Friday, August 13, 2010

One is a state of mind

Shirza Herzog has what passes for a prominent name in Israeli politics but for the life of me I cannot recall one article or position she has taken via the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where she has been right. I really tuned out big time as she tried to pass off Sharon's disengagement as the best thing since sliced bread rather than a disaster of biblical proportions in the making for both the Israelis and Palestinians.

But she does bring up an an important topic which is being discussed seriously by both the Israeli and Palestinian body politic. Probably much more seriously in the Palestinian side than the Israeli – possibly because the so-called intelligentsia in Israel are leftwardly bent - even the so-called centralists bend from the left, and most of the opposition to the idea of a one state solution to the conflict comes from the Israeli left rather than the right. The Globe and Mail,
New winds seem to be blowing in Israel’s right wing. Prominent voices opposed to relinquishing the West Bank and Jewish settlements are calling instead for its annexation, with citizenship for Palestinians living there. On the face of it, this sounds virtuously democratic. But the right has no intention of abandoning its vision of a Jewish state in expanded territory. What’s being proposed is neither practical nor intellectually honest.

Israel’s 7.5 million residents already include nearly one million Palestinian citizens. Palestinian numbers are debated, but incorporating the West Bank and East Jerusalem would mean the addition of close to three million more and a narrower Jewish majority. Israeli support for a two-state resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians is largely based on this demographic imperative. If Israel wants to remain a democracy, maintain a Jewish majority and be a homeland for the Jewish people, it can’t possibly become a single binational state. (This underpins the reluctance of all Israeli governments to annex territories captured in 1967.)

In spite of this, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, former Likud defence minister Moshe Arens and former Settlers’ Council chair Uri Elizur believe that evacuating settlements and an unstable Palestinian state alongside Israel are worse than the risk of incorporating an even larger Palestinian minority in a Jewish state. The Israeli right has espoused annexation since 1967 but wouldn’t face up to its underlying weakness – the demographic issue and its impact on Israel’s democracy.

Ah, the demographic bogey-man. That argument was considered compelling during the re-birth pangs of the Jewish state, but in 2010, there is simply no place except for it in the modern state of Israel. I won't even bring up the charge intellectually dishonest charge - cause I cannot do it without a great deal of name calling, but ironically, the largest block against a single state solution comes from a marriage of the Israeli left and the official Palestinian leadership. C'est surprise - not.

Yoram Ettinger takes on the demographic bogeyman in Ynet News, an Israeli daily.
In 2010, a surge in the Israeli Jewish fertility rate is a long-term, unique, global phenomenon, while fertility rates decline sharply in the Third World in general and in Muslim countries in particular.

In 2010, there is a 66% Jewish majority in 98.5% of the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (without Gaza) – and a 58% Jewish majority with Gaza. That Jewish majority benefits from a demographic tailwind and from a high potential of aliyah (Jewish immigration) and of returning Israeli expatriates.

In comparison, in 1900 and 1947 there was an 8% and a 33% Jewish minority, deprived of economic, technological and military infrastructures. In 2010, the number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is inflated by 900,000 (1.6 million and not 2.5 million) through the inclusion of 400,000 overseas residents, a double-count of 200,000 Jerusalem Arabs (who are counted as Israeli Arabs by Israel and as West Bank Arabs by the Palestinian Authority), and by ignoring annual net-emigration since 1950 (e.g. 17,000 in 2009), etc. Meanwhile, a World Bank study documents a 32% “inflation” in Palestinian birth numbers.

Since the appearance of modern-day Zionism, the demographic establishment has contended that Jews are doomed to be a minority west of the Jordan River. It asserts that Jews must relinquish geography in order to secure demography. But, what if demographic fatalism is based on dramatically erroneous assumptions and numbers? What if the demographic establishment has adopted Palestinian numbers without auditing, although such numbers are refuted annually by an examination of birth, death, migration and 1st grade registration records?

What if the contended Palestinian numbers require a population growth rate almost double the highest population growth rate in the world, while Gaza and Judea and Samaria are ranked 5th and 38th in global population growth rate? What if the demographic establishment failed to realize that the Arab demographic surge of 1949-1969 (in pre-1967 Israel) and 1967-1990 (in Judea and Samaria and Gaza) had to be succeeded by a sharp demographic decline?

