Monday, December 31, 2007

Post-pone Atonement

The Last Amazon has a new mission in life this week.

She is taking me to watch chick flicks and insists she can keep me awake at the same time. Yesterday she took me to watch Atonement. It really is such a novel concept to me to have a daughter old enough to work as I can remember clearly and distinctly bringing her home from the hospital…Anyway, it has to be one of the most deeply dissatisfying movies I have watched in years which includes some horrendous kiddie flics. At least with the kiddie movies, the children had the decency to let me sleep through to the end rather than nudging me awake with a spark poke in the ribs every time I started to nod off.

Visually, the movie is stunning. The period costumes are gorgeous and the cinematography is fabulous. Ditto for the editing and clever sound effects. The actors’ performances are decent per say, and this should be a great movie, but it falls short of even the good mark. The movie suffers from characters whose motives remain entirely ambivalent and psychologically inconsistent. Add in a point of view which shifts around without rhyme or reason.

I haven’t read the novel so I am unsure if the sins of this movie are the result a weak director, screenplay, or just an all around week plot. It is hard for me to believe this movie is based on an actual novel rather than a short story. Either the movie left huge chunks of plot out or a certain publishing house needs to fire an editor or two. The plot has short story written all over it including the gimmicky ending. I admit I am not a big fan of short stories. From the point of view of a reader, short stories are the literary equivalent of an encounter with a premature ejaculator. Need I say more?

The Kiterunner, No Country for Old Men, PS I Love You and I Am Legend still to go. And no I haven’t read those books either.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Church of Nativity Rumble - brooms & stones

Not being one of Ann Coulter’s “perfected Jews” I suppose it is only natural that I take a rather dim view of perfection in action. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities. Any perceived encroachment on one group's turf can set off vicious feuds. On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners came to the fortress-like church to scrub and sweep the floors, walls and rafters ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in the first week of January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.

But the cleanup turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.

Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so the cleaning could continue, then ordered an Associated Press photographer out of the church.

Too bad the perfected Jews didn’t pay a little more attention to a Torah sage like Hillel the Elder. He suggested, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Law; the rest is the explanation; go and learn" (Shab. 31a)

Egged on... or Lost in Translation?

It is not a secret that I read Israeli papers on a daily basis but what might not be widely known is that I do read articles other than the latest kassam attacks, bombings, knifings, murders, highway sniper attacks, lynching news. And every once in a while I read something in an Israeli paper which makes me think it’s a new installment of Grim’s Fairy Tales.

This Ynet News story is the case in point.
Parliamentary aide to MK Nadia Hilou forced to leave post after his ultra-Orthodox future in-laws threatened to cancel the wedding if he continued to work for an Arab. Hilou: 'I never believed that racism would arrive at my doorstep'

There are a number of distinct possibilities here. Ynet News believes its readers have the lowest collective IQ in the known world. The Israeli Labour party has a litmus test for stupidity and MK Hilous passes with flying dumbness. MK Hilous accepts this decidedly stupid resignation story because she is an idiot with a chip on her shoulder. Or MK Hilous seizes the possibility to manipulate an employee’s resignation in order to twist and the victim card. Or her former employee is making it all up for reasons not known at this time.
Here is the money quote which exposes this story as an outright sham:
The aide in question asked to explain his side of the story to Ynet: "I'm secular, my girlfriend is a religious Breslav and her family is even more religious than she is. I grew up in Haifa with Arabs my whole life and I have no problem with them. I have good friends who are Arabs. I didn't think that working for an Arab MK would be a problem for my girlfriend's family." The assistant spoke about his attempts to dissuade the family from issuing their ultimatum. "I argued with them and tried to convince them. I told them that even Joseph worked for Pharaoh. "Unfortunately, it didn't work and it wasn't worth losing her over. It was extremely difficult for me to tell this to Nadia - she is truly doing blessed work in her capacity as a parliamentarian."

This might be believable but only if you have absolutely no concept of a Breslover Jew. I know Breslovers. It stretches the bounds of imagination to believe a ‘religious’ Breslover woman would ever even consider the possibility of a match with a ‘secular’ Jew – let alone have her parents and family agree to such a marriage unless he was 1) Baal Teshuva, and 2) agreed to make a commitment to the Breslover tradition. Even then, there is no way this would be a rushed match in order to ensure the ‘secular’ Jew didn’t once again become ‘secular’. I cannot see working for an “Arab” would be as much as an issue as having a boss who is a ‘woman’. Of course, not one word in this fairy tale will ring false to the Israel is Apartheid crowd.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Life does exist outside of blogging.

Posting has been slow and it probably will continue to be slow for the next two weeks. Not only am I on holidays, but school let out for the winter break last Friday. I am at home playing with my children. Blogging is way, way down my list of priorities. In fact, blogging is so far down the list I can’t even see it. Beating my youngest son at Guitar Hero 3, defending my title of reigning Battleship Queen from the Last Amazon, and watching "I, Claudius" with my oldest son top out the list. In between, we will eat a great deal, read a great deal, and laugh a whole lot as a family. I’ll be back sometime - probably when the children find having a stay-at-home parent is not just old but stale as well.

Friday, December 21, 2007

No life in Academia for me.

I am now firmly convinced I could never manage a doctoral program. If I had to write a paper on why Israeli Defenses Forces do not rape Palestinian women in the disputed territories, I would probably base my thesis on IDF codes of conduct. If time and glibness were an issue, I might suggest the difficulty lay in the inability of the average IDF soldier to correctly identify Palestinian men from Palestinian women. Never in a million years would this reason have occurred to me.

Mea Culpa.

h/t A Mother in Israel

Romney’s Problem: The Christmas in Cambodia Moment

Yesterday it was widely reported that GOP candidate Mitt Romney gave a speech saying he saw his father march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Apparently, the only people who ‘saw’ or ‘experienced’ it was Mitt Romney. He later explained it was some kind of illiterate use of the verb to see or to witness an experience. It really reminds me of the 2004 US presidential election when John Kerry would make reference to his Christmas spent in Cambodia. He too, used some kind of high fangled mangling of seeing or witnessing a past non-experience/event.

The problem with Mitt Romney is that he is the Republican John Kerry. He even has the same kind of hair. On paper, Mitt Romney seems like the ideal GOP candidate, and yet, he fails to light any fires with the Republican base despite a whole string of endorsements from the elite of the Republican vanguard. His staunch republican stances get a little flip-floppy when it comes to the bread and butter issues of social conservatism - like abortion or gay marriage, and that same flip-floppiness reeks of exactly what we have come to expect from liberal politicians from Massachusetts. Frankly, it unnerves or alienates most of the base.

The problem of Mitt Romney is one of passive aggressive credibility. He will say whatever you want to hear, and later do exactly what he pleases, and if you call him to task on it; he’ll issue a platitude about the prerogative of changing his mind which is designed to show off or highlight his resolute powers of mental flexibility.

All I really need to know now about Mitt Romney is whether Dr. King gave him a hat?

Talking Truce with Hamastan

After a hard week apparently Hamas is ready to talk turkey. This report is taken from Yahoo News:
GAZA CITY, Gaza City - On Islam's most important holiday, the leader of Gaza's Hamas government appealed Wednesday for a cease-fire with Israel and said his people — battered by Israeli military strikes and international sanctions — are greeting this year's feast with "tears in our eyes."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman said there could be no deals with Hamas until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel, though one Cabinet minister said Israel might consider outside mediation with the Islamic militants.
Israel and Hamas have never had direct contacts because of the group's violently anti-Israel ideology. But they have agreed to short truces negotiated by third parties.

The appeal from Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the Hamas government in Gaza, came in a phone call to an Israeli TV reporter, said Hamas spokesman Taher Nunu. It followed a two-day air assault by Israeli forces that killed 12 Gaza militants, two from Hamas and 10 from Islamic Jihad. Israel "should stop its attacks and siege," Nunu said. "Then a truce would be possible, and not unlikely." Hamas officials said they were working with other militant groups to try to stop the rocket fire into Israel and also sent overtures to Israel through unidentified third parties.

The innate problem with a truce with Hamas revolves around whether Hamas would actually live up to any agreement. Most people seem to have forgotten that a truce was already reached at the end of November 2006. In exchange for a full IDF pull-out of the Gaza Strip (ending Operation Summer Rains which was launched after the attack on an IDF base in Israel and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Hamas) the rocket fire on Israeli cities would end.

Less than 48 hours after the pull-out/truce, kassams were once again landing in Sderot. I can hear what the Palestinian Apologistas are probably saying. The truce was with Fatah and Hamas are much more trustworthy than those Fatah rogues. Well, that may be so, but then again, there is this report which suggests Hamas leader Haniyeh was more than ready to kidnap a few more Israeli soldiers less than 48 hours after the truce was agreed upon.

