Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cleaning out the Tabs

Some things that have been rattling around in my browser for a while:

- Jimmy Carter meeting Hamas. Sounds like a good idea in far-off, theoretical principle-land to me (if anyone could put a good face on the US vis-a-vis Hamas it would be Carter), except that Hamas doesn't strike me as being interested in becoming buddy-buddy, making the whole scenario rather pointless. Carter is supremely well-meaning, but I don't think he's very relevant anymore. (On the other hand, saying he should be stripped off his security detail seems rather childish; I might as well start asking why MY tax dollars have to pay for Bill Clinton to give a speech at a college campus or G.H. Bush to play golf? They're former Presidents, part of the contract is getting Secret Service guys. If you don't like it, change it.)

- An Israeli Rabbinical Court is hearing the divorce case of a couple from French Guadelupe. I'm not sure what to make of this.

- Secular Israelis launch a counter-boycott to the Haredim's actual boycott. This is awesome. Hat-tip Failed Messiah, whose commentary is also good and insightful. Also this from Haaretz, who points out that this isn't as much about Sabbath observance as it is economics. There's some sneaky stuff going on here.

- An oldy but awful: this conservative activist is oh-so, super-totally outraged and shocked at an ad she saw for Puppetry of the Penis in her newspaper. More hilarious than her paranoid accusations that this was deliberately timed to coincide with Easter are her tangled arguments for why this should merit a boycott of the local paper:

"It is apparently no longer safe to even open the local paper at home. The moral squalor in our culture worsens because few are prepared to take a public stand and risk abuse for doing so. We're going to take a stand," she said.

She described the ad as "homo-erotic" and condemned its apparent "mocking of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ," especially on such a day as Good Friday.

"It's clearly not what you would expect for a big city newspaper," she told WND. "You'd expect this in a seedy, fringe newspaper found in a coffee shop."

Damn you, coffee! First caffeine addiction, then adding "venti" to our national vocabulary, and now this! Forget the newspaper, let's just burn down all the coffee shops. Trickle-down outrage. I'm sure it will work.

- WND reenacts that cool Join or Die Ben Franklin cartoon on its website as it quibbles over who's more entitled to teach the Bible in public schools. An Alabama State senator is pissy because the Bible Literacy Project has some liberal people on its editorial board and may incorporate some Hegel, "an occultist whose philosophy laid the foundation for communist brainwashing." He says we should all use Chuck Norris' Bible method instead. Then someone from the BLP responds, basically saying "nuh-uh- we're totally evangelical enough!" (On the actual issue of Bible classes in public schools, see here and here.)

- A Holocaust memorial about Nazi death trains is having trouble in Berlin. Which is bad, but calling the head of the state rail operating company "a Nazi who would have deported Jews himself" isn't the way to fix it.

- Speaking of Jews invoking Godwin's mighty law, something seems to have crawled up Ben Stein's rear and died. Then he made a movie about it. Spoiler Alert: Darwin Equals Hitler.

- A new Jewish peace lobby rears its head. (What happened to Brit Tzedek?)

- Roy Moore has his gigantic black judge's robe in a twist over two incidents he claims demonstrate how intolerant gays are. The first is where two lesbians in Alabama fought against a school board trying to prevent them from attending their prom as a couple. Moore's commentary is as loopy as ever:
Attorney Edmiston not only exhibited hypocrisy but also helped set a precedent for mandating acceptance of homosexuality in the public school system. Pushing aside the right of elected school officials to regulate school functions, the court summarily disregarded the rights of parents and other students who depend on school officials to maintain moral standards. Intent on normalizing deviant behavior, the courts have once again imposed an immoral standard upon an unwilling community.

Exactly what cause did the school have to regulate this couple? They showed up and danced, the only difference was one girl was in a dress, the other in a tux. Look out, Alabama might implode!

Roy is also mad about a photography studio in New Mexico that was sued and fined for refusing to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony. Roy says "New Mexico is in essence demanding that small-business owners be forced to work against their will." Apparently a lot of conservatives are mad about this one (check the comments for more). Which is funny, because it reminds me a lot of this case, which I'm sure they would have had no issue with.

- Last, the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was yesterday. My father's paternal line left Warsaw between 1909 and the 1920s, but there are many cousins who never got out, whose names we do not even know. I do not know if any of them were still there in 1943, if they were part of the fighters or not. But I take comfort in the fact that their neighbors, friends, landsmen, were among those who stood up and fought back. One of the crazy things about the Holocaust that I always have trouble remembering is that, for all its absorption into the public consciousness, for all the research into it by countless scholars, it still remains a very new event, relatively speaking. So it is perhaps not that surprising that there are still some historical debates going on about exactly who did what in the Warsaw Rising.

But an Israeli cloud of disagreement was hovering over the events. Joining the visit was former defense and foreign minister Moshe Arens, who has been dedicating a large part of his retirement to proving the part played by the Beitar revisionist movement in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Arens claims the official histories have written them out of the story. When asked about this, Peres chose to answer diplomatically, saying he honors all the fighters and victims.
I've read some of Arens' work. It looks solid, and Israeli history has often been very slanted towards the Labor party and their political predecessors. I look forward to the day when we will know about and honor all the heroes who fought-and-died- in the uprising, and all the others. Regardless of their politics.

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