Friday, October 31, 2008

What’s next – are we going to start wishing people a “happy remembrance day” too?

From the moment I arrived at work I was greeted by people wishing me a ‘Happy Halloween’. I don’t think I have ever been wished a ‘happy halloween’ before and it startled me the first few times I heard it, but by the end of the day, it was grating on my last nerve. It took all my self-control not to go ballistic on the afternoon ‘well-wishers’.

I admit I let my children go trick ‘n’treating when they were young – it was one of the few times their father put his foot down firmly, so the kids had Halloween. Although, I did insist the children wear no demons, no spirits, witches or other evil doer type costumes and I made sure they understood as soon as their were old enough about the blatant paganism of this event.

If my co-workers were young people, I would just write it off as no big deal and blame the ignorance and inexperience of youth, but mostly they are all my middle aged age – and plus. So what gives? Halloween isn’t a national holiday, and serves no useful purpose except for marketers and children.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Exit Polls Favour McCain – In Israel

Ha’aretz is reporting that American Israelis are coming out overwhelmingly via exit polls for John McCain at a ratio of 3:1.
American citizens who voted in the U.S. presidential elections via absentee ballots from Israel overwhelmingly favored Sen. John McCain, according to exit polls released Thursday. Seventy-six percent said they voted for the Republican candidate, while only 24 percent voted for the Democrat Barack Obama.

The poll was based on data from about 800 voters who attended U.S. election events, one in Tel Aviv and two in Jerusalem, and from among 1,700 citizens who were helped with registering online by, the recently-founded non-partisan voter support group who commissioned the poll.

More than two thirds of those polled attended events in Jerusalem; there, 76 voted for McCain and 24 for Obama. Just nine percent of those polled were in Tel Aviv, where votes were split almost evenly: 51 percent voted for the Republican while 49 favored the Democrat.

Seventy percent of those polled defined themselves as either Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox. Four percent said they were not Jewish. Only 52 percent also posses Israeli citizenship, while almost a third of are students. Almost 60 percent said that "foreign policy including Israel" was the most important factor that influenced their decision; only nine percent said that the war in Iraq was the most important factor.
It is still nice to see Obama’s flip-flopping on Jerusalem or his visits and speech to Hamas dominated Al Quds university has not gone unnoticed among Israeli-Americans – even among the latte crowd of Tel Aviv. Now I would be remiss if I didn’t point out most Israelis of American extraction don’t leave American in order to have a more financially stable life but do so out of a need to have a more Jewish life and as such hold traditional Jewish values in high esteem but it will be interesting to see how US Jewry breaks.

Lies, lies, and more shameful lies

Arutz Sheva carries the only English report of a horrific story concerning the weekend home demolition of the Federman/Tor farms:
( How did it happen that yeshiva students in the Givati Brigade took part in the military operation to destroy the Federman-Tor farm and homes three nights ago? Very simple: Senior security commanders lied to them and told them they were participating in a mission to help catch a terrorist.

Ro'i Sharon, reporter for the Maariv daily newspaper, revealed that it was feared that the young soldiers would refuse to take part in the mission if they knew it was not military but rather one of destroying Jewish homes.

A member of Hevron's emergency alert team, which generally works closely with the army, was quoted as saying: "This creates mistrust between echelons in the military framework, and is liable to cost human life. In the next security incident, the residents won't believe the security forces, and the soldiers won't believe their commanders.""It is sad that for the purpose of destroying two Jewish homes, they cause such harm to the delicate security relations here," the man said.

Border Guard officials confirmed that the soldiers had been tricked. "The sensitivity of the incident required us to maintain high secrecy," a Border Guard source told Maariv. The incident in question was the bulldozing of two Jewish homes in Kiryat Arba in the middle of the night, in which the occupants of the two buildings were given five and zero minutes, respectively, to get dressed and pack some belongings.

The forces arrived in three rings: Special black-uniformed Yassam policemen in the inner ring, doing the actual destruction, including breaking windows, hitting the occupants (at least one woman and some children), throwing and trampling books and clothing, and bulldozing the buildings; policemen to protect them and ensure that Jewish neighbors not come close; and soldiers at street intersections to prevent Jews from entering the area.

The soldiers were some 40 yeshiva hesder soldiers whose job it was to man the entrances to the area. They told residents who wished to enter the area to fight the destruction that a terrorist had been sighted in the area. In some cases, they had to fight with Jews who tried to enter despite the warnings. Thanks to the soldiers' work, the Federman and Tor homes were practically empty of Jews, and their destruction proceeded without interruption.

One soldier told reporter Sharon afterwards, "I still cannot believe that I had a part in this eviction. I am a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, not a policeman, and there is no reason that they should take me on missions that have nothing to do with protecting Jews. I almost cried when I found out." Though the Border Guard confirmed the deception, the IDF claimed that a terrorist had in fact been sighted near the Machpelah Cave, some three kilometers away. Hevron's Jews said they received no word of any such incident.

A word about yeshiva hesder soldiers. Briefly put, hesder soldiers are religious soliders who actively combine military service with advance Talmud studies. Overall, I can think of a better way to demoralize an army than having commanders deliberately lie to the grunts who are needed to carry out a mission. Arutz Sheva does have a English video report online of the incident. Current Minister of Defense Ehud Barack's latest remarks suggests the pogrom against the Jews will not have a forseeable end in the near future.

In other news, a kassam attack was again launched from the Gaza Strip. Some truce.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Israeli election fever

You can tell election fever has hit Israel bigtime. Labor leader, Ehud Barak talks tough. Arutz Sheva:
"Not all Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are a threat to law and order," Barak said. However, when it comes to those who fight soldiers and police, he continued, such as those who protested the destruction of the Federman farm, “that's clearly an attempt to undermine the state's authority over its civilians, and requires harsh action with no compromises.”

The first step in punishing Jews who protest the destruction of communities lacking government approval will involve using existing punishments more frequently, Barak said. “We'll need to find a way to convince our judges that we're not talking about just another case of interfering with a public official as he performs his duty to national security, but rather an attempt to undermine the state's authority, and therefore these people must be put behind bars,” he explained.

The second step, Barak said, would involve using laws reserved for use in emergency situations; laws which allow the government to take steps that would otherwise be considered undemocratic. “If there won't be a choice, we'll need to consider using the emergency regulations,” he said. The regulations in question “are a remnant of the British Mandate.”

The “emergency regulations” would allow security forces to arrest suspects without charges and without a warrant. “They allow a different course of action, that allows us to [immediately] arrest people who otherwise would not be arrested for another six months, if at all,” he explained. The regulations would only be used if necessary, he added, “in order to secure the state's authority over its citizens.”
As odd as the idea may seem, arresting any Jew who dissents from the Labor party line does have a strong appeal for Israeli progressives.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There is just no accounting for taste.

Ynet News is reporting that a Quebec man has propositioned Tzipi Livni, Kadima party leader with a proposal for marriage:
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni received a rather unusual gift this week - a diamond ring sent to her by a Canadian man. The package, sent to Livni's office by FedEx, included an 18 carat gold ring crowned with a diamond, a photo of the sender, Quebec resident Laurent Belanger, and a handwritten note on his personalized stationary saying, "I am aware of what I'm doing."

Initially Livni's security guards approached the package with caution, for fear that it may have contained an explosive device. Upon opening the package, the guards were surprised to discover a ring placed on a cushion in a tin box.

The authenticity of the diamond itself has not been verified, and the note enclosed provided no explanation as to what the gift meant, but Livni's associates believe it could have been some sort of marriage proposal.
Frankly, I am somewhat relived Livni is already married - I mean how many lefties does Canada really need anyway? Besides, he obvious knows very little about Kadima politics otherwise he would have just sent cash with his proposal.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fatwa issued against voting in a process which would see political representation for a population

In other news today, a fatwa has been issued for Arabs not to vote in the upcoming municipal elections in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post reports:
The Palestinian Authority's chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, published a fatwa on Saturday banning Arab residents of Jerusalem from participating in the upcoming municipal election.

In a separate development, the chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, renewed the fatwa barring Palestinians from selling property to Jews. He also warned Arab Jerusalemites against resorting to Israeli courts to settle disputes over real estate, out of fear that their homes and lands might end up in Jewish hands.

Although the PA has previously urged Jerusalem Arabs to boycott the municipal election, this is the first time the chief Islamic judge issued such a fatwa.
The overwhelming majority of Arabs in the capital have refrained from participating in the local elections since 1967 - some for political reasons and others out of a belief that they won't benefit from going to the ballot boxes or running as candidates. The handful of Arabs who defied the boycott have been attacked both physically and verbally.