Contrary to demographic projections, the first half of 2010 sustains the growth of the Jewish fertility rate and the sharp and rapid fall of the Arab fertility rate throughout the Muslim World, as well as west of the Jordan River. The decline in Arab fertility results from accelerated urbanization and modernization processes, such as education, health, employment, family planning, reduced teen pregnancy, enhanced career mentality among women, in addition to domestic security concerns.

The Washington-based Population Resource Center reported a sharp dive in global Muslim fertility, trending toward two births per woman. For instance, Iran shrunk from 8 births 30 years ago to 1.7, Egypt – 2.5, North Africa – 1.9, Jordan – a “twin sister” of Judea and Samaria – is below 3 births per woman and Judea and Samaria’s fertility rate is 3.2 in 2010. According to demographic precedents, there is a very slight probability of resurrecting high fertility rates following a prolonged period of significant reduction.

In contrast with demographic fatalism, the share of Jewish births in pre-1967 Israel has increased in 2010 – mostly due to the secular sector - to 76% of total births, compared with 75% in 2009 and 69% in 1995. From 80,400 births in 1995 the number of Jewish births catapulted by 50% to 121,000 in 2009, while the annual number of Arab births has stabilized at 39,000 due to their most impressive integration into Israel’s infrastructures of modernity.

The fertility gap between Arabs (3.5 births per woman and trending downward) and Jews (2.9 and trending upward) was reduced from 6 birth per woman in 1969 to 0.6 in 2009. The erosion in the Arab fertility rate is 20 years faster than projections made by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

Okay, that's the elites duking it out, but what of those gun-crazed settlers roaming around Samaria and Judea? Joe Settler has this to say.

I’ll admit, certainly if you keep the Palestinian state of Hamastan (Gaza) out of the picture, it does have some points of merit.

Israel still remains a Jewish democratic state because we’re still the majority, and probably will continue to be so (and even with Gaza we still would have a Jewish majority). Israel annexes the whole of Judea and Samaria and gradually and carefully naturalizes the Arab population. It certainly diffuses the absurd claims that the Palestinians don’t have democratic representation (though I will admit that since the PA hasn’t had elections for a while, and the term of their Prime Minister expired over a year ago, there is something to that claim, but they’re just blaming the wrong people for that problem). The US trained PA military can be incorporated into the Police, where they’ll get along fine. And finally, everyone can live and build where they want (I can just see Tel Aviv getting flooded with West Bankers, and I would certainly start my expansion). Jerusalem wouldn’t need to be divided according to anybody, and the path of the light rail wouldn’t need to be changed. And finally, we can tear down that ugly wall heading towards the middle of my house.

After all, if we can all shop and work in Rami Levi together, a single state isn't such a impossible idea.

Joe has a valid point - it isn't an impossible idea and its time to seriously explore the idea rather than the knee-jerk no way, no how, response from the Israeli left. As for the demographics, if Jews in the homeland of the Jewish state can't care enough to keep the mitzvot – specifically be fruitful and multiply; is there any reason for Israel to remain the homeland of Jews who don't exist? Really people; what is the point?

Now there are a rather large number of practical hurdles which would have to be broached in any discussion of a one-state solution – none the less would be the Palestinian Authority and what passes for the political leadership of the Palestinians would be obviously dead set against the idea.

The red-line in the sand for the Israelis would be Hamastan in the south and 4 million+ Palestinians disbursed throughout the Arab world, but given, even if a Palestinian state would be established no one would be returning any time soon due to the one practical reality, which is, a Palestinian state could not adsorb an influx of 4 million people. The water resources and infrastructure would make it a human catastrophe in less than 6 months. Oh, did I mention Israel already has two official languages – Hebrew and Arabic - already?

NB: And yes, I am still having trouble posting at the Last Exile.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

Just last week Minister of Defense and Labor party leader Ehud Barak had this to stay concerning the deportation of foreign nationals' children who are in the country illegally. Jerusalem Post
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reconsider the government decision authorizing the deportation of 400 children of foreign workers under the age of five, while letting 800 older children and their families stay. Barak, who did not participate in Sunday’s cabinet vote, asked Netanyahu to prevent the deportations. “The State of Israel cannot expel hundreds of children,” Barak said. “It is not Jewish or humane and will scar the entire Israeli society.”
Okey Dokey, I can be down with that, except, well, who do you explain this? Arutz Sheva:
Soldiers of the Nachal Hareidi regiment – a heretofore successful experiment in integrating hareidi-religious soldiers in the IDF – write of a “mortal blow” to their trust in the IDF command.

