Friday, December 30, 2005

Insects & Politics

Over two decades ago, Rafael Eitan, nicknamed Raful, former IDF Chief-of-Staff and MK, had referred to Arab terrorists by saying that we have to be able to control them so they would be no more dangerous than "drunk cockroaches in a bottle" (see, for example, here).

I knew him well and can testify that his metaphor stemmed from his farmyard upbringing.

He was pilloried and as the above reference makes clear, his words are all over countless hate-Israel websites.

So, it will be with interest that I will follow the web refrences and the reactions this reference about spiders:

It is in the clear interests of the big spider, the United States, and the little spider, Israel, to create a crisis between Syria and Lebanon

It will be interesting because an Arab Mk, Azmi Bisharrah uttered these crass words and, as I expect, all our civil liberatrian progressives will be defending his right to say these things.

Halacha to the Extreme?

Found this Q & A on a Jewish Halacha discussion list:

> If somebody was intending to eat something and then forgot that he was intending
> to eat that thing and started making a bracha achrona and then
> remebered that he wanted to eat before saying the shem, and he now wants
> to eat, what should he do?

It would seem that once he decided to make the bracha achrona that decision qualifies as a hefsek daas and his bracha rishona is no longer chal, so he will in any case need a new bracha rishona. Thus, the Q is really the same as: if I'm starting to benxch and then decide to eat more of the same food...? But since he did not yet say the shem, better not to make the bracha achrona (sheh lo tsricha) and make a new bracha rishona.

Do you understand?

And Olmert is an Honorable Man

So saith Ehud Olmert, in response to increased numbers of Palestinian Kassams falling on Israeli targets following the disengagement that was supposed to improve Israel's security or, at the very least, Israel's ability to protect its citizens and spend less money, time, soldiers and equipment on security concerns and get on with the process of peace:

"I believe that these means will significantly reduce the shelling. There is nothing that can totally prevent it, unless those who fire decide to stop firing."

How wise is Ehud Olmert.

And how reassuring to know that leaders like this lead our country.

And surely, Ehud Olmert is an honorable man.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Letter to the London Times

While I'm here in the UK, saw a story in the London Times last Friday entitled "Today's Joseph and Mary would face 15 checkpoints". Bit of a cheek that one. Playing on the religious sensitivities of the Christmas season. But is the analogy correct?

I thought not and sent them the following letter:

Stephen Farrell's story is a bit anachronistic.

Joseph and Mary were Jewish. Why would they face problems at checkpoints? They weren't suspected of terrorism or posing a security threat.

In fact, if one wishes to recall those days, at least adopt the nomenclature of the period. It is not the "West Bank" but, as we read in Acts 8:1, rather Judea and Samaria.

Munich Mush

The new Spielberg film, "Munich", is causing a ruckus.

I found this comment, though, to be just as devasting as everyone else's assault on the film for equalizing Jewish revenge and Palestinian terrorism:

If he had told the story straight, without such hedging, and at half the length, it would have borne far more conviction. At the least, we would have been spared the sight, toward the end, of Avner having sex with his wife while images of the hostage ordeal flood his weary brain. How’s that? Is he fathering new life to replace the dead, or getting off on the sound of German helicopters? What a curious arc this movie has described: starting in terror, and ending up on the very brink of kitsch.

That was Anthony Lane in the New Yorker.

Tendentious Talya

Talya Sasson wrote a report quite critical of Israel's civilian residency construction in the areas of the Jewish historic homeland set aside by international law for "close settlement" by Jews. (You can find it here.)

It didn't have an effect. But she's not going to give up.

So she claims in this Jerusalem Post report:

"The body that was established to attend to the problems of the Palestinian population, declares land as state land, enabling a de-facto settlement of the territories...If no steps are taken against what is going on today in the territories, a moral stain would hover over Israeli society as a whole."

But, dear Talya, it is the right of Israel to permit Jews to live there. Not only are Palestinian problems to be dealt with but Jewish rights are to be preserved. And if didn't do it when you were in government pay, we surely don't expect you to do it when you are free to publicly disclose your own personal prejudices.

And that is your moral stain.

The Doctors' Lied

Haaretz reveals:

Night of stroke, PM was unable to make decisions

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was unable to make decisions and had difficulty speaking when he was rushed to the hospital after a stroke last Sunday night, his doctors revealed on Monday.

Doctors also said the characterization of the stroke as "mild" was mistaken, as Sharon suffered from the stroke's effects for more than 24 hours.

MK Michael Eitan (Likud) on Monday had called the exposure of Sharon's medical file a "manipulation." He said that doctors should unveil not only Sharon's test results but also a neurological assessment that would clarify whether the stroke damaged his abilities. "The public must be sure that important decisions are being made by the prime minister and not by Omri Sharon and Dov Weisglass," Eitan said, referring to the prime minister's son and close adviser.

Hippocratic hypocrites.


Ooops. UPDATE!!!

Reuters is reporting:

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo an operation to close a tiny hole in his heart which is believed to be the reason for his mild stroke last week, his doctors said on Monday.

Sharon, 77, is already back at work after the December 18 health scare and his new Kadima party formally launched its election campaign on Monday to secure the bulky ex-general a third term with a pledge to try and end conflict with the Palestinians.

Doctors suspect a blood clot resulting from a 2 mm hole in the heart, a common birth defect, caused Sharon's stroke.

A tiny tube will be inserted to the heart via a blood vessel in a routine procedure known as Cardiac Catheterization that takes about 30 minutes. Sharon will not need to be readmitted to hospital. It should be carried out in two to three weeks.

"This will be done to prevent future blood clots," said Tamir Ben-Hur of the Hadassah hospital.

The plot gets thicker as his blood is thinned by medication.

Monday, December 26, 2005

What Am I Learning at Limmud

To understand Limmud, I have learned, is to understand that this is an "alternative" situation. The Orthodox, per se, don't participate in that Uunited Synagogue Rabbis don't come. The Shabbat Minyan had about 100 people, though, so there is a presence but it is more the stalking ground of the Masorati (Conservative), the Progressive (Reform), the cultural, the mixed, the etc., etc.

Feminism, Hinduism, Mysticism, art, song, story-telling, creative endeavors, et al. are the leading topics of interest.

I had a very low, but really low turnout for my Hasbara/Media session, 50 for the Disengagement talk, 25 for the Temple Mount address. One trick I used was last night, at David Landau's talk on HaAretz, when I managed to get in the first question. Since David & I know each other, he called me by my knickname, awarded me a compliment as to my abilities and was delighted that I asked the question (about his anti-CAMERA missive). That drew a bit of attention and maybe helped. After all, there are some 1800 people here from all over the world and 700 presentations to choose from.

One thing I can't get used to are the many men with kippot that don't know a thing about Jewish practice as well as some who will not even stop to participate in a Kedusha for Mincha. In fact, at Shabbat Kiddush, after the singing died done, I started in with Eshet Chayil in the Carlebach melody but was hushed down by a glare from the leader who was about to make Kiddush. Those who know me wouldn't be surprised to know that I tried valiantly to continue but once again the glare. So I plaintively said "but it's Eshet Chayil" and that even didn't work (I thought maybe he didn't know that everybody says Eshet Chayil on Friday night).

The second error, I think, was at Havdallah. Now, I know this is a multi-cultural group but still, at the time of Shabbat ending, a guitar was brought out and then 12 people came in with Havdallah candles. We, the Orhtodox, weren't forced to be m'challel Shabbat but we ended up davening some 20 minutes later. I think the proper solution would have been for someone to say aloud; "baruch hamavdil bein kadosh l'chol" and at the very least, that would have given the semblance of proper Halachic decorum.

Otherwise, the weather is cold and today, Monday, turned to a drizzle for a short while.

It is a great place to meet people from literally all over the globe. There's a special group from Israel, located around Shlomi, who will be initiating Limmud in Israel and a group from Russia with the same intent. Etti Ankri is here giving workshops.

But, with Gideon Levy scheduled to go later tonight, the fireworks should begin.

I shall try to report later as now I have to light my Chanukiyah.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Just a Hello

Just to check in and let you know I'm all okay at the 25th Limmud UK conference.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It Won't Win An Oscar But It's a Great Film

It's in Hebrew.

It's amateurish.

It's 18 minutes long.

But it's a film that will unnerve you, shame you, and maybe even inspire you.

It tells the "other" story of the day-after-Succot attempts to establish Jewish residency in the homeland of the Jewish people.

Get ready for police violence.

Here it is.

Hold Me Back, Cries Olmert

Remember that sketch of the comedien threatening to respond to an attack with his fist upraised but having his friend restrain him, all the while shouting "hold me back, hold me back!"?

Well, get a load of Ehud Olmert, "threatening" the PA:

"Certainly if the rocket fire on Ashkelon does not stop, there will be a very fierce response, and no option can be ruled out, including a ground operation," said Vice Premier Ehud Olmert, adding, "but of course, we must reach the conclusion that this is the right method at the time we make the decision."

Why Israel Can't Win

The NYTimes doesn't mind Hamas on the ballot.

