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Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, March 10th, 2024

Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, March 10th, 2024
CGI design for one of the fish in the animated film, Hybrid

Welcome to Kerim's Triptych, a free newsletter that delivers 3 items to your email inbox, 3 times a month. If you didn't intend to subscribe, or you don't want to receive these anymore, there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom.

Item 1: The Shoah After Gaza

Portrait of Jean Améry by Félix De Boeck

This article, by Pankaj Mishra in the London Review of Books has been widely shared online, and rightly so. It does two things well: (1) shows that Zionists have not always embraced the Shoah as central to Israeli identity, and (2) shows that Holocaust survivors have been some of Zionism's harshest critics.

On the first point, he writes:

Ben-Gurion had initially seen Hitler’s rise to power as ‘a huge political and economic boost for the Zionist enterprise’, but he did not consider human debris from Hitler’s death camps as fit material for the construction of a strong new Jewish state. ‘Everything they had endured,’ Ben-Gurion said, ‘purged their souls of all good.’

And on the second:

Misgivings of the kind expressed by Améry and Levi are condemned as grossly antisemitic today. It’s worth remembering that many such re-examinations of Zionism and anxieties about the perception of Jews in the world were incited among survivors and witnesses of the Shoah by Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and its manipulative new mythology. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a theologian who won the Israel Prize in 1993, was already warning in 1969 against the ‘Nazification’ of Israel. In 1980, the Israeli columnist Boaz Evron carefully described the stages of this moral corrosion: the tactic of conflating Palestinians with Nazis and shouting that another Shoah is imminent was, he feared, liberating ordinary Israelis from ‘any moral restrictions, since one who is in danger of annihilation sees himself exempted from any moral considerations which might restrict his efforts to save himself.’ Jews, Evron wrote, could end up treating ‘non-Jews as subhuman’ and replicating ‘racist Nazi attitudes’.

Item 2: Anchovies and Brazilian Soybeans

J. H. Richard - Contributions to the fauna of Chile Charles Girard

Andrew Leonard traces the fascinating history of how Brazil became the world's largest supplier of soybeans:

  1. An El Nino event in 1972 "causes a sharp rise in ocean temperatures off the coast of Peru. The change in conditions eviscerates Peru’s anchovy harvest."
  2. This led to soybean prices tripling because they could be substituted for anchovies in animal feed.
  3. To avoid a spike in consumer prices for meat, Nixon banned export of soybeans in 1973.
  4. "Japan freaks out. Japan depends on the U.S. for 70 percent of its soybean supplies, not just for animal feed but also for the enormously culturally symbolic production of soy sauce and tofu and miso."
  5. "Japan’s government wastes no time; preliminary negotiations already underway with the aim of boosting agricultural trade with Brazil are swiftly expanded into a plan to fund soybean cultivation in South America"
  6. China would later become a major importer of Brazilian soybeans as well, with "the flow of soybeans from Brazil to China has constituted the largest exchange of any agricultural product between any two countries in the world." This history alone would be worth sharing, but that's not all!
And this wasn’t even the first, or even the most consequential, intersection between a fishery crisis, Japan, and the soybean.

Read the article to see how Japan's expansion into Manchuria was the result of overfishing in "the pilchard and herring fisheries off the coast of Hokkaido" and the switch to soybeans at that time.

Item 3: Hybrids

Lately, when I want to take a short break from work, I've taken to watching short animation films on YouTube. This is one area where YouTube's recommendation algorithm really works in your favor, since after you watch one, it keeps recommending other great short animations. I particularly liked this 2017 piece, with a ecological theme, made as a school project by five french animation students.


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