Friday, August 31, 2007

It sure looks like the Empire is getting ready to strike

I have said it many times since I started this blog but the Russians have chosen sides and it is not ours. The Jerusalem Post reports in more detail on what I blogged about little over a year:
Russia is expanding its military presence in Syria, developing an advanced naval port at Tartus and providing Syria with sophisticated missile technology. The story of Russia's return to Tartus, Syria's second most important port after Latakia, broke a year ago. It is Moscow's only foreign naval outpost situated outside the former Soviet Union.

In June 2006 Russian media reported that Moscow had begun dredging at Tartus with a possible eye to turning what was largely a logistical base into a full-fledged station for its Black Sea Fleet, soon to be redeployed from the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol. But Tartus is much more than just a new home for the fleet; it allows projection of Russian power into the entire eastern Mediterranean, and, by extension, a flexing of military might before Israel and the West.

Russian sources said the country's military planned to form a squadron to operate in the Mediterranean within three years, built around the Moskva missile cruiser. In addition, several respected Russian newspapers have reported that Moscow planned to deploy an S-300PMU-2 Favorit air-defense system to protect the base, with the system being operated by Russian servicemen rather than by Syrian forces.

According to these reports, the system would provide air defense protection for a large part of Syria. Moscow and Damascus have also reached an agreement to modernize Syria's anti-aircraft network by upgrading medium-range S-125 missile complexes that were sold to Syria in the 1980s.

Another instance of secret activity at the port came on March 9, 2005, when yet another Russian Black Sea Fleet vessel, the Azov, supposedly carrying machinery for rebuilding the moorage at the Tartus technical base and replacements for obsolete items in the base's storage, left for Syria. When it arrived at the port, several suspicious meetings between local authorities and Russian Navy officers took place, Russian media reported.

Less than two months later, Syria test fired new Scud missiles. The Syrians launched one Scud B missile with a range of 300 kilometers, and two Scud D missiles with a range of 700 kilometers. It is tempting to suggest that technologies for these projectiles were among the "equipment" brought on board the Azov. The Russians have not stopped at moving missiles in their attempt to make an impression in the region. On one occasion they sent fighter planes into Israeli airspace.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cycle of violence and all that kind of stuff

Inevitably, the minute one posts that Palestinians damaged the crops of Israelis farming in Samaria or Judea come cries of protest from the usual Palestinian apologistas. Apparently, a number of professional Palestinian apologists think there is some kind turnabout going on and believe it is all in the interest of fair play.

Apparently, Israeli settlers have been cutting down Palestinian Olive trees on a fairly regular basis. So much so that it has become a real growth industry among Palestinians. As a matter of fact, the Israeli daily Maariv carried a report on this unique Palestinian growth industry last December (2006). Luckily for the professional Palestinian apologists Maariv carries no English translation. Fortunately, the Israeli Insider did carry this summation of the article for the international Anglo community:
Maariv NRG reports that Palestinian youths were caught in the act as they were cutting olive trees illegally, claiming they did it at the request of the owner of the grove. Forest inspectors caught the youths axing the trees, shedding a new light on frequent complaints by Palestinians farmers that settlers cut their trees in an attempt to hurt their livelihoods.

In the past, as a result of such complaints, IDF soldiers and police have been called on to protect the Palestinians farmers in the territories during the olive harvest season. But the police suspect now that in some cases the Palestinians themselves are the ones cutting the trees and then blaming the settlers in an attempt to get compensation from the Israeli Civil Authority.
Sources in the police said that over the years the police have experienced a phenomenon of the filing of complaints to the Civil Authority regarding the destruction of olive trees, along with a claim for financial compensation. In the last year alone the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria filed claims for 350 thousand shekels ($75,000) for the destruction of olive trees.

The police said they now intend to check the complaints in detail. A senior source in the police told Maariv NRG that "most of the complaints for damage to olive trees were filed in recent years at the end of the harvest season or towards the end, something that increase the suspicion that this is a cooked deal."

Gee, here’s a newsflash. Anyone who will not hesitate to kill you and sanctions the indiscriminate use of suicide bombing to kill grandparents, parents, babies, children, teenagers, et al at the ice cream/pizza parlours, restaurants, hotels, markets, malls or a buses will not hesitate to lie, cheat or steal.

The future question becomes - are they more religious than their orders?

Arutz Sheva is reporting some surprising statistics with some implications far beyond the immediate make-up of the IDF.
( Half of the IDF's young combat officers are religious Jews, according to statistics published as the lead story Sunday in Maariv, Israel's second largest daily newspaper. The report also says that about 40% of the cadets of the most recent Officer Course in Bahad-1, the IDF's officer training school, were religious; this number refers to all officers, as opposed to just combat officers. "This says something very good about the sons of the religious Zionist movement," opines the writer of the piece, senior correspondent Ben Caspit. "They are becoming the IDF's backbone. Their presence in the army is several times larger than it is in the general population."

"Any way we look at it," he says, "it's about education." It is clear, Caspit states, that "the religious Zionist movement's educational institutions continue to disseminate values, Zionism, Judaism and mission orientation. The religious youth is mission-oriented. [It sets out to] conquer the hilltops, and then to conquer the military service and the officership."

The entry of the religious Zionists into the officer corps began after the Yom Kippur War, says Caspit, when Major-Generals Yair Naveh and Elazar Stern entered service, and "continues with the pre-military academies, which send a sizeable percentage of their graduates to the Officers' Course." The "Hesder" yeshivas, he says – the seminaries that combine religious study with a shortened army service – do not contribute many officers.
But guess who is shucking their military service in Israeli society? Read this, and if you need a current example - think of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's children:
However, what Caspit refers to as "the First Israel" - the middle and upper classes - is no longer very visible among the officers. More and more of its sons either actively evade service, or opt for what he calls "a gray evasion" – the employment of various tricks to serve less time, serve closer to home, and without endangering themselves. "They find all the ways in the world to fool the system, to see the IDF as some foreign element which is meant to curtail their personal advancement, independent thought, private ambition and other legitimate aspirations of 21st century man." Caspit sees this trend as a worrying one and calls for urgent action to raise the motivation of non-religious Israelis to serve and excel. He does not specify what this action might be.
So just who is showing up on induction day and ready to pull above their weight?
Religious Zionists have often noted, in the course of political debates, that their youth plays a disproportionate role in the IDF, but secular Israelis have usually denied this. The article by Caspit, one of Israel's top journalists and the author of several books, including biographies of Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, can be seen as an admission by a secular Israeli that the religious Zionists have been right on this subject.