In an editorial
the blatherers write:

The messy thing about democracy is that people tend to vote for the candidates they want - a point that seemed lost on Israel yesterday when it threatened to ban East Jerusalem Arabs from voting in the scheduled Palestinian elections if Hamas took part...

...Israel can't just decide to take away that right because it's afraid of who may win next time.

The choice here is between two evils, and the greater would be to take extraordinary measures to keep Hamas out of the running...

...To be sure, the other option, letting Hamas run, is hard to stomach. But it is the lesser evil because any movement, once in power, is compelled to supplement its bluster with deeds. That's what happened to the Palestine Liberation Organization, which once seemed even less acceptable than Hamas.

...The Bush administration must continue to urge Israel to abandon its threat to prevent Palestinians in East Jerusalem from voting. The real intent of such a move would be to force Mr. Abbas to cancel the election. If the administration and Israel really believe that a democratic Middle East is the only road to peace, then they must give it a try.

This is not only outrageous but stupid and illogical and non-factual. Just the opposite witll happen - bigger bombs, longer-range rockets, more devoted suicide murderers. Democracy cannot be used as a weapon to commit politicide in eradicating Israel - Hamas' goal.

With this type of thinking, Israel can't win.

Is that, perhaps, the object of this exercise?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

When a Promise is Broken

This is Ha'aretz's report on the Kassam incident(s) yesterday:

Female soldiers say IDF left them vulnerable to Qassams

Women soldiers serving at an Ashkelon-area army base struck by a Qassam rocket on Tuesday said they have no protection against the shelling, and have asked the army to take immediate steps to see to their safety, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.

The Qassam landed in an open area of the base, which is located south of Ashkelon. There were no injuries.

"It was after dinner," the radio quoted one woman soldier as saying. "Everyone was outside, on a break. I heard 'Red Dawn' [the warning signal for an impending rocket or mortar attack] but I had nowhere to run. I froze. A second later I heard a boom. There were shouts. They took us to the auditorium, to the dining hall, to the armory.

"There was panic. A woman soldier screamed, one of them fainted. Commanders spoke with us, tried to calm us down. But we are not calm. We are in tents. We are all scared."

In all, five Qassams landed in Israel on Tuesday. Apart from the rocket that hit the base, the other four struck open areas near Sderot and the western Negev.

Now, I distinctly remember Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz promising us that Israel's security would be improved because our moral standing in the international diplomatic arena would be morally higher and that in any case, Israel could strike back with impunity due to this and have a better chance to deal with terror.

Bullshit, or as my dear friend Dr. Amiel Unger once wrote on a placard protesting Kissinger many years ago (and I think it even made it into Newsweek), "bovine defecation".

Okay, so now we know that Sharon can't keep a promise and worse, his "solution" is leading us into even more dangerous realms. Maybe someone in academia could support a research poll project and ask now 100 army and policemaen who participated in the disenagement procedure and who defended it, many on the grounds that one must fulfill a democratic decision, whether or not they have second thoughts, whether they would reconsider their actions at the time and whether they will now be more circumpspect, more demanding of answers in any future moves Sharon and the disengagers may propose.

That would really be the democratic thing to do.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I Doubt This Would Work Here

I found a report that movie theater owners want cell phones blocked.

Seems the National Association of Theater Owners wants the Federal Communications Commission to allow the blocking of cell phone signals in theaters which they consider (as do I) "rude behavior". The group would petition the FCC for permission to block cell phone signals within movie theaters.

But, America is a democracy so the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association -- a Washington-based cell phone lobby that is also known as CTIA-the Wireless Association -- said it would fight any move to block cell phone signals.

Their spokesman, Joseph Farren, said: "We're opposed to the use of any blocking technology, because it interferes with people's ability to use a wireless device in an emergency situation."

Reminds me of a joke: NY Governor Patatki was speaking before a large audience when a cell phone started ringing. "Funny," the governor was allegorically to have said, "I didn't know there were any Israelis here."

In Israel, I've seen many methods to "educate" the crowd including repeated messages blared forth from the screen or loudspeakers. But the rather forthrightness of my fellow Israelis seems to mitigate a cultured, graceful solution. C'est la vie!

An Election Day Tactic That Even We Haven't Heard Of (or ...?)

Found this here:

Yesterday James Tobin, who was President Bush's New England campaign chief for a brief time last year, was convicted of jamming Democratic campaign phone lines on Election day, 2002.

I've covered this before, but a quick recap:

In 2002, then-Congressman John H. Sununu (R) was running against Governor Jeanne Shaheen (D) for Bob Smith's US Senate seat -- Sununu had beaten Smith in the contested primary. On the day of the election, Tobin got his hands on the numbers for the Democratic phone bank -- set aside for get-out-the-vote work, such as reminding people to work and offering them rides to polling places -- and had a telemarketing firm call those numbers all day, tying up the lines. Sununu ended up winning, 51-45%.

Clever idea -- if you overlook that it's ILLEGAL.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Guest Columnist: Steve Plaut

April 23, 1943
by Steven Plaut

Archeologists in Poland have just discovered an amazing document, uncovered from beneath rubble left over in what was once the Warsaw Ghetto.

A Letter and Call to Sanity for the Warsaw Ghetto zealots, from the Peace Now chapter of Warsaw, April 23, 1943.

Dear Deluded Brethren:

A few days ago some zealots from certain messianic settler organizations operating in Warsaw launched a series of acts of unprovoked violence against the legitimate German peace partners directing peace-seeking activities here in Warsaw. A number of German soldiers and officers have been viciously murdered, while others have been maimed and injured by these thoughtless religious fundamentalists.

Comrades, we must emphasize that these violent hoodlums are deluded and are making things much worse for everyone else here in the Warsaw Ghetto. You have to understand that there are no military solutions to the problems of deportations of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto by the Germans. Our problems can only be resolved through negotiations. We insist that, in spite of the claims of these messianic terrorists provoking the Germans, there IS a partner for negotiations amongst the Germans, and we Warsaw Jews DO have a moral responsibility to conduct good faith negotiations with the legitimate representatives of the Germans.

In addition, violent attacks by irresponsible Jewish settlers in the ghetto against Germans will only provoke a cycle of violence. There can be no winners in that.

Don't these people conducting the hooligan violence understand that if they attack the nazi troops and refuse to conduct negotiations with the agents sent to us by Adolf Hitler, Hitler will lose control of his forces and then some **really** violent anti-Semite could take over the Third Reich. Besides, Hitler is really trying his best to rein in the more violent of his stormtroopers; he simply cannot be everywhere at once. And besides, the Red Army and the eastern front have him so pre-occupied that he cannot act more effectively against the renegade SS terrorists mistreating Jews.

In addition, the Germans do have some legitimacy to their negotiating position. After all, Jews in Poland have been illegally occupying numerous Polish territories that really belong to Aryans! The Jews have established themselves in numerous Polish settlements where they just do not belong and their presence there has antagonized some of the local oppressed people. In addition, horrendous inequality has been created by Jewish racism, since the Jews in Poland are better educated than the gentiles there and Jews in Warsaw earned more than non-Jews before the war. This manifestation of anti-gentile apartheid must be redressed! We need some affirmative action to help the Polish non-Jews advance in society.

In addition, some Polish civilians were victims of Jewish pickpockets in Warsaw before the war! The Jews need to pay compensation for THAT.

Clearly the solution is two ghettos for two peoples! The Warsaw ghetto needs to be shared. The Jews in one half must agree to be deported peacefully from that half to other destinations, so that the Germans and the Poles can have equal rights in the New Middle Europe. The entire tragedy that we have experienced is because of the selfish inability of so many Jews to share their property and land.

We repeat, violence has never solved anything. Violence only foments more violence. The violent Warsaw settlers attacking the innocent Germans are guilty of disrespect towards The Other. They are bigots and racists. They have wounded innocent bystanders.

We need to speak out in defense of the human rights of Germans and Poles in the vicinity of the ghetto. We must denounce the racist Zionist hooligans and messianic zealots attacking those victims. Jewish terrorism against Germans must be stopped.

We must begin negotiations at once. Those claiming there is no peace partner on the German side are deluded. We simply have to give Hitler a chance. He just wants a homeland for his own people and his fair share of our territory!

So take a lesson from our rich and wonderful heritage. The Bible itself calls upon us to pursue peace!

Stop the shooting! Start the talking! Now!


Peace Now, Warsaw Chapter

The above was political satire.

Bush-whacked. Again.

Funny, the wording below (found here)is practically identical to the previous announcement of delay in moving the embassy to Jerusalem. And this previous announcement.

We've been sabotaged, Bush-whacked. Again.

What possible "national security interests" could override the truth of the Bible, of the sovereignty of Israel in its capital city? Whta, they'll rebomb a building? Kill more American servicemen, G-d forbid!, in Iraq?

Bush Again Delays Move of U.S. Embassy in Israel
President cites "national security interests" in his decision

President Bush suspended the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for an additional six months December 14.

The U.S. Congress enacted legislation in 1995 calling for the relocation of the embassy to the city Israel claims as its capital, but former Presidents Clinton and Bush, citing "national security interests," both delayed implementation of the legislation.

Many in Washington believe that the move would be ill-received by Palestinians, who also see Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and that it would therefore undermine U.S. efforts to secure a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Center? Is he nuts?!

