Sunday, September 30, 2007
The game is a masquerade. In the masquerade everyone dons their masks. The peasants may become lords and the lords, peasants. The sheep may dress as wolves and the wolves as sheep. The cowards will roar like lions and the traitors will puff out their chests like the noblest of patriots.
The name of the masquerade is politics of course. Just in time for a major peace conference and a proposed laundry list of concessions that will move Israel one dangerous step closer to oblivion, Olmert and Barak suddenly appear to have found their cojones. Olmert approved an attack on Syria which if true, sounds as if it should rank among Israel's most daring operations. Barak meanwhile is busy playing the hawk, mustering out his most militant rhetoric, blustering that there is no Palestinian partner in peace... even as his own government prepares to make massive concessions to the terrorists.
There is a reason why politicians hate extremists and why to a politician the worst curse word, the worst accusation is to be labeled an extremist. Because extremists are open about what they are. Love them or hate them, embrace them or revile them, you know what an extremist's views are. By contrast the successful politician closely prescribes to Machiavelli, you can only guess at his views by the track record... because the politician is always participating in a masquerade. But while it may be impossible to be sure of what a politician is, you can be sure of what a politician isn't... a politician isn't what he is trying so hard to appear to be.
Even as Olmert and Barak down their lion's masks and roar at the audience and paw the air, the police has begun a crackdown on Women in Green. Women in Green of course were notorious for doing their best to obstruct previous concessions and agreements. Olmert and Barak's sudden militant posture only makes it obvious that it is a feint intended to distract the voting public from their true intentions, which are not militant but pacific. That is why the release of Arab terrorists from Israeli prisons continues unabated. That is why the sham disarmament agreements which have yielded only more terror, are part of the larger pretense... the next step of the concessions.
In the madness of the cowardly, Olmert and Barak have decided that they can get the best deal with a weakened Abbas, a puppet they can use to ward off Hamas, foolishly forgetting that agreements with the Palestinian arabs have no value whatsoever and that in Arab politics, the militants are always destined to win in the end.
We have a hint now of what will be handed over, the final status lines that will be drawn and redrawn, the blade carved into the heart of the City of G-d by the traitors who spin the wheel of fate as if it were merely their own fate rather than that of a nation.
Every act is leading up to the second phase, of which the first phase was the creation of a terrorist state. The second phase will be the creation of a terrorist nation... if it is not stopped before it is too late.
Meanwhile the masquerade is in full swing, the clown President waves at his public, the ringmaster Defense Minister cracks his whip, the acrobats distract the public with scandals and the trick is about to happen on stage in which the lady which is the land of Israel will vanish but not reappear.
The festival begins. Devil's night.
In 1920, as Secretary for War and Air, Churchill had responsibility for quelling the rebellion of Kurds and Arabs in British-occupied Iraq, which he achieved by authorising the use of poison gas. At the time he wrote, "I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes" -Often criticized, in the end Churchill not only proved prophetic... he more importantly proved to be right, willing to embrace ruthless tactics in a greater cause and to conduct a resilient campaign against the enemy using innovative tactics. It will not take another "compassionate conservative" to win the War on Terror but one whose compassion is singularly directed in the appropriate direction and who understands not only what it takes to win a war but how.
The development of the battle tank was financed from naval research funds via the Landships Committee, and, although a decade later development of the battle tank would be seen as a stroke of genius, at the time it was seen as misappropriation of funds. The tank was deployed too early and in too few numbers, much to Churchill's annoyance. He wanted a fleet of tanks used to surprise the Germans under cover of smoke, and to open a large section of the trenches by crushing barbed wire and creating a breakthrough sector.
In 1910, Churchill was promoted to Home Secretary, where he was to prove somewhat controversial. A famous photograph from the time shows the impetuous Churchill taking personal charge of the January 1911 Sidney Street Siege, peering around a corner to view a gun battle between cornered anarchists and Scots Guards. His role attracted much criticism. The building under siege caught fire. Churchill denied the fire brigade access, forcing the criminals to choose surrender or death.
He denigrated the father of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi, as "a half-naked fakir" who "ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new viceroy seated on its back"
the only noticeable action was at sea. Churchill advocated the pre-emptive occupation of the neutral Norwegian iron-ore port of Narvik and the iron mines in Kiruna, Sweden, early in the War. However, Chamberlain and the rest of the War Cabinet disagreed, and the operation was delayed until the German invasion of Norway, which was successful despite British efforts.
Churchill, breaking with tradition, did not send Chamberlain a message expressing regret over his resignation. 
In response to previous criticisms that there had been no clear single minister in charge of the prosecution of the war, Churchill created and took the additional position of Minister of Defence. He immediately put his friend and confidant, the industrialist and newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook, in charge of aircraft production. It was Beaverbrook's astounding business acumen that allowed Britain to quickly gear up aircraft production and engineering that eventually made the difference in the war.
The settlement concerning the borders of Poland, that is, the boundary between Poland and the Soviet Union and between Germany and Poland, was viewed as a betrayal in Poland during the post-war years, as it was established against the views of the Polish government in exile. Churchill was convinced that the only way to alleviate tensions between the two populations was the transfer of people, to match the national borders. As he expounded in the House of Commons in 1944, "Expulsion is the method which, insofar as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble... A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed by these transferences, which are more possible in modern conditions."
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
As a sample here's a Daily News article Grinning madman Ahmadinejad squirms at Columbia
Unused to dissent at home, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad squirmed uncomfortably for some 90 minutes while trying to put a loving face on a message of hate.
In a day of pure New York drama at Columbia University yesterday, Ahmadinejad expressed skepticism of the Holocaust, questioned "who truly was involved" in the Sept. 11 attacks, denied oppressing women and claimed there are no gays in Iran.
Ahmadinejad also used his Ivy League platform to deny his country is seeking nuclear weapons, abusing human rights or wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.
or Ahmadinejad urges world to renounce Satan
UNITED NATIONS - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad piled on the melodrama and the insults in an address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, urging hostile world powers to turn from a "path of arrogance and obedience to Satan."
Meanwhile the New York post has an article by a former hostage, HOSTAGE TELLS HIM: SHUT UP!
Ahmadinejad was one of those outrageous Iranians who took me and more than 50 other Americans hostage for 444 days, violating international law and making us suffer indescribable moments of terror.
While the wife of POW soldier Goldwasser recalls her own confrontation with the man behind it all
"During the questions we made eye contact, we looked at each other more than once. The look on his face changed the moment he realized who was facing him and what I wanted from him," Karnit Goldwasser, wife of kidnapped soldier Ehud Goldwasser, said after her meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York.
With Succos here, Mo'ah Kemo Efroa, has a good post on not buying bastard etrogim and no it's not what you think it is.
"Many who are reading this post enjoy the relative peace, security and material comfort provided by the United States. Our brethren in Israel are not as lucky these days. They are both imperiled by the security situation and impoverished by the economic one. One of the simplest ways to help Israel during this holiday season is to buy Israeli products, particularly ritual products such as wine and etrogim. But instead we prefer to use foreign etrogim."
Over at IsraPundit is a great article on the Saudi Lobby titled, Whatever Saudis want, Saudis get
I recently disclosed The Vast Power of the Saudi Lobby. Now I want to provide a list of what Saudi Lobby (money) achieved.
- In ‘48, US imposed arms embargo on Israel
- In ‘56 Israel forced by Eisenhower to retreat from Sinai
- Prior to ‘67 War, Johnson promised Nasser to supply him with intelligence
- In ‘73 war, Kissinger withheld resupplying arms to Israel so it would get “a bloody nose”
- When Israel turned the ‘73 War around, Kissinger insisted that the Egyptians be allowed to “save face”
- Shortly thereafter, the oil embargo and quadrupling of prices brought the Europeans and Americans to their knees. A deal was cut whereby they agreed to back the Arab narrative and to reverse the results of the ‘67 War
- Kissinger agreed to shrink Israel back to the pre ‘67 lines and to back the Palestinians as a means of doing it.