The statistics are important for Israeli society because the IDF is seen as the nation's backbone and its pride. Since the State of Israel was founded it has had five native-born Prime Ministers, four of whom were from the military: Yitzchak Rabin, Netanyahu, Barak and Ariel Sharon. Rabin and Barak both served as IDF Chiefs of Staff, Sharon was a Major-General and Netanyahu was an officer in an elite unit that was commanded by his brother, Yoni, who was himself a military hero killed in the rescue of passengers from a hijacked Air France jet in Uganda in 1976. Thus, traditionally, service as combat officers goes hand in hand with leadership potential.
And the implications are:
Another reason these statistics are significant is that many religious soldiers have been refusing orders to evict Jews from their homes in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. If half of the IDF's new officers are religious, this means that the refusal movement could indeed have a deep deterrent impact on the IDF and government when and if it decides to attempt additional pullouts from territory.
Any questions?

And Israeli leftwing extremist group, Peace Now, attempts to shout against the tide.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Some days I really have to wonder who is running the country

This is one of the saddest thing I have read in a while. Ha'aretz is reporting that the father of kidnapped IDF Corporal Shalit tried to have published a birthday message to his son in a Hamas sponsored newspaper.
Noam Shalit has been attempting to get the leading Hamas newspaper to print a birthday letter to his son, captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, but the editor has refused to run it, according to an Israeli advocacy group for abducted soldiers.

The group said Noam Shalit had used Palestinian and Israeli mediators to ask the Gaza-based newspaper, Palestine, to run a personal letter ahead of his son's 21st birthday Tuesday - his second in captivity - but that the editor said he would not cooperate with Israelis.

I cannot imagine the torment these poor parents are suffering. Then I ask myself why the lights are still on and the water flowing in the Hamas Gaza Strip? Can someone not teach Olmert et al how to present an offer which Hamas cannot refuse?


Just so you don't get the idea that the kassam attacks on Sderot have ended in recent weeks I wanted to post this Ynet News account of the latest:
A Sderot resident was lightly-to-moderately wounded Tuesday by shrapnel and several other people suffered shock after a Qassam rocket hit a house in town. The rocket landed directly in a bedroom, when all the residents of the home were hiding the bomb shelter. A man standing near the house was injured from shrapnel in his eye and was treated by emergency services.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Fatah's military wing claimed responsibility for the attack.

Amir Sabag, a resident of the house that was hit, told Ynet, "I was home with my mother and father. We were in our rooms and then we heard the color red alert and ran to the bomb shelter. We heard a very strong explosion that shook the whole house. "When we left the shelter, we saw that the rocket had hit the bathroom and caused very severe damage to the house. Not long ago another rocket landed outside of the house. We really hope this nightmare ends already."
I hope everyone duly noted that Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade takes responsibility, that is Fatah, as in Palestinian Authority Chairman's Fatah. Peace Partner Fatah

Peace Partners or what Lefties do on their downtime when visiting Israel

I meant to blog about this story last week and I even saved a rough version in blogger's draft mode. Then I totally forgot about it until I went looking for something else. I decided to post it anyways because its one of those stories which receives very little press internationally, and yet, the systematic destruction of "settler" agricultural crops is a far more wide spread practice in Judea and Samaria than one would suppose from the coverage. Just ask Shlomi Cohen – taken from Arutz Sheva: Left-wing extremists and PA Arabs destroyed thousands of grape vines belonging to local Jews in Samaria Wednesday. Some one hundred Arabs and leftists, along with dozens of Arab TV crews certified by various news agencies, marched to a Jewish vineyard near the town of Dolev, northwest of Jerusalem, and proceed to systematically uproot and destroy thousands of young grapevines.

The PA- appointed mayor of Ramallah took part in the march. Though the police and army had been forewarned that the Arabs and leftists were planning a provocation, security forces arrived only after most of the vineyard had already been uprooted.

The vineyard's owner, Shlomi Cohen told Arutz-7 that 5,000 vines were uprooted by the vandals, who arrived Wednesday at noon. "They also burned pipes, irrigation equipment and sprinklers – after fifteen minutes everything was charred." Cohen said that he was informed Tuesday evening that a group planned to destroy the vineyard. "We informed the army. I enlisted everyone I could, including the municipality and local security officers, but for some unclear reason the IDF did not arrive on time."

When the IDF did arrive, Cohen said, more than half the vineyard was already destroyed. "The army chased the vandals away, but did not arrest any of them," he said. "They didn't do anything to them. They just said [the police] would come investigate and that I could file a complaint, but in the meantime there have been no arrests."
MK Uri Ariel (National Union-NRP) has asked to convene the Knesset's Internal Affairs committee to address the police's failure to protect the farmer's vineyard from the rioters.

"What happened to the swift response we get from the police every time they are called to act against the national camp," asked Ariel. "Why is the same swiftness not used against left-wing lawbreakers?" The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) issued a statement on the incident, saying that given the prior warning of the expected riot, "[the council] views the security forces' inaction very severely…The culprits must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law - whether they are Arabs, foreigners or left-wing extremists."

The phenomenon of left-wing extremists, from both Israel, Europe and the United States, destroying Jewish vineyards and orchards in Judea and Samaria, though widespread, has rarely been covered by Israel's state-run media and has never appeared in foreign news agency reports.

The PA Mayor of Ramallah takes an active role in the destruction of Cohen's fields but I doubt an arrest warrant will ever be issued by the Israelis as it would belie the whole notion of "moderate" Palestinian Authority government officials.

Monday, August 27, 2007

wasn’t this tried in the sixties?

I’ll have more to say on the, ahem, ‘new adult’ but for now read this.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Everything old is new again

Talk about your old school Elder Complex. Taken from Ynet News:
A nationalistic party in Ukraine issued a press release calling for the boycott of Israeli and kosher goods since "buying them helps the Jews and Israelis conquer and destroy Ukraine's economy". The party's official website reads, "When you buy kosher products made in Israel you are helping destroy your people.

"Naïve Ukrainians don’t pay attention and buy products under the Z'hids' 'kosher' slogan, which are spreading through the Ukrainian market more and more. Ukrainians buy them without knowing that they are actually helping Israel conquer the Ukranian market and destroy Ukraine's national economy."

The party's website also stated that 13% of the profits from sales of kosher products went to religious Jewish communities in Ukraine and were used against the Ukrainian people.

A detailed explanation of how to identify Israeli products according to the barcode can be found in the website. The party calls on Ukrainians not to purchase any products marked kosher, since they are affiliated with the "Zionists".
Well, my grandmother always said to never trust a Ukrainian and here I thought she was just letting her inner bigot show.