Ynet carries a report I saw earlier in Hebrew this week that Israel's cabinet to approve Western Wall renovation

The plan is intended to encourage visitation and bar mitzvah ceremonies at Western Wall and is valued at NIS 68 million. The complex will undergo a series of renovations and a number of projects will be established, including a modern visitors' center, a new police station, information center and new entrance to the site.

The government will also encourage holding bar and bat mitzvahs at the Wall and within two months, the government-run Western Wall Heritage Foundation is set to launch a media campaign encouraging citizens to celebrate at the wall.

The plan was developed after research showed that very few Israeli children celebrate their bar mitzvahs at the Wall, as their families do not known how to go about organizing such an event.

Jerusalem's Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz praised the Prime Minister's Office's decision to allocate a budget for the development of a number of services at the complex, in a bid to encourage visitation to the holy site.

And here is what got me peeved:

"The Western Wall is the Jewish nation's spiritual center," he said.
"Without a connection to the past it will be very difficult to march into the future."

Sorry, Rabbi. The Temple Mount is our spiritual center. And it is too bad that not one New Shekel was or will be allotted to improving the Jewish presence, either past, present or future, at, on, under or in the Temple Mount.

Homans' Homage to Terror

Peter Homans had his letter, "NATO in the Middle East?", published in the NYTimes last Friday. In seeking a solution based on NATO that would establish a just Middle East peace, he writes - and then completely ignores - that "terrorist clearly have the sympathy of [the Palestine Authority's] own people".

If he is correct - and he is, oh, yes he is - can there be a "just peace" with a population that supports, participates in and praises terror directed against civilians simply because they are Jews?

Can there be a "just peace" with an administration that permits this not only to exist but to grow, that refuses to reprioritize its educational system and media outlets and ensures thereby that the Arab population remains anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and, unavoidably, antisemitic.

This is also the conclusion that must be drawn from the refusal of Arab governments, as the NYT itself reported the day earlier in a story, "Arab states quiet", to condemn the comments of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust is a ''myth''.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Klein is Klueless

Professor Menachem Klein is a raving radical left-wing religious academic who supports most of the fringe concessionist outlook of near-Post Zionism. He advised Barak

He was quoted in today's New York Times (where else?) as saying:

Israel could not ignore a Hamas victory. "But Hamas will also have a problem," he told Israel radio. "If Hamas wins a majority it will have to conduct a policy that it does not agree with and conduct foreign relations on an ideological basis that it rejects formally. It will have to change. This will not be simple at all."

It will have to conduct a policy it doesn't agree with? Is he an idiot?

Hamas has just won a great victory and probably feels it will win more and will change the policies Klein wants it to follow and Klein will be responsible for encouraging them to kill more Jews.

Another brilliant Israeli academic.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Israeli Logic

Ha'aretz reports that Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has decided to evict by mid-February Jewish residents from Palestinian shops they have presumably illegally occupied in Hebron's wholesale market.

In the coming days, community leaders will receive eviction notices and the settlers will have to leave the Palestinian shops by mid-January. If they have not left by mid-February, they will be forcibly evicted.

This is not new. But get this next part and let me know if this sounds logical to you:

The prosecution said that once the compound is evicted, a request by the Jewish resident's board to lease the ownership rights in the market compound would be considered.

The court was also advised that the relevant authorities would act for the termination of protected tenancy rights in the compound currently held by the Hebron municipality. If this decision is implemented, the shops may be leased to Jewish residents, but not to those who took over the shops, the prosecution said.

In other words, in order to placate Arabs who illegally took over the area after the 1929 riots, Jews must be kicked out but a request from other Jews, not those who are living there, to move back in after the first group has been kicked out may be favorably dealt with.

Excuse me, but why kick out the Jews in the first place?

Distress at the Jewish Press

New York's The Jewish Press is distressed.

Following up on the Tendler Affair (now, whether there was an "affair" or "affairs" or not, I don't know. I just used the word in its neutral sense), it is reporting that:

The Jerusalem Bet Din ruling [basically nullifying the RCA decision to boot Rabbi Tendler] has reportedly had a ripple effect in Chicago because of the involvement of Rabbi Gedaliah Dov Schwartz in both the RCA and the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

Rabbi Schwartz, who sat on the panel that expelled Rabbi Tendler from the RCA and who was named as a defendant in the case Rabbi Tendler brought to the Jerusalem Bet Din, serves as the av bet din of both the RCA-affiliated Beth Din of America and of the Chicago Rabbinical Council`s bet din. He also heads the CRC`s kashrut supervision. Sources say several companies have indicated they are reconsidering the CRC supervision in light of the Jerusalem Bet Din ruling.

Now, I don't know whether this was the intended effect, but from protecting Rabbi Tendler, the paper is now trying to bring down Rabbi Schwartz, persoanlly and paransa-wise. This is a bit disturbing.

Living in Israel, I know little about this whole business. But I wish to ask, if the JP is tackling Chicagoan Schwartz, why are they supporting the decision to deliberate the case davka in Jerusalem, far-away from all the action?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

So This is Freedom of Speech?

There are a few people and websites that are valiantly trying to bring to people's attention the fact that not only is the academia in Israel strongly left-wing and liberal (well, that's not really extraordinary) and even post-Zionist (we are Jews, aren't we?) but that they manage to arrange matters so that they maneuver themselves into dominating positions which suppress, ironically, democracy.

An example?

Next Tuesday, Haifa University's Center for Democratic Research, headed by Dr. Raphael Cohen-Almagor (, is hosting a full day's conference on "Freedom of Expression on the Background of the Disengagement Plan" ('Gaza First').

Now, why 'Gaza First', I don't know. That's how Oslo was originally broached way back in August 1993 and I can't recall Sharon claiming that slogan for his moves. So, what has this to do with anything except perhaps to be a poltical slant?

But, getting back to the conference, here are the main speakers:

1. Eran Shendar, State Prosecutor
2. Prof. Naomi Chazan, former Meretz MK
3. Prof. Raphael Cohen-Almagor
4. Prof Asa Kasher
5. Prof. Yedidyah Stern
6. Prof. Ariel Ben-Dor
7. Adv. Haim Shibi
8. Adv. Moshe Gorali
9. Justice Eliyahu Matza
10. Justice Daliah Dorner

In addition, former Labor MK Gad Yaakobi appears as a panel leader.

From personal knowledge, whereas #5 wears a kippah, he is not a rightist. And #7, while not a leftist, as Yedioth's Knesset correspondent, he is not rightist.

In other words, academic freedom of discussion about the draconian measures Israeli authorities - the government, the Knesset, the prosecutors, the police, and the courts - have all taken towards limiting freedom of speech and freedom of expression of the nationalist camp is censored and, effectively, censured.

Chazan and Kasher both follow an extreme progressive philosophical approach and both are Meretz people. I can't find anyone who could express even a middle-of-the-road position. No lawyer of the Forum of Erezt-Yisrael lawyers appears on the schedule (whether or not they were invited, I do not know) nor Adv. Naftali Wurtzberger who has experience in these matters. Not even MK Micki Eitan, Chairman of the Knesset's Law and Justice Committee which held hearings on the issue. No one who suffered from the restrictions appears. Orit Struck of Hebron successfully highlighted some abuse during the disengagement but maybe they don't invite people from over the Green Line.

Who knows, maybe a miracle will occur but as it now seems, a real chance to exchange views, to debate and discuss matters from different perspectives will be lost.

And since we are talking about the Center for Democratic Research, is this an example of Israeli democracy?

P.S. I wrote to Prof. Cohen-Almagor inviting him to comment.

Israel Advocacy

Haaretz's news alert section (no link) is reporting at 15:23 that a Qassam rocket has landed in Ashkelon's industrial zone; no casualties, damage reported. Earlier, another three rockets fell in the Western Negev.

Now, how am I to advocate Israel's case in this situation?

All that the opponents of Ariel Sharon's politicies, inclduing the Roadmap and Disengagement, had said, me included, is coming true.

A bit of a challenge.

P.S. Update: Moshav Sova, near Kfar Maimon got the earlier hits.


Well, the Iranian President just keeps plodding along.

Now, we are told,

the Nazi Holocaust a "myth" used as a pretext for carving out a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world

But he goes further:

Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in Zahedan. "If you committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?"

This is our proposal: If you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country," he said.

And all we get are the blitherings of upset diplomats. No action. Hey, after all, we're only Jews.

And with Sharon now running for elections, we'll have no salvation from that corner due to his inability to act, even if he wanted to - which I seriously doubt. It'll spoil the image he's been creating of himself as the peace-maker.

Here's the quotation that has Israel spinning:

What kind of accommodation remains unclear. Kalman Gayer, another political strategist, is perhaps alone among Sharon's advisers willing to disclose details. The picture he paints is strikingly similar to the proposal Israel's dovish Labor government made at Camp David five years ago, an offer Sharon denounced at the time as "dangerous." In theory, Gayer says, Sharon would accept a Palestinian state in Gaza and 90 percent of the West Bank, and a compromise on Jerusalem, in exchange for peace. But the Israeli leader does not believe Palestinians will be able to deliver peace or make other compromises—like forgoing the right of refugees to return to their old homes in Israel—in his lifetime (Sharon is 78). In the meantime, Sharon wants to "lay the contours of an agreement with the Palestinians," according to Gayer, by creating a Palestinian state in half the West Bank and implementing confidence-building measures.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Advocating Israel

I will be appearing in England on TV on the 2nd and 9th January on Channel 4.