But let me clarify one point. The Arabs who have been attacked for defying the election boycotts in the past were attacked by their fellow Arabs and not the Jews. Let’s face it – it’s hard to keep the ‘apartheid’ victim mantle fresh if one is choosing to actively participate in the political process.

A rabbi teaching torah – the utter chutputz of it!

Artuz Sheva carries a report of a MK criticizing the IDF Chief Rabbinate:
( MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) said on Thursday that he would request an emergency meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to investigate the Rabbinate of the Israel Defense Forces, following an article in Thursday's Haaretz daily that claimed the Rabbinate is "brainwashing" soldiers religiously and politically. The former minister also wrote a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, asking him to order an immediate investigation into the Rabbinate's activities.

According to the Thursday article, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, has already ordered an investigation of donations that have allowed the Rabbinate to increase its activities in areas previously served only by the IDF's Education Corps. This includes the activities of the Jewish Awareness unit, which offers information on historic Israeli military battles and learning about the Land of Israel, as well as what the unit's brochure calls activities and programs "based on biblical sources, appropriate for all soldiers and commanders, also for those who do not come from a religious background".

Other publications include a booklet for "commanders from a Jewish viewpoint", and Jewish Awareness offers advice and help in writing and integrating programs and materials on Jewish awareness in military courses. The unit also offers seminars and conferences all over the country, including Shabbat retreats, which the Education Corps does not have the funds to match.

(…)In his letter to Barak, Pines-Paz wrote "The Rabbinate is overstepping its authority, which is solely to provide religious services, and is acting in an aggressive manner in order to cause Israel Defense Forces soldiers to become religiously observant. This activity undermines religious-secular relations in the IDF and leads the army into dealing with areas beyond its scope. It uses the IDF to advance religious and political ideas. The Rabbinate is bringing religion in through the back door, in a dangerous manner, and harming the IDF's ability to fulfill its mission."

The original Ha’aretz article can be found here but Pines-Paz oversteps his bounds and reason if he thinks the rabbinate in the IDF should not be teaching Torah and Jewish law.

Although, I do understand his concern as long as the government insists on giving orders which are in direct violation of Jewish religious laws. It sets up a situation whereby religious soldiers are forced to choose between serving G-d or the government. And from Pines-Paz’s point of view a secular soldier who remains ignorant of Jewish law is not only a desirable but pliable soldier for the directives of the state. Pity the Pines-Paz’s of Israel, since a good third of Israel is made up of religious Jews, who have the fastest growing demographic within the state.

But the IDF Chief Rabbi also came under fire today for going into Israeli prisons and teaching torah and Jewish law to ‘right-wing extremists’ who have been incarcerated by the state. All of which makes me wonder what role progressive lefties would find appropriate for a rabbinate to do?

h/tip Joe Settler

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The war against the Jews

Photo by Nadia Matar

Elections in Israel are a dirty business and are not for the weak or faint-hearted. The first opening salvo of the current administration starts off with the illegal house demolition of a homestead near Hebron shortly before the expected announcement of a general election call. Here is how the incident is reported in Ha’aretz.
Settlers rioted on Sunday near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, desecrating a Muslim graveyard, after Israeli security forces evacuated a nearby illegal outpost. The settlers smashed some of the graves and poured paint over others. Right-wing activist Noam Federman had established the outpost, a farm, which was evacuated by contingents of the Israel Defense Force, the Border Police and police earlier Sunday

Rightists came to the site and threw stones at the security forces in response to the evacuation. A number of them were arrested for attacking a police officer, and two young women were arrested after they tried to set a police car alight. During the rioting, settlers hurled abuse at the members of the security forces, called for a "revenge attack" against them. "We hope they will be defeated by their enemies, that they will all be [kidnapped IDF soldier] Gilad Shalit, that they will all be killed and all slaughtered because this is what they deserve," they said.

In addition to vandalizing the graves, settlers also damaged over 80 Palestinian vehicles by smashing windows and puncturing tires. Two police cars were damaged during the altercations.

It is easy to read this and think, whoa, settlers are getting mighty violent and lawless but it is not until one gets mid-way through the report that a rationale starts to peak through the spin. Ha’aretz chooses to frames it this way:
Settlers, for their part, argued that security forces carried out the evacuation without a preliminary order and that they did not give the outpost's residents time to pack up their belongings.

There are many ways this incident could have been reported. For example, the army deliberately circumvented the law and acted outside not only due process but in a manner which is totally illegal under Israeli law but Ha’aretz would rather use the settler’s claim formula near the end of the article. Ha’aretz is a newspaper and presumably staffed by journalists so it should be a rather easy and straightforward matter to verify the ‘settlers claim’. For if the IDF didn’t follow the law and had no order issuing the demolition the homestead; why is the IDF following the path of lawlessness and on whose authority or order did the IDF choose to act on? How far up the chain of command did this illegal order come from and did the current Defense Minister have a hand in this decision, and if so, what is the rationale for acting outside the law?

In fact, this whole article could have been written like this. The IDF deliberately acted in an illegal manner under the authority and order of XYZ and the repercussions of this illegality caused a riot outside of Hebron. But it is not just Ha’aretz who is at fault. Ynet News carried a similar report to Ha’aretz but the motivation for the riot is buried near the end of the article:
Shortly after 1:30 am on Saturday night, massive police, Border Guard and IDF forces arrived near the Federman home. Noam Federman was arrested for assaulting a policeman and breaking his hand, and two young girls were taken into custody after reportedly attempting to set fire to a police car. Another person was detained for questioning.

Federman's wife, Elisheva, recounted the events in a conversation with Ynet. "It was a regular Saturday evening. We were cleaning after Shabbat. Our nine children went to sleep. I finished working on a paper for school, Noam was on the computer, when we suddenly heard dogs barking. "We received a phone call that massive forces were headed towards us. Noam went out to see what was happening, and then Yasamniks ((Israel Police special patrol unit) jumped on him. I haven't seen him since."

But I will give Ynet News credit for at least writing up an earlier report which gives a little insight to the destruction and havoc caused by the IDF’s own brand of lawlessness.
Massive police, Border Guard and IDF forces demolished an illegal outpost in the West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday night. Four people were arrested during the evacuation. Shortly after 1:30 am, the forces arrived near the home of extreme right-wing activist Noam Federman. He was arrested for assaulting a policeman and breaking his hand, and two young girls were taken into custody after reportedly attempting to set fire to a police car. Another person was detained for questioning.

Federman's wife, Elisheva, recounted the events in a conversation with Ynet. "It was a regular Saturday evening. We were cleaning after Shabbat. Our nine children went to sleep. I finished working on a paper for school, Noam was on the computer, when we suddenly heard dogs barking. "We received a phone call that massive forces were headed towards us. Noam went out to see what was happening, and then Yasamniks ((Israel Police special patrol unit) jumped on him. I haven't seen him since. "I saw herds of black uniform. I locked the door, but they broke into the house, smashed the windows, and all this without any warning. The children woke up and came to my room. "Three of the children – aged six, eight and 12 – asked me what to do. I told them to go to Givat Haharsina, knock on good people's doors and ask them to take them to their grandfather and grandmother in Kiryat Arba.

"They pulled out the entire contents of the house. Everything that was in the cupboards – books, clothes, money. They forcibly removed us from the house and took us to the Gush Etzion Junction. They said we were all under arrest. Me and six other children – aged one, three, nine, 14, 16 and 17. "They destroyed the entire house and cut off its gas supply. Several hours later, they told us we were not under arrest and let me go back to the house to take the car. I saw the complete destruction in the place and they told me, 'Take what you want.' "Eighteen years of marriage are folded under the wreckage. I didn’t even have Materna to take for the baby. The oldest daughter was taken to the police station and was arrested after her hand was broken."

The Federman family has been living in the place for two and a half years. According to the residents, the farm had been manned for 11 years. Elisheva Federman said there was no legal motive for the evacuation. "We have had right of possession on this land for 10 years. No Arab has demanded it. We launched legal proceedings and paid a lot of money. How can they do this without any warning? I hope God gives us the strength to return. We have no property now. We can build a tent there. We have nothing to lose," she said.

While the Israeli press and politicians were quick to denounce and decry the allegedly lawlessness of the Israeli Jews who rioted after the illegal destruction by the IDF of the Federman homestead, I have to ask how one can demand the Jews follow the letter of the law of the state of Israel when the government of Israel chooses to act selectively in enforcing those laws or when the government blatantly refuses to follow its own law which govern due process?