The soldiers say their commanders lied to them during the recent (July 26th) destruction of a large house in Givat Ronen (Ronen Hill) outside the Jewish town of Har Bracha in Shomron (Samaria). The Nachal Hareidi soldiers were sent to replace the Border Guard forces, after being falsely told that the latter had gone southward for police work.

The destroyed home, built at a cost of hundreds of thousands of shekels, belonged to the Afarsimon family. The dozens of Border Guard and special Yassam police troops also destroyed a goat pen and caravan (mobile home without wheels) at the site. The incident, in which each of the neighboring Jewish homes was surrounded by police to prevent the residents from attempting to block the destruction, was followed by a sharp clash – part of the residents’ “Price Tag” response to actions of this nature -  between Jews and Arabs in which four Jews were hurt.

Forty Nachal Hareidi soldiers signed a letter, unprecedented in its sharp tone, to their battalion commanders and to IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz. Excerpts from the letter:

“This was an arrogant, disgraceful and deceptive act… We are saddened that time after time, the IDF does not realize that it should respect the values of Jewish tradition. This, in addition to the fact that the IDF does not know the different between a political mission that hurts the IDF goals and crumbles its ethical strength, and a security mission for which we risk our lives.

“In order to accomplish this mission [of destruction in Givat Ronen], the commanders knowingly lied to the regiment soldiers, telling them that they were to replace a Border Guard battalion that was leaving for the south for active duty – when in fact these Border Guardsman were actually involved in destroying Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria. This fact is a mortal blow to our trust in the IDF command. To deviate from the norm of telling the truth in the IDF is a mortal blow that could have ramifications in all the various planes of military behavior, both in routine work and at times of emergency.”

The soldiers say that their senior commanders lied to them knowing that many of the soldiers would not want to take part even indirectly in harming Jews and their property. “Instead, they chose to sacrifice the trust of their soldiers in their commanders, causing a direct blow to their combat readiness and ability – and all this in order to carry out a grave act that stands in opposition to the goals of the IDF.”
So if its anti-Jewish and inhumane to evict the children of illegal aliens from Israel; why is the eviction of Jewish families from their homes and deliberately lie to the IDF soldiers about their mission ethical and somehow kosher?

G20 Lawsuit

Officer Bubbles makes an appearance at the announcement of the G20 civil lawsuits but he keeps a 'low profile' this time.

I really think the taxpayer's ought to start looking very closely at the idea of garnishing the pay of all officers involved in the civil rights violations given that any payout (not to mention the cost for the government to defend the indefensible in court) will have to come out of out of the taxpayers' pockets.

It just seems to me when we let the authorities get a free ride on the cost of civil rights violations we enabling the very kind of behaviour we not only scorn in a free society but actively legislate against.

And just because bullies make me feel particularly meanspirited I present Officer Bubbles - the cartoon.

x/posted at The Last Exile

If this is an example of Mullah tolerance in action - who'd want to experience the love?

My daughter recently accompanied my mother and aunt to my other aunt's wedding. I didn't go for a couple of reasons – one being I only go to one wedding per individual and I had already used my quota with her. Besides I suspected it would be a 'dry' event and while I may not drink a lot - there is something about a dry wedding which doesn't exactly inspire a feeling of joy.

When my daughter returned she asked me why I didn't tell her our Aunt was a Baha'i and what the heck was a Bahai' anyway. I had forgotten she was, as it was a religion she acquired along with her second husband, and given the nature of that bitter divorce; I assumed the Baha'i faith went the way of the 2nd husband. My bad. Then the daughter asked me what it meant to be a Baha'i. I told her honestly I haven't a clue and had very little curiosity about it since it had nothing to do with Judaism. From what I gather there are a lot worse things to be a follower of, but apparently, not so in Iran.Ynet News:

Seven leaders of the Baha'i community in Iran convicted of spying for Israel have been sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to reports that reached the Baha'i international community. According to Bani Dugal, the Baha'i representative to the UN, "The accused received the sentence, and their lawyers are preparing an appeal." The seven leaders were arrested two years ago. In addition to espionage, they were charged with illegal organization and distribution of propaganda against the Islamic regime.
Reports obtained by the Baha'i community said the allegations of "ties with Zionists" are based solely on the fact that the Baha'i World Center - the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha'i faith – is located in Haifa.
Oy, and this just speaks volumes for Iran's famed Islamic tolerance:
A US State Department report released earlier this year criticized the Iranian government for its treatment of those practicing the Baha'i faith. The report said Iran's government prevents Baha'is from gathering in homes to worship and bans Baha'is from public schools, universities, the social pension system and government leadership posts unless they conceal their religion. "The government repeatedly pressured Baha'is to recant their religious beliefs in exchange for relief from mistreatment," the report

Monday, August 09, 2010

Nasrallah can't find his smoking gun

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah had his press conference today to present the evidence that it was the Israelis who were responsible for the assassination of PM Rafik Hariri He promised to provide 'definitive' proof of Israeli involvement and instead what he provided was proof of Israeli air reconnaissance over Lebanon.

Really – he did. Actually, there was no evidence provided that the actual photographs were taken by the Israelis but Nasrallah's word. I can't stop my eyerolling – so instead read the Lebanon Daily Star's recap:

Nasrallah disclosed that in 1997, the resistance intercepted Israeli transmissions from its aerial reconnaissance aircraft, and he aired a series of excerpts of this footage, predating Hariri’s February 14, 2005, killing.

The footage was divided into three sections: it covered extensive shots of the area between the St. George Club, where Hariri was killed by a truck bomb, and the late premier’s residence in Qoreitem, with repeated shots of turns in the road along Corniche al-Manara. Nasrallah said the footage indicated that the Israelis were likely studying methods of carrying out bombings and assassinations, since official motorcades slow down at such turns.

The footage included shots of what Nasrallah said was Hariri’s path to his vacation residence in Faqra, Kesrouan, as well as the city of Sidon, with a focus on the residence of his brother, Shafik. “And there are no Hizbullah centers or homes of officials in these areas,” he said.

Nasrallah added that the resistance had begun assembling the footage only in the last two years, from an accumulated store of material, and hadn’t had time to compile similar excerpts of Israeli reconnaissance around the areas frequented by other politicians who were assassinated in the wake of Hariri’s killing. “This isn’t definitive proof,” he said, “but it opens up new horizons for the investigations.” Nasrallah added that the aerial reconnaissance footage was necessarily incomplete, because the resistance was unable to crack some of its encoding. “Just because we don’t have footage of [a given location], doesn’t mean the Israelis didn’t take pictures of it,” he said.

And the Israeli kill kittens too – just ask Nasrallah. If he looks long enough he can probably scrounge around the Hezbollah archives for aerial photographs of kitten deaths and provide testimony from an accused Israeli spy who witnessed it too!

xp: The Last Exile

Friends of Israel, but among Jews, not so much

I know there is a great deal of outrage in the diaspora community over the proposed Rotem Converson Bill which would attempt to regulate and govern conversion in Israel. There has been a great deal of misinformation spread throughout the diaspora community over the bill and more than a few false outlandish claims have been made. The opposition to the bill is being led by the Jewish Reform movements and has managed to collect support via the Conservative movements.

What you need to know about the Jewish demographic in Israel is simply this – outside of North America there really is no 'Reform or Conservative' movements of any consequence or influence. Even among very secular Israelis the 'shul' they don't go to is Orthodox. The fact that the Reform and Conservative movement is person non grata within the Israeli state is well-known and this irks the Reform movement to no end. I believe the the opposition in the diaspora community is a cynical attempt to obtain legitimacy within the Israeli community via the coercive power of the state to grant them a standing which has not been won in the battleground of the Israeli public.

Barbara Kay, wrote a column for the National Post concerning the Israeli Rotem Bill (the lastest copy I could find of the bill is here and make up your mind whether is poses as a threat to Jewish unity). I did promise her column at some point. She deliberately smeared an entire group of Jewry for simply one reason – they are not her kind of Jew, and therefore, not 'authentic' and she made a rather remarkable claim that the Chief Rabbinate is under full control of the Charedi in Israel. The Charedi are not without influence in the Chief Rabbinate and the Rabbinical Council but as a fully fledged member of Jewish orthodoxy why should they be without influence? Do they control the Rabbinate – no.