I was interviewed by Richard Dawkins for a program on religion and politics a while back and I was the "expert" on the Temple Mount. Some people wrote me that Dawkins is an incorrigible secular atheist and that my appearance would somehow come out all wrong and twisted. Well, that a chnace one takes.

I took a chance a two and a half years ago with Tim Sebastian and BBC's HardCopy programme. As you can see and hear, I didn't do bad at all.

Anyone Coming to Limmud UK?

I'll be at Limmud UK held at Nottingham University next week.

Here's my presentation schedule:

Fri 23 Dec 21:10-22:20 - Joseph Forgotten
Sun 25 Dec 12:30-13:40 - The Geviha ben Pasisa Typology: A Talmudic Example of Hasbara Techniques
Mon 26 Dec 09:20-10:30 - What Did Israel Really Disengage From?
Mon 26 Dec 11:00-12:10 - Ascending the Mount
Tue 27 Dec 14:00-15:10 - Jabotinsky, Begin and Liberal Nationalist Zionism

If anyone reading this is attending, let me know?

The Right to Chastise

The Edmonton Journal is reporting that one Reinhard Mueller claims that ancient writings have declared him the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and left him in charge of their future.

He's quoted as saying

I hold a spiritual office. With it comes my authority over the destiny of the Jewish people. I am not allowed to hate Jews, nor advocate their murder. But I have the right to chastise them. That is my right. It comes with the office I hold.

Who is Mueller you ask?

Mueller, 62, is on trial for operating an anti-Semitic website called Federation of Free Planets that denied the Holocaust and described Jewish persons as "sub-humans" and "demons." The site also claimed Jews are responsible for creating the Ebola and AIDS viruses, the collapse of the World Trade Centre towers and the Columbia space shuttle disaster.

Well, at least he's on trial.

How We Lost

Shaul Goldstein was a central, if reluctant, figure in the Yesha Council's campaign against disengagement.

What are his inner thinkings? Read on.

Goldstein...thinks the [Gush Etzion] fence is a disaster, that it is a political, not a security, barrier. But he knows it will be built, and therefore prefers to choose which battles to fight. That is why the action committees, whose members include Nadia Matar, Datia Yitzhaki and Yehudit Katzover - the wife of Zvi Katzover, head of the Kiryat Arba council - have declared war on it.


After the disengagement, Goldstein continues, "a large segment of our public suddenly realized that the flag we had waved all these years hadn?t forged a connection with anyone. We were the vanguard, leading a nonexistent camp behind us. We ran alone, we charged ahead and when we looked back, we saw that there were no armies, that they simply weren't there. So I proposed to my friends in Yesha, after the loss of the Gaza Strip, that we announce that there is no Yesha Council - that in its place is another council, one that can embrace other values. That doesn't mean there is no foundation which people can't continue to love and aspire to. What it does mean is that we weren?t there to explain to them - in their language - what we want."

Did this realization dawn on everyone, or are you alone in your sense that there are at present no supporters among the people for your project?

"Last month, several youth groups came to see me. They wanted to build settlement outposts in Gush Etzion. I told them that if they want to do something for the nation, they should build an outpost in Ra'anana, an outpost in Haifa. In my opinion, that's more important. Because if there is no people, there is no land. People put words in my mouth, as if I've conceded Karmei Tzur, as if I've given up Tekoa. Such nonsense. I'm not conceding anything. But in order to hold on to Tekoa and Karmei Tzur, I need my friends in Ra'anana, Be'er Sheva and Afula."

Most of the leaders feel the same way, most of the public concurs, but it's hard for most people to say the words out loud. Because that puts you in a very lonely place, in which it may be that everything you've built for years was a little bit in the wrong direction. I want you to understand: I think that settlement in Judea and Samaria is one of the most significant chapters in Israel's history. Only I think that we didn't have to begin in Sebastia - we should have begun in Tel Aviv."

In Tel Aviv?

"What happened in Sebastia? We went there, we did something by force, we forced the hand of the government, and we left smiling. But we should have persuaded the government, not forced it. Like the children of Kfar Etzion did. They went to Levi Eshkol, and he said: Go ahead, kinderlach, return home. If the entire settlement enterprise in Judea, Samaria and Gaza had been handled this way, it would have turned out completely different. I can't criticize any of my predecessors. But if we had started out the settlement project with a greater consensus with the people, it would look completely different. Now it's a little late.

Truth tell, I think he's a bit mixed up but it stems more out of a desire to assume that our basic positions were wrong rather than the inability of the Yesha Council to think strategically, do long-term planning, mobilize masses, and sustain a campaign.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Did I Tell You "I Told You So"?

It really didn't make front-page headlines but:

Kassam Fired near Afula
Monday, December 12, 2005

Fatah said it fired a Kassam rocket last night at a town near Afula in the Jezreel Valley. The terrorists have long threatened that after Gaza, they would concentrate on attacking northern Samaria.

The Al-Aksa Brigades, the military arm of Fatah, released an announcement that on Sunday evening, a Jenin-1 Kassam rocket was fired towards an Israeli community west of Jenin.

So, not only are 45 "Around Gaza" communities being attacked but now Afula.

O ye residents of Hadera, Kfar Saba and Ra'anana, et al., wake up before it is too late. A vote for Sharon is a vote for going backwards, not forward.

Is it the beer?

AP (via the NYTimes) is reporting that:

Thousands of drunken white youths attacked people they believed were of Arab descent at a beach outside Sydney on Sunday in one of Australia's worst outbursts of ethnic violence.

The police had increased the number of officers patrolling the beach in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla on Sunday after cellphone text messages urged people to gather there to retaliate for the attack on the lifeguards.

The police said more than 5,000 white youths, some wrapped in Australian flags and chanting racist slurs, had fought with the police, attacked people they believed to be of Arab descent and assaulted a pair of paramedics trying to help people escape the riot. The police fought back with riot sticks and pepper spray.

Many of the youths had been drinking heavily, the police said. One white teenager had the words, "We grew here, you flew here," painted on his back. Television broadcasts showed a group of young women attacking another woman.

This is terrible.

Imagine, we Israelis have been attacked by Arabs, by men, women and kid Arabs. We have been bombed in buses, in restaurants and schools. And yes, they even attacked us on our beaches.

And except for one incident of a victory march by Kahane the night he got elected when Arabs in the Old City were pushed around and incidents in Hebron when shop stalls were overturned, I can't recall a similar incident of mass attacks (I am excluding Jewish terror operations which are in another category) by civilians against civilians.

Is it Australia? Is it Australians? Is it beer?

Or is it Western civilization, for better or worse, responding to Islamic terror, real or imagined?

Monday, December 12, 2005

I Confess

Seems there are games that go around the blogosphere, as if we aren't wasting enough time already on trying to come up with amazing and intersting and out-of-the-ordinary themes and things to blog about normally.

But, I've been tagged, so...

I confess - that I haven't the foggiest idea what I am supposed to do. On Orthomom I saw something about an iPod game and at least that had instructions.

I confess - it takes me ages to learn to do things on computers and other mechanically attained tasks as I need to learn by doing it several times rather than reading instruction or just looking at it and going ahead.

I confess - I really enjoy writing "Letter to the Editor" and once, had three published on the same day under three different names in the same newspaper. Another time, I had three in one week.

I confess - I should lose maybe 10 kilograms.

I confess - I was quite apprehensive about going back to Hebrew U. to do an MA 28 years after I first tried. And I still am.

I confess - I could be accomplishing more tasks at work.

I confess - I so much don't like this confessing that I am not going to tag anyone.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Heard a New Word Tonight

Ariel Zilber, who was the most outstanding artist to mobilize himself on behalf of the Orange Revolutionary Forces opposing disengagement ("78% still unemployed"), appeared on a pop music TV show tonight on Channel One TV, Totzeret HaAretz.

Dana Gordon asked him about his ideology and if it got in the way of his cultural artistry and then probed his religious beliefs (he was seen with tallit and tefillin davening during scenes of the actual disengagement).

He said:

I'm not dati (observant) but my wife prefers the term
dati-loni [the word chiloni means secular].

So there you have it. A new Hebrew word.

The Right Message: Achora not Kadima

If those who support a continued presence in Judea and Samaria want to influence the elections here, one sure way is to get out into the cities along the Green Line. They must tell the people there that if they vote Sharon, it will not be they who are going forward ("Kadima") but the Arabs.

The missiles and rockets and mortars will surely come. The terror will not halt and the fence won't stop it either (even rocks, not to mention propelled projectiles, easily fly over). The digging continues. The smuggling continues.

The 45 communities of "Sovev Aza" (surrounding the Gaza Strip) have not been properly protected. Neither their homes, their businesses nor their kindergartens and schools have been provided with the means to secure against attacks.