And if there is to be one law, it should be enforced impartially, and therefore, the defense minister should immediately issue orders to the IDF to demolish illegal Bedoin dwellings in the Negev or the illegal Israeli Arab residences in Tira, Taibe and East Jerusalem. Ultimately, what Ehud Barack, as Minister of Defense, forgets is this; what the government refuses to do the homes of Arab terrorists without due process should be the minimum standard employed against Jews who have not wantonly murdered anyone.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The conservative case for Obama

The last few weeks I have tried to get my head around this one idea – is there a conservative argument for supporting Barak Obama?

I have read alleged conservative columnists come out in support for Obama, and yet, their case for support never seems to be based on any known conservative principle which is easily recognized as conservative. If anything, the varied arguments employed give the appearance of columnists not wanting the political gravy train to pass them by.

Normally, the suggestion that only an Obama presidency has enough clout or charisma to ‘restore’ or ‘repair’ American relations with the international community would have me rolling on the floor laughing my ass off – if such a statement wasn’t made in direct defiance and in absolute ignorance of modern (not ancient, modern) history. And for the historically challenged Canadians among us, I would ask you to read a recording Gordon Sinclair made in 1973 called “the Americans”.

The closest conservative intellectual argument for supporting Obama I could come up with can be aptly characterized as tough love and summarized this way - cutting off your nose to spite your face. Let Obama win and let the left overdose on an excess of what passes for progressive modern liberalism; which is all well in good, if the rest of America didn’t have to pay a price for indulging the progressive whims and notions of creating a just and fair society.

As a Canadian conservative I admit there is a certain charm in an Obama presidency in so far as Obama-mania has gripped our country (or at least our media). We might just have our first election in decades where anti-Americanism will not be used to tar and feather Canadian conservatives. Can you imagine the Toronto Star columnists equating Harper = Obama or even suggesting Harper is Obama’s lapdog? Nope, me neither.

As a conservative blogger I am sure an Obama presidency would provide lots of grist for the blog. As a pro-Israeli blogger, and Obama presidency could potentially be the straw which finally allows a strong Israeli leader to finally break free of the American yoke which has often layed in direct contradiction to the best interests of Israelis. But these are not conservative arguments or necessarily conservative principles at play.

PS: For the record, John McCain wasn't my first pick, and yes, I truly do believe George W. Bush is a liberal.

Shas rejection

Tzipi Livni, leader of the Israeli party Kadima has been busy trying to form a new coalition government in the Knesset so she can officially commence the Prime Ministership of Israel. She has already had to seek an extentsion for coalition building from Shimon Peres. Oddly enough, the charedi religious party Shas has been thwarting her chances. The Jerusalem Post:
Shas chairman Eli Yishai said Friday that the decision made earlier by the Council of Torah Sages for the party not to join the coalition was final. "As I said, the Council of Torah Sages decided this morning after a telephone survey and in accordance with the directives of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that Shas will not join the government," said Yishai at a press conference next to his home in Jerusalem. "The decision is final."

Yishai said his party's demands for the allocation of more funds to poor Israelis and for a commitment that Jerusalem remain united, demands which were not met by Kadima, were not personal, but were for the benefit of the entire country. "We have made our decision according to our principles. Shas cannot be bought. We will stick to out goals and principles," he said.

"A year ago, the decision was made in Shas that if [the division of] Jerusalem is discussed, it would withdraw from the government. Even more so, it will not join [a government] without a commitment not to negotiate over Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not for sale," Yishai continued.

If Israelis were to go to the polls, there is a good chance that Kadima and the party’s current coalition parties would face staggering losses in a general election while Shas support would remain the same or possibly increase slightly for standing up for the ‘poor’ and Jerusalem.

In theory, Kadima could still manage to reach the 60 knesset seat mark with a coalition of Kadima-Labor-Meretz but the government would also have to solicit heavily on the support of the Arab parties as well. This bodes ill as every piece of coalition legislation put forward could end in a potential draw. Of course, eventually Kadima will have to go to the polls if just one MK breaks or bolts coalition ranks. If or when that happens, Kadima has to justify its alliance with the extreme lefties like Meretz and the Arab parties to the Israeli electorate. So what to do? Either Kadima meets Shas price and conditions and potentially risks the ire of their confirmed coalition partners or take a chance and go to the polls.

Rumours are abounding everywhere suggesting Livni is said to be in favour of taking a chance and rolling the dice by calling for a general election (my preferred solution). And I suspect the Kadima spinmeisters have already found their framing of Shas rejection. Ynet News:

After the Shas party officially announced Friday that its Council of Torah Sages voted against joining a new government led by Tzipi Livni, sources close to the Kadima chairwoman said the haredi party's leader, Eli Yishai withheld information from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef regarding the understandings reached during the coalition negotiations. Rabbi Yosef is Shas' spiritual leader and heads the Council of Torah Sages.

"Yishai led the country in circles for 28 days," a Livni associate told Ynet Friday evening. "He is a coward and deceived everyone." Yishai, for his part, said Shas was not joining the coalition because the rabbis were opposed to any Israel-Palestinian negotiations surrounding Jerusalem's future. Sources in Kadima said the vote Shas conducted Friday morning did not include all the members of the Council of Torah Sages, adding that Yishai prevented the head of Shas' negotiating team, Attorney David Glass, from meeting Rabbi Yosef Friday morning. Glass is in favor of Shas' inclusion in the government.

All of which leads me to suggest elections are in the air as one does not go around publicly accusing a leading political head of a political party who one wishes to join in your coalition government of lying and cowardliness. I believe this is where the ATFAT principle (a turn for a turn) gets invoked.

One Shas coalition condition Kadima cannot afford to have debated in the public forum is Shas refusal to enter any government which puts a united Jerusalem on the auction block with the Palestinians.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Unfortunately my world spinning, and I am too pressed for time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My conscience is cleared

Back in the day before the Last Amazon was born I made the decision I would use cloth diapers and went about shoring up a great supply of cloth diapers before her birth. I was mentally willing to do my part to help the environment but my resolve only last past the first sleep deprived week. It was in desperation that I turned to disposal diapers. Well, I am happy to report that one can now go back to using Pampers and Huggies with a clear conscience thanks to this Times Online article
A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a "defensive" stance towards its conclusions. The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them.

To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60C. The conclusions will upset proponents of real nappies who have claimed they can help save the planet
Restricted Whitehall documents, seen by The Sunday Times, show that the government is so concerned by the "negative laundry options" outlined in the report, it has told its media managers not to give its conclusions any publicity.

Here’s the thing, if the diapers are not washed in extremely hot water the germ factor becomes a contributing factor to an ongoing case of diaper rash. Miserable babies make for miserable parents which puts a huge blight on my social environment.

Shoring up the Jewish Vote

To those of you who think all Chassidic Jews look a like, I am here to state otherwise. Not only are sects of Chassidic Jews innately different from each other often the clothing or how it is worn gives one a clue to their religious sect. I suppose I should own up right away that my own fleeting associations come from the Lubavitch camp and there is rather a history of conflict between the two groups.

The last Lubavitch Rebbe broke from the traditional Chassidic ranks and embraced the creation of the state of Israel. Satmars are anti-Israel/anti-Zionist state and believe it is a great presumption and arrogance to establish a modern state as a homeland for the Jews before the return of the messiah. They point to the ongoing conflict since the establishment of the state of Israel as proof of man’s folly and not evidence of divine will. Anti-Zionist the Satmars might be, but do not confuse them with the ranks of Neturei Karta, whose dissent members achieved infamy most recently for visiting with the president of Iran.

The Satmars while being anti-Israeli state has yet to preclude them from living in the state of Israel, owning property in the state of Israel, or even taking the hand-outs from the public purse of Israel for their daily bread but I would be remiss if I did not point out that Satmars have also a rather long ongoing commitment to many acts of charity on a large scale. All that being said, I find it an incredible act of irony that the Obama camp has been attempting to prop up their ‘Jewish” credentials by schlepping in the Sukkah with the Satmars in New York. Arutz Sheva:
( The Obama camp went on the "sukkah circuit" this week in the Brooklyn, New York community of Williamsburg's Hassidic Jews, including those in the anti-Zionist Satmar sect. Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York spoke in a sukkah (a tabernacle which Jews dwell in during the Sukkot Holiday) while wearing a kippah [skullcap] stamped with the words "my Bubby votes for Obama." He touted Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama as good for Israel. The Senator's Jewish outreach director, Jeremy Goldberg, told the Jewish Forward that aides are holding similar events in the community of the Satmar sect, which opposes the existence of the State of Israel.