In an act of supreme irony she accuses and smears Charedi Judaism of the worse excesses in the name of Judaism but fails to see while she is smearing the Chassidic 'parasitic' Jews for their lack of pluralism in outlook - she is just as guilty of the same excess of zeal in demonizing the Chassidic way. Chassidic Jews are different, in fact, this difference and a rather obvious way of dress has made them the first targets of anti-Semites, a fact which seems to have been lost on Kay. She ends her piece this way.

Between "friends" like ultra-liberal Jews on the left and the Haredim on the right, authentic Jews may not need their other myriad enemies.

Of course, I take exception to anyone claiming the mantle of Orthodox Jew who would write about the Temple this way.

The original was destroyed by the Babylonians, then rebuilt and restored (by the Judean king who ordered Jesus' death), and destroyed again by the Romans.

And the group I believe she is referring to who have built a model of the Third Temple belong in the Dati – or national religious camp of Israel and not the Charedi. In fact, most Charedi Rebbes won't allow their followers to even ascend the Temple Mount in fear of desecrating the Temple Mount so it would be rather problematic to actually attempt to build the a third temple on the Temple Mount - even if Al Aqsa Mosque was not there but why let facts get in the way of a righteous smear?

But the best response to Barbara Kay's column was written recently in a letter to the editor of the NY Times by the Chief Rabbi of Israel.
To the Editor:

Re “Israel Tries to Defuse Crisis Over Conversions” (news article, July 24):

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, conversions to Judaism have been governed by the Chief Rabbinate. As you noted in your article, this status quo has been challenged by a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court, backed by members of the Reform and Conservative movements. Yet fewer than 1 percent of the Jews living in Israel are members of these movements.

The bill provision you discuss seeks no changes; it seeks only to retain the situation as it has existed for 62 years. If these non-Israeli movements believe in democratic principles, why have they intervened in a matter that affects only Israelis and does not affect American Jews at all? Even more puzzling, how do they justify asking 12 American senators to pressure the Israeli government on this internal matter?

Israeli laws should be determined by residents of Israel who defend its security and bear its burdens. If our Jewish brethren immigrate to Israel, we will welcome them with great joy, and then they would be entitled, as citizens, to struggle for the adoption of their perspective.

Diaspora Jews who are coercing the Israeli government to drop the proposed legislation are causing great damage. The bill, within the framework of Jewish law, would expand the ambit of conversion, prevent the application of unjustified stringencies, and provide more leniency and flexibility in administration. Many Russian Israelis would benefit substantially. In fact, this legislation was proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu — a secular party — representing more than a million Russian Israelis.

May this unnecessary divisiveness end speedily.

Shlomo Moshe Amar
Chief Rabbi of Israel
Jerusalem, Aug. 3, 2010
Of course, the Chief Rabbi of Israel might not qualify to be numbered among authentic Jews as he is Sephardi rather than Ashkenazi.

Update: I should make one thing clear which probably causes a great deal of confusion and I suspect is the primary cause of Barbara Kay's nightmares. The Chief Rabbinate is a separate body from the rabbinical courts which are heavily controlled by Charedim. The Chief Rabbinate is not. The Rotem Law attempts to take conversion from the rabbinical courts and have it overseen by the Chief Rabbinate which has traditionally maintained a balance of orthodoxy.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

After the love has gone

Nice to see the NY Times still feels the love otherwise this has to go down as the 'blackest' weekend. I broke my coffee carafe for what was my most favourite coffee pot ever on my birthday. Faced with the idea of waking up the day after my birthday without decent fresh coffee was too horrible a fate to contemplate so I took myself shopping for a new machine – immediately.

I tried to buy the same Delonghi machine but in the end bought a higher end Delonghi machine. My daughter, the Last Amazon, was utterly scandalized by the price but there are just some things one cannot put a price on – my piece of mind being one of them. The new Delonghi makes even better utterly sublime coffee. In fact, the new machine coffee is so utterly devine that I usually brew a few cups to take in a thermos to work so I don't have to darken the doors of Starbucks or Second Cup and sip their overpriced swill. It didn't matter how my day ended because tomorrow was always held the promise of better day thanks to the fact I would face it with coffee from my new Delonghi coffee machine.