- Carter backs Sadat’s demand that “every inch” of Sinai be returned in exchange for peace.
Over at Lemon Lime Moon is a post on Teddy Roosevelt and what it means to be a man.
Finally a Chag Kosher and Sameach and enjoy the rest of the week. This blog will resume updates after Shabbat.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
All politics is local and in the splits among Frum Jews, the arguments are often very much local too. If there is one thing that explains the splits between sub-denominations of Torah Jews in Israel, it is that "Unzer Yidden", the interests of a specific community takes precedence over the feelings and needs and even physical survival of our brothers and even the land of Israel. That is why this will not be a popular post.
Heter Mechira like Gush Katif is little more than another rehearsal of "Unzer Yidden". Had there been a large Haredi farming industry, we know full well that Heter Mechira would as accepted as the sale of Chametz. And conversely if there wasn't a large Religious Zionist farming industry, Heter Mechira might well not exist. That is the nature of the Halacha of convenience.
The reality is that Heter Mechira is as legitimate as Heter Iska or the sale of Chametz on Pesach or Pruzbul or many other things I could name. The question to be asked of all these things is whom it hurts. With the exception of Heter Mechira, these have universal benefits. Heter Mechira does not. To the Haredi camp, Jewish agriculture in the land of Israel has no value, only Jewish study in their Yeshivas does. To the Religious Zionist camp, Jewish agriculture is one of the most fundamental ways to embrace the holiness of the land. The split is one that goes back to the divide between Galut and Yishuv, between Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi.
Much like the divides over Eruvs, it is a debate over lifestyles but it is also a debate over ideology and priorities and which Halachic fictions we are prepared to accept and why.
The Eidat Haredit who are buying tons of produce from Palestinian Arabs are not only directly funding the murder of Jews, they are still buying produce from the land of Eretz Yisrael ignoring the commandment that the land is meant to rest. There is no practical difference between produce from EY derived from land sold through Heter Mechira and produce from EY derived from land that is in Arab hands. Either way you are funding the creation of the produce when the Torah clearly spells out that the goal is for the land to rest in extremely strong language.
It is a fraudulent piousness that buys produce from EY and in doing so puts a sword into the hands of our enemies with which to kill us. If the Haredim were truly serious about being prepared to engage in personal sacrifice to avoid violating Shemitta as they counsel the farmers to do, they would simply abstain from produce that comes from any land in EY and from produce that is bought from the enemy. They are not prepared to make that sacrifice or to even consider it. They would rather buy from the enemy than pay inflated prices or slash their intake of fruits and vegetables. They would rather spill Jewish blood and observe a sham Shemitta by relying on Arab agriculture than suffer inconvenience and observe a true Shemitta.
And if the Religious Zionist camp was truly serious about the holiness of the land, they would stop relying on Heter Mechira and actually allow the land to rest. Because in the end Heter Mechira was a temporary measure and nearly a century later, it has long ago ceased to have any legitimacy. Heter Mechira is no more valid as a permanent state of affairs than Heter Iska, the sale of Chametz or Eruvs that stretch for longer than some countries. All are examples of explicit violations of D'oraisas that are mandated by business or lifestyle. What the Torah says is not remotely ambiguous and it ends with a warning that the failure to observe Shemitta will result in our expulsion from the land. Too many people who jump on every prediction made by a Kabbalist somewhere ignored what the Torah says in black and white.
But instead "Unzer Yidden" prevails, sides are chosen, self-righteous rhetoric is pasted up on posters and the same routine continues. The same "Unzer Yidden" mindset that allowed the Haredim to fold their hands when it came to Gush Katif because it didn't involve "Unzer Yidden" and allowed so many in the Religious Zionist camp to ignore the decades of police brutality directed against Chassidim and Haredim, before it was directed against them... rules the day.
What I have to say isn't pretty but it is true... much as I wish it wasn't. The answer is true unity around the Jewish people and the Torah, not around individual communities. Every day we are repeating the steps leading to the fall of Bayit Sheini and we... each and every one of us, those who care and those who don't, those who wear black hats and those who wear Kippah Srugah, those who daven Nusach Ashkenaz, Sefard, Ari or nothing at all... are part of the problem. Until we can look at ourselves and our communities in the mirror and recognize that we are part of the problem... there is no hope for us.
No hope but that we grow wiser and learn to love each other and learn to love G-d and his Torah. For those who do not love G-d cannot love the Torah and those who do not love the Jewish people cannot love G-d or the Torah.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Says it in a single image doesn't it?
Realistically which of these women is more likely to be plotting to hijack or blow up a United States jet? The one doing the examining or the one being examined?
If this country was at all determined to exercise a sane response to the threat of Islamic terrorism, we wouldn't be seeing scenes like this. We certainly would not be seeing a security guard so religious she's wearing Muslim headgear working as security against Muslim terrorists. This is simply common sense. I would say the same exact thing if the terrorists we were looking for were devout Catholics and the security consisted of devout Catholics or if the terrorists were Orthodox Jews and your security consisted of a bunch of Chassidim. It is nothing short of insane and defies all sanity, logic and common sense.
Instead we surrendered to political correctness and we surrendered to terrorism. The best explanation for the scene above is that the airport was trying to be sensitive to Muslim complaints by providing religious female Muslim security personnel, while actual American women have been repeatedly subject to harassment, Muslim women get the benefit of Muslim security personnel (Can I request an Orthodox security guy? I think not) and the nun, being considered a female religious subject has been sent over to the SecuriHag, because female Muslim sensibilities are all that's allowed for over in good old Detroit, home of Hizbullah and a thousand storekeepers from Yemen sending back 10 percent to the Jihad.
This insanity has to end. We are not watching out for mad flying nun bombers. We are watching out for men from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, Muslim men between the ages of 20 and 40, who may appear westernized on the outside but are fanatics on the inside. Instead we're selling our ports and our stock market to Dubai and frisking nuns at airports. Thank you political correctness, for keeping us as unsafe as ever.
Right now a hostile minority in growing in size and arrogance within our borders. Backed by Saudi billions they are exercising a growing influence over our schools, colleges and even law enforcement. The face of Islam is the face of the enemy and the enemy is right here. The very people we're fighting and are securing our airports against are the people who are securing our airports. That can't work obviously. Political correctness is the best possible weapon in the arsenal of the terrorists, negating our defenses and exposing the heart of our infrastructure for a direct strike. (Via LGF)
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Ivan Safronov, a retired colonel and military correspondent for the Kommersant newspaper was murdered. Ivan Safronov had been investigating covert Russian arms shipments to Syria and Iran. He had been warned repeatedly by the authorities that there would be consequences if his investigation continued. Now he was murdered.
Ivan Safronov is the 212th journalist to be murdered under Putin. The Putin regime is of course calling it a suicide and claiming that he jumped out of a window. On the floor the oranges he had just returned from buying still lay, untouched.
Before his death Safronov had extensively reported on Russia's military push into the middle east, including the creation of a future base for the Black Fleet in Syria and the plan to base a permanent fleet in the area. This will include the addition of troops and air defense systems.
Safronov had also extensively reported on the Putin's regime's plans for a new generation of missiles and nuclear weapons in its escalation of the second cold war. This is of crucial importance to America and Israel, now that Russian planes are buzzing US bases, Russia is lighting the fuse in the middle east, having tricked Syria into believing that Israel was about to invade it last year in order to boost arms sales (Russia successfully pulled off the same trick in 1967) and creating the threat intended to destroy Israel and create a hegemony of Russian allies across the middle east once more.
Friday, September 21, 2007
In Israel the violence continues against the opposition with the arrests of Nadia Matar as well as Limor HarHamelech. Meanwhile Niso Shaham who was caught on video calling for the beating of unarmed and non-violent protesters has been approved by the Fatah Suprem... I mean Israel Supreme Court to become the Jerusalem District Chief. In the words of Supreme Court Judge Ayala Procaccia, "a candidate's failure in the line of the duty does not necessarily disqualify him from promotion on the count of breaching the public's trust. Public trust is a term that also recognizes penitence, asking forgiveness and seeking answers."
