Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Appreciation of Shmuel Katz

Published at AFSI's Outpost

Let's Talk Eschatologically

Ian McEwan, author of On Chesil Beach, has an interesting viewpoint but faulty:-

consider the case of...President Ahmadinejad of Iran. His much reported remark about wiping Israel off the face of the earth may have been mere bluster of the kind you could hear any Friday in a thousand mosques around the world. But this posturing, coupled with his nuclear ambitions, becomes more worrying when set in the context of his end-time beliefs.

In Jamkaran, a village not far from the holy city of Qum, a small mosque is undergoing a $20m-expansion, driven forward by Ahmadinejad's office. Within the Shi'ite apocalyptic tradition, the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, who disappeared in the ninth century, is expected to reappear in a well behind the mosque. His re-emergence will signify the beginning of the end days. He will lead the battle against the Dajjal, the Islamic version of the anti-Christ, and with Jesus as his follower, will establish the global Dar el Salaam, the dominion of peace, under Islam. Ahmadinejad is extending the mosque to receive the Mahdi, and already pilgrims by the thousands are visiting the shrine, for the president has reportedly told his cabinet that he expects the visitation within two years.

Now, what has this next part to do with Iran's desire to obliterate Israel? Is the reconstruction of the Temple an a-bomb attack on someone?

Or again, consider the celebrated case of the red heifer, or calf. On the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the end-time stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam converge in both interlocking and mutually exclusive ways that are potentially explosive - they form incidentally the material for the American novelist Bob Stone's fine novel, Damascus Gate . What is bitterly contested is not only the past and present, it is the future. It is hardly possible to do justice in summary to the complex eschatologies that jostle on this 35-acre patch of land. The stories themselves are familiar. For the Jews, the Mount - the biblical Mount Moriah - is the site of the First Temple, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586BC, and of the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans in AD70. According to tradition, and of particular interest to various controversial groups, including the Temple Institute, the Messiah, when he comes at last, will occupy the Third Temple. But that cannot be built, and therefore the Messiah will not come, without the sacrifice of a perfectly unblemished red calf.

For Muslims of course, the Mount is the site of the Dome of the Rock, built over the location of the two temples and enclosing the very spot from which Mohammed departed on his Night Journey to heaven - leaving as his horse stepped upwards a revered hoofprint in the rock. In the prophetic tradition, the Dajjal will be a Jew who leads a devastating war against Islam. Any attempt to bless a foundation stone of a new temple is seen as highly provocative for it implies the destruction of the mosque.

The symbolism surrounding Ariel Sharon's visit to the Mount in September 2000 remains a matter of profoundly different interpretation by Muslims and Jews. And if lives were not at stake, the Christian fundamentalist contribution to this volatile mix would seem amusingly cynical. These prophetic believers are certain that Jesus will return at the height of the battle of Armageddon, but his thousand-year reign, which will ensure the conversion of Jews and Muslims to Christianity, or their extinction, cannot begin until the Third Temple is built.

And so it came about that a cattle-breeding operation emerges in Israel with the help of Texan Christian fundamentalist ranchers to promote the birth of the perfect, unspotted red calf, and thereby, we have to assume, bring the end days a little closer. In 1997 there was great excitement, as well as press mockery, when one promising candidate appeared. Months later, this cherished young cow nicked its rump on a barbed wire fence, causing white hairs to grow at the site of the wound and earning instant disqualification. Another red calf appeared in 2002 to general acclaim, and then again, later disappointment.

In the tight squeeze of history, religion, and politics that converge on the Temple Mount, the calf is a minor item indeed. But the search for it, and the hope and longing that surround it, illustrates the dangerous tendency among prophetic believers to bring on the cataclysm that they think will lead to a form of paradise on earth. The reluctance of the current US administration to pursue in these past six years a vigorous policy towards a peace settlement in the Israel-Palestine dispute may owe less to the pressures of Jewish groups than to the eschatology of the Christian Right.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Failed Essayist

From Andrew O’Hagan’s piece in the London Review of Books:-

Last week, from my window at the Pilgrim Deluxe, Bethlehem initially looked just as it should. The hills in the distance were grey and blue and unmarked by passing arguments. ‘This was once the more prosperous end of town,’ our guide said. ‘But the wall has ended all that. The town cannot grow and the Palestinians are not allowed to look at their own horizon. We are caged here, that is the story.’

We had come in via Jordan. Posters of terrorist suspects adorned the walls of the checkpoint, offering millions of dollars for information leading to arrests. My face got me waved through in minutes by a couple of girl custodians who seemed more interested in their nail polish than in incipient threats to the state of Israel: until, that is, our colleague the actor Khalid Abdalla came through, in company with the novelists Ahdaf Soueif and Hanan al-Shaykh. ‘What’s your grandfather’s name?’ the girls said. ‘Stand there.’ For two hours the rest of us waited outside until the harassment was over and the cultural visit could proceed.

By the time we reached Bethlehem we had been in the Occupied Territories for two days. Television images of Bethlehem and Ramallah had left an obscure impression of washed-out war zones with few buildings and lots of smoke. Yet Bethlehem thrives at the business of daily living, and it does so while existing in a state of geographical squeeze, as if a vice had been installed at every point where the bustle of the town threatens to make way for the countryside. Many of the students arrived late for the workshops or left early. ‘That’s because of the roadblocks,’ one of the lecturers explained. ‘No one can rely on getting anywhere on time.’

The refugee camp we visited in Bethlehem was squeezed between oily garages and a busy road. The people living there had lost most of their things, and everything of their way of life: many had lived in rural areas before being forced out of their homes, and their status entitled them to free schooling and medical care...

In the week that Israel celebrated its 60th anniversary I had come as one of the writers attending the first ever Palestine Festival of Literature. Thousands of people turned out: they wanted to believe that Palestine is not just a cause but also a culture and a country, a place not simply for stone-throwing but for ideas and for modernity. [now, that's an original preception] But everywhere we went the wall seemed a shadow, a heavy ornament of Israeli aggression...

When we reached Hebron, we found a ghost town where no one would have blinked to see tumbleweed roll past the checkpoints that tell Palestinians whether they can walk on the left or the right of the street. On several occasions, settlers came jogging past; they were out for a run with the person at the front carrying an AK-47, and each jogger bearing the menacing grimace of Liberty Valance. Most of the shops in Hebron have been closed down and the general atmosphere is of a people being harassed, obscured, denied and cancelled. Broken masonry and piles of litter seem to line every street, as if a siege mentality expresses itself in a resistance to public orderliness. A net had been strung up over a dark alleyway leading from one checkpoint to another, and it was now filled with the international debris of big-brand fizzy drinks and sweets and chain stores. A Palestinian who lived nearby explained that they’d had to put the net up ‘because the Israelis who live up there were dropping things down on the heads of people passing.’

At Birzeit University – sign on the gate, ‘No Guns’ – the young women studying English wanted to talk about Foucault and George Eliot. [and not suicide bomb martyrdom?] Near the place where Yasir Arafat is buried, graffiti on the wall says, ‘ctrl+alt+delete’, the command you key in when your computer freezes. And that is the feeling one gets in Ramallah, the feeling of a system that is paralysed and awaiting radical action. There are many newly built houses and much evidence of life going on – water machines piled up by the road, old Amstrad computers awaiting salvage, trash cans overflowing – but at the centre of it all the people, especially the young people, are busy outpacing the terms of their detention...

I presume one could say that this is an admirable, penetrating piece (even if he harps on the squeeze word early on).

But, of course, there is always that one-dimensional seeing in the sense of no depth, no background, no context, no ability to see the other side.

So, as an essayist, the Scotsman fails.

From Someone Who Was There

Written by Eve Garrard

Motion 25 was passed, by a huge majority. There was a real, palpable desire in the meeting to take some action against Israel. An otherwise rather somnolent audience woke up at the first mention of Palestine, and applauded every suggestion that action should be taken against Israel. A congress which had just passed very moderate motions on Burma and Zimbabwe and Sudan, about solidarity with trade unions and asylum seekers, and putting pressure on governments, quite clearly felt that these measures weren't sufficient for Israel's crimes: that for Israeli academics, nothing but punishment would do.

