Monday, July 31, 2006

And now for your continuing entertainment...

The Friar is proud to present: A Tale of Two Idiots.

Once there was a Christian apologist who felt the need to defend the Bible, but rather than demonstrate how it taught people important moral and ethical lessons, decided to be a moron about it instead, and tried to convince his audience that if not for this holiest of books, man would have been forever doomed to having an IQ slightly lower than a cup of pudding (which is pretty amusing if you think about some of the wackier stuff in there, as well as various idiocies which made it into Church doctrine over the years). Interestingly, the man did not see fit to mention other such impressive moments in Bible science, such as the impressive "pi equals zero" theory, or DovBear's recent research on the Talmudic sages and astronomy. Other notable examples can be found in your handy "Mysterious Creatures" by Nosson Slifkin, aka the Jewish Book of Stupid.

And then there was a man who was arrested for doing some very bad things, but rather than admit to his wrongdoings, you know, like a man, he instead decided to complain about antisemitism, you know, like a whiny little bitch. Luckily, however, the Assistant DA decided to not let him get away with speaking such trash, and bitch-slapped him with a briefcase full of heavy law books (metaphorically speaking, of course).

I hope you all learn something from this, boys and girls.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

And screw you, too

It's everyone's favorite comedy duo, Fucknut and Douchebag!

"Hey fucknut, what do you want to do today?"

"I don't know, douchebag, how about we kiss?"

"I don't know, I'm still kind of tired from last night."

"Hmm... Hey, want to play 'Blame the Jews' for a while?"

"Sure! Let's see... 'I blame the Jews with my little brain for... something that is... wet.'"

"Um... Poisoning wells?"

"Right!"

"Hey, this is fun! Ok, I blame the Jews with my little brain for... something that is... stupid."

"Comparing the Lebanon war to the Holocaust?"

"Sure."

Be sure to catch the reruns on next week- Wednesday nights at 9:30. It's must shoot-TV TV.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Godwin watch, part 3

And the beat goes on...

Ha'aretz- Tory MP: Lebanon raid = Warsaw ghetto

Or, you know, any air raid on any city, ever. Nazis on London, Americans in Vietnam, you know, essentially everybody since WW2. But yeah, it's totally JUST like Warsaw! Especially the part where the Israelis drop leaflets telling people to get out. You know, because that's totally how ghettos work. Schmuck.

Online Journal- The Nazis used collective punishment, too

Yeah, they also had uniforms and boots. Hey, you know who was also like the Nazis? Ulysses S. Grant. And Napoleon.

Jpost- Cartoonist likens Olmert to Nazi

Look folks, you can totally criticize Olmert and his policies all you want, but Amon fucking Goeth? What the fuckity fuck? If you're going to invoke Godwin, you might at least pick a slightly more defensible comparison, like Olmert to, say, a random no-name Nazi, not some dude who spent the war sniping off slave laborers? Even if you absolutely hate Olmert, no one with half a brain can seriously claim he's done something like that.

And it's not just Israel being compared to Hitler. The evangelicals, Israel's best friends everTM (cue coughing attack), are trying to "help" again. How, you might ask? By whipping out Godwin. Catholic Reporter- Evangelicals rally for Israel, warn of Iran threat

One speaker after another kept the focus on Islamo-fascism and Iran in particular. Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman noted that no country is more feared by its Arab neighbors than Iran and called Iran the center of global jihadism. Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said, “It is time for the United States to stand with Israel and to go to the heart of the problem, which is Iran.” Multiple speakers compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler. Texas pastor and televangelist John Hagee, who founded Christians United for Israel, said, “The ghost of Hitler is walking across Europe and the Middle East.”

Hagee called the president of Iran “a new Hitler,” who “intends to develop nuclear weapons to attack Israel and the United States.”

“It’s almost like we’re in 1938 again. I always wondered what I’d do,” said Greg Stephens, a delegate and San Diego pastor.

Hey, John-boy: if you're really worried about Mahmoud, there are a lot of other more practical things you can do besides invoking the Holocaust. You know, seeing as how the US and USSR were far more nuke-happy than Hitler ever was. Oh, and the fact that, as douchy as Ahmadinejad is, at best he's pre-Mein Kampf Hitler, if that. Ok, fine, maybe post-Munich putsch, presently imprisoned, going nuts from syphillis and in the process of writing Mein Kampf. But that's it. And Greg? I'm sorry to interrupt your role-playing game, but get a grip.

Lastly, I'd like to reiterate that invoking Godwin needlessly simply isn't cool or acceptable, regardless of who does it. Jews especially should think twice before pulling out the Hitler/Nazi stuff to win minor personal/political points.

So, Keith Olbermann- quit it, asshole.
At a meeting of the prestigious Television Critics' Association in California, Olbermann, who works for the MSNBC network, donned an O'Reilly mask and gave a Nazi salute, provoking a furious response from Fox's chairman, Roger Ailes.
This made all the more annoying after him getting so snippy when other folks did it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

As prophesied...

From the Jpost:

Rabbi links Hizbullah violence to planned Jerusalem gay parade

Hizbullah's ongoing attacks on Israel and the war in northern Israel are the result of the planned international gay pride parade in Jerusalem next month and Israel's inadequate response against the controversial event, a senior Israeli Rabbi said Wednesday.

"We have not protested enough against this parade of abomination and therefore we have received this warning," warned Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, the head of the extremist Eda Haredit rabbinic court, in a hand-written message to his followers. "Who knows where things will get to if we do not act further and more stringently against it."

Hey, wait a minute! Extremist? How dare that secular-liberal rag defame the character of these great gedolim and chachamim? (Sages and scholars.) Why, I've bet they've got more brilliance, wisdom and street-smarts in a single sidecurl than Post editor David Horovitz has in his whole body. Besides, he's British. You know who else is British? David Landau, the editor at Ha'aretz.

Also British? The British. You know the ones. British Mandate, illegal immigration, etc... How much longer will the Brits foist their vicious anti-semitism on these pure souls? Incidentally, for those of you who care to do the research, it might interest you to know that the Jerusalem Post used to be called... that's right- The Palestine Post. There you have it. Game set and match, king-me, connect-four, the whole megillah. The "Al-Quds" Post is no longer a reliable source. It's worse than Ma'ariv, it's dead to me.

Oh, and incidentally, I believe someone owes me some money for correctly predicting the haredi, mafdal, and general anti-gay douchebag response. Maybe the Melitzer and I can share the post of Head Prophet? Do I get a cool hat? Ooh, I know, we can have a feud and start our own wikipedia page! "The Melitzer dynasty has been undergoing a schism for the past three hours..."

How about it, Lazer? Do you believe in me now? Or do I have to predict more painful, violent episodes involving your payess eating small animals and the occaisonal fat kid?

Hat-tip: Failed Messiah.

Typical

The organizers of the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem have, for the second year in a row, postponed their parade because they realized that Israel is in the midst of some serious emotional (and this time, physical) issues. They have graciously backed down out of sympathy for the feelings of their fellow Jews and because they know when to tread lightly on people's toes. So what's the response of people that have been demonizing them for months?

"We won!"

Yes, that's right, the Israeli and Jewish right are cheering "their" great accomplishment in getting the GOVERNMENT to cancel the parade. I can't wait for the Katrina nutcases to start the theodicy crap again. A few predictions:

A- Hezbollah are tools of the Lord, who used them to show that HE'S the one in charge!
B- Hezbollah are punishments from God for not stopping "the gays" immediately.

What happened to giving credit where credit is due? If you disagree with homosexuality or having the parade in Jerusalem, fine, but how about acknowledging that the organizers of this event are not so callous and heartless as people have been saying? How much do you bet some anti-Disengagement or haredi guys would have kept THEIR marches on schedule regardless of whatever was going on? I'll bet anything Lazer Brody wouldn't stop something HE thought was important just because a little thing like a war had started.

"Are you kidding? Who can bother to think about wars when Moshiach is just around the corner! By the way, has anyone seen my peyess? I think they may have strangled a passing cat."

Speaking of the dear Rav and his Rebbe, btw...

It's showtime!

Melitzer Rebbe: The Geula has started


The Gemorra... lists a number or preconditions that indicate the imminent end of the diaspora and the coming of Moshiach. Until recently, all but two of these conditions have been fulfilled. The next to-the-last condition, namely, that residents of the borders shall roam from place to place, was fulfilled last year with the disengagement...The final condition, the destruction of the Galilee, is something none of would have ever believed. Yet, it's happening before our startled eyes.

With Gemorra in hand, I hastened to the Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a. I asked him point blank: "Rebbe, the list is complete; has the Geula (redemption of our people) started?"

The Melitzer looked me straight in the eye and sid, "Yes!"

There you have it, folks: The Geula has started.


