July 23rd, 2007

Chris Keeley

The Apostate

The Apostate

A Zionist politician loses faith in the future.


“People are not willing to admit it, but Israel has reached the wall,” Avrum Burg says.

he self-regard of Israelis is built, in no small part, around a sense of sang-froid, and yet few would deny that the past year was deeply unnerving. Last July, Israel launched an aerial attack on Lebanon designed to destroy the arsenal of the radical Islamist group Hezbollah, the Party of God, and force its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, to return two kidnapped soldiers and end its cross-border rocket attacks. “If the soldiers are not returned,” Dan Halutz, the Israeli Army’s chief of staff, said at the time, “we will turn Lebanon’s clock back twenty years.” Israel bombed the runways of the Beirut airport, the Beirut-Damascus highway, and numerous towns, mainly in the south; Hezbollah, from a network of guerrilla installations and tunnel networks worthy of the Vietcong, launched some four thousand rockets, mainly Katyushas, at cities in northern Israel. Israel degraded Hezbollah’s military capabilities, at least temporarily, but there was no victory. Hezbollah survived and, in the eyes of the Islamic world, in doing so won; Nasrallah emerged as an iconic hero; and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, one of his sponsors, called yet again for the elimination of Israel from the map of the Middle East. Halutz, who had dumped all his stocks on the eve of the war, resigned, and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, saw his approval rating fall to as low as two per cent.
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Chris Keeley

A four-year-old female bonobo. Bonobos have been recognized as a species for less than a century.

A four-year-old female bonobo. Bonobos have been recognized as a species for less than a century.

A four-year-old female bonobo. Bonobos have been recognized as a species for less than a century.

n a Saturday evening a few months ago, a fund-raiser was held in a downtown Manhattan yoga studio to benefit the bonobo, a species of African ape that is very similar to—but, some say, far nicer than—the chimpanzee. A flyer for the event depicted a bonobo sitting in the crook of a tree, a superimposed guitar in its left hand, alongside the message “Save the Hippie Chimps!” An audience of young, shoeless people sat cross-legged on a polished wooden floor, listening to Indian-accented music and eating snacks prepared by Bonobo’s, a restaurant on Twenty-third Street that serves raw vegetarian food. According to the restaurant’s take-out menu, “Wild bonobos are happy, pleasure-loving creatures whose lifestyle is dictated by instinct and Mother Nature.”

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Chris Keeley

In a recent conversation, de Waal told me, “The bonobo is female-dominated, doesn’t have warfare, do

In a recent conversation, de Waal told me, “The bonobo is female-dominated, doesn’t have warfare, doesn’t have hunting. And it has all this sex going on, which is problematic to talk about—it’s almost as if people wanted to shove the bonobo under the table.” “The Forgotten Ape” presented itself as a European tonic to American prudishness and the vested interests of chimpanzee scientists. The bonobo was gentle, horny, and—de Waal did not quite say it—Dutch. Bonobos, he argued, had been neglected by science because they inspired embarrassment. They were “sexy,” de Waal wrote (he often uses that word where others might say “sexual”), and they challenged established, bloody accounts of human origins. The bonobo was no less a relative of humans than the chimpanzee, de Waal noted, and its behavior was bound to overthrow “established notions about where we came from and what our behavioral potential is.”

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