At first the discussion was procedurally unexceptionable - both sides of a debate were permitted on an amendment which called, among other things, for the motion to be put to a ballot of the whole membership. This amendment was voted on and rejected - the majority of union delegates didn't want to give the membership of the union the opportunity to choose for themselves on this issue. But when Motion 25 itself was proposed and seconded, several delegates spoke in favour of it - and then it was moved that it be put to the vote. None of the people who wanted to speak directly against the motion were permitted to do so. However, the motion's proposer, Tom Hickey, was at this point allowed by the Chair to speak in favour of it again. No explanation or justification was provided for halting the debate before anyone could speak against the motion, while allowing its proposer to speak twice. I have to say, though, that in my opinion even if the debate had been conducted in an impeccably proper manner, it would have made very little difference: that audience really did want to vote against Israel.


We Had A Different Name for It

Ancient Egyptian City Unearthed in Sinai
Archaeologists exploring an old military road in the Sinai have unearthed 3,000-year-old remains from an ancient fortified city, the largest yet found in Egypt, antiquities authorities announced Wednesday.

Hawass said early studies suggested the fort had been Egypt's military headquarters from the New Kingdom (1569-1081 B.C.) until the Ptolemaic era, a period of about 1500years.

The ancient military road, known as “Way of Horus,” once connected Egypt to Palestine and is close to present-day Rafah, which borders the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

The Bible calls it, "the way of the Philistines":-

Exodus 13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said: 'Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.'

And Oldermann (German spelling?) Dunks Dunkin' Donuts

MSNBC's Keith Olbermmann bestowed his "worst person" honors on Wednesday's show to Dunkin' Donuts of Canton, Massachusetts, for pulling an advertisement featuring Rachel Ray because of the "xenophobic paranoia" created by the scarf worn around the celebrity cook's neck.

"We told you yesterday about this, the unbearable Rachel Ray in an ad for the donut and coffee chain, to which the lunatic fringe responded in an apoplexy of xenophobic paranoia, because that, that thing around her neck, that is not just a stupid scarf; they think that is what Yasser Arafat used to wear on his head," Olbermann intoned. "See, it‘s jihadist chic. Having already driven business to Dunkin' Donuts by applauding its supposed stance in favor of tough immigration laws, the right threatened to boycott."

Olbermann added, "So what did Dunkin' Donuts do? They folded. They were as weak as their decaf."

No, Olmert is No Lifeguard

Two mortar shells fired from Gaza landed in the Ashkelon Beach region on Friday morning.

One of the shells made a hole in a road while the other landed near a group of greenhouses, causing no damage.

And, Mr. Olmert, How Much are you Worth?


And Mr. Olmert, how much are you worth politically?


And what is your moral worth, Mr. Olmert?


So, even if we wanted you to take an extended vacation, you have nothinbg of worth for us from which to benefit?


Better pics here.

Jerusalem Day, 5768 - 2008

With help from Isaiah 2:2 -

ב וְהָיָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים, נָכוֹן יִהְיֶה הַר בֵּית-יְהוָה בְּרֹאשׁ הֶהָרִים, וְנִשָּׂא, מִגְּבָעוֹת; וְנָהֲרוּ אֵלָיו, כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם.

2 And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

Oh My, What Have We Here?

It was reported that the American State Department has withdrawn all Fulbright grants to Palestinian students in Gaza hoping to pursue advanced degrees at American institutions this fall because Israel has not granted them permission to leave.

But this is even more interesting:-

But when a query about the canceled Fulbrights was made to the prime minister’s office on Thursday, senior officials expressed surprise. They said they did, in fact, consider study abroad to be a humanitarian necessity and that when cases were appealed to them, they would facilitate them.

They suggested that American officials never brought the Fulbright cases to their attention. The State Department and American officials in Israel refused to discuss the matter. But the failure to persuade the Israelis may have stemmed from longstanding tensions between the consulate in Jerusalem, which handles Palestinian affairs, and the embassy in Tel Aviv, which manages relations with the Israeli government.

The study grants notwithstanding, the Israeli officials argued that the policy of isolating Gaza was working, that Palestinians here were starting to lose faith in Hamas’s ability to rule because of the hardships of life.

Of course, it could be that Fulbright is not a popular man in Israel:

"Israel controls the United States Senate."
Senator Fulbright
April 15, 1973,
CBS televison program Face The Nation

In 1963 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fulbright claimed that five million tax-deductible dollars from philanthropic Americans had been sent to Israel and then recycled back to the US for distribution to organizations seeking to influence public opinion in favor of Israel. This statement led to friction with the organized Jewish community in the U.S.


It was the late Sen. William J. Fulbright who first called Congress "Israeli-occupied territory."


Weiner Seeks Hubba-hubba Huma

Rep. Anthony Weiner, a likely 2009 mayoral candidate, is pouring his heart into Hillary Clinton's White House bid - literally.

Weiner, whose district includes parts of Queens and Brooklyn, finally 'fessed that he is romancing Clinton's glamorous "body woman," Huma Abedin.

Asked by The Associated Press about all the time he's spending on the road campaigning for Clinton, the 43-year-old bachelor said, "It's largely because I'm dating Huma."

The whispers have been around for months, but until yesterday Weiner ducked questions about Abedin, saying his personal life was off limits.

Though she posed recently for a glamorous photo spread in Vogue, Abedin, 32, is famously press-shy.

The New York Observer, in a long profile last year, called her "a sort of mythical figure" who never has a hair out of place or a wrinkle in her Prada suit and can hush a crowd of rambunctious reporters with a single look.

"I think there's some dispute as to whether Huma's actually human or not," an admiring Weiner said then.

Abedin was born in Michigan to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father and was raised in Saudi Arabia.

So, Huma, will it be a chuppa or will Abedin suffer a "honor killing"?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Jew Henry Kissinger

Jeremi Suri has published now "HENRY KISSINGER AND THE AMERICAN CENTURY", with an interesting perspective.

Some extracts from a book review by Niall Ferguson who is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and currently working on a Life of Henry Kissinger.

Jeremi Suri’s Henry Kissinger and the American Century puts Kissinger’s Jewishness centre-stage in an interpretation of his life that stands out among recent books on the subject for the extent and depth of the author’s research...For Suri, Kissinger’s Jewish origins are the key to understanding both the man and the world’s reaction to him.

Kissinger, writes Suri in one of his boldest sallies, was like “a hybrid of the Court Jew and the State Jew – what we might tentatively call the ‘policy Jew’”...Advising politicians politicians can be interesting, usually involves a measure of sycophancy, and is not a peculiarly Jewish activity. As for the Weimar trauma, I am inclined to think [Kissinger's] experience of returning to Germany as a GI had a much greater impact. Still, these are matters of interpretation. Suri deserves credit for producing a more convincing account of his subject’s German-Jewish background than any previous biographer of Kissinger, including the broadly sympathetic Walter Isaacson.

Heinz (as he was originally named) and his younger brother grew up in an Orthodox household in Fürth, Bavaria, where their father Louis was a respectable schoolteacher, a firm believer in the benefits of German Bildung. Louis Kissinger’s world was shattered by the rise of the Nazis, but it was his wife Paula who had the wit to get the family out of Germany just months before the regime’s anti-Semitism erupted in full-blown pogroms. Kissinger lost at least a dozen relatives in the Holocaust, including his grandmother, Fanny Stern (who Suri says perished in the Belzec death camp).

One puzzle that is not quite resolved here is why Kissinger abandoned his parents’ Orthodox allegiance, which they maintained after moving to New York’s Washington Heights by joining the most conservative synagogue in the neighbourhood. Was it the drudgery of the brush-cleaning factory where Kissinger worked for a time? Or was it, as Suri seems to imply, the experience of “eating ham for Uncle Sam” in the US Army after he was drafted in 1943?...

