Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A message to my concerned readers

Who emailed me this afternoon. I realize I had a rather ‘unique’ visitor named Omar, and yes, I get that he posted a link to the only ‘official’ English language site to the Muslim Brotherhood in my comments.

Here’s the deal. Omar was respectful. He hasn’t called me any names nor has he called for my death – yet, and until he does, he is welcome to comment. He is even welcome to post links to alternative viewpoints or to prove his point. If anything, I would suggest my readers take a good look at the site and come to their own conclusions. And for those of you who blog – well I am sure there is a post or two to be found in the articles.

Omar and I stand across a great divide. I have no idea if it can ever be spanned between us but I understand more of what that divide entails than some of you realize. Omar has his beliefs and I have mine. In a perfect world there would be a bridge between us where, he and me & mine could meet in peace, but this world isn’t perfect, and the best which can sometimes be hoped for is there are still places where he and I (or you) can meet and reach an understanding – even if that understanding is only a consensus to disagree. Knowledge is power but a closed mind is like a weapon never forged.

Jewish Evangelical Infomercials

I feel asleep last night with the television on. My bad. I woke up to what has to be the strangest infomercial I have seen for some time. Although, I can’t claim to hold any kind of expertise on infomercials in general; it did strike me as rather bizarre and twisted. It was an appeal for money for something referred to as Isaiah 58 ministry run by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

This piqued my curiosity on who were these strange people preaching all manner of doom and mayhem which required urgent funding to save the “Jews”. Something about saving Jews in the former Soviet Union from being overun by 'Muslim' hoards...or some such thing. I can't claim to have been fully awake at the time nor can I claim to have a handle on them yet as I am in the process of researching the organization. This is my long-winded way of saying there are no new blog posts this morning until I do understand exactly who are these people, and importantly, do the Elders know?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Foreign blowhard denied entrance to Canada

Frankly, I don’t care whether George Galloway is denied entrance into Canada or not – call me old fashioned, but my Canada really is concerned only with Canadians. I don’t feel my rights to freedom of speech or expression are jeopardized because I cannot go in person in Canada to listen to another foreign blowhard - well, blow hot air. We have more than enough problems trying to extract our citizens from foreign countries or kicking out the foreign malcontents who abuse our refugee process system to worry much about who is not being allowed in.

I realize the Canadian chapter of the Jewish Defense League is currently taking credit for influencing the federal government in denying him admittance, and that may or may not be true. Personally, I am not so sure what role the JDL should be playing in Canada. It is not exactly like Canada is lacking for Jewish lobby or support groups. During the late 60’s and early 70’s, it had a role and a purpose, and it was called “Prisoners of Zion” and it functioned rather well, but I am not sure it hasn’t outlived its overall usefulness.

Anyhoo, CTV is reporting the court has ruled against the Galloway pleadings:

Controversial British MP George Galloway will not be allowed into Canada to deliver a series of anti-war speeches, a Federal Court judge has ruled. "A fundamental principle of immigration law is that non-citizens do not have an unqualified right to enter in Canada," Justice Luc Martineau wrote in a 14-page ruling released Monday.

"The admission of a foreign national to this country is a privilege determined by statute, regulation or otherwise, and not a matter of right." Parliament has given Canadian Border Services Agency officers the right to determine who is admissible, he said. Martineau wrote while there have been serious arguments raised against the decision to keep Galloway out, "a proper factual record and the benefit of full legal argument" are missing."

The applicants didn't meet the necessary legal tests for him to issue an order allowing Galloway entry, the judge wrote. Earlier this month, border security officials deemed Galloway inadmissible saying he was guilty of providing material support for terrorism.

Galloway had been part of a caravan that had delivered humanitarian aid to Gaza following the Israeli military incursion there. He also gave a $45,000 donation to Hamas, which the government said in a letter to the MP is a banned terrorist organization in this country. Last week, Galloway told CTV's Power Play that ambulances and medical supplies must be delivered through Hamas because they are the democratically elected government in the Gaza Strip.

Nothing irritates me more than the mass media enabling a lie. Hamas was never democratically elected to govern the Gaza Strip. It took the right to rule in a blood violent coup against the lawful legal authority of the Palestinian Authority. Throwing someone off a building is not the same as casting a ballot in a polling station.

Furthermore, Georgie lies - any humanitarian aid or money could have been channeled through the UNWRA rather than used to line the Palestinian Chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood purse. But then, of course, Georgie would have missed the photo-ops and received minimal publicity return on his ‘aid’ gesture. And don't get me started on his alleged 'anti-war' stance 'cause I have tons of quotes of his support of Hezbollah's 'military' actions against Israel.

He’ll huff, and he’ll puff, and blow you off..even if you turn off his mike

In life, there are few certainties, but just as birds got fly and bees got to sting – what would an Arab Leadership Summit be without our man Daffy pitching a fit and walking out? Ha’aretz:
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi stormed out of an Arab summit on Monday after denouncing the Saudi king and declaring himself "the dean of Arab rulers." Gadhafi disrupted the opening Arab League summit in Qatar by taking a microphone and criticizing Saudi's King Abdullah, calling him a "British product and American ally."

When the Qatari emir tried to quiet him, the Libyan leader and current Africa Union chairman insisted he be allowed to speak. "I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam (leader) of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level," Gadhafi said.

He then got up and walked out of the summit hall. The Libyan leader is known for his unpredictable behavior, and it's not clear whether he will rejoin the two-day summit aimed at ending Arab feuds.

Imagine – how he would act if he had Alzheimer’s? On second thought, I don’t think we’d all know the difference….

Spring cleaning and a burial

One of the traditions of visiting the Kotel or Western Wall is putting a prayer or wish note into the cracks of the wall but have you ever stopped for a moment to think about what happens to the notes after one leaves? Ha’aretz provides the answer.
As masses of Jews begin intensive preparations for the upcoming Passover holiday, employees at Jerusalem's holy site, the Western Wall, have embarked on a spring cleaning of their own.

Western Wall workers have started to remove the thousands of notes left by visitors in the cracks of the wall - including U.S. President Barack Obama - filled with wishes and prayers.

The notes are removed using wooden sticks dipped in the mikveh, or ritual bath, supervised by the Western Wall's presiding clergyman, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. They will then be taken for burial, to make room for an upcoming year of written. requests
I never thought of burying a note...the imagery strikes me as a triffle odd, and then, it leads me to wonder what happens with the prayer or wish after burial?

Does Bibi have a 'one-state' solution

I was listening to a twenty-eight year Binyamin Netanyahu (or Ben Nitay as he was called then) debate and about half-way, Bibi makes a rather remarkable and startling statement suggesting Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could potentially be given Israeli citizenship and incorporated into Israel proper. Lord knows, I am certainly not the same woman I was at 28, so why should Bibi be? Although, given his refusal to consider a ‘two-state’ solution, his rejection of his own right-wing in Likud and his outrageous wooing of both Labour and Kadima, I am left wondering if this is ultimately Bibi’s end game.

Go ahead and pooh-pooh the mere suggestion but don’t say you weren’t warned.

H/T: To A Soldier’s Mother. It’s a great blog piece and can be read own and which has absolutely nothing in common with what I have written.

Friday, March 27, 2009

But is there ever really an end to love?

Since the last post was far too depressing a note to close down the blogshop for the weekend, I thought I would take me leave on a higher note. Since I am not much of a poet (see here) and the closest I come to understanding modern poets is Leonard Cohen, I thought I would post one of my favourites among his newer songs…but it does make me wonder if there is ever really an end to love...as I have yet to find an end to loving.

Hamas sweeps UNRWA elections and I want a tax refund

Bet you did not read a report of the Hamas winning the labour sweeps at UNRWA union elections in the Toronto Star today. Arutz Sheva
(IsraelNN.com) The Hamas jihadist organization won control of nearly two thirds of the Gaza branch of a United Nations aid agency's employees union. The same agency charged last month that Hamas was stealing its humanitarian supplies to the residents of Gaza.