Hardly hudna-like talk. By Day 23 of the Ceasefire with Israel over 40 rockets had been launched against Israeli cities. It was only on Day 30 of the truce when two teenage Israeli boys were injured in a rocket attack in Sderot that the Israeli government made the decision to allow the IDF to act if it observed a rocket launch was imminent from the Gaza Strip.

Until that moment the Olmert government was fully prepared to let the Gaza Strip truce stand unanswered - despite 61 Palestinian violations. Frankly, I am not sure the Israeli civilians can afford too many more ceasefires. I am almost at the point of believing a nuke would be set off in Tel Aviv within 24 hours of a ‘final’ peace agreement being signed by the Palestinians.

It is long past the time for the leaders of Hamastan to wipe the crocodile tears off their faces, put on the big boy briefs, and live up to what was already agreed too. Maybe then, their word would have some rational or objective significance.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

There is no moral equivalency between nailing a mezuzah to a doorway and launching a rocket attack against a school.

Oops!!! Peace Now may have done it again according to this Arutz Sheva:
( The Peace Now movement is suspected of setting up a financial scam to mask the European sources of its funding for its reconnaissance work against Israeli Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.

The Non Profit Associations Registrar suspects Peace Now of operating a front organization for improper collection of funds, according to a report on Channel 2 TV by reporter Amit Segal. The radical left-wing Peace Now group allegedly used a non-profit organization (amuta) called Sha'al, which supposedly dealt with educational matters, to receive and disburse millions of shekels over a period of many years.

Some of the organization's donors were exposed in the course of the inquiry. They include the British government, which donated more that 500,000 shekels, Norway (800,000 shekels) and the European Union, which donated 451,000 shekels earmarked for Peace Now's ongoing "settlement hunting" activity: the documentation of construction activity by Jews in Judea and Samaria.

This is not the first time Peace Now has crossed the lines of legality. In 2004, journalist David Bedein revealed and later the Knesset Interior Committee confirmed that Peace Now had received a budget in the amount of 50,000 Euros from the government of Finland to conduct intelligence activities in Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, the Golan, Gaza and Jerusalem. The Israel Penal Code for Espionage was distributed to Knesset Interior Committees, with the third clause defining “photography of sensitive areas of Israel for any foreign power” as an act of espionage, punishable by ten years imprisonment if convicted.

It is not clear whether Segal's report was the result of a new investigative web site dedicated to researching and documenting the group's misdeeds. The Non Profit Associations Registrar summoned 'Peace Now' to a hearing and instructed them to reply to the allegations by December 31.

I cannot think of a more deserving ‘human rights’ organization for criminal persecution. Contrast this Peace Now faux outrage at the nailing of a mezuzah to a doorway entrance in Hebron (taken from the Jerusalem Post):
A mezuzah was affixed to a doorway of the entrance to the Casbah in Hebron by a military rabbi, several IDF soldiers and Chabad members, the Ynet web site revealed Thursday. In response, Peace Now has issued a statement condemning the event, "those who participated in this illegal political ceremony should be put to trial."

With their ongoing silence at a kassam attacks launched at a Sderot area schools. The kassam count for this month alone now stands at 165 rockets.

Remind me never to eat in North Carolina.

I admit I have a bias against pigs but this news tidbit just grossest me flat-out. My stomach is churning just thinking about. My stomacheFox News:
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- New data shows that pigs and hogs still outnumber people in North Carolina.

The U.S. Census Bureau released updated statistics Thursday in its latest edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States. The report in an official summary of data that includes population and mortality rates, along with more abstract data.

For example, there were almost 8.9 million people living in North Carolina in 2006, compared to 9.5 million pigs and hogs. That's second only to Iowa, which has 17.2 million.
Given the hog population, I am not surprised at all to learn that North Carolina also has the 4th highest infant mortality rate in the US.

Dream Deployments

I get a real kick out of these stories suggesting an international force be deployed in the disputed territories considering how frequently EU border monitors hightailed it into Israel whenever the Egyptian/Gaza border got Hamas scary.

In fact, I can find no evidence that the EU observers/border monitors ever went back to their post once Hamas consolidated their hold on the Gaza Strip last June. In what can only be described as an act of supreme act of irony, the EU border monitors have regrouped in the Israeli city of Ashkelon - allegedly waiting merely the opportunity to resume their posts.
The mechanism for an international security presence in the Gaza Strip "could be devised quickly" if Israel and the Palestinians reach an agreement on the matter, EU Middle East envoy Marc Otte told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. Otte said there is "definitely more interest than in the past" for the idea from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. "After the [Second] Lebanon War, the sides see the merit in an international security presence," Otte said, referring to the international force in southern Lebanon. At the same time, he said, "we are a long way away from implementation." Otte said that the EU was currently "in a listening mode" on the matter, adding: "We must make sure that all the parties are interested."

Both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have spoken positively about an international force in recent days, and they were not alone. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at Monday's donors' conference in Paris that France "proposes the deployment, when the time and conditions are right, of an international force to assist the Palestinian security services."

Abbas said Tuesday he supported Sarkozy's proposal, telling a press conference in Paris that he welcomed the idea. "We are working for this to become the international position in the near future," he said. Livni hinted at a NATO meeting in Brussels earlier this month that NATO would have to play a part in ensuring security if Israel were to carry out significant territorial concessions.

"Israel's ability to reach an agreement based on substantial territorial concessions directly relates to our need to make sure we do not jeopardize our security and our future. Here, I believe, the dialogue between Israel and NATO begins," Livni said.
"We are now in a process that is expected to strengthen the capabilities of the Palestinian Authority - so they would fight terror instead of Israel," Livni said. "However, one cannot exclude the possibility that we will need to discuss what can be the role of NATO in supporting the need for a change, a real change, on the ground."

Hamas spokesmen, however, have said consistently they would oppose any international force and view it as an occupier no different than Israel.

Unlike Livni, I really cannot see NATO taking a leading role in any international deployments to the Gaza Strip – even under a UN mandate. The lack of enthusiasm for deployment from NATO member nations in places like Afghanistan should serve as evidence that this idea is stillborn to say the least.

Furthermore, I cannot imagine a Canadian prime minister crazy enough to actually send a deployment of Canadian soldiers to the Gaza border….well, on second thought, maybe Taliban Jack would if he ever got elected.

Unholy See

Maybe it is time the Holy See actually started to vet representatives for anti-Semitism bias rather than using it as a litmus to act as emissaries in Israel. Potentially, relations might just improve if representatives from the Vatican didn’t make a point of going around offending their host nation on a regular basis. The Jerusalem Post
Israel's identity as a Jewish state discriminates against non-Jews, the Holy Land's top Roman Catholic clergyman said in a pre-Christmas address on Wednesday. "If there's a state of one religion, other religions are naturally discriminated against," Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah told reporters at the annual press conference he holds in Jerusalem before the Christian holiday.

In his address, which he read in Arabic and English, Sabbah said Israel should abandon its Jewish character in favor of a "political, normal state for Christians, Muslims and Jews." "This land cannot be exclusive for anyone," he said. With his statements Wednesday, Sabbah, a longtime advocate of the Palestinian cause, waded into a debate that has marred the fledgling peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel has defined itself as the homeland of the Jewish people since it was established in 1948.

Who knows, maybe the Latin Patriarch is just sore that Christians are losing the demographic war to the Jews in the Israeli state.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

They tried to make me go to Jihad, I said No, No, No.

This made my morning and I have been humming it ever since. h/t LGF

So what will $173,000 Canadian buy you in Toronto?

A 300 sq.ft. house. I suppose I could manage - providing the children had left home and had no intentions of ever coming back to visit or dropping in for tea.

Candid Camera Israeli style

No doubt there are those in the US State Department who will consider this Israeli action “unhelpful” to the peace process. Taken from a Jerusalem Post report:
Israel is sending video tapes showing Egyptian policemen assisting Palestinian terrorists along the Egypt-Gaza border to the United States Congress as part of an effort to influence the legislative body into clamping pressure on Cairo to stop weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

The video footage - which allegedly shows Egyptian security forces assisting Hamas terrorists cross illegally into Gaza - is being transferred to Congress through diplomatic channels and is intended for senior congressmen and senators who can have an effect on the House foreign aid appropriations process. Israel believes this can be an effective way of pressuring Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak into clamping down on Hamas smuggling activities.

The House and Senate agreed late Sunday on a 2008 foreign aid bill that would hold back $100 million in military aid for Egypt, out of a $1.3 billion allocation, unless US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certifies that concerns about smuggling weapons into Gaza and human rights abuses have been addressed. It is the first time that Egyptian military aid, supplied since the Camp David Accords, would potentially be restricted. However, the newly agreed bill weakens language in an earlier House bill, which would have held back $200m. without certification. In addition, it added a provision allowing the restriction to be waived - and the aid to flow as usual - if Rice deems that holding back the aid to Egypt would endanger US national security interests.