You know, Lazer, it's funny, I can't help but feel we've seen this movie before. Is the Melitzer's first name Pat? Jerry? Shabbetai?
Need more proof? You don't yet take me seriously?
Duh?

King David bombing anniversary

Tom Segev has an intruiging op-ed on it. A little too much stretching it into the present situation for my taste, but some interesting points nonetheless. While it's nice to see Israelis open up a little more about the open cooperation between Haganah and Etzel (as opposed to left or right alternately lionizing and demonizing whoever their favorite was), it seems that "preferential perspective" remains very much in play. Shocking, no?
The terror attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem was in its day the equivalent of the Twin Towers; yesterday was its 60th anniversary. There are two historic plaques at the hotel, one of whose wings was used by the British Mandate authority. On one of the plaques, which has been hanging there for some time, a few words note the terror attack: "On July 22, 1946, the Etzel underground bombed the southern wing." The action is attributed to Etzel alone, but there is no condemnation. "Underground" generally has a positive connotation.

The unveiling of the other plaque this week was meant to cap an academic conference held at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center on the issue of who is a freedom fighter and who is a terrorist. It was quite a week to clarify such a question. They can be distinguished by organizational affiliation, goals, targets, means of combat and mode of operation. They all assume that a freedom fighter is a good person and a terrorist is a bad one. Nearly every terrorist defines himself as a freedom fighter, and vice versa: freedom fighters are usually defined as terrorists. So was Begin. He invested a lot of effort to convince history that he was not a terrorist. Among other things, he emphasized that his organization did not harm civilians. There's a thesis that could serve as an historic lesson from a moral standpoint: not harming civilians.

The new plaque identifies the perpetrators of the attack as "Etzel fighters." It's important for them to emphasize that they acted "under orders from the Hebrew rebel movement," in other words, the Hagannah, among others. They called the hotel switchboard, the editorial offices of the Palestine Post, and the French Embassy (presumably they meant the consulate) "to prevent casualties." In other words, they sought a terrorist attack without casualties, but something went wrong. Twenty-five minutes went by and then "for some reason" the British did not evacuate the building "and as a result" 91 people were "regrettably" killed. There were 28 British, 41 Arabs, 17 Jews and five others. To emphasize the military aspect of the operation, the plaque notes that one of the Etzel people was killed "in an exchange of fire."

The British government is demanding the plaque's removal. Her Majesty's ambassador and the consul have written to the mayor of Jerusalem that such an act of terror cannot be honored, even if it was preceded by a warning. To this day, it is not clear what made the bombing's planners believe the British would evacuate the building. Would Benjamin Netanyahu, as prime minister, have ordered his bureau evacuated on the basis of telephone threat from a Palestinian terror group?
Bush would. As a matter of fact, he has, on multiple occaisons, I believe. Maybe Bibi's just that much more hardcore. Hmm.

Edit: My bad. My hip sources inform me it's supposed to be written, "hardk0re" for extra irony value.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Godwin watch, part 2

Part 1 here.

Michael Savage should shut the fuck up, eat shit, and then gorge himself on his son's crappy Red Bull rip-off.

SAVAGE: This is the leader of the terrorist group Hezbollah -- a good friend of the liberal left wing, the Michael Moore wing, the Barbara Boxer wing, the Ted Kennedy wing, the anti-American wing of the Democrat Party would be in great accord with Hassan Nasrallah of the Hezbollah, who is saying things fundamentally that the left says in America, only in a naked way.

[...]

SAVAGE: We have our own terrorists here in America: the U.S. Senate. The U.S. Senate just denied funding for a new border fence with Mexico. Now, if you tell me this is not like a country being taken over by a group of foreign terrorists, I'd like to know what is. These senators have done more damage to America than terrorists could ever do.

[...]

SAVAGE: Now, I realize that the American left is cheering today. They'll probably break open the jug wine and cheer that Jews are dying, and that they're living and cowering in bomb shelters. One day, the "Deutschland über alles" may be played in Jerusalem, and the American left can tear off their masks once and for all and show themselves to be what they really are -- which is the Nazis of our time.

Never mind the obvious bullshit of saying Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer are Nazis, how about the fact that many American Jews happen to be members of the left? I suppose that's discountable, too, after all, they must be "self-hating" Jews, right?

Just for the record, here's a short list of some American left-wing Jews from the past century who arguably accomplished some good for their societies:

- Samuel Gompers, labor leader.
- Henry Morgenthau Jr., Treasury Secretary under FDR.
- Martin Buber, Jewish folklorist, scholar, philosopher
- Judah Magnes, American-Jewish leader, Rabbi, peace activist
- Abraham Joshua Heschel, American-Jewish leader, Rabbi, civil rights activist
- Franz Boas
- Emile Durkheim
- Albert Einstein
- Louis Brandeis
- Alan Dershowitz

The next time Savage wants to accuse "leftists" of being acquiescent to the death of Jews or throw out Nazi comparisons, he might do well to remember some of these guys:

- David Ben-Gurion
- Chaim Weizmann
- Dov Hoz, co-founder of the Haganah
- Yitzhak Sadeh, founder of the Palmach, Chief of Staff during Israeli War of Independence

And of course, a large portion of members of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust, including:
- Abba Kovner (Vilna)
- Chaika Grossman (Bialystok),
- Warsaw- Yitzhak Zuckerman, Marek Edelman, Emmanuel Ringelblum, and oh yeah...
- Mordechai Anilewicz. A left-winger, a Zionist, a fighter, and a guy who did- and whose memory will continue to do- a hell of a lot more for the Jewish people than Savage ever will.

In conclusion, Mr. Weiner- go to hell.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This is really stupid

But also quite funny. Yarmulke-tip (or turban, as the case may be) to Sultan Knish. Well done.

Fox News: so good it doesn't even need commentary

Fox News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto" is really something. I just got through watching a discussion with four guys and some pipsqueak replacement host (David Assman, I believe- what, it's his name. You can't make that stuff up.) Anyway, the talk went something like this (sadly, this is only slightly paraphrased):

Assie: "And now let's talk about the stock market responding to the conflict going on in the Middle East. Fred?"

Fred: "What's so important is what the President just said about Lebanon..."

Assie: "No, no, Fred. Stick to the market, please!"

Fred: "Fine. I think oil is up because of XYZ."

Assie: "Great. Tom?"

Tom: "President Bush did a great job telling people how Iran has no business poking its fingers in Lebanon. He needs to stand up to Syria and Hezbollah and he's doing it. It's just great."

Assie: "Super. Steve?"

Steve: "Am I the only one who thinks that sometimes the market responds to earnings, not just what's going on in the Middle East?"

[Long pause.]

Tom: "Come on! We all know Iran equals oil!"

Fred: "Yeah. Prices are rising because Israel is finally fighting on the second front of the war on terror, and the market respects that."

Steve: "I'm just saying..."
Next Ass-tard had two women on to discuss a really hard-hitting piece of news: The New York Times is cutting costs and firing some employees. "Some people say" that it's because consumers are punishing the paper for leaking government secrets.

What say you, black GOP spokeswoman?
BGS: Obviously it's because the paper is consistently anti-American, anti-war on terror, and anti-Bush. People want to read the news, and that's not what the times does.
And you, white liberal talk-show host?
WLTSH: Actually, it's because they're competing with things like the Internet. The Wall Street Journal's doing it, too.

BGS: No, no, because the Journal hasn't fired any employees, and the Times' subscriptions have been dropping for the past two years, right when they started leaking classified documents. [Ed. comment: Because the Times has printed nothing else in the past two years, right? And because no other news sources have leaked anything, right? Wait, I forgot, Bush by definition cannot "leak" anything, he can only "declassify" it. Thanks again, Fox.]

WLTSH: No, that's not right.

BGS: Excuse me! Excuse me, I think it's supposed to be fair and balanced on this show, ok?

King Ass-o-mon: WLTSH, how do you respond to some of BGS' points? Also, we have a graph showing the Times' subscription going down. (whee! Some grad student just made rent!) Thoughts?

WLTSH: [Pause.] I just think you're all smoking crack if you say this is because of leaking govt. secrets.

BGS: Excuse me? I am not a crack addict, ok? Let's just get that straight.

WLTSH: [Shrug]

Ass-taro: All right, thanks ladies, always great to have you!
Ye Gods.

Hey, breaking news! Hussein Ibish and Charles Krauthammer! Let's see what they have to say...

Oh, snap! Ibish accidentally interrupted Krauthammer while he was in the middle of a long rant, and Kraut-ster fires back with, "If you could hold off on your Katyushas for just a moment". Damn! And then Ass-wipe cuts Ibish off because they're out of time! Ah, the joys of the 2-minute talking point circle jerk.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Israel-Lebanon Commentary round-up

(Granted, it's all from Ha'aretz, but my internet connection is being spotty at the moment.)