Of course had Niso Shaham been responsible for attacks on Arabs rather than Jews, the same Supreme Court would of course have decided that he was quite unfit, regardless of whatever regrets he might have expressed. As a limited victory, the Supreme Court has agreed to bar David Edri, who trampled Yehuda Etzion, from dispersing demonstrators. Of course I expect that the police will ignore this ban when it suits them and without punishment.
For more on these and a general roundup of the situation, Israel Justice is an invaluable site.
Meanwhile Asia Times has a great Spengler article "It's easy for the Jews to talk about life"
The better one gets to know the Jews, the more peculiar they appear. "Remember us unto life, O King who delights in life," they pray on the solemn occasion of their New Year, which this year fell on September 13. Unfeigned and spontaneous delight in life is uniquely Jewish; the standard Jewish toast states, "To life!" while the most characteristic Jewish gibe admonishes, "Get a life!" We are not dealing here with so-called lust for life that involves a pile of broken dishes and a hangover the next morning. Instead, the Jews evince a liking for life as such. That is not only unusual; it is almost unnatural.
On the strength of the evidence, we would have to say that life at best seems an acquired taste. Most people dislike life, at least their own lives, judging from the cult of celebrity and the universal passion for spectator sports. The average man or woman rather would live vicariously through the glamour of actors or athletes than dwell upon the failure and humiliation of their own lives.
It's easy for the Jews to talk about delighting in life. They are quite sure that they are eternal, while other peoples tremble at the prospect impending extinction. It is not their individual lives that the Jews find so pleasant, but rather the notion of a covenantal life that proceeds uninterrupted through the generations.
life as such, the run-of-the-mill business of being born, having children, growing old and dying, is not an attractive proposition. The desire of all nations is eternal life, to be exalted above this muddy vesture of decay. A people that clearly foresees its own end will crawl into a hole and die like a sick animal, as we observe so tragically among aboriginal populations forced into communication with the modern world.
What makes the Jews different is their unique belief that the Covenant gives them eternal life, a belief grounded, to be sure, by thousands of years of history, and survival against all odds against the depredations of the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Alexandrine and Roman empires, not to mention more recent unpleasantness.
Even Jewish humor expresses a faith in Jewish eternity so vivid that the opposite is unimaginable. That is the sort of faith that moves not only mountains, but continents. The enormous influence of this tiny people, which now comprises barely 15 million individuals, stems entirely from this unshakable belief in its own eternity.
If God fulfilled his pledge to this tiny and apparently insignificant nation, restoring them to their ancient and promised homeland and its capital Jerusalem, then why should others doubt the same promise of eternal life to all the nations who come to him?
Over at IsraPundit, Ted Belman has a good post on The failed policy of supporting Siniori and Abbas
She points our the obvious that Hezbollah and Hamas both achieved electoral victories and subsequently left the government hoping to achieve more power and of course they are only proxies of Iran and Syria.
She also points out that in both cases Saudi Arabia is working to bring the radicals and the moderates together. But in either case any such unity will be anti-Israel and anti-US.
And of course ultimately the only source of unity among the divided Muslim world has always been America and Israel, which is an ominous reality in and of itself.
Lemon Lime Moon posts on Dubai buying 20 percent of Nasdaq
For all of the rhetoric about a war on terror, the sentiments fall flat in the face of the latest goings on: Mayor Bloomberg and Ahmedinejad, the Dubai Ports fiasco .. and we can take this back to Jimmy Carter/Z. Brezinski dumping of the Panama canal into foreign hands, Brezinski being a man dedicated not to his adopted nation the US, but to global government and money making. Brezinski who is making a come back along with Jimmy Carter. Does anyone remember what Hamilton Jordan said that if the old crowd like Brezinski had anything to do with Jimmys presidency that Jordan would not? He said
"If, after the inauguration you find Cy Vance as secretary of state and
Zbigniew Brezinski as head of national security, then I would say that we failed
and I would quit."
That administration under the tutilage of those men betrayed General Somoza and Nicaragua and helped place the Sandanista Communists in power. So why think today is different.
Via Daled Amos, information on the protest rally against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN
Monday, September 24th
12 noon, rain or shine
2nd Avenue at 47th Street
Subways: 4,5,6, or 7 to Grand Central Station
Join the National Rally To Stop Iran Now.
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across from the United Nations
Sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Jewish Community Relations Council of New York
in cooperation with the United Jewish Communities, UJA-Federation of New York and Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Simon Wiesenthal Center.
For more information contact:
Conference of Presidents at 212-318-6111 or
JCRC at 212-983-4800 x 161 or email@example.com
Meanwhile a meaningful and easy fast to Jews on this Yom Kippur and a good year to everyone else.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The world was created in Tishrei, all of it from pole to pole and continent to continent, land and sea, mountain and sky formed in this month of Tishrei. On Rosh Hashana Adam and Chava were created and their descendants spread across the whole earth.
This Rosh Hashana finds the men and women of the US army and navy and air force stationed across the world and those of whom are Jewish will be celebrating Rosh Hashana in all the scattered places across the world that they are, from the land to the sea and the wide oceans and even the air. From America to Europe and the Middle East and even the Pacific and asia where Jews traditionally have not gone.
In the Pacific at the US bases in Japan and South Korea, from the US Navy's Yokosuka Naval Base to Okinawa, to Guam in the Philipines and Kobe in Japan, Rosh Hashana services will be taking places. Guam and Kobe have Jewish communities with their own services which personnel will be able to join.
At the Yokosuka Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, chaplains will be specifically flown in to hold Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services. In South Korea, where American troops help democratic Korea hold the line against the forces of Kim Jong Il's Communist dictatorship, Jewish soldiers from all across the Korean pennisula will be gathering in Seoul for prayers under Chaplain Avrohom Horovitz.
The matter is not as simple as it sounds. Jewish chaplains have been wounded in the Korean war, though none fatally. Al Jolson, born Asa Joelson in Lithuanaia, son of a cantor who became a famous Jewish entertainer in America, starring in numerous shows, musicals and even movies including most famously the Jazz Singer. During the Korean War, he traveled against the advice of his doctors to entertain American Troops there. He spent months there entertaining the troops and continued on even though he developed a bronchial infection of which he finally died. And the lights of broadway were dimmed for ten minutes to mark his passing.
There is a famous story told about a Jewish soldier on Yom Kippur during the Korean war. A Jewish Marine corporal named Abraham Geller was engaged in combat at the Seoul-Kaesong road and under fire by snipers. It was Yom Kippur and difficult as it was to pray under those circumstances, Abraham Geller did his best. After encountering a company of North Korean soldiers near Seoul, Corporal Abraham Geller saved his Captain's life and took a bullet meant for him. The bullet penetrated his abdomen and several loops of his intestines. It would under ordinary circumstances have caused peronitis as the contents of the intestines would have spilled out into the body which would have been fatal, but according to the military surgeons, what saved Geller's life; was that there was no food at all in his stomach.
The name of Tishrei in the Hebrew alphabet runs backwards from the latter letters to the earlier letters, Tof Shin Reish Yud. So too the Jewish presence in the pacific seems backwards and the Jewish presence in the US military seems backwards defying many anti-semitic stereotypes. Yet this Rosh Hashana the Jews of the US Army, Navy and Air Force will be praying to G-d to bring peace on the anniversary of the world in the farthest corner of the world where many Jews died in the second World War to bring peace.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Update: Thanks to everyone who emailed me or commented.
It is interesting to note that two Rishonim, R. Avraham Ibn Ezra and R. Levi Ben Gershon, the Ralbag both have lunar craters named after them.
The Rabbi Levi Crater can be seen here, the result of an impact crater by a heavenly body whose brilliant impact produced a crater marking the surface of the moon for longer than human memory endures.
Beyond being a brilliant scholar and innovative philosopher, the Ralbag or "Gersonides" was an astronomer responsible for inventing the Jacob's Staff, a tool used for centuries by sailing ships to navigate by the stars.