Whatever would the Israelis do without “peace” partners or so-called allies?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A new meaning to the term "going to the mattresses"

I am endlessly fascinated by the fact that I have produced three children from my DNA and not one of them shows the slightest resemblance in temperament to either me or their father. I remember being a teenager. Abate, I never was a male adolescent but I grew up surrounded by a surplus of male adolescents so I am not completely without experience of the male adolescent mind.

I am on holidays for the next three weeks and decided today would be laundry day. I was in the act of stripping my 15 year old son’s bed sheets off the bed and decided it was time to turn the mattress. I did have a momentary twinge about turning over the mattress but overall I was feeling particularly brave and resolute. What do I find lurking under the mattress? Penthouse, Playboy or Hustler?

No. I find this book. And yes, I suspect he is actually reading it. I found notes in the margins and he is using his favourite bookmarker to keep his place. I just don’t understand why nor why he is hiding it under his mattress, but then again, he did bring home an 88 in Latin. Who does that either – it is positively medieval.

It is not like I don’t have Jewish religious writings all around the house. I have a Siddur and a book of Tehillim as well as a number of discourses on the soul and spirituality. In the course of researching my novel, I have read extensively on the more esoteric writings from various rabbinical schools of orthodoxy and the books are scattered around the house. I remember last summer my The Seven Beggars went missing for a few weeks and didn’t think much about it until my son started to ask me about the use of Jewish allegories. He owned up to pilfering it.

I sat down on the bed and started to read his margin notes and I wondered what my grandfather would have made of it all. In my mind, I suddenly remember a favourite saying of his and I catch the echo of his voice saying, “What is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh”…but three generations removed?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let the Third Intifada begin!

Palestinians hit pay dirt according to this Bloomberg report:
Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Governments and international groups pledged $7.4 billion over the next three years to help Palestinians achieve statehood, a sum that beat the target set for a Paris aid conference.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who said ``the winners are the Palestinian people,'' announced the total today in a press conference. The Palestinian Authority said it needed $5.6 billion in the next three years for its development plan.
Of the amount pledged, $3.4 billion is for 2008, with $1.1 billion earmarked for the Palestinian budget and the rest for projects and humanitarian help.

So has anyone done the math on how many dead Jews one gets for $7.4 Billion over three years?

The Big Finn

Apparently, the Finns are worried Santa is going to be donning shorts and using camels to pull his sleigh according to this Breitbart report:
If the most dire climate forecasts come true the tourism industry in Europe's far north, already feeling the effects of global warming, may find itself promoting a Santa in shorts and a camel-drawn sleigh.

Each year at the end of autumn, residents, shopkeepers, travel agencies, reindeer herders and even politicians in the Finnish Arctic town of Rovaniemi -- home to Santa Claus' Village, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Finland -- look to the skies in the hopes of a snowy winter.

"Everyone working in tourism here is worried. The past three or four years have been difficult for us," says Jarmo Kariniemi, owner of the Santa Claus' Office in Rovaniemi which each year attracts 340,000 visitors eager to meet the "real" Father Christmas. This December, with only a few weeks to go before Christmas, there are only 20 centimeters (seven-and-a-half inches) of snow on the ground, just enough for snowmobiles and dog- and reindeer sleighs.

Fat Chance. Serves them right for trying to fool people into believing Santa doesn’t live in the Northern Canada.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow in the Centre of the Universe

The big story from the Centre of the Universe is that it has snowed, well, it is still snowing.

The last time I checked, 24cms of snow had fallen with another 6-10 cms of snow expected to land before night fall. This is the view from my porch on a major downtown street. We have yet to see the snow plows hit the road.

In most parts of Canada this wouldn't be news worthy, except this is the Centre of the Universe, which only sees minimum snow. Last year at this time I was running around outside without gloves or my coat done up and not a snow flake in sight. Good thing I bought snow boots this year. The last time we had a major snow fall like this one was the late 90's and the Mayor had to ask for the army reserve to be deployed to dig out the city.

Friday, December 14, 2007

About that right banner

In the last few days there have been a substantial number of new readers come to the blog via Treehugger at Stageleft and Dean Esmay’s blog courtesy of Naftali.

Personally, I am a little worried for Treehugger as he implores his readers to read more “Kateland”. I mean, he does realize I am a long time Zionist who has achieved the status and moniker of “The Zionist Hack” – right???? Or that I am a member in good standing at the International Jewish Conspiracy. In fact, in some non-Zionist circles I am regularly referred to as ‘that arab-hating judeo-nazi bitch’?

Naftali has picked up my post on a second Jewish state and the discussion it seems to have generated around whether it will be a Klingon or Space Viking state. Personally, I believe the commenters are missing the point because the Klingons created a huge expansionist empire which the Federation could not destroy. As for Space Vikings…that is just too weird. Maybe Intergalactic Maccabees.

What I wanted to point out to new readers, is that the web ad on the right is a little different than most blog web-ads. Firstly, it is an Israeli run and owned web-ad and like most blog web-ads it generates income when you click on it, but on my blog, all income is donated to various Israeli charities. Past recipients have been Standing Together and the campaign for Shirat-Hayam-Gush Katif.

So if you are inclined to be a mensch – right click now.

Because I am a giver

Earlier in the week I was looking for a gift for my recently turned 15th year old son and I wandered into Canadian Tire near my work and discovered a Dr. Scholl’s full length Massage Pad was on sale for $50 (in store sale only).

I couldn’t resist. When he comes home from his part-time job on the weekend he is utterly exhausted and can do nothing more than collapse on the couch and moan. Basically, he has stood anywhere from 14-16 hours. The massage pad just seemed like a good idea so I bought it. I carried it back to the office and left it by the side of my desk.

Every single man who walked by my desk had to do a double-take and read the box. Then they called other men over. Never had I had so many offers to test out a gift before I gave it to my son….after all, we wouldn’t want it to have a ‘short’ or have him disappointed because it did not work. Who knew the men in my office were such givers?

Then the day ends and I decide to take the bus home because I am carrying this big box. I am standing in line but I can’t help noticing this man is staring hard at my box. It’s obvious he’s reading all about the pad. I pipe up it also is heat activated with a hand control remote -a present for my son. He goes ‘ah’….and I get swarmed by a dozen men all wanting to know about the pad.

The bus shows up and I spend an entertaining 15 minutes surrounded by males who complain and joke about the kind of gifts they regularly receive from their wives, girlfriends, mothers and sisters. I also received a proposal of marriage and a plea for adoption before I got off the bus. I don’t think I will ever buy cologne, aftershave, socks or a sweater for another man as a gift as long as I live. Oh, and a shirt and tie…just don’t it ladies. And what did my man think of his gift? He says “ah” a lot when he uses it. He also has taken to carrying it everywhere in the house. He is never seen without it and he hides it before he leaves the house. He has already threatened to pulverize his younger brother to smithereens if Isaiah Sender merely touches it. In menspeak, this means he really, really likes it.

Ultimate affordable man gift - a full length massage pad. Who knew?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This is why I am no fun at parties…part xxxx

As startling as it might be to believe, I was once a rebellious 16 year old daughter. In fact, looking back, I was the daughter from hell. I would lay a bet that killing me crossed a few family minds at the time. My mother’s favourite curse line use to be “I hope you grow up and have a daughter just like you.” Everyone is much relieved that I didn’t grow-up to have a daughter who was just like me. So why didn’t they kill me? I certainly shamed them but at heart I come from a culture which placed supreme value in two distinct values. No person can be owned and wives and daughters are not property to be disposed as one sees fit or even wishes.

What brings this up? A sixteen year old girl has been murdered and her father has been charged with her murder. According to her school chums in this article from the Toronto Star she was killed by her refusal to wear the Hajib.
Friends at the victim’s school said she feared her father and had argued over her desire to shun the hijab, a traditional shoulder-length head scarf worn by females in devout Muslim families.
School chums say Aqsa had been arguing with her family for months over whether she should wear the hijab. Pal Ebonie Mitchell, 16, and other friends said Aqsa still wore the hijab to school last year, but rebelled against dressing in it this fall. They said she would leave home wearing the traditional garment and loose clothing, but would often change into tighter garments at school. She would change back for the bus trip home. "Sometimes she even changed her whole outfit in the washroom at school," Mitchell said.

The teen was known to her classmates and Facebook friends as Axa. She posted several pictures of herself on the website in colourful clothes and accessories. At Aqsa's high school, friends gathered in groups yesterday, struggling to come to grips with what happened and lamenting how she had quarrelled with her father to the point that she recently moved out to live with a friend.

"She said she was always scared of her dad, she was always scared of her brother ... and she's not scared of nobody," said classmate Ashley Garbutt, 16. "She didn't want to go home ... to the point where she actually wanted to go to shelters."