So what happened? Just after I finished telling my youngest to settle down and be careful of my coffee pot. He knocked into the machine and then jumped out of the way as the glass carafe crashed to a million tiny pieces to the floor. I don't cry often nor am I overly sentimental. I never even got teary eyed over Old Yellow or the Notebook, but I cried when I saw the tiny million pieces all over the floor. Not even a month the hunt is on for a replace carafe. If anyone knows where I can find Delonghi replacement carafe in Toronto – please share.

another brick in the wall.... for multiculturalism

There is a lot of criticism of Canada's multiculturalism policy from the right half of the political spectrum and there are more than a few sites who dutifully chronicle on a weekly basis some cultural clash which has rather devastating results for all those involved. While I am not a fan of state instituted and supported multiculturalism, I am a huge fan of living within a city where there is not a single cultural hegemony. Blurred Vision, an Iranian exiled band has done a remake of Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall and reminds us culture is not a one-way street and multiculturalism was never about another pavillion at a folkfest.

Personally, I prefer Blurred Vision's version which I find far more compelling. Although, that maybe because I never did enough drugs to appreciate the finer points of Pink Floyd.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


Michael Totten interviews Benjaimin Kerstein and touches on a theme I have raised here and at other blogs which it is very difficult to understand a true Israeli perspective without understanding all the nuances of Israeli culture:

MJT: So what’s it like to read about Israel in the foreign press?

Benjamin Kerstein: Surreal.

MJT: How so?

Benjamin Kerstein: It rarely bears any resemblance to the country I live in, mainly because it either deals only with the conflict or because the news is produced by people who live in the English-speaking Jerusalem bubble.

MJT: Tell me about the English-speaking Jerusalem bubble.

Benjamin Kerstein: There’s a large population of English speakers in Jerusalem. The people who speak English tend to gather around each other, especially if they’re in the higher reaches of government or the media. They tend to hang out with other English-speaking people. They go to the places where such people congregate, they read English-language newspapers, and they watch English-language television. They have very little contact with the rest of Israel, which is predominantly Hebrew-speaking.

Tel Aviv is quite cosmopolitan, but if you go to the development towns in the south or to the towns in the north and in the Galilee, there are Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking populations there. Journalists have almost no contact with this world. What they portray as Israeli is a corner of a corner of a corner of this country.

So when we read about Israel in the foreign press—especially if we know about the English-speaking bubble in Jerusalem, or if we’ve ever dealt with the media in Jerusalem—we recognize almost instantly the same themes over and over and over again. All you usually get is the view of a closed subculture, which is not even interesting in my opinion.

MJT: A lot of these journalists don’t even socialize with English-speaking Israelis. I know they don’t because I’ve met some of them. I know who they hang out with and how disconnected they are. They hang out with each other and with other foreigners. That strikes me as bizarre because almost all my friends here are Israelis. Likewise, most of my friends in Lebanon are Lebanese.

Benjamin Kerstein: You find this sort of thing everywhere. People with shared interests and a shared language congregate. Hebrew isn’t a supremely difficult language to learn, but if you don’t have to learn it, you won’t. There are people who have lived in Jerusalem for thirty years who haven’t learned Hebrew because they don’t have to. This affects their opinions, it affects their view of the world, and it affects how they write about it.

If you try to get a feel for a distinctively Israeli perspective you won't get it by reading primarily the Anglo papers. In fact, quite often you will read a report in one of the English dailies which only tells half the story – usually only the half which supports whatever bias the reporter or paper want to tell you. A great example of this was last week's 'rape by deception' story.

What the Anglo versions generally won't tell you is that Sabbar Kashur is not the first man or even woman (yes, a woman has been found guilty under the rape by deception) but he was the first Arab. Nor will you be informed that Kashur was not 'found' guilty but plead guilty in a plea bargain arrangement.