In the dead of night I spread it out like a tent
And a thousand stars pierce it with their gleams.
Sitting inside, I see the moon and the Pleiades
And on a good night, the great Orion himself
R. Avraham Ibn Ezra
The Ibn Ezra or Abenezra Crater is named after R. Avraham Ibn Ezra. A restless soul, R. Ibn Ezra departed his birthplace in Muslim ruled Spain to travel the world from Africa to Egypt to London and France and Israel of course. A scholar, poet and philologist, R. Avraham Ibn Ezra's commentary on the Torah remains read to the present day. In addition he wrote extensively on Hebrew grammar, medicine, chess, mathematics and astronomy.
And then there was R. Avraham Zacuto, Rabbi, Mathematician, Historian, Professor and Royal Astronomer to the Court of Portugal. He perfected the astrolabe and promoted the search for a new route to India, a search that would eventually lead to Columbus' discovery of America. He prepared Columbus' and Vasco DeGama's crews and provided them with new astronomical navigation tables.
"The story is that on one of his voyages, when attacked by the natives, Columbus noted that Zacuto had predicted an eclipse for that day, and used this information to threaten the natives and convince them that he could extinguish the Sun and Moon and deprive them of all light. Zacuto's work thus saved the Admiral's life and that of his crew."
The Zagut crater on the moon, named after Rabbi Zacuto, is located to the northeast of the Rabbi Levi crater.
The Messala crater is named after Menashe Ibn Athari or Masha'allah ibn Atharī, a Jewish astronomer in Iraq in the 8th century. Today the Racah crater is named after the Israel physicist, Gulio Racah, who escaped fascist Italy for Israel while still under British rule and became a professor of theoretical physics at Hebrew University. While there he joined the Haganah and later was appointed deputy commander of the Haganah at Mount Scopus protecting the small Jewish presence there, including his own Hebrew University.
And now even after all these men are dead, when the light of the sun catches the surface of the moon at the right angle, the impacts they have made continue to shine on us, on earth.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
On December 7th 1941, over 2400 people were killed. The United States lost nearly 300,000 men in WW2. Over a 100 times as many. If the reason for either war was to even out a balance sheet, so that it only made sense for as long as we had taken less casualties than we did in the original attack, our part in WW2 would have ended after a few months.
But it's the left's premise that is based on a fundamental incomprehension of war. The number of casualties you suffer in the opening attack are not the reason for the war. They are a wake up call that the enemy is here and the war has begun. The casualties of Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center occurred because the United States ignored growing threats. The casualties of the wars that began after them, were taken in fighting and defeating that threat.
3000 or 2400 dead is not the maximum total of casualties Japan or Al Queda was capable of inflicting upon us. It was the amount they inflicted upon us in that given attack. If we do not fight back, then the amount of casualties they can inflict upon us has no celling beyond our total population.
That is the nature of war. You either push back the enemy or sit there and take it. In the War on Terror, over a period of nearly half a decade, we took casualties equivalent to a single day in September. That is the difference between pushing back the enemy and sitting there and taking it. You either break the enemy or the enemy breaks you.
The left has spent a lot of time demonstrating that they're already broken and demanding that our government negotiate terms of surrender with the Palestinian terrorists, with Iran, with everyone in the world who hates us and wants to kill us. Their balance sheet argument underlies their inability to understand that the War on Terror is not a bloodsport, nor an act of vengeance or a balancing of the books, but a strategic campaign against an enemy force that is meant to destroy or contain it to prevent further attacks within our own borders.
That is the meaning and purpose of war. That is why we fight.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I had made this video tribute two years ago. It did not come out quite the way I wanted it to but it does reflect my love of New York City. After 9/11 on approaching the heaped rubble of Ground Zero through deserted streets, past barricades through foul air, the pervasive sense of loss and desolation grew worse and in my mind I heard, "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav", the song that when composed reflected a divided Jerusalem, part held in enemy hands, a wall cutting through its heart. The loss of two cities, the images or rubble and deserted streets, of catastrophe hovering over all and a common enemy and a love for both cities are reflected here.
Shana Tova and may there be an end to catastrophes for us all and may the reign of evil be broken on earth
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
It has been six years and as the clock ticks and the calendar pages turn, 9/11 has come around again. With the new millennium, September has become the cruelest month. A month of remembrance. But what do we really remember?
Six years ago 9/11 was the genesis of a national transformation, Americans uniting as one people, courage was the order of the day and the same virtues that had characterized America's greatest moments were on displays. And then most of us went to sleep again.
And now the memorials will come again. But memorialization is often more about us than it is about those we remember. Monuments like tombstones, services and candle holding are coping strategies to help us deal with our grief. They are important to help the living deal with their pain but commemoration does not create meaning or address the real aftermath of 9/11. They are only ways to contain and limit the pain.
There were two types of memorials built in the aftermath of the Holocaust. One type is the kind you can see anywhere, statues, symbols, plaques and ceremonies. The other kind was the State of Israel.
After the Holocaust there were those who believed that simply commemorating and remembering was enough, that reminding a world that had not cared when six million were murdered would somehow transform it, turning violence into tolerance. That memory was a tool that could uplift and teach about the evils of hatred. They were wrong. Today another Holocaust is being planned in Tehran this time not Berlin and much of the world energetically waves its arms around to call a halt to any plans to stop it. Including the very same liberals who have spend the last half century imbibing tolerance with their mother's milk.
But that is because the lesson of murder should never be tolerance but intolerance, intolerance of evil. Not intolerance of nationalism or religious extremism or fanaticism or any other generic euphemism but evil. What is evil? In this case the answer is surprisingly simple. Evil defines the sort of people who would perpetrate another Holocaust or another 9/11.
In the face of evil, remembrance is the last resort of the defeated. Six years after 9/11 its own commemoration has traveled the same path as that of the Holocaust commemorations in a fraction of the time. 9/11 has spawned its own historical revisionists, the Truthers, determined that 9/11 never happened or that the Jews or the government was behind it. 9/11 has become a fit subject for snickering, for jokes and for satire. The very act of remembering or commemorating 9/11 is itself mocked as phony and self-indulgent.
Today as the commemorations will commence at Ground Zero, Truthers will gather there too like carrion crows, shrieking and hawking their contempt and their hatred for the ceremonies and for the dead. And we will tolerate them. We will not drag them off and beat them. Anyone who attempts to do that will be arrested. Because we are tolerant of evil and for as long as we tolerate evil, our commemorations and memorials remain nothing more than a coping strategy. As long as we compromise our intolerance of evil, we are undone.
The State of Israel, the American victory in Afghanistan were memorials of action, done firmly and resolutely, driven perhaps by pain but driven more fundamentally by the understanding that they needed to... that they must be done. The destruction of evil is the only fitting memorialization to those slain by evil because it and only it can insure that no more die in this way. It is not enough to remember without doing. It is not enough to commemorate the dead without remembering the living.
On September 11, 3000 Americans were murdered. Some died in shock. Some died in agony. Some died in flames and some died in the rush of air as they fell. They were murdered but they were only the beginning. 9/11 was not a tragedy, it was a war. It is a war we are still fighting. The proper memorial for 9/11 is not in cupped hands holding candles but in the soldiers and pilots of the United States standing on watch and going out on their missions against the enemy knowing why they are fighting and what they are fighting for.
Guantanamo Bay is a better memorial for 9/11 than any construction of stone, glass and steel that will ever rise. A bullet in the head of an Al Queda terrorist is a better commemoration for this terrible day than any act of verbal elocution. A tower rising to the sky, an airplane passing overhead, are a fist clenched high in defiance by the civilized world against the uncivilized, by men against savages and human beings against subhuman barbarians.
There was only one Holocaust commemoration that mattered and it took place when Israeli Air Force jets flew over Auschwitz. The dead of Auschwitz had no need for candles and for your grief. They needed to know that even though they died, there would be someone to protect their grandchildren, their nephews and nieces, the descendants of their brothers and sisters of the Jewish people. A single jet is a more fitting memorial to the dead than a million monuments for a jet today has the power to prevent another Holocaust while a million monuments cannot.