Uzi Beniamin has a nice piece hammering the far-righties and far-lefties for connecting Hezbollah's bullshit with whoever they feel like in order to get cheap
(and far-fetched) political points.
The Gush Shalom peace organization published an announcement over the weekend linking the Hezbollah assault on Israel with the military response in Gaza to the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit. Right-wing commentators, for their part, compared Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah with the entire Arab world, viewing his aggression as proof of the inherent satanic character of all Arabs, which drives them to seek Israel's destruction.

Gush Shalom's reasoning is based on the following logic: The Kerem Shalom military outpost was attacked, and Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, because of Israel's refusal to talk with the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority. As a result of its refusal to negotiate toward a prisoner exchange, Israel launched a broad military operation in the Gaza Strip, which led Hezbollah to strike in the north and drag Israel into a war in Lebanon that could rock the entire region.

The conclusion to which Gush Shalom's argument points is unequivocal: Israel is the catalyst for the destructive chain of events. The right, on the other hand, pins the blame on the evil, inherent nature of all Arabs, from the moment of birth: They are intolerant of Jews, Israel and Western civilization and they seek, with zealous persistence, to impose Islamic rule on the entire world.

In the eyes of the right, all Arab governments are Al-Qaida, either overtly or covertly, and all Muslims are Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah.

The leftist responses do not distinguish between Israel's (partial) responsibility for the continuing conflict with the Palestinians and the dominant belief within fundamentalist Islam - represented on Israel's borders by Hamas and Hezbollah - that denies Israel's right to exist and rejects all dialogue, on religious grounds.

At the other extreme, the right's stereotyping of the Arab world ignores its multifaced nature as well as the willingess of the governments of Egypt, Jordan and more distant Arab states to maintain peaceful relations with Israel. It ignores the possibility of finding a partner in dialogue toward an agreement within Palestinian society, which is partly, if not largely, secular. The equation proposed by the right at this difficult time - that the withdrawal from Lebanon led to the Katyushas being fired on northern Israel, just as the disengagement from the Gaza Strip led to the Qassams in the south - reflects a deterministic view of human behavior. It says that a higher power, that is not controlled by the same rules governing life on Earth, sentences Israel to eternal violent conflict with its environment. The events of the last two weeks, however, are proof that this is not the case.

It's pretty good stuff, actually. Nuance is usually a pretty good step in the right direction.

As an example of people Beniamin is annoyed with, take a look at Nadav Shragai, who says the Israelis are reaping what they sowed by leaving Gaza AND thinking it would lead to an idyllic pre-lapsarian Willy Wonka world. (Which, as established a little while ago, isn't quite fair.)
Hezbollah and its Palestinian pupils internalized this and made note of it. After the wars against terror, like the one going on now, come the retreats, and then more wars, which lead to more retreats. Terror sows and then reaps. Fact: The blood of the dead and wounded had yet to dry and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was already making clear that in addition to the two fronts where unilateral steps were taken - with great success, as everyone knows - he will undertake another unilateral move. The "convergence," right next to the main mass of Israel's population, will take place, he insists.

The truth? We earned it honestly as a nation of gullible fools, who over and over followed the illusions of quiet, peace and demography sold buy its leaders. We deserve it. However, the influence of the recent events has moved something, maybe temporarily, but something has moved. Suddenly, there's not enough room on board for all those who are disengagement opponents.

..."We told you so" should be shouted out bitterly now, not to win medals but to prevent Olmert and his government from dragging us into another adventure with a foregone conclusion. The law of disengagement, as Uri Elitzur recently wrote, may say its goal is to lead to a better security reality, but reality is the devil's work; it behaves according to common sense and not the Knesset's decisions.
First, I'm getting a little annoyed at the suggestion that the four minor settlements in the West Bank were at all equivalent- strategically, culturally, population-wise, economically, or traumatically- to Gush Katif. I've found little evidence to back this up, and the willingness by the right to play up this "two front" thing- we left Gaza "AND (part) of Judea and Samaria"- Heaven forbid!- is getting kind of old, and is also hurting their credibility insofar as their ability to report something honestly and with appropriate levels of importance/significance. This is all more interesting because the right constantly hammers the left (media and politicians) for doing the exact same thing. Incidentally, for those who say Ha'aretz is too left-wing, Shragai seems to be a pretty good indication that they let their columnists say what they want.

Second, while Shragai has a point that the Palestinians saw Disengagement as a victory- this isn't news. EVERYONE was saying this, including left-wingers. The difference was that the left and center supported leaving despite these things, saying it was ultimately worth it if it let Israel wash its hands of Gaza and a million and a half Palestinians. Now, you may want to beat them over the head for that, but at least let's debate the actual positions people held. This "the lefties thought Disengagement would solve everything" crap is an absurd, dishonest and unfair strawman.

I'm not sure what to think of Gideon Levy's latest.

I'd say he has a couple of valid points here:

- The perception of Israel responding with disproportionate force does it no favors, either in the international community or vis-a-vis the Palestinians (or other Arab states). That said, this is hardly a new or significant change from where things were before reg. people's good-will.

- It's important for Olmert (and Peretz) to have concrete and detailed goals, implementation stategies, and exit strategies for Lebanon. In fact, it's critical to avoiding another 20-year Peace for the Galilee.

- There are some uncomfortable ethical issues brought up in punishing the general populace for the actions or policies of a relatively small number of them. I.e., is it ethical to blow up the house of a person who supports Hamas or Hezbollah (even to the point of voting for them) if they have not actively participated in terror or financed it through monetary donations? Then again, this question is endemic to war as a whole, particularly wars fought within very small boundaries and near, around, or in, major population centers. Whether we like it or not, there has always been a strong civilian component to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (particularly in terms of what targets are or aren't acceptable), and I don't see that changing anytime soon. [This is not to say that both sides have the same standards for acceptable targets per se, though I'm certainly unconvinced the IDF is the untarnished beacon of military justness that the ZOA would have us believe.]

- Lastly, the biggest issue is results. If we can shit on the Disengagement because it didn't change the conflict's status quo (which isn't quite true but never mind...), we must hold this War-to-be-named-later to the same standard. The Israelis need to set a timetable after which other options have to be considered- both in Lebanon and Gaza. They also need to, again, assess goals. Is Shalit the primary reason to be in Gaza? Then if incursions don't work, try diplomacy. Ditto for Lebanon. What is the goal and how can be reached? These are important questions.

Damn, out of time. Here are a few final links:

- Former IAF commander has some thoughts on prisoner swaps.
- Ha'aretz's editor David Landau urges caution and some critical thinking about Lebanon.
- Ze'ev Schiff says a three-front war is really not a good idea right now.

Remember this?

From way back when:

An Israeli government minister has gone into hiding to try to thwart Ariel Sharon's Gaza withdrawal plan.The prime minister intended to fire two cabinet members who oppose the plan, but the dismissal notice has reportedly not reached one of them, Benny Elon.

Mr Sharon planned to ask his government to vote on the scheme on Sunday but, if Mr Elon is not found, the prime minister may have to postpone the vote.

...Mr Elon has not been found. He told Israel Radio that he had received a call from someone who sounded like the prime minister - but that he could not be sure if it was Mr Sharon or a comedian who impersonates him.

He may already have been in hiding long enough to thwart Sunday's vote, since sackings take 48 hours to come into effect under Israeli law.

Sharon fired National Union ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Elon on Friday morning in a bid to win a cabinet majority on his revised disengagement plan.

Elon, who had served as tourism minister, said he would do everything he could to avoid accepting the dismissal notice, so that Sharon would not have a majority in favor of the plan. He was spending the weekend at the Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip.

His aides said that he intended to arrive at Sunday's cabinet meeting to vote against the pullout plan. The Prime Minister's Office said that Elon would not be allowed to enter the cabinet meeting or to vote in it.

Speaking on Israel Radio on Friday, Elon said Sharon had called him to tell him he was fired, but that the dismissal was not official until he received the letter. In any case, he said, he could not verify the phone call was actually from Sharon.

"I will do everything I can so that there won't be a majority," Elon said, however a government official said Elon "is not going to be at the meeting, he's fired." Lieberman received his dismissal notice around 11 A.M. Friday.

Sharon originally summoned the ministers to his office. Lieberman, who has been in charge of the Transportation Ministry, told the Prime Minister's Office he was busy in the morning and would arrive at Sharon's office at 1 P.M.

Suspecting the two may not show up, Sharon opted to have the notices delivered to them personally. Government Secretary Yisrael Maimon informed the other cabinet ministers that the two were being fired, as the government is required to do by law.