The Arutz Sheva article goes on to report Joe Biden has been endorsed by Hamas. Anyhoo, I have my doubts about Obama's cavorting with the Satmars will break or influence positively the Jewish vote for Obama but it does significantly add to the ranks of Obama’s anti-Zionist contingent. It makes me wonder who came up with the idea of Obama visiting the Satmar Sukkah in the first place…

some days you can't win for losing

I often wonder if it is at all possible to lower the political discourse in North America from its current bottom feeder level... so far it’s like looking into an endless abyss. This morning the papers are all going a-gad screaming about the cost of US GOP VP nomination wardrobe costs. The Toronto Star:
CHARLOTTE, N.C.–Dressing up the self-styled hockey mom cost the Republican National Committee more than $150,000.

Small potatoes in a big election, Republican officials said, after trips to Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and St. Louis and Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis for Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin were uncovered by the U.S. political website

Well, maybe it’s because the GOP didn’t want a repeat of this criticism – taken from the Washington Post:

(Photo - Herbert Knosowski -- AP)
At yesterday's gathering of world leaders in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United States was represented by Vice President Cheney. The ceremony at the Nazi death camp was outdoors, so those in attendance, such as French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen's hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event. The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.

Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one's country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words "Staff 2001." It was the kind of hat a conventioneer might find in a goodie bag.

It is also worth mentioning that Cheney was wearing hiking boots -- thick, brown, lace-up ones. Did he think he was going to have to hike the 44 miles from Krakow -- where he had made remarks earlier in the day -- to Auschwitz?

(…)There is little doubt that intellectually Cheney approached the Auschwitz ceremony with thoughtfulness and respect. But symbolism is powerful. That's why the piercing cry of a train whistle marked the beginning of the ceremony and the glare of searchlights signaled its end. The vice president might have been warm in his parka, ski cap and hiking boots. But they had the unfortunate effect of suggesting that he was more concerned with his own comfort than the reason for braving the cold at all.
Let us not lose sight of the fact Palin’s new wardrobe did not come from the public purse and I have seen Palin in an old parka, but how Vice-Presidental will she look campaigning in it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

“humanitarian crisis on the scale of Darfur”

Ha’aretz carries an interesting twist on the black market tunnel networks of the Egyptian Gazan border.
When the calves were hauled out of the tunnel from Egypt Tuesday they could hardly stand up. After a terrifying, one-kilometer underground trip into the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, what the young cattle wanted most was a long drink of cool water.

Underground livestock smuggling has increased dramatically ahead of Id Al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice, due December 10, when Muslims the world over slaughter animals and feed the poor to seek God's forgiveness.

"Even if we brought in animals every day we would not meet the demand for the Id," said a tunnel operator who identified himself as Abu Luqaib. Hundreds of Gaza merchants throng around the border area of Rafah every day to pick up merchandise coming to Gaza from Egypt via subterranean passages that have created a flourishing trade zone. "It's an industrial zone here," said the 23-year-old tunnel operator as his crew pulled a bawling calf up the deep shaft by a simple rope around its middle. No livestock harness was used.

Gaza has suffered galloping unemployment since Israel tightened its blockade on the territory in 2007 to try to weaken its Palestinian rulers, Hamas, an Islamist group sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state. Goods are scarce in Gaza markets because of Israeli restrictions on what Gaza may and may not import. The tunnel network handles all sorts of readily portable merchandise including fuel, automobile parts, computers and clothes.

The number of tunnels has mushroomed in the past year to around 800, according to Abu Luqaib. They employ between 20,000 to 25,000 workers in a gray economy struggling for survival. A standard 500-meter tunnel costs from 60,000 euro to 90,000 euro to build, he says. A 1,000-meter tunnel built with extra safety features can cost up to 150,000 euro.

The tunnels can be dangerous. Palestinian officials say at least 45 Gazans have died in cave-ins this year, some of which were blamed by Hamas on the security forces in Egypt, who are under pressure from Israel and the United States to clamp down. But such risks are clearly outweighed by potential profits. The calves that came through Tuesday cost 350 euro each plus 250 euro for the transport, a total of 600 euro per head.
Read the rest here but I find this article more troubling than compelling. In fact, the article raises far more questions than it answered. If the Gaza Strip is in the midst of a ‘humanitarian’ crisis and as unemployment has now risen to above 50% while 80% of all Gazans relie on food aid as all the NGO’s routinely claim - just how on earth does anyone have any money or means of making money in order to buy the black market goods coming into the Gaza Strip from the tunnels?

And what of Egypt’s role in the black market? These goods have to come from somewhere before they are taken into the Rafah tunnel crossings into the Gaza Strip. The only entrance to the Rafah tunnel network lies through the Sinai – sovereign Egyptian territory. In fact, since the Sinai is not the bastion of industrialization or a cornucopia of agriculture and almost all goods would have to be brought in from Egypt proper and cross the Suez Canal before entering into the Sinai.

Suddenly the merchants of the Sinai are able to supply any need of the Palestinians of Gaza without arousing the slightest curiosity of the Egyptian police. One would think this should be a fairly easy and routine enforcement for the Egyptian authorities to crack down on, and yet, it seems to be far above the pay-grade of the Egyptian security forces. Methinks, the ink on the Camp David Accord is mighty cold, and the accord is nothing more than a pretense for peace rather than a lasting peace agreement.

Lauren Booth, sister in law of Tony Blair, was snapped by Agence France-Presse photographer shopping at the ‘concentration camp supermarket’ of the Gaza Strip in mid-September. Who knew the modern Auschwitz had such well stocked and computerized supermarkets?

No one does victim or refugee like the Palestinians but more importantly what motivation is there for the Palestinian leadership to seek a true peace with Israel when playing the victim pays has such obvious financial advantages? The general wisdom for Arafat turning down Ehud Barak’s offer of 97% of the West Bank in 2000 was that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity but what if the sole motivation to turn down the deal was that the offer was not financially in their best interests to accept? If that is indeed the case, there will be no peace until such time as playing the refugee and card becomes a sum zero game for real.

In other news today, a kassam was launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip. This makes the 28th kassam violation since the truce began on June 19th.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Walking in the path of Arafat

The Bush Administration’s favourite Palestinian ‘moderate’ leader is following on the well-worn path of his more ‘extremist’ brethren. Jerusalem Post:
Palestinian Authority Preisdent Mahmoud Abbas said Monday he was not intending to step down from office when his term ends in January 2009, hinting also that he would run again for PA president in 2010.

"According to clause 34 of the Palestinian constitution, the elections for parliament and the presidency must take place concurrently," Abbas said. As Palestinian parliamentary elections are not due to take place before 2010, his statement indicates that he might remain in office until then.

"Every other step that would be made would be illegal," he told a local paper. "We have consulted six Egyptian legal experts and they all concurred that the elections must take place according to [Palestinian] law," he said. "I am ready for elections immediately. Today, tomorrow or even yesterday," he said.

Why step down or hold an election when one’s term ends? Especially, when one has the backing of the Egyptian legal beavers…

No surrender to the blues

I was reading about an Iranian ship which was captured by Somalian pirates, and the subsequent speculation on the 'tainted' cargo which left 16 of the Somalia pirates dead under 'mysterious' circumstances’, when I stumbled across a blog called Shirat Devorah - roughly translated as the Songs of Deborah.

Curiosity fully aroused, I stayed to read more. Now I readily confess to having an admitted weakness for any references concerning the writings or teachings of Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov and the last Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Schneerson. In fact, I spent my early childhood thinking that my grandfather’s best friend was a man who I thought was called Robbie Knockman. I am fortunate to have inherited a number of Rebbe Schneerson's discourses, and while I cannot accept he was the Mosiach, he certainly was a man gifted with an insight and compassion which literally bleeds out of his writings.

I was reading a post called A Remedy for Depression at Shirat Devorah which quoted the last Lubavitcher Rebbe and it struck me as a particularly apt as I have a friend who is busy fighting her own demons. While my friend is not Jewish, I think there is a wisdom which can resonate and be applied across the human condition.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson taught, "Depression comes from haughtiness. If you would realize who you really are, you wouldn't be so disappointed with yourself." He explains that depression, while not a crime, sinks a person deep into an abyss. It originates within our own self-destructive elements and once depression takes hold, a person can easily sink further. Depression can cause a person to stop doing mitzvos (ed.-good deeds). In an attempt to find relief from the depression, a person might sin, simply because they don't care enough to avoid doing aveiros (ed.-transgressions)

Rabbi Nosson once remarked that the evil inclination cares less about the sin than about the depression that follows it. By means of the depression, it can further trap the person and gain much more than from the first sin. If we make the mistake of committing a transgression, we should be remorseful but not allow ourselves to become depressed. It is vital to fight depression as one would fight their greatest enemy, run from it as they would from death itself.
And how else shall one run but by dancing for the joy of life

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just an observation…

My mother and daughter drove into town yesterday to spend time with me and the boys. I have not been up to much company as I am dealing with an impacted wisdom tooth which makes any conversation beyond 20 minutes extremely painful but perhaps the conversation was ultimately far more painful for my mother and her blind support of US presidential candidate Barack Obama.

