Illegal Yodeling

This is funny in a really crazy way:

An Austrian pensioner, Helmut Griese, was convicted for yodelling in his back garden while he mowed his lawn. His Muslim neighbours took offence because they believed he was mocking the Islamic call to prayer. The yodelling fell foul of Austria’s laws against the ‘disparagement of religious symbols’ – a law originally conceived to prevent neo-Nazis from desecrating Jewish graves. Unable to prove that he was yodelling for pleasure and unwilling to fight a lengthy court battle, he agreed to pay an €800 fine.

You can’t make this shit up.

A Trend

Anti-Semitism has been exploding in Western Europe since around 2005. There’s been one violent attack after another, with things getting markedly worse in the past 5 years. It seems quite myopic to analyze the Pittsburgh attack outside of this larger trajectory and instead use it to repeat, for the bisillionth time, that Trump sucks.

P.S. And I just found an article on Spiked saying the same thing but better: “It looks very much as though your concern is less with the slaughter of Jews than with the question of who is slaughtering them, and whether or not the murderer’s identity lends itself to the propagation of your own narrow party-political worldview. In this case, that Trump is a bad person. The wickedness of an anti-Semitic act is judged according to the act’s political usefulness: how awful that is.”

NYTimes: America — and Judaism — at Its Best

Of course, one can believe this bunch of silly stuff, or one can find out the truth. The following obviously doesn’t mean any endorsement for the actions of the crazed anti-Semite who shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

HIAS made a fortune for a bunch of “professional charity folks,” which as everybody knows, is the greediest, nastiest profession. In the 1990s, they had a nifty little business trying to convince post-Soviet Jews that they were under horrible threat from anti-Semitism and needed to emigrate immediately. They existed on donations from rich American Jews whom they fed ridiculous stories about the non-existent suffering of post-Soviet Jews. A tiny percentage of the donations went into bringing the “refugees” (a more ridiculous word for this particular cohort could hardly be found since these were overwhelmingly very highly educated and / or financially comfortable people) over to the US. The rest enriched the organization’s employees, like happens in every charitable organization.

The people who had to be lured into claiming refugee status by these HIAS folks had absolutely no need to emigrate. Emigration was a catastrophe to them because they lost their professions and their economic status. As a result, they formed the miserable and unassimilable communities of Brighton Beach and Co.

And then there were no more post-Soviet Jews to use in this nasty game. But the HIAS folks had gotten used to their comfortable lifestyles and needed to keep milking the rich donors. So they invented a new cause and went hunting for more refugees elsewhere.

As I said, none of this means they deserved any violence to be done to them. I hope that is understood. The maniac who shot up the synagogue has no excuse and should be locked up forever. But I don’t see a reason to sugar-coat the truth about this organization.

P.S. Anybody who wants to argue with me about this needs to have the same intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the organization and have had experience working for it and having family members and friends in the leadership and rank-and-file in the time period in question. I’m not interested in opinions because I have the actual knowledge.


One of the most pronounced characteristics of the neoliberal mentality is competitiveness. Life is a competition, and other humans are the enemy that you need to beat.

This competitiveness isn’t limited to the economic and professional sphere. It infects everything. Look at how the entire political discourse is about people insisting that they are better, kinder, more moral, more aware than others. Policy is a complete afterthought. Nobody really cares much about policy because it’s all about winning the competition for the title of the most wonderful human being.

The problem with this approach is not only that it kills politics by turning it into a competition between inane positions but also that it destroys solidarity. And that’s the whole reason why the moral competitiveness exists. Unlike the economic and professional competitiveness, it brings no benefit. All it does is feed the neoliberal need to compete and win, even when the competition is utterly spurious.