In the elections for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) union in Gaza, held Wednesday, the Hamas-controlled Islamist bloc won 17 out of 27 seats. PLO-affiliated factions won nine seats, with the last seat going to an independent

In the UNRWA union's legislative body in Gaza, seats are divided among the various employee sectors. Significantly, Islamist candidates won all 11 seats reserved for teachers. The services sector representatives are divided between Hamas (4) and a PLO-supported coalition (5). Four seats designated for labor union members went to the PLO coalition and two to Hamas.

Candidates representing the Islamic Jihad terrorist group also ran in the elections, but obtained no seats. Approximately 10,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza took part in the voting. UNRWA runs 221 schools and dozens of medical clinics in Gaza; the agency also distributes food packages and quarterly cash stipends to thousands of impoverished families throughout the region.

Since Canada is still plowing funds from CIDA to the UNWRA in the Gaza Strip I want a tax refund. I didn’t get a SIN card to fund Hamas in any of its incarnations. Let the Iranians pick up the tab for a change.

Ontario - Liberals to plunder

The motto of Ontario use to be ‘yours to discover’. If nothing else McGinty’s motley gang of thieves have shown Ontario is the place to be for liberals to plunder. Forget the budget per say - let’s talk harmonized sales tax. The Globe and Mail:

Ontario will convert its retail provincial sales tax (PST) to a value-added tax structure and combine it with the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) for a single 13 per cent tax beginning July 1, 2010.


Businesses pay the PST on purchases they make in the course of providing goods and services for sale. As a result, that tax can end up hidden in the price of finished goods and services, leading to an indirect tax.

Under harmonization, businesses can claim tax credits on those purchases, as they already do with the GST, resulting in $3-billion of savings for businesses each year. The government expects up to 90 per cent of those savings will be passed on to consumers, based on studies of other jurisdictions.

Businesses will save a further $500-million a year on the costs of administering a single tax instead of two, according to the budget documents, and the cost of exports will be reduced.

What gets taxed?

The single tax of 13 per cent applies to most goods and services already taxed by the GST, including “intangible properties” such as trademarks, rights to use patents, movies and music downloaded from the Internet, as well as options to purchase property.

That means the province will begin collecting tax for the first time on a number of new items, from haircuts to gym memberships, and from taxis to postal stamps. Officials did not provide a count of how many new goods and services will be taxed by the province.

Ontario will exempt books, diapers, children's clothing and footwear, children's car seats, car booster seats and feminine hygiene products.
Wisely, the provincial liberals offered no hard and fast figures in what a cash cow it will be while it sticks it to Joe and Jane Taxpayer. Oh, and that ‘adjustment rebate’ will hardly sweeten the knife going in when our salaries fail to keep pace with the rate of inflation.

Now some will tell you ‘consumption’ taxes are a good thing, and they can be, but not as long as you are still hit with income taxes and health taxes, and municipal sales taxes - if you have the misfortune to live in the Centre of the Universe.

Don’t confuse this move with what happened to New Brunswick in the 90’s. At the time of entering into a harmonized sales tax agreement with the federal government the province of New Brunswick had to claw back its sales tax from 11% to 8% so while the tax raised in some areas it dropped in others. There is no corresponding agreement for the Liberals to claw back their tax rate to 5% from 8%. A straight across the board 10% tax I might have gone for but a flimsy rebate cheque. Nah, I don’t think so. While the tax gremlins are keeping their hands off children’s clothing and diapers it has now just increased the cost of driving those little tots around from here to there, keeping them warm at home or getting their hair cut.

It has been at least 4 years since I last visited New Brunswick but when I did I was simply floored by the substantially higher cost of simply everything. Forget clothing and shoes, tires and other miscellaneous costs – not only were these items higher overall, the price of simple basic stables such as milk, eggs, rice and flour were substantially higher. Sure the housing costs were lower but the price of everything else simply floored me.

I expect those rebate cheques will be cold comfort for those of us who shall still have jobs while our salaries fail to pace with the rising cost of everything else. I work in the private sector, and this year it was announced; not only would there be a hiring freeze but a salary freeze as well. I expect July 2010 will see us all lucky just to be able to go to work and I doubt sincerely the ‘salary freeze’ will have thawed. And to expect business to pass on the ‘tax’ savings to the consumer flies in the face of current reality for which most businesses are operating in - a time of substantially reduced bottom-lines. Any 'savings' won't be passed on to the consumer but used to prop up the businesses bottom-line.

Oh yeah, those gang of political incompetents who have the utter chutzpah to call themselves conservatives can legislate themselves to perdition for all I care for their opinions.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

the Dawg Days of the Liberation of Gaza

Late last week Dr. Dawg wrote blog post called The Liberation of Gaza based on unsubstantiated accounts reported from the Israeli daily Ha’aretz alleging Israeli combat soldiers had admitted to witnessing war crimes committed in Gaza. The Ha’aretz account went viral in less than 24 hours and found its way in almost all the large international dailies. Here’s a portion of the Ha’aretz report concerning an alleged ‘eyewitness’ account which Dawg also partially quotes as well.

Ram: "I serve in an operations company in the Givati Brigade. After we'd gone into the first houses, there was a house with a family inside. Entry was relatively calm. We didn't open fire, we just yelled at everyone to come down. We put them in a room and then left the house and entered it from a different lot. A few days after we went in, there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sharpshooters' position on the roof. The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go, and it was was okay and he should hold his fire and he ... he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders."

Question from the audience: "At what range was this?"

Ram: "Between 100 and 200 meters, something like that. They had also came out of the house that he was on the roof of, they had advanced a bit and suddenly he saw then, people moving around in an area where they were forbidden to move around. I don't think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to ... I don't know how to describe it .... The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way."

Yuval Friedman (chief instructor at the Rabin program): "Wasn't there a standing order to request permission to open fire?"

Ram: "No. It exists, beyond a certain line. The idea is that you are afraid that they are going to escape from you. If a terrorist is approaching and he is too close, he could blow up the house or something like that."

Zamir: "After a killing like that, by mistake, do they do some sort of investigation in the IDF? Do they look into how they could have corrected it?"

Ram: "They haven't come from the Military Police's investigative unit yet. There hasn't been any ... For all incidents, there are individual investigations and general examinations, of all of the conduct of the war. But they haven't focused on this specifically."
What the good Dawg hadn’t realized was Israeli Channel 2 reporter Roni Daniel managed to track down one of the two soldiers quoted extensively in the Ha’aretz article the evening after the Ha’aretz article was published. The report aired on Israeli television that same night.

I waded into the comments
and wrote this at the good Dawg’s blog and wrote this:
Sometimes I really wish you would take a pause before you give into your often overwhelimg compulsions to cast stones at Israeli Jews. If you had you might have learned Israeli TV Channel 2 correspondent Roni Daniel has already tracked down one of the two soldier’s Ha’aretz based their report on. Turns out he was witness to much ado about nothing. Channel 2 is looking for the other. The report ran last night on Israeli television.

The soldier who described the shooting of a woman and her two children was called into his commanding officer and stated, “I didn’t see it myself. There were stories like this. I wasn’t in that house and all that I said was based on rumors. The conference (where I related the story) was a social conversation, and that’s how I related to it.” The soldier who described the shooting of an elderly woman admits he doesn’t know the full story. “The credibility of the two stories is very doubtful,” the correspondent concluded. (Israel Television Channel 2-Hebrew)

Was there IDF soldier misconduct? Probably, there has been no war I have ever read/heard about when some kind of misconduct wasn’t present at some point. Was it widespread or systematic – I sincerely doubt it.

But more importantly, while you remain so critical of IDF rules of engagement, how about a post on Hamas rules of engagement – for balance’s sake

Dawg’s response:
"Cast stones at Israeli Jews?" Good grief, I didn't start this. I quoted an Israeli newspaper, referenced in the Toronto Star.

I guess if I mouthed off in a military setting and then found my name plastered all over the evening news, I might do some backpedaling too.

We're promised more accounts. I'll be watching with my normally critical eye.
I cannot speak for the Israeli soldier quoted above or even for Dr. Dawg (although he alludes to potentially backpedaling) but if I had mouthed off about witnessing a war crime you couldn’t get me to back pedal or back down in a million years or three universes. Of course, I would have followed the military code of justice at the time and reported the incident as per the demands of military code of justice but that’s just me.