Couriers were sent to hand-deliver the dismissal letters to the rightist ministers after they failed to show up at the Prime Minister's Office at 9 A.M. as summoned. The dismissals take effect 48 hours after Lieberman and Elon receive them.

Oh, the ethics. How they burn.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oh bite me

From the Jewish Standard:

"If you consider yourself first and foremost part of the pro-Israel community, you will stick with Joe Lieberman," said Grossman, who also is a past president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. "If you’re so overwhelmingly convinced that ending the war as soon as possible is of paramount importance, I could understand why you would find Joe Lieberman a candidate you could no longer support."

"The people who are doing this have no concern for Israel or issues of concern to the Jewish community," said Dr. Ben Chouake, president of Norpac, a nonpartisan, New Jersey-based political action committee. "This is an example of an extreme left that really is looking to put a scalp on their wall to show that they have power."

..."I find the behavior of a large segment of the Jewish community to be reprehensible and outrageous," said John Droney, a former chairman of the state party who is advising Lieberman to run as an independent. "When he’s in trouble like this, they all ought to rally to him. It’s too bad that you have to listen to an Irish-American to realize that you’ve got to support your own home cooking."
First off, does anybody have any idea what the hell this guy is talking about? That's some god-awful bit of rhetoric there, Droney. BTW, identity politics went out of style around the time we elected Kennedy. I doubt you're going around telling black people to only vote for black candidates. Next you'll be scolding us for not voting in nice predictable blocs like the Satmar. Well excuuuuuse me for having values beyond, "is he a member of the tribe"? Mea culpa, asshole.

This last bit is nice, too:

"There’s no question about it; Lieberman is running a two-phased campaign," said
Rabbi Menachem Genack, an Orthodox Union official who lives in Englewood. "He has to run against a nationwide coalition of bloggers and also against Lamont."

Damn straight, Rabbi. And if you're smart, you won't piss off any more bloggers- we've still got our eyes on you from Postville.

Songs you can sing Adon Olam to.

A running list courtesy of yours truly and a few talented fell0w-travellers.

- Day-o (Tally me Banana): "Adon olam asher malach, daylight come, and me wanna go home."

- The Oompa-Loompa Song: "Adon-olam-asher malach, B'ter-em-kol-yetz-ir-nivra..."

Add any suggestions in the comments.

I mean, sort of...

In that they were both dirty hippies...

This website looks promising. More reporting to come.

Not Smart

See, Bashar, when everybody's talking about, "What's Israel going to do?", and "holy shit, is there going to be another major Israeli-Arab war?", and Israel's hawks are saying, "Iran and Syria are really controlling Lebanon and Hezbollah anyway", you REALLY don't want to be drawing attention to yourself. You know, by saying stupid shit like this:
Syria will support Hezbollah and Lebanon against Israel's attacks on the country, the ruling Baath Party said on Friday.

"The Syrian people are ready to extend full support to the Lebanese people and their heroic resistance to remain steadfast and confront the barbaric Israeli aggression and its crimes," said a communique from the party's national command issued after a meeting.

It said Israel and the United States "are trying to wipe out Arab resistance in every land under occupation" and that President Bashar Assad was aware of the seriousness of the situation in the region.
Time to lay low? Naah. Let's rattle the sabers and piss off the Israelis some more, instead.

Bashar, you officially have the IQ of a cup of coffee. Mazel Tov.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My hero!

Jessica Lunsford detective rips O'Reilly a new one.

The biggest national media personality to weigh in on the case is O'Reilly. He has frequently used his TV show "The O'Reilly Factor" to criticize King's handling of the case against Couey and told the Star-Banner this week that the way King has prosecuted the case is a "scandal."

O'Reilly also has criticized King for failing to pursue charges against three of Couey's housemates, who O'Reilly asserts must have known Jessica was in the small mobile home where Couey is accused of raping her after abducting her from her home. O'Reilly also labeled King a "coward" for not appearing on his program.

"I wouldn't go on his show either," Dawsy said, "because I have ethics."

Dawsy was infuriated after reading the paper.

"Bill O'Reilly is full of hot air," he said. "I don't consider him part of the news media. What he does is a reality show, only it's not real. He's part of the entertainment media. Overall, the real news media has done a good job on this case."
As Ulysses S. Grant said: Kick-ass.

A graceful smackdown

Courtesy of RenReb. Apparently she also isn't a big fan of Lazer Brody's idol worship fawning sycophancy over every last scrap of "wisdom" that drops out of the Melitzer Rebbe's... um... mouth.

From RenReb's fingers to our eyes:
This post, you see, indicates that the Melitzer Rebbe knows the mind of God. According to the post, the Melitzer Rebbe is able to know - on a cosmic level - precisely what world events are predicated by what human behavior, and he is able to know exactly who is at fault - again, on a cosmic level - when unfortunate things happen.

In other words, the Melitzer Rebbe knows exactly which sins by which people are responsible for which punishments that appear to have been inflicted upon us by God.

So, for those who are interested, it so happens that I find this suggestion to be ridiculous, absurd, silly, and quite, quite thoroughly anti-Torah.

In other words, in the opinion of this humble blogger, the Melitzer Rebbe does not know the mind of God. The Melitzer Rebbe is not a prophet. The Melitzer Rebbe does not know, with scientific certainty, which precise behaviors by humans cause which precise responses from Hashem.
RenReb's being too nice here, actually. Yes, the Melitzer and Lazer (and anybody, really,) obviously have the right to emphasize their own pet issues, AND to call the attention of Klal Israel (the Jewish people) to important problems facing them, both existential as well as moral and spiritual. (From my POV, an ideal situation would be to have introspection and teshuva (repentance) would be regular and common practices, not just belated hand-wringing responses to disasters.) But Lazer and the Melitzer making such an outrageous claim as ""The Hamas and the rockets are the physical manifestations of the spiritual imurity [sic] created by Israel's immodest women" verges on the obscene. Period. It's the worst kind of abusive (and absurd) exercise in blaming-the-victims. "Secular Jews (specifically secular women) caused the destruction going on in Israel." Nice. The Melitzer would have gotten along really well with the Satmar and Chabad rebbes, both of whom blamed secular Jews and Zionists for causing the Holocaust. (Schneerson phrased it particularly poetically, comparing his opponents to "a cancer on the Jewish people", and referring to God as a "divine surgeon". Classy, M&M.)

More from the post that broke my brain:

The Melitzer Rebbe's face turned a bright crimson then paled. With a trembling voice, he quoted the Torah's curse in Parshas Bechukosai of the licentious who break the holy covenant with lewdness and lack of modesty, "I will bring upon you an avenging sword, vengeance of the covenant (Lev. 26:25)". The Rebbe then told me with fire in his voice, "The immodest and unclad women are bringing this catastrophe on our heads. A woman should know that every tephach (approx. 4 inches - LB) of insufficiently clad flesh creates an angel of destruction. The Hamas and the rockets are the physical manifestations of the spiritual imurity created by Israel's immodest women."

The Rebbe then quoted the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim 75:A) that's based on the Gemorra (tractate Berachos 24a) that tephach b'isha erva, or a tephach of unclad flesh is considered nakedness and therefore strictly forbidden. With fire in his eyes the Rebbe said that tephach - spelled in Hebrew טפח - stands for טילים פיגועים חרבות - the three Hebrew letters of tephach stand for "t'illim, p'iguim, charavot", in other words rockets, terrorist attacks, and swords (of vengeance). The Rebbe then said that no army in the world can stop Qassam rockets as long as Israeli women continue to disdain the laws of modesty.

The recent upgraded Qassam rockets have been fired from the North of Gaza, despite the fact that thousands of Israeli troops and tanks have poured into Gaza, showing just how correct the Melitzer Rebbe is. If the Israeli government would listen to the Melitzer Rebbe, they could save a lot of time, trouble, and tens of millions of dollars.

Although I periodically update the Rebbe on what I write on Lazer Beams, the Rebbe never tells me what to write; this time is an exception - the Rebbe shlit'a said that people must know the root cause of the Qassam rockets.

Lazer, I have to say, folks like you are the reason why it's so hard for people like me to put Ahavat Israel (unconditional love of the Jewish people) into practice. Hey, I know, why don't we have the Chief Rabbis pass out burqas? Even better, you can start your own "Army of Hashem" modesty squad that goes around beating up Hellenists, jailing men who don't grow their beards, and telling women that they'll be stoned if they don't cover up. It's only fair, since they're causing such damage to the state. It's treason, really.

Come on, Lazer, when do we get to see you whip out some authentic old-school Taliban Maccabee shit? We want Melitzer now!

I know some people say, "Better to stay home on Yom Kippur than drive to shul..."

But they can go jump in a lake.
one of two progressive congregations in the Czech Republic, 120-member Bejt Simcha, was tentatively recognized as a legitimate organization by that country’s Jewish umbrella group, the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities.

