercussions in Japan when it was released there last April.

Through the film “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground Of The Comfort Women Issue”, director Miki Dezaki says he wants to approach ‘comfort women‘ as a women’s rights issue rather than an interstate conflict. We meet with director Miki Dezaki on today’s Heart-to-Heart.

By Isabel Roy in Germany:

Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue: Documentary about war crimes and historical revisionism in Japan

20 March 2020

In late 2019, the documentary Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue, directed by Japanese-American filmmaker Miki Dezaki, was shown at a well-attended screening at Leipzig University in Germany. The film was shown at several European universities last year, following a US tour in 2018.

The valuable documentary treats the so-called “comfort women”, women who were forced into prostitution in military brothels both in Japan and Japanese-occupied territory during World War II. Most of the women came from Korea or China. The subject has been the source of tensions between South Korea and Japan for decades.

In his movie, Dezaki interviews historical revisionists from far-right circles, politicians and historians who have studied comfort women, as well as activists working for the recognition of the victims.

Following the release of his film, which Dezaki completed as his masters thesis and financed through Kickstarter and with his own money, he was sued by five of the interviewees. In the film, the latter deny both the responsibility of the Japanese government for the comfort women and their circumstances in the brothels. Dezaki also received several written threats and his movie’s distributor was sued by a right-wing extremist organisation that appears in the film.

A film festival in Kawasaki (in the Greater Tokyo Area) first announced it was canceling a showing for security reasons in response to threats from right-wingers. This move was criticized by other artists, including Japanese filmmakers Kazuya Shiraishi and Hirokazu Koreeda, and owing to help from volunteers who provided additional security, the film ended up being presented at the festival in November 2019. Shiraishi described the initial decision by the organisers as “an act to kill freedom of expression.” Shusenjo (which means “main battlefield”) opens with a clip from December 2015 in which one of the surviving women, Lee Yong-Su, confronts a Korean foreign ministry official at a press conference. The press conference followed an “agreement” on the comfort women issue between Japan and South Korea.

This agreement was initiated under pressure from the Obama administration, which viewed the conflict between its two most important allies in northeast Asia (South Korea and Japan) as a threat to its confrontation with North Korea and China.

Comfort women interrogated by the US army 1944

Lee Yong-Su is visibly angry and movingly accuses the official: “Who are you? What are you doing? Why do you have to kill us a second time? Are you living my life? Before reaching any agreements, shouldn’t you have spoken to the victims? You think we are old and know nothing.”

The agreement only entailed a very limited, “moral” apology to the comfort women and a donation of one billion yen [$US 9 million] to a fund to be split amongst survivors. The apology did not acknowledge the full responsibility of the Japanese military, even though historians such as Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a professor of Japanese modern history at Chuo University in Tokyo and a founding member of the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility, have been able to prove this responsibility conclusively with the aid of historical documents.

Dezaki’s film then moves on to examine the claims made by Japanese historical revisionists and contrast them with the explanations of serious historians and activists.

To give one example, the nationalist-revisionists argue that the testimonies by survivors are “inconsistent” and therefore unreliable. They also claim that although prostitution took place, the women voluntarily chose to engage in it and were “well-compensated” with “luxury goods and restaurant visits”, among other things. They present the comfort women as a South Korean and Chinese fabrication and dismiss it as “anti-Japanese” propaganda. The attendees of the showing in Leipzig were audibly shocked and disgusted by these statements.

Historians and activists in the movie explain that former comfort women from South Korea, among other countries, were faced with terrible social stigma for what they had endured. This led to many of them only speaking out years after the fact.

One particularly gripping interview features a former soldier in the Imperial Japanese Army. On the subject of women’s rights in Japan before the Second World War, he explains to the director: “Women before the war, before the constitution, weren’t quite seen as human. Nippon Kaigi wants to go back to that.” He also describes war atrocities again Chinese prisoners in which he was forced to participate.

Nippon Kaigi (“Japan Conference”) is a far-right organization that advocates a return to the monarchy of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the abolition of women’s rights, state Shintoism, the remilitarization of Japan and a “patriotic” education in schools. It includes many members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet, and Abe himself is a special advisor to the group’s parliamentary wing. Nippon Kaigi and Abe also support state visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japan’s war dead, including 1,068 convicted war criminals of whom 14 are A-Class (convicted of having been involved in the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war).

Bodies of victims along Qinhuai River out of Nanjing's west gate during Nanjing Massacre

One of Shusenjo’s strong points is the way it illustrates the intertwining of far-right organizations in Japan and the US, the Japanese state and historical revisionists.

Dezaki explains how after the Kono Statement of August 1993, which acknowledged the responsibility of the Japanese imperial army for the comfort women system, ultra-right groups and the Japanese government launched a targeted campaign to relativise the crimes of the Second World War.

In 2006, Abe championed a reform that promoted patriotism as a basic aim of the education system. Additionally, the government initiated the practice of routinely rejecting Japanese schoolbooks produced by private publishers on the grounds of “grave error”, without offering any further explanation. This, in turn, led the publishers to self-censor “uncomfortable” facts that might cause offense in order to avoid financial problems.