The day an F-22 flies over Mecca is the day a fitting memorial to 9/11 will be built. Until then we have but words as clumsy tools with which to dull the pain while fighting for the future.
Monday, September 10, 2007
This was Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the Waddler. Technically the congressman representing downtown Manhattan and his own ass. A few years ago, probably fearing that at some point his girth would keep him out of Congress as a security risk in case he exploded, he had liposuction. But like the portrait of Dorian Gray, Nadler may have lost weight but his head is as fat as ever.
Recently Nadler, whose main contribution to congressional life, has been treating the Capitol Hill cafeteria as an all you can eat buffet and the halls of Congress as a human hog, soliciting as much pork as he could for his business pals, has been doing his part for the Hillary for President campaign.
“Nine-eleven was an act of war,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said as Mrs. Clinton stood by, head bobbing. “The villains aren’t the terrorists,” Mr. Nadler continued. “The villains live in the White House.” (New York Times)I think it's great that Nadler the Hut finally feels free to openly declare what Democrats have believed since 9/11 but were too cowardly to openly say. I have spent the last 5 years saying that this is exactly what Democrats believe, only to have Democrats and Liberals insist that I was slandering them. And now it comes from the horse's own putrid mouth well past the point where it can be denied.
Personally I think that clip should be put on video and played anywhere Bill Clinton's other wife feels the need to make a campaign stop appearance. But then Hillary has a history of nodding her head while evil spews, much as she did as Suha Arafat was accusing Israel of using poison gas. This is what Hillary stands for. That is what the Democratic party today stands for and that is why they are the enemy and they cannot be permitted to take power again.
Despite representing Lower Manhattan, Congressman Jerrold Nadler is almost as committed to America's security as Osama Bin Laden is, witness the following exchange.
During one exchange, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) had this to say: "I don't see how you can pick up someone in New York and say that his rights are different or less because he's accused of being an enemy combatant, based on whatever information, as opposed to his being accused of being a murderer. . . ."And as Mohammed Atta's civil rights defender sits on Capitol Hill presuming to speak for Lower Manhattan, this grotesque creature who belongs more in Lord of the Rings or Star Wars than in the halls of Congress, we should remember that he serves a useful purpose, he reminds us that as bad as the Republican Congress may have been in some ways, this is the alternative. People with no regard for the lives of those in their own district let alone their countrymen or their country. Political hacks with a lawyer's instincts and a lawyer's morals, devoid of any shred of decency, seizing the moral high ground with bloody hands and using it as a soap box in between funneling money to their drinking buddies. Abomination is too polite a word.
Berenson responded: "[W]e need to be clear about what that means. It means that if we had captured Mohammed Atta on September 10th, we would have had no choice but to treat him as a criminal defendant, which would have meant no interrogation, no intelligence, and the World Trade Center is coming down."
Nadler interjected, "That's exactly right."
If that waddling mountain of flesh that styles itself a Congressman and runs virtually unopposed in a safe Democratic district ever had to face a real political test by the American people, he would promptly find himself having to depend on the charity of the same people who have been passing him kickbacks all these years.
It is truly tragic that Congressman Jerrold Nadler's elephantine physique played a key role in the downfall of New York's truly great Senator D'Amato, who had referred to him as, "The Waddler" in a private meeting only to be roasted by the press. Senator D'Amato who had actually stood for America and New York, was replaced by the weaselly and rat-faced Charles Schumer who seizes every camera he can get in front of. And today "The Waddler", that abominable mass of shuffling flesh, feels free to openly declare that the American government is the real enemy, not the terrorists.
No one can expect Congressman Jerrold Nadler to empathize with those who have died or put the security of Americans ahead of the security of terrorists, perhaps if something truly important to him had been lost on 9/11, say his sack lunch... he might be willing to take whatever measures are necessary to fight Al Queda, until then we can but hope he'll go off to compete against Michael Moore in an eating contest.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
In the summer now and in the Selichos recitations leading up to Rosh Hashana, we mourn the loss of the temple. Yet when the remains of the temple are being destroyed before our very eyes, what do we do? Where are the massive protests and the rallies? The gay parade, as abominable as that was, seemed to excite far more outrage than a desecration of the temple itself. If the outrage was truly over the kedusha of Yerushalayim, then where are the massive protests now from the Haredi world or from any other?
Instead it seems the religious communities are each preoccupied with their own issues, from settlements to religious affairs budgets. Each community fights for its own but all the religious communities are not prepared to rally together to fight even for the remains of the Bayit. And if they are not prepared to do unify even around that, then why pray expecting it to be rebuilt?
The symptom of the disease is a complete lack of unity. We are not a nation. If we were then no force on earth could move us. Instead we are a collection of special interest groups, a collection of communities, alphabet organizations and causes that overlap only in fighting and in occasionally providing aid to each other. The picture of the Jewish world looks much as it did at the end of Bayit Sheini.
The "Divide and Conquer" that has so spectacularly shredded Israel and the Jewish consensus in support of Israel, abroad... occurred precisely because of that. The Labor Party was so desperate for relevance and to stay in power that Rabin endorsed Peres' wholesale adoption of a New Left platform to negotiate with the PLO and grant them a state within Israeli territory.
Despite general opposition and skepticism to the plan, it proceeded because multiple parties and MK's could be bought off, because they put personal and communal interests ahead of the welfare of the nation and the Jewish people. Today the Olmert government which the entire nation virtually without exception considers an unmitigated disasters and wants gone, remains in power for much the same reason.
To paraphrase the words of Tanach, There was no King in Israel and so each man did what he wished. Today that remains true. We have a government but no king, not a corrupt king of flesh and blood, who lives and dies, but G-d as our King. Today the House of G-d continues to be assailed. If we are serious about our prayers, then it is time for all the scattered religious communities in Israel, Haredi and National Religious, Chassidish and all the others to put their actions where their prayers lie.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Even as Israel is pressured to continue negotiating for the disposition of the Arab terrorists and the Arab refugees, Israel is creating its own refugees, from Gaza and from Sderot where the rockets continue to fall and to kill.
Thus let us pray that this year and its many curses be ended and a new year of blessings come. Meanwhile enjoy this video of the X-Hawk, a flying car being designed in Israel. May it soar along with the fortunes of a civilized world that dares to build skyscrapers rising to the sky, flying cars that take off and that aspires and creates in the face of those who would destroy it and grind the human race into the dirt of Mecca.
Meanwhile in the blog roundup, IsraPundit as always has some must read items, including this disturbing Elyakim Haetzni piece, We Have Been Warned
"This ceremony doesn’t require any strength, in fact it doesn’t require anything at all except for a declaratory statement, ink on paper, the most feeble exhalation of breath, an effort that even a dying man could make without difficulty. However, a declaration like this is enough to bring about, in the words of Shimon Peres, “the concluding chapter of the conflict with the Palestinians,” and, in actual truth, the concluding chapter of Israel’s independence. After this, Israel will be a state in name only. In reality Israel will become a protectorate of the United Nations, whose foreign policy and security are given into the hands of the Quartet, and whose security, that is to say our lives, are entrusted to international forces in the North, center, and South of the country.
What will be determined, irrevocably and eternally, this coming year or next year at the latest, is Palestinian sovereignty as a diplomatic, international, fact with finality. The rest truly isn’t important. So too when they signed the Oslo Accords with only the “Declaration of Principles.” In its wake, as thunder follows lightning, we were hit by the “interim agreement” with all its details that demanded actualization: areas A, B, and C, the Palestinian “police”, inserting a terror state infrastructure from Tunis into our borders, and all the rest of the insane arrangements that buried 1,500 Jews in their land and prepared the state for its final act of self-immolation in the guise of a Palestinian state that will turn life in this land into a living hell — an irrevocable living hell.
Herzl had a vision of a Jewish state arising with international legal recognition. Now this vision has been turned on its head, and a foreign entity is achieving international recognition as sovereign over the Land of Israel. And who is promoting this travesty? The Jews themselves.