...As has often been remarked, there have been few odder couples in American politics than Nixon and Kissinger. Not the least of the oddities about their relationship was Nixon’s tendency to give vent to his own anti-Jewish prejudices, sometimes even in Kissinger’s presence. Yet Suri argues that their differences were always outweighed by fundamental similarities of outlook. In particular, Kissinger was impressed by Nixon’s faith in his own willpower and the effectiveness of firm, decisive action. As the President told his adviser, his long, hard ascent of the greasy pole had given him “the will in spades”; hence his readiness to take “action which is very strong, threatening, and effective”. On occasion, Kissinger could talk in similar terms. As he told Yitzhak Rabin in 1973: “When you use force it is better to use 30 per cent more than is necessary than 5 per cent less than is necessary . . . . Whenever we use force we have to do it slightly hysterically”. Suri details the two occasions when Kissinger used nuclear sabre-rattling to exert pressure on the Soviets – October 1969 and October 1973 – though he does not offer a clear verdict as to whether these actions were effective diplomatically, or needlessly reckless.

...An enduring peace in the Middle East was probably not attainable in the wartorn 1970s. What was attainable was a diminution in the power of the Soviet Union and a stabilization of Israel’s position relative to her Arab neighbours. These goals, as Suri points out, Kissinger was uniquely positioned to achieve. As a Jewish Secretary of State, he could credibly promise the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to “get [Rabin] to move in the right direction . . . to work on him”. At the same time, he could withstand the bitter claims of Menachem Begin that he was one of those “Jews, who out of a complex feared non-Jews would charge them with acting for their people, and therefore did the opposite”. And, having ousted the Soviets from Egypt, he could reassure Rabin, with equal credibility: “We are working for a common strategy, one element of which is a strong Israel”.

...What [Suri] has done is to provide an invaluable insight into the background of an American statesman who has surely received a disproportionate share of criticism relative to his predecessors. How far Kissinger’s Jewishness provides the real key to his inner motivations remains a matter for debate. (My own preference would be to see him as first and foremost a historian – one of the very select band of serious scholars of the past who end up actually making policy in the here and now.) But it certainly provides a part of the explanation for the vitriol that has come his way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Apologies

I forgot to mark my anniversary.

I began this, as an open and identified person, not masked behind a nom de plume (or guerre), on May 17, 2004.

So, Happy Anniversary to me.

And to my loyal readers and more recent ones, as well.

New Poster

This one addresses the issue of Jewish youths who tried to prevent Arab youth from mingling with Jewish girls. "The essence of the existence of the Jewish People depends on the separation of Israel from the Nations". Signed by Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, among others:-


For a different Juewish perspective read this in Hebrew, though.

From Shining Sea to...River

An Academic Article

Israel Drori, Chaim Weizmann (2007) Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin against the Settlers: A Stakeholder Analysis, Public Administration Review 67 (2), 302–314

This case study considers how a minority stakeholder group of Israeli settlers blocked Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s peace initiatives. Drawing on interviews with those who served in Rabin’s administration and with the settlers’ leaders, this article contends that the prime minister’s use of adversarial public rhetoric against the settlers denied the legitimacy of an influential stakeholder group, triggering a backlash of intense militancy from the right-wing minority.

This, coupled with Rabin’s failure to deal with opposing coalitions, diminished his capacity to implement "land for peace" initiatives.

The case illustrates a leader’s failure to maintain adequate forms of engagement with key stakeholders. The accompanying analysis demonstrates that stakeholder theories, though incomplete in their existing forms, can still illuminate the high risk and ineffectiveness of denying the legitimacy of stakeholder groups and the strategic importance of maintaining channels of flexible negotiation and cooperation with seemingly marginal groups when high-stakes rivalries are likely to ensue.

Oum Obeyda

Here's what she looks like:-

Here's what she says:

Writing in French under the name “Oum Obeyda,” she has transformed herself into one of the most prominent Internet jihadists in Europe.

She calls herself a female holy warrior for Al Qaeda. She insists that she does not disseminate instructions on bomb-making and has no intention of taking up arms herself. Rather, she bullies Muslim men to go and fight and rallies women to join the cause.

“It’s not my role to set off bombs — that’s ridiculous,” she said in a rare interview. “I have a weapon. It’s to write. It’s to speak out. That’s my jihad. You can do many things with words. Writing is also a bomb.”

Well, Yes, We Know (and Have Known for Some Time)

Mr. Talansky said of Mr. Olmert, “I only know that he loves expensive cigars, pens, watches; I found it strange, but you know. ...” He shrugged.

And, again, to quote Talansky:-

...he said, he always felt “very, very uneasy” about having to give Mr. Olmert money in cash. “I said to myself, this is absolute insanity,” Mr. Talansky told the court, saying he had long felt that “something was wrong.”

Now, he said, he is angry with Mr. Olmert. “This is no way to build a relationship or to run a country,” Mr. Talansky said.

Send in Your Envelopes

Just got this from the Winstons:-

After the testimony on how PM Olmert received large sums of cash in unmarked Envelopes for many years - a new grass-roots movement is springing up in pockets throughout Israel: "Tnuat Matafot" - "The Envelope Movement".

Some are printing up Envelopes saying "Olmert HaBayita" - "Olmert Go Home" (signed) "Tnuat HaMatafot" - "The Envelope Movement" and distributing them. Others are carrying around Envelopes in a demonstrative manner - so everyone will get the message, or posting them in obvious places.

There is even talk of "Hafganot Matafot" - "Envelope Demonstrations" where people will wave Envelopes and poster sized Envelopes and call for PM Olmert to resign.

The "Envelope Movement" is just starting.

Let’s see where it goes and who takes it there.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Map of "Projection"


Another Obamanation?

Obama also spoke about his uncle, who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz. He said the family legend is that, upon returning from war, his uncle spent six months in an attic. “Now obviously, something had really affected him deeply, but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,” Obama said. “That’s why this idea of making sure that every single veteran, when they are discharged, are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder and given the mental health services that they need – that’s why it’s so important.”


about 7,500 prisoners were liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army on January 27 1945



The Barack Obama campaign said Tuesday the candidate mistakenly referred to the wrong Nazi death camp when relating the story of a great-uncle who helped liberate the camps in World War II. The Democratic presidential candidate said the story is accurate except that the camp was Buchenwald, not Auschwitz.

A Matter of Land Ownership

My friend Judith first brought this issue to my attention and I managed to catch an article on it (in Hebrew) in The Marker of today.

Seems that the Proslav Russian Church which brought tens of thousands of pilgrims to the Holy Land in the 19th century, also purchased extensive property holdings. It is estimated that 235,000square meters is theirs in Israel, the disputed territories of the Palestine Authority, Syria and Lebanon. In Israel, most prominently, this includes the Russian Compound in Jerusalem.

In that The Marker report, it seems that the PA will be returning some 35,000 sq. m. of land in Jericho and the Mt. of Olives.

Some people, understandably are quite upset about this development but as I am an optimistic person, I tried to see the 'good'.

Here it is:-

If after 150 years, the Pals. are recognizing land purchases by Russians, and actually awarding them title and use, well, then, land purchases by Jews should be no problem: in Hebron, Shchem, Jenin, etc.

No Problem

Someone thought this clashed with my blog post the other day on the unreliability of the Pal. police:-

The Palestinian Authority's security forces are becoming increasingly successful in their operations in the West Bank, according to a senior Israeli security source. Indeed he said their performance has so improved that, contrary to the fears of many senior Israeli officials, an Israeli pullout from the West Bank would not automatically result in Hamas being able to take over the area shortly thereafter.

But according to the same source, one area in which the PA security forces have not been sufficiently effective is in combating what he termed "the terrorist infrastructure" in the West Bank.

"They hesitate to outlaw Hamas. They arrest Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad militants, but a short while later they release them," he said. "There is no follow-through in the way they deal with those they arrest: They are not tried, they are not jailed. They are still not dealing with the root of the problem, not even in Jenin, where a large-scale PA security operation is taking place."

Well, for one, who is this source?
Could it be Dan Halutz, who said that Israel could “get by without the Golan.”?

But anyone reading the above will discern its internal contradiction.

There is no problem of a clash with Smith's piece.

What? He Wasn't Jewish?

