Jewish Museum, Skyscraper Museum and Penny’s Open Mic

Time is flying by. Can’t believe I’m going back on Monday. I feel like a New York native now. I even sound convincing when people ask me for directions.

On Tuesday I decided to go to the Skyscraper Museum only to find that’s closed on Tuesdays as well. Across the road is the Museum of Jewish Heritage so with some trepidation I decided to go there. I say trepidation because it turned out to be what I was afraid it would be, Zionist propaganda. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as appalled as anyone concerning the atrocities of the Nazi era and it is a lesson to us all about the dangers and evil of racism but the exhibition provides a very narrow and not very perceptive view of this. It inevitably leads, in their view, to the importance of the establishment of the Zionist state. It is a propaganda exercise that does a disservice to those who are aware of the momentous events that occured at that time and why we should all be vigilant about resisting the rise of fascist and nazi ideology.

Museums in Berlin that I went to dealt with the subject much better. The “Topography of Terror” exhibition shows what it was like to live in a terror state ruled by a ruthless SS and Gestapo. Without making excuses it shows how ordinary Germans were as much victims of Nazism as anyone else. Any show of resistance and they suffered the same fate as the gypsies and Jehovahs Witnesses who, incidentally, are only mentioned once in the whole exhibition. The Jewish Museum constantly refers to what the “Germans” did without acknowledging the fact that it was Nazi ideology and a ruthless, efficient state apparatus that created these atrocities. Add to that an all consuming wave of propaganda and you can see how it could happen in any country and, in fact , to a lesser exent does. Look at American propanda justifying wars of aggression and, indeed, Israeli propaganda justifying the appalling treatment of the Palestinians.

Interestingly, where it deals with prominent Jewish artists and intellectuals it includes Leonard Cohen, who makes much use of Christian imagery and symbolism, but no mention is made of Bob Dylan. I’ve got a feeling that’s because he changed his name to disguise his Jewishness, a particularly heinous crime according to the Museum. It’s a shame because there is a very important story to tell which serves as a warning to us all. This Museum is a wasted opportunity.

On a lighter note, went to Penny’s Open Mic again and had a brilliant time. Even better than last week. There were some brilliant acts and I was welcomed as an equal. Makes me feel very good and has done wonders for my self confidence. Had a good time at the Red Lion afterwards apart from the fact I got a taxi driver who knows his way round New York worse than me. Could have walked it quicker! Penny is perhaps the best open mic host I’ve ever seen. She’s funny and a good performance poet and keeps the pace up all night. Very encouraging to all the performers and there’s a really good jam in the middle where everyone gets up  and dances. Definately the place to be on a Tuesday night!

Was going to go to Ellis Island today but when I got to the pier the queues were so long I gave up. Went to the Skyscraper Museum instead which was very interesting.

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