That watershed decision, to be finalized in September, followed an even more significant development — the wholesale legitimization of Reform Judaism in Germany, where the movement originated in the 19th century. The Czech ruling effectively ends a decade of contention during which Prague-based Bejt Simcha, because of its non-Orthodox orientation, was denied the political and financial advantages that are critical to the long-term survival of some European congregations.

In contrast to the United States, where self-funded congregations are the building blocks of Jewish life, European Judaism has for centuries been controlled by government-recognized bodies known as "communities" that determine what form of Jewish practice is considered legitimate. These communities, which attempt to speak on behalf of all Jews in a given country, are often allotted money by the state that helps pay for everything from synagogue construction to care for the elderly.

Bejt Simcha will now have access to that funding and the political clout that comes with it. The ruling, clearing the way for official recognition of the small congregation, is an acknowledgment that some of the Czech Republic’s disaffected Jews might now find non-Orthodoxy a preferable route for embracing their faith, according to Tomas Kraus, the federation’s executive director. "After the end of communism, we needed to get back to basics, and followed the Orthodox model, but we have matured enough to offer something more," he says.

The battle over the status of progressive congregations like Bejt Simcha, according to Kraus, could in fact determine the future of Judaism in Europe.

"The Czech situation is a laboratory," he says. "What we are here dealing with on a very small scale, every community is dealing with on a larger scale. By making the conditions not so strict, more Czech Jews will identify as Jews."

What a concept.

I respect my Orthodox brothers and sisters. I don't agree with them, but I respect them. It is inappropriate to ask them to grant legitmacy to something they feel deviates from Halakha. That's ok, no one's asking them to. But they do not have the right to strong-arm sovereign governments to deny funding and other benefits to other Jewish groups. The other movements should be allowed to sink or swim. If they can prove the need and interest are there, they should have a seat at the table and a piece of the pie.

The frummies don't have to like it, and they do have a right to represent their own position on the issue. But with all apologies to Rav Kaplan, it's "a vote, not a veto".

It's time to face facts. Most of the world's Jews aren't Orthodox, and increasing numbers of them are feeling alienated from any sort of community. Why not give some funding and support to the places more likely to attract Jews who don't swing Orthodox?

Incidentally, Reform and Conservative Jews could learn a lot from the Orthodox- like growing a backbone, standing up for their own leaders, scholarship and traditions, and putting their money where their mouth is. All you 80-year old 4 times a year Reform temple grandmas out there- stop giving money to Chabad, and put some money into "your" own shul. Or at least MATCH your donations.

Hate to say it...

But he's right.
Right-wing activist Baruch Marzel called for the attention of his political opposites to the ramifications of the administrative detention of the Honenu leader. Marzel said that “the arrest of a person who deals with civil rights should worry not only members of the Right. This is a terrible infringement upon freedom of speech. If there is evidence then they should file an indictment, but if not, then he should be released immediately."
If there's a case against this guy, prove it and prosecute him. Ditto for Arabs. Israel could benefit a lot from increasing the transparency of its legal process and ditching this cloak and dagger, Night & Fog British Mandate hold-over bullcrap. Israel is better than that. At least it should be.

As I said, Israel is not to be fucked with right now

Ha'aretz's Shmuel Rosner says it more politely, but it's because he has to.
I spent the morning of Wednesday talking to some hard-core left-wing Israelis. The thoughts they shared with me were quite clear: Hit them hard. Hezbollah, Beirut, Syria, whoever. Those who might have hoped for a more restrained response by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should think again. It's not just the Arab leaders and the terrorists testing the new government - it's the Israelis too. And most Israelis already know that Olmert can be the moderate, restrained, rational kind of leader. Its Olmert the bully they want to see now - that is, if there is one.
I have to admit it, there' s something to be said for acting decisively when you need to.
Israel chose to pressure the Lebanese government - and on principle, it's the right move. The government should be responsible to the territory under its jurisdiction; the government should make sure that no terror organization uses the land a base from which it will attack its neighbor.

But what if the government really can't handle it? Do we prefer chaos? That's too risky. Do we want to replace the government with a friendlier one? That's been tried in 1982 and failed miserably. Are we prepared to give the current government more tools with which to deal with Hezbollah? Just imagine Israel's reaction if some countries start sending Lebanon more weapons.
Which leads Israel back into another Lebanese Vietnam, which it really doesn't need with Gaza (and bits of the West Bank) heating up simultaneously. Not a pretty picture.

Prediction: Olmert will hit back hard, and Peretz will either undergo a war conversion to a pragmatic hawk-dove or be dropped like a sack of potatoes for a right-wing govt. That's his only option, otherwise he's gone within a year and a half, two years, tops, courtesy of a no-confidence vote, and Kadima dissolves. This will only be accelerated if things don't quiet down within the next month.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A time to bend?

A good plea for centrism piece from Ynet's editor.

nobody in Israel today should consider themselves exempt from today's fast. It is clear (to me, at least) that the sort of free hatred that characterized that ancient period of time is in abundance today. Left-wing activists celebrated the destruction of 10,000 Jewish lives in Gush Katif last year, and continue to smugly wave scorn at their ongoing plight, while right-wing settlers couldn't care less about the moral reservations many Israelis feel about serving in Judea and Samaria.

In Jerusalem, homosexual activists continue to insist on holding their parade next month despite pleas by religious groups not to ignite the tinderbox city, and anti-gay haredim (ultra-Orthodox) have gone so far as to offer a bounty for each homosexual killed during the march. Archetypical "north Tel Avivians" don't like the haredim because they aren't Zionists, and they don't like religious Zionists because they are too Zionistic, and both of those groups in turn can't stand the "Hebrew-speaking goyim" from north Tel Aviv. And the list goes on and on.

Now, I'll admit it: Haredim and other more conservative residents of Israel have a point when they accuse the organizers of the Jerusalem Pride of using the rubric of "tolerance" to get their way. While gays should have the right to march, it's fairly clear that choosing Jerusalem is a political and ideological decision. This doesn't invalidate it, though, since:
  • every decision to march anywhere is a political decision (marches tend to be political that way), and,
  • almost every decision involving Jerusalem is political/ideological in the first place.
Yes, there is something to be said for respecting the cultural mores of the Haredim. You CAN walk around wearing a bikini in Mea Shearim, but it's not very nice. On the other hand, you don't get to mandate other people's behavior simply because it makes you uncomfortable. If the parades are orderly and unobscene (from the legal, not necessarily Haredi, viewpoint), the Haredim shouldn't have the automatic right to get their way on this. Jerusalem belongs to all Jews, at least that's what the Foreign Ministry is always saying. Giving them veto power over anything they find objectionable is unacceptable. I don't see anyone suggesting that people shouldn't be allowed to drive on Shabbat because the Haredim find it offensive/don't want to have to explain what a Sabbath-breaker is to their kids. There's a limit.

Furthermore, I notice that nobody seems to be mentioning things like this or this, which are apparently just fine and dandy with Israel's Haredim, mafdal, and datim.

JERUSALEM—The Holy City revealed itself as two Jerusalems yesterday, when Israelis pounded the drums of victory marking 38 years of conquest over traditionally Arab East Jerusalem.

Parading in the thousands, Jewish West Jerusalem carried the euphoria of Jerusalem Day only as far as a sieve of police checkpoints, where a deployment of 3,000 Israeli police sealed off the dispossessed Palestinian neighbourhoods to the east. On the seam line between the two, violence flared at the tinderbox holy site sacred to both, known alternately as the Temple Mount/al Aqsa Mosque, when crowds of Muslim worshippers clashed with religious Jews ascending for a tour. The standoff, which began with a barrage of stones, was broken up by Israeli guardsmen. Two Israelis suffered minor injuries. Jerusalem Day is in theory a celebration of the reunification of 1967 when Israelis awoke from the Six Day War to find their military reach extended from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. Thus began a postwar occupation comprising East Jerusalem, and its holy sites, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But that sense of unity evaporated yesterday at the Arab quarter of the Old City and the depressed enclaves flanking its eastern reaches, where black flags flew on a day of grim endurance. For Arab residents, a party denoting two generations of Israeli rule came as so much salt in their wounds.
Nothing like consistency, right? Incidentally, anyone familiar with Irish history might recall these delightful cross-cultural encounters. But of course, that can't be right, because the Israelis hate the British, and so of course they'd never act like them. My bad.

Say what?

Lazer... no. Just... no.
Scenario #2 - the EU wants to use Nato and the war as a pretext to invading Israel, according to Professor Emanuel Winston and in line with everything that's been said in recent weeks on Emuna News. The State Department never wanted a Jewish state, and would be tacitly tickled to support such a move. That's what's behind Bush's warning to Israel to "protect the Lebanese government". He, Rice, and the State Department are as loyal to Israel as a trio of rattlers. The EU are even worse. (A tip of the hat to my friend Attorney Paul Weiss in Texas).
Furthermore... what?