Sydney Irwin Pollack was born on July 1, 1934, in Lafayette, Ind., and reared in South Bend. By Mr. Pollack’s own account, in the book “World Film Directors,” his father, David, a pharmacist, and his mother, the former Rebecca Miller, were first-generation Russian-Americans who had met at Purdue University.


Mumford's the Word

Remember the American term "spongeability"?

U.S. prof. gives Israeli prize money to Palestinian university

The American mathematician David Mumford, co-winner of the 2008 Wolf Foundation Prize in Mathematics, announced upon receiving the award yesterday that he will donate the money to Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, and to Gisha, an Israeli organization that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement.

"I decided to donate my share of the Wolf Prize to enable the academic community in occupied Palestine to survive and thrive," Mumford told Haaretz. "I am very grateful for the prize, but I believe that Palestinian students should have an opportunity to go elsewhere to acquire an education. Students in the West Bank and Gaza today do not have an opportunity to do that."

The Wolf Foundation awards prizes of $100,000 each year "to outstanding scientists and artists for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples," its web site says. It is considered one of the most prestigious international honors in mathematics.

Monday, May 26, 2008

He's a Human Rights Crime

Ex-US President Jimmy Carter has said Israel has at least 150 atomic weapons in its arsenal.

Mr Carter made his comments on Israel's weapons at a press conference at the annual literary Hay Festival in Wales.

He also described Israeli treatment of Palestinians as "one of the greatest human rights crimes on earth".

Another Legal Travesty of Justice

Received this from Women in Green:-

Rivka Meirchik is the second young Jewish woman this year to languish in the Neve Tirza prison without trial after refusing to recognize the authority of the court and to cooperate with the prosecution. On May 22, an Israeli judge sent Meirchik back to jail for another month after deeming her refusal to cooperate with authorities an ideological crime.

Rivka Meirchik, 29, an anti-government [policy] demonstrator who participated in Jewish settlement and was arrested almost two months ago, is being held until the end of judicial proceedings. She has refused to cooperate with authorities, including paying a release bond and agreeing to restrictive conditions.

"[For Meirchik] it's ideological," Kfar Saba Magistrate Clara Rejiniano said. "The law allows me to keep a person nine months. These are legal decisions which we must respect." Rejiniano, who ordered Meirchik remanded in custody until the end of judicial proceedings on April 21, scheduled the next hearing for June 19.

Ms. Meirchik was arrested on April 2 in the Jewish community of Shvut Ami after police ordered all Jews evacuated from the area. [Shvut Ami was one of the Jewish communities established after the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron in August 2005.]

Merichik was charged with trespassing, assaulting a police office and disobeying military orders after the area was proclaimed a closed military zone. For her part, she said that she was beaten by police.

She has since been held in the Neve Tirza prison after she refused to recognize the authority of the court, refused to cooperate with police prosecutor Shir Laufer and refused to accept court-imposed conditions for her release.

Meirchik, who appeared pail [pale] and frail, has also refused to be handcuffed or shackled with leg-irons with the result that prison authorities have refused to allow her out of her solitary confinement cell and have deprived her of phone and visitation rights. However, she is brought to court appearances manacled and on April 14, Kfar Saba Magistrate Nava Bechor ordered her held in leg-irons and handcuffs throughout the hearing. [Bechor is the same judge who ordered Tzvia Tsariel held for a fourth month in jail prior to her trial.]

During the May 22 hearing Rejiniano said she had no authority to release Meirchik, despite the prosecution's insistence on calling an expert witness to testify on the land claims by Arabs to Shvut Ami, located near the Jewish community of Kedumim, to prove the trespass offense.

Defense attorney Aviad Visoly asked that Meirchik be released from hearings as the cross-examination of the witness would be lengthy and Meirchik had already spent close to two months in prison.

"I reiterate my request to free the defendant from the hearing and all other hearings," Visoly said, "in view of the fact that the prosecution witness has brought 10 pages on testimony and will be questioned on every paragraph."

Attorney Rinat Levine from the military prosecutor's office presented the court with Jordanian maps and tax possession registration documents from 1933 and 1936 as evidence that the land is owned by Arabs.

The judge, visibly annoyed by prosecutor Nili Dayan for bringing the witness, nevertheless castigated Visoli for a political cross-examination. "Who has sovereignty in Judea and Samaria according to international law?" Visoli asked Levine. "I will prove that according to international law that Israeli law is the law in Judea and Samaria." The judge refused to allow Levine to answer the question. "This is political," Rejiniano said as she addressed the prosecutor. "Do you understand what you have brought to this trial for an offense of trespassing?"

A second witness, border policeman Nasid Sayad, testified that Meirchik had assaulted him and resisted arrest while she was sitting on the ground. Sayad, who said he bent down to touch Meirchik's bag, first said Meirchik bit him when she was sitting down and later testified that Meirchik also slapped him. Visoli asked Sayad to demonstrate how a police office, over one meter tall, with a second police officer at his side, was slapped and bitten by a very slight young woman in a sitting position. Sayad refused to cooperate with the defense's request.

Visoli said he will appeal to the Supreme Court to have Meirchik released immediately. He said that it isn't a crime under Israeli law not to recognize the authority of the court. "It's shocking," Visoli said. "Her incarceration is illegal and so is keeping her in custody until the end of proceedings."

Horrible Haaretz Humor

Haaretz has a perverted sense of editorial humor.

Remember last week's suicide bomb attempt? *

Well, here's how Eran Volkovsky interpreted it at Haaretz:-

The balloon reads: "Let's make then a real Lag B'Omer".

That's a bit sick, no?

Palestinian suicide bomber attacks Gaza crossing

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Palestinian suicide bomber detonated a truck loaded with tons of explosives early Thursday in an attempt to ram a crucial crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, militants said. There were no casualties besides the bomber.

Two militant Palestinian factions — Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades — claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Erez passenger crossing, which could be heard for miles around and shattered windows in Netiv Haasara, an Israeli community across the border.

Ibrahim Nasser, a 23-year-old Islamic Jihad militant, drove the truck filled with at least four tons of explosives into the crossing in northern Gaza, spokesmen for the militant groups said.

Now Comes the "Delusion"

Now, why would I want to send Ehud Olmert to Mars?


Olmert: Only delusional fantasists believe in 'Greater Israel'

"Only fantasists can believe that in this day and age, and in the current situation, it is still possible to cling to the vision of 'Greater Israel,' Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

"Today we face the choice between Greater Israel and a Jewish nation – the two are mutually exclusive. They only exist together in the minds of deluded fantasists who misconstrue reality," he said.

The prime minister explained the decision to keep the talks under wraps despite the fact that the matter had been hotly debated by the committee on past occasions was the sensitive nature of the negotiations.

"Anyone in my chair understands that these moves need to be made with the utmost caution, and secrecy is a necessary part of that. Not even the entire cabinet could be privy to the information. I initiated this move in February 2007, with a record of four predecessors who went to Damascus and committed to painful concessions, and let no one put me to the test on proving those commitments – they are all accounted for."

Now, let's understand exactly who is delusional here:-

"We are talking about a leadership that wants and talks peace, and that does not instigate terrorism," he said, "the difference between my predecessors and I is the question of realization. We will carry out nothing the day after the deal is signed so long as the Palestinians have yet to fulfill their obligations."

Now, where is that interplanetary spaceship?


Seymour Reich writes in the NYTimes' letters section:

We applaud Mr. Goldberg’s call for the leadership of the American Jewish community to step back from “standards of rhetorical correctness” and to “allow” a “radical rethinking of what it means to be pro-Israel.”

The Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the two organizations Mr. Goldberg cites, are vital to strengthening the American-Israeli relationship. But they do not represent the views of the majority of American Jews about the peace process or about the Israeli government’s need for flexibility in dealing with such issues as Jerusalem and settlements.

And he does? No way.

Remember Reich:

To the Editor:

In ''Investing in Gaza'' (column, July 6), Thomas L. Friedman has it exactly right.
The groundswell of relief he found among Israelis and Palestinians was palpable during my most
recent visit to Israel and reflected in a meeting with Palestinian leaders in Washington in May.