Daled Amos mentions the petition to release the Mohammed Al Dura footage. You can read more about it here and sign the petition here.
Meanwhile one of the best "Tell It Like It Is" articles on immigration I've seen in a while comes from the Irish Independent and while it's about Ireland, it applies quite well to the rest of Europe and much of it applies to America as well.
"We could, of course, deal with the substantive matter, that of immigration itself, but instead we prefer to deal with its symptoms -- and in the usual cowardly way in which we address anything which is a little difficult or embarrassing.If you'd like to read more by Kevin Myers, who isn't nearly as well known in the States as he should be, despite serving as a prominent conservative voice in a media culture that is hostile in a way Americans cannot even begin to imagine, here is a worthwhile read by him, Israel Deserves Our Sympathy.
We do not have policies, but inept evasiveness: and perhaps worst of all, we have a posturing gallery of home-grown jackanapes ready to shriek "racism" wherever and whenever they see that things are not going quite the way that immigrants want.
Thus, on any discussion on RTE, especially from its newsroom, immigrants are never held responsible for choosing to come here. Instead, we hear endless complaints that Irish institutions had not prepared themselves properly for their arrival.On the News at One on Monday, African after African in Balbriggan complained there were no places for their children in the existing local schools.Not once was the question posed: what was the real reason for the Africans not having places in schools? Answer: they'd only just come here. Instead, Africans who were just off the boat were allowed to accuse us of racism for not having school places awaiting their children.
Accompanying this presumption is the pious and all-prevalent dogma that immigrants will on arrival abandon ancient loyalties, and will promptly don a Hibernian mantle: hence the brainless cliche, wittered endlessly by journalists and politicians alike, "the New Irish".Sorry. This is conceited gibberish. Why would a Pole surrender something which the Polish people have fought for a thousand years to retain? Why the presumption that an Asian Muslim who lives in Ireland is in any way Irish? My mother lived most of her life in England, but never for a second thought of herself as English.
The media should be asking the big question, 'Why are we still admitting hundreds of thousands of immigrants?' Instead, we are obsessing with the relatively trivial question of: Are the Irish people, who after all have admitted vast armies of strangers to their national home, racist? This is self-hatred at its most pathetic, and its most self-defeating."
Lemon Lime Moon has a post on The Fight for Europa
"Religion in pagan cultures is mostly superficial. There is no real faith involved . It is, however, a method for gathering and keeping power over the people in an empire Whether it be the Ottoman or the Roman Empire, religion is truly an opiate for the people keeping them in slavery to the government. It necessitates these governments to have a state religion that lends them credibility from "god". In all these cases the religions are counterfeits of the real thing.
Note also the problems Europe is having with unbridled immigration from nations which employ the religion whose symbol is a moon and star. Although Europe hopes for integration, they will find that oil and water do not mix as history has shown. Two world religions vying for dominance and control of the world empire. To gain credibility they both desire control of Europe and its thrones, and Jerusalem, with its religious significance.
And finally on a humorous note via Boker Tov Boulder American Thinker's The Irish Conspiracy
"In many cities entire police and fire departments are stacked with the Irish. The iron fist of paramilitary dominance is exercised every year for all the world to see, as Fifth Avenue in New York City has its center line painted green and the Chicago River flows into Lake Michigan dyed green on St. Patrick's Day, a demonstration of raw power that chills to the bone knowledgeable initiates into the secrets of this cabal. None will ever reveal to the rest of us the dark truths they hide."
Thursday, September 06, 2007
For much of its limited existence the State of Israel faced a struggle between two competing ideologies embodied in Israel's two major political parties, Labor and Likud, Socialist Zionism vs Revisionist Zionism.
Socialist Zionism saw Socialism as the only possible system for mankind. Socialist Zionists broke with most Socialist and Communist Jews who believed that Jews had to assimilate and participate in building socialism in their individual countries, realizing that Jews could never be full partners in building socialism in someone else's country. Having seen the anti-semitism on the left, they instead chose to build a Jewish nation to serve as a Jewish socialist homeland.
Socialist Zionism did not and does not see Jews or Israel as unique. Israel for them was only a means for Jews to participate in a larger growing union of socialist nations and peoples. That kind of thinking still motives men like Shimon Peres today. It is why Labor is so willing to make concessions under European pressure and why it considers the domestic right more of a threat than Arab socialists like Fatah.
Revisionist Zionism by contrast believed in a unique Jewish national identity, a strong army and the reclamation of all of Israel. Yet time and time again, Revisionist Zionism shrunk from direct confrontation with Socialist Zionism, which was able to bully and throw its weight around. Revisionists who were prepared to fight Arabs but not fellow Jews faced Socialist Zionists who were prepared to fight fellow Jews but not Arabs. That same situation is repeated today as the Olmert-Peres government is unwilling to fight the Arabs but all too willing to fight the Jews who would fight the Arabs.
Time and time again, Revisionist Zionism placed its faith in winning the hearts and minds of the people. And indeed with Begin's victory, the Likud has reliably held onto power. Until it was destroyed from within by Ariel Sharon, who had come out of Socialist Zionism and the children of old line Revisionist Zionists like Ehud Olmert and Tzahi Hanegbi who care nothing for their parent's beliefs and happily sold out their party.
Today both Likud and Labor have been destroyed ideologically and politically. Both parties are in ruins and their beliefs have been shredded. Kadima, the unclean birth of both parties, represented the end of ideology, the loss of faith and the rise of opportunism.
Opportunism reigns in Israel. For Israel to survive, Israel must have leadership. As the Sharon era has demonstrated, leadership does not mean strongmen. It has to mean ideology and belief. It has to mean more than another political party but a political identity. Revisionist Zionism and Socialist Zionism were more than political parties, they were worldviews and identities. They determined how you saw the world and what you were willing to fight for and sacrifice for.
Right now the National Religious Camp is the best hope for the birth of such a force an an identity, shaped by the political struggle against Disengagement and settlement expulsions. But the National Religious Camp will likely not extend far enough. The hope of Israel lies in creating a successor to Revisionist Zionism, an ideology that embraces both the secular and the religious, that respects Jewish tradition and seeks to defend a strong Nation of Israel for the Jewish people.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Dear Tiny Minority of Extremists,
I realize this letter comes to you at a bad time but let's face reality, every time for you is a bad time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. I don't think the Ottoman Empire is coming back especially because if Turkey joins the EU it will be forced to enact socialism and provide equal rights to homosexuals, eliminating any reason for the existence of an Ottoman Empire.
Right now your current plans to create a World Islamic Empire or Caliphate have run into a little snag, the little snag being that you all hate each other. So far your war against the Great Satan has turned into Wahhabis killing Shiites and Sunnis who don't agree with them. Sunnis killing Wahhabis and Shiites. Shiites killing everyone who isn't a Shiite. Kurds killing Arabs. Persians killing Arabs. Fatah and Hamas killing each other. Iran threatening Bahrain. Turkey and Pakistan on the verge of civil war.
If our governments had any sense they'd just get out of the way and let you kill each other. Unfortunately our governments are very stupid and instead send you money and guns. If it were up to me I would simply send you the guns. Also I would fill the guns with silly putty inside and you could invent a new form of terrorism called, "Suicide Shooting." In America we call "Suicide Bombing", 'Too Stupid To Use a Timer" and "Suicide Shooting", "Too Stupid To Know How to Clean His Gun." But then we're infidel Americans who care about nothing but fast cars, fast food and living until we're 90. What do we know.
Fortunately surveys suggest that death, especially killing each other is how you progress morally. For example the majority of Jordanians supported terrorism and suicide bombing up until Al Queda decided to suicide bomb a wedding at one of their hotels. Now most Jordanians oppose terrorism and suicide bombing, at least when it's directed at them. You thought Al Queda was great when it destroyed the World Trade Center. After Al Queda blew up enough Shia mosques in Iraq, you aren't as fond of them anymore. It's not much but it is progress.