This kind of censorship is also prevalent in the media. A notable case was the editing out of victims’ testimony from a television broadcast of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery, held in December 2000. This took place under the pressure of Abe himself as well as right-wing groups.

Hideaki Kase is a central figure in the network of pseudo-historians, far-right activists and politicians exposed in Shusenjo. He is a member of or occupies leading positions in the following organizations: Global Alliance for Historical Truth, Society for Dissemination of Historical Fact, Alliance for Truth about Comfort Women and Nippon Kaigi. Kase (born 1936) has written numerous books and produced revisionist films, appeared on talk shows and was a special advisor to former prime ministers Takeo Fukuda and Yasuhiro Nakasone.

Kase, who—among other things—denies the Nanjing Massacre (in which Japanese military forces slaughtered as many as 400,000 Chinese in Nanjing in December 1937-January 1938), when asked by the director if he knew the two most important historians of comfort women, simply responded: “I don’t read books by other people.” … According to him, Japan’s involvement in the Second World War can be described as “a war of national self-defence.”

As is the case in Germany and other countries, historical falsification is resorted to in Japan because its population is deeply opposed to war. When Abe’s grandfather, the war criminal Nobusuke Kishi, was released by the Allies in 1948, massive protests took place.

During the question-and-answer session after the showing in Leipzig, Dezaki, who grew up in the US, remarked “I had this question I wanted to answer from the very beginning—why are these people trying to erase history? This led me to Nippon Kaigi and I found out it is because they want to cultivate or foster this myth that Japan has never done anything wrong and ‘we only fought wars of peace’. If you were to become a soldier in the future you don’t want to believe that your country fights wars for oil, right? Like the U.S., we fight for freedom, right? The history is being erased so that people will become more patriotic.”

Parasite film, first ever non-USA Oscars victory


This 11 February 2020 video says about itself:

A ‘Foreign’ Film Just Made History At The Oscars

Parasite‘, a South Korean movie about inequality made history at the biggest movie award event.

TRUMP COMPLAINS ‘PARASITE’ WON BEST PICTURE Trump complained during a rambling rally in Colorado Springs about the South Korean blockbuster “Parasite” winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. “I’m looking for like … let’s get ‘Gone with the Wind,’ can we get ‘Gone with the Wind’ back, please?” Trump rambled, naming the 1939 epic that romanticizes slavery. [HuffPost]

Rembrandt’s paintings, money and new film reviewed


This 12 November 2019 video, the trailer of the film My Rembrandt, says about itself:

What makes Rembrandt’s paintings technically so extraordinary, and why are different people so deeply affected by his oeuvre, or a specific work? Centuries after his death, his paintings are still a source of drama and gripping plot twists.

Rembrandt’s paintings have lost none of their appeal in the 350 years since his death. Collectors worldwide cherish the magic of the Dutch master’s work.

This entertaining documentary shows the passion of a variety of Rembrandt enthusiasts. An eccentric, aristocratic Scot is looking for the ultimate place to hang his beloved portrait of a woman reading, and an animated Amsterdam art dealer has his eye out for a second chance to discover a “new” Rembrandt—this descendant of an old merchant family, whose ancestor was once painted by Rembrandt himself, has got something to prove.

An ambitious American businessman and his wife proudly make “their” Rembrandts available to the Louvre, and the Rothschild family’s decision to put Rembrandt’s wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit on the market threatens to provoke a diplomatic row between the Netherlands and France.

On 26 January 2020, we went to see this film by Oeke Hoogendijk. Earlier, I had seen another film by Ms Hoogendijk, about the reconstruction of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

My Rembrandt, more than being about Rembrandt himself, is a film about what happens around his paintings in the 21st century. It raises questions between the relationship between art and money; between art and social classes in history.

These issues have at least two sides. On the one hand, about Rembrandt himself and money and social classes. On the other hand, about Rembrandt’s works, money and social classes in our 21st century. It turns out that lots of money in art may destroy friendships between people and governments.

Rembrandt was luckier financially than Vincent van Gogh and many other artists. Van Gogh sold just one painting for little money while he was alive. However, after his death, Van Gogh, in a cruel twist of economical mechanisms, like quite some others, became an artist off whom some people made very much money. Rembrandt sold many paintings, usually for good money. But, as he spent much on eg, attributes for his paintings, he went bankrupt and died relatively poor. After his death, like with many other artists, some people who had never contributed a drop of paint to his art got very rich off it.

As for Rembrandt and social class: like Rubens, Rembrandt lived in the time of the Low Countries’ revolt against the kings of Spain. The Spanish monarchs managed to defeat that uprising in the south, in what, roughly, is now Belgium. However, the north became the independent Dutch republic. Rembrandt lived in the bourgeois Dutch republic. Rubens in the Spanish Netherlands, ruled by princes and nobles. The differences in social context between Rembrandt and Rubens meant differences in the subjects of their art.

In the Dutch Republic, there was no monarchical court comparable to most 17th century European countries.