Friends said the root of her problems was a desire to blend in with friends at school, to wear the fashionable clothes she liked to buy on trips to Toronto's garment district, where she went with friends just last month.

I suspect there is more to this murder than just a daughter’s refusal to wear the hajib and dress modestly. A rebellious daughter tries the patience of all who love her.

In a world fraught with honour killings it is easy to lay the blame on Islam but it is not Islam which is at fault in Mississauga but a cultural ethos which perceives wives and daughters as mere property and holds the individual female subject to the whims of their rightful male owner. Every year in this country women are killed by their husbands and lovers because another believes they are their property to do with as they will. Every year in this country, there are literally thousands of women and daughters who are beaten by another who believes they are property - chattel. And the vast majority - are not even Muslim.

I may personally believe Islam is a false religion but I have yet to meet anyone who is a false “individual”. I believe individuals have the right to whatever they want to believe as long as it does not subjugate the personal rights of another. I don’t even have a problem with Muslim women who wear the hajib or dress modestly. Frankly, as a conservative living in Canada, I can see great value in all of us dressing more modestly. And what woman hasn’t had a bad hair day? Barring a wig or a hat, the Hajib is the cure-all for bad hair days.

I remember a time in the not so distant past when Christian men and women believed that fathers and husbands had a god-given right to beat their rebellious wives or daughters in this country. The neighbors would no more call the police or interfere with a man’s right to “discipline” his “rebellious” wife or daughter. And sometimes those same Christian men went to jail for murdering those rebellious wives and daughters. They would even quote Christian scripture in their defense.

In these times, it is easy to lash out and blame Islam or Muslims for the death of a rebellious daughter but we live in perilous times. We are in a cultural battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims every where against the religious extremists who seek the submission of our culture or our death. Every time we lash out and blame “Islam” for the sins of culture we drive moderate Muslims away from our common cause. We need to look to our own roots for solutions.

A neighbor of mine runs a pizza parlour down the street. He is a religious Muslim man. I have known him for almost 13 years. I know his wife, son and all four daughters too. Actually, he was once a refugee from Iran. After the Mullah’s came to power and he saw what was being done in the name of religion, he feared for the lives of his wife and daughter so he fled Iran with his family, and was eventually granted refuge in Canada. He loves his family and he loves living in Canada. He has even had a rebellious daughter to try his heart. He took great comfort in the fact I was once a rebellious daughter so he has hope in this country for her future - even if her long green hair makes him cringe every time he watches her going out the door.

He believes Canada is the greatest country in the world and his world includes America. And just why is he such a great Canadian patriot? Because, he found a country which allowed him to make a home, gave him the freedom to be and practice his religious beliefs according to the dictates of his own conscience. He did not flee persecution from religious tyranny by Muslim theocrats to come to another country to be persecuted for his religious beliefs. We could all do with remembering, in this country, his case is not the exception.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Vertical Leadership

I seem to have turned into the blog into the font of all things Huckabee. I didn’t mean to but its hard reading and watching so many get it so wrong. Personally, I am a McCain/Thompson kind of gal, though, I doubt either have the withal to take the nomination. And even McCain likes Huckabee. Imagine a McCain/Huckabee or Huckabee/McCain ticket…never thought of that….possibilities, possibilities. Am I smelling a convention deal????

When I wrote about the Republican nomination would be the battle for the conservative soul of the party I had no idea that National Review Online would be go so far as throw out all pretenses to the wind and morph into becoming the 24/7 ShuckaHuck team. Makes me wonder if Mitt Romney has just bought NRO and become the new publisher. Somehow I think turning the phrase “Holiday Inn Express Candidate” against Huckabee will come back to haunt the editors at National Review in the future. That being said, watching the established conservative pundits come out gunning against Huckabee on the weekend, it has been somewhat satisfying watching him still leading in the polls.

If you really think Mike’s vertical rise will be halted or has particularly harmed his chances with Republican voters for suggesting quarantine for Aids patients eons ago, I have a swamp land in Florida to sell you. When the founder and former editor of National Review can write a column eons ago suggesting all Aids patients be tattooed and not be lynched - a quarantine sounds absolutely humane in comparison.

There is only so much mileage one can get from the Dumond case. The bottom line is; the man was physically castrated by a vigilante group while awaiting trial so no doubt the former governor rationalized with a de facto castration, time already served, sponsors and employment opportunities lined up - the chances for rehabilitation were high. Though ultimately, it was the full responsibility of the Arkansas parole board who let Dumond go - governor or no governor. While Huckabee’s record for pardons and clemencies is high, you cannot ignore that under his tenure, Arkansas’ prison population doubled. Furthermore, Huckabee holds the dubious honour of having held a record number of executions during his terms in office. When discussing Huckabee’s record one must know the legal difference between pardons and clemencies. I suspect Huckabee’s record is strong on clemencies while weaker on outright pardons but I won’t bet on it either. Hence, the innate problem of having a Christian governor act in accordance to Christian doctrine while in office.

You know what I would really enjoy? Watching the Hillary/Huckabee debates. Her repulsive factor is so huge and his likeability so high. What can she do to counteract that - cry? Then watching the debate move to the sphere of ethics and pardons without the word Whitewater or the name Marc Rich coming up. Oh, oh, oh, watching Hillary talk about her faith….I am laughing and rolling on the floor already. What can she do? Bring out Wet Willie and his sax? Then Huckabee gets to come out with a guitar and his band. Guitar trumps sax.

Second only in enjoyment to watching the Hillary/Huckabee debates, will be watching the mainstream conservative pundits having to write a whole lot of crow for Huckabee or risk Her Darkness coming to Whitehouse. I just can’t wait. Canadian politics is never so entertaining.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A second Jewish state?

This idea doesn’t surprise me and I think this idea was a given, considering the demonization of both the religious and the settler movement since the Oslo process. Couple that with the dereliction of duty shown by the Israel government towards cities under siege in Israel and it was only a matter of time before someone stood up and said – we will found our own state. The Jerusalem Post reports:
The time has come to prepare to secede from the State of Israel and to present initial steps for the creation of an autonomous state in Judea and Samaria, should the government move forward with plans to withdraw from those areas, Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

"If the government withdraws from Judea and Samaria, then we will start a new state," said Wolpe.

He plans to publish his views in an article that will appear this Shabbat in a weekly pamphlet called Our Land of Israel that is distributed to synagogues. Wolpe is the founder of Ha'Matteh L'Hatzolat Ha'Am V'Ha'Aretz - SOS Israel, a grassroots umbrella organization of right-wing groups who believe that Judea and Samaria belong to Jews and should remain in Jewish hands. SOS has joined Wolpe in this initiative and, as an initial step, SOS has organized a contest to choose a flag and a national anthem for the autonomous state.

Following the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and four communities in Samaria, Wolpe concluded that it would be best to organize early, and to take more dramatic steps. "Why should we wait until soldiers come to people's homes," said Wolpe.

What does surprise me is how long it has taken for someone to come to this point and publicly announce it. Will the movement grow? In fits and starts. Will a second Jewish state be feasibly established? Maybe, maybe not. And if not today, maybe tomorrow, or the day after. Once the dream of statehood is shared it becomes almost impossible to kill the concept. Besides, there is already is a historical precedent for a second Jewish state to be established, and sadly, it would be for much the same reasons today as it was millenniums ago.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Saudis would rather cut off their noses to spite the Jews.

The Saudi thirst for knowledge ends at the borders of Israel.
Arab officials have rejected a UN proposal to set up a regional environmental training center in the Middle East because it would include Israel, a Saudi official said Wednesday. Prince Turki bin Nasser, Saudi official in charge of environmental affairs said the United Nations should establish an Arab-only environment training center instead.

"Arabs do not need training from Israel," Turki said following one-day discussions of Arab League nations' environment ministers in Cairo. He added the Arab governments would discuss the proposal further with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It is unclear when the United Nation’s environment program proposed the center. Its office in Cairo was closed after working hours Wednesday. Arab officials met at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital and discussed environmental challenges the region faces due to climate changes. (Jerusalem Post)

Who knew, those Stewards of Sand, already know how to make the desert bloom and just choose not to?

The Massachusetts Goliath vs. the David from Hope

Republican nominee Mitt Romney is set to give the "faith speech" today and the Corner at National Review is all a flutter in the ‘Go Romney’ camp and a decided ‘boo’ ethos has taken root among the NRO team in the last 24 hours towards Huckabee. Romney, for those not in the know, is a practicing Mormon and within GOP circles; this issue is now coming to a head because of the remarkable Huckaboom going on across the GOP.

I don't remember which American political pundit said America elects a president that ordinary Americans would most like to share a beer and a hot dog with but in its simplicity it captures completely one essence of the unique American body politic. Americans like the idea of approachable Presidents. They want their presidents to either inspire them to higher heights or talk to them as equals no matter how lofty these man stand above them as their social and/or intellectual betters. Part of the JFK ethos was his ability to communicate warmth and goodwill to the 'common man' from his position of privilege.

