Since Harry has graciously invited me to become one of The Friends on his spiffy new weblog, I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Gene Zitver and I live just outside of Washington, DC, USA, which is where I grew up. I have also lived in a small town at the edge of the Appalachians (Hagerstown, Maryland), in a large town on the banks of the Mississippi (St. Louis) and in a small country in the Middle East (Israel).
I still hold joint Israeli-American citizenship, and I’m still in touch with friends there, so it should come as no surprise that I pay particularly close attention to the news from that part of the world. I have strong but complicated feelings about the place, and I’m sure I’ll be expressing some of those feelings here in the weeks and months to come.
Like Harry, I identify myself with the Democratic Left, but also like Harry, I believe most of the left in the US, the UK and elsewhere has failed to grasp how the world has changed since the 1960s, and especially since September 11, 2001. The comfortable old rhetoric of the Chomskys and the Benns doesn’t cut it anymore. Like Harry, I think George Orwell (whose 100th birthday is tomorrow—Happy Birthday, George, wherever you are) still has a lot to say to us more than 50 years after his death. And like Harry, I believe—unfashionably enough—that a strong and democratic labor movement can help make the world a better place for many more people than it is now.
No doubt Harry and I will find things to disagree about (like the spelling of “labor”), but I look forward to sharing this space with him. Harry scouted me out in an obscure corner of the Net (alt.books.george-orwell, where I’m one of the regulars) and seemed to think I was ready for the big time. I hope so.