One reason I haven't been blogging much lately is that I have a pressing deadline approaching...and my friends, it's related to that thing that academics fear, loathe and hope for, the tenure review. I won't say much more about that, but those of you who complain about the dearth of entries lately, to you I say -- There are times when even I don't procrastinate, times when I pay for all the previous procrastinating with hours and hours of work and very little sleep. So at around 8 this am, instead of reading news and thinking about current events, I was up reading some simply fascinating literature review articles on the latest things people in Soviet studies have been saying about Leon Trotsky. This was all motivated by a question I'd come up with the night before after reviewing some notes I'd scribbled down in an archive last summer after reading a simply fascinating exchange between Roger Baldwin, of the ACLU and Earl Browder, of the CPUSA, about the CP's infamous attacks on socialist party meetings. Since I'm loathe to put out pieces of unfinished work, you'll just have to wait till I'm done ruminating, and till the footnotes are finished to find out what really happened.
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Big events just gone by. This year, because I'm suffering from a problem with muscles in my jaw that requires me to eat only soft food for several months, I did not observe Passover. However, I did go to the Jews Against the Occupation (JATO) seder, themed "After the Exodus." I found the event informative, moving and even, in parts joyful. I learned at this seder about an ongoing crisis in Palestine about which I had never heard anything. At one point during the reading of the Haggadah, JATO's seder involved everyone getting up from the table and reading stories of people living under occupation that were posted on the walls. Two of the stories I read involved women giving birth or in labor at Israeli checkpoints. In one of the incidents, the baby died as soon as it was born. In another, the Israeli police shot and killed the pregnant woman's husband as he was driving the car. While these two incidents were shocking, I didn't know until just now that they are a recognized ongoing problem. As of last Fall, the UN had documented 60 births at checkpoints, 36 of which resulted in the death of the babies. Andrea Robertson, of "Birth International" an organization active in promoting pre-natal health and midwifery, has reprinted some examples of stories similar to ones that I read at the seder. They are just heartbreaking.
To come: Next week, when I'll be (sort of) done with one large chunk of work, I'll be going to several movies at the Tribeca Film Festival and I promise to write about them all. As one commenter noted yesterday, there's plenty of press about the festival this week, and The Reeler helpfully sums it all up.