There are many reasons one could potentially support an Obama presidency but what I find interesting is how so few Canadians, who venture to hold strong opinions on the US presidency, can actually make their case. My mother’s case strikes me as typical. She claims to follow the issues with great interest and carefully watched all the televised debates. Yet when asked to move beyond platitudes and point to actual policy - be it economic, national security, immigration or foreign affairs to name a few areas, she cannot name one single Obama policy or the reasons why she supports this position.

Nonetheless it plays for an interesting family dynamic in a family unit of pre-dominately Libertarian conservatives. As I said to her, I am not surprised by her support for an Obama presidency as she was a long-time Trudeau supporter. For a boomer-Canadian, to be swept up in Obama-mania, is just the logical redux of reliving the Trudeau-mania of one’s misspent youth.

Since I will probably be disinherited with this post, it is now time for me to go earn my daily bread.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Has the Bush Administration offered to sell-out the Israelis for the Syrians?

Ynet News is carrying a simply explosive report of an article published in a Kuwaiti newspaper which alleges that US President Bush has offered up the Golan Heights to the Syrians for a total break with Iran.

US President George W. Bush suggested to Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for a complete disbandment of the Syrian-Iranian alliance, Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida reported Friday. According to the report, the offer was made in a secret letter from Bush delivered to Assad by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his recent visit to Damascus.

The letter included an American proposal to reach "a quick and satisfactory solution" to the Golan issue in return for defined moves and a declaration that the Syria would abandon its alliance with Iran once and for all.

A Palestinian source close to Abbas told the paper that the offer was included "in a secret letter sent personally by President Bush. "In the letter, Bush suggested finalizing the agreement within several weeks, before the US presidential elections, in order to push the Middle East peace process, an achievement the president will be able to proudly present before leaving the White House in January."

The same source added that the delegation accompanying Abbas on his visit to Syria "was unaware of the letter or its details, and the US insisted that this be carried out secretly and far away from the official channels." The newspaper went on to report that the American ambassador to Damascus was not informed about the issue as well. The source added that the real objective of Abbas' arrival in Damascus was to deliver the letter to Assad.
There was bill before the Israeli Knesset which required a vote to be held in the Knesset before any land was offered or exchanged by any Israeli administration and must be carried by at least two-thirds of the house. I am unsure what stage the bill is and the last report suggested a final vote would not come until the winter session of the Knesset.

The introduction of such legislation was to protect the Israeli state in the event of a weak Israeli administration selling out the Jewish people.

No one needs peace with the Syrians and certainly not at the price of such a strategic asset and natural resource of the Golan Heights. Israel has already been pressured by the Americans to sacrifice land for peace in the Gaza Strip and has yet to receive anything but Kassams in return.

The Syrians have nothing substantial to offer the Israelis for the Golan which represents huge returns in both tourism and agriculture for Israel, as well as, one of the major sources of fresh water available to the Israelis in the region. The Golan Heights has been held longer than by the Israelis than by the Syrians. The majority of citizens residing in the Golan Heights are Israeli citizens. If anything, the Israeli historical claim to the Golan Heights are far stronger than the pretenious Syrian ones.

In the 19th century the Jewish philanthropist Rothschild bought approximately 18,000 hectares of the Golan Heights and the Jewish National Fund still holds the original deeds and title to this land today.

The French had no legal right to offer the Golan to its Syria clients as the land was part of the original Palestinian mandate and reserved for the Jewish homeland in a legally binding decision made at the San Remo conference in 1922 and put under mandate by League of Nations in 1923. The land was illegally transferred away in March 1923 by the British to the French under their mandate in order to enlist French support for the British securing the oil fields of Mosul, Iraq. Furthermore, Syria lost the Golan Heights in its war of aggression against Israel, and in a sane world, this would be the end of it.

There is a chance this report is false, after all it resides on the integrity of Palestinian Authority official, but it aptly captures the prevailing American ethos which has consistently treated its alleged ally as nothing more than a spoil of war. So far there has been no word if the Israelis have countered offered California to Mexico.

Don't Dump Dion

The post in which I give Liberals and the Liberal party my 2 cents worth of free advice. What can I say? I’m a giver, besides - the Liberals have been foiled in their most recent efforts in taking over the country so I can afford to be a little generous. I’ll sum it up this way: Don’t Dump Dion.

The biggest political plunder you can make is to attempt to replace Stephane Dion in the next 18-24 months. Leaving him exactly where he is as leader of the opposition and the Liberal party of Canada is your best option. In case you haven’t noticed, the Liberals are in no position to remain as a viable party unless the financial bottom-line changes immediately and significantly – as in winning the 649 Lottery kind of way.

Otherwise you risk being the first major party in the history of this country to have to declare bankruptcy. The last leadership debts of the last Liberal leadership race have yet to be paid off – let’s not even talk about current campaign debts. There is no significant money coming in and now that the ‘natural’ governing party no longer has unfretted access to the public purse, you need to raise significant grassroots funding.

Dion is your man to turn it around, although not necessarily the man to turn your electoral fortunes around but the man who has the most ability to rebuild your grassroots base and get the cheapskate liberal base to open their wallets because he’s ordinary and hokey. Dion has grassroots appeal and his nutty green side appeals to not only a significant portion of your base but the Green and Dipper base as well. Forget the Conservative base, you haven’t a hope but you do need to bleed off or poach as much support from both the Green and Dipper camps as you can.

Dion can do you no harm and is uniquely positioned to do the Liberal party a great deal of good. And why should Dion stay on? He is probably the last liberal standing who still sees the Liberal party as a party of ideals rather than of patronage and graft. Quite frankly, he is far more loyal to the Liberal party than the Liberal party is to him. He might be academic clueless but it’s in a bumbling and charming kind of way rather than the elitist off-putting ways of an Iggy. As a Conservative I would love nothing better to see a bankrupt Liberal party campaign run against the pro-neo-con policy papers of Iggy. Talk about turn around being fair play. Oh the joy.

Think of the brand you have in Dion. It takes a leader of integrity to stick to his principles in direct defiance of all common political sense a la Green Shaft. It takes a great deal of courage and perseverance to walk into a room in Alberta and insist on giving a speech whose substance preaches a direct decline in the quality of life for most Albertans. Give Dion credit for that and he didn’t even flinch while doing it - neither Turncoat Bob nor Iggy ventured in those waters. In fact, I distinctly recall both Turncoat Bob and Iggy suggesting that due to the current economic downturn, the Green Shaft would be suspended, in direct contradiction to message of Dion stumping on the campaign trail. Let him be your designated whipping boy for the next 18-24 months as you attempt to re-build your base and party finances. Then replace him.

Of course, I don’t expect any liberal to take anything I have to say seriously, which is why I don’t feel the slightest bit squeamish in saying it. And I will enjoy saying, “I told you so”. Believe me, being right never gets old.

Demnuts stuck on Joe the Plummer

I don’t care if Joe the Plummer has a plumbing license. I don’t care if Joe the Plummer has a DUI, back taxes, a messy divorce or was a GOP plant. Who Joe the Plummer is; is simply irrelevant. What is important and relevant - was the answer Obama gave to Joe the Plummer.

Get over Joe, and go deal with the substance of Obama’s appalling answer and solution.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

AqsaTube - the follow-up

In a follow-up to yesterday's post on AqsaTube, the Jerusalem Post is reporting that the French internet provider who was hosting has now taken the website offline.
Following a report in The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, the Jihadist website AqsaTube, a video-sharing platform modeled on the popular YouTube, has been taken offline by its French internet service provider OVH.

AqsaTube ( featured videos inciting against Israel, glorifying terrorism (the "resistance") and preaching the doctrines of radical Islam. According to the BBC, OVH initially denied hosting AqsaTube, but later confirmed that the website had been hosted by them and had now been taken offline. The disappearance of AqsaTube follows Google's removal of their AdSense program from the website following a request filed by the Post to Google Israel.

The Jerusalem Post credits the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorist Information Centre with the tip alerting the JPost to the existence of AqsaTube. Score this one for the good guys, and yes, I do mean good guys.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Palestinian Chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood goes viral online

In the cyber age, literally everything becomes a tool for both recruitment or incitement - from Facebook to the latest Hamas vehicle – (Jerusalem Post):
Hamas has launched an Internet site called AqsaTube, a file-sharing resource enabling users to upload videos. While its format and design are similar to the popular YouTube site, the Hamas version is devoted entirely to propaganda and incitement, according to the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

AqsaTube joins more than 20 Web sites, in eight languages, managed and directed by Hamas. AqsaTube ( features videos inciting against Israel, glorifying terrorism (the "resistance") and preaching the doctrines of radical Islam.