Let's think this one through, slowly.

Ok, now I know that some people out there don't buy the whole "transgender thing". That's fine, some people also don't believe in gays, or, say, gravity.

For the sake of this post, though, I'm going to assume that TGs are not mentally ill or making up gender identity disorder. As with gays and lesbians, it seems quite unlikely that so many people would "choose" to "fabricate" feeling so strongly that they are living in the wrong gender that they would be willing to undergo surgery, hormone therapy, not to mention scorn, discrimination and a host of other goodies from many people in society who are afraid and confused by them.

So, with this as the starting point, I give you some dude's misinformed rant.

There's a family in South Florida who has given their son permission to become a girl because "they are convinced that's the only way she'll be happy."

When he was two years Nicholas/Nicole Anderson (not his real name) allegedly told his mother Lauren "I want the fairy princess to come and make my penis into a vagina," he said.

Yeah. That sounds just like something a two year old would say. "Mom, I want a vagina!"

..."I would never want to force any person to be something they're not," says Tom Anderson, Nicole's father. "This is different from 'It's time to stop drinking chocolate milk from a baba' or taking away a blanket. This is the essence of the person."

A child learns what to be, what to say, how to act. If a little boy is allowed from an early age to wear heels and makeup and dresses is it really that much of a surprise that he/she might be conflicted about their identity? Obviously, these parents while going through the 'phases' described above, failed to properly explain the differences between boys and girls. Mrs. Anderson believes 'there's no reason to say no to a phase.' I disagree. This is child abuse.

Sounds to me like the Andersons simply wanted another daughter.

..."Told of the Andersons and their plans to enroll Nicole in school as a girl, Zucker says he's concerned that the Andersons have been swayed by an activist transsexual agenda and are ignoring the possibility that Nicole might simply be a troubled child.

Yeah, it's a possibility, but it's also a possibility that the kid is transgendered, knows it, and trusts his/her parents enough to tell them about it. If one accepts the claim that transgendered people exists, it seems perfectly reasonable that some children might know that they're TG at an early age. Plenty of gays and lesbians have mentioned over the years that they "always" knew they were different. Presumably being born into the wrong gender is something you'd notice early on, no?

And I also like how this lame-o concludes that the parents trying to listen (and yes, possibly indulge) their kid means that they must have screwed up when explaining "girls and boys are different". Please, teach me your telepathy secrets, master.

Now, is it a good idea to let your kid do whatever they want? No. But it's important to listen to your kids, too. It's possible the kid is indeed sick, but also possible that he/she is actually transgendered. Child abuse is beating your kid with a chain. Child abuse is breast-feeding them through third grade. Letting them dress themselves might be a lot of things, but even on its worst day, it's not child abuse. I believe Gender Identity Disorder exists, and from my POV, these parents aren't abusing their kid; they're doing the equivalent of paying attention to your child when they tell you that running hurts their lungs, or that eating grandma's food gives them hives. Man, if only I had been as lucky as this Kent guy's ideal parents- I wouldn't have glasses, would be gorging myself on chocolate milk and ice cream (paying for it with severe cramps and diarrhea, but whatever), and wouldn't know I had half a dozen undiagnosed learning disabilities.

Actually listening to your kids? God forbid.

Sultan Knish on the final showdown

The esteemed Sultan has an interesting perspective on the whole situation. Needless to say, I disagree pretty strongly, but it's not a bad read and is fairly thought-provoking in areas.

The United States and Europe [demand Israel turn over land to a terrorist regime] not merely out of Anti-Semitism, though that is undoubtedly a factor particularly in Europe. They do this because they believe it will pacify the Arabs. This is the refrain and has been the refrain in collumns, in publications, by politicians and diplomats all in one voice proclaiming that the extremism, the terrorism and the hostility towards America and Europe would die down if Israel didn't exist. Never mind the absurdity of this belief, it is premised on a colonialist vision of the world in which the Arabs can be pacified by feeding them a little Israel.

Conflating the US and Europe is already starting off on the wrong foot, particularly given that, regardless of how dis/favorably one views its assistance, the US is generally acknowledged to be Israel's strongest ally. There is certainly something of a colonial element in presuming that giving someone part of what they want is enough to "buy them off", but this is also a basic tenet of diplomacy and any negotiation: compromise. Furthermore, proposing that the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel MIGHT mollify pragmatic Palestinians is hardly the same thing as saying that Arabs or Muslims hate the US and Europe because of Israel. It's also unfair to present the US and all European govts. as agreeing with the "Israel causes the world's problems" sentiment. Certainly Bush doesn't seem to think so. Newspaper op-eds and the odd diplomat rant do not official policy make.

It has never worked and it will never work. But that too doesn't matter. What does matter is this, independence. A final end to colonialism. While the British flag went down in Israel long ago, other flags have always risen in its place. The French flag, the American, even the Russian. Israel and most of the world's Jews believe that Israel needs a friend, a big brother, a protector to survive.

Most countries do, particularly when surrounded by hostile neighbors. Israel's founding generation understood this quite well, which was why it courted public opinion, instead of taking a piss on it.

They forget that the true protector is in heaven and that the big countries we ally with become nothing more than crutches that break under us.

Funny, Israel seemed to be quite happy to have the military aid of "big countries" in all of its wars. I wonder how well it would have fared in 1948 without guns from France or Czechoslovakia, or from America in 1967. And I don't see you suggesting that it should stop using- or asking for- American military or economic aid. I wonder how 1948 would have gone if Ben-Gurion had stuck with a locally-printed Chumash instead of a Sten gun?

Colonialism will not end and independence will not be achieved until the psychological cycle of dependency is finally broken.

This is true enough, though dependency does not automatically equal colonialism. Many of the world's top countries, including America, are dependant on other countries in some capacity. Is America an OPEC colony because it is dependant on it for oil?

...
The illusion Israel faces today is the belief that it can satisfy the demands of the world and still survive. That there is some way out that will satisfy the Palestinian arabs with enough land and thus satisfy the world and still live on in security. There is no such way. There never was.

The Arab desire from the beginning has been the destruction of the land of Israel and the creation of Arab states on that land to redeem their honor. There has never been a different agenda on the table. They are willing to fight for that and die for it and if things go on as they are now, they will succeed. There will not be an Israel, there will be only millions more dead Jews and a stream of refugees seeking shelter around the world.

This is the really interesting part. I agree that as long as the primary Palestinian goal remains maximalist (and, to a certain degree, genocidal), attempts to placate them with territorial give-aways will be unsuccessful, even dangerous. However, it does not follow that this goal is permanent and unchangeable. The creation of a viable pragmatic Palestinian faction would be a condition under which I would say a program of coexistance and two-states would become much more promising. Some would argue that Fatah under Arafat met this description, though this seems overly simplistic, at best. It would be more accurate to say that Fatah included some of the pragmatists, though they certainly don't seem to have been in the overwhelming majority. Indeed, the more that Fatah seemed to move towards endorsing some sort of co-existence (again, the degree is highly debateable), the less power it seemed to exert. Abbas seems to be on his way to becoming the Hamid Karzai of Palestine, the President of his House, essentially.

Some will continue to label this paranoid or far fetched but what is happening now are the early stages of that very process, the anhiliation of Israel and the majority of the Jewish people who now reside there.

Just because Hamas and Hezbollah have that goal does not mean that this is actually what is happening.

They may point to Israel's technological and military superiority but like any strategic tool, they only matter when the nation's leaders are prepeared to use them. When you bomb empty buildings and airports, it may work as a bluff once or twice, but when you keep doing it, it becomes obvious that you're bluffing. The enemy's response to your bluff will then be to call your bluff by escalating further.

True enough, though I remain unconvinced that Olmert, et al, would be willing to bluff themselves into nonexistence. Their lives, political and otherwise, depend on their ability to act otherwise.

...As the Arabs increase their demands, the world follows suit. If Israel retreats from the West Banks, the Arabs will demand the Galilee and soon the Negev. Then they will demand Haifa and any part of Israel with a sizeable Arab population. At no point will the world say enough is enough.


Which is why Israel has to listen to its friends and internal advisors and then IT has to decide what to do for itself. Having the leadership of a country ignore its citizens OR allies at a time of crisis can lead nowhere good. That said, the implication that the Disengagement started an endless slippery slope is ridiculous. Sharon never said he would give away the farm. Israel can stop or start withdrawls anytime it wants; it has all the cards.

