Monday, September 20, 2004

HOLIDAY! CELEBRATE!: We did wonder if there could be anything this week more depressing than reports that Bono, the international venture capitalist, supporter of George Bush (and enthusiastic endorser of his decision to promote abstinence rather than condoms as the way to avoid the deepening of the Aids crisis in some African countries) and friend of Warren Buffett to address the Labour Party Conference. We doubted it, but then we hadn't heard at that point about Madonna calling for peace while doing some tourist promotion for the Israeli government:
Israel hopes [Madonna's visit] - the biggest pop celebrity to visit in years -will revive tourism battered by four years of Mideast violence, and government officials were on hand at a Tel Aviv hotel to share the spotlight, the glory and the photographs.
Madonna, wearing a green-and-white patterned dress, said she was hesitant to come to Israel "after seeing so many news reports about terror attacks. I realize now that it is no more dangerous to be here than it is to be in New York," she told the gathering.

Well, that is really good news. Does the Israeli government - personified at this meeting by tourism minister Gideon Ezra - endorse the view that Israel is no more dangerous than New York? In which case, presumably, that giant wall can come down now, can it?
Tourism officials hope the singer's well-publicized visit to Israel will calm fears that have kept many potential tourists away from the Holy Land, despite its religious and other attractions. Israeli Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra said Madonna's visit was better than advertising for tourism. "If she comes here and goes back and was happy with her visit, it means for a lot of people who were afraid to come here that they can come without any problem," Ezra said.
Who knew that Madonna was now doing PR for the Sharon regime, eh? You might wonder if it's so safe in Israel, Madonna felt the need for quite so many bodyguards; you might question the judgement of a woman who believes a country safe, whose leader is warning of imminent civil war, a country whose troops are shooting teenage girls in the street and firing missiles at Hamas leaders; a country where suicide bombers are still a very real risk. Madonna believes that Israel is no more dangerous than New York? Either she grew up in a really risky neighbourhood, or else she's putting way too much faith in the power of her red string friendship bracelet to ward off the bogeyman.
Madonna said the people she met during her five-day Holy Land trip "have one thing in common — we want to create peace in the world."
Presumably she's betting without the two bodyguards who ended up in prison for beating the crap out of reporters.
"We want to put an end to chaos and suffering," she said, "but most of all we want to put an end to hatred with no reason."
Is anyone else getting the horrible feeling she's softening us up for her cover of Whitney Houston's Greatest Love of All?
The singer said she was not representing a religion. Rather, she said, "I'm here as a student of Kabbalah. A Kabbalist sees the world as a unified whole. A Kabbalist asks why."
But Maddy, if you asked why for even just a moment, you'd surely have realised there's nothing more stupid than saying "put an end to hatred with no reason." If you really want to help bring peace to the Middle East - and let's pretend that you do, and it's not just some sort of faddy thing like talking about dildoes or writing children books - you're going to have to work a little harder into the asking 'why.' And if then you still believe that the hatred in the region, on both sides, is for "no reason", then we'll meet up with you and hand out your magic strings and wait until the giant dove of glorious love manifests itself from heaven, when we'll all ride on the back of unicorns and cavort naked under the lemonade fountains. On the other hand, you might just realise that the hatred has born and grown over a couple of thousands of years of history, and it might take something more than a John Lennon song and a few candles to heal the rifts. Your mystic religion schtick is all a lot of fun when you're doodling round Hampstead; it's at best ill-judged to take your Lets Pretend Mysticism to a war zone and make like a silver-gilt Pope.


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