Israel's vice prime minister, Ehud Olmert, put it this way during a speech in New York last month:
''We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning,
we are tired of defeating our enemies.''

Most Israelis and Palestinians are ready to reach an agreement. As in the past,
they need a strong American presence in the negotiations to help them take
the first step: a successful Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

It's time for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to revive shuttle diplomacy.

Seymour D. Reich
President, Israel Policy Forum
New York, July 6, 2005

Well, Israel has so successfully withdrawn that we have more terror than previously in that Ashkelon, Ashdod and Kiryat Gat are being lined up.

Thanks, Seymour, for your representative support.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Obama's a Heart Throb (or whatever)

"You know that feeling when you're so excited you have to pee? I'm feeling that. In my heart."

Lola Pellegrino ‘08, Wesleyan College

These are the type of people who might make him President.

(Kippah tip: Wonkette)

Rachel Ray in a Kaffiyeh

Rachel Ray finds a unique method of earning money while advertising...doughnuts.


UPDATE yesterday, Dunkin’ Donuts decided it’d be easier just to yank the ad.

Said the suits in a statement: ‘‘In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial.’’

The Poster War Goes On

Here's the latest poster in the ongoing battle between the Yesha Council and the satellite communities on the issue of the disband small communities to save bigger ones.


In Israel, Morris (Moshe) Talansky brings down Ehud Olmert

In England, "Mistress Abi Professional Dominatrix" brings down Max Mosley:-

Oh, well.

P.S. Hitler was present at the wedding of Max's father, Oswald, and mother, Diana, which took place in Joseph Goebbels’s drawing room. They were interned in Holloway and Brixton prisons for their Fascist connections.

Grapes Keep Growing

There's a Problem

and it's not one with which only Israel has to deal.

Italian police have arrested hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants.

In a government clampdown, police arrested 383 people after a week-long operation stretching from northern Italy to Naples.

Those arrested came from Eastern Europe, Albania, Greece, North Africa and China, and face charges ranging from illegal entry into Italy to prostitution, drug trafficking and robbery.

Over fifty people were immediately taken to the border for expulsion.


Twenty-two Bangladeshis, who illegally migrated to Hyderabad and even secured ration and voter identity cards, were arrested by the city police here on Monday.

While some of them had been living here for years, a few arrived in the past six months, Commissioner’s Task Force DCP V.B. Kamalasan Reddy said. The arrests were made during the raids at Jirra, Muradnagar and Zebabagh in Asifnagar and Mir Alam Mandi in the old city in the backdrop of an alert that four Bangladeshi nationals were planning terror strikes in the city.

The Bangladeshis confessed to the police that they managed to sneak into India by bribing brokers at the bordering towns like Raj Sahi and Murshidabad.


More than 300 illegal immigrants arrested or deported in crackdown

Law enforcement agents rounded up or deported more than 300 illegal immigrants in the Los Angeles area during three weeks of raids that ended this week, immigration officials announced Friday.

The arrests were part of raids that were conducted across California, in which 905 illegal immigrants were arrested, officials said.

The majority of the 327 people who were arrested in the Los Angeles area were immigrants who had ignored final orders of deportation or who re-entered the United States after being deported, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Tammy Wilson said.

About a quarter of the immigrants arrested in Southern California had criminal histories besides being in the country illegally, Wilson said.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Abbas on Jerusalem: Just for the Record

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem that parts of Jerusalem that Israel liberated from Jordan in 1967 belong to the Palestinians.

“East Jerusalem is ours and it's an occupied territory,” Abbas said on Wednesday, 21 May 2008...“It must be returned,” he demanded, though he did not mention the fact it was never the Palestinians to start off with.

Trying to sound more conciliatory Abbas added, “We are holding serious and thorough talks with the Israelis with the hope of reaching an agreement before the end of this year. Our hands are extended to anyone who wants security and stability for this precious land.”

...On a number of previous occasions Abbas has made his views known.

In a Washington Post article on Sunday, 30 September 2007 he declared, “I say and have always said that east Jerusalem is an occupied territory. We have to restore it.”

Does East Jerusalem, a la Abbas, include the Temple Mount and Western Wall, or not or what?


Oh, and I noticed this at the Conference site:-

Media Contact Info:

For information regarding dates, venues, speakers, attendees and sponsors, or to arrange an interview with PIC-Palestine-2008 officials, staff, and sponsors, please contact:

Rania Maree
Sky Advertising and PR/ Asda'a Exclusive Affiliate in Palestine
Tel: (+970 or 2) 2 298 6878
Fax: (+970 or 2) 2 298 6879


Is there a connection that needs to be investigated here? A Pal. PR agent gets ad revenue for Sky and is in close cooperation with the PA?

Has Hagee Gone Hareidi?

McCain rejects pastor's support after 'God sent Hitler' comment

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has rejected the endorsement of an influential Texas televangelist criticized for his anti-Catholic views. John Hagee, the Texas preacher, withdrew his endorsement at the same time.

McCain issued a statement after audio surfaced in which Hagee said "God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land." McCain said in a statement: "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well."

Maybe Hagee has adopted, in an awkward way, the Hareidi approach, that the Holocaust was a punishment for Zionism?

Like this:-

Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, in 1939, stated that the Nazi persecution of the Jews was the fault of non-Orthodox Jews (Achiezer, volume III, Vilna 1939, in the introduction. This is discussed in "Piety & Power: The World of Jewish Fundamentalism" by Orthodox author David Landau (1993, Hill & Wang).

Rabbi Eliahu Dessler had similar views, also discussed in Landau's book.

And (here

Art and Religion

There is a famous depiction of the Last Supper by the thirteenth-century Sienese artist Pietro Lorenzetti in the lower church in Assisi. Christ and the Apostles are gathered in a circular chamber, defined by elegant pillars, but what is striking is Lorenzetti’s expansion of the scene. To the left, by the door, two men converse, probably the master of the house, elegantly dressed, and his head servant. The door seems to lead to a kitchen, depicted within a high narrow oblong. Here, next to a roaring fire where presumably the food has been cooked, a cat is warming itself, while a dog is licking a dirty plate, and a scullion is bending forward as he wipes another plate and empties its contents into the dog’s plate; another, better-dressed servant, leans over him, apparently engaging him in conversation.

Earlier art historians enthused about Lorenzetti’s way with perspective and domesticity, but recently scholars have begun to explore the symbolic content of the scene. The fire, they say, shows the Old Testament sacrifice, a lamb killed and eaten for Passover, while next door we see the new sacrifice anticipated by Christ, himself the Passover Lamb, in order that Christians may come to a new and purely spiritual sacrifice, ritually re-enacted in the Mass.

A closer look brings a shock to our liberal sensibilities: we may be happy to go along with the abstractions described so far, but baulk, perhaps, at certain aspects of the medieval imagination. For what is this dishcloth with which the scullion is wiping the plate? It is nothing other than the tallith, the Jewish ritual shawl. This domestic kitchen, then, with its cosy cat and dog, is the stinking physical world of the Old Testament, for St Bonaventure tells us that those who want real flesh as opposed to the spiritualized flesh of the Lamb of God are dogs who must be excluded from the Eucharistic banquet. This is strong stuff to emanate from so noble a painting, but it is indubitably there. Or is it – quite?

For what is the other servant, the one who bends over the scullion, pointing to, if not to his own prayer shawl, this time correctly covering his shoulders? Does not the emphatic gesture of his left hand suggest that he is reprimanding the scullion for desecrating this piece of ritual clothing, asking that it be reinstated in some sense, reminding us, the viewers, that it stands for the very world out of which Jesus emerged? After all, is it not this very same shawl that we see worn with pride by the Virgin’s father in another painting by Pietro Lorenzetti, of the Nativity, now in the cathedral museum in Siena?

That was Gabriel Josipovici's writing.

"I Don't Like Said; and Israel, Too"

That's Edward Said to whom we are referring. The "Orientalism" 'scholar'.