...The awfull question of the moment is whether Israel really wants to survive and is willing to do what it takes. The first step is a declaration of independence. Independence from the world's demands, from the road map and oslo, from American and European pressure and money. There will be consenquences of course but there are consenquences already. Boycotts by Churches and Universities are being planned and implemented regardless of what Israel does. They will spread regardless of what Israel does. Israel will not survive by the favor of the world but by taking its fate into its own hands.

And if it takes its fate into its own hands AGAINST the rest of the world? How well will that work out? Israel should not sacrifice its own security for the sake of staying friendly, but neither should it be so eager to make itself into a total pariah state.

...
Peace has been tried. Co-existance has been tried. Every effort has been made to appease the Arabs and the world short of steps that would outright anhiliate Israel.

Demonstrably untrue. Arafat did not live up to his agreements, but Israel has dragged its feet quite strongly as well. Settlements kept being built throughout the Oslo years, for one thing. Israel has always approached the Palestinian situation from the perspective of, "how much can we get away with?" That's hardly unusual or unexpected, but it's also quite different from saying Israel has always had nothing but the best of intentions, or has implemented them.

Cold peace treaties were signed with the Arabs and kept only after it was clear to the Arab side that further conflict was futile. No such ray of light has penetrated the Palestinian Arabs or the Shiite terrorists in Lebanon or the Iranian government. We are approaching a conflict, whether we want one or not.

Agreed.

...Oslo began the road to this war. It will no longer be a war against outside enemies but against internal ones as well. If Israel is to survive, a Palestinian state cannot exist within or near its borders. Nor can there be any sizeable numbers of Arabs within Israel driven by a hostile intent towards the country.

Oslo and Madrid can only be treated as experiments that failed. All 1967 territories must be annexed to Israel. All Arabs inside them have a choice of taking on Israeli citizenship and swearing allegiance or leaving. The same choice has to be offered to Arabs in Israel as well... the world is a big place and Israel is a very small one. Too small to house millions of sworn enemies bent on its destruction.

This will result in collective global outrage even though half the UN has done similar things with far less cause... Countries have regularly drawn and redrawn their borders and expelled foreign populations. In fact Kuwait and Iraq expelled their own Palestinians after the two Iraqi wars. Israel should be no different.

But it is, and you know it. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, it is, and if Israel intends to finally "solve" the conflict through the deportation option, it has to be prepared to be treated as a pariah state for a fairly long time.

Some, such as Sultan Knish, might say that the trade-off is worth it. I'm not so sure, particularly when some of Israel's hostile neighbors might well take advantage of a lull in Israel's popularity among its allies and neutrals. (To say nothing of whether it is right to punish a whole generation of Palestinian children for their parents' political decisions.)

Some thoughts on the Disengagement

Disengagement: I still think it was ultimately a good (or at least necessary) thing, if for no other reason than I think Israel will ultimately have to be more inside the Green Line than over it, and it's going to have to happen eventually. (This was, incidentally, the same rationale Sharon used in the working draft of the plan- "In any future final status arrangement ,there will be no Israeli settlement activity in the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, it is clear that there will be areas in Judea and Samaria that will be part of the State of Israel, and there will be civilian communities, security zones and other places in which Israel has further interest inside those areas.")

It also demonstrated that a sizeable portion of Israel is willing to suffer internal divisions and soul-searching relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict which is good for both themselves and other people (world opinion, Palestinians) to see and know. If nothing else, it got Israelis to pay attention to the existential issues of Israel again. Whether they liked it or not, people had to start thinking about what their values and beliefs actually were, and choose sides.

That said, I can think of at least several reasons why the Disengagement has not stopped all the crap coming out of Gaza, though. Most importantly, Israel didn't do it as part of an agreement, it just unilaterally decided to pull out and leave. All the discussion (such as it was) took place within Israel, not with the Palestinians. Yes, the argument can be made that there was no one to talk to (or, more accurately, no one that really mattered politcally), but I think that Israel's determination to create "more facts on the ground" by themselves, and expecting to be thanked and rewarded by a grateful Palestinian populace, was naive, if not outright delusional. I supported the Disengagement, but I didn't expect it to end the terrorism problem, and certainly not if done in the context of some sort of agreement. A lot of lefty-Laborites, Meretz and Yachad people were saying similar things- they supported Sharon in principle, not in the details. Not unlike the fence.

More to the point, though, not even Sharon expected leaving Gaza to solve the Palestinian problem. He deliberately avoided describing it in those terms. Israel got out of Gaza for it's own sake, so it wouldn't have to deal with occupying it anymore. Anything else (and there weren't a lot of expectations regarding this, at least not from the govt.) was gravy.

Now, the question can be asked, did the Disengagement work? Did it accomplish its goal? I think that has to depend on how one is defining the Disengagement's goals. Was its purpose to throw the Palestinians a bone? Was it to prove its willingness to give up territory to the West? Was it to help it consolidate security? Was it to be able to wash its hands of responsibility for the Gazans, while simultaneously ostracizing it militarily and strategically? (I.e., now that Gaza is "not really" under occupation, Israel can go after the Pal. govt. there as if it was a sovereign nation, in effect engaging in warfare with a mini-state, as opposed to the West Bank, which has no real sovereign borders and where all Israeli activity falls into the murky category of being a military/police action.)

The Disengagement, as it was presented and conceived, did not expect, or promise, the peace to end all peace. It was explicitly about maintaining the status quo and avoiding the Palestinian issues. It really isn't all that surprising that things are where they are. The Hamas victory in the polls shows the mentality of a plurality of Palestinians, and Sharon's Disengagement did nothing to challenge the perception of the pull-out as handing a victory to Hamas. The responsibility for that perception has to be split between the Israelis and the Palestinians. While there were a number of reasons for Israel to want to keep the Disengagement an internal matter- not the least the fact that public sentiment opposing it would have risen dramatically had there been active and visible cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian military in evacuating settlements- this also came with a price tag. Saying, "this changes nothing between us the Palestinians" and effectively ignoring them while quitting Gaza essentially gave the Palestinians carte blanche to take Sharon at his word- the Disengagement had nothing to do with Palestinian-Israeli cooperation, and little to do with Israeli interest in a final-status peace agreement, and everything to do with the Israeli govt. wanting to rid itself of what it saw as an extremely unpleasant liability. It's no surprise that Hamas is taking this and running with it. Sharon's own letters to Bush barely mention the Palestinians, half-heartedly adding that one of the Disengagement's goals is to "reduce friction". That's technically true, insofar as the Gazans would no longer have to deal with the settlers or army in their midst. However, aside from that, the Gazans weren't being offered much by the Israelis in terms of benefits. Note: I am not saying Israel SHOULD have offered them more, just saying that people shouldn't be surprised or indignant that the Palestinians didn't hug and kiss Sharon for leaving. The fact of the matter is, he wasn't doing them that big a favor, particularly from the maximalist, "the whole damn country is ours anyway" Hamas position.

So was the Disengagement a mistake? That depends. Was the goal to get out of Gaza for its own sake, or was it to try and start a process? I think in the long run Israel benefits from not being there (certainly not having civilians there), but I do think that anyone (myself included) who expected things to dramatically improve in the short term when neither side was talking to the other was being over-optimistic, to say the least. Both sides said nothing had changed. We should have believed them. In the best of situations (like no Hamas govt.), Gaza could have started a process- but the mutual decision to ignore each other basically eliminated this possibility (which was quite remote from the begining).

This doesn't necessarily mean that Israel shouldn't have gone through with the Disengagement, but it definitely explains why assumptions that it would lead to some dramatic breakthrough were misguided, at best. Israel didn't do this for peace with the Palestinians, it did it because it couldn't think of anything better to do in the situation. That might indicate some mistakes and failings of Sharon's government and ideology, but I think it's probably the most accurate explanation. Sharon knew things would get worse before they got better, and knowing that he still chose Disengagement. Either he was an overt advocate of national suicide, or he had done some cost-benefit analysis and decided that in the long run, even if it resulted in Israel looking weak among Hamas or led to increased antagonisms, that Israel had to start thinking about getting out of the territories. If nothing else, Sharon accomplished that goal (though it seems highly unlikely Olmert will actually accomplish the Convergence plan at this rate). Agree or disagree with Kadima's plan, at least Sharon got the country- and the world- talking about the important issues again.

Edit: JoeSettler makes a damning point relating to one of the things I said:
the Left are now trying to excuse themselves from any and all recriminations that they so whole-heartedly deserve.

Their new claim is that they all knew that war (or unquiet at least) would happen (sic), but you have to understand that continuously running away and hurting our own civilians and hiding behind an imaginary wall would place us in a better position to fight back.

(Well, if they believed it might bring war or “unquiet”, then why didn’t they prepare for it and why didn’t they react against it at any point before it became totally inexcusable?)