There is also a link to Hamas's satellite channel, Al-Aqsa TV, which increases the number of its viewers and enables it to bypass restrictions on its broadcasts, according to the Ramat Hasharon-based ITIC, a think tank closely associated with Israel's intelligence community.

The ITIC says AqsaTube is registered under the name of Abu Nasser Skandar from Dubai, and its Internet service provider is the French firm, OVH. E-mails to OVH were not returned by press time.

The overwhelming majority of AqsaTube videos come from Hamas, but it is possible to find those of other Palestinian terrorist organizations. The videos are divided into categories: the Hamas movement, Fatah, the children of Al-Aqsa (i.e., children motivated by Hamas ideology), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and others.

The site has many videos produced by the information office of Izzadin Kassam, Hamas's "military wing," documenting terrorist attacks and training. They include masked operatives firing rockets and training with weapons. One is devoted to one of Izzadin Kassam's special units, and is accompanied by a song encouraging suicide attacks: "Oh suicide bombers' unit, oh heroes of the attacks. Our great hope is death for the sake of Allah."

AqsaTube, until Tuesday, sold advertising space to commercial companies through Google's AdSense advertisement serving program, which automatically displays ads according to page content. Some of the ads were for Israeli companies.

After inquiries from the Jerusalem Post Google's AdSense dropped AsqaTube as a client.

Avigdor Lieberman, after all these years, is still making crazies, crazy

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is gunning for Avigdor Lieberman, Leader of the Israel Our Home party.
The PFLP said on Tuesday it will kill Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman.

A spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine identified himself as Abu Jamal made the threat speaking on the terrorist organization's radio station. The group assassinated tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi at the capital's Hyatt Hotel in 2001.

Lieberman wants to transfer some Israeli Arab towns to Palestinian jurisdiction and annex large West Bank settlements to Israel. A source close to Lieberman said he would not change his behavior due to the threats, that he was not frightened by them and that he would not surrender to terror.

Abu Jamal spoke in response to the recent Arab-Jewish clashes in Acre and said the PFLP would defend Israeli Arabs. "Our fingers are on the triggers of our weapons and we know where to direct our fire... The fate of the Zionist Lieberman will be similar to Ze'evi's," he said.

Lieberman happens to be one of my favourite Israeli politicos, not because I agree with his politics or his positions but there is nothing like Avigdor in action to get the blood boiling of the local loons on all sides of the political divide. He does it without even breaking a sweat or changing his stride. He says exactly what he thinks without sugar coating his words or message. In fact, what might be considered a diplomatic turn of phrase out of anyone else’s mouth becomes a license for the loons to loon out from his.

So tell me, how did that strategic voting thingie work out for you?

So the election is over and Stephen Harper is still Prime Minister. Well, well, and the Liberals are still beyond broke. Stephane Dion can continue leading his party into retreat in the House of Commons. It can be safely said that Dion is not without experience in that regard. Turncoat Bob managed to hold onto to his seat – geeze what a surprise - not.

So what was accomplished? Not much, the Tories are in a marginally stronger position. The Liberals are broke and are so far down the financial hole that daylight may not be an option for at least a generation. Elizabeth May lost her chance at the brass ring. Oh, and losing by over 5,000 votes is not a tight race. Although, I do find it mildly reassuring that the ‘Hezbollah’ vote does not resonate with Canadians. And Jack Layton, well the best which can be said is that he remains consistently both a loser and poser.

There will be another election in another 18-24 months and perhaps next time I will be spared the Harper=Bush mantra from Canadian progressives but somehow I doubt they can get that echo out of their chamber. To the voters in the Centre of the Universe who refused to get on board and remain in electoral purgatory; I would like to remind them that Macdonald’s in Alberta is still hiring.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A sucker is born, again.

Okay, so I did it even though I kept swearing to myself I would not vote again until I could actually vote for a political party without holding my nose while I mark my ‘X’ on a ballot.

It is not like my vote carries much weight in my riding because all the little peons won’t turf Turncoat Bob. There is an irony in Turncoat Bob running in Toronto-Centre which is this - all those same little peons who think nothing for voting for Bob today, were more or less the very same peons, who ran Bob Rae out of politics after a disastrous term as premier of the province. They might not remember Bob Rae Days but I have never forgotten his mismanagement of the provincial economy. I fully expect, come tomorrow morning, Bob Rae will carry Toronto Centre by a wide margin and you cannot make me care as he won’t be my MP by July 1st.

In return for my ‘hold my nose and vote CPC in Toronto-Centre’ all I ask of Stephen Harper is that he works to repel the abomination of an election law which grants a $1.83 of the public purse to every political party for each vote cast their way. It’s bad enough I get stiffed with the bill of supporting these jokers in Parliament but to make me contribute to their election war chests is simply beyond the pale.

One more thing, there is an election blog burst going on. Apparently I am to quote the words of a former prime minister. It runs like this:
"I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and for all mankind." John Diefenbaker, circa 1960.

While that might have been true in 1960, but today is 2008, and the cold reality is I am far less free than at any other period in Canadian history.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blue has always been one of my better colours

I read this Arutz Sheva report with some amusement. Apparently, the Zionist Freedom Alliance has been accused of ‘cultural theft’ by the Palestinian authority. Who knew there was a Zionist Freedom Alliance? This is what I miss not being on a university campus - so many groups…so little time to join. No matter, as I am officially holding out joining any grass roots movements until the Zionist Libertarian Federation comes into existence.
( The PA has added the alleged theft and distortion of the keffiyeh to its growing list of accusations against the Jewish State, where the scarf is available in blue and white. Maha As-Saqa, director of a PA cultural center, charged Israel with the "robbery of Palestinian heritage."

She explained to the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency that the headscarf, popularized by PLO terrorist chief Yasser Arafat's black-and-white checkered keffiyeh, is a symbol of "revolutionaries" all over the world. It is "being stolen by Israelis and distorted by others in a way that harms its status," he charged.

One Jewish organization known for using the blue and white keffiyeh on American college campuses is the Zionist Freedom Alliance. “For us this is a symbol of Jewish liberation,” says ZFA leader Yehuda HaKohen. “Historically speaking, the keffiyeh is not the exclusive property of the Arab nation. In ancient times it was worn by all Middle Eastern peoples, including the Hebrews. In fact, the only reason our people stopped wearing the turban was because of Arab oppression during the rise of Islam, when Jews were assigned the inferior status of dhimmis under Islamic rule. The Israeli keffiyeh not only sends the message that we are an indigenous people to the region but it also expresses our refusal to allow outside oppressors to dictate our culture.”

As-Saga displayed for the news agency's reporters one headscarf with the blue and white colors of the Jewish state and another with an embroidered Jewish Star of David. She also blamed PA tourism officials for allowing the sale of colored multicolored headscarves sold to tourists in Bethlehem. The cultural director suggested that lawsuits be filed against Israel for "cultural theft."

All I can say to As-Saga is welcome to my world. Any one know where can I get the ZFA scarf ?

Sheitel's for all occasions

Sarah Palin wigs are now being offered by wig manufacturer for Orthodox Jewish women at a cool price of US$795 reports Ha’aretz.
America's most controversial hockey mom has inspired a new item made for religious women that probably isn't sold up there in Alaska, gosh darn it!

The 'Sarah Palin Wig,' based on the hairstyle of the Last Frontier State governor and GOP vice presidential candidate, is the latest head covering to go on sale at, a Brooklyn wig shop and Web site for Orthodox Jewish women who maintain modesty by concealing their natural hair.

"One of our stylists thought it would make a good style, so we produced it," said Boruch Shlanger, one of's owners, in an e-mail to The Shmooze. "It is very easy to maintain, and is a very classic look, yet fashion forward!"
The imagery here is not necessarily working for me. Call it a failure of imagination or experience on my part, but I just never met a Chassidic woman who aspired to look like a moose-hunting hockey mom. The imagery further devolve:
'There had been requests for Hillary Clinton wigs in the past,' wrote Shlanger, who temporarily produced Clinton sheitls, 'but none recently.'
Oy vey.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The failed Olive Coup

I really wanted to sneak in a nap but this Arutz Sheva article is rich not to post:

( Members of the security team in Yitzhar, in Samaria, spotted a group of Arab men entering an Arab olive grove near the Lehava neighborhood of the community Saturday morning. IDF soldiers were notified and arrived at the scene to question the men and ensure that they did not pose a danger to residents of Yitzhar. The soldiers were surprised to see that the group was busy cutting down olive trees.

Read the rest here.

Okay, okay, I get it.