Anyway, there's been a discussion over at the Times' Literary Supplement these past 3-4 weeks over the worthiness of Said's scholarship. And what interested me was this snippet:-

...Said’s attack on Bernard Lewis would have been more effective if it had been more accurate and more thoroughly researched. I disagree with a great deal of what Lewis has written in recent years. I also regard Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as barbarous and unfair and have always thought that our war in Iraq is illegal, immoral and stupid. Yet none of these things impels me to endorse Said’s account of past Western literary and scholarly encounters with the Middle East, for it was in general, as well as in almost every detail, false.

39 Harleyford Road, London SE11.

And I was always taught that if you are doubtful, continue pressing your doubt, researching it. Who knows? You might discover that if Said's scholarship isn't genuine scholarship, maybe his politics aren't genuine politics.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another Olmert Solicitation Letter

Like Jameel at the Muqata, I too received a letter that purports to originate from the Prime Minister's Office:-

From: Ehud Olmert <>
Date: Tue, May 20, 2008 at 5:20 PM
Subject: urgent
To: Yisrael Medad <>

Dearest Friend,

May Almighty God be with you, and how are you doing?

My intention of contacting you is to solicit your assistance for a project, which will be mutually beneficial. Though I know my decision to contact you is to a large extent unconventional, the prevailing circumstances necessitated my action. I am Mr. Ehud Olmert from Yenimsvelt Jerusalem, corner Cremieux St. I am married to artiste extraordinaire Aliza. (Here's a picture of an example of her outstanding artistic flavor and capability:)

We have been married for some 38 years. Our eldest son, lives in New York and signed a petition refusing to do reserve duty in the occupied territories. The younger son, Ariel, did not serve at all and studied in Paris and is returning to Israel. One of our daughters, Danna, is involved with Machsom Watch, the all-female organisation that monitors the conduct of Israeli soldiers at checkpoints. She is lesbian but is also a literary editor so she does make a contribution to the benefit of society. We were devoted Zionists although recently, we have had second thoughts. When I was still a pupil of Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, I made a huge deposit in millions of US dollars with a Deposit Company in overseas. (I will tell you the amount as we proceed).

Recently, my doctor told me that I have a medical problem that could prove dangerous to my health and in fact, might kill me. Though what disturbs me, mostly is my investigation sickness.

I have been striking out at the Land of Israel now for the past 15 years. Although I was an enthusiastic supporter of the opening of the Hasmonean Tunnel, when I personally took a sledgehammer in hand to open the last obstruction, I have realized that man was placed in positions such as I have held - MK, Mayor, Minister and Prime Minister - to make money, or receive gifts in the fomr of pens, discounts on real estate purchases and such. And to do so, I have returned to Zionism although you might not be aware of that given my recent negotiations with Syria.

Having known my condition I decided to donate this new fund I am registering to either a Zionist organization or devoted Zionist individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want this Zionist organization or individual to use this money in all sincerity to fund educational institutions, synagogues, Yeshivot, orphanages, widows, and also propagating the word of Herzl and Jabotinsky and to ensure that the society upholds the views and belief regarding the Land of Israel as expressed in the Holy Bible.

Dearest friend's, this is unbelievable i know due to what is happening in the world now, i will prove to you as we proceed that this is not scam. The true Zionism emphasizes so much on GOD benevolence and this has encourage me to take the bold step. I took this decision because I don't have anyone really that will inherit this money and my wife's relatives are into some radical Organizations and I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an unholy manner.

Hence the reasons for this bold decision. I know that after death I will be in the Bosom of our Lord (or maybe someone else's bosom - is Pam available?) the most beneficent and the most merciful. I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health, because of the presence of my wive's relatives around me always. I don't want them to know about this development.

With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply on my private, I shall give you the contact information of the Deposit Company in oversea where the money was deposited. I will also issue a letter of authority to the Deposit Company authorizing them that the said fund have being willed to you and a copy of such authorization will be forwarded to you. I want you and the Zionist community where you reside to always pray for me. My happiness is that I lived as a true devoted Zionist worthy of emulation. Whoever that wants to serve the Land of Israel must serve truth and in fairness. I will not stipulate any precise amount to reward you, as it will have to be on pre-negotiated terms, based on your level of involvement.

Please always be prayerful all through your life. Any delay in your reply will give room in sourcing for another organization or a devoted Zionist for this same purpose. Until I hear from you by email, my dreams will rest squarely on your Shoulders.

May the Almighty God continue to guide and protect you.

Ehud Olmert, Advocate and Counsel.

P.S. I have made less than 10% alterations in the original letter I received this week, and I have left in place all the spelling mistakes. Awkward grammar I didn't touch.

No, Not Israel

Eight civilians have been killed in an air strike by US military helicopters north of Baghdad, Iraqi police say.

Two children were among those who died in the attack on Wednesday evening near the town of Baiji, the police said.

Baiji's police chief said the attack targeted a group of shepherds in a farming area. The US military said the incident was under investigation.

Being a Jewish Football Manager

Here's the story in a nutshell:-

...[Grant's] thoughts, along with the rest of Chelsea Football Club, should be on trying to help their magnificent captain John Terry recover from his cruel penalty miss.

Faced with a 12-yard kick to earn the team he loves with all his heart the trophy he wants most in the world, Terry heartbreakingly slipped on the treacherous Luzhniki Stadium pitch and screwed his effort against the post and wide.

No sooner had United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar parried Nicolas Anelka's effort than the England defender was crying uncontrollably, unable to be comforted by anyone, even the manager he has learned to respect so greatly.

"John is very sad, he has cried a lot, but we must not forget that we would not be here without him," insisted Grant afterwards.

Just How I Remember the Lower East Side

Twice a year, just before Pesach and just before Rosh Hashanna, from the time I was maybe 5-6 until 20+, my parents would take my sister and I down to the Lower East Side for shopping. It was a wonder-world of hustle-bustle, pickles-in-barrels, Jewish deli and finding a parking spot. All through the 1950s and early 1960s, that was the LES. My mother was born there in 1919 on Stanton Street and my father, the scout, knew the ins and outs, although why it was always on a Sunday. And there was Bernstein's-on-Essex.

Well, even the New York Times waxed nostalgic:-

It used to be that if you wanted to buy suits, fabric, leather goods, jewelry and even underwear, there was a block on the Lower East Side where you could find it. Now only a handful of the shops remain, most selling lingerie and other undergarments.

“We’re a dying breed,” Mr. Markowitz said as he oversaw his small operation, Howard Sportswear, from a cluttered desk at the back of the shop at 69 Orchard Street, near the corner of Grand Street. Thin cardboard boxes stuffed with bras, panties, and hosiery were piled in narrow rows that almost reached the ceiling. Samples of satin slips, multihued tights, knee-highs and girdles of varying lengths were hung closer to the ground.

A wheeled wood ladder attached to a thin metal rod, reminiscent of those used in libraries, provided access to the towering levels of merchandise.

...At its peak, the Lower East Side shopping district was bustling on Sundays with shoppers stopping at egg-cream stands and going to Katz’s Delicatessen for corned beef sandwiches. Shops were filled with clerks who could tell a customer’s size in one glance.

...Around the corner, at 294 Grand Street, in what was once the elegant but now dusty windowed entrance of IMKAR Company, hang old samples of cotton T-shirts, pajamas and housedresses from decades past. Inside the shop, Wolf Karfiol, the owner, listened to the crackling sounds of talk radio, and waited for customers. These days, there are few. “The Lower East Side was always the biggest discount center in the United States, but now everybody is discounting,” said Mr. Karfiol, whose father founded the shop, originally on Orchard Street, in 1941, after fleeing the Nazis in Germany.


Wait, She's No Shiksa

The funny thing is that the "outsider", Gwyneth Paltrow, actually is descended from a long line of Rabbis.

“Two Lovers” stars Joaquin Phoenix as a young man in outer-borough New York caught between an inchoate desire for freedom and the constricting demands of family, neighborhood and kind.

