Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Harvard's MESH Mush

Harvard has a site called MESH.


Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH) is a project of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. MESH is a community of scholars and practitioners who are interested in the formulation of U.S. strategic options for the Middle East.

In a post by one Robert O. Freedman, Avigdor Lieberman's policy vis a vis Israel's Arabs is discussed, inter alia.

I have a problem with these formulations:


Lieberman’s call for a transfer of territory inhabited by those Israeli Arabs who won’t pledge loyalty to Israel, to a new Palestinian state, in return for Israel maintaining some of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank.



Lieberman’s plan to deal with the Israeli Arabs, which some commentators both in Israel and abroad have called “racist,” involves giving the Israeli Arabs a choice. Either they can pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish State, or they can leave Israel—with their land. What Lieberman suggests is the transfer of Israeli Arab cities like Umm al-Fahm and towns in the Arab triangle in the Galilee, to a new Palestinian state, in return for Israel’s annexation of Jewish settlement areas on the West Bank such as Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion.



The outspoken Lieberman says aloud what many Jewish Israelis increasingly believe—that it is impossible for Jews and Arabs to live together in a single state.

All these are poorly written. They are convoluted and thereby misleading.

Lieberman, as far as I know, doesn't support transfer. People will stay where they live. The border will be redrawn. Israel didn't ask the agreement or permission of the Arabs who stayed in Israel in 1949 whether they wanted to be citizens. Does it have to ask their permission to place them in a "Palestine"? In fact, they could maybe even retain Israeli citizenship in some circumstances.

You can read his official presentation here. And in this interview.

I don't agree and you don't have to agree. But a proper presentation

Durn That Click Button

In the followup to that vicious Oliphant caricature, the New York Times regrets web technology:

Subject: Re: Oliphant Crosses Line Between Political Satire and Incitement to Hatred
From: publisher@nytimes.com
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 15:57:01 -0400

The offending cartoon by Oliphant was not and will not be published in The New York Times. It did not appear on our Web site either. What did appear there, by a long-standing contractual arrangement with a company called uclick.com, is an "Oliphant" button. This button on the cartoons page took people who clicked on it on March 25 to that cartoon, which is now relegated to the Oliphant archive.

Nobody at The Times, therefore, made any decision to "publish" the cartoon. But, though the click gets you to a uclick.com page, regrettably in this case, the banner on the page says "The New York Times .....Cartoons."

We are currently reviewing that arrangement.

Thank you for contacting The New York Times. We appreciate your readership -- and your taking the time to write.

Latest on Female Abuse in Gaza

BBC thinks that abuse gainst females in Gaza is a proper story.

I agree.

Gazan women face rise in abuse

Amongst the rubble of the Zeitoun area of northern Gaza, a group of women have gathered...This is no ordinary mothers' meeting. It has been organised by the Gaza Mental Health programme, which aims to help women here following Israel's military assault, as they try to bring up their families under Israel's continuing blockade.

The women talk openly about the misery they face - homelessness, the death of loved ones, whose photos they love to hand round, their children's trauma after the horrors they've seen.

But much harder for them discuss, the mental health workers say, is the abuse increasing numbers of Gaza women suffer at home.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women says there is anecdotal evidence that domestic violence - verbal, physical, sexual and psychological - has increased noticeably since Israel's recent bloody operation in Gaza and in general since Hamas took over sole control of the strip almost two years ago.

Hmm. They can't kill Israelis, so they take it out on their wives. It's a reverse of the left-wing criticism in Israel of the "occupation": soldiers who return from army reserve duty, act more violently against their wives.

Everyone is guilty and responsible except for the men themselves.

...Non-governmental organisations here are now trying to find ways to stop men in Gaza taking their frustration out on their families.

...Insharar is one of five sisters. She told us that her husband had lost everything, his job and his house. She said he could hardly bear to talk to anyone and was taking out his frustration on her and the children.

"But we forgive him," she said. "We know what's happened here and what he's going through."...

...Abu Fahdi is a former abuser, turned counsellor. "For us, the war really begins after the military war is over," he told me. "Here in Gaza men are supposed to be providers. The siege, the strikes, in one way or another they affect all households in Gaza - poverty, hunger, homelessness.

"Men are really frustrated. They sometimes take it out on their wives. She's in front of them every day."

But in Gaza, as in many eastern societies, there is nowhere for a woman to run.

...She [Eman] says he grabs her by her long hair and drags her around before hitting her. He is also violent with her three children, aged five, three and nine months. Baby Ahmad lies asleep in her arms as we sit talking in a small room at the women's clinic.