I really do and enough with the emails already. Since Yom Kippur I have been extraordinarily busy and my life outside the blogsphere trumps any postings.

So interests of all those who have spent their 2 cents demanding that I come up with something new, I offer these tidbits to ponder:

US based Hamas charity has filed suit against the US government in order to have their 'funds' unfrozen.

Arab enrollment in the IDF is up significantly - some claim uncertain economic future for the rise in recruitment from the Arab sector.

Tizpi Livni, leader of the Kadima part has offered a draft coalition agreement to Ehud Barak - leader of the Israeli Labour party. I suspect Barak will be as anxious to accept as Livni is to avoid elections, and so it goes. There use to be an old Israeli joke, that no matter who you voted for, one always got Shimon Peres. Subsitute Barak with Peres and the joke still works.

That's all until Monday night.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cooking with Balls

One of the most popular posts in recent days is from an old blurb of mine on Serbia hosting the world testicle championship. As a follow-up I give this Daily Mail article on what I believe is the first world e-cookbook devotely to cooking testicles.
With the credit crunch kicking in, shoppers will be relieved to hear a cost-effective alternative to steak is now available for creating classic meat dishes.

The Testicle Cookbook: Cooking With Balls has been hailed as the world's first testicle recipe collection and includes testicle pizza, battered testicles and barbecued testicles with giblets.

And if counting the pennies isn't enough of a reason to indulge in the delicacy, testicles are also renowned for their libido-boosting properties.Rich in testosterone, they are believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac in countries such as Serbia and China.

The e-book, available for download from the Internet, comes with handy video guides showing the author, Ljubomir Erovic, peeling the skin off testicles and slicing them up into bite-size chunks.

Several different animals, including stallions, ostriches, bulls, pigs and turkeys, get the Erovic treatment."Wash testicles thoroughly for 30-45 minutes," begins the recipe for testicles pie. "Once softened, mince them in a mincer." A "very sharp knife" is needed for traditional style testicles, which get boiled, cut up and deep fried in hot oil.
Oy vey, my only comment is - is it kosher?

Monday, October 06, 2008

People behind the Politics Meme

This week, James Bow’s People behind the Politics in the Cdn Blogsphere Meme is to post a favourite recipe.

One of innate problems I have with posting a recipe is because of how I learned to cook relies more on eye than an accurate measurements of ingredients. I learned to cook by living in my grandmother’s kitchen, and a subsequent lot of trial and error on my own. I do not think my grandmother ever cracked open a recipe book in her life. She had the uncanny ability to taste anything and then be able to reproduce it. She never owned ‘measuring’ cups or official measuring spoons but rather relied an odd selection of cups and spoons which represented this much or that much.

Growing-up, we never had take-out or store bought prepared food in the house and when I got older and wanted to take meals out of the house; I learned to censor my remarks to her. After taking a meal outside the home I would eat a ton of breath mints and douse myself in perfume before I walked through the door. If I slipped up and let out I ate dinner in a restaurant; I was interrogated for hours on what my friends and I ate. I bet CSIS could have learned a few techniques from her. Often those conversations would end with accusations of throwing good money down the drain and her despairing of me every being able to live anything other than hand to mouth.

My grandmother cooked for a minimum of 10 plus people for decades and cooking only became a problem when the household eventually sized down to just me, her and my grandfather. Three months after she died, my grandfather still hadn’t run out of meals from the freezer.

A great favourite was her latkes. She didn’t make them often because of the amount of time it took to grate the potatoes by hand in the quantities she needed, so we only had it on special occasions. I have scaled down her recipe here. Through the years, I have experimented and substituted matzo meal with flour, coarse cornmeal (only so-so results) and bread crumbs (Italian-style bread crumbs taste best).

6 to 8 medium white potatoes - peeled, grated & drained well (I cheat and use a food processor rather than using the coarse side of a grater)

3 eggs

1 large onion, chopped or grated (the onion is need to keep the potato mixture from changing colours and it gives a nice bite to the latkes)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

4 Tbsp matzo meal

vegetable oil for frying

Finely chop the onion and put to the side. Peal, wash, and grate the potatoes, adding bits of onion every for every half inch if you’re a purist. Otherwise just add onion to the potato mixture in the food processor and set the processor on a medium grate.

Beat eggs, then mix in the grated potatoes (use grater, coarse side), chopped onion, salt, pepper, and matzo meal. Drain remaining liquid.

Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan to a medium heat. Drop in the mixture by 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls. Flatten. Fry on both sides, adding more shortening as needed. Flip often until well done, with a browned, crispy surface on each side. Serve hot with sour cream and apple sauce.

I have tried various kinds of oil but the general consensus is the vegetable oil works best as it doesn’t add a flat or heavy taste oil taste to the latkes.


The release of a endorsement video issued by an American Jewish group supporting Barack Obama’s run for the presidency has been causing quite a stir in the Israeli papers. Ha’aretz:
A Jewish political action committee that supports Barack Obama's bid for the American presidency has "recruited" former senior Israeli defense officials to the campaign by collating flattering statements about the Democratic senator from seven such officials into a new advertisement that will begin running on Monday.

However, it seems that some participants - including former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy and Brigadier General (res.) Uzi Dayan - were unaware they were aiding an Obama campaign ad.

The ad was produced by the Jewish Council for Education and Research, which is already responsible for two other projects aimed at attracting Jewish voters to Obama, and the Great Schlep. The new effort is meant to reassure Jews who fear that Obama's conciliatory approach to diplomacy will result in his being soft on terrorists, and hence bad for Israel.

There is one is just one tiny problem with the video:
But some of participants, apparently were unaware they were aiding a campaign ad. Dayan, for instance, claimed on Sunday that he had no idea he was appearing in the ad, that his words had been taken out of context, and that he neither supports nor opposes Obama, as he opposes any Israeli involvement in American politics.

"I never said I support Obama or his opinions," Dayan said. "They interviewed me in early July and said the interview would be devoted to questions of Middle East policy that would be on the new president's desk ... I don't know what I'm doing in a campaign video."

He added that he has asked the council to remove him from the clip and that he would consider his next moves after receiving its response.

Halevy also denied ever having expressed support for Obama. "I said he's a fresh, interesting personality and so forth, but I also said positive things about McCain," Halevy said. "I told them I thought it was inappropriate for an Israeli to express an opinion on who should be president of the U.S. I learned of this only today, and it angers me. I think it was an improper use of the interview with me, and I will demand that they correct it.
Oy vey.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I bet this perp will vote Liberal

During the leadership debate Stephane Dion accused Stephen Harper of not trusting justices to judge. carries this exchange from the debate:
On Harper's proposal to toughen sentences for teenagers, Dion said, "I trust judges and you don't. This is the difference. It's not that you're tougher on crime it's that you want to deprive judges to judge and you want politicians to decide things like for instance to send a child, 14-years-old, away for life.

I cannot speak for Stephen Harper but I can state vociferously for myself that I do not trust the criminal court justices to not only judge, but pass judgment and sentence which are proportional to gravity of the crime committed.

I cannot begin to fathom the mindset of a sitting court justice who passes sentence on a self-admitted rapist who participated in the gang sexual assault of a young victim and has the audacity to claim from the bench to be satisfied that the rape ‘was a one-time error in judgment, albeit of staggering proportions’ and sentences the 19 year old offender to a 21 month condition sentence of house arrest, community service and counseling. Unless upon ascending the bench our justices are now endowed with the ability to predicate the future, it all reminds me of the first time a wife beater beats his wife and later appears contrite when faced with the handiwork of his hands and promises never to do it again – until the next time.

A rape is never a one-time error in judgment but the absence of any morality as well as a profound disregard and contempt of another human being. My grandmother was raped at 6 years of age and it haunted her for 64 years of her 70 years. It did not stop her from having a life and finding joy or love, but in the long lonely hours of night her demons often came out to play and robbed her peace of mind. It wasn’t pretty, and I know this because I often sat beside her as a child, and then later as an adult, and witnessed first hand her inner torment. If there was one saving grace or one fact, she took great solace in for 64 years of anguish and torment, it was this – the man who raped her never lived beyond that night and his ability to inflict more damage or harm on her or on anyone else was ended at the hands of my great-grandfather who caught him in the act.

My great-grandfather didn’t bother calling the police and acted strictly in his own capacity to be judge, jury and executioner. The only torment he suffered from that night was that he had lived a life where his beautiful Shoshanna Rose was made prey, and therefore, rendered nothing more than fodder for urges of a sexual predator. From that night forth, he never lived under the name given to him at birth, and when he died, he was buried under an alias. So be it.