...“Two Lovers” is a romantic comedy, in that it deals with the predicament of an indecisive young man forced to choose between two women: one sensible, familiar and devoted to him and the other wild, exotic and capricious...Mr. Phoenix’s character, Leonard, lives with his parents in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, and works in his father’s dry cleaning establishment. Like the melancholy descendant of an early Philip Roth protagonist, he is caught between a nice, mama-approved Jewish girl (Vinessa Shaw) and a willowy blonde (Gwyneth Paltrow) from outside the tribe. Though it takes place in the present, the look and mood of “Two Lovers” are old-fashioned, perhaps even anachronistic, but nonetheless there is something grand about the film’s sincerity and the intensity of its emotions. Such tsuris, as they say in France.


A Woman of Valor

Some overly appreciative workmen got more than they bargained for in the Far North town of Kerikeri when the woman they wolf-whistled stripped bare to use an ATM.

Police Sergeant Peter Masters said the woman, an Israeli tourist, told police she didn't take kindly to wolf-whistles from workmen involved in work on the town's main street.

Making the most of the balmy late-autumn day, she stripped bare to use the ATM, then put her clothes on again and calmly walked away.

"She said she had thought `bugger them, I'll show them what I've got'."

Mr Masters said the woman said she had been harassed by New Zealand men, and was fed up with it.

"She gave the explanation that she had been. . . pestered by New Zealand men. She's not an unattractive looking lady.

"We treated it as a one-off. She was taken back to the police station and spoken to and told that was inappropriate in New Zealand," Mr Masters said.

He said the woman was due to leave New Zealand today.


And don't forget, most Israeli women have been in the army as well.

Kippah tip: Jameel)


An Israeli tourist who gave workmen an eye-full when she stripped naked in the far north town of Kerikeri has been admitted to a mental health unit after attracting police attention again.

Last week wolf-whistles from workmen prompted the 31-year-old tourist to strip before withdrawing money from an ATM machine.

The woman told police she was leaving the country but was arrested on Friday night after allegedly stubbing out a cigarette on the face of a bar worker in Coromandel, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The woman appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Saturday charged with assault with intent to injure.

She was remanded to Waikato Hospital's mental health unit.

Madonna's Pei'ot Look


Guess - Where Is This Taking Place?

The streets of ____________, resembled an armed camp on Wednesday.

On _____________, near where a _____ man was assaulted by __________ last month, police officers milled around a mobile command center. Two blocks farther down, at the corner where a Jewish teenager was robbed and beaten by ___________ last week, an officer stood watch. Marked police cars have been following yeshiva school buses since last week, when ____________ threw rocks through the windows of a bus full of Hasidic toddlers.

On ______________, officers peered down from a crane and scanned the horizon from a rooftop for signs of trouble.

Along the wide streets lined with splendid brownstones and brick apartment buildings in one of the city’s most vibrantly multiethnic neighborhoods, officers from at least 10 precincts stood on corners, studied maps of unfamiliar territory and handed report logs to plainclothes colleagues in unmarked sport utility vehicles.

Is this in Jerusalem? Acre? Downtown Hebron?


Crown Heights, Brooklyn. New York. United States of America.

Is Mazuz Corrupt? Want to Get Dizzy?

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz delayed his decision on whether to open the probe for months, even though Zaken's documents were already in the prosecution's hands. He finally ordered the probe in October 2007.

Mazuz issued a statement saying that he decided to open the probe following Haaretz Magazine's expose about the give-and-take relations between Olmert and Messer. Earlier this week, Channel 2's Fact program said that in the summer of 2006, immediately after Haaretz's expose of Olmert's involvement in advancing Messer's clients' interests, Messer took the money out of his office safe and returned it to Zaken.

The prosecution held on to Zaken's memorandums for months without giving them to the police investigation team. Only this March, following the intervention of Haaretz and Yisrael Hayom, did the police obtain the memorandums from Zaken's computer in the Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry and begin to examine the new suspicions.

What memos you ask?


the fraud squad seized several of these documents, described only as memorandums, several weeks ago from Zaken's computer in the Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry. Zaken was Olmert's bureau chief when he was minister there a few years ago.

In one of the documents, written in September 2005, Zaken wrote the names of Attorney Uri Messer and businessman and fund-raiser Morris Talansky, who is suspected of bribing Olmert with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dates and sums of money appear beside each name.

"Messer has 274,000 - 1.6.2005," "30.6.05 I gave Uri 23,950 from Talansky. Talansky owes 6,500, 12.08. I gave Uri 7,500 from Talansky," Zaken wrote.

Another memorandum Zaken wrote in April 2006, a month after Olmert was elected prime minister, says: "Ask Uri Messer - new year. Last year I received 30."

By the way, Uriel Messer's wife, Davida Lahman-Messer (Didi), is Mazuz's deputy and Mazuz's sister, Yemima, is just now moving over to Tenuva from the position she held for the past 12 years as Legal Advisor to the Treasury Ministry, whose former Minister was Avraham Hirschson who is being charged for theft.



a few weeks ago, Israeli officials told their counterparts at the State Department that they planned to begin the negotiations, which are being mediated by Turkey.

“They weren’t asking our permission,” one senior administration official said. Another Bush official characterized the Israeli announcement as “a slap in the face.” But he said that United States officials believed that Mr. Olmert made the decision with his own domestic political considerations in mind: He is facing several criminal investigations involving events before he became prime minister in 2006, but while he was serving in government.

Who Do You Believe? Or is Jenin Really Like Paris?

Following up on my alarming post of yesterday (here), read these two reports and ask yourselves, who do you believe (or is that whom do you believe or even which?):-

The commander of the Palestinian forces in the Jenin district, Maj.-Gen. Suliman Umran, does not conceal his satisfaction. "The situation in the sector is quieter than ever. Jenin is like Paris in terms of personal safety." He responds immediately to the skeptical glances. "I'm not exaggerating. The PA forces operate everywhere without fear. There are no more illegal weapons in the area. Anyone carrying such weapons will be arrested immediately."

Armed gunman have indeed disappeared from the streets of Jenin and even of Qabatiyah, the town to the south that was considered a Jihad stronghold.



US-Trained Fatah Force Proving Impotent

The Palestinian Authority / Fatah special police force that was trained by the US to fight terrorists has turned out to be a failure, according to recent reports. The US-backed police force was supposed to enable Israel to turn over security control of Judea and Samaria to the PA, as a prelude to a possible retreat from its biblical heartland. But so far the force's contingent in Jenin has been running scared from the terrorists it was supposed to bring under control.

According to WorldNetDaily, the Jenin unit's first mission was to clear out a section of Kabatiya, a neighborhood south of Jenin which is considered the main base for the Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

About 200 policemen attempted to engage members of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Fatah's own "Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades." But witnesses, including members of Fatah and Israeli security sources, said that within less than 30 minutes of the start of the clashes, the elite PA police force retreated from the scene. "The security men ran away scared. They didn't arrest anyone," said one witness.

(Kippah tip: BPOK)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just Like in Israel II

The left-wing rallies in Israel are usually accompanied by musical groups and leading popular singers. That's how they draw the crowds. Right-wing groups only in the past few years have begun using singers, like Ariel Zilber.

I mention that after reading this:

From CNN to the New York Times, the media hyped Barack Obama's Portland, Oregon rally on Sunday, some comparing him to a rock star.

Unmentioned in national reporting was the fact that Obama was preceded by a rare, 45-minute free concert by actual rock stars The Decemberists. The Portland-based band has drawn rave reviews from Rolling Stone magazine, which gave their 2005 album Picaresque four and a half stars (out of five), and another four and a half stars for 2007's The Crane Wife.

How many of the people showed up to hear Obama, and how many to hear the band?

The NYTimes didn't mention the band at all.


Just Like in Israel

Say what you want about Bill Clinton...the guy doesn't hold back. That was the case again during his recent interview with People magazine. Yeas & Nays has obtained an advanced copy of the June 2 issue (on stands this Friday) and here's what the former prez has to say:

-"I think most of the press people are in Obama's demographic. ... There have been times when I thought I was literally lost in a fun house."

But here, we still call it ideology, not demographics.