School funding - be radical - let the parents decide

I have wanted to weigh in for some time now on the provincial school funding issue but I wanted to wait and see how the debate would unfold before adding my two cents. It’s hard to believe all three parties are lead by such complete and utter putzs. I have heard so much crap from all three provincial party leaders that I had to double check the sign leading into the province to make sure it still read “Welcome to Ontario”.

I’ve had children in both the private, public and separate school system. If I were to rate the school boards with first choice being the best is would go like this – private, separate and only when absolutely necessary - public.

There is only one solution to this issue and it is called SCHOOL VOUCHERS. Let all parents freely decided what learning environment works best for their children.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jamaica, where even Pirates can be Kosher

Most people don’t realize the true extent of diversity in Jamaica until they have gone ‘erie’ themselves. I have long known of the Jewish community on the Island but I had no idea it literally spanned centuries. I’ll have to definitely add “The Island of One People” to my must read collection. The Jerusalem Post carries this report:
Dr. Marilyn Delevante, author of a history of the Jews of Jamaica entitled The Island of One People, told me "the Jews of Jamaica were the first permanent inhabitants of the island." Jews began coming here after the Expulsion from Spain in 1492. She mentioned Moshe Cohen Henriques, a Jewish pirate known for his cruelty; yet, as the legend goes, Henriques would never harm anyone on the Sabbath.

Once there were 5,000-6,000 Jews in Jamaica, but emigration and assimilation have reduced that to an estimated 250-300. Most live in Kingston, but there are pockets of Jews throughout the island, including Israelis in Montego Bay connected to Ashtrom Engineering & Construction.

As Shabbat came in, so did a tremendous rainstorm, a precursor to Hurricane Dean, and the streets of downtown Kingston practically had rivers running through them. I gave up waiting for the rain to die down, so decided to "swim" my way to Sha'are Shalom the island's only remaining synagogue. After wading through thigh-high water, I found the whitewashed synagogue filled with Jews of many hues.

The rich baritone voice of the cantor Dr. Winston David and the sound of the synagogue's pipe organ filled the room. That Shabbat, there were 20 Jewish souls; during the High Holidays, there is nary a vacant seat. Sha'are Shalom is complete with a mahogany bimah and ark. It is unique for the soft white sand that covers its floor. The sand serves as a reminder of the times during the Inquisition when Jews were forced to pray in their basements and sprinkled sand on the floor to muffle the sound.

Following services the next day, I perused the small Jewish museum next to the synagogue and spoke with the community's spiritual leader, Stephen Henriques (yes, the same name as the pirate). Sha'are Shalom has been without a rabbi for nearly 30 years. Henriques was quick to say the Jews of Jamaica have gotten along very well with their neighbors and that there had never been any significant anti-Semitism. Intermarriage has been common, but Henriques said nearly all children from these union's were raised as Jews.

The Jewish Agency sent Alon Gildoni, 23, from Ramat Gan to serve as its emissary to Jamaica nine months ago. The Orthodox Gildoni also helps prepare kids for their bar mitzvas and teaches courses on Judaism and Zionism. There is another link connecting Jamaica to the Jewish world. Every year, Chabad sends two emissaries to Jamaica. This year's pair, Levi and Sholom, were due to arrive during my visit, so Gildoni, his best friend, Shidos, who was visiting from Israel, David, a French Jew studying in Jamaica, and I scoured the shelves of a supermarket looking for kosher products to serve to the new arrivals.

Eventually, the whole crew took a road trip to the Blue Lagoon in Jamaica's northeast. Some locals wanted to know if Levi and Sholom were "Muslim or Sikh?" The Jamaicans looked on with slight confusion as the Chabadniks rocked and prayed by the lagoon. Jamaican attitudes toward Israel seemed positive, and when my friends told people they were from Israel, the response was often simply: "Bless."

Only a Jamaican could look at an ultra-Orthdox Jew and ask - “Muslim or Sikh?” with a straight face.

Presidential Abs

First Obama and now Putin.

This cracks me up - what's next? Penis size or should that be envy?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lately, I have little spare time and it shows

I can see how reading comprehension skills are not necessarily something one should take for granted. I saw this headline at Ynet News: “Fornication not a magic solution” and clicked in to read the article. It was all about the current shortcomings of trying to fortify the Israeli home-front. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure how the sex came into it. It was then that I glanced up at the headline again and realized it read “Fortification” and not “Fornication.” Geeze, some days it’s amazing I can get out of bed without a map.

The Israeli Knesset recommendations on reforming the conversion process in Israel were released and has been subsequently slammed by both the Orthodox and Reform rabbinate – unity at last.

Well, surprise, surprise. Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade has announced it will no longer keep the truce with Israel. How very hamas of them.

Abbas' Fatah government is paying Gaza civil servants not to work. And will wonders never cease? But my - how very Canadian of Fatah. Now I understand completely why the Canadian government is jumping back on funding the Fatah bandwagon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

To be or not to be

Have you ever read a something and had a real ‘dah” moment. It happened to me with a Jerusalem Post article on the conversion process in Israel. I am left wondering if there was something left out in translation.

In Israel, there is a great deal of controversy concerning how the conversion courts currently operate and there are rumors that the Prime Minister is about to dissolve the current conversion court bureaucracy and replace it with another.

Currently, conversions from Conservative or Reform Judaism are not recognized as valid for the purposes of conversions, and for a conversion to be recognized by the state; it must be an Orthodox conversion. Some object to the monopoly the Orthodox branch of Judaism has on the conversion process but let me digress for a minute and just add my two cents here. I once met an individual who converted from the United Church of Canada (protestant Christian) to Reform Judaism. This person floored me with the suggestion that they had found very little difference between being a Reform Jew or a Christian. Enough said on Reform Judaism.

Here’s the other penny. If you are going to go 'whole hog' and convert to a specific religion; why wouldn’t you convert to orthodoxy? Cherry picking which beliefs or tenants that will govern your spiritual/religious life by seems like a pretty lax and cheap conversion process to me. Let me write plainly - why bother? Furthermore, not ever Orthodox Jew is a Chassidic Jew. Orthodoxy has far more nuance and diversity than that.

One of the issues facing Israel is a large Russian immigrant population who has very little ties or loyalties to Israel as a Jewish state. Under the Law of Return anyone is eligible for Israeli citizenship who can prove at least one grandparent was a Jew. This lead to a huge influx of Russians in the 90’s when the former Soviet Union was breaking down who have minimal knowledge of Judaism, little desire to be religious and little loyalty to the idea of a Jewish state. Conversion is seen as a way to bring about a bond to the Jewish state though it does seem to be a tad self-defeating since the State currently appears to have real issues with religious Jews.