We are of course greatly impressed by the strength of your religious devotion, but like Jimmy in the fourth grade who likes to dissect flies with a pencil, we only wish you could find some other way to express your potential that doesn't involve killing things. Yes I know Muslims give charity and make pilgrimages to Mecca and pray five times a day. But you seem to give charity to terrorists, make pilgrimages to Mecca to hear rants about killing the Western infidels and I don't think whatever deity you worship really wants to see your asses once a day, let alone five times a day. Just saying.
Finally we really appreciate your attempts to impose your culture and your religion on us. Especially since they happen to be our religion which you stole and then turned inside out because apparently desert nomads can't read but they can steal. But just to help you out, here are a few simple tips. First of all there is nothing wrong with being around a pig or a picture of a pig. Just in eating one. If you don't eat a pig, you're okay. Porky won't hurt you if you don't eat him. You don't absorb pig by osmosis. It's a medical fact, you just don't.
Women are not the devil. I know it's an easy mistake to make when your only contact with women comes from seeing their shrouded forms moving ghostlike on the other side of the street. If women in America looked like black ghosts I would be scared of them too. Fortunately they are not. Also we allow non-Muslims to hold public office. And we try not to stone them. These are important differences you should make a note of when you move to our countries.
I know you find many things about our countries and cultures offensive but here is one thing we find offensive about your culture, killing people. Please don't do it when you move to our country. I know your Imam told you it's a religious duty. We don't care, you're still not allowed to do it. Not even if Porky converts to Buddhism and hits on your sister. It's still against the law. If you absolutely can't control yourself and must kill someone, please use the included gun filled with silly putty we provide you.
The Civilized World
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
As the rockets from Olmert's retreat from Gaza continue to slam into Sderot, the government has finally decided to do something about the problem. No, not the problem of the shelling of Sderot from Gaza but the problem of Mayor Eli Moyal who has served as the outspoken voice of Sderot, refusing evacuation plans and repeatedly demanding that the government do something about the situation. The latest step involved a plan by the residents of Sderot to head to Yerushalayim and to hold classes on the Knesset lawn.
After delaying for over a year, the government finally took swift action. Detectives descended on Sderot's city hall accompanied by the National Fraud Squad and the Tax Authority to investigate charges of corruption. Eli Moyal has voluntarily suspended himself and declared his innocence. That of course did not help fellow Likud Sefardi politician, Moshe Katsav. At least Olmert's people aren't bothering to accuse Eli Moyal of rape, even they know a cliche when they see it.
Meanwhile the rockets keep falling but an example is being made out of a Mayor who had become too vocal and confrontational. The message is that the same example can be made out of anyone. The disgusting charade of Olmert's government, a man who himself was on trial for corruption, siccing his dogs on his political opponents has only begun.
All the while Olmert continues trying to force the dismissal of Accountant General Yaron Zelekha who is set to testify against Olmert in the Bank Leumi bribery scandal. Zelekha has said that this is the fourth attempt by Olmert to fire him and this one appears to have succeeded with Finance Minister Roni Bar On leading the coverup. Zelekha had started out as an advisor to Netanyahu and went on to serve as a thorn in the side of the Sharon and Olmert governments and their wealthy buddies overseas who were busy trying to buy up the country while slipping money to the Sharon Crime Family and Olmert under the table.
But it was the privatization of Bank Leumi when Olmert replaced Netanyahu at the treasury and worked to influence the tender so it went to a buddy of his that resulted in Zelekha's testimony opening an investigation against Olmert. Olmert has in turn accused Zelekha of subversion against the government (the same accusation aimed at the settlers) and announced that he would have him fired. Should Zelekha succeed in hanging on to his post, no doubt sooner or later anonymous figures will emerge to claim he assaulted them or the detectives will descend on his office as well.
Zelekha has called the Olmert government the most rotten in history, which it is. But it has its roots in the legal and political infrastructure of the country. When Sharon formed Kadima he carried along with him the biggest sellouts and the men and women with the least morals from Likud and Labor. Olmert's Peace Now connections allow him to tap into a left wing culture at the judicial level that will protect him so long as he continues putting Arab interests over Jewish ones. While the sham of the Israeli Supreme Court continues forcing changes to the wall, the legal system cracks down on settler activists while allowing anarchists and Peace Now activists to conduct a reign of terror against Jewish farmers.
Even in the face of a coming war with Iran, Olmert continues concentrating on appeasing America by meeting with Abbas and contemplating the handover of still more territory into enemy hands. And the Sderots that will arise from that catastrophe will not be addressed by the IDF but by treating those who expose the incompetence and corruption of the government, the Katsavs, the Moya's and the Zelekhas as enemies of the state. The corrupt oligarchy which Netanyahu attempted to prune back is now wreaking havoc on the nation. Its corruption has infected every sector of society and every political party, its dishonesty has corrupted even the culture itself, both business and personal. And the time is running out to purge the cliques and clean house.
In the last war IDF soldiers went sent underequipped into combat. In a matter of months or at most years, Israel will have a showdown with a nuclear armed Iran, which now controls Gaza and perhaps soon the West Bank. Under men such as Olmert, Israel will lose. While Olmert and portions of Kadima no doubt have planes waiting on runways and children already living abroad, ready to scamper away much as the Polish government did when the Germans went in, that is not an option for the nation. If they are not purged, Israel will be.
Monday, September 03, 2007
As the situation in Israel has worsened, accusations of Antisemitism and accusations that criticism of Israel is being muzzled with claims of Antisemitism have been thrown around like a football. Critics hostile to Israel claim that they are being muzzled. Pro-Israel activists reply that the claim of being muzzled is itself intended to silence the debate by treating retorts from the Pro-Israel side as illegitimate acts of persecution.
Out of all that tangled mess, let's get back to basics. No one is of course perfect. No country is perfect. There isn't any person or any government or any country that is immune to criticism or doesn't deserve to be criticized. I've criticized the Israeli government extensively myself.
So where do we draw the line between legitimate criticism and bigotry? For one thing fairness is a dead giveaway. Someone who leads a crusade against crime is an activist. Someone who constantly reports and focuses only on crimes by a particular race, is a racist. Apply that same formula to Israel in the context of a world where numerous occupations and ethnic wars and even genocides are underway and it's not too hard to figure out why people who single out Israel are suspected of prejudice.
After all if you had a newspaper columnist, who dedicated all his attention to only crimes committed by Jews while mostly ignoring the rest, it wouldn't be too hard to guess his agenda. It's not too hard to guess the agenda of a U.N. where countries that engage in actual apartheid and are responsible for mass murder sit on the human rights committee and shut down discussion of Sudan while passing more resolutions against Israel. Is that Antisemitism? That's a matter of interpretation. Is it fair? It's impossible to argue that it is.
When British academics push a boycott of Israel but not a boycott of China or India or Turkey or Sri Lanka or Sudan or Saudi Arabia, what any unreasonable person sees is blatant unfairness. It then becomes a matter of determining the motive for that unfairness. Is it bigotry or some other agenda. Considering how prevalent Antisemitism has been throughout history and considering the upsurge in Antisemitism in Europe that has now been testified to even by governing bodies, viewing Antisemitism as at least a contributing factor to such unfairness is entirely reasonable.
Of course we can't know what is in someone else's heart but we can pay attention to the consistency of their own standards to reveal their agendas. Genuine human rights campaigners are supposed to care about oppression around the world. Someone who has no idea what has been going on in Sri Lanka or East Timor but is perpetually outraged about Israel isn't interested in human rights so much as in Israel. And that raises the question why.
Critics of Israel typically try to explain away such single mindedness by claiming that Israel is a unique case because Israel receives foreign aid, because Western countries helped bring Israel into existence or because Israel is more Western and should be held to higher standards. On closer examination though, all these arguments quickly fall apart. Israel receives foreign aid but so do Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and many countries that are genuinely repressive. Much of the Middle East consists of countries that America and Europe created by drawing lines on a map. If America and Europe are somehow responsible for Israel, why are they not responsible for Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria? And finally is Lebanon held to a higher standard because it is more Western and Democratic? In the face of reason such positions quickly fall apart.