Yesterday, the Jerusalem Post carried this article:
Allegations that IDF soldiers deliberately shot and killed Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead have been found to be categorically untrue in official army investigations, an IDF source told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the results of the investigations have not yet been officially released to the public. He stressed, however, that the investigations were close to completion.

The investigations examined claims made by graduates of the Rabin Pre-military Academy during a conference held last month, which were later written up and printed in an academy pamphlet. Some Israeli media outlets, including Haaretz, then seized on the claims, and the allegations went on to make headlines around the world. During the conference, one soldier claimed a marksman opened fire on a mother and two of her children, in full knowledge that they were civilians, after a squadron commander told them to walk into a no-entry zone. "All of the soldiers who were involved in the conference were questioned - not as a punishment - but in order to understand whether they had witnessed these things. From all of the testimonies we collected, we can safely conclude that the soldiers who made the claims did not witness the events they describe," the source said.

"All of it was based on rumors. In the incident of the alleged shooting of the mother and her children, what really happened was that a marksman fired a warning shot to let them know that they were entering a no-entry zone. The shot was not even fired in their general direction," the source said.

"The marksman's commander ran up the stairs of a Palestinian home, got up on the roof, and asked the marksman why he shot at the civilians. The marksman said he did not fire on the civilians. But the soldiers on the first floor of that house heard the commander's question being shouted. And from that point, the rumor began to spread," the source added. "We can say with absolute certainty that the marksman did not fire on the woman and her children. Later, the company commander spoke with the marksman and his commander. We know with certainty that this incident never took place," he said.

CAMERA has translated the latest Ma’ariv account

The brigade commander’s findings were reported in the Israeli newspaper Maariv, in a story titled IDF Investigation Refutes the Testimonies About Gaza Killings. According to the story (translation by CAMERA):

Two central incidents that came up in the testimony, which Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy presented to Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, focus on one infantry brigade. The brigade’s commander today will present to Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division, the findings of his personal investigation about the matter which he undertook in the last few days, and after approval, he will present his findings to the head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Gallant.

Regarding the incident in which it was claimed that a sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, the brigade commander’s investigation cites the sniper: “I saw the woman and her daughters and I shot warning shots. The section commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, ?Why did you shoot at them.’ I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots.”

Officers from the brigade surmise that fighters that stayed in the bottom floor of the Palestinian house thought that he hit them, and from here the rumor that a sniper killed a mother and her two daughters spread.

CAMERA is also hosting the Roni Daniel interview with English subtitles as well as giving a little background on Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-miliary academy which hosted the forum where the soldiers shared their recall of Operation Cast Lead.

Caroline Glick’s Our World column carried a little more background on the forum where the soldier’s shared their experiences and how their ‘stories’ came to see the light of day in Ha’aretz:
Last month Zamir organized a conference of his former cadets who are now serving in IDF combat units. There, he encouraged these young soldiers to tell him and their war stories. In what can only be compared to a Communist group confessional, Zamir told Channel 10 that young soldiers were encouraged to view their actions in Gaza as immoral. A number of them accepted the terms of debate and described purportedly immoral acts they alleged were carried out in Gaza. In most cases, Zamir's soldiers acknowledged that they were not present on the scenes in the events they described.

These included killing Palestinian women and children who entered fire zones and behaving in an unfriendly manner to Palestinian civilians whose homes the soldiers commandeered during the operation. Others characterized ethical, legal standing orders - such as the requirement for soldiers to value their lives and the lives of their comrades more highly than the lives of terror suspects - as immoral or illegal.

Zamir claims that he took these non-eyewitness accounts to the IDF and asked that they be investigated. Since he refused to provide the names of the soldiers involved in the alleged incidents and his eyewitness accounts were from soldiers who had not witnessed the accounts, the IDF officers he spoke with said they would have a hard time investigating.

UNHAPPY WITH THIS response, Zamir published the unsubstantiated accounts in his school's bulletin and gave the bulletin to two far-left reporters - Ofer Shelach from Channel 10 and Amos Harel from Ha'aretz.

In an act of unmitigated journalistic malpractice, on Friday night Shelach presented the unattributed testimonials as first-person accounts. He used actors to read out the soldiers' statements as if they were the soldiers themselves, and never told his audience that the voices they were hearing were not the voices of the actual soldiers. Then, he attacked the IDF for refusing to take these accounts seriously and for having the nerve to note that the Rabin pre-military academy is a known leftist institution. He of course didn't mention that Zamir himself served a prison sentence for refusing orders or that as recently as 2004 he contributed to a book explaining why the IDF is an immoral army.

As for Harel, he published the soldiers' statements in Ha'aretz. He then wrote an "analysis" arguing that the IDF cannot discount the statements by these anonymous voices because, in his view, the soldiers have "no reason" to lie. The fact that they present no evidence of their claims is apparently of no importance.
Now by presenting these second hand accounts of battles as fact; by presenting Zamir as a credible and objective observer; and by instructing the IDF to be ashamed of itself and mend its ways, Shelach and Harel are certainly atoning for their "sin" of supporting the army in Operation Cast Lead. Perhaps for them, that was all this was about.

The Jerusalem Post also carried this little blurb Danny Zamir, the pre-military academy head who arranged the forum and supplied Ha’aretz with the ‘testimony’:
Mr. Zamir has a record. As a parachute company commander in 1990, he was tried and sentenced for 28 days in prison for refusing to stand guard over people whom he called "right-wingers" at a ceremony bringing Torah scrolls to Joseph's tomb in Nablus, then under IDF supervision.

In 2004 Zamir published a crie de coeur relating to his refusal to obey military orders, in the process of which he attacked the IDF and denied that Israel was a democratic state. This appeared in a book titled Refusenik: Israel's Soldiers of Conscience, which carried an endorsement by the icon of anti-Israeli academics, Noam Chomsky.

Let the full implications of this sink in for a moment - Danny Zamir, a parachute company commander in the IDF - refused an order to protect Israeli Jews conducting a religious ceremony at Joseph’s Tomb. And he calls himself an Israeli soldier of conscience. I don’t think I know a word in English which adequately describes the gross dereliction of humanity this act constitutes. What does it tell us about the nature of any pre-military academy who would hire such a man as their head?

In the coming days - possibly as soon as tomorrow, the IDF will release their full report and I suspect every single story of Danny Zamir’s staged managed forum will be presented as false, and if not absolutely false, the events reported will have found to be taken completely out of context. In a fair world or a just world, the international media, who was so quick to condemn the IDF for these allegations would be just as quick to exonerate the IDF of all such allegations.

In a fair or just world, the dawgs of the world would pause, and take a minute to pen their apologies. But this isn’t a fair or just world, and dawgs of the world would no more admit their quick condemnation were the result of their own prejudices and biases against the Israeli state motivated by their extreme apathy towards religious Jews in all forms.

The dawgs of the world wanted the Ha’aretz accounts to be true because it affirms their false beliefs and prejudices, and so, they will suspense all caution to the wind and primed their pens with bile and to hell with those who are smeared in the process.

They wanted it to be true, because they felt it was true in their heart, because a Jewish state represents all which they loathe, and therefore, should be a pariah state among the community of nations. Not for a minute do they believe a Jewish state should be allowed to exist, and what they would grant to any other group of people; they will not grant to the Jews. So they write and post these allegations as if it was unquestionably true. At no point, did they acknowledge accounts were coming to the surface which should require an objective thinker to take these accounts with a grain of salt.

Dr. Dawg claims he will be watching with his normally critical eye. This is code for dawgspeak which means; I will backpedal or reject any evidence which directly contradictions or challenges any evidence which does not support the bias written in my heart.

The Jerusalem Post ended their report with a quote from the IDF source:
"Unfortunately, due to competition, sections of the press picked up this story and ran with it. It is a shame the media promoted this sort of spin all over the world," he added. It is unlikely the damage to Israel's image from the allegations can be repaired, irrespective of the results of the investigation, he noted. "It is a shame that the media allowed Palestinian manipulations to spread," he said. "Look at the allegation that we killed 48 civilians in a UN school in Gaza. In reality, seven people were killed, and four to five of them were terrorists. The UN apologized, but the damage is done," the source said.