Here’s the money quote from the Jerusalem Post article.
Very few immigrants from the FSU are trying to convert, due to the perceived difficulties of the process and the fear that conversion is meant to change their lifestyles. Many Russian immigrants are particularly upset about certain conversion court rabbis who follow up on recent converts to check if they are observing the mandates of Orthodoxy. According to a survey conducted by the Absorption Ministry, 70% of new immigrants who are not halachicly Jewish believe that the current conversion process is designed to make them "more religious," and not to turn them into Jews according to Halacha.

How does one convert to a religion and not change one’s lifestyle? How does a an individual convert under Jewish law and not become “more religious”? I just don’t get this. Something has to be lost in translation or maybe its just another front of the Israeli state's war against religious Jews?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lebanese ‘Soldier’ is now an oxymoron

You can be forgiven for not realizing that the Lebanese Army’s siege of the Palestinian refugee camp (Nahr el-Bared) has yet to end. International media coverage has been almost non-existent since early July; however, the never-ending siege goes on. Here’s a Jerusalem Post article detailing the latest Lebanese fatalities.

Two soldiers have died during gun battles with Islamic extremists in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, a senior military official said Sunday. One of the soldiers was killed Saturday night while the second died Sunday of wounds he received in fighting on Saturday inside the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared near the northern port city of Tripoli.

The official said the deaths brought to 138 the number of Lebanese soldiers killed since fighting between the army and Fatah Islam militants broke out on May 20. He spoke on customary condition of anonymity according to military regulations. The state-run National News Agency said fighting continued Sunday, with army helicopters carrying out three successive raids against Fatah Islam positions inside the camp. It said the helicopters fired more than nine rockets at the suspected positions, but it was not clear whether any direct hits were made. The military official declined to comment on the NNA's report.

Army commander Michel Suleiman said last week that up to 70 Fatah Islam fighters remained in the camp, along with some 100 women and children believed to be relatives. When the fighting broke out in May, the number of Fatah Islam militants was estimated at 360. He said the group was affiliated with al-Qaida, denying that it was a Syrian creation, as claimed by anti-Syrian Lebanese government officials.

In spite of having helicopters, superior weaponry/artillery, and an international carte blanche to do whatever - the Lebanese Army seems to be absolutely incapable of rooting out a few militants. The death toil for soldiers is still higher than ‘militants’. Can you imagine what the Israelis could have accomplished last summer, if the IDF had been given the same kind of freedom to operate as the Lebanese Army has had - as well as a three month international carte blanche pass to do it in?

I joked before that the Lebanese Army needed pointers from Hamas/Hezbollah but this is simply an absurd situation. Somebody needs to move in and do what the Lebanese Army seems absolutely incapable of doing before any more Lebanese “soldiers” get killed or the army vanishes in its entirety.

How I know I am old

Prince is 49 and I can remember when he was in his twenties.

It is said that a change is as good as a rest

The new spiffy banner comes courtesy of Neocon at Halls of Macadamia. I think he thought the old banner was just a little too frum. He decided I need to spruce up the old blog a bit and sent me the banner graphics.

It’s been a great adventure for my code challenged self to get this to actually work. What Neocon didn’t realize when he sent me the graphics and directions was that my blog template is one of blogger’s original ones. To use his directions required I update the template and codes….what I didn’t realize when I updated the template was that I would loose all my previously embedded code….

I did managed to get my main blog roll and Web Ads to work again but too bad about the flag, statcounter, and Life Liberty & Property blogroll…. Anyway, speaking of Web Ads, this quarter’s charity is to help with the costs of providing caravans for the members of Shirat Hayam community who were made homeless by the “disengagement from the Gaza Strip”. So for every click on a Web Ad banner means another donation for Shirat Hayam.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Are you what your mother ate?

The Toronto Star is carrying an interesting report on a study suggesting your taste buds are what your mother ate while pregnant:
The study, published yesterday in the British Journal of Nutrition, was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the United Kingdom's largest charity.

A Harvard University study released earlier this year showed that women who gain excessive weight while expecting were four times more likely to bear children who were overweight by age three than those who remained slimmer during gestation. But it's also been suggested that these mothers raise fatter kids because they continue poor eating habits long after giving birth, and pass these on to their children.

The new study, however, suggests that mothers who eat junk food may actually rewire babies' brains, permanently tripping neurological "pleasure centres" that make them likely to choose fatty, sweet or salty foods throughout their lives. Because their research used rats, Bayol says, it removed human social, cultural and psychological factors that could prompt youngsters to choose burgers, chips and doughnuts. "What you're left with is a true physiological link between maternal junk food diet ... and the development of appetite and feeding behaviours in the offspring."
Rena Mendelson, a professor of nutrition at Toronto's Ryerson University, says it's been well established that spices and other food compounds find their way into amniotic fluid and breast milk, both of which babies ingest through their mouths. That's how many cultural and familial dietary preferences are set in the womb and during early infancy, Mendelson says. "And so babies are predisposed to the tastes and the smells that are characteristic of the diets that are consumed by their mother."

On a purely anecdotal note, when I was pregnant with the Last Amazon, I didn’t have cravings for food as much as I had real aversions to foods - even foods which I had loved un-preggers - like pizza, beef and Brussels sprouts. I have adored pizza for years, though it was considerably exigent for me to find all veggie take-out pizzeria pizza prior to the 80’s. The vegetarian movement had very little culinary traction in North America during the 70’s.

My aversion was so strong towards pizza that my stomach would start to dry heaving the minute I was downwind of a pizza joint. Ditto for beef and Brussels sprouts. So what did I eat while pregnant with the LA? Salad, cheese, rice, lentils, beans, fish and chicken and humongous amounts of yogurt and ice cream. Frozen yogurt was like a double bonus.

So what does the Last Amazon eat today? Only chicken, fish, salad, rice, beans, lentils and for dessert – cheesecake, yogurt and ice cream. Double bonus for frozen yogurt. Rarely will she even eat beef, pasta or even pepperoni/meat pizza. The combination of meat and cheese in any variation sends her heaving and has since she was a toddler.

Now when I was pregnant with my first son it was beef, broccoli and hot peppers all the way. I just could not get enough. Often with peas and rice and a side salad. Dessert was cantaloupes or melons. Then there were lots of raw veggies with hummus. Oh, and how can I forget zaharat seasoned meat spread on a fresh pita? I could not get enough; though I did discover when carrying the boys, I needed to start my day sucking slowly on salted matzo crackers or risk studying the rim of the toilet bowl for hours. So what does man eat today? Beef, broccoli, peppers, often with rice, lentils, and beans, and preferable with a side of salad and melons for dessert….no pasta, fish and rarely chicken. Oh, and matzo, zaharat seasoned meats on pitas.