There was only the Stadhouder‘s court.

Which would have liked very much to be a princely court like elsewhere in Europe; but constitutionally wasn’t.

Rembrandt got a commission from that princely court (princely, as the Stadhouders were also absolute monarchs in the tiny statelet of Orange in southern France).

But when his portrait of Princess Amalia von Solms, wife of Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik, turned out to be not flattering enough, his relationship to that court deteriorated.

A Hermitage Amsterdam exhibition noted that Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik prefered painters from the feudal southern Netherlands, though that region was the military enemy, to “bourgeois” northern painters like Rembrandt. He also prefered Gerard van Honthorst to Rembrandt as a painter of portraits of his wife. Honthorst was not from the Spanish occupied southern Netherlands. However, his home province Utrecht in the central Netherlands was less bourgeois rebellious than Rembrandt’s Holland. And Honthorst had spent much time in feudal Italy.

So, Rembrandt got most of his commissions for painting not from the Stadhouder’s court, but from bourgeois merchants, especially in Amsterdam city: the ruling class of the newly independent republic. They were as rich, or often richer, as nobles in other countries. Usually, they did not live in castles in the countryside, but in houses along canals like the Amsterdam Herengracht.

In one of the first scenes, the Rijksmuseum says they would like very much to have a painting which is now not in any of the houses to which Rembrandt sold his work, but in a big feudal castle in Scotland.

Rembrandt, Old woman reading, owned by the Duke of Buccleuch

This Rembrandt work, Old woman reading, is owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. If for some reason, the castle owners would no longer want it, then the Rijksmuseum would like very much to bring it back to the city where it was painted.

Rembrandt, Portrait of Jan Six

A Rembrandt painting which is already in Amsterdam is this portrait of the merchant and mayor Jan Six.

The Six family still owns it. In the 19th century, this originally bourgeois dynasty got the title of nobility jonkheer (baronet).

Another family who got a title of nobility then was the Rothschild family, originally bankers. In the first part of the film, Baron Éric de Rothschild was still the owner of the Rembrandt’s wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit.

However, it seems that the Rothschild family is not as rich and powerful as some conspiracy theorists think, not as good in tax dodging as some other rich persons: Baron Éric de Rothschild’s brother owed debts to tax authorities. To pay these, Éric de Rothschild needed 160 million euros. The proceeds of selling his beloved portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, hanging at both sides of his bed in Paris.

Rembrandt, Portrait of Marten Soolmans

Rembrandt, Portrait of Oopjen Coppit

Éric de Rothschild does not like interviews, and the filmmaker had just one hour for talking to him. Previously, an appointment for an interview had turned out to be impossible because of a Yellow Vest demonstration in Paris.

Ms Hoogendijk also made Marten & Oopjen, a TV film about the wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit.

So, these portraits cost 160 million euros. The Paris Louvre museum did not have that money. Neither had the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. But the Rijksmuseum collected money and was almost at 160 million. Then, the French government banned these two paintings from going from private property in France to public property in the Netherlands. A diplomatic conflict between the European Union member governments of France and the Netherlands was imminent. It turned out to be not as sharp a conflict as the proxy oil war between the European Union member governments of France and Italy in Libya. The Dutch government, being smaller than the French one, gave in. There was a compromise: both museums paid 80 million euros, mostly government money. And the two paintings would sometimes be together in the Louvre, sometimes together in the Rijksmuseum.

A major role in this documentary is Jan Six. Not the 17th-century Jan Six depicted by Rembrandt, but a 21st-century relative. An art historian and art dealer, that Jan Six, ‘Jan Six XI‘, used to work at Sotheby’s. He claims to have discovered two unknown works by Rembrandt. No Rembrandt painting had been rediscovered for 42 years.

Rembrandt, Let the little children come to me

This is the first one: the biblical scene about Jesus saying Let the little children come to me.

Some unknown 17th century painter had painted over the Rembrandt original, so recognizing the work as a Rembrandt was not obvious. It is probably from when Rembrandt was still young and lived in Leiden.

Rembrandt, Portrait of a young gentleman

This is the other newly discovered Rembrandt: Portrait of a Young Gentleman.

Jan Six, Rembrandt's portrait of a young gentleman

Jan Six wrote this book about it.

The discovery showed how money in art can ruin friendships. Jan Six had bought the painting for 160,000 euros on behalf of an anonymous investor from an owner who did not suspect it was a Rembrandt. Fellow art dealer Sander Bijl claimed that Six had broken an agreement to buy the painting together. The purchase also caused a conflict between Six and Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering.

Van de Wetering says in the film: ‘The conflict is about money. I hate talking about money. These paintings belong to all of us!

An interesting remark on the problems of art in a world of capitalism.

David Attenborough on Karnataka, India wildlife


This 20 December 2019 video says about itself:

Wild KarnatakaDavid Attenborough – Behind the scenes (BTS)

4 years and 400 hours of footage in the making. Wild Karnataka is India’s own 4K blue-chip natural history film made by a world-class team of Indian filmmakers and narrated by Sir David Attenborough.