The limited IDF responses are ridiculous - bombing empty fields and structures.

As much as we want to tell everyone that we love Eretz Yisrael and that it's ours and that tilling and planting and building are mitzvot, this is not adequate a reasoning for the average Israeli.

Ads, flyers, video clips, et. al.

Somehow, the theme must be "Achora v'lo Kadima" = Backwards, not Forward. That ios what we'll get if Sharon's Kadima Party wins significantly.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The $10 million Bat Mitzva Pics

In a previous posting, I related to several Bat Mitzva stories of outlandish expense and very non-Jewish entertainment and character. Well, it gets a bit more sordid.

Now you can see some snaps of the Bat Mitzva of Elizabeth Brooks whose guest artists included Aerosmith, Tom Petty, 50 Cent, and Stevie Nicks. There's even a cross in there.

For the truly masochistic, here's another gallery.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Really Wonderful Turn of Phrase

I found this phrase in a book review published here.

I think it really marvelous.

She's a verb short of a full sentence, that one

P.S. Although David Isaacson means it a bit critical, I think it has a tremendous descriptive flair.

See this:
"Gordimer's sentences are frequently a main verb short. The opening line - "Only the street-sweeper swishing his broom to collect fallen leaves from the gutter" (full stop) - is a sign of things to come."

Indyk is a Turkey

Martin Indyk, former Australian, now American (in a protekzia arranged citizenship process), former American ambassador to Israel, present research analyst) published an op-ed in Friday's New York Times.

Right at the beginning, he writes:

"Life seems good in Israel, too. Terrorist incidents are down to one every three months"

The truth?

Senior IDF Commander Bemoans Hostile Gaza Border
15:36 Dec 01, '05 / 29 Cheshvan 5766

( IDF Gaza Brigade Commander Brigadier-General Aviv Kochavi stated on Wednesday that the volume of attacks and security incidents along the Gaza border is alarming.

Speaking with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, he stated that just this past week, 6 bombs were detected, and that since the IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, there have aready been 19 bombs detected. He pointed out that the smallest of those bombs was 40 kilograms (88 lbs).

Arab terrorists in Northern Gaza have launched 130 Kassam rockets and mortar shells at Jews living in the western Negev area, and there have been 8 encounters between IDF troops and armed terrorists along the border fence.

I wrote the paper a letter, pointing out the non-factual basis of Indyk's claim, a no-no in the ethics of journalism, and added:

Martin Indyk is practicing an exercise in "Wegging" – wild-eyed guessing - when he writes: " Life seems good in Israel, too. Terrorist incidents are down to one every three months" ("Go your own way", Dec. 1).

Israel's government may have disengaged itself from Gaza, uprooting people's lives, their homes and enterprises but the terror is still with us and now threatens larger areas of Israel and its civilian populace.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Results of the "Sympathetic" Expulsion

A new report has come out regarding yet another aspect of the results of the expulsion from Gush Katif.

Here are some excerpts:

Persons evacuated during the disengagement are suffering from a variety of serious emotional problems, but are receiving little or no treatment, according to a report by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel.

For instance, the report said, people with special needs who were assisted by social workers from the Gaza Coast Regional Council are currently not receiving any such help, in part because their case files are in storage and therefore inaccessible.

The report, which is based on testimony from psychologists, social workers and volunteers who have maintained contact with the evacuated persons, found that children under age 12 have suffered a variety of problems, including attention and concentration deficits and adjustment problems. Some children are still not in school; others are in school but doing poorly. Hundreds of children have started wetting their beds at night, having nightmares or experiencing other sleep disorders. Some show signs of panic whenever they see a uniformed policeman or soldier. Additionally, parental authority has been undermined: Many children curse, hit or sass their parents.

Among people aged 12 to 19, seven teens have been hospitalized due to evacuation-related trauma. One girl, for instance, was hospitalized after suffering an outbreak of schizophrenia caused by the trauma of having her dead brother disinterred and reburied; she now suspects everyone she meets of being a Shin Bet security service agent. Another girl was hospitalized following repeated suicide attempts, and a third due to a nervous breakdown.

Overall, there has been a sharp rise in alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, truancy and draft evasion in this age group. Eight teenage girls quit their national service jobs due to emotional problems. There have also been a number of hasty marriages - teens who married mainly in order to get out of their parents' houses. Additionally, many have experienced a crisis of religious faith.

Adults have suffered from rampant unemployment - some 2,000 evacuated people are still unemployed - and various emotional problems: depression, outbursts of rage, emotional withdrawal and low self-esteem. Many are having trouble functioning, and the crowded conditions in their temporary homes are creating serious problems of interpersonal relations.

As a result of all this, there has been a rise in the use of tranquilizers, an unusually large number of heart attacks and a rising divorce rate: Ten couples have filed for divorce since the evacuation. Additionally, three adults have died due to what family and friends claim were illnesses brought on by the trauma of the evacuation.

Please note: I have removed the term "settlers" from this story and replaced it qwith a more neutral, non-pejorative word.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Not Illegal

The latest edition of the Jerusalem Report (which I didn't find on-line) carried a story about "illegal" outposts in Yesha, and our neighbor to the east, Shvut Rachel, was the main example of the story.

After perusing the article at a library, I decided to send to them the following letter:

I served as mayor of the community village of Shiloh at the time when Shvut Rachel was established. Unlike your correspondent's characterization, Shvut Rachel was not "illegal" (Dec. 12).

Shvut Rachel was built on land that was zoned as belonging to Shiloh seven years earlier and until today, actually is classified as a neighborhood of Shiloh. In fact, 70 permanent homes, originally contracted to be built in Shiloh, were erected at Shvut Rachel within its first year of existence.

As a general comment, Jewish residency in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (YESHA) can never be "illegal", a pejorative term of biased political opposition rather than strict legal interpretation. At the worst, the building of Jewish communities may be bureaucratically unauthorized. The Jewish people's right to reconstitute our Jewish National Home in the area of YESHA and the right to "close settlement" therein was recognized and codified in the decision of the Supreme Council of the League of Nations in 1922 and other forums of international law authority.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Join in on the discussion, why don't you?

A discussion on ramifications of the Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakia model, well, sort of, has developed here.

Join in, why don't you?

Whatever is Zionism coming to?

Look what Zionism is coming to.


What ever happened to Andrew Krucoff?

First, the backstory: Krucoff is, as you may have heard, currently unemployed. He’s also Jewish, but only nominally. He’s currently dating a sexy and sassy jack modern-ortho chick, who has piqued his interest in making his Judaism at least slightly more than just nominal. And he likes to travel.

Mash that all up like a big bowl of chopped liver, and you get your answer? Kruc’s leaving for Israel.

Bat Mitzvah Antics Continue

Read on.

And on.

And this earlier story from South Florida's Sun-Sentinel published November 14th:

Remember when a bar or bat mitzvah used to involve a religious ceremony, a celebration and a lot of Israeli dancing? Well, here in South Florida, the bat mitzvah experience can be oh-so-much more.

"I wanted to have the party of the year," said 13-year-old Amber Ridinger, who celebrated her bat mitzvah with 215 of her closest friends at "Butterflies and Bling," an affair that included celebrity guests such as Mike Piazza, Irv Gotti, Alicia Rickter and Brande Roderick. "A lot of kids are having big parties these days."

Guests entered the party via a pink carpet that led into The Forge restaurant in Miami Beach. The room was decorated with crystals and gemstones. Decorative butterflies swooped down from the ceiling above tables covered in custom crystal-embroidered linens. Edible delights floated in mid-air.

Amber's parents, Internet marketing honchos J.R. and Loren Ridinger, arranged for professional recording artists Ja Rule, Ashanti, Marques Houston and Omarionto perform. But the highlight of the evening was the debut of Amber's clothing line, "Gossip," in a full runway show.

"It's a line for teens and young adults," said Amber.

Amber also introduced the perfume she created especially for the evening, "Amber No. 13."

One only has to wonder what Amber's wedding will be like.

-- Robyn Friedman

Monday, November 28, 2005

So, Lawrence Was Buggered

A new book out, "Lawrence of Arabia: The Selected Letters", edited by Malcolm Brown (Little Books £20, pp590) and its companion volume, "Lawrence of Arabia: The Life, The Legend" (Thames & Hudson and Imperial War Museum £24.95, pp208) finally have, er, closed the chapter on Lawrence of Arabia and what happened to him when captured by the Turks (you all have seen the film, yes? well, the scene can be found here).

His letters home during this period, though still the work of a seriously damaged man, betray a serenity that resulted from his self-imposed removal from the public eye. Still in a state of near-total mental exhaustion, he begins to lay important ghosts to rest.

These are some of the most carefully crafted letters he ever wrote: to great literary figures such as EM Forster, Robert Graves, John Buchan and George Bernard Shaw, but also to his former comrades in arms, his family, his publisher and his lawyer. These are the words of a man putting his life in order, as if readying himself for a new life, or death.