He was on trial and the victim, under questioning from Kashur's lawyer admitted to telling the police he physically forced her to have sexual relations with him rather lying to her but because her consent was based on a 'lie' Kashur consequently she could not give 'informed' consent. Furthermore, she felt the police would not take the matter seriously if she admitted he only 'lied' his way into a sexual liaison. Although, under Israel's Basic Law on human rights (1992) anything which degrades or humilates the 'dignity' of a human being is a human rights violation. Now you can argue till the cows come home over whether Israel's Basic Law on human rights is too subjective and broad which makes it ripe for abuse but the fact remains Kashur plea guilty.

So in the interest of promoting Israelity; I want to share a new book I picked up yesterday which has been getting in the way of doing just about everything today. Good thing the ragu was made yesterday or the tribe would have been forced to rummage for scrapes in the fridge for dinner tonight. I haven't finished it, but the fact is; I hate to put it down. It's a murder-mystery called the Debba by Avner Mandelman and the story begins with an ex-pat Israeli living in Toronto who is sucked into the vortex of Israelity when his father is murdered in Israel. I can feel the sun and smell the orange blossoms.

Friday, August 06, 2010

So much for the long good-bye

My hosting service is migrating me to a bigger, newer, faster server and somehow along the way I got shut out. So into the void did all my 'work-in-progress' posts go.    It's nice to know even if the 'old' place is still cozy. Although, if I am going to be here for any lenght of time I must update the look. So until all is well in my corner of cyber-space expect to find me here.  And yes, Kateland and Shoshanna are one and the same. Ata mehveen evrit? If so, then you should understand why.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

the long good-bye

It was my daughter who got me started blogging. She was all 13 years old and she already knew of the whole web log phenomena which was occurring under my nose. Actually, I was a little embarrassed she knew about it as it showed how badly out of touch I was with the wired world – me who started using PC's and learning basic way back in 1980. At the time, it was impossible to hold anything like a reasonable discussion of issues in our home. Her middle brother was in the frat boy stage which he is only starting to slowly emerge from and her youngest brother was fully entrenched in the Denis the Menace syndrome. She has always been a curious soul and wanted to know what I knew, but more importantly, how I came to form the opinions I held/hold.

She introduced me to blogger and told me that if I would write, she would read and send me her comments via email. It appealed to my inner parent who sees everything as a life lesson and what better way to help her improve her reading, writing and critical thinking skills? So I wrote for her about what piqued my interest. I even named the blog after my pet name for her – The Last Amazon. What else do you call a thirteen year old girl who was an academic scholar, a championship swimmer, a designated expert marksman, and a biathlon athlete?

A funny thing happened along the way in this monologue/dialogue with my daughter. It expanded to include other people's sons, daughters, parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles. Cousins too. Eventually, she grew tired of reading my blog and moved on and I gave up blogging for a bit but the bug hit hard and I found I needed to blog for my own sake. Of course, the massive writer's block which hit when I gave up blogging helped to get me back in the cyberfray.

During the last year I have been relatively discontent with the limitations of this blog and blogger. I have toyed with getting my own website and have had offers from friends to host my own site off their domain, but I just didn't want to be a guest as it seems just to much like what I already am at blogger. No different really than just changing the equivalent of changing cyber hotels. I wanted a space to eventually expand my own place to include my fiction and paintings as well as my blogging A place to call entirely my own - a permanent residence with many rooms in what I call my exile.

Blogger's actions in taking my blog offline after I was flagged as a 'spam' site was the last straw. It was resolved relatively quickly but the irony wasn't lost on me when I have so often been the victim of spammers. I don't want to be somewhere where anyone with a mission or a grudge and a chip on their shoulder can take me offline using the handy-dandy flag tab at my blog to put me in the equivalent of cyber administrative detention. The one constant hate I have had held onto in my life is a loathing of dealing with any form of bureaucracy. I have learned the labyrinth but it still doesn't mean I derived any pleasure or enjoyment from entering to navigate the corridors.

So this my long good-bye to the Last Amazon at blogspot. Its been fun but the party is over here now at the Last Exile. Come gather or not – as the road takes you. The residence-in-exile is still rather sparse and I am on a learning curb but the walls and archives are up. I'll be spending the coming months learning the software and making changes. Until then, Shalom.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No I am not going anywhere anytime soon

I am particularly annoyed this morning as apparently some unknown entity has decided to report my blog as a 'spam' blog.

I realize I am not turning out more than a few posts on a busy day, but even so, this isn't going to stop me. Try again.

I'll be back when this issue is resolved.