A few months ago, I laid out my pet theory of the American political landscape circa 2008 with the pull factor. At the time, the Other Guy from Hope was polling pretty shabbily across the nation and the Huckaboom hadn't traveled very far across the GOP. I am probably one of the few Canadians who are not surprised to see Mike Huckabee's rather remarkable rise in the polls.

In some ways, I feel the pain of the American GOP. Their choice is to elect a Republican ticket which reflects a pure nature to American conservatism but leads to the road of electoral Pretoria. Or elect a nomination who will carry the Republican ticket all along the road to conservative perdition but stops directly at the Presidency of the United States.

Mitt Romney is a practicing Mormon but for the question of the presidency; he might as well be Scientologist, and you need to ask yourself if the American people are really ready to elect a Scientologist as President of the United States of America? My money says they are not. America is a land where you are free to believe whatever far-fetched notion takes your fancy with relative impunity or even start your own church/religion. You can even be a practicing 'whatever' and rise up in your community into a position of leadership and serve with distinction. In fact, you might even make it as far as the governor's chair - providing you are running in state with a high moonbat ratio.

But let's apply the beer and hot dogs litmus test to Romney and see how he fares. Ooops! - Romney fails there, and not because he's on the wagon which Joe America could forgive him for, but because his religion dictates no beer allowed. America may brew some of the most horrendous beers known to man on the face of the planet but there is almost un-American about the ability not to have a beer now and then. Huckabee might drink light beer and request his hot dog on a whole wheat bun but afterwards he’ll be able to sit in with the band and do a few licks to “smoke on the water”. Huckabee is how one spells AMERICAN.

No matter where one starts with Romney one always comes down to his belief in his religious beliefs. Many conservatives in the body politic are amoured of Romney because he “shares their values” if not their beliefs. Let us not even get on the slippery slip with Romney’s changing positions on gay marriage and abortion. But with Huck, he doesn’t have to share your “values” because he is your belief. Bush campaigned on compassionate conservatism while Huck is the compassionate conservative in action. I have no doubt that Huck is a Nanny Stater conservative but his brand of Nanny Statism will have incredible pull factor among potential democratic voters. Given a choice between Hillary and the Huck is like voting for beauty and the beast.

All of which is why Mitt Romney is about to make the second biggest mistake of his political career by giving the "faith speech". I have no doubt Romney will give a speech based upon the notion that American was founded on the principles of religious liberty and how the American forefather's enshrined religious liberty as a constitutional right of all Americans but its just not going to fly. The more Romney talks about religious faith the more the public will become curious about the theological basis for his beliefs. No matter how stirring his speech is it will probably lead to curiosity. And no one should want your average garden variety Christian taking a peek at Mormon theology during an election year. And I am not even going to get into the special role racism has placed in Mormon theology because it just gets downright ugly and nasty. I can’t think of anything better designed to make the GOP stay home or vote for Hillary. She maybe a shrewd but she is a shrewd you can understand and no one thinks she is white because she has less spiritual sins.

The more Romney talks about his faith, the better positioned Huckabee becomes and then everything takes on a Christian narrative. This puts Romney at a distinct disadvantage. Take Iowa for example. Romney has literally spent a king’s fortune trying to improve his position in the Iowa caucus from approximately 25% to 25%. Huckabee has nowhere near even a quarter of millions which Romney has already spent to buy advertising, and yet, Huck’s polling at par or better. Classic David and Goliath scenario, and who in America doesn’t root for the underdog? Not only that, but what would the Iowa caucus make of man who believes Jesus was born in Jerusalem and not Bethlehem during the height of the Christmas season?

I am starting to think there must be something in the water of the American South which makes southern men so utterly seductive and slick. I really know very little about the history of Southern politics but it does seem to breed politicians who while seemingly gentile on the surface but become downright hardcore when scratched.

For example, the Dumond case is now coming back to “haunt” Huckabee. The established media pundits are hoping to be able to deaden and muffle the sound of the Huckaboom with it, and good luck to them. They are going to need it because it once again reinforces the Christian narrative in Huck’s favour. And on one does remorse quite like a former Southern Baptist minister. Here is a prime example of what I mean. Bryon York’s column on Huckabee and the Dumond case. York comes down hard on Huckabee and nails him to the cross, and what does Huckabee do? He wraps himself up in basic Christian redemption doctrine and sings Amazing Grace; which makes the reader question why York wants to drive another nail into the guy already hanging on the cross?

Romney may give the speech of his career today on have the crowd standing and cheering, and the hearts at the Corner may all go a flutter, but after Romney gives the “faith” speech means Huck can now give one too. And when Huckabee gives the speech – it will put fire in their belly.

Same old, same old French

I was really not amoured of Sarkozy coming to power in France and didn’t bother to comment because I couldn’t see anything to get excited about. Being labelled "rightwing" in France is still being on the leftside of Lenin. It looked like the same old same old to me. Ynet News:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy pressed the case for Palestinian statehood, saying the lack of a state is ''an injustice that France will not accept.'' In a speech to Algerian students Wednesday, the French leader also said that the sharing of civilian nuclear technology should form the foundation of a ''pact of trust that the West must reach with the Muslim world.''

France generates most of its electricity with nuclear power and wants to export the technology and its expertise. It signed a nuclear cooperation accord with Algeria on Tuesday, the second day of Sarkozy's visit, that would allow for transfer of technology and the eventual construction of a nuclear reactor for civilian use in this North African nation.

In his address to students at a university in Constantine, Sarkozy suggested that establishing a Palestinian state would help the fight against terrorism. ''It is from a feeling of injustice that the terrorists derive their greatest strengths,'' he said. ''Depriving the Palestinians of a nation state is an injustice that France will not accept.''
The only ones depriving the Palestinians of a state is, well, the Palestinians and as for conferring statehood on the Palestinians in an effort to fight terrorism…just how well do you think that is working out in the Gaza Strip? Now, can we all go back to referring to the French cheese-eating surrender monkeys?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A world is lost

My oldest son Montana never particularly enjoyed art or coloring from the get go. In pre-school, he preferred to build or dance over painting and drawing. By the time he was old enough to experience his first serious run-ins with a teacher - it was his “official” art teacher. One does not normally think of an art teacher as being potentially abusive or the most toxic of teachers, but this man was absolutely deadly. Under his tutorage, my son went from being indifferent to paintings, drawing and coloring to absolutely loathing art in all forms.

In grade two, I tried to stem the toxic teacher’s tide by formally introducing Montana to other forms and styles of art. Nothing really clicked for him until we went to see the work of Norval Morrisseau. Finally, a painting spoke to his soul and he found a purpose for art – well, at least for some of it. Montana, still can’t be bother with most art, but he would never turn down a Morrisseau piece to hang on the wall of his room.

Godspeed Morrisseau

This could be one of the reasons Atheists get such poor PR

Richard Dawkins on "sexual jealous".
Just as we rise above nature when we spend time writing a book or a symphony rather than devoting our time to sowing our selfish genes and fighting our rivals, so mightn't we rise above nature when tempted by the vice of sexual jealousy?

I, for one, feel drawn to the idea that there is something noble and virtuous in rising above nature in this way. I admit that I have, at times in my life, been jealous, but it is one of the things I now regret. Assuming that such practical matters as sexually transmitted diseases and the paternity of children can be sorted out (and nowadays DNA testing will clinch that for you if you are sufficiently suspicious, which I am not), what, actually, is wrong with loving more than one person? Why should you deny your loved one the pleasure of sexual encounters with others, if he or she is that way inclined? The British writer Julie Burchill is not somebody I usually quote (imagine a sort of intelligent Ann Coulter speaking with a British accent in a voice like Minnie Mouse) but I was struck by one of her remarks. I can't find the exact quote, but it was to the effect that, however much you love your mate (of either sex in the case of the bisexual Burchill) sex with a stranger is almost always more exciting, purely because it is a stranger. An exaggeration, no doubt, but the same grain of truth lurks in Woody Allen's "Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go it's one of the best."
I don't really know how typical this kind of thinking and/or ethics this is among atheists, but if it is, I need to strike atheists off the suitable list, and just go for a Talmud scholar next time I feel the need to get married. Preferably a scholar who knows the meaning of tractate Bava Metzia 59a.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Midnight in Bethlehem, and not a Christian in the House

I have always found it strange how few organized Christian groups like Presbyterians or the World Council of Churches, (who will rally at any alleged Israeli (Jewish) outrage and propose boycott on a dime), are silent and deaf when it comes to the plight of their co-religionists under the Palestinian Authority. And I am not the only one who has noticed. The Jerusalem Post carried this report:
The ever-dwindling Christian communities living in Palestinian-run territories in the West Bank and Gaza are likely to dissipate completely within the next 15 years as a result of increasing Muslim persecution and maltreatment, an Israeli scholar said Monday."The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs," said Justus Reid Weiner, an international human rights lawyer in an address at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he serves as a scholar in residence.