Then there’s Isaiah Sender, who has made being different from the rest of us into an art form. I ate much the same as I had with his brother but what does Isaiah Sender love? Kraft dinner, green peas and sheppard’s pie. Oh, and how can I forget hot dogs and baloney? He certainly didn’t get this kind of a palate from me. I, who never ate baloney until I was over 30 and only did because Isaiah Sender (the pre-schooler) was too cute for words when he attempted to sway me with his “green eggs and ham” approach. I could have gone happily to my grave without this particular gastronomic experience. Personally, I blame the daycare centre and myself for sending him. Here’s to hoping he will grow out of it one day.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

No one does moderate quite like Fatah

Nothing says moderate like a Fatah West Bank legislator being convicted for murder. Ynet News:
A Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council was convicted on Wednesday of having been an accomplice in suicide bombing in Tel Aviv five years ago in which an Israeli woman was killed. According to the indictment, the suicide bomber that blew himself up in a coffee shop in the city in March 2002 made his way to Israel from the Nablus home of PLC member Jamal Tirawi.
The Fatah member is also accused of recruiting potential suicide bombers.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Forget the GOP - the Likud needs him

If the GOP doesn’t want him - maybe Giuliani would consider tutoring Bibi in political leadership? The Jerusalem Post reports:
US Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said he opposes creation of a Palestinian state at this time and would take a tough stand with Iran, including destroying its nuclear infrastructure "should all else fail."

Outlining his foreign policy views in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Giuliani said "too much emphasis" has been placed on brokering negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians - an apparent swipe at President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who have been pushing both sides for final status negotiations despite Hamas's takeover of Gaza in June.
"It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism," the former New York City mayor said. "Palestinian statehood will have to be earned through sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel," Giuliani said.

I have had a soft spot for Giuliani ever since he tossed Arafat ‘n’ entourage out of the Lincolin Centre. Naturally, the Clinton Whitehouse was embarrassed.

da party bosses won

The Israeli Likud leadership primaries are over and as expected Netanyahu was voted party leader. Surprisingly enough, Moshe Feiglin did quite well by capturing 23% of the vote. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu was reelected Likud chairman in Tuesday's party primary, defeating the two Likud activists who challenged him - Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon - by a hefty margin. As polls were closing, Netanyahu won 73 percent of the votes, while Feiglin had 23% and Danon 4%. The numbers were based on a count of 80% of the votes.

Bibi’s Consiglieres and Capo Bastones suggest dissent will be eliminated from within the Likud. The house cleaning starts with Feiglin apparently:
Netanyahu's associates expressed satisfaction with the turnout and said he would now turn his attention to defeating Olmert and Labor chairman Ehud Barak in the next general election. The Likud chief's associates also said he would continue fighting Feiglin, possibly petitioning the High Court of Justice to expel him and his supporters from the party.

Feiglin has a right to feel pleased as he managed to double his share of the vote since the 2005 primaries. One of Netanyahu’s premises in his victory speech, (heavy sarcasm use on the word “victory” due to fact that 60% of Likud members couldn’t motivated to get out and vote for Bibi in the first place) is that he promises to go out and court a more moderate fraction to the Likud rather than seek reconciliation for the growing divide within the Likud from the national religious fraction. I wonder what Ze'ev Jabotinsky would say of Bibi now?

Ramallah; where everything old is new again

At the end of June, I wrote about an old militant group which has been gaining a significant foothold in the Middle East from the West. Arutz Sheva carries this report of the goings-on in Ramallah: An international movement that has made the Islamic call for a worldwide Caliphate its trademark held a conference in Ramallah on Saturday. With this conference, Hizb Ut-Tahrir Al-Islami (the Islamic Liberation Party) has formally established a branch in the

Palestinian Authority. PA media reported that the event was attended by thousands of participants under the banner, "Caliphate: The Coming Force". The movement said that the establishment of a Caliphate, a global Muslim empire, is the only way to liberate Muslims from "racism," "degradation," and "occupation." Hizb Ut-Tahrir leader Ata Khalil Abu Al-Rashtha said that the Ramallah gathering was the first of its kind in the PA. Al-Rashta is a civil engineer from Hevron region.

According to the PA-based Ma'an news agency, the first of two lectures delivered at the conference addressed the many conflicts around the world that involve Muslims. The speaker set forth the idea that Caliphate is the only solution to "rescue" Muslims from their various local predicaments.

The second lecture, titled "Media and the Issue of Caliphate," suggested that Muslims should make sure the Caliphate and discussion of global Islamic rule is the first priority of the media. The Caliphate, the speaker argued, was imperative to Muslim unity. According to the Hizb Ut-Tahrir website, "Hizb Ut-Tahrir is a political party whose ideology is Islam. Its objective is to resume the Islamic way of life by establishing an Islamic State that executes the systems of Islam and carries its call to the world." The organization was founded in 1952 in Jerusalem.

Ultimately, Hizb Ut-Tahrir wants to see a Caliphate, accepted by the Muslim masses, that spreads Islam in the world through da'wa (persuasion) and jihad. Until that point, the group focuses on educating Muslims about its goals, spreading these views among others in their countries and causing un-Islamic governments to disintegrate.

Just the kind of progressive thinking the West Bank had a real shortage of. Oh, and just where do Uizb Ut-Tahrir members think the headquarters of the new Islamic Caliphate should be located? Quick ten guesses! And the answer is - Jerusalem, of course.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Death Wish

The Jerusalem Post is reporting suicide pacts are epidemic among Israeli politicians:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak will not order the distribution of gas masks, despite intelligence reports that Syria has built up an arsenal of missiles that can carry biological and chemical warheads, Army Radio reported on Monday. According to military assessments, Syria is nearing the end of an accelerated deployment of a large rocket arsenal of Katyusha and Scud missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and causing thousands of civilian casualties.

However, Barak has decided to avoid taking any concrete action out of fear that distribution of gas masks could be interpreted as preparation for war.

MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), who heads the Knesset Subcommittee on the Home Front's Preparedness, slammed the defense minister's decision. "The decision not to hand out masks so as not to upset the Syrians reminds me of Moshe Dayan's unfortunate decision not to call up the reserves so as not to upset the Syrians and the Egyptians on the eve of the Yom Kippur War," he said.