His letter to EM Forster at the end of December 1927, just before leaving for Miranshah, is one of the most significant because it addresses the much-discussed issue of his sexuality. In it, Lawrence faces up to his rape at the hands of Turkish soldiers after his capture at Deraa almost exactly a decade earlier. Forster had sent him a ghost story, 'Dr Woolacott', in which a young squire dies after a sexual encounter with a male employee on his estate and Lawrence appears to find a form of release from his demons in reading it. 'There is a strange cleansing beauty about the whole piece of writing,' he says.

He then discusses his own experience: 'The Turks, as you probably know [or have guessed through the reticences of Seven Pillars] did it to me, by force: and since then I have gone about whimpering to myself, "Unclean, unclean". Now I don't know. Perhaps there is another side, your side, to the story.'

It is a terribly sad letter in which he seems to suggest that he has never had a physical relationship with another human being and believes he never will.

Did I Post This Film Already?

If not, go on, watch it again.

Alms for the Poor

Eric Silver, an old friend, has a report published that charity cash for Palestinian poor was siphoned to suicide bombers.

Oh, really?

Read on:

Millions of pounds donated by British and other European charities to help the Palestinian poor were unwittingly diverted to fund terror and support the families of suicide bombers, Israeli prosecutors claimed yesterday.

Ahmed Salatna, 43, a Hamas activist from the West Bank town of Jenin, was remanded in custody by a military court charged with distributing €9m (£6.2m) for such purposes over the past nine years. The recipients are alleged to have included the family of a young man who blew himself up at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, killing 15 people and wounding 107. Hamas and Islamic Jihad acknowledged responsibility.

The charge sheet names two British charities, Human Appeal International and Interpal. Human Appeal is a broadly based fundraising organisation, currently helping victims of the Pakistani earthquake. Interpal describes itself as "a non-political, non-profit-making charity that focuses solely on the provision of relief and development aid to the poor and needy of Palestine". No one was available for comment at its London office yesterday. Other charities mentioned were the French CBST, the Italian ABSPT and the Al-Aqsa Foundation, which operates in Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden.

I Hope the "Zubors" in the IDF Are Under Control Now

Did you know that a criminal investigation is being carried out into bullying in the British Royal Navy?

Seems new recruits were filmed apparently being subjected to violent bullying as part of an initiation ceremony. In Israel, this is called "zubor".

A video has emerged seemingly showing a newly qualified member of the navy's Royal Marines beaten unconscious by someone who is said to be one of the man's senior officers.

The alleged assault was filmed by a fellow marine of 42 Commando unit, who claimed in an interview with the News of the World that initiation rituals involving the sadistic use of violence were commonplace. He said that in this case the wounds inflicted were so severe as to be life-threatening.

The News of the World reported that the video shows 12 new marines, who had recently finished a 32-week training course, being brought to a field. Around 40 other marines, most of whom appear to be naked, encircle the men.

The officer at the centre of the investigation issues instructions for the young men to eat raw eggs and chunks of lard. Then he orders them to strip naked, and to give each other piggy backs around the field, the newspaper claims.

Briefly he disappears from the field of view before returning, dressed in a surgeon's uniform, mask and cap and orders two of the men to wrestle each other. A third man, dressed in a schoolgirl's uniform, oversees the fight.

At first, the two men are provided with rubber padding for their arms, but they are then told to remove it. When one of the alleged victims asks his superior why this is happening, the superior attacks him brutally, rendering the young man unconscious, according to the newspaper. When the man regains consciousness, he vomits.

This is a land of democracy, of civilization?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

David Irving in Jail. Finally

Some of us, before Shabbat, read that revisionist historian and antisemite David Irving was incarcerated in Austria. He's the one who lost handsomely to Deborah Lipstadt.

Here's an elaboration of the details:

David Irving, the discredited British historian of the Nazis, will spend Christmas and New Year in a Viennese jail after yesterday being refused bail and being remanded for four weeks pending trial for allegedly lying about the Holocaust.
Mr Irving is being held in Vienna after being arrested two weeks ago and has been charged with denying there were gas chambers at the Auschwitz death camp in speeches he made in Austria 16 years ago.

He is to be tried under a 1947 Austrian law banning Nazi revivalism and criminalising belittling or justifying the crimes of the Third Reich. No trial date has been set. The case should be heard in January. Irving faces a jail term of one to 10 years if found guilty.

"But Irving told me that he has changed his views after researching in the Russian archives in the 1990s. He said, 'I've repented. I've no intention of repeating these views. That would be historically stupid and I'm not a stupid man.'

"He said, 'I fully accept this, it's a fact. The discussion on Auschwitz, the gas chambers and the Holocaust is finished ... it's useless to dispute it'."

Oh, really? read on...

According to Mr Irving and his lawyer, the 67-year-old historian, who lost a major libel case against Penguin Books and the US historian Deborah Lipstadt in the high court in London five years ago, entered Austria this month via Switzerland and drove to Vienna to meet student radicals renowned for their pro-Nazi views.

While driving there he suspected he was being shadowed by plainclothes police and abandoned the meeting. He then drove to Graz in southern Austria and was arrested by motorway police while trying to return to Vienna.

The New York Times and the Jews

A good friend, Ruchie, sent me a great article on the New York Times.

You can find it here and to wet your whistle, here are the first two paragraphs:

The New York Times and the Jews
November 17th, 2005

The New York Times narcissistically regards itself as the patron saint of minorities. The paper shifts into attack mode whenever it sees the slightest and most ephemeral whiff of prejudice against blacks, women, or immigrants especially Muslims. Private golf clubs, college sports teams, corporations, the Patriot Act, all have been tarred by the Times in their quest to abolish prejudice.

Yet the New York Times seems to take the opposite approach when dealing with one particular minority: Jews. The Timesmethod of dealing with anti-Semitism ranges across a very narrow and disheartening spectrum: indifference, whitewashing, defense and promotion of its practitioners, and finally, and most repugnantly, the paper itself seems to occasionally engage in anti-Semitism.

A Letter on Jerusalem

On November 25, my favorite New York Times carried an article, "Europeans Rebuke Israeli Jerusalem Policy", dealing with a European Union report on Jerusalem.

As you can guess its tone and content, let's get right to my letter that I sent and probably will not be published.

Prior to the 1967 war and Israel's subsequent administrative control over the entire city of Jerusalem and extending its sovereignty to it, Jewish rights in the eastern neighborhoods, supposedly secured in United Nations' resolutions, were ignored.

No reports were issued, and headlined in the world's press, regarding desecration of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. No reports noted confiscation and destruction of Jewish property. No reports condemned refusal of Jordan to permit free access to the Western Wall. Jerusalem had become forcibly depopulated of its Jews and no European diplomat really cared.

If now is the time to become perturbed and bothered, this EU report not only will "reinforce" Israeli opinion that Europeans are pro-Palestinian but will confirm the woeful lack of morality this type of political posturing poses.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Jewish Blog Article


The Jewish corner of the blogosphere

Rebbitzins, olim, and chassids, oh my!

The Jewish blogosphere is a many-faceted universe expanding at warp-speed and here's what we have to say about it.

by Alli Magidsohn

Friday, November 25, 2005


In modern politics, there are several key terms that, to be "in", one must know and use.

There is decolonisation.

There is deconstruction.

And, now, with Sharon's new moves, we have:




Sharon Centers on What's Left

My op-ed comment in The Forward.

An excerpt:

The ideology that brought Sharon to power has been destroyed, first by Oslo and then by his own hands, with this summer's disengagement from Gaza. The prime minister now appears to have a new agenda. The Land of Israel, he seems to believe, is not a value but a commodity that can be traded. The Jewish communities living beyond the Green Line, he seems to believe, have little of the pioneering quality that has long defined the Zionist ethos.

In place of his discarded ideology, Sharon is now putting his faith in what he believes to be the center of the Israeli electorate. Whereas previously the center was a marginally small segment of the population, comprising dissatisfied and floating voters, Sharon believes that his policies over the last couple of years have created a firm, durable center — one that can be his, in a most personal sense.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Grandfather at his Grandson's Brit Millah

No words needed.

Ah, to be Young, Beautiful and...Black

Here it is, Heidi Singer's LOST TRIBE piece:

In a dark little bar on the outskirts of her neighborhood, "Dini" trades her thick flesh-colored stockings and navy suit for high heels and short skirt. Back home in Hasidic Williamsburg, she's the model of piousness - except for the dark towels covering her windows when she's watching her illicit TV, sneaked into her apartment in a garbage bag. So goes the secret double life of a Hasidic rebel in the ultra-Orthodox Satmar sect, whose members live in a time warp and shun contact with the outside world.

A controversial new book, "Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels," takes a bold look at the handful of Hasids who just don't fit into their close-knit but strictly religious communities. Author Hella Winston spent many months exploring this largely unknown Orthodox underworld for her doctoral thesis at City University of New York, and found stories of Hasids hoping to either cope or escape.

Some of the subjects, like Malkie Schwartz, boldly rip away their fur hats, wigs and prayer shawls and walk away from family, friends and the only community they've ever known, building new lives on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Others, like "Yossi," shave their beards and stop believing in a "Torah life," but struggle to find their way in the outside world, remaining with a foot uncomfortably in each.