I am not abdicating Canadians take the law into our own hands, but at that time, for people like my family, justice was always denied, and when justice is denied; how long before there is a profound disconnect from justice metered out via the courts and the leap to individual action thereby circumventing our criminal court system entirely?

We are often told ‘be not an eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth’, and yet, that ‘old’ testament value was a deliberate cry for proportional justice of punishment. We have a teenage girl, who was rendered unconscious, and sexually assaulted by four young men who taped the assault on a cell-phone in order to play it back to the cafeteria lunch time crowd at high school. How long will her own demons come out to play in the dark of the night to torment her and rob her peace of mind? How long will the events of the night come back to haunt her and directly dictate the quality of her relationships or the lack thereof?

Somehow 21 months house arrest, community service and counseling just doesn’t cut it for me. Call me harsh and accuse me of being unforgiving, but I fail to see how a 100hours making sandwiches or handing breakfast trays in a soup kitchen for the homeless will ensure he does not participate in a rape again. Until you can devise a psychological treatment program for sex offenders, which comes with a 100% effectiveness guarantee - I am simply not up to risking the life and mental health of my daughter or my sons or anyone else's children. The perpetrator’s youth plays very little quarter for me, and all it means is this - he has potentially a longer time to add immeasurable damage to innumerable number of human lives.

Even more importantly, now this precedent has been established, it can be invoked in other sentencing decisions, and if a lone rogue justice does rule more harshly in a similar case; there are now grounds for the convicted, to appeal and claim the sentence was demonstrably unfit and cite this case and sentence as evidence. But this is just one of literally thousands of cases where the sentence handed down as appropriate for conviction of a crime from a sitting criminal court justice weighs less on the justice of punishment than the alleged psychological needs of the offender.

Unlike Stephane Dion, I do not have a problem with sending a 14 year old to jail for the minimum of 25 years for rape or murder. Think of it this way – it gives the therapists 25 years of employment to ply their behaviour modification theories into practice while sparing the community harm for at least 25 years. Just as an aside note - the Toronto Star decided to post this report to their website with the comment section disabled. Gee, now why do you think that is?

x/p Dust my Broom

Friday, October 03, 2008

Humanitarian crisis is all in the eyes of the holder

The Elder of Ziyon:
“The first thing I think when I see pictures like these is, wow, Gaza is just like Darfur!”

Yeah, me too.

Joe-kers to the left of me,

If Joe Biden is the best the democrats can offer for a foreign policy wank - SOS:
When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, "Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it."

Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel(CNN Transcripts)
Somebody forgot to send the memo to Nasrallah - perhaps Joe Biden was in charge of the stamps?

Home remedies can so rock

After work last night I paid a visit to the Butcher of Prague (aka my dentist) and despite my cruel moniker, he is a charming urban man in a true old world eastern European mode. Since entering my 40’s, I have been plagued with tooth trouble for the first time in my life. Luckily for me he is also highly skilled professional. I had steeled myself for a root canal but he says no, and managed to just fill the cavity. Although, I have to say, every time the freezing wears off after a visit, my mouth hurts for a few days, hence, the moniker.

I had been dealing with the pain by sucking back great quantities of Advil every few hours for the last two weeks so I could function as a barely rabid human being until the Butcher finished his vacation frolic. By Sunday afternoon, I was not sure if I could last until his return to business as usual, so in desperation, I decided to give my grandmother’s cure all for toothache pain a shot. Unlike many of her home remedies, this one wasn’t a pain based cure. Trust me, sticking garlic cloves up one’s nose for a cold and stuffy nose is not a singularly pleasant experience. I spent most of my childhood colds around her trying to deny I was sick rather than risk the garlic cure and endure the garlic burning in my nostrils.

Forty-eight hours after taking her cure I was pain free and I cannot believe it actually worked. The cure – Cognac, good quality, premium Cognac, as when in pain, the cheap is not the way to go. Two good stiff shots of premium Cognac sipped slowly and savoured in one’s mouth for a 20 second count before swallowing. Now I am rather a small at woman at 5’1”; so larger people may need to double the dose. By Tuesday morning, I woke up completely pain free. Cognac killed the pain completely while Advil only took part of the edge off.

I have always loved Cognac but I had given up drinking it because of its distressing effects on me and my body. If I consume too much of it I get far too hot for clothes and contribute the consumption of Cognac as the direct cause for all of my birth control methods failing which resulted in three pregnancies within a four year span. In fact, when I was pregnant with the Last Amazon, I really wanted to name her Remy-Marie after my favourite Cognac but I got shouted and hissed down from everyone on that score.

Anyway, I was feeling far too fragile after my visit to the Butcher’s to watch either the English language Canadian debates or the US Vice Presidential debates on television, and so, I took to my bed with the Remy-Martin placed strategically on my nightstand. I don’t expect I missed much – although I suppose I could be wrong…but I somehow doubt it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One nation for two peoples?

Larry Derfner writes a column for the Jerusalem Post called ‘Rattling the Cage’. Overall I am not sure why he has a regular column but he does accurately represent the sentiments of a significant portion of the Israeli secular left. I feel strange writing Israeli left because in the context of the wider world, all Israeli political parties have their home on the political left - even the so-called rightwing parties have distinct leftward policies.

I read Derfner not because I believe he has any new jewels of political or social wisdom to dispense but because he is a writer in touch with his environment – the Israeli secular left. His most recent column has a few interesting admissions and one blinding error but I would suggest he penned the column before the investigation determined the Palestinian shepard boy died not at the hands of the ‘settlers’ but by the folly of his own making.
HOW MANY millions of words have been spoken and written against the Jewish militias of the West Bank? How many pledges have been made by politicians and law enforcement officials to crack down on them once and for all? How many times has an Israeli prime minister promised the Bush administration to remove the illegal outposts - the cutting edge of the movement - only to watch them keep growing in number, area and population?

In the face of this, though, people all over Israel and the rest of the world keep on thinking and talking about the chance of peace, of dividing the West Bank between the Palestinians and Israel. Do you think Livni can do it? What effect do you think Obama will have, or McCain?

I know that hope is a basic human need; I need it as much as anybody. But there comes a time when you can't fool yourself anymore, when you can't lie to yourself anymore, because reality has been going in the opposite direction for so long that you can no longer will yourself to believe. The time to stop lying to ourselves, I'm afraid, is way overdue for everyone here and in rest of the world who hopes for an end one day to Israeli rule over the Palestinians.

It's not going to happen. It would require kicking 50,000 to 100,000 of Israel's fiercest Jews out of their homes, which they built in some of the holiest places in the land; what government, what army, what police force is going to do that? Look at what's going on in the West Bank; is such a thing even conceivable?

Everyone talks about a Palestinian state, but in the real world of actions, not words, the land available for it keeps on shrinking. Everyone else talks; the settlers act. This, of course, is nothing new, either; the cliché "facts on the ground" was coined during the Begin era. Sharon's disengagement was the exception, the exception that proves the rule - and he removed only about 9,000 settlers, and relatively moderate ones, and from the Gaza Strip, not Judea and Samaria, and there ain't nobody like Sharon around anymore.
Derfner is right, Israelis living in the disputed territories are Israel’s fiercest Jews and committed Jews. They are the modern day heirs of the Maccabees who fought to the last man, woman and child. They will not go peacefully and their numbers only grow and grow. Take a good hard look at the pictures of these modern day Maccabees living in the Yesha and you will see these are predominantly young people who bred quickly and in earnest. This is not the movement full of just old men and women. These fierce Jews have the advantage as they would be fighting for their homes rather than some pie in the sky concept held out as a vague hope or the promise of peace. There is only one way to make them go, and that is, to kill them down to the very last man, woman and child.

Many would suggest just withdrawing from the territories and leave these fierce Jews to fend for themselves without the protection of the IDF but how long do you think Israelis watching from behind the 1949 Armistice Lines would sit still and silent watching images of the Palestinians slaughter those Jews for being Jews and say, ‘oh well, and so it goes’. Not going to happen.

So Israelis are left with three choices; expulsion and civil war, the creation of one bi-national state with Palestinians living as a minority within the Jewish homeland or transfer. Now for all the allegations of Israelis being colonists, it seems to me that they are the world’s most reluctant colonists. I’d claim Israelis are really the anti-thesis of colonists. There is nothing to suggest in the Jewish character that they want to colonize or rule over another people. In fact, just ruling over themselves presents more than a Herculean challenge. I believe it was Menachem Begin who suggested he was merely one Prime Minister in a nation literally full with millions of Prime Ministers.

Anyway, what makes Derfner’s column interesting is the suggestion the next big push from the Israeli secular left will be not for evicting Jews but the creation of a bi-national state within the Jewish homeland. Personally, I suspect it will be the hardest sell of it.