He cited Muslim harassment and persecution as the main cause of the "acute human rights crisis" facing Christian Arabs, and predicted that unless governments or institutions step in to remedy the situation - such as with job opportunities - there will be no more Christian communities living in the Palestinians territories within 15 years, with only a few Western Christians and top clergymen left in the area.

"Christian leaders are being forced to abandon their followers to the forces of radical Islam," Weiner said. Facing a pernicious mixture of persecution and economic hardships as a result of years of Palestinian violence and Israeli counter-terrorism measures, tens of thousands of Christian Arabs have left the Palestinian territories for a better life in the West, in a continuing exodus which has led some Christian leaders to warn that the faith could be virtually extinct in its birthplace in a matter of decades.

The Palestinian Christian population has dipped to 1.5 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, down from at least 15% a half century ago, according to some estimates. No one city in the Holy Land is more indicative of the great exodus of Christians than Bethlehem, which fell under full Palestinian control last decade as part of the Oslo Accords. The town of 30,000 is now less than 20% Christian, after decades when Christians were the majority. Elsewhere in the Palestinian territories, only about 3,000 Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox, live in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, out of a strongly conservative Muslim population of 1.4 million.

"In a society where Arab Christians have no voice and no protection it is no surprise that they are leaving," he said. In his address, Weiner pointedly downplayed the effects that Israeli security measures, such as the security barrier being built between Israel and the West Bank, have had on the Christian Arabs living in the West Bank.

The barrier, which is especially conspicuous at the entrance to Bethlehem where it is a concrete wall, is an issue which many Palestinian Christian clerics have pointed to, along with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a central cause of Christian emigration. Weiner argued there was a "180 degree difference" between the public statements coming out of the mainstream Christian leadership in the Holy Land - who "sing the PA's tune" and blame Israel for all the Christian Arabs' ills - and people's experience on the ground. "The truth is beginning to come out," he said. "The question is what is being done with the truth." His comments come just months after a prominent Christian activist, Rami Khader Ayyad, 32, was killed in Gaza.
Imagine, midnight Christmas Eve in Bethlehem and not a single Christian in Church of the Nativity.

What’s love got to do with it?

The Canadian Ambassador has been expelled from Iran.
OTTAWA – Canada's ambassador to Iran has been ordered to leave the country, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said late Monday. Bernier says the decision is entirely unjustifiable. "We stand behind our ambassador, who has performed his diplomatic duties with professionalism and dedication," the minister said in a statement.

The diplomatic slap came one day after the Iranian charge d'affaires expressed frustration that his country's overtures to Canada were being ignored by the Harper government.Seyed Mahdi Mohebi said in an interview with The Canadian Press that he has twice asked for a resumption of high-level contacts up to the foreign minister level. "It is one-sided love," Mohebi said in an interview conducted in Farsi. "Love should be mutual." (Toronto Star)

I tried, but I just can’t get choked up over this.

Ya'acov Crow is alive & well

The Toronto Star leads with Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas closing 92 Hamas affiliated charities.
RAMALLAH, West Bank–Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has closed 92 charities linked to Hamas, officials say, part of an intensifying West Bank crackdown on the Islamic militants who seized the Gaza Strip and are challenging renewed peace talks with Israel.

Israel released 429 Palestinian prisoners yesterday, trying to bolster Abbas and build on momentum from last week's Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, Md., where Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to try to reach a peace deal in 2008.

Joy mixed with tears as buses carrying the prisoners, most from Abbas's Fatah movement, rolled into his walled headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Many had been arrested at the height of the Palestinians uprising several years ago.

A search of the Toronto Star archives shows not one word has been printed to report that the murder of an Israeli civilian last week by three members of Abbas’ American trained and financed Palestinian Authority Security forces.
Palestinian policemen were behind the shooting attack last week which killed Ido Zoldan, a 29-year-old father of two from the settlement of Shavei Shomron, the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed Sunday night.
Zoldan was killed last Monday night - the day before the Annapolis summit began - when shots were fired at his car as he drove past the Palestinian village of al-Punduk.

The three members of the cell were Palestinian policemen and members of the Palestinian National Security Force, in which Israel and the United States have been investing as part of the international effort to strengthen Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government. (Jerusalem Post)

Of course, during the big love that was Annapolis last week, the Toronto Star also neglected to report that the Bush Administration brought the Israeli delegation into the Conference area through the service entrance in order to avoid offending Arab sensibilities. This way the entrance way would remain “Jew Free” and be used safely by all arab delegations. Here’s an excerpt from Caroline Glick’s Apartheid, Not Peace column.
This week the Bush Administration legitimized Arab anti-Semitism. In an effort to please the Saudis and their Arab brothers, the Bush administration agreed to physically separate the Jews from the Arabs at the Annapolis conference in a manner that aligns with the apartheid policies of the Arab world which prohibit Israelis from setting foot on Arab soil.

Evident everywhere, the discrimination against Israel received its starkest expression at the main assembly of the Annapolis conference on Tuesday. There, in accordance with Saudi demands, the Americans prohibited Israeli representatives from entering the hall through the same door as the Arabs.

At the meeting of foreign ministers on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called her Arab counterparts to task for their discriminatory treatment. "Why doesn't anyone want to shake my hand? Why doesn't anyone want to be seen speaking to me?" she asked pointedly.

Israel's humiliated foreign minister did not receive support from her American counterpart. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spent her childhood years in the segregated American South, sided with the Arabs. Although polite enough to note that she doesn't support the slaughter of Israelis, she made no bones about the fact that her true sympathies lie with the racist Arabs.

As she put it, "I know what it is like to hear that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are a Palestinian. I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."

Rice's remarks make clear that for the Secretary of State there is no difference between Israelis trying to defend themselves from a jihadist Palestinian society which supports the destruction of the Jewish state and bigoted white Southerners who oppressed African Americans because of the color of their skin. It is true that Israel has security concerns, but as far as Rice is concerned, the Palestinians are the innocent victims. They are the ones who are discriminated against and humiliated, not Livni, who was forced - by Rice - to enter the conference through the service entrance.

What I want to know is how Rice feels about being forced to use the service entrances? I gather the Bush Administration is just fine with that.

Double the budget

One of the things I have always wondered about is when the International community will decide enough is enough and wean the Palestinians off the international dole. Jerusalem Post contains the latest ‘budgetary demand’ from the Palestinian Authority:
The Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank will ask donor countries for $5.5 billion in aid for 2008-2010, or nearly double the current annual amount, the Palestinian planning minister said Sunday. Donor countries are to meet in Paris on December 17 to discuss the level of aid to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Donors hoping to build on last week's Annapolis conference, are expected to provide generous support to the Palestinians, said Planning Minister Samir Abdullah. "The important success that was achieved in Annapolis will create a positive atmosphere in Paris," he said. He said 70 percent of the money would go for budget support and 30 percent for development projects.

And just in case you think Fatah does not have a generous streak towards Hamas I add this tidbit from Planning Minister Samir Abdullah:
He said money would be spent not only in the West Bank, which is controlled by Abbas, but also in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

Someone has to pay for the continued kassam attacks.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Moderate Leader

Ah, what a little burden truth becomes when it gets in the way of moderation. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday reiterated his rejection of Israel's demand to recognize it as a Jewish state. "From a historical perspective, there are two states: Israel and Palestine. In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else," Abbas told reporters before leaving for Saudi Arabia where he met Saudi King Abdullah for talks on the results of the Annapolis conference.

I am so glad that PA Chairman cleared up any ambiguity in his position on Israel being the Jewish state.

Who knew purple was for wusses?

I bought an ipod shuffle for my oldest son last night. I came home and showed the Last Amazon and her brother Isaiah Sender. They laughed at me and told me to take it back. Apparently purple is not a macho colour nor manly enough for their brother. I said, “oh yeah, what about Prince! He choose purple.” The Last Amazon rolls her eyes at me and uses the old “oh, mother” phrase. Isaiah Sender dropped to the floor laughing hysterically choking out a few “Prince, Prince!” between breathes. It was at that point I started to worry maybe I did make a mistake in the colour.

The Last Amazon has metallic pink, Isaiah Sender has metallic blue and Apple has come out with these really wussy colours. Faded pastel green, washed out blue, royal purple, boring silver and red. I wanted a red one. I like red. Purple seemed like a good idea for son.

I decide to wait for Montana to come home and asked him what colour he wanted and what did he feel about purple. He says, he’d rather not have an ipod if all they have left is purple. He would feel like a wuss wearing it. Silver or red would be okay but not purple.

I decide to keep the purple. I’ll use it. I wanted a new one as my old one died and I have been using the Last Amazon’s old shuffle. I’ll go back to the store tomorrow and buy him the silver one. But I ask, who knew purple was a poor choice?