Sadly, I must agree. Anyone with their eyes open (and this doesn't necessarily include myself) had to have known Hamas was going to take this as an invitation, and the new govt. should have been preparing for this. In this regard, Kadima and its cabinet do bear a pretty large responsibility (Peretz in particular as Defense Minister).

Israel-Lebanon shitstorm part deux: the revenge

The New York Times on the evolving situation, courtesy of DovBear.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Getting serious in Israel

Ze'ev Schiff from Ha'aretz on why Lebanon attacking Israel is actually kind of a big deal.

Recap for those not in the know.

Needless to say, this is not the time to be fucking with Israel.

The biggest problem with this, though, is that Israel is basically lashing out blindly, as it so often has a tendency to do. Bombing random spots in Lebanon only gives Hezbollah more popularity among the people. Blaming the Lebanese government for not stopping them is equally absurd, not unlike bombing Arafat's office for not stopping Hamas. The Lebanese can't control Hezbollah any more than Abu Mazen can control the Palestinian militias.

That said, I agree that some response is needed, because Hezbollah is obviously exploiting the situation for its own purposes. The Israelis probably figure that if they don't start hitting back hard, this will become a total free-for-all. However, blanket bombings of the Beirut airport and invasions of Lebanon are not the way to go, particularly when there's no exit strategy. Of course the real backers of Hezbollah (and Hamas, if we're going to be sticklers for details) are Iran and Syria, but a four-front war with no clear-cut goals or exit strategy probably doesn't sound all that appealing to Olmert at the moment.

For those keeping score: since Shalit's kidnapping, 64 Palestinians and 1 Israeli dead in Gaza, 22 dead in Lebanon, and 29 Israelis injured from rocket attacks.

On the plus side: How good it is when brothers sit together.
Following the meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened a further session to discuss Israel's response, summoning Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. The group as comprised is authorized to make operational decisions.

Knesset opposition chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) was en route Wednesday night to a meeting with Olmert.

...
The National Union-National Religious Party announced Wednesday it would join a national emergency government with no preconditions and without receiving cabinet portfolios.

The leaders of the two parties said that as long as the security situation continues, they would support the government from outside. MK Avigdor Lieberman said: "In times like these there is no opposition and no coalition, we are one people, committed to restoring security for
Israel's citizens."

Nice words. But the follow-up is all-too predictable.
MK Effi Eitam (NU-NRP) called on Peretz to resign.
Oh, Effi. You so craz-ee.

And, in a slightly lighter vein, Psycho LeDouchebag finally gets what's coming to him in France.

N.B.

After a valiant battle with my stat-counter, I have successfully managed to keep it from counting me when I visit myself.

I predict this will rapidly decrease my page count. Oh well, better honest than not. (There goes my career in politics.)

Lazer redeems himself, sort-of.

Lazer Brody has a post condemning posters telling people to attack gays in Jerusalem.

It's time to make something crystal clear: Every Jew is my brother or sister. A person doesn't lift a finger against a brother or sister; on the contrary, the Torah commands us to come to the aid of a fellow Jew. Do you know what that means? If thugs would attack a gay Jew, religious law requires me to do everything in my power to come to that Jew's assistance. An erring brother is still a brother. But, if that gay brother wants to flaunt evil in public and make a mockery of Jerusalem's holiness, then I must try my best to stop him.

There's no contradiction between loving a fellow Jew and fighting against his or her anti-Torah ideology, such as the way we fight against assimilation, abortion, and the like.
Yasher Koach, Lazer, but this seems to be somewhat in contradiction with your earlier talk with the King of the Autistics.

Ben: Everything is important, but first - modesty and family purity. The opposite is the biggest threat to Am Yisroel today.

LB: How so?

Ben: The Gay Parade planned for Yerushalayim. This is the real reason I'm allowed to speak, because the evil has become so great and so brazen that Hashem has to allow a small revelation from the pure side. If this tragedy is allowed to take place, and if those people - the lowest and most dangerous order of Amalekites - are allowed to reach the Wall, then no army will be able to prevent the disaster that awaits Am Yisroel, heaven forbid.

So the gays represent the greatest threat to the people of Israel at the present moment- bigger than any potential harm that Iran or Hamas could do. Should they be allowed to march in Jerusalem, it will cause a major disaster. They are also called Amalekites, some of the most hated people in the history of the Jewish people, a nation that the Jews are COMMANDED to exterminate from the earth.

And yet you say you would protect them from attackers?

Sorry, Lazer, I don't get it. Either these guys are Amalekites worthy of death ("Ben's" words, not mine, and supposedly not yours), or they're fellow Jews to be protected. You can't have it both ways. Stop hiding behind mealy-mouthed pseudo-statements by autistic would-be prophets that you sort of kinda-endorse depending on the color of your mood-stone and how your aura is that day and stand by your damn opinion, whatever the hell it is. Gays: an evil threat that could destroy Jerusalem and therefore must be opposed in whatever way possible, or misguided Jews that need to be doused with used diapers in one hand and brought closer to the Torah with the other?

Pick a side, Lazer, so I can hammer you with it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"The Ironing is Delicious"

Looks like ol' Rav "I made an amulet out of clay" Yosef has gotten himself into an interesting political bind. Maybe more Torah study would help.

A quick Israel news roundup:

- Israel is pissed at Poland's new Education Minister because his party is accused of anti-Semitism. The Israelis are dealing with it by refusing to meet with the dude. Yeah, because I'm sure not having to talk with a bunch of pushy, big-nosed Jews is really going to make this guy sad and re-think his position.

- Jerusalem's Haredi mayor accuses secular Israelis of "racism" against Haredim, demonstrating once again the kind of superior education provided by the best yeshivas secular Israelis can buy.

- Kadima MKs are getting nervous over the Gaza shitstorm and are starting to rethink pulling out of the West Bank. Much as I hate to admit it, there's a germ of a good idea here. Then again, even the left-wingers like Beilin were against unilateral withdrawl from Gaza. It seems like the "no partner, let's just build a wall" idea maybe isn't all it's cracked up to be. Unfortunately, the "let's talk it out" argument doesn't seem terribly strong at the moment, either. (Then again, Hanineh keeps making waves about a 100-year hudna...) I'm starting to think the late Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg had it right.

He simply claims that the divisions between the militant Palestinians and Israelis are so intractable that it will take generations to arrive at a full settlement.

...Hertzberg maintains that reasonable plans such as a two-state solution, territorial concessions, a divided Jerusalem and no right of return put forward by moderates on both sides of the conflict won’t lead to a negotiated solution. This is because the Palestinians can’t control the militant factions that are unwilling to accept the existence of Israel, forcing Israel to control the extremists itself. “We are being treated to some more of ‘the theater of the peace process,’ that is, talk of peace without the slightest hope of attaining it,”

- On the other hand, from Ha'aretz.

- Lastly, Arutz Sheva grossly distorts an already disturbing-enough comment from an Arab MK, turning the story from an important issue of political loyalty and moral responsibility into an absurd, xenophobic, , "let's tar and feather those damn A-rabs" turd-on-a-plate. Congrats, guys. Hey, why not organize a mob? That worked pretty well last time an Arab MK pissed you off. (Confirmed here.)

Some analysis on this last one, along with some post-Disengagement, pre-Convergance musings tomorrow. Later this week, I might abuse treat my small but loyal following to my first D'var Torah (Torah talk), which is presently being written in the confines of my extremely attractive skull.

Oh, and 10 cool-points to whoever can identify the title quote without use of der Google.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dissecting Superman

This is even funnier after reading this. Or maybe vice-versa.

Later, it emerged that there was one other city of Krypton that had survived. Years before the planet's explosion, a space criminal named Brainiac used a patented shrink ray on the former capitol city of Kandor. Shrunk to the size of a chess board along with its inhabitants, it was placed inside a bottle suspiciously like those used in water coolers. Years later, Superman liberated Kandor from Brainiac but could not solve the problem of permanently restoring the city and its population to normal size.

But Brainiac wanted that square foot of real estate back. So Superman kept Kandor safe at his fortress of solitude and he and Supergirl would, on occasion, use a temporary shrink ray to enter the bottle city.

This entire situation can be viewed as extremely Jewish. All of a sudden -- like American Jews -- Superman and Supergirl had a small homeland that they felt was dependent on them for its protection from those who held it for a while and wanted to regain it from the original and rightful owners. It was a miraculous, thriving remnant of a once-great culture, and the two could visit ancient archeological sites and the remains of their ancestral homeland, speak their ancestral language, be called by their real (Kryptonian) names, track down distant relatives and friends of their parents and even meet the occasional potential marriage partner of 'a similar background.'

Not unlike a summer program in Israel.


Oh, Aish. Grasping at straws since... what year is it?