Sabby Sagall

Goodbye Grey Sky?

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Review of 'Happy Days' by Samuel Beckett, Arts Theatre, London

Samuel Beckett (1906-89) was born in Dublin into an Irish Protestant family but lived most of his life in France. He was arguably the supreme modernist writer of the second half of the 20th century. Modernism in literature and the theatre is in part characterised by the description of a world which no longer makes sense, in which the old certainties are dead - for example, belief in god or the inevitability of historical progress. In Endgame, three characters are praying to god, then give up in despair, one of them crying out, 'The bastard! He doesn't even exist.'

You're in for a Big Surprise

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Review of 'Tales from the Vienna Woods' by Odön von Horváth, National Theatre, London

Odön von Horváth (1901-1938), the son of a Hungarian diplomat, wrote plays depicting a society haunted by crisis and the shadow of fascism. He spent some of his most creative years in pre-Nazi Berlin, the Berlin of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, where he wrote Tales from the Vienna Woods in 193l. The play is a poignant evocation of pre-Nazi Vienna, the city that had once been the hub of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Israel-Palestine: Wall Crimes

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A Palestinian statelet dwarfed by Israel is neither just nor viable.

The death of the road map for the Middle East has revived the debate about a single, secular, democratic state as the ultimate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in preference to the 'two states' option officially pursued as the goal of the Oslo Accords. The irony of the present situation is that it is the steady Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967, that has slowly killed off that option.

Palestine: Israeli Assassins Killing Peace

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The much-vaunted Middle East ’road map to peace‘ has reached a dead end.

The US has even taken the outrageous, if not uncharacteristic, step of vetoing a UN resolution opposing the threatened assassination of Yasser Arafat. Most of the media blame the Palestinians for breaking the truce. However, a different picture emerges if one examines the sequence of events since the Palestinian militant groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs declared a three-month truce on 29 June, despite Israeli soldiers killing four Palestinians that very day.

The Lost Tradition

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There is a rich history of workers' struggles in Iraq.

'There was no alternative' was the familiar mantra of liberals supporting the US and British juggernaut as the only force capable of ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. However, even a cursory examination of 20th century Iraq reveals an alternative - a working class whose combativity was belied by its youth and small size.

Peeping Toms and Jerry

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Review of 'Jerry Springer: The Opera', director Stewart Lee, National Theatre, London

Jerry Springer: The Opera' is a highly original and exhilarating show that is both a satire on the successful US TV show and a serious modern opera. In the TV show, conflictual couples are invited by Springer to air their disputes in public and to submit to criticism or mediation by him and members of the studio audience. The results are orgies of brash self revelation in which the participants expose their innermost secrets to a gawping and at times mocking but invariably fascinated national audience.

Making Democracy Safe

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Was democracy the cornerstone of US policy during the Cold War?

We frequently hear US apologists claim that since the end of the Second World War US foreign policy has been based on the values of freedom, democracy and human rights--its main thrust being the curbing of the power of dictators and the fostering of social and economic conditions in which 'free' institutions can flourish. The principal examples cited are those of postwar Germany and Japan.

Oil and the Intifada

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An attack on Iraq will lead to more instability in the Middle East.

The assertion of US power explains in general the attack on Iraq, but there is a more specific reason which helps to explain its timing and gives it added urgency. This is the US rulers' fear of the spread of the spirit of the Palestinian intifada to other Arab states, beginning with Saudi Arabia.

Weapons of Deception

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Top of the league for weapons of mass destruction is the US, and the biggest danger in the Middle East is Israel.

A history exam paper might contain the following question: which Middle East country expelled the majority of the original inhabitants, has attacked neighbouring states three times in the last 50 years, accumulated a considerable arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and flouted countless UN resolutions? If you put Iraq the answer would be wrong. The right answer would be Israel.

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