The Galus Jew

One of the things I enjoy about blogs is how they make me think. Not all blogs and not even all blog posts, but often enough, I read something on a blog and go ‘ahhhhh’ and must pause to digest what I have just read. Rarely does a newspaper article give me that same pause, and often, opinion pieces either reinforce a negative or positive viewpoint but I can’t really say it gives me the same pause moment I have gotten from reading bloggers.

Joe Settler is one of those blogs that often gives me the pause moment. I don’t always agree with Joe -well maybe I do - as I cannot remember off the top of my head when I have actually disagreed with one of his opinions but he often writes something which gives me one of those pause moments. I once ended up in a rhetorical argument wherein I was defending Joe’s honour on another Canadian blog – as if Joe needed me to defend his honour. He seems quite adapt on his own but the odds of him showing up were practically nil nor does Joe strike me as the kind of guy who really cares what a couple of bloggers in Canada write or think of him but I didn’t want what was read about him to go on unchallenged.

Today, Joe gave me quite the pause moment with a post on Israeli Prime Minister’s Ehud Olmert. I just took it as a given that Ehud Olmert was a stupid man given his record as Prime Minister and the numerous stupid decisions he has made as leader. I gave Olmert credit for cageyness but really never thought of him more than the lackey on the coattails of others more intelligent and astute than him. Joe rightly points out he isn’t a stupid man and what did he feel at Annapolis? Read Joe’s post here and then come back.

A few months ago Olmert was asked if he thought of himself as an Israeli or a Jew. Olmert answered when he was younger he would have answered Israeli but now he thinks of himself more as a Jew which gave me a good laugh. I was wrong to laugh. He might not be a religious Jew but he is a Jew. Joe asks, what did he think and feel at Annapolis when he had to actually watch the font of hatred surrounding him? I think he felt fear. I think he has been feeling fear all along.

As prime minister of Israel he would have a view of the world that few of us actually experience in full measure. I suspect the full depth and breadth of what he has seen has terrified and scared him so deeply that he cannot do other than what he has done because his fear is ruling him. That all consuming fear is why he keeps making the terrible decisions he has and why it is so much easier for him to confront and fight Jews rather than confront and strike back against his real enemies.

Most of us, when confronted with that fear instinctively want to hunker down and hide rather than stand out and risk being a target. Olmert is a Jew but not a religious one which means he not only lacks faith but true emuna. He fears he cannot call out to G-d because he does not know how nor does he believe he will be answered if he tries. So instead, he hunkers down in his spidey hole. Every so often he lifts his head and throws out a few tidbits to the crocs in the hopes that they don’t come looking or gunning for him and his people.

Joe asks if Olmert felt like a Galus Jew? I’d answer - pretty much.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

the Beardless Emperor

I admit I kind of get a perverse kick out of these stories for their “Emperor has no clothes” moment. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
Nearly a decade ago, former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was so upset with Hamas that he ordered his security forces to arrest leaders of the Islamist movement and shave their beards. The move was intended to humiliate the Hamas leaders, who were embarrassed to appear in public beardless after they were freed. Many Hamas members then shaved their beards voluntarily to avoid being arrested by the PA security forces.

Now Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces are working hard to thwart any attempt by Hamas to seize the West Bank, has renewed the policy of shaving the beards of Hamas figures. A senior Hamas figure from the village of Skaka near Nablus is the latest victim of the beard-shaving policy. Sheikh Husam Harb, 48, who has been wearing a beard ever since he was a teenager, was arrested by Abbas's security forces in mid-October on charges of membership in Hamas.
Anas al-Haj, a 20 year-old bearded man from the Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, said he was kidnapped by PA policemen who stopped a taxi he was riding "because I was the only one with a beard." He said the policemen took him to a security installation, where they beat him severely and extinguished cigarettes on his beard and other parts of the body.

Haj said that while in detention he met another young man, Husam Abu Qainas, who was also wearing a beard. He said the PA policemen took them to a tower in Gaza City, where they pushed Abu Qainas to his death from the 14th floor.

"Abu Qainas was actually a member of the Palestinian security forces," he added. "On the way to the tower, he kept pleading with the policemen to let him go because he was not a member of Hamas. But they didn't believe him. They asked him, 'If you are really not from Hamas, how come you have a beard?' He replied that he was too poor to buy razors and that's why he hadn't shaved his face. But they did not believe him and pushed him to his death."

Haj said he was then taken to a security compound, where he was shot 12 times in the legs. "I tried to explain to them that I'm not from Hamas, but they didn't want to listen," he said. "My only crime, like that of Husam Abu Qainas, was that I had a beard. For them this was enough to shoot me and kill him."

And these represent the forces of the so-called moderate Palestinians. Every time I read or hear someone maintain that Fatah is so much more moderate than Hamas I have this desire to pull-up my archives and shove them down their throat or ask what cave they have been hiding in for the last 35 years or so? Fatah has forgotten more ways to torture than Hamas has committed atrocities.

I have been remiss in not posting this story from the West Bank earlier in the week. The Jerusalem Post reports 60 were injured in this clash with the Palestinian Security forces at a funeral:
"Today we are going to break the bones of anyone who dares to demonstrate in the street," a Palestinian police officer shouted at a group of journalists as they arrived to cover the funeral of a man who was killed a day earlier during protests against the Annapolis peace conference. "Are you from the Aksa TV?" another police officer jokingly asked a Danish TV crew, referring to the Hamas-run station.

The two officers were among some 300 policemen who were deployed outside the Hussein mosque in the center of this city to prevent an outbreak of violence during the funeral of Hisham al-Baradi, 37. Baradi, a member of the Islamic fundamentalist Hizb al-Tahrir [Party of Liberation], was shot dead by security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during fierce clashes that erupted here on Tuesday. Determined to prevent a repeat of the anti-Annapolis demonstrations that swept the West Bank on Tuesday, PA security commanders issued firm orders to their men to use an "iron-fist" policy against anyone who breaks the law.

On the eve of the conference, the PA leadership in Ramallah, citing security concerns, banned all public protests. But the ban did not prevent thousands from taking to the streets of West Bank cities to voice their opposition to the US-sponsored conference. The demonstrations, which came as a surprise to the PA leadership, were organized by both Hamas and Hizb al-Tahrir. The harsh response of Abbas's security forces did not stop thousands of supporters of the two Islamist groups from participating in the funeral of Baradi on Wednesday.
By the end of the day, residents said at least 60 people were injured, half of them policemen. Many residents expressed fear that the clashes signaled the beginning of a civil war among the Palestinians in the West Bank in the aftermath of Annapolis. Others said the protests and anarchy actually marked the beginning of the end of Abbas.
"I can't believe these are Palestinian policemen," said Ahmed Da'ana as he hid inside his shop to avoid the shooting. "They are behaving worse than the Israeli army. This is going to lead to civil war." A woman who passed by as the policemen were still firing into the air and beating demonstrators broke into tears. "Shame on you!" she barked at the stunned policemen, some of whom had masks on their faces. "What's this? Is this what Arabs are doing to each other? Allahu Akbar [God is great]! Where are the Muslims? Where is the world?" Brandishing his rifle, one of the policemen tried to silence her by shoving away the journalists who had gathered around her. Undeterred, she continued to hurl abuse at the policeman and his friends, accusing them of being collaborators with Israel and the US.

Then the same policeman went on to threaten a CNN correspondent that he would break his camera if he dared to broadcast his picture. A day earlier, several Palestinian journalists were severely beaten during the demonstrations by Palestinian policemen. Senior PA officials have since apologized for the attacks on the journalists, vowing to launch an investigation.

Hizb al-Tahrir spokesman Maher Ja'bari, who attended the funeral, said Baradi had been killed only because he dared to express his opinion during a public protest. Like many residents of Hebron, which has long been known as a stronghold for Hamas and other Islamic organizations, Ja'bari said he believed that Abbas was on his way to losing control over the West Bank. "I believe this is the end of the Oslo Authority because all papers are now on the table and there's nothing left to hide," he said. "They are talking very clearly now. They are accepting Israel and the resolutions that are against Islam. So they cannot have public support any more. "This is the end of Abbas's existence. If he wants to turn his regime into an oppressive one, then this is a different story. This is his choice. He's working according to the US and Israeli agenda. He's not working for the cause of his people, but for the occupier.
And these are the so-called moderates. But no tales of Fatah moderation would be complete without this breaking news from the Jerusalem Post:

Palestinian policemen were behind the shooting attack last week which killed Ido Zoldan, a 29 year-old father of two from the settlement of Shavei Shomron, the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed Sunday night.

Zoldan was killed last Monday night - the day before the Annapolis summit began - when shots were fired at his car as he drove past the Palestinian village of al-Punduk.

