Tieing together that title of course, is John Safran’s new TV series, ‘Race Relations‘. But first let’s backtrack.
For years, conflict in the Middle East presented itself to me as a shapeshifting, blurry beast – a reminder of ancient times in the contemporary age, but with no easy way of getting a good overview, of understanding of how it had developed. Then a book landed in my lap ( from Exiled Surfer, a video artist of Jewish background ). I was given the book back in 2007, while at a video residency in Istanbul with artificialeyes.tv (they also had a wonderful French/Palestinian> programmer / musician), and although the book added depth to my understanding of Middle Eastern conflict, its complex violent history is still no easier to unravel. The Book was ‘The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of The Middle East’, by veteran UK war correspondent, Robert Fisk: 1000+ pages of epic history, colonisation, land grabs, oil politics, ethnic divisions, religious differences, and thirty years of warzone reporting (‘thanks to Dr. Victoria Fontan, who.. with immense scholarly care, archived 328,000 of my documents, notes and dispatches.’). It’s so relentlessly confronting, it makes you wonder how he is still able to stand upright, let alone look humanity in the eye. The book tackles many regions and conflicts within the Middle East, but for Safran’s sake, let’s zoom in.
Palestine And Israel
As nutshelly as we can get : As a geographic area, the definition of Palestine has varied throughout history, but currently covers what is the modern state of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Although Palestine does not appear on contemporary political maps, it exists as a State which has been recognised by over 100 countries. Israel was established in 1948, post World War II. More than half a million Palestinians were forced out from where they lived, and many today live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, both of which suffer intense Israeli military and economic control. Current conflict continues about whether a one or two state solution is possible, Israeli settlements displacing Palestinians, water, security concerns, and mutual claims to Jerusalem. Good luck with that. John Safran, you may remember, filmed himself as a bespectacled Jew, running naked through the Gaza Strip, for the ABC show, Race Around the World.
Sperm And Tribalism
John’s latest series ( video of each episode available ) has him pondering ‘whether you should stick with your tribe or escape your tribe?’. It’s part biological science ( a quest to verify his attraction to Eurasians, finds him stealing underwear from Eurasian and “Jewess’ girls, then taking part in a blindfolded sniff test ), and part sociological experiment ( Will he be treated differently at a black speed dating event, a black militant political group meeting, or giving a sermon at a black church – while wearing all over black make-up? ), but mostly it’s that weird hybrid of self-analysis and public prank that he manages so well.
Continuing his cross-cultural curiosity, he sings a Jewish song to a leader of Palestinian political group Hamas, argues the Jewish community has used the holocaust to brainwash into fear of non-Jewish girls, makes out with a caucasian in Anne Frank‘s attic in Amsterdam ( she became famous for her diaries as a Jew hiding during Nazi occupied Netherlands in WWII), tries to reverse his circumcision, and donates sperm to a Palestinian fertility clinic (using a photograph of Barack Obama to arouse himself), hoping to create a hybrid race called Jelestinians – the creation of which would herald in peace to the Middle East. A Palestinian camera man is also enlisted, to enable John to donate Palestinian sperm to a Jewish sperm bank.
The Kid’s Got Balls
Still to come? Stay tuned for the episode where he is crucified (yes, nailed to the cross) in the Philippines.
And Previously :
As part of his series Music Jamboree, John Safran made an all Jew ‘boys band’ music video : Jewtown. Safran also made a pair of ABC Pilot episodes many years ago, which famously never aired because of a segment involving Current Affairs Host Ray Martin (Safran applied A Current Affair’s sensationalised and intrusive reporting style back to it’s boss, who responded aggressively). This clip explains that quite well. Naturally it’s available online, eg : John Safran Cooks You A Mouth-watering Jamaican Stew, and the full pilots are available here and here ( The former being 400mb clips, and the latter being real video streams, which really, I’ve included purely for their hosting URL… found via this disinfo profile of Safran ). There is also talk of the ABC finally relenting and broadcasting some of the pilots in the Australian summer of 09.
(All pics above, from John Safran’s ‘Racebook’ page.. )