The Jewish Chronicle Obit of Shmuel Katz

Shmuel Katz
Place of Birth:Johannesburg
Born:December 9, 1914
Died:May 9, 2008

Born Johannesburg, December 9, 1914. Died Tel Aviv, May 9, 2008, aged 93.

One of the last surviving disciples of Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the prophet of right-wing Revisionist Zionism, writer Shmuel Katz remained to the end an uncompromising advocate of the complete Land of Israel, writes Eric Silver.

He saw it as imperative to retain the whole of the biblical homeland under Jewish sovereignty. But in a long life of politics and polemic he was disappointed by the failure, as he saw it, of successive Likud leaders, Jabotinsky’s political heirs, to keep the faith.

He broke with Menachem Begin in 1978 when the first Likud prime minister ceded Sinai, captured in 1967, in return for peace with Egypt. For Katz the only valid formula was “Peace for Peace”, not “Territory for Peace”.

In a recent interview he revealed his despair that his old Irgun Zvai Leumi commander, Begin, turned out to be weak. (Known also by its initials as Etzel, standing for National Military Organisation, the Irgun was founded by Jabotinsky in 1931 and led by Begin from 1943-48.) “He [Begin] couldn’t stand up to the Americans.”

He was equally scathing of Binyamin Netanyahu as a man who “broke down under American pressure” to become “just another fat, third-rate politician”.

Katz joined the Irgun in 1936, when he left South Africa, after studying at Witwatersrand University and commercial school, for British mandate Palestine.

He had been captivated by Jabotinsky’s oratory in Johannesburg in 1930, with its vision of a Jewish state established and preserved through armed conquest. “Right then and there,” he recalled, “I decided that building a Jewish state would be my life’s work.”

On arrival he started writing, echoing Jabotinsky’s warnings about the growing Nazi threat to European Jewry. He travelled to Egypt on a five-day trip as Jabotinsky’s secretary. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the Revisionist leader sent him to London to lobby for the creation of a Jewish army and rescue of the Jews.

Katz was one of the first writers to expose the allies’ failure to bomb Auschwitz. Using documents from British and Zionist archives for his 1966 book, Days of Fire, he denounced Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden for ignoring Jewish Agency appeals in July, 1944, to bomb the camp and its railway lines.

“It was 57 days before the British Foreign Office sent its reply,” he wrote, “a period during which the majority of the Jews of Hungary were exterminated.”

Jabotinsky’s sudden death in 1940 left Katz stranded in London. He wrote articles for a living and founded a Revisionist weekly, the Jewish Standard, before returning to Palestine in 1946 and joining the Irgun high command as spokesman and propagandist. He also helped organise Begin’s controversial 1948 arms shipment on the Altalena.

A co-founder in 1948 of Begin’s political party, Herut (later merged into Likud), he was elected to the first Knesset (1949-51) but, wearying of parliamentary politics, set up a publishing house. After the 1967 Six-Day War, he co-founded the Land of Israel movement.

When Begin won the 1977 election, he invited Katz to serve as adviser —which led to his disenchantment. He was expecting to be appointed Minister for Public Diplomacy, with a brief to correct Israel’s perceived failure to get across its message and answer its critics. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan vetoed the idea, and Katz resigned.

For the next two decades he contributed a trenchant weekly column to Ma’ariv and the Jerusalem Post. His many books included Battleground (1973), his ideological testament; Lone Wolf (1993), a two-volume biography of Jabotinsky; and The Aaronsohn Saga (2007), a study of the Nili spy ring which worked for British intelligence against the Turks in the First World War.

He is survived by a son.

CAMERA Combats WashPost Anti-settlement Story

Washington Post on Settlements: Obsessive Compulsive Coverage

In "Mutual Dismay Over Jewish Settlements; Israeli Premier Seeks To Balance Growth" (May 20), The Washington Post leads its World news section with a long article, accompanied by a large chart and larger, top-of-the-page color photograph, on Israel's continued construction of new Jewish neighborhoods and communities in the disputed West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Errors of commission, omission and editorial judgment render Jerusalem Bureau Chief Griff Witte's dispatch more promotional writing than reporting.

Major flaws

1. The Post quotes "Hagit Ofran, settlement expert for the Israeli advocacy group Peace Now," that "the [Ma'ale Adumim expansion] development would 'isolate East Jerusalem and cut the northern West Bank from the southern West Bank.'"

In this context, Peace Now is not an "advocacy group" but an anti-settlement organization. Peace Now once made international headlines with a report charging that 86.4 percent of Ma'ale Adumim was built on private Arab land; the correct figure was less than 1 percent (0.54 percent). Quoting the group without opposing, informed sources is misleading.

The allegation that Ma'ale Adumim expansion would isolate eastern Jerusalem and cut the West Bank in half, a staple of Palestinian Arab propaganda -- and Post coverage -- was exposed long before "Mutual Dismay Over Jewish Settlements." CAMERA rebutted these claims when reported, for example, by former Post Jerusalem Bureau Chief John Ward Anderson in "Israel Hems In a Sacred City; Encircling of Jerusalem" (Feb. 12, 2004) and a repetitious sequel "Israelis Act to Encircle East Jerusalem," (Feb. 7, 2005). West Bank Arabs can reach eastern Jerusalem through Arab neighborhoods including Abu Dis, Ezariya, Hizma and Anata; gates permit legitimate passage where the security barrier separates the city from the territories.

As for north-south West Bank "contiguity," an unbroken area 15 to 21 kilometers (9 to 12 miles) wide remains east of Ma'ale Adumim, with three routes open to Palestinian travelers and a fourth possible. This is the same "contiguity" as pre-1967 Israel just north of Tel Aviv.

2. The Post's description of Ma'ale Adumim as "a settlement due east of Jerusalem" is misleading. Ma'ale Adumim is four miles from downtown Jerusalem, closer to the Knesset than suburban Bethesda, Md. is to the U.S. Capitol.

3. The Post declares, without attribution, that "the Palestinian nation, when and if it is created, will include the West Bank and Gaza, with Palestinians hoping to secure East Jerusalem as their capital."

The West Bank and Gaza Strip remain disputed territories, the unallocated five percent (Jordan comprising 77.5 percent, pre-’67 Israel 17.5 percent) of the original British Mandate for Palestine. According to U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the 1993 Oslo accords and related agreements, and the 2003 international "road map," their final status will be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Some of this territory -- see President George W. Bush's 2004 letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -- may well be retained by Israel. The Post pre-judges the outcome of future events. Recall also that the Palestinian leadership rejected similar proposals at the 2000 Camp David and 2001 Taba talks.

4. The Post writes that "to the Palestinians, the expansion of settlements represents proof that Israel is not serious about wanting a deal."

There's no mention at all about Palestinian behavior - including the thousands of rockets and scores of other terrorist attacks launched from the Gaza Strip (after Israel razed two dozen settlements and evacuated nearly 9,000 settlers in 2005) that prove to Israelis that the Palestinian Arabs "are not serious about wanting a deal.”

Reinforcing this one-sided coverage, the accompanying chart notes, among other things, that in 2007 "the Quartet called on both parties to make progress on their Phase One Raodmap obligations, including an Israeli freeze on settlements." Glaringly omitted is the Palestinians' phase one "road map" obligation to eliminate terrorist attacks on Israel and the terrorist organizations (one of which, Hamas, controls the Gaza Strip).

5. The Post alleges that "at stake is the future of land that has been in dispute since 1967, when Israeli forces conquered Arab territory - and soon thereafter began to settle it."

The territory is not Arab, though approximately two million Palestinian Arabs live in the West Bank. It's legal status and sovereignty over it has been in dispute since the British Mandate ended in 1948. Jordan then illegally occupied it, though Jewish rights to "close settlement on the land," recognized by the original League of Nations' mandate to Britain and later adopted by the United Nations, have never lapsed. Here The Post again commits Middle East revisionism.

Minor positives

Witte cites relevant Israeli government and settler sources. An instance of accurate language - acknowledging that the "land has been in dispute" - is an important exception to The Post's over-riding bias. The settlers are not dehumanized, though the undefined label "ultra-Orthodox" appears four times. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's political balancing act is noted.

But none of this offsets the article's major flaws.