And then there are married fathers like Yitzach, who doesn't dare rebel openly - but secretly dreams of getting a tattoo. Others take their fantasies a step farther, watching movies and reading non-religious books, changing into jeans and gelling back their sidelocks on the subway to Manhattan - and blogging about their lives on the Internet.

Although she's been taking heat from the ultra-Orthodox at book readings and Jewish radio shows, Winston insisted she's not attacking Hasidism.

"By no means do I have an agenda to condemn these communities or the religion," says Winston, who's Jewish. "I'm trying to show a side of things that really hasn't been out there - to show there are some serious problems and people are suffering."

The book's main character, Yossi (like most of her subjects, Winston changed his name to protect his identity) was a respected young scholar from the ultra-secretive Bobov sect, trapped in a loveless arranged marriage and a faith that no longer made sense to him.

After getting divorced and shaving his beard, Yossi's father kicked him out of the house and cut him loose. These days, Yossi mostly wanders around the city, looking for free things to do, and dreaming of going to college and becoming a filmmaker. At night, he hangs out in an East Village bar, changing into his religious garb for the subway ride back to Boro Park, where he lives with his grandmother.

"Some people make a religion of leaving - they want nothing more to do with the neighborhood," says the mild-mannered youth, over cheese blintzes in a Boro Park eatery. "But I come to Boro Park, I still schmooze."

Now that he has left, Yossi knows the tell-tale signs of other Hasids in rebellion. Walking down a residential street off bustling 13th Avenue, the heart of Boro Park, he points out suspected double-livers.

"That guy, he had a nice trim beard and short sidelocks," Yossi says, pointing to a young man hurrying down the street. "If someone trims, you know he's up to something."

Yossi still has a Yiddish accent, but in secular clothes, he walks and stands differently. When he's in a bookstore, coffee shop or even a nightclub, he sometimes spots other Hasidic rebels just by their posture. He's been shocked to discover the number of fellow travelers.

"I see it's not such a small community as they tell you - and there's always coming new people," he says. "I thought I might have a hard time adjusting but I found people from all communities are the same. They have the same craziness."

The book brings out some fascinating things about Hasids' reaction to the larger world.

Hasidic men are notorious night owls, accustomed to big gatherings with alcohol and dancing. So it's only natural they gravitate to nightclubs to recreate some semblance of the social life left behind.

And secret male TV watchers love Jennifer Aniston on "Friends," because her hair looks a little like the wigs Hassidic women don to cover their shaved heads. But "Seinfeld," the quintessential TV show about New York Jews isn't so popular, according to Yossi.

But Winston was amazed not by the differences but the similarities as she researched "Unchosen."

"The most striking to me was just how much like everybody else they are," Winston says. "They like the same kinds of things the rest of us do - like the Yankees or "Friends."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Is Eyal Arad an Idiot?

Haaretz reports on an interview Eyal Arad, Ariel Sharon's PR aide and advisor, gave the Guardian.

From the story:

Ariel Sharon will offer the Palestinians independence in exchange for
the guarantee of security for Israelis if he is re-elected prime minister.

Political strategist Eyal Arad told The Guardian newspaper that Sharon would not operate on the principle of land for peace if he wins elections slated for March.
Sharon will follow the road map peace plan, and abandon the principle of land for peace, which failed with the Oslo accords with the Palestinians.

"The road map replaced the falsehood of 'territories for peace' with a much more realistic formula - security for independence.

The root of the conflict is based on the Palestinian quest for independence, Arad said.

I think he's nuts.

But here's what a central PA official had to say:

The Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said: "They have been trying to say borders are not the issue while they use the [West Bank barrier] to build a border. I hope that ... the Israeli people will elect a government that will shoot for the end game, for a peace treaty and they know that to get that they must withdraw to the '67 borders. There is no other way."

Does anybody agree with me?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

How's This For a Negotiating Idea?

Israel never seems to be able to insert in any of the myriad agreements they have signed with the Pals., either with the U.S., EU or anyone else in the general vicinity, a simple codicil that would clarify the possibility of a "fall back" position for Israel.

It works very simply.

All it would state is that if the Pals. don't do so-and-so or such-and-such, then Israel has the full right to withold, to stop, to prevent, to _______ (fill in any punitive measure) or to revert to any pre-exisiting situation and that the Pals., next time around, have to start their negotiating not from where they left off, as they have always managed to do, but they have to go back and make up lost territory (literally, I would hope).

Is this too much to expect from our brilliant and dashing diplomats?

And Gershon Solomon Isn't Radical Enough?

As reported, Ra’id Salah, head of the radical Islamic movement in Israel, which denies the Jewish state’s right to exist, paid a visit to the mosques on the Temple Mount on Sunday.

Salah heads the Galilee branch of the movement and spent the past two and a half years in jail for a variety of security related offenses. Salah was released last July, on condition he not visit Jerusalem for four months. The ban expired last Thursday.

Fearing an outbreak of violence, police, according to one report, persuaded Salah, not to visit the Temple Mount last Friday. A spokesman said that Salah’s visit was planned for Sunday, due to time constraints.

I can't figure it out.

Gershon Solomon of the Temple Mount Faithful isn't radical enough top be allowed into the Temple Mount?

And what about Yehuda Etzion? He's radical and has been in jail. What, he doesn't qualify either?

Ah, To Be Young, Jewish and Female

One Robyn Friedman reports about a South Florida Bat Mitzvah.

Amber Ridinger celebrated her bat mitzvah with 215 of her closest friends at "Butterflies and Bling," an affair that included celebrity guests such as Mike Piazza, Irv Gotti, Alicia Rickter and Brande Roderick.

Guests entered the party via a pink carpet that led into The Forge restaurant in Miami Beach. The room was decorated with crystals and gemstones. Decorative butterflies swooped down from the ceiling above tables covered in custom crystal-embroidered linens. Edible delights floated in mid-air.

Amber's parents, Internet marketing honchos J.R. and Loren Ridinger, arranged for professional recording artists Ja Rule, Ashanti, Marques Houston and Omarionto perform. But the highlight of the evening was the debut of Amber's clothing line, "Gossip," in a full runway show.

Amber also introduced the perfume she created especially for the evening, "Amber No. 13."

One only has to wonder what Amber's wedding will be like.

Approximate cost: close to one half million dollars.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Does Saul Singer Sound Different?

Does Saul Singer sound different here than here?

Read on:

The U.S. reluctance to replace the "peace process" with a demand for Arab recognition of Jewish national rights is a massive concession to radicalism that undermines the entire American post-9/11 regional agenda.

The Arab demand for Israel's destruction has become so normal that it has lost the power to shock, despite its clearly fascist and genocidal quality. A measure of this normalcy is that we often don't even realize our acceptance of it, and have no idea how we might speak and act differently. Yet it easily done, once a decision is made that is a mistake to broker with a jihad.

The U.S. should say that the Palestinian demand for a "right of return" to Israel is not a legitimate final status issue, but a barely disguised refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist. America should say that the Arab states, if they truly believe in peace and Israel's right to exist, should open diplomatic relations with Israel now, rather than wait for Palestinian statehood.

The U.S. should also make clear that rampant officially sanctioned Arab anti-Semitism and anti-Israel boycotts will produce the same kind of diplomatic isolation as they would if they appeared in a place like Austria.

The U.S. should, in short, put the Arab jihad against Israel on the same plane as the fight against the global jihad on the West.

The Mt. Zion Campaign Collects Kudos

This site grants the Mt. Zion Committee, which I and my wife have been recently active in, much credit.

Here's the opening paragraph:

New York, NY (PRWEB) November 4, 2005 -- The International Society for Sephardic Progress (ISFSP) is pleased to announce that activities of its Committee to Save Mt. Zion have resulted in a tremendous success with a major announcement by Israeli President Moshe Katsav. The president has gone on the record in both the Jerusalem Post and other media outlets formally denying that the Vatican will be given part of the King David’s Tomb Complex on Mt Zion in Jerusalem.

Jewish AND Anti-semitic

This news item really takes, kugel.

THE son of the violinist and humanist Yehudi Menuhin has been ousted as head of the German branch of his father’s foundation because of his extreme right-wing views.

Gerard Menuhin, 57, caused uproar by suggesting that Germany was being blackmailed by an international Jewish conspiracy preying on the country’s war guilt. He was forced to resign as chairman of the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation (YMF) in Germany, which was established to encourage the musical talent of young immigrants...

...One of his more vitriolic columns condemned Jewish “souvenir hunters” who gather evidence in Germany to help them to lodge financial claims for wartime persecution.

...Mr Menuhin outed himself as a clear sympathiser with the neo-Nazi cause in two published interviews this month. In Deutsche Stimme, voice of the National Party of Germany, he used classical anti-Semitic language while still staying within the boundaries of German law.

“An international lobby of influential people and organisations is trying to keep the Germans under pressure,” he said. “Some nations — mainly America, but other Europeans, too — are profiting from an obedient Germany.”

...There has, in fact, been a history of family sympathy for German nationalists. Mr Menuhin’s grandfather, Moshe, was a determined anti-Zionist and expounded his views in the National Zeitung; he was arts editor from 1968 to 1970 although he was aware of its extreme German nationalism. He left the job only because the paper was not anti-Zionist enough.