Nuff said.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bibi's Sour Grapes

For a man who has been around the electoral block as many times as Binyamin Netanyahu has I would have thought he would know better than to come out with statement like this (taken from the Jerusalem Post:
Incumbent Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu attacked his competition in Tuesday's Likud primary for the first time on Wednesday night, telling supporters in Kiryat Motzkin that the heads of Kadima and Labor want Moshe Feiglin to win the race.

Netanyahu had refrained until now from criticizing Feiglin and acknowledging third candidate Danny Danon. He has focused most of his public statements on criticizing his expected competition in the next general election, Labor chairman Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "If Olmert or Barak were asked who you should vote for, they would say 'vote Feiglin or stay home,'" Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu's campaign has become more worried recently that with an extremely low turnout, Zo Artzeinu co-founder Feiglin could end up winning more than 40 percent of the vote. A significant achievement for Feiglin could allow Barak and Kadima to portray the Likud as extremist.

But Feiglin's associates said that if Netanyahu was so afraid of Feiglin staining the Likud, he should leave the attacks on him to other parties and not add to them. They said that if Feiglin was the Likud's biggest burden, it would not make sense that Netanyahu brought the party only 12 mandates when Feiglin wasn't on its list for the Knesset.

I am not too sure being known as an extremist party in Israeli politics is a political kiss of death. If it is - how come Meretz isn’t dead and buried? In fact, in the last election Meretz garnished 5 mandates. Then there is everyone’s fun extremist, Avigdor Lieberman. He received 11 mandates for his Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel, Our Home) party which is just one less than Bibi did with the “non-extremist” Likud party.

Even more astonishing are the polls which suggest Feiglin’s support has grown from 24% to around 40% in the space of one week. But I bet things like this don’t help Bibi’s campaign any:
An internal Likud court was expected to decide on Friday whether to block Feiglin from running in the race. The petition to the court, which was the fifth in two weeks, was filed by supporters of Netanyahu, but his campaign denied any connection to them.

Yeah right. Anyway… if Feiglin does manage to pull off a miracle and win the leadership of the Likud party I know just the campaign slogan Likud can use against Barak and Olmert – Do Something Different - Vote to put a Jew in Charge.

In the Navy

"In the navy, Yes, you can sail the seven seas, In the navy, Yes, you can put your mind at ease, In the navy, Come on now people, make a stand, In the navy, in the navy"
I saw this report in Ynet News and I can’t get the Village People’s song - In the Navy out of my mind..
Hamas has established a new naval defense force, headed by one of the group's senior commanders Jamil al-Dahashan, that will be entrusted with guarding the Gaza Strip coast, Ynet has recently learned.

The force, which does not as yet own any marine vessels, is aimed at securing the shores from IDF marine operations as well as criminal activity of drug dealers. The force will also try to prevent collaboration of Palestinians with the IDF. According to Hamas, several local fishermen admitted in recent weeks to relaying information to IDF ships.

A Hamas official told Ynet that the force's members have already deployed several heavy machine guns and mortars along the beaches to be used against IDF vessels if they approach the Strip. He admitted that the force would not be able to match the abilities of the Israeli Navy, but stated that it would attempt to intervene in its operations.
"Can't you see we need a hand, In the navy, Come on, protect the motherland, In the navy, Come on and join your fellow man, In the navy, Come on people, and make a stand."

back to the stone age

There are definite signs that Israel is now starting to take on the outward characteristics of its neighbors. Cursing (as in no profanity required) an IDF officer in public will get the IDF in an uproar and the Israeli police will begin a criminal investigation on your “cursing activities”. Ynet News:
The Judea and Samaria Police decided Thursday to launch an investigation against Professor Hillel Weiss who is suspected of incitement for cursing IDF Hebron brigade commander Colonel Yehuda Fox during the evacuation of Hebron settlers this week.

"May your mother be bereaved, your wife be widowed, your children be orphaned and may you be struck down in the next war and any memory of you be erased,"
Weiss was heard saying during a protest against the evacuation. The Bar Ilan professor also said that "the policemen are worse than the Nazis."

Following the incident, which was caught on video by Ynet's cameraman, the head of the Investigation Unit at the Judea and Samaria police launched a criminal examination of the statements, which turned Thursday into a full-fledged investigation.

Bar Ilan University president Prof. Moshe Kaveh said the university was considering steps against the offending professor. "Weiss' words were chilling and should be condemned and denunciated. We are looking into taking serious steps against him," Kaveh said. He praised the police's decision Friday morning to open a criminal investigation into his case.

I blame Sharon and his disengagement from Gaza for all this foolishness. I am positively astounded by the fact that neither the police, a president of a university (an institution for allegedly higher thinking no less) or the major Israeli newspapers see nothing bizarre or ridiculous in launching a criminal investigation for someone who publicly wishes you ill by “cursing” you.

I know cursing, I grew-up with cursing, I have relatives who still sell curses, and "May your mother be bereaved, your wife be widowed, your children be orphaned and may you be struck down in the next war and any memory of you be erased," is both tame and lame. I know where you can get an authentic gypsy curse for under $100 dollars and it comes with all kinds of unnatural unpleasantness for generations.

I can’t help but wonder what David Ben Gurion would think of all this foolishness. He regularly described Zev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky as “Vladimir Hitler”. Of course, if he said it today about a government official in Israel; it could get him convicted with pen time included.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Rites of Passage

It’s been hard to blog in the last few days and I expect posting will continue to be slower than normal for a few more days yet.

The Last Amazon hit one of those rites of passages earlier in the week. She had all four of her wisdom teeth removed by the Butcher of Prague (as known as my dentist) and a great deal of my free time has been helping her get through this experience as easily as humanly possible. She has been absolutely mortified because she has been reduced to being spooned fed by me or her younger brother, but it’s either that or suffer the twin consequences of hunger and pain.

She could have alleviated some of her suffering by having the teeth removed one by one over a period of a eight weeks but she elected to do it all at one go. I may call my dentist the Butcher of Prague but the truth is he is a highly skilled professional and we would be hard pressed to find another dentist with his same expertise. It’s been doubly hard for her as she has had absolutely perfect teeth up to this point. Every dentist she has ever been too has swooned over her beautifully shaped pearly whites.

She may be growing up faster than I would like but I take comfort in those little things she does that remind me she is not quite there yet. She insisted on taking her teeth with her when we left the dentist’s office as she wanted to be able to show them off to her brothers.

In my ongoing zeal to quit smoking I have discovered a few unpleasant facts. Zyban will not mask or shield you from the physical effects of nicotine withdrawal. I had a very rough three days and thought my living in a perpetual state of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ was a horrendous side effect of the Zyban. I called my angry GP to complain and he laughed himself silly over my plight. Glad I made your year Fred.