Oh, dear, I think Dr. Dawg posted on that UN school incident as well…. I’m sure there is a follow-up - or probably not.

I will end with this quote from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov which I found at A Simple Jew:
When a person writes he puts his soul into his writing. Therefore, by looking at a person's writing the true tzaddik can know about a person's soul, his soul's inner essence, his emuna, and the root of his emuna.
I make no claims of being a tzaddik or even make a pretension of standing as a righteous woman but I suspect Rebbe Nachman might have given us all a little bit of wisdom to follow about those who do stand and write among us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

naming the dodgy dead in the Gaza Strip

Ha’aretz has been reporting IDF efforts to identify the dead in the Gaza Strip. While I understand the intelligence need for it I am not sure it truly has any other purpose. The Palestinians know who there dead are – or do they? Ha’aretz
The fatality list presented by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has numerous inaccuracies and contradictions, the IDF says. For example, Tawfiq Ja'abari, the commander of the Hamas police, and Mohammed Shakshak, a personal assistant to the head of Hamas' military wing, Ahmed Ja'abari, are both described as dead children on the Palestinian list.
Well, at one point, long ago, probably both men were considered 'children'.

Imagine for a minute that there was a one state solution?

Last May I posted on demographics of the Israeli-Palestinian and now I see this startling information is slowly being absorbed into the Israeli mainstream. Today in Ynet News I found this opinion piece by Elyakim Haetzni wherein he deconstructions the two state solution. The only part which truly interests me is this bit near the end:
Meanwhile, the “leftist’s last resort” had also been deflated – the demographic demon. It is impossible that the foreign minister did not receive the exciting information showing that the Arab figures which the scary demographic prophecies were premised on were false: The number of Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria is 1.5 million (rather than 2.5 million) and together with Gazans they make up 2.7 million (rather than 4 million.) Arab birthrates are declining, while Jewish birthrates happen to go up.

In 1995, Jewish births in Israel constituted 69% of all births, yet by 2006 the figure rose to 74%. Meanwhile, the fertility gap between Jews and Arabs, which stood at six children per woman (within the Green Line) in the 1960s, is now down to only 0.7 children per woman. Finally, in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River (not including Gaza,) the Jews constitute a 67% majority (60% if we count Gaza.)

A one state solution would make an interesting proposition given the current demographics. For some years, I have been suggesting not only is the Road Map an unfeasible a solution given current realities; it would never see the Palestinians established with a viable sovereign state which could function independently financially.

If the Israeli trends continue, a Jewish majority is always assured and the character of the state would remain both Jewish and democratic. Currently, the national religious and Charedi camps have incredibly high birth rates, and fast closing in to make-up 40% of the overall population of Israel. The opening up of the disputed territories for building could see a boom in the local economy as well as solving the housing crisis.

The downsides – there are many but the biggest obstacle I can see revolve around security considerations and what I believe would be the inability of the Palestinian leadership’s innate reluctance in giving up all the perks which come from both local and international extortion.

Not to mention the neighbors would be in an uproar when they realized they would have to finally absorb the Palestinians living in refugee camps into their populations as I doubt the granting of Israel citizenship to those born in any of the neighboring Arab states. Since most West Bank Palestinians still hold Jordanian residency cards, those who were opposed to living in the state of Israel could be returned to Jordanian sovereignty.

Would the Israelis accept such a solution, well, they just might - provided the upsides outweighed the negatives in terms of security and stability and what shape a final agreement would take. It would be interesting to see it put to a referendum to both the Israeli and Palestinian public.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Welcome to life as a taxpayer in the Centre of the Universe

I don’t have a problem with any politician seeing a vocal coach to improve their ability to communicate effectively and even think it’s quite a laudable pursuit as a private initiative. It is just a breach of trust and a gross violation of the public purse to demand taxpayers pick up the tab for the personal betterment of said politician.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crying al-Wolf

Let me dispense with the niceties. The Israelis and Palestinians are at war and currently the status of the war is on pause until the next round. More often than not, the war is fought as an asymmetrical war. Israeli leaders go at great length to suggest the Israelis are not at war with every single Palestinian, but for all intents and purposes, and as long as the ‘legitimate Palestinian’ combatants continue to hide behind civilian lines and clothes, it might as well be. This war is fought on many fronts and continues to make veer off course from time to time, but at heart, it is still a war.

I bring this up, well, because once again, a UN agency is accusing the Israeli Defense Forces of violating the ‘rules of war’. The Jerusalem Post:
IDF soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza, a group of UN human rights experts said Monday. The army ordered the boy to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in the Gaza neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa and enter buildings before them, said the UN secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed conflict.

Radhika Coomaraswamy said the incident on Jan. 15, after IDF tanks had rolled into the neighborhood, was a violation of Israeli and international law. It was included in a 43-page report published Monday, and was just one of many verified human rights atrocities during the three-week war between Israel and Hamas that ended Jan. 18, she said. Coomaraswamy accused IDF soldiers of shooting Palestinian children, bulldozing a home with a woman and child still inside, and shelling a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier.

Since 2000 I have read umpteen accounts of alleged Israeli atrocities and I have watched umpteen Pallywood productions. Israel, while not entirely blameless, has not even been guilty of even half the allegations and charges brought against them by the Palestinians. I am not even sure if we are running at a 10% guilt ratio to accusation rate. This is a disinformation war in which the Palestinians show true mastery at. No accusation is too far fetched nor any lie too outlandish to be shouted or hurled against the Israelis.

So now we have a UN human rights specialist, who goes into the Gaza Strip, and interviews all those who appear quite willing and even eager to give testimony against the IDF forces operating within a war zone. Well, here is the G-d’s honest truth. I will refuse to consider any of the testimony from any Palestinian within the Gaza Strip which cannot be verified by independent evidence or Israeli testimony.

It is not that I find it inconceivable that a rogue commander would violate IDF rules of engagement and use an eleven year old Palestinian boy as a human shield. Commanders are merely humans operating within a war zone, and people make mistakes, especially when operating under great stress and with death haunting potentially every wrong turn. Nor do I believe it out of the realm of possibilities that every single Gazan who gave testimony and evidence to the UN Human Rights Specialists was willfully lying. That’s the logical consequence of crying Mohammad al-Dura and other blood libels for at least a generation.

And Hamas, well, there is this:

There also have been allegations that Hamas used human shields, but UN human rights experts have yet to verify those, said Coomaraswamy.

"Violations were reported on a daily basis, too numerous to list," said Coomaraswamy.

Coomaraswamy, who visited Gaza and Israel for five days in February, said her list constituted "just a few examples of the hundreds of incidents that have been documented and verified" by UN officials who were in the territory. She was the only one of the nine UN experts who compiled the report that was allowed into Gaza following the war. The experts covered issues ranging from health and hunger to women's rights and arbitrary executions. The experts also noted reports that Hamas had committed other abuses. They said Hamas had been unwilling to investigate the allegations.

Gee. I wonder why?

G-d spare me from the moral preenings of my intellectual betters

I really wasn’t going to post on the whole IDF T-shirt saga as I consider it a much ado about nothing because when the IDF command gets wind of any t-shirts designed with offensive slogans, bought and paid for with by the IDF soldiers out of their own pockets, and meant to be worn in their own ‘downtime’; it has banned them outright and on multiple occasions in the past as well. This is ongoing policy of the IDF command.

In the past, the IDF command has banned such t-shirts which read “we won’t be still until we confirm the kill” or "Let every Arab mother know that her son's fate is in my hands!". What more would you demand of an IDF command? There is a policy and it is enforced when the IDF command finds material used on t-shirts which the IDF command deems offensive. Enter Ha’aretz to create a tempest in a teapot with the IDF t-shirt saga. For those of you who don’t read Israeli papers on a regular basis, Ha’aretz is Israel’s third largest daily paper. Its anti-religious, anti-IDF and anti-settler bias is well-known in Israel but not so much outside the country. Did I mention Ha’aretz’s biggest fans are so-called progressives outside of Israel?