For Eman, the recent Israeli operation came as a relief. Her husband became regularly violent after losing his job. During Israel's recent three week operation, she and her sons sought refuge in UN schools. Her husband stayed at home. She said the boys wanted to stay at the UN even after Israel stopped bombing. They had food, which they don't always at home, she told me, and were far away from their violent father.

...When I asked her [Psychiatrist Suha Mousa] how open she found them to her clinic's message, she smiled.

"Some, yes. Some turn their backs," she says. "We will never eradicate domestic violence completely, but we can make progress".

...The day we arrived in Gaza, a young mother was stabbed to death by clan members after trouble with her husband. Human rights groups say the law in Gaza deals with cases like this far too leniently. They're generally considered a family affair.

The Opinion of Two Ladies

The Washington Post/Newsweek blog hosted Lara Friedman, director of policy and government relations for Americans for Peace Now and Hagit Ofran, director of Peace Now's Settlements Watch. The two are co-authors of the organization's periodic publication Settlements in Focus.

They published:
Draw the Line on Israel's Settlements

As I have pointed out previously, Lara was the political officer at the US Consulate-General here in Jerusalem a little over a decade ago.

Here are a few excerpts from their very critical piece on my home in Shiloh, and the home of my daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren in Ofra and many friends in many other Jewish communities - all a natural occurence when a Jew returns to his homeland:

...Conventional wisdom has held that serious Israeli action on settlements must be put off until a deal is ready to be signed. This is based on the logic that given the huge amount of political capital it will cost any Israeli government either to freeze settlements or to pursue peace, no Israeli government can do both at the same time. This logic has been advanced in Israel and in Washington since the time of Yitzhak Rabin, and has been largely accepted by every U.S. government since George H.W. Bush. [because it's true, not to speak of the fiscal capital required]

...these settlements' continued expansion directly undermines any chance of reaching a peace agreement...Why? Because it emboldens settlers and their advocates...Because settlement expansion further complicates the situation on the ground...Palestinians interpret these moves as indications that Israel is not serious about peace [and the Pals. have given us so much evidence about their sincerity and seriousness about peace? this is BS].

And we're "unnatural":

It means not buying arguments about settlements needing to expand to accommodate "natural growth," bearing in mind that growth in settlements is not "natural" in any way, but is the result of government policies designed to attract Israelis to settlements and keep them there.

And they admit: "settlements" are not a legal question:

The government of Israel has the power to freeze settlements completely. Whether it does so is strictly a question of political will, not legal authority.

When will these media outlets permit balance, so that other voices can be heard and read?

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Fractured Translation

This has been spotted in Jerusalem:-

The correct translation is:-

Careful, Trucks Crossing

Iaconis A Bit Iconoclast

Rosario A. Iaconis of Mineola, N.Y. who was or still is (in July 2008 he was identified as "Vice Chairman" of this organization) affiliated to The Italic Institute of America published the following letter in today's New York Times:

It has long been an article of faith among our more pragmatic foreign policy cognoscenti that the true third rail of American politics is the Israel-Palestine divide.

In addition to eschewing a knee-jerk allegiance to Aipac and questioning Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza, these elders of realpolitik have spoken out against the Jewish state’s creeping irredentism in the West Bank. And now they are urging President Obama to marshal his considerable negotiating skills on behalf of a viable two-state solution.

The time has come for Mr. Obama to shed his stridently pro-Israel rhetoric of 2008 and return to the notion of evenhanded diplomacy. Before the presidential campaign, he had expressed genuine concern for the plight of the Palestinians. What better way to mitigate their suffering than to declare his unswerving commitment to an independent, sovereign and geographically contiguous Palestinian state within one year?

Indeed, Mr. Obama should seize the opportunity afforded by the 10 signers of the “Bipartisan Statement on U.S. Middle East Peacemaking” and begin unity talks between Hamas and Fatah — under full American auspices.

Such a bold stroke would demonstrate American resolve, defang Islamic fundamentalists and provide Israel with a full-fledged partner for peace.

I wrote to him and declared:

a. your phrase "a knee-jerk allegiance to Aipac" is a bit knee-jerk itself.

b. you write of "Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza" but have you ever condemned the Hamas' brutal assault on Israel?

c. you write of "the Jewish state’s creeping irredentism in the West Bank" Judea and Samaria, as you surely know being it appears quite well-versed in the Bible being a Catholic, are very much Jewish territory.

d. no one will ever "defang Islamic fundamentalists" so as to "provide Israel with a full-fledged partner for peace".

If he replies, I'll surely let you know.

David Duke Does Farran

Well, well. David Duke dusts it up over the Roy Farran case.