I really don’t know how you non-smokers stand the putrid smell and stench of living in this city. I had thought it smelled bad before but now it’s absolutely horrendous. I’m mulling over in my mind the feasibility of walking around with a gas mask on every time I leave the house. I was at a shopping mall on the weekend and was so overwhelmed by the smell of body odor emanating from my fellow shoppers that I insisted on leaving after a half-hour. And for heaven’s sake - if you are going to stand behind me at the cashier’s line and breathe down my neck - at least do me the courtesy of sucking on a very strong breathe mint.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Transfer by any other name is still transfer

Ha’aretz is reporting this:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is examining a new framework for peace in which Israel will propose transferring to the Palestinian state areas equivalent to 100 percent of the territories conquered in 1967.

Israel will suggest to the Palestinians to conduct negotiations for adequate territorial compensation from Israel's sovereign territory, in exchange for settlement blocs amounting to about 5 percent of the West Bank's area.

Israel is also examining various options of exchanging settlement blocs with Arab community blocs within Israel, in agreement with the residents. An agreement on this issue would enable Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, to remain in the coalition.

So just how is Olmert going to convince Israeli Arabs they should leave their homes and go live under the thugacracy of the Palestinian Authority? I just have this suspicion it will be a real hard sell.

Anyhoo, Arutz Sheva is reporting that Olmert is having a fit of denial:
( The Prime Minister's Office issued a strongly worded statement refuting a front-page report by Haaretz claiming a secret withdrawal plan had been formulated by Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert.

"In response to the main headline in this morning's Ha'aretz, we do not know of any plan as described in the article," the statement said. "We would like to clarify that such a plan has not been considered, nor is it being raised for discussion in any forum."

the best laid plans of mice and putzs often go astray

Apparently the Israeli Prime Minister’s immediate goal is the establishment of a Palestinian state forthwith; which is all well and good, but little details like this one get in the way every time. (Ha’aretz report):
The Palestinian Authority's security organizations are unable to assume security control of cities in the West Bank, Prime Minister Salam Fayad told senior Israeli officials during recent meetings. Fayad told Israeli officials that the PA's security forces are unable "to impose law and order in the West Bank at this time."

I am shocked I tell you. Absolutely knackered by Fayad's honesty.

Bibi’s grapes of wrath

Bibi Netanyahu, ever the consummate democrat, has lost another Likud court challenge to have his rival for the Likud leadership barred from running in the leadership race. Allegedly Netanyahu’s fraction is so outraged by Feiglin’s membership in the Likud, they are prepared to go to the Israeli High Court of Justice to have Feiglin removed from the party after the primaries are held. The Jerusalem Post reports:
An internal Likud court decided on Monday to allow Likud activist Moshe Feiglin to seek the party's leadership but said it would address whether he could be expelled from the party after the August 14 primary.

Feiglin declared victory after the decision, but Likud officials said his legal battle was far from over. They said Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu was prepared to go to the High Court of Justice after the election to try to remove him from the party.

"The High Court will have to decide whether the party can distance people based on their ideological views," a Likud source said. "It's the same as if Ahmed Tibi joined the Likud. As a matter of principle, we need to know whether the party can defend itself from a hostile takeover."
Feiglin responded to the attack from Netanyahu by accusing him of being "hysterical" and avoiding a debate with him. "I don't know what he is afraid of," Feiglin said. "I am presenting my views and Netanyahu, instead of saying what he believes in, is trying to stop me from running. I have given up hope of hearing Netanyahu's opinion."
It does make one wonder just how afraid Bibi really is.

Monday, August 06, 2007

So just whose land is it or who is your enemy? Part 2

The Israeli Olmert government is set to begin the eviction of two Jewish families from a Jewish owned building in Hebron tomorrow. Three thousand security personnel have been deployed to carry out the eviction and already there are cracks in the government’s eviction strategy. Ha’aretz reports:
Between 20 and 30 Israel Defense Forces infantry troops are refusing to participate in Tuesday's planned evacuation of settlers from the Hebron wholesale market. The soldiers, who are mostly religious troops conscripted in accordance with the Hesder program, informed their commanders that they would not agree to take over positions from Border Police troops in the West Bank, in order to allow the Border Policemen to remove the Hebron settlers. The soldiers announced their decision after consulting with their rabbis, who instructed them not play any role in the evacuation, including an indirect one.

The soldiers are currently undergoing advanced training, and are employing various methods to avoid replacing the Border Police troops. Some have informed their commanders that they will refuse direct orders, while others have simply managed to receive sick leave. In general, the commanders have been sympathetic to the soldiers, and promised to try to find a way to alter the mission.

Of course, Yariv Oppenheimer, head of Peace Now (and a man who never met a religious Jew he liked) is frothing at the mouth demanding the IDF soldiers be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

I am not terribly sympathetic to the plight of the government and before anyone goes all rule of law on me; remember it’s a question of deciding whose law one is going to follow. Rule of law in this case has layers of nuances which are not readily apparent unless you understand get a little background on this story. Start with this post I did when the first evictions were first carried out and google the rest.

The government failed to live up to the original agreement concerning the market place which was reached approximately a year and a half ago with the Hebron community, and furthermore, the breakdown in morale is the direct responsibility of the Kadima government for employing Israeli Defense Forces as Sheriff’s baliffs.

But here is another thought to ponder. If it takes 3,000 security personnel to evict two Jewish families and their supporters; will Israel ever have enough security personnel to carry out widescale evictions in Samaria or Judea where the numbers of Jews reach the hundreds of thousands?


David Wilder, an English speaking spokesman from the Hebron Community makes the Jewish Community’s case in Hebron. I’d normally just post a video directly on the blog, but I am making an effort to remind respectful of ownership rights, so I suggest everyone go here to watch the video report.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bibi’s bread and circuses

I usually love reading Carolyn Glick’s column in the Jerusalem Post but not last Friday’s column. While I agree Israeli politics is dominated by a disproportionately large group which is both innately corrupt and extraordinarily weak on leadership skills - I don’t perceive Bibi Netanyahu as the solution for all of what ails Israeli politics. He is just another manifestation of the problem. Friday’s column revolved around schilling for Netanyahu by shopping Moshe Feiglin. And it was all absolutely unnecessary. Let’s start here:
WHILE NATIONAL elections seem light years away, in 10 days, Netanyahu will stand for reelection as the leader of Likud. He is facing off in the Likud primaries against Moshe Feiglin, who heads the Jewish Leadership faction. What is striking about these primaries is the similarity between Feiglin and Barak and Olmert. Although Feiglin comes from the post-Zionist Right rather than the post-Zionist Left, like Barak and Olmert, he bases his post-Zionist vision for the country on fantasy.

