Patinkin floats above the suffering

Carla Maga in the Star recently introduced the multi-talented performer Mandy Patinkin’s 2 show appearance in Toronto next week this way:

We know him for his timeless characters — Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride,” Georges Seurat from Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park With George,” Saul Berenson in “Homeland.” Often calling himself a “mailman,” Mandy Patinkin, however largely he looms over Broadway, film and TV, is never one to boast about his own talents or intellect. According to him, he’s the vessel for the real artists who write the songs he sings and the words he speaks.

When we started working on that one in the studio, every time we got to the words, “I’m so tired of you, America,” that’s what Rufus wrote, I sang, “I’m so tired of you …” and then I just let the music play. I couldn’t say the word. So I said to Thomas, “I usually don’t do this, but I’m thinking something else, I’m picking up the word “Jerusalem.” He said, “Then sing it.”

Then the song, to me, was everything I had to say about my lifetime experience of observing the history of that Holy Land for all humanity, all over the world, through all time. I sang it for all people, on every side, from Christian, Jew, Muslim, Palestinian, Israeli, American, Hindu, Buddhists. It became a prayer, to me — to stop the killing, the hatred and the violence. I’m singing for everyone on every single side of the issue. I want everyone to feel that both now and in the future they feel that they have freedom, justice and dignity, and equality, and that they all can live together and be neighbours. It’s even OK to be comfortable with one’s discomfort and not feel that everything has to be fixed and made to be perfect, because perfect doesn’t exist.

These are indeed noble sentiments but sadly disengenuous.

Painkin self-identifies as a Jew  so for many reasons he cannot come out and openly place the fundamental  blame where it belongs—almost totally in the lap of the state violence of Israel. It’s not that there isn’t Palestinian violence and it needs to be vociferously condemned especially against innocents which indeed is rare

This is not the point.Palestinian Violence #2 the response to the overwhelming state violence,the primary state violence of the land theft of 1948,67 and ongoing settler colonialsismin the West Bank, illegal collective punishment condemned by international law —house demolitions, targetted assassinations, racist exclusion from state jobs.The brutality and humiliation is endless

There simply is no equivalence here and Patinkin knows it—but he can’t or wont  say it. He hides in abstract generalities which never  touch the ground of massive Palestinian suffering.There is no flesh, no incarnation here. His words are ethereal, much too evasive and ultimately dishonest.

Patinkin also is an artist who does not want the Zionist thought police outside the Ed Mirvish theatre  when he performs here. If he spoke the truth as many brave Jews do and have, he would have to deal deal with the charges of being a self-hating Jew and a useful idiot. I mean Mandy is 65 and has an excellent career. Pickets wherever he goes he does not need. In Yiddish he would say who needs this tsuris, this grief. So his words  lack flesh, context and honesty.”Singing for everyone “is a cop out.

We get it. At one level it’s understandable.

On another level, it’s sad.