After quoting from the UK Telegraph story, he makes some comments and I add my comments:

First of all, don’t let Mr. Rubowitz’s young age cloud the issue. Jews tend to be precocious, even at murder and terrorism. The Jewish Menendez brothers were 18 and 21 when they murdered their wealthy parents. Two famous Jewish psychopaths, Leopold and Loeb, were 18 and 19 when they murdered a fourteen year old boy in an attempt to commit the perfect crime.

One famous Zionist, Herschel Grynszpan, at the age of 17 gained world-wide notoriety when he assassinated a German embassy worker in Paris in 1938 in a political hate-crime murder. Grynszpan - by the way - was a Zionist just like Rubowitz. The Zionists were always a bloody, murdering lot - even to this day.

[I guess you say the same, with much more truth, about a lot of other peoples which would mean nothing. How many Jews killed Christians in pogroms, holocausts and general mayhem and how many Jews killed Christians would be an interesting question for Duke to answer. But the point is that (a) the British regime in Mandate Palestine had turned oppressive and after the May 1939 White Paper which, by the way, indirectly aided Hitler by keeping more Jews in Europe so he could kill them; (b) Farran was in the Police and the police just don't go around torturing and killing unarmed persons under 17 without prioper judicial procedure - and, refuse to divulge where the body is after six decades while denying you were involved; (c) and notice that "Grynszpan - by the way - was a Zionist". Yes, and his victim was a Nazi.]

England had occupied Palestine after taking it in World War One until 1948. Zionist Jews demanded that this real estate be handed over to them. Rather than wait for Jewish-owned newspapers and Jewish-controlled politicians in the West pulled the necessary strings to steal Palestine for them, some Jews began murdering British soldiers. The Jews were using tactics, which historians today would describe as “terrorism.” These Zionist Jews even blew up the King David Hotel, killing 91 people in a terrorist attack not equaled for decades.

[England "occupied" Palestine? Well, almost. It held it militarily until granted a Mandate status by the League of Nations for the purpose, by the way, of reconstituting the Jewish national home. Jews didn't demand but requested and pleaded for Gt. Britain to fulfill its international legal obligations - not restrict immigration, prohibit land purchases and muck things up. Oh, and that KDH operation? The Irgun blew up not a hotel with tourists inside but the offices of the Mandate Secretariat and the Army HQ, after telephoning through a warning of almost 30 minutes.]

The rules of war say that any combatant who does not wear a uniform can be executed as if he were a spy. Jewish terrorists in Palestine did not wear uniforms. Perhaps some British soldiers caught a young Yiddish terrorist and executed him.

[funny but his superiors didn't think so. they arrested him and put him on trial]

Curious how the Jews are trying to reopen this case. I guess they’ve run out of old Germans, Ukrainians and Latvians to accuse of war crimes. Now they’re biting the hand that fought for them in World War Two and accusing the British of atrocities in Palestine. Perhaps they see a new opportunity to extort reparations.

[not curious at all. if the bloody Brit had the guts enough to admit he killed the kid and simply informed the parents where he left the body, none of this would have been necessary. after all, if Duke had done something similar, we're all sure he would be crowing to the rafters]

Don’t expect the British to file any lawsuits or new investigations to find the Jewish murderers who killed Major Farran’s brother. Apparently murders and atrocities committed by Jews get swept under the rug. Meanwhile, any actions against Jews – even if they were justified at the time – will never be forgotten by the Jews and will be used to extort as much money as possible.

[the person who sent the bomb has given interviews (here, too) and now published his memoirs (in Hebrew), so, again, Duke is proving his ignorance.]

More Police Putziness

Following up on the police provocation last Thursday, I read this:

"The court has the full right to criticize any police operation," the source said, but noted that "Judea and Samaria suffers from public disorder problems. We don't have a lot of drugs, and we don't have a lot of rapes. Our job is to secure all of Judea and Samaria, for both Palestinians and Jews. We uphold the law."

Aw, gee. Not enough rape, not enough drugs to make police routine exciting. So they stir things up a bit.


Thanks To Islam, We're Going (Sort Of) Kosher

Is Halal a step in the direction of Kosher?

Seems they've banned pork at the G20 Banquet.

Jamie Oliver...The chef, whose recent TV series Jamie Saves Our Bacon saw him champion pig welfare, has removed pork from the menu of his six-course meal because it could offend Muslim guests.