Even the Ha’aretz article in question does emphasize that there are times when offensive slogans and pictures slip through the cracks and happen outside the awareness of IDF chain of command – this distinction has been willfully missed by those who have used the Ha’aretz article to demonize the IDF.

These t-shirts are not IDF policy nor are they paid for out of the IDF purse but an individual imitative among small groups of brothers-in-arms – and mostly snipers – if this article is to be believed. The fact that Ha’aretz found offensive t-shirts depicting Palestinian women and/or children being murdered or raped which the IDF command did not know about, and therefore, did not expressively authorized, is inferred the IDF command has no policy and moral bankruptcy is running rampant throughout not just the ranks but the command structure of the IDF as well. Now some may liken the IDF as a G-dlike institution, but unlike the creator, I recognize the IDF is fully human organization run without any kind of ‘all-knowing or all-seeing’ G-d-like powers. How I wish it were otherwise, but alas, it is not.

Enter this post by Raphael at Unambiguously Ambidextrous full of fury and signifying all manner of moral preenings which changed my mind about posting on the whole T-shirt saga.

Apparently, because I did not expressively condemn the ‘offensive’ t-shirts depicting the rape and murder of Palestinian women and children in his comments, I am guilty of some kind of moral relativism and he worries for my sense of ‘moral righteousness’ and likens the wearing of an offensive t-shirt by an IDF soldier to some kind of IDF command deficiency - much like the command inadequacies which allowed the human rights abuses perpetrated by American soldiers to foster in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Fuck me. My bad.

Obviously, I am morally doomed because - never in a million years would I consider the wearing of an offensive or even a repugnant t-shirt by an IDF solider in his downtime an IDF command inadequacy or failure on par with the events which transpired under American command in Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

Now since I am doomed to hell anyway; does anyone know where I can get a t-shirt from the Golani’s 13th Battalion 13 showing a destroyed mosque with a caption reading “Only G-d Forgives!”

And for the record, this might not be a t-shirt, but I really wonder about the moral underpinnings of the woman who left this picture for her children to remember her by.

H/T Joe Settler

Friday, March 20, 2009

I am not good with poetry.

I am not sure why that is, but it is, what it is. I first learned the depth of my deficiency during the poetry components of 4 years of secondary school English. Good thing poetry never counted for more than 15% of one’s overall mark or I might never have got out of high school alive.

My four years of English poetry taught me that no matter what I thought a poem was about I was dead wrong - every single time. Not only was I wrong every single time I thought I had finally encountered a 'eureka' poetry moment, more often than not, I was completely stymied by what the poet was trying to say in 90% of the poems I encountered in the first place. The only exception is Tehillim. Not only do I get it, I actually enjoy it. There is only one other poet which comes close to my experience with Tehillim – Leonard Cohen.

I won’t say I understand what he is trying to say, but his imagery with words always conjures up these vivid pictures in my mind and I tend to relate emotionally to his poems. For example, one of my favourite lines of poetry runs –

I stepped into an avalanche,
it covered up my soul,
When I am not a hunchback,
I sleep behind a hill,
you who wish to conquer pain
Must learn to serve me well,
- Parasites of Heaven

He lost me on the whole ‘hunchback and sleeping beneath a hill', but I know what it feels like to step into an avalanche and feel it cover up one’s soul, and I get the conquering pain bit, well, I think I do. Every where I have gone this week I keep hearing his ‘Hallelujah’ and I grow nostalgic. I found this You Tube video of him singing “Do I Have to Dance All Night” with Laura Branigan on background vocals. Even though recording sound quality is really poor, I relate to it very well and can’t stop singing it under my breath. Apparently, this song has never been released in North America. Shame really.

Lyrics -

I’m Forty-One, the moon is full,
you make love very well.
You touch me like I touch myself,
I like you Mademoiselle.
You’re so fresh and you’re so new,
I do enjoy you, Miss.
There’s nothing I would rather do
than move around just like this

But do I have to dance all night?
But do I have to dance all night?
Ooh tell me, Bird of Paradise,
do I have to dance all night?

You never really have to tell me what
you really think of me - alright.
Let’s say I’m doing fine,
but do I have to dance all night?

Do I have to dance all night? …

I learned this step a while ago.
I had to practice it while everybody slept.
I waited half my life for you, you know,
I didn’t even think that you’d accept.
And here you are before me in the flesh
saying “Yes, yes, yes!”

But do I have to dance all night? …

I learned this step a while ago …

But do I have to dance all night? ...

leading a party one loathes

Benjamin Netanyahu still can’t form a government and claims he still needs another two weeks to try. If anything, this reinforces my belief that Bibi’s judgment is suspect as cannot tell the difference between now and his last Prime Ministership. Ynet News:
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu arrived Friday morning at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, where President Shimon Peres granted him a 14-day extension in order to form his government. Netanyahu expressed his hope that "all leaders will reconsider the offer to form a wide national unity government".

The Likud leader is currently in the midst of a campaign aimed at convincing members of the Labor Party to join his coalition. Labor Chairman Ehud Barak plans to bring the matter to the party's Central Committee on Tuesday.

(…)Netanyahu told Peres at the start of the meeting, "I could have presented a government to you and to the people of Israel by Sunday, but I chose to ask you for the extension in order to exert every effort which will lead to a national unity government as I promised Israel's citizens in the election campaign.

The prime minister-designate said his opinion on the matter had become stronger following his meetings with the General Staff and heads of the economy. "We are facing difficult threats and an economic crisis. I hope all the leaders reconsider the offer to form a national unity government and put aside any personal and party-related consideration," he said. President Peres replied, "I have a lot of appreciation for your efforts to form a wide government. It's sensible. As for the State's situation, I fully share your opinion."

I admit to being conflicted watching Bibi Netanyahu struggle to form a coalition government. I am frustrated at his obtuseness and irresponsibility for leaving Israelis so long without a government in charge at the Knesset. If he would have just taken the natural coalition the majority of Israelis voted for and making it his government, it would have been over and done with weeks ago, but no, he has to invest so much time and resources into paying court to Labor and Kadima whose policies the majority of Israelis rejected.

And on the other hand, I feel sorry for him as he seems to lead a party he obviously wishes didn’t have the make-up it does and he seems to hold his natural coalition partners in such obvious contempt. If anyone should have jumped the Likud ship for Kadima - it should have been Bibi. I cannot help holding the nagging suspicion that if Bibi’s leadership aspirations weren’t blighted by Ariel Sharon and cronies; he would have jumped. Bibi may well find himself - as the Likud leader most likely to face a revolt from his party’s membership.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sometimes I really got to wonder if there really isn’t a diversity lottery pool in Canadian newspaper journalism...

Otherwise how does one explain this from the Toronto Star?

In Canada, Gaza energized the pro-peace camp and breathed new life into this month's Israeli Apartheid Week on university campuses.

Despite the political and media establishment's consistent efforts at censoring or suppressing criticism of Israel and demonizing its critics, many Canadians are finding ways to have their voices heard. They are going beyond street marches to Barack Obama-like grassroots mobilizing through Web networking, seminars and teach-ins with prominent speakers. This emerging movement is increasingly multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-faith, motivated mainly by secular, humanitarian and human rights concerns.

If the ‘media establishment’s consistent efforts at censoring or suppressing criticism of Israel and demonizings its critics’ is such an issue how do you explain this opinion piece or any number of anti-Israeli the pieces the Toronto Star’s pages over the last 9 years? Nor am I sure I would call shouting ‘death to the Jews’ or threatening the lives of Jewish children in street demonstrations an energization of the peace camp. Nor would I think punching a videographer in the head for asking a ‘anti-Israel protestor’ to explain what he meant when he stated, “Hitler didn’t do a good enough job’ acts particularly energizing.

In fact, demonstrations against Israel in Canada have taken a nasty turn for the worse in a decidedly ‘uncanadian’ fashion. Of course, death threats against the Jews were issued in not just English, but Arabic and French too so I gather this is the multilingualism the Toronto Star is celebrating. And of course, there is always the Catholic peace camp to make common cause with the ‘Jew-haters’ - nothing new about that except I fail to read it as a cause to celebrate. Nor do I see Jewish students being swarmed by unruly mob of ‘pro-palestinian’ supports as breathing new life into Israeli Apartheid Week campaign.

In January, more than 80 professors and other staff at Quebec universities and colleges placed an ad in Le Devoir, criticizing Harper for condemning "Hamas, an elected government, as a terrorist organization yet consistently supporting Israel, which has used weapons causing mass destruction on a mainly civilian population, including attacks on children and schools."
Well, I dare say 80 professors and other staff members at Quebec universities and colleges placed the ad, and probably just as the Toronto Star reported but I would expect the an editor to point out this pertinent fact. Hamas was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah but consolidated its control over the Gaza Strip in a bloody violent military coup. There is nothing democratically elected about the terrorists thugs running the Gaza Strip. Just ask Fatah or check their charter. Lobbying missiles over a border will eventually bring military consequences from a neighboring state as there is no human right to shot missiles at Jews – well at least not yet. We can talk again after Durban 2.

A Feb. 18 open letter, signed by more than 350 professors from 40 universities across Canada under the banner F4P (Faculty for Palestine), defended freedom of speech and assembly on campuses. Alan Sears, professor of sociology at Ryerson University, said the signatories wanted to "defend the right of people to hold and speak during Apartheid Week, even if they themselves wouldn't use that term." He was gratified that "the university administrators, to their credit, didn't buckle."

A combative declaration was issued last week by 160 Jewish Canadians, including Anton Kuerti, Ursula Franklin, Naomi Klein, Meyer Brownstone (recipient of the Pearson Peace Medal) and Judith Deutsch, president of the Canadian group, Science for Peace. "We are appalled by recent attempts ... to silence protest against Israel. We are alarmed by the escalation of fear tactics (which) bring the anti-Communist terror of the 1950s vividly to mind." But both Deutsch and Sears say they feel far less lonely these days than they used to. "There has been a real shift over the last few years where being a marginalized troublemaker is less marginalized and more acceptable," Sears said.

That seems in tune with broad Canadian sentiment.
Although, I will grant you Sears has a point in that a marginalized troublemaker now has more buddies firmly standing beside him than ever before, and with people like Siddiqui on the editoral board of the Toronto Star leading the choir and singing his praises, it has indeed become ‘quite acceptable’. Of course, living in the ratified air of One Yonge Street I am not sure Siddiqui is even remotely qualified to discuss tunes of broad Canadian sentiment. Most of the ordinary Canadians I met across the country were quite shocked by the antics of the anti-Israel loons.

The thing that really irks me is that op-ed pieces like this one make Siddiqui out to be a ‘pro-palestinian’ supporter, and yet, when was the last time he demanded the illegimate Hamas coup of the Gaza Strip be called to account for their summarily executions? When was the last time he made demands of the Palestinian Authority or even Hamas to open their respective fiefdoms to admit the Palestinian wretched of the Lebanese refugee camps? Where was he when the Lebanese Army cut the power and water in a Palestinian refugee camp? When was the last time an opinion piece was delivered supporting the rights of Palestinian refugees from the camps get the right to vote in Palestinian elections. When was the last time Siddiqui wrote an article supporting the protests by Gazan journalists against the bloody Hamas reign? When was the last time Siddiqui wrote an article taking the Lebanese government to task for their own bit of legislative discrimination banning Palestinian refugees from the right to aspire to a higher education or even entrance to a most professions?

Yes, I realize no Jooos were involved but so what - should it even matter? But remember, I am not only the hater but anti-Palestinian to boot.

marrying for dollars or Hamas social policy in action

I really have no idea how this Hamas policy would work out but speaking as a serial widow it wouldn’t have hold much appeal for me to marry anyone. Ynet News.
Hamas is offering a $3000 reward for any man willing to marry the widow of a "shahid" (a martyr), several Arab websites reported this week. Hamas initiated the move in an attempt to lower the number of widowed women in the Gaza Strip who lost the spouses who provided for them and their children, and in order to ease their emotional grief and financial difficulties.

The number of widows in Gaza has grown dramatically after Operation Cast Lead. The Palestinian society regards divorcées and widows in a negative way, and young men usually refrain from marrying them. Hamas hopes that by encouraging men to wed these women, it will be providing them with stability and a better life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

moderation is in the eye of the beholder

Ah, what would we do without the official forces of Palestinian moderation? The Jerusalem Post:
Former Fatah security commander Muhammad Dahlan on Tuesday called on Hamas not to recognize Israel's right to exist, pointing out that Fatah had never recognized it. This was the first time since the beginning of the peace process 15 years ago that a senior Fatah official has said that his faction does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Dahlan's remarks were made in an interview with the Palestinian Authority's official Palestine TV station.

Dahlan, who has kept a low profile ever since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, resurfaced during Operation Cast Lead. Since then, he has made several public appearances, the latest being last Friday when he was seen praying next to PA President Mahmoud Abbas in a Ramallah mosque. Fatah officials said that Dahlan's return to the center stage is an indication of his desire to play a role in any post-Abbas administration. They said that Dahlan was recently appointed as a special adviser to Abbas. Dahlan confirmed that he was "providing advice and ideas" to Abbas, especially regarding to the reconciliation talks with Hamas that were launched in Cairo last week.

(…)In the interview, Dahlan was asked about reports that Fatah was demanding that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist as a precondition for the establishment of a Palestinian "unity government." He called the reports "misleading" and said Hamas was "putting words in our mouths." Dahlan added: "They say that Fatah has asked them to recognize Israel's right to exist and this is a big deception. For the one thousandth time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist."

He explained that it was the PLO, and not Fatah, which recognized Israel's right to exist when the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. Fatah is the largest faction in the PLO. The second largest faction is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. "We acknowledge that the PLO did recognize Israel's right to exist, but we are not bound by it as a resistance faction," he added. Dahlan boasted that the PA under Yasser Arafat had killed more Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel than Hamas. "I want to point out that the Palestinian Authority under Abu Ammar [Arafat's nom du guerre] targeted collaborators 10 times more than Hamas," he said. "We put many of them on trial and executed many others. But we did this in accordance with the law and not the Hamas way."

Now since the horse’s mouth speaks - can we all agree there is something distinctly un-moderate emanating from within the so-called well of Palestinian 'moderate' fractions?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stowing the Cross

Maybe it’s because I live in a very secular community. Or maybe it’s because I am a Canadian, and therefore, being or making nice means coupling it with accommodation for anyone’s values or feelings. This is probably the closest we come to a defining national characteristic. Or maybe it’s because I am so use to reform rabbis leading the interfaith dialogue but I find myself standing in awe of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi who is currently in charge of the Kotel. Jerusalem Post:
Ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's May visit to Israel, the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch, has said that it is not proper to come to the site wearing a cross. The pope wears a cross in all public appearances and is slated to visit the Western Wall on May 12 after a meeting with Muslim religious leaders at the Dome of the Rock. After the visit, which will include a meeting with Rabinovitch, the pope is slated to meet with Israel's two chief rabbis, Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar.

"My position is that it is not fitting to enter the Western Wall area with religious symbols, including a cross," said Rabinovitch in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post Monday. "I feel the same way about a Jew putting on a tallit and phylacteries and going into a church."
I realize when Ann Coulter suggested that Christians were ‘perfected Jews’ most Christians objected to her choice of language and the chutzpah with which she was put forth the idea. But really people – Coulter had a point and she was standing on much firmer Christian theological ground than many of her Christian critics lead on. There was a lot of fuzzy theological wishy-washy mumbo-jumbo criticizing Ann Coulter’s position and thrown into the mix was a great lot of fast talkin’ from Christians who were trying to assure Jews it was okay for them to be Jews - in-the-Jesus-loves-you-anyway-kind-of-vein-even-if-you-are-wrong-about-the-whole-covenant-deal. Just forget about the nearly 2,000 years of forced conversions and prosecutions – m’okay?

I found it embarrassing to watch and read. My position is simply this; if you are a Christian and you follow the tenets of your beliefs – so be it. Skip with the apologies. One only need apologize if one is wrong and not for what believes is right. It goes without saying I believe you are wrong, but again, I won’t apologize for believing I am right. Although, I admit I find it embarrassing and enormously frustrating watching rabbis trying to reconcile and accommodate Christianity with Judaism in the public domain. To date, I have not read, met or heard one rabbi who can do it with any degree of intellectual honesty.

What I don’t fully comprehend is the rationale or purpose of the leader of a Christian church to come to one of the holiest sites in Judaism to pray. I can understand why a Jew does it, and I can understand why a Noahide would do it, and I can even understand why a Christian would be curious to visit and see the Kotel – if only for its historical significance. I readily admit the thought of a Christian praying at the Kotel brings out the same reaction in me that running into the Jews for Jesus crowd does – it sets my teeth to grate. You have to understand that bringing a set of beliefs which are in direct contradiction to the Torah and the Talmud and praying with those beliefs in your heart while literally standing at the bastion of Zion isn’t just insulting but offensive. It does no honour to either of us. So as to the cross – keep it for the Vatican and the throne of St. Peter’s. And to Rabbi Rabinovitch – Kol hakavod!

Monday, March 16, 2009

So much for interfaith dialogue and peace

Arutz Sheva on the upcoming Papal visit to Israel:
(IsraelNN.com) The planned visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the Western Wall (Kotel) may force a ban on Jews from praying there for the first time since the holy site was restored to Israel after 2,000 years. Pope Benedict has said his visit to Israel in mid-May is devoted to “unity’ and “peace.”

Security officials have been discussing the issue with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who said he is vehemently opposed to the idea. Government authorities responsible for the safety of the Pope want to clear the area from the evening before his visit until he leaves.

“The Kotel must be open during the entire visit for every person who wants to pray,” Rabbi Rabinowitz said. “Jews have been praying at the Kotel for almost 42 years. There is no preference of one person over another.”

Jews were banned from visiting the Western Wall during the Jordanian occupation of eastern Jerusalem. Jordan also closed off all of the Christian churches, and Israel re-opened all religious sites to all faiths after recovering all of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War in 1967.

There are so many levels of irony at work here. It is horrendous enough that a Jew cannot even pray at the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism without being arrested and prosecuted by the Israeli authorities, but the leader of the largest Christian church comes, (and a German Pope at that), on a mission of ‘unity and peace’ and there are those who would suggest no one can pray at the Kotel, the second holiest place in Judaism. Oy vey. I say, let him go to al Aqsa with his message of unity and peace and pray there - in the place no Jew can pray by law.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Can I get an 'amen'

I am back out west and my culitnary talents are once again in demand. This is code to more or less I am tied to the stove. It’s not that I am forced per say but cannot seem to free myself from this notion men need to be fed with copious amounts of food. Oddly enough, the man in my life likes to encourage this side of me and thinks of it affectionately as expressing my inner Jewess…

Blogging will be what is or not, but I wanted to say Baurch HaShem for the last Rebbe of Lubbavitch and his foresight in sending out the shluchim -- literally everywhere. I might not be on board for thinking the last Rebbe of the Lubavitch is the Moschiah, but I would otherwise be lost in a small town in Alberta and floundering on my own to determine the correct time to light my shabbos candles.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

gimme checkpoints or gimme shelter

The CJN is carrying a report of incidents which occurred at Canadian universities from the Israel Apartheid Week events. This one via Small Dead Animals caught my eye:

“An issue we’ve been having is with professors setting up fake checkpoints outside of their classrooms at the request of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights [SPHR] and forcing the students to go through these. We’ve been speaking to the university about this,” Zelikovitz said.

He said that in one instance, students didn’t have the option of not going to their Gender and Diversity class, because there was an assignment due that day.
“Once inside, students had a 25-minute presentation from SPHR, a slide show that was obviously completely one-sided and the professor discussed it for a while after.
Patrick Deane, Queen’s vice-principal academic, said “students have the right to attend class without restraints, and they also have the right to choose whether or not they take part in any political debate, presentation, or enactment.
The problem with these kind of ‘renactments’ is their one-sided nature. If the skeleton of a bombed out city bus was located outside the door or a life size mural depicting it beside the checkpoint, I really wouldn’t have a problem with the ‘staged’ reenactment per say. Of course, if we are going for realism, we need to recognize Israelis face checkpoints to whether it be - going to the mall, government building, restaurants, and schools etc. The picture used below comes from the One Family Fund for Israeli victims of terrorist attacks and shows the aftermath of a Netanya mall bombing (circa 2005) where five were killed and 66 injured.

It would probably helpful for the professor or TA to carry a replicate rifle in the classroom as well - in order show students one of the ways Israeli teachers have had to respond to the possibility of their students coming under sniper fire on the playground from those brave freedom fighters. Perhaps we can have a siren go off periodically throughout the day to give students 15 seconds to find shelter or be marked dead, maimed or in shock.

Of course, most Israelis don’t whine about the humiliating and invasive nature of these searches and checkpoints - mostly I suspect because the alternative is considered rather unappealing.

h/t Gay & Right

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

HBJ or IJSL or some such thing

BWD or Black while Driving, has often been cited or considered an offence in some North American policing circles, and it occurs to me there should be a similar catchphrase for Israelis - maybe HBJ (human but Jewish) or IJSL (Israel Jew still living) or some such thing. What brings this to mind? Well, Ha’aretz is reporting that Interpol has received a list of 25 names of IDF officers which Iran wants apprehended and returned to Iran to trial to face war crimes charges.
Interpol says it is studying a request from Iran for 25 Israeli officials to be placed on its most-wanted list over Israel's offensive in Gaza. The international police agency says it took the unusual step of confirming the request publicly, as Iranian government officials have made their request public.

Interpol says in a statement released Tuesday that its legal team is studying the Iranian request for the issuance of 25 red notices, the highest-level alert Interpol issues. The Lyon, France-based agency says it received the request Saturday.
And this from a regime which regularly still stones woman and hangs gays. I admit the fact that Interpol is even taking the time to ‘study’ the issue rather than to telling the Iranians to shove their ‘request’ where the sun does not shine offensive for no other reason than Iran does not hold jurisdiction over IDF officers to try them in the first place. The world wide Iranian Caliphate has yet to be established.

So far no word when the Iranians will be sending in the names of Jordanian army officers who took part in the Black September massacre to Interpol. The Jordanians claimed approximately 3.400 Palestinians where killed in 11 days of fighting while the PLO routinely refers to the deaths of 10,000+ civilians – either way, the Jordanians have the Israelis beat hands down as Israel only managed to kill 1,300 Palestinians in 25 days of fighting.

Bet you didn't see this coming

In the middle of the global economical meltdown, when investors are leaving the stock markets in droves to bunker with what is left of their cash, Syria sees only opportunity. Jerusalem Post:

Syria's first-ever stock exchange formally opened on Tuesday, part of a push to encourage investment and boost the country's sluggish economy after decades of socialist-style policies.

Syria has taken some steps toward liberalizing the economy since President Bashar Assad took power in 2000. He has allowed private ownership of banks and currency exchange bureaus and relaxed restrictions on imports.

Under his father's 30-year rule, Syria had a rigid, state-controlled economy with widespread shortages of goods reported. Assad issued a decree establishing the bourse in 2006. But the official inauguration came only on Tuesday, more than a month after a tentative trial of the exchange.

A transport company and five Syrian banks were listed today on the Syrian stock exchange and apparently another 20 are expected to join before the 2009 ends. Of course, if the Syrian stock exchange ends in failure, it will be another ‘Zionist’ plot.

exercising my perogative

Earlier in the week I suggested making Avigdor Lieberman the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs was a venture in rank diplomatic stupidity. Since I committed myself to post, I have undergone somewhat of a change of mind. While I still do believe Lieberman will cause further upheaval and chaos in Israel’s relationships with most western nations, in retrospect, a case can be made for him being immune to outside pressure. He certainly won’t be busy trying to ingratiate himself with the US Administration unlike a rather frighteningly large number of his predecessors, and when interests collide, it will be most difficult to convince him to put American interests before Israeli ones.

