Tag Archive | life

Not so innocent: Israel, genocide, and the myth of the “chosen people”

Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska and attending Temple Baptist Church, I grew up with the same beliefs that many Evangelical Christians hold towards Israel:  Israel is the promised land of the descendants of Abraham.  When I read in the books of Joshua and Judges about the legendary conquest of Palestine by the Hebrews after their 40 years wandering in the wilderness, no one seemed to even notice that these military campaigns of conquest amounted to GENOCIDE where civilians, including and especially women and children, were put to the sword so the Hebrews could come in and take their land.  This was GOD’S WILL and therefore it was okay.  If God wants it, the killing is moral and just, right?

In my 20 years in the Church, no one ever questioned this doctrine.  No one ever said “hey, wait, these are war crimes.”  Instead since it was divinely mandated, it must be right — and historically true, of course.

This sentiment is echoed in temples, both reform and orthodox, especially at Hanukkah and Passover.  Israel belongs to the Jews as a right forged in an ancient covenant with God.  Jews are the Chosen People.

Being the “Chosen People” of God carries a lot of weight.  Being chosen means you are granted a measure of special grace from God, the right to do certain things without consequences.  You can kill as you please because God wants you to.

Now before anyone gets in a huff and calls me anti-Jewish, let me be very clear:  I love Jewish culture, food, tradition, and especially my many Jewish friends and acquaintances.  I lived for over four years in a orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York as not only a gentile, but one of the Old Religion of Britain and Ireland who strives to honour and embrace the British-Irish part of my heritage in my day-t0-day life.

As a historian who often favours being the outsider because of the objectivity this offers me for learning and study, I was able to listen, learn, and observe without the social-psychological chains that often blurs most people’s perspective.  I have no agenda except discovering the truth.  This is why my writing is so powerful and my books are to be believed.  I’m not a slick politician or sales person trying to sell something to you; just an honest researcher looking for truth.

The Bible of course covers ancient history — legendary or literal is a matter of debate.  Yet in Christian churches and in many Jewish congregations as well this doctrine that Israel is the God-given promised land of the Hebrews/Jews persists.

This Zionist idea that Israel rightfully belongs to Jews transcends denominational differences and enters the realm of politics.  Israel has certain rights to behave in whatever is perceived as its own interests.  To gainsay Israel’s decisions is to be anti-Jewish.  I am here to say that nothing could be further from the truth.

Last week I found the above video in a facebook feed exploring the modern state of Israel’s history.  In it and you discover that Israel is hardly this innocent and moral God-blessed nation who can do no wrong.  Far from it.  Objectively speaking, the Israelis are guilty of genocide and war crimes such as the West typically condemns when done by any other nation — except Israel.

Indeed anyone from any country who even remotely questions what Israel does is quickly labelled as anti-Jewish, especially politicians.  It would seem that to be pro-Jewish means not noticing Israel’s faults — or its war crimes.

 

I stand here asking you to now question that dogma.  Take a step back towards objectivity. When Iraqis do this to its peoples, when Syrians do this in its civil war, when Russia treats a minority group this way, DO WE NOT CALL THEM WAR CRIMES and CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?

 

Perhaps it is time to abolish this whole “chosen people” propaganda and instead look at all human beings as humans.  No one is expendable.  Life is life!  Every single human in this world deserves a decent and safe home, clean and nourishing food and water, the best possible education, decent clothing, safety from harm, and the chance to live a satisfying life.  Anyone who steals any of these things from anyone else needs to be sanctioned and dealt with.  Everyone has the right to live.  Everyone.

Repost: Why Networking Is a Dirty Word

Another very useful blog post from Stage 32.  Today’s is called Why Networking Is a Dirty Word.

 

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Today’s blog marks the return of one of my favorite people on the planet, Julie Gray.

The author of Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter’s Atlas, Julie Gray is a script consultant and writer living in Tel Aviv, Israel. A Huffington Post and Script Magazine contributor, Julie is a favorite speaker at the London Screenwriter’s Festival and has taught story at Warner Bros. Entertainment, Oxford University and The San Francisco de Quito University in Quito, Ecuador. Julie directs the Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon, consults with prose and screenwriters all over the world and volunteers with Amnesty International in Israel, helping African refugees to tell their stories, as well as with Natal, a non-profit for survivors of terror and war.

Can you see why Julie is one of my favorite people on the planet?  But wait, there’s more.

Julie has selflessly helped hundreds of screenwriters and other film creatives througout her career both personally and through her recently retired website, Just Effing Entertain Me.  She recently launched her new site, Stories Without Borders (how perfect is that name?), where her passion for screenwriting and those who choose to pursue a life in the craft shine through.

Compassionate, brave and selfless, they don’t come much better than Julie.

And she knows a thing or two about networking too.  The evidence lies below.

Enjoy!

RB

“It’s who you know”. We’ve all heard it.  It is perhaps one of the top three truisms about Hollywood, the other two being, ironically, “Know the rules before you break them” and “There are no rules”.

Networking. The word is both specific and vague. Like – go to cocktail parties with other writers? Invite people to lunch? Go to screenwriting events? Hand out business cards? What kind of business cards? What should I wear? Oh did you hear SO-AND-SO will be there? MAYBE HE/SHE WILL READ MY SCRIPT!

Oy. This is a pernicious and slippery slope. We’ve all done it, the nerves, the desperate feeling… It doesn’t even feel good to think about, right?

Let’s forget that kind of networking. Let’s call it something else.

Let’s call it Relationship Building.

Relationships have two basic building blocks: shared interests and reciprocity. Relationships are the framework within which we share valuable resources, services and information. Relationships are reciprocal – we benefit mutually.

Think of your day-to-day life. You need a lift somewhere, or a cup of sugar, or the name of a good dentist. Who do you call? No – not Ghostbusters, smarty pants – you call friends or family members and ask for help. People with whom you have a relationship. Who do they call when they need help baking a pie or changing their oil or choosing a good vet? You.

“It takes a village” is not a cliché; it is fundamentally important to our well-being and happiness as humans. Not to go all Jared Diamond on you, but man evolved away from being solitary from hunter/gatherers, subject to every whim of nature when
we settled down into a cooperative lifestyle in which we exchanged goods and services.  For thousands of years, humans have lived in a shared economy, an eco-system, if you will, of resources, services and information. It’s how we not only survived but how we flourished. We need each other.

As writers, this is especially true. Writing can be a very isolating occupation, filled with long hours and frustrations. Both the world of Hollywood and traditional publishing can seem like exclusive clubs to which you do not belong. So you wait, standing in line in the rain. How do you get in?

“It’s who you know” does not mean simply that you have met a person who might be advantageous to you, therefore you “know” them and they now help you. That isn’t how it works. That is not relationship building, that is just rude.

Let’s take it back to what we know – in our normal lives:  When a friend or acquaintance – someone who’s company you have enjoyed even just a little bit, asks a favor of you, generally, if you can, you do it gladly, right? I do. If it’s someone else – well, we’re all busy, right?

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Another truism. Truisms are called truisms for a reason. If I help you bake that pie, that’s money in the bank for me in two ways: 1) It gives me pleasure to help someone I like and 2) I know that when I need help, I can ask you. And I know for sure I will need help at some point – we all do.

It’s how we humans are wired – for cooperation and reciprocity. Relationship building is mutually beneficial.

So forget networking. A pox on it!

Build relationships with other writers.

Go to events
Bring a business card
Talk with people – actually talk with them
See if there is a favor you can do for someone else
Get to know people who are on your same level or above
Consider mentoring a writer who is starting out (don’t forget another truism of Hollywood: Today’s assistant is tomorrow’s executive).

Apply the same relationship building skills with other writers that you do in your home and your office. Reciprocity, cooperation, sharing of resources.

Relationship building is like dating: you have to kiss some frogs and there will be missed opportunities. That’s okay. There will be other chances.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things like this will happen:

You will stumble upon people who only take. Dump them.
You will stumble upon people who do not share your interests or trajectory at all.
You will stumble upon people who are simply not interested in you. That’s okay.
You will stumble upon a GREAT connection – at the wrong moment. Let it go.

Recently, a client of mine wrote a great one-hour drama pilot. I mean – really great. So I hooked him up to have lunch with an HBO/Showtime producer, an NBC/Universal fellow, and a writer on Netflix’s From Dusk Til Dawn. These are all my friends and they are happy to meet this new writer. Because I wrote that letter of recommendation to NBC/Universal. Because I have sent many good scripts to the producer. Because I helped get that writing gig. And my friends have helped me, too, in many ways. All I ask when I connect people to my connections is that they join that circle of giving themselves.  Circle of giving – not circle of taking. Nobody wants to belong to a group of people like that.

When our very own beloved Richard Botto asked me to write an article about relationship building for Stage 32, I did not hesitate for a split second. Because I believe in what Richard does – community building. And because Richard is my friend. He was there for me during a very tough time in my life – you don’t forget those kinds of things.

You’ll find that most people are actually very generous with their time, their resources and their connections – people love helping other people. It’s scientifically proven.

In the world of writing, especially writing for entertainment, which is so collaborative, relationships areeverything.  It’s how you hear about those opportunities before anybody else has heard of them, it’s how you get that recommendation or those great notes. It is how you get introduced to people who are interested in your work.

But relationships don’t happen overnight and they will not blossom at all if you are not patient, sincere and generous yourself.

Here are some common sense guidelines:

1. Meet liked minded people; go to events, participate online, get out there.
2. Primarily think about what YOU have to offer someone else (and no, it’s not your script)
3. Give relationships time to build. Check in. Grab a coffee. Have no agenda.
4. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Don’t network – a pox on networking! Build relationships!

Repost: 17 Differences Between Rich and Poor

923544_522633857793764_2029061548_nMy interest in the Law of Attraction means I inevitably receive a lot of email, most of it designed to sell something to me — a seminar, a video, a book.  I am sure you are not alone.  Email lists are wonderful — except for the way so many of them inevitably are designed to sell you something.  It is one reason, actually, why I defy conventional wisdom and do NOT set up mailing lists of fans or potential fans for my books.  I hate junk email and I’m sure you do too!

 

This morning I received an email that was clearly designed to sell me a book or something focusing on what rich people do that poor people do not do.  I have no interest in buying whatever they are selling.  But sprinkled among the standard “buy this” fare, the email did contain some useful information, information I am republishing here.

Stripping away the stuff we don’t want, here is the useful things from that email with just ONE “buy my book” link retained as a form of citation:

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The process of manifestation states that thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions, and actions lead to results. Everything in your life begins with your thoughts and your thoughts are generated from your mind.
Therefore it is vital to know how to program your mind so the thoughts you think are supportive thoughts which help you to achieve your financial goals.
The universal truth is that we become what we think about. Buddha also said “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become”. It’s an obvious fact that if you want to be someone you have to think like that person.
Thinking British is the surest way to become British.

Thinking British is the surest way to become British.

For example if you want to be an engineer, you have to think like an engineer. If you want to be rich, you have to think like the rich. Fortunately the way of thinking can be learnt and practised.
The following are the 17 wealth files which can be found in “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” book.
Wealth File #1:
Rich people believe “I create my life.”
Poor people believe “Life happens to me.”
Wealth File #2:
Rich people play the money game to win.
Poor people play the money game to not lose.
Wealth File #3:
Rich people are committed to being rich.
Poor people want to be rich.

new-york-times-best-selling-author3

To become a New York Times Best Selling Author, one has to think like one.

Wealth File #4:
Rich people think big.
Poor people think small.

Wealth File #5:
Rich people focus on opportunities.
Poor people focus on obstacles.

Wealth File #6:
Rich people admire other rich and successful people.
Poor people resent rich and successful people.

Wealth File #7:
Rich people associate with positive, successful people.
Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.

Wealth File #8:
Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value.
Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.

Be bigger than your problems.  Immigration to the United Kingdom is only as difficult as I believe it to be.

Be bigger than your problems. Immigration to the United Kingdom is only as difficult as I believe it to be.

Wealth File #9:
Rich people are bigger than their problems.
Poor people are smaller than their problems.

Wealth File #10:
Rich people are excellent receivers.
Poor people are poor receivers.

Wealth File #11:

Rich people choose to get paid based on results.
Poor people choose to get paid based on time.

Wealth File #12:
Rich people think “both.”
Poor people think “either/or.”

 

gbp-50-british-pounds-2Wealth File #13:
Rich people focus on their net worth.
Poor people focus on their working income.

Wealth File #14:
Rich people manage their money well.
Poor people mismanage their money well.

Wealth File #15:
Rich people have their money work hard for them.
Poor people work hard for their money.

Wealth File #16:
Rich people act in spite of fear.
Poor people let fear stop them.

Wealth File #17:
Rich people constantly learn and grow.
Poor people think they already know.