The three members of the cell were Palestinian policemen and members of the Palestinian National Security Force, which Israel and the United States have been investing in as part of the international effort to strengthen Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government.

Defense officials said that the weapon used in the attack was not supplied to the Palestinians by Israel since it did not belong to the official Palestinian security forces. The officials said however that the IDF expected the political echelon to rethink its policy of strengthening Abbas while his policemen were involved in terrorism.
Apparently, the PA security forces wanted to "scare the settlers" by murdering one in cold blood....

Friday, November 30, 2007

High School Confidential - Redux

I went back to High School last night and it wasn’t much fun. In fact, it was almost as bad as the first time except this time no one hated me except the Ukrainian math teacher. Well, maybe she doesn’t hate me, but ignoring my phone calls for two weeks and then standing me up at her office door for our meeting does not bode well for “like” status. I knew our conversation would not necessarily be pleasant but usually people wait to meet me before they come to any firm aversions.

It was parent-teacher interview night at the local secondary school my children attend. It is very strange but I don’t remember my parents or family every going to parent’s night in High School. I do remember my mother getting annoyed when she got called to the office regularly and frequently but I don’t remember any parent’s night. Who knows, maybe I skipped that week or it could be a case of parent’s night not being a very seventies kind of thing.

Anyway, I came a rather startling conclusion. The teachers at my children’s high school are decidedly freaky and weird looking. Not all of teachers- just most of them. You got your basic Goths, general punks, drag queens and witches, but oddly enough, it was the teenagers who looked ordinary, normal and sane. What struck me as even odder was - mostly the teachers were from my generation. Did I ever feel left behind, as I did all the weird and freaky shit when I was a teenager - obviously even then I was ahead of my time.

There were a few teachers who looked normal but those ones looked somewhat older than me. Every time I saw one in the hall, I had to fight off a two fold compulsion to stalk the teacher and then beg him/her to teach my child. My son did give me a warning that most of his teachers were “sensitive” so I wasn’t to say or do anything to either offend them or jeopardize his working relationship with them but he hadn’t warned me they were freaks – almost down to the last one. The exception was the Latin teacher. He not only looked normal but he sounded ordinary. I had fun in that interview. We re-enacted sack of Carthage with his action figures. I cannot remember why I never took Latin as it looks like great fun.

Apparently little clues to the teacher’s sex like Ms, Miss, Mrs or Mr are too old school. Instead the teacher’s signs or name tags are identified strictly by last name. I still can’t figure out if the Canadian history teacher I was speaking to was a man or a woman. Let that sink in – the CANADIAN HISTORY TEACHER’s sex could not be readily determined by a visual examination. Public School in the Centre of the Universe. Nothing else like it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let's talk about boomers

I was reading an article on the decaying infrastructure of Canadian cities and another thought struck me. In twenty year's time, my mother's generation will be in their mid-80's – that is, if the majority are even living at all. As a nation, we have only briefly talked about the ramifications of the aging boomer population in terms of government revenues, pensions, services, and healthcare related to the needs of the elderly, but when has the national discourse every verged out of this paradigm?

As a nation, we need to stop and think about what the dying baby boomers mean to the ordinary lives of younger Canadians. Even with a huge massive immigration push started yesterday, we cannot replace the aging and dying boomers with immigrants in any viable way. The largest available pool of potential immigrants comes from third world countries that possess limited literacy and/or skill sets. These immigrants are in no position to waltz into the country and pick up the boomer's slack – pants maybe, but certainly not the slack.

Our standard of living is set to undergo one of the most massive and unprecedented changes of history. Canada is a small country of approximately 33 million people. The boomer generation represents approximately 9.5 million Canadians. I cannot think of any country, in any period of history, where a top-heavy third of the population was elderly.

When the aging boomer population is discussed, everyone talks about the consequences to our social service safety nets and government debt financing but what about the economies outside of public service sector? For example, take construction/housing industry. In 10 to fifteen years time, when the boomers hit the seventies- to-early eighties mark, our cities and rural communities could potentially be hit with the mother of all housing gluts. If you think Canada has regional disparity now - wait until the boomers start dying off.

The average house price in Toronto has currently hit around $400,000 mark. Twenty years from today, it might be one of the few times, when a resident/owner of a home in a major Canadian city will see a marked depreciable value from the original purchase price of their home. No region throughout the country would potentially be immune from this glut/surplus since one cannot take one's house when one goes into the great beyond.

Of course, the Canadian construction/housing industry will probably undergo the lengthiest and longest depressions in it's history - from which it might never recover. Along for the ride are all the other industries and trades, which tap into and feed the construction/housing industry. Of course, going hand and hand with housing gut, will be depreciating property values, and with declining property values, means less revenue to run municipalities. Less revenue for municipalities means less tradition means of raising funds for things like education, hospitals, nursing homes and infrastructure repairs.

Then there is the fashion industry. Elderly people are generally not clotheshorses per say, and if they are not going to work, there is even less reason to dress relatively stylish or buy new clothes. The Elderly are not big eaters so let us just nix fashion, food and retail industries by at least a third of their current size. Of course, what will our auto industry look like when a potential third of all cars on the road are driven by retirees? While it is true health services, nursing homes, and the death services industry will be in big demand it is only for a very limited cycle, and then, the boom period for these industries will go bust as the population stabilizes once again.

So what is the solution? I simply have no idea but until we start to pay attention and think about the ramifications of when tomorrow cometh; we are sunk. Or in the words of the Who….I hope I die before I get old.

Vatican-Israeli Relations hit bottom. Vatican continues to dig and

As long as Vatican officials continue to make remarks like this one (taken from the Jerusalem Post):
A Vatican official said Wednesday that Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their homeland, and said he hoped Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would address the issue. Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the Vatican's office for migrants, said an agreement to restart peace talks, reached Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland, was encouraging and that he hoped by this time next year concrete measures would be under way. "It is my hope that all the parts of the problem are taken into consideration such as that of the Palestinian refugees, who like all other refugees, have the right to return to their homeland," Martino said.

It will continue its southernly dive.

And how good of the Cardinal to wholeheartedly support the “right of return” I wonder if the Cardinal is prepared to extend that right to Jewish refugees? But why stop there? What about extending the ‘right of return’ to property? I believe there is millennium plus of priceless Jewish religious artifacts currently residing in the Vatican’s archives which were stolen from various Jewish communities throughout the ages. As long as there exists a Jewish state, there exists only one legitimate home for the religious artifacts of the Jewish people.

as the beat goes on

The debate rages on. One argument used regularly to bludgeon the so-called black community over the head pits the success of Chinese or Jewish children against black schoolchildren, and then asks why can’t black kids mimic the same success? Actually, some do but it’s the other half who does not which we all should be concerned about.

Then reasons are legion, but the first problem is in defining the black community because, contrary to many, it is not a single homogenous community. It rarely comes together outside of cultural constraints. In fact, the cultural prejudice among competing groups within the black community rarely finds a common platform or speaks with a single voice on any issue.

Earlier this fall there was a debate before the Trustees of the Toronto district school board on the establishment of one or two black focused schools. This sparked off a debate within the larger Canadian community with editorials from the larger Canadian dailies issuing a flat out large dose of “no” to the return to segregation in education. It was one of those rare times when the black community was actual able to pull itself together and get out a single dominate message to the utter bafflement and total amazement of the larger non-black community.

What the larger non-black community failed to fully comprehend is that a return to black-centric education was asked for by black educators and parents. The ills of black society cannot be fixed from outside the community. It cannot be resolved by sending in legions of well-meaning social workers, community activists or even throwing more money into diversity programs within the larger school system. This is one time when the patient must also be the physician and heal thyself.

Fifty years later and with the debate raging on, the words of Ralph Ellison from the Invisible Man still ring apt.
It goes a long way back, some twenty years. All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!

It is a powerful book which is masterly written with as message as timely and true as it was in 1953. A major theme of the book deals with the empowerment which lies in defining oneself. I am not surprised if you haven’t heard of it as it goes deeply into ‘black’ identity politics but it is the kind of book which would be on a required reading list for black secondary students in a blackcentric school and a book which would almost be impossible to teach in our current public system.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who knew there was a black hole in the Centre of the Universe?

I also want to give a big ‘YOU SUCK’ to the folks in charge of keeping the electrical grid glowing in the Centre of the Universe. Last night’s outage was not the first blackout, we have been averaging 2-10 minutes at least once a week for the last two years, but it was the longest outage in a while. Of course, the whole ‘root causes’ of the outage thing remains a mystery. It always does.

I say the mayor goes to the next Israeli-Palestinian peace summit and lobbies hard to get the Israelis to take over the running of Toronto Hydro. If the Olmert Administration won’t keep the lights off on those who regularly lobby rockets at them, destroy their homes and terrorize their children on the way to school; there has got to be a better than average chance that the power will stay on for weeks at a time.