American Jewry's Aggression Against Israel

Here's an extensive quote from a report on the activity of the Israel Policy Forum [I once appeared before a group of their's and mentioned here in a previous blog about ASeymour Reich's letter to the NYTimes on Ehud Olert's "tiredness"]:

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice extended her stay in the Middle East to broker a Gaza border deal. The Rafah border crossing is slated to open November 25, when European inspectors are set to arrive to monitor compliance with the border agreements.

Sources affiliated with the liberal wing of the American Jewish community told Haaretz that New York Jewish leaders had encouraged Rice to intervene aggressively in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the Gaza border crossings, telling her this would gain the support of American Jews, according to sources affiliated with the community's liberal wing.

In particular, the sources said, they urged her to take a tough line against Israel, especially on issues such as a settlement freeze and dismantling illegal settlement outposts. The sources said several leading New York Jews held talks with Rice recently at which these issues, as well as the impasse over the border crossings, were discussed.

However, they also urged her to press the Palestinian Authority to meet its commitment to fight terror.

Among others, Rice met in Washington earlier this month with the heads of the left-wing Israel Policy Forum, who expressed their views on various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Following the meeting, the forum also sent her a policy paper in which it urged the U.S. to take "aggressive" action on three issues.

"The U.S. should embark on these steps immediately and vigorously. The three steps are interrelated. The success or failure of one will impact on the success or failure of the others. The program presented will allow the United States to help build and reinforce the first section of the bridge that began with this summer's disengagement and must end with the viable and realistic two-state solution," according to the IPF policy paper entitled "Building a Bridge from Disengagement to Two States."

"The three steps that should be implemented in tandem, rather than in sequence, are as follows: Unambiguous and effective efforts by the PA to control terror and prevent attacks on Israelis; an Israeli freeze on extending existing settlements, including roads and other associated infrastructure, and removal of unauthorized settlement outposts; and efforts to help grow the Palestinian economy so the Palestinian Authority can provide jobs and basic services for Palestinians. This effort would help strengthen the PA's position among the various Palestinian factions, including Hamas."

IPF President Seymour Reich, who participated in the meeting with Rice, told Haaretz, "We don't presume to say that it was because of our conversation with the secretary of state, or the political paper we sent her, that she acted so aggressively to achieve the border crossing

However, he added, "I have no doubt that we bolstered the secretary of state's instinct and strengthened her opinion that aggressive American involvement was needed to achieve practical results."

Advice for Ladies in Jail

Judith Miller, former New York Times reporter who went to the slammer for refusing to reveal her journalistic sources, had this advice for ladies in jail:

"Makeup's forbidden, but jail develops amazing skills. For instance, M&Ms are sold in the canteen. Water the red ones, crush them, make paste with the dye and you get lipstick. Tweeze your eyebrows with a piece of string twirled around. Coloring pencils allowed in one empowerment program got used as eyeliner. In the laundry, there are styrofoam cups. Wet a color pencil, rub it into the styrofoam, break off a small piece and -- a mascara brush. Or use your toothbrush, but then you must rinse it out well."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Our Unique Self-Defeatism

Allow me some excerpts from a report on the showing in Tel Aviv cinema a work which "some Israelis praise suicide-bomber film".

A movie about Palestinian suicide bombers had Tel Aviv viewers on the edge of their seats _ and some even found themselves empathizing with the two West Bank mechanics trying to attack their city.

The award-winning "Paradise Now," which tries to explore the motives of bombers and has been screened in other countries, is now in limited release in Israel, a country struck by 122 bombings that killed hundreds of people in the past five years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.

"You don't identify with one side more than another," said Esther Wiener, 50. "I understood the other (Palestinian) side. I saw human beings who are caught up in this quagmire. There is no right side and no wrong side."

The film tells the story of two friends, Said (Nashef) and Khaled (Suliman), who are dispatched to carry out a double suicide-bombing and accept it as their fate. They shave their beards to blend into Israeli crowds more easily, pray and prepare farewell videos.

Alon Garbuz, director of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, said the movie is important for Israeli audiences. "This doesn't legitimize the bombers," Barbuz said. "But you can understand them."

Now you all know why Israel is in trouble.

And if you can't figure it out, you're in trouble, too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Cantor Sings "Off-Broadway"

Sent to The New York magazine [corrected] by Orthomom who was upset that the annual sex issue didn't arrive in brown-wrapping, and after finding out that Columbia University's sex columnist grew up Orthodox, I fished around and found Dudu Fisher:

Great news for show-tune-loving Jews: The new semi-regular cantor at the New York Synagogue on East 58th Street (an offshoot of the society-packed— and -backed—Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton) has played Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway and the West End and in his native Tel Aviv. In Dudu Fisher’s debut service earlier this month, he performed traditional Jewish choral pieces accented with outtakes from Les Miz and Phantom of the Opera to a packed house of prayer. Of his new star tenor, Rabbi Marc Schneier says, “We’ve raised the bar in terms of what’s available to the Jewish consumer on the Upper East Side.”

Monday, November 14, 2005

How did we lose the Lebanon campaign?

Fear of casualties was paralyzing. "Public pressure against staying in Lebanon influenced the army, and trickled all the way down to the lowest ranks," he writes, deepening the phenomenon of holding fighting units to lower standards. "That phenomenon was devastating in my eyes. When each incident is examined separately, it is hard to recognize the extent of the problem. Stopping a mission for fear of an entanglement involving casualties sometimes appears the right thing to do. In the long run, lack of determination and a crumbling of values are received loud and clear by the enemy."


Brigadier General Moshe Tamir, head of the Central Command headquarters who was in Lebanon throughout most of the conflict; from a deputy company commander in Golani in 1985 up to sector brigade commander on the northern border at the time of the pullout. He later commanded the Golani Brigade at the height of fighting in the territories.

His book, "Milhama Lelo Ot" (published by the IDF's Maarachot), is the first attempt to analyze the army's functioning in this campaign. In fascinating prose and with impressive honesty, Tamir depicts the evolution of the fighting, from the first encounters with an unknown Shi'ite enemy, Hezbollah, through Operation Accountability in July 1993 and Operation Grapes of Wrath in April 1996, the death of his friend and commander, Brig.-Gen. Erez Gerstein, to the withdrawal.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Vocabulary Addition


Using a blog to broadcast something slanderous, disrespectful, scandalous or embarrassing about someone.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Rami Khoury, Get a Life or Forever in Self-Denial

Here's the opening of a report from Jordan:

The Maktoum Mosque was crowded with worshipers for Friday Prayer as the imam sharply criticized the suicide attacks on three hotels in Amman, saying those who committed the crimes were not Muslims, no matter what they called themselves.

Afterward, on the street, people agreed that whoever committed such an act could not be a Muslim. But many meant this literally, that the attack must have been carried out by outsiders, namely Israeli agents.

"Who said it is them?" asked Ahmed al-Zawahrah, referring to claims that members of a radical Islamic group were behind the blasts. "It could be Israel."

Almost as worse is Rami Khoury's comment:

"People don't blame Israel out of a vacuum," said Rami Khoury, a Jordanian political commentator and writer based in Lebanon. "There is a very strong historical reason, because Israel has caused a lot of grief for Arab people one way or another."

Grief, maybe. But suicide bombings?
Come on, get a life!

Israel? Israel Who?

Here's the full text of a letter that appeared in Saturday's New York Times.
[Sorry for all those who aren't subscribed to the NYT and can't open the NYT links - YM]

To the Editor:
Re "Murder in Jordan" (editorial, Nov. 11):

I find it fascinating that in an editorial addressing terrorism, you make mention of acts of terror in New York, Madrid and London, but do not include Israel in your list.
Israeli citizens experience terrorism almost daily, either in the actual dastardly deed itself or in the successful attempt at thwarting this vicious worldwide scourge.
Israelis have learned to live with terrorism. Life goes on. There are security guards at every bank, supermarket, post office, restaurant and office building. Yet Israelis do go out, travel and make the most of life.

This, indeed, is the way to effectively battle terrorism and overcome the objective of the terrorists.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel

a) Kudos to Stuart
b) Israel, I guess, just doesn't fit into the NYTimes.
c) write too:

The Biased BBC Blog

The Biased BBC blog, run by Natalie Solent, placed my BBC-Gaza comment up and there are loads of comments.

Go here. (Nov. 11 th entry)

Go on, Make A Difference

Go here and make a difference.

You can help the Governors of the BBC understand what is wrong with elements of their broadcasting and coverage of Israel.

I had an opportunity this past week to meet and discuss matters with a most senior BBC official and I am sure that if the Independent Review is presented with reasoned complaints with solid examples, a difference can be made.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind."

The line "I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind" was penned by Ernest Dowson back in 1896.

So what, you say?

So read this:

It is not yet known whether Peres, 82, who has become accustomed to losing elections, will retire from politics, or whether he will continue with "business as usual." His daughter said this morning that in her opinion, her father will not quit. "He is like the wind; he can't be stopped or closed up," she said.

And talking about wind, shall we be a little wicked or a bit gross or even yech.

If any of my readers are upset, now you know how I feel about Shimon Peres, his policies and the danger he presents to Israel.