If I needed a reason to establish the viability of Feiglin’s candidacy Glick provides it. Glick doesn’t tell us why Feiglin’s post-Zionist right vision is fantasy - we are just to take her word on it. What Glick calls fantasy others might call Torah and Talmud; though, I suspect the primary reason Glick doesn’t tell us why Feiglin’s vision is fantasy is because Feiglin leads the “Jewish Leadership” fraction of the Likud party. The last thing any Netanyahu supporters want - is for everyone to discuss openly the Jewish values of Feiglin, and then, compare and contrast those with the “Jewish values” of Bibi Netanyahu.
Whereas in Olmert and Barak's leftist visions Israel has no enemies, in Feiglin's vision, there is no outside world at all. There is no US administration. There is no European Union. There is no United Nations. There is no media.

Imagine, once again, having an Israeli Prime Minister who puts Israeli national interests before his own, or the interests of the United States, the European Union, the Palestinians or the local/international press. Egad, that would certainly be a novel situation. I think the entire country would swoon. While many in the international Anglo communities are charmed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s commanding and effective grasp of spoken English - Israelis are less amoured. After all, Israelis have already lived under his leadership during one disastrous term as Prime Minister.

Netanyahu will win the Likud party nomination for party leader but Netanyahu’s great vanity requires him to win party’s nomination in full Ba’ath party style with a 100% of the vote. Already Feiglin has had to fight off a challenged backed by the Netanyahu’s fraction to disqualify him from even putting himself forward as a candidate for the leadership of the Likud party. This does not bode well for Netanyahu either as a leader or a democrat. It also suggests a great deal of what was wrong with the old Bibi is back - contrary to his claims of learning from his previous mistakes. A strong showing by Feiglin can act as a leash to keep Netanyahu’s narcissism from spiraling out of control and according to this Jerusalem Post report there is cause to hope. Feiglin is polling around 24% and growing.

For those who are curious about Moshe Feiglin, here’s a link to a CHIN radio interview of Moshe Feiglin in English/

Thursday, August 02, 2007

So just who gets to keep the returned cheques?

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Hamas Prime Minister (and general head honcho of the Gaza Strip) has returned his Fatah paycheque:
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday returned a salary payment he received from the rival, Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority government of Salaam Fayad, accusing the PA leadership in Ramallah of "blackmailing" the Palestinians.

Haniyeh is entitled to a salary in his capacity as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Last week the Fayad government announced that all the legislators would receive their salaries, including those belonging to Hamas's Reform and Change List. The decision to pay the salaries was taken after Israel released hundreds of millions of shekels of tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA. A PLC member makes from $2,500 to $3,500 a month.

If Hamas keeps this up; does it mean I can get a refund too?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

This is really so embarrassing for me.

I loathe French movies (l'angst noir - est ugh!)and the last Frenchman I remember fondly is Voltaire - who had to flee the country I might add.

You Should Learn French

C'est super! You appreciate the finer things in life... wine, art, cheese, love affairs.
You are definitely a Parisian at heart. You just need your tongue to catch up...

Oh mon mot, je suis terrible, j'ai oublié le bout de chapeau, comment les Français de moi, h/t Simply Jews

No Tofu Man for me.

I have come to a decision. I really never thought about having sex with a vegan until this article was brought to my attention. Now that I have had time to reflect upon it, I have decided, I cannot in good conscience ever have sexual relations with any vegan. The idea of having sex with a man whose diet predominately features tofu and broccoli is not only incredibly unpalatable but downright appalling.

The crown is falling, the crown is falling.

Well, well, the Toronto 18 have now been stayed down to 15 and the clock is still running. I was extraordinary suspicious of the Crown’s charges against the 18 Toronto residents who where charged with terror related offences and blogged my doubts from the beginning of the Crown media frenzy at their arrest.

Nothing from the little bits and pieces I have learned since has convinced me that my initial gut instinct was in error. Yesterday, a provincial court justice stayed the charges for two more suspects in what was the single largest cell terror arrest within the international community. The Toronto Star:
Terror-related charges against two more of the youths arrested last summer in a massive police sweep were stayed in court today, after each signed a peace bond agreeing to abide by various restrictions for up to one year.

“It’s finally done,” said one of the teens after signing the peace bond at the Brampton courthouse. “I can’t describe in words how (the past year) was,” said the 18-year-old who’s been under house arrest for nearly a year and says he has suffered from anxiety, depression and insomnia. “But what counts is (the Crown) realized their mistake. They arrested too many people at the same time … This shows they cared. They looked into the case properly.”

The stay in proceedings against the youths, now aged 18 and 19, marks another setback in the government's landmark case. The Crown refused to comment after the court proceedings. At stake is the reputation of Canada's spy service and federal police force, particularly since news of the alleged home-grown terrorism cell garnered international headlines when 14 adults and four youths were charged. The alleged cell was accused of plotting to bomb various targets in Ontario. The youths were charged with participating in a terrorist group for the purpose of carrying out terrorist acts.

Today marks the first time anyone has signed a peace bond for a terrorist-related offence.

A peace bond allows the court to impose strict conditions on an individual because it deems there are reasonable grounds to believe a terror-related offence will be committed. It has been lauded by some as a necessary tool in fighting terrorism and lambasted by others who argue it restrains civil liberties on mere suspicion. Peace bonds are routinely agreed to by accused as a means of convincing the Crown to withdraw or stay charges, which avoids the risks of a trial.

Here’s the real deal. A preliminary hearing was held wherein the Crown presented its case. It was extraordinary weak and agreed to stay the charges providing the youths promised to keep the peace for one year. The odds were better than ever fifty-fifty, if the matter was brought to trial, the Crown would loose lock, stock and barrel. Oh, and peace bonds are used all the time in dubious criminal matters. If they haven't been used before in terror related charges it probably has more to do with how infrequently anyone in Canada is charged with a terrorism offence.

At this point, if the Crown actually manages to bring in a conviction against anyone of the remaining Toronto 15, I think I will be surprised. I suspect the only way a conviction will be had in this matter - is if anyone of the Toronto 15 lose their nerve and agrees to plea just to end the uncertainty of living under charges.

One of the real shames of the proceedings is that the Crown has insisted both the youth and adult hearings and trials for the Toronto 18 be conducted under a publication ban. Canadians deserve to see for themselves how badly the public interest is being served.