It seems to me, it might be prudent for Israel to change spheres of influence or at least actively pursue relationships with governments which often lie outside American/European influence. Lieberman could prove invaluable in developing a relationship with Russia, and Russia has a far better record of taking care of their friends and allies than some others I could mention. Not only that, but Russia does have friends, allies and much influence among the neighbors while American’s brand is decidedly poor in that regard. Did I mention Russia also has a veto in the UN Security Council?

So - Go Lieberman.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Purim in Israel or the balancing act between life and certain death

I searched through my computer files looking for a perfect picture to post for Purim in Israel and found this one.

Someone sent it to me from Israel years ago and while I saved the picture to my computer I can't find the original email nor did I save any particulars about the picture. If anyone knows - leave me a comment so I can give credit where due.

Some liken Purim as the Jewish Halloween and while I understand the obvious parallels - owing to the dressing in costumes and giving out candy, Purim is not about spirits and goblins or scaring the spirits away. It is one of the few happy religious festivals in the Jewish calendar.

What was Netanyahu thinking?

This is one of those rare times when I find myself in agreement with Ha’aretz. There is an opinion piece suggesting the world will take a dim view of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Israel Beiteinu, as Israel’s foreign minister and public voice to the world.
American and European officials have thus far declined to comment publicly on the expected appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister. Behind the scenes, however, many officials are asking whether this appointment is really necessary - and newspapers on both continents are criticizing the move openly.

The official position in Washington is that Barack Obama's administration will work with whatever Israeli government is ultimately established. Beyond that, American officials are keeping mum.

But the "Lieberman question" continually arises in State Department briefings for journalists and in other forums. And opinion columns in the American press have presented Lieberman in an extremely negative light, with comparisons to Austria's Joerg Haider and even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, (both use "ultranationalist rhetoric of hate," one paper charged).

Lieberman snags this post as part of his door prize for entering into a Likud led coalition and for once I find a Ha’aretz article rather moderate for not strongly underlining his general unsuitableness for this position and instead focusing on the world’s perception of Lieberman.

Lieberman is loose cannon who regularly shots his mouth off in all directions and has an uncanny ability to offend just about everyone at the same time. Go search my archives under ‘Fun with Lieberman’. He is enormously entertaining as politician to watch in a three-stooges kind of way but an utter failure as a bridge builder or consensus maker. I cannot think of no one more able to set the hasbara campaign back to the stone ages in a single press or telephone conference than Lieberman. He should be considered the Israeli politician mostly like to start a world war.

I understand Likud’s first or even second choice for a coalition partner was not Israel Beiteinu, and in Bibi’s world, the ultimate coalition partners were Labor and Kadima, but Lieberman wanted in and would come in – a little horse-trading was certainly the order of the day, but surely to heavens, Lieberman could have been satisfied with something else. Not to mention, he might very well be the first Israeli Foreign Minister to have to conduct foreign policy from a jail cell.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Mid East Shoe Diaries

A shoe was recently hurled at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while he was in the city of Urmia, an Iranian Web site has reported. The incident in the Iranian city was an apparent imitation of a similar attack on former U.S. president George Bush in Iraq last year.

Urmia News, the Iranian site, reported that Ahmadinejad was in a car en route to an election rally when the shoe was thrown. Ahmadinejad was traveling to a local stadium where he was meant to deliver a speech ahead of upcoming presidential elections.

The incident was not reported by Iran's major news outlets. But it has been widely commented upon in the Islamic Republic's blogosphere, which is viewed as one of the most developed in the world. It is one of the key tools for disseminating information that contradicts the position of the regime that controls the traditional media.

I bet George W. Bush knows just how Mahmoud feels.

Why Hamas attacks Israel

Since I am the anti-Arab bigot of the day in some circles I might as well indulge my inner bigot and go for broke.

Again, never let it be said I am not an equal opportunity bigot - here's a swipe at Nazis and latte sipping Tel Avivians in one stroke.

I say - frack’em if they can’t take a joke.

The Last Sacred Cow or the Defense of Palestinian Militant Culture

My Ahmed & Salim cartoon has made the Sunday Morning Satire post at Stageleft and much like the United Arab Emirates, Ahmed and Salim has apparently struck some kind of sore spot with Stageleft. I tried to respond directly there but my comment is obviously lost in some kind of progressive moderation zone. It will probably show up later but I am impatient.

Stageleft poises the question in Sunday Morning Satire
I’m told these cartoons are satire, a descriptor which apparently somehow negates their Anti-Arab message. Maybe – that’s true in the same sort of way, that a cartoon a Hebrew speaker, yarmulke wearing, bulldozer operator who can’t seem to destroy the right house or olive grove and would rather be playing Guitar Hero anyway, is just satire rather than propaganda.

Firstly, if the ‘Hebrew speaker, yarmulke wearing, bulldozer operator’ was really a ‘Hebrew speaker’ he would be wearing a ‘kippah’ and not a yarmulke. But I would like to say, I stand in awe in how far Stageleft will go to avoid writing the word “Jew”. If that is not a serious commitment to PC gibberish, what the hell is?

StageLeft seems to be under the delusion Israelis do not savage themselves in the same way they do everyone else. But there is a kind of satire which is found on the wildly popular Israeli television program called Eretz Nehederet. Evelyn Gordon carried a description of a recent episode which was broadcasted on Israel’s Channel 2.
In the skit, showing an average day in the home of a family in Judea and Samaria, the mother is using a Palestinian - down on all fours - as an ironing board; the daughter, when refused permission by her mother to go a party, and denied money from her father, has a tantrum and calls her parents and her brother Nazis. Meanwhile, a trigger-happy grandfather with an American accent shoots his rifle indiscriminately, first hitting the Arab/ironing board and then a soldier who has come to the door - which has been booby-trapped with a bucket of acid.

So, yes, I do believe a ‘Hebrew speaker, yarmulke wearing, bulldozer operator who can’t seem to destroy the right house or olive grove and would rather be playing Guitar Hero’ doesn’t seem so entirely out of line here and would probably be quite popular. Of course, in Israeli satire, one would characterize such a character as a ‘Kippah wearing, Jewish settler bulldozer operator, who can’t seem to destroy the right house or olive grove and would rather be playing Halo 3 or Gears of War’.

I also found this quote from an old NY Times article (circa 2006) about Eretz Nehederet (translates to A Wonderful Country).
Although Palestinians do not seem to watch the show in significant numbers, at least one prominent Palestinian figure has been tuning in. Zakariya Zubeidi, a Palestinian militant leader who was, until recently, on Israel's most-wanted list, told the Israeli newspaper Maariv last February that the show made him laugh. "I hear they want to make me into a character; if they do I will end the cease-fire," he said, jokingly referring to an agreement by Palestinian militant groups at the time to suspend attacks on Israelis.

StageLeft writes here in the comments – “The fact that it is satire does not negate the fact that it is anti-Arab propaganda.

Oh, please - give me a fracking break. This is not the satirization of the Arab world with a message of anti-Arabism but satirization of Palestinian ‘miltant’ culture and the mocking of which it soo richly deserves. Who knew StageLeft would be attempting to create a scared cow out of the culture of Al Aqsa Martyrs/Hamas/Islamic Jihad?

Let’s roll to Episode 2.

Here we have a fat, pimply-faced Jewish boy with glasses who shakes, begs on his knees, all the while - whining to be released to go home to play Guitar Hero. Not exactly a shining and stellar example of Jewish manhood. Does this characterization make it Jewish satire or Jewish propaganda? And if its propaganda, what is the point of the fat pimply nerdy whiny Jewish boy? And if, this is merely allegedly ‘anti-Arab’ propaganda what is the point of Ahmed & Salim becoming friends with the fat nerdie Jewish boy and what should we make of Ahmed & Salim wanting to keep in touch with him via Facebook?

Stageleft, take a leaf out of Israeli pop culture and loose the dire pc glumness which seems to infect and poisons almost every single thing you write about Israeli Jews. Better yet, learn something about the ethos of Israeli Jewish culture before you indict first.

But what would I know? I am merely the ‘anti-Arab’ bigot in StageLeft's world.