Neither foreign aid, nor 'responsibility for the creation of Israel', nor democracy or any other excuse is at the heart of the reason why Israel is targeted in such a way. Among the world Israel is only unique in one way. Not in occupation of territory or its war with terrorism but in being the only Jewish state in the world. And it is its Jewishness that is at the heart of the concern of many of its critics, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
It is difficult to argue that were Israel populated by Arabs or Malay or Africans or Turks or Persians that it would receive a fraction of the attention that it does. There are too many examples that prove otherwise. For hundreds of millions around the world Israel plays a unique role, for good or bad, precisely because it is Jewish and how people approach Israel has most to do with their own religious beliefs or lack thereof and how that causes them to approach Jews as a people.
Muslim opposition to Israel is not rooted in love for the Palestinian Arabs, a phantom people who are routinely abused and despised in Arab countries. It is rooted in the Islamic inability to tolerate a non-Muslim regime, particularly a Jewish one, in their midst. Christian denominations break down their approach to Israel along theological lines, none of them truly accepting Israel over the long run as a enduring Jewish state populated by Jews who believe and practice Judaism.
The progressive left which has rejected a separate ethnic identity for Jews while welcoming and celebrating it among bona fide minorities views Israel as illegitimate because they view a separate Jewish identity as illegitimate, as testified to from the days of the French Revolution to the Soviet Union and to the modern assimilationist streams of Liberal Judaism. In this fundamentally Antisemitic or rather Judeopathic worldview, Arab identity is more authentic than Jewish identity and the artificial European imposed borders of Syria or Jordan are somehow more authentic than those of Israel.
It is not what Israel does that outrages the bulk of its critics and enemies. It is what Israel is. From that inescapable fact emerges both the problem and the solution. We cannot appease our critics. We can only do our best to survive them.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives over 350 million dollars annually, money lifted from taxpayers, to fund the programs primarily of the Public Broadcasting Service. Unlike the BBC in England which taxes individual television set owners to fund itself, the "PBS tax" is applied invisibly as part of the Federal budget. Even those who not watch PBS or TV are nevertheless paying the price for it.
Aside from its children's programming, PBS stations were known for producing very little of interest airing primarily obscure documentaries, airings of classic music and ballet and imported British dramas and comedies. Its news features were primarily bland as emphasized by the McNeil Lehrer news hour, an hour long newscast so grey and devoid of character it was nearly impossible to actually pay attention to. PBS of course suffered from an inevitable liberal bias and a liberal agenda but in its news features it was a classic bias that ran between the lines of print rather than being shouted through a megaphone.
Then came the megaphone. A good deal of the change could be ascribed to the overall changes that struck mainstream American liberals with the second Bush Administration. Politics had often been angry and the battle over Clinton's impeachment had struck sparks but had never touched off an explosion. Even in the darkest days of the emergence of the Republican Congress, American liberals had been able to smugly occupy the high ground of the Presidency. With the election of George W. Bush not only did Democrats lose the Presidency without the compensation of a Democratic held Congress but they found themselves coping with a President who unlike his father lacked the RealPolitik trademark of a savvy politician who understood the rules of the game. And there is nothing that quite infuriates liberals like a conservative who is a genuine idealist.
From the disputed Florida votes, the bastions of the American liberal press began exploding in an outpouring of frustrated fury unseen since the Reagan Administration. At PBS with little in the way of sponsors to satisfy and no worries about ratings or anyone to displease, Bill Moyers emerged as PBS's main Bush-Shouter. Like Keith Olbermann on MSNBC or Dan Rather on CBS, the Bush-Shouter was traditionally a middle aged white male who had been a longtime member of the press for whom George W. Bush's victory resulted in a sort of mental collapse leading to an increasingly deranged obsession with the President.
Dan Rather's Bush obsession eventually resulted in his firing when an attempt to smear Bush during the 2004 election using transparently forged documents backfired on him. Bill Moyers however could not be fired. An attempt by the former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcast to investigate Bill Moyer's bias instead led to his own forced resignation. Anchored by the bureaucratic culture of PBS, Bill Moyers continues delivering angry biased tirades at taxpayer expense.
A former Minister, Bill Moyers worked as a press secretary, chief of staff and special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson. After the Johnson administration Bill Moyers went on to what can only be euphemistically described as a career in journalism. In reality Bill Moyers primarily worked as a host and commentator for PBS which paid a former Democratic White House staffer to air his opinions on television at taxpayer expense. Those opinions were unsurprisingly liberal ones.
As time went on Bill Moyers became increasingly histrionic and increasingly impossible to restrain. While covering the 2004 Presidential election, Bill Moyers suggested that if Kerry won, Pro-Bush forces would launch a coup. By 2007 it was Bill Moyers himself who was proposing the coup holding a July broadcast proposing the impeachment of the President. Bill Moyers closed the broadcast with the following words,
"All week a line from the poet Marvin Bell floated through my mind:One can but speculate on what other "ways to go" Bill Moyers had in mind but his clear agenda was to call for the removal of the President and argued that the reason PBS was create was to propagandize a point of view against the war.
"What/shall we do, we who are at war but are asked/to pretend we are not?"
What shall we do? impeachment hearings are one way to go, as you heard Fein and Nichols say. In the meantime, those of us in public television have an obligation to make sure viewers like you stay in the loop. I wish we had carried the congressional debate this week in full -- all of it -- in prime time. When we broadcast teach-ins on the Vietnam war, and the Watergate hearings during the trial of Richard Nixon, it was a real public service -- the reason PBS was created. We should keep Iraq in prime time every week -- the fighting and dying, the suffering, the debate, the politics -- the extraordinary costs. It's months until September. This war is killing us now, body and soul.
That's it for the journal. I'm Bill Moyers."
By 2005 as a response to accusations of bias and broadcasts lacking in journalistic ethics and evidence, PBS had hired former Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler as its Ombudsman. Getler was to have autonomy and independence in examining PBS's broadcasts. Getler was from a Conservative and had been the foreign editor and assistant managing editor for foreign news at the Washington Post.
After Bill Moyers' 2007 impeachment broadcast, Michael Getler criticized the broadcast for a lack of balance. Bill Moyers replied rejecting the idea of balance or fairness and embracing advocacy with himself as the sole determinant of what ideas are advocated.
"I respect your work and your role, but I disagree with you about "balance." The journalist's job is not to achieve some mythical state of equilibrium between two opposing opinions out of some misshapen respect —sometimes, alas, reverence—for the prevailing consensus among the powers-that-be. The journalist's job is to seek out and offer the public the best thinking on an issue, event, or story. That's what I did regarding the argument for impeachment. Official Washington may not want to hear the best arguments for impeachment—or any at all—but a lot of America does."
As Bill Moyers sees his job, it isn't to offer points of view, it is to offer one point of view, his own, that shapes the dialogue. And if Bill Moyers wants to see the President impeached, then it's arguments for impeachment that will be presented and represented... because the best thinking on the issue is embodied by Bill Moyers himself.
By the end of August 2007, Michael Getler wrote comparing Bill Moyers to Richard Nixon and describing his tirades as "the gift that keeps on giving".
There does perhaps but more accurately Bill Moyers doesn't need to be broadcasting his agendas on the public dime. There is a place for columnists and pundits from all sides but there is no reason for government funding to be used to endorse one side or another. By continuing to air Bill Moyers' tirades, PBS is serving as a vehicle for increasingly virulent political propaganda by a former White House Press Secretary to a Democratic President who has demonstrated a great ability to hijack a public broadcasting service for his own agenda.
Over the last many years, reporters have grown fond of the once-secret tape recordings of White House conversations made by former President Richard Nixon. They are sometimes jokingly referred to as "the gift that keeps on giving," not just because each new batch that gets released is likely to reveal something new, but because they almost always produce stories and give journalists and commentators something to write about.I'm beginning to think the same way about Bill Moyers and his weekly Journal on PBS. A few months ago, soon after Moyers returned as a regular to PBS, I said, half-jokingly, that there may need to be an ombudsman just for Moyers.