Here's the experience of a Jay Lefkowitz:

While Shabbat was never an issue at the White House, the early winter schedule did prove a challenge. However, everyone, including the President, was respectful, even allowing Jay to reschedule meetings away from Saturdays. Likewise, when Lefkowitz visited the ranch in Crawford and the Bushes were having Mexican food for dinner, Mrs. Bush went out of her way to make sure that Jay's kosher diet was accommodated.

On another occasion, the U.S. Holocaust Museum was having a special Anne Frank exhibit and Mrs. Bush wanted to host a formal state dinner in the White House for board members of the museum. The guest list also included friends in the Jewish community and Jewish members of the staff. Lefkowitz describes:

"A few weeks before the dinner, the First Lady's Chief of Staff called me over to consult on the menu and specific dietary needs of the invitees. Of the 130 potential guests, there were between 10 and 20 who kept kosher and would need special meals. Mrs. Bush was adamant that no one would have to eat differently and be forced to open plastic wrap. So she asked for some recommendations of kosher caterers, had some tastings, and then hired a reliable kosher caterer for the event."

"As the event neared -- perhaps it was even the morning of -- I got a call from one of the White House Ushers: 'What about the State china? We always use it for dinners in the State Dining Room?" I explained that unfortunately that would invalidate all their efforts. So Mrs. Bush decided that the White House would use brand new china for the dinner. This was the first and only time in history that a formal dinner was held in the State Dining Room without using the White House china. And this month, President and Mrs. Bush are hosting their 8th annual kosher Chanukah party in the White house. Jay's daughter Talia was the first person to ever light the Chanukah candles there.

"I tried never to push my religious values, and I certainly never imposed them on anyone. I was playing a secular role, after all. But I am always conscious of the need to behave ethically and responsibly, and certainly all of my thoughts and actions are filtered through the lens of Torah and Jewish law."

(Kippah tip: Islam in Action)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why Was The MP Angry?

The main story:

Jacqui Smith’s husband apologised to the Home Secretary on the doorstep of the family's home today after claiming for two pornographic movies on her MP's expenses allowance – but stopped short of saying sorry to the taxpayer.

Ms Smith, who is already under investigation for her housing arrangements, revealed that she was “mortified and furious” after she was reimbursed for two 18-rated features, each costing £5, viewed on April 1 and April 6 last year.

Making a statement outside the couple's constituency home in Redditch, Richard Timney apologised to Ms Smith for the embarrassment caused to her, but conspicuously refused to say sorry to the public for misusing taxpayers' money.

“I am really sorry for any embarrassment I have caused Jacqui. I can fully understand why people might be angry and offended by this," he said.

The sub-story:

Ms Smith said that she had submitted the expenses claim mistakenly. A friend said that the Home Secretary knew there was no excuse for the error, but added: “To say she’s angry with her husband is an understatement. Jacqui was not there when these films were watched. She’s furious and mortified.”

Politicians are so, well, selfish? No, they're like us only worse.

Site Combatting Slander of IDF

Soldiers Speak Out

The Affect of the Temple Mount

Instead of being diminished though, the biblical stories--as G.K. Chesterton said of the Eucharist -- were made more mysterious by their visibility and absence of secrecy. The longer I spent there, the deeper my hunger grew: for biblical theology, true worship, and Christian community.

Approaching the Temple Mount, Rachel suddenly could not walk on the place where the Holy of Holies is said to dwell. In them, I saw glints of reverence I never had before.


A Prime Example of a 'Proud Israeli'. Just Kidding

Found at Helena Cobban's site:

Moshe Ma’oz is a veteran Israeli peacenik and a retired prof of Middle East Studies at Hebrew University...Ma’oz, to his credit, was happy to come over to the little hotel I was staying in...

...When Ma’oz walked in, he was pretty depressed, but he expressed it in his usual friendly and half-joking (maybe?) way:

Helena, I am so depressed! Do you think Denmark has room for six million Jews? There is no future for us here! … Honestly, I am ashamed to be an Israeli.

Why Denmark? There's Tuscany in Italy. And why there?

Amos Elon moved to Italy some five years ago.

And he explained the move to Ari Shavit:-

Did you leave Haaretz and move to Tuscany to write historical books because you were opposed to the occupation or because the whole Israeli experience became unbearable to you?

"This place continues to be interesting and fascinating. It's in my blood to this day. I get up in the morning in my home in Tuscany and listen to Israel Radio and then I read Haaretz. But my feeling was that I couldn't say anything here. Everything had already been said. And there's no true dialogue. There's no suitable political development. But of course it's true that it's impossible to live here without feeling some unease. And this unease grows the worse the situation gets. And it has truly been getting worse all these years."

Have you developed a feeling of alienation toward Israel?

