- Shanghai is modernity in action, it is up for business;
its many staggering new high-rise buildings spear the imagination as well
as the sky. It is saturated with festive, almost unreal glamour, it is
soaking in wealth, it is overwhelmingly proud and yet, it is humane, very
humane in fact. It is habitable, it is relatively quiet, it feels safe,
it welcomes you on board. It is the Western Metropolis wannabe, yet it
is in the East.
- I was advised before my journey that Shanghai is not
exactly a "cultural shock'" quite the opposite; one seems to
have met Shanghai in one's urban fantasy a long time before landing there.
Shanghai is in fact the incarnation of the Western urban dream: it is an
astonishing materialisation of everything the Western metropolis is claiming
to be. In parts it is the embodiment of the urban imagery; it is what New
York was aiming at but somehow failed to reach. In other parts, it is the
ultimate urban tranquillity of a Parisian tree-lined avenue with small
bars and cosy cafés. It offers everything a big city can offer in
terms of culture, entertainment, business and food, yet it is totally sympathetic
to its visitors and inhabitants.
- I was teaching jazz in China this week and performed
at the Shanghai Jazz Festival, Though I was pretty busy with my students,
Jazz combos, concerts and other musical commitments, I tried to absorb
as much as I could. I travelled around, tried to meet local people and
to grasp this miracle. I, for instance, visited the Shanghai Music Fair,
probably the biggest music fair in the world.
- China is now the biggest producer of Western musical
instruments. And guess what, they are making some unbelievably good saxophones
out there. I have tried and reviewed Chinese saxophones in the past. For
some reason I was always pretty convinced that the many Chinese brands
were made by one or two manufacturers. Somehow, all contemporary Chinese
saxophones and clarinets follow a very similar design and they are all
equally good. In the music fair I realised that I was totally wrong. There
are actually many small Saxophone manufacturers and they are all very good
at it. The Chinese manufacturers whom I met were actually seeking criticism.
In a very modest manner they would ask for your honest opinion of their
different models. They just want to make it better. They want to improve.
- China is a financial miracle. It is about to surpass
Japan as the world's second largest economy. It is expected to leave America
behind within the next five years and to become the world's largest economy.
China is the largest producer of most industrial and agriculture products.
In spite of the ongoing Western criticism of China's political structure
and its one party system, the success of China proves that its political
system and economic model maybe far more efficient than anything Western
democracies can offer. Unlike the crumbling English Speaking Empire and
other Western service economies, China is a productive society and it is
ruled by a single "People's Party". Rather than copying the Western
economic model and value system, China adopted some Western advantages,
modified them and integrated them into its own economic model and social
- China and Israel
- In my Shanghai visit, I stayed in a rather fancy Western
hotel. Already on my arrival just after checking in, while attending the
tourist desk, a familiar golden Menora * shined at me from one of
the tourist brochures. I picked it up, "The Jews in Shanghai",
it said: the story of 30.000 Jews who found shelter in Shanghai between
1933 and 1941. I guess that you can no longer imagine a metropolis
on this planet unless it has some relevance to the Holocaust or the Jews.
- Visitors to Shanghai have a lot to choose from: temples,
sight seeing, shopping, new developing markets, food, Chinese folklore
and of course even a bit of "Shoa business". I honestly
believe that no one, except a few Jews, is interested in the historical
role of Shanghai in the Holocaust. And yet, the brochure was there for
a reason. Many Israelis and Jews are visiting Shanghai in the last two
decades, as China and Shanghai are the future and the Israelis know it
- In the breakfast at the hotel I could hear a lot of Hebrew.
They were not Israeli tourists. They were actually "selling and buying".
They were meeting local businessmen already at 8.00 am. But it wasn't just
business. The Israeli infiltration is noticeable on every possible level.
- In the bus that picked us up to go to the festival's
stage, we found an Israeli flag hanging under the driver's front mirror.
A quick inquiry with the assistance of our English speaking stage manager
revealed that the band to play before us was an Israeli Dixieland band.
I may as well mention that I myself have lived in Britain for 15 years,
I travel around the world with musicians from many different parts of the
world and I have never seen a single musician leaving nationalist souvenirs
anywhere. For Israeli artists, so it seems, leaving their Star of David
is apparently a common practice.
- I soon realised that I knew those Israeli Dixieland musicians,
they were actually my old friends from Israel. Some of them were my teachers
and mentors; others had been playing in my band. Two of them were very
close friends of mine at the time. Needless to say that it was very exciting
to meet them after so many years. In fact, they were very good at what
they were doing. They could play the music and they clearly mastered the
Dixieland style. On stage I heard one of my old friends telling the Chinese
audience, "here we are, 60 years for the People's Republic of China,
61 years for the Jewish State and all we really want is peace." Such
a simple message, we the Jews and you the Chinese all share one simple
- The Israeli horn player may not have realised that a
few hours earlier the People's Republic of China voted in favor of adopting
the Goldstone report at the Human Rights Council. As far as China is concerned,
Israeli war crimes should be further investigated.
- However, it is common knowledge that most if not all
Israeli art exports are sponsored by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Israeli
artists are operating as messengers of the Zionist propaganda and Hasbara
lies. It is a pretty simple concept: as the IDF drops White Phosphorous
on Palestinians or starves others, Israeli artists travel the
world spreading a 1960's message of "Sex, Love and Peace". Needless
to say, the people around me didn't really buy it.
- Zionism, as we learn from Herzl and his too many followers,
is all about tracing the bond between the Jewish national interests and
world dominating powers. China is no doubt the rising power; it is in fact
a rising sensation. In just one week in China I saw for myself the intensity
of the Israeli activity on the ground.
- As we all know, some naive peace activists around put
all their cards on a possible growing rift between Israel and the USA.
They forget that Israel can easily change its leagues as they did rather
often in the past. Israel is always building relationships with rising
powers. The Israelis have already invested some enormous energy on India
- A lot of China's success story is because it is run by
a very unique People's party political system. It is a miracle because
it somehow manages to restrain hard capitalism with a unique socially orientated
system. It is a big question whether there is room in this system to accommodate
Israel, a bourgeoisie nationalist philosophy based on racial supremacy
and choseness in general.
- *Menora - a seven-branched candelabrum that is one
of the oldest symbols of the Jewish people