"Not alienation. Disappointment. I have no common language with the people who are at the top in politics. I think they're wrong. Their style repulses me. And maybe there is alienation because I don't know them anymore. I'm not involved with them. I used to know everyone. I used to be intimately acquainted with them. And today it's a group that I don't know. And maybe there is alienation because of the sharp rightward shift in Israel. Toward the right and toward religion."

Do you find Israel to be barbaric, unenlightened, nationalistic?

"In Israel there's the `Gush Dan' state and the political state. The `Gush Dan' state is a state of live-and-let-live. Of tolerance. Of the desire for peace and a good life. But the political state, well, you know what it looks like."

What does it look like?

"It's partly quasi-fascist and partly religious with narrow horizons."


"Quasi-fascist in the sense that abstract principles of religion are dictating our fate without any democratic process. There are religious people here who believe they've put their finger on the very essence of being. They know everything. They're in direct contact with God."

You have some profound anti- religious sentiment

"I'm not being original when I say that religion that enters politics is dangerous. Such religious people would be better off behind bars and not in politics. Certainly."

Looking Over My Shoulder

That's Menachem Begin if you can't place the face - the one on the wall, that is.

A Simple Matter of Physics

It Beckons

Isn't The Israeli Oppression So Obvious?

Local Arab women enjoying a shopping excursion at the entrance to Jaffa Gate.

Occupation can be so depressing at times.

Norman, Noam, Tony, Tom, Et. Al. - This Is For You

(Kippah tip: RH)

Only in The Middle East

Can we get more ridiculous?

King Abdullah's dog dies in Israel

After falling seriously ill during IDF offensive in Gaza, Jordanian royal family's pet secretly rushed to Jewish state for medical treatment at Beit Dagan veterinary hospital. Doctors regretfully fail to save beloved pet's life

The Jordanian royal family's dog was secretly rushed to Israel for treatment in the midst of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.

Relations between the royal palace in Amman and the Beit Dagan veterinary hospital have been good for many years now.

The New Anti-Avigdor Lieberman Poster

A word of necessary explanation on the above play-on-word.

The poster reads: "Czar of Foreign Affairs".

The Hebrew word for Minister is שר which is pronounced Sar.

He Get's Life But No Virgins, I Think

A Pal. news agency reports (as only they could):-

An Israeli court in Jerusalem sentenced the head of the militant wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to life in prison.

Saed Abu Hnish, 29, was accused of planning a suicide attack at an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank that killed an Israeli woman and three of her children.

The court also ordered the Palestinian, who served as the head of the PFLP's Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, to pay 60 million shekels in compensation to the Israeli family residing in the illegal settlement of Itmar near Nablus.

Hnish was sentenced to life at the Ramon prison in the Israeli town of Nafha.

A spokesperson for defendant, who is from Beit Dajan in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an that Hnish holds a bachelor's in political science from An-Najah National University in Nablus.

The attack on the illegal settlement occurred on 20 June 2002, when a Palestinian stormed the area and hid in one of the houses before clashing with Israeli troops and settlers, which lead to the deaths of four Israelis. The Palestinian was killed, as well.

You noticed that he killed the civilians sort of, well, by accident it would seem.

Amazing that he did so. After all, instead of crashing into a civilian house, he could have invaded a police station or army camp.

The Odd Bunch of Photos

Artifical curling above, sort what she does a bit lower:

Ah, ain't that sweet

Okay, who got hit first?

That's so Jewish

Multi-faith/Interfaith/Nondenominational Minister

This, I think, is fairly unique:

...were married Saturday. The Rev. Leslie Harry Cohen, an interfaith minister, officiated at a nondenominational ceremony at the Plaza in New York.

A Cohen, who is a minister, an interfaith minister, conducting an nondenominational ceremony.

Why couldn't it be an interdenominational ceremony?

So, inquisitive, I searched about.

His site is here.

Did you know that he has two degrees from the seminary, (1) Minister of Spiritual Counseling (MSC) and (2) Minister of Divine Wisdom (MDW). And that he is also a practicing Psychotherapist (Cpt) and can incorporate spiritual counseling if so desired?

And if you asked which Seminary that was, I think this provides, sort of, the answer:

He's a Multi Faith minister who studied at the New Seminary, Reverend Leslie was ordained at the Cathedral of "St. John the Divine" in New York City.

So, is he Jewish? Left the faith, er, Jewish faith? Still in?

What gives?

And this:

Reverend Leslie has performed weddings in many religions, including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and combinations of each. Because Reverend Leslie acknowledges and honors all religions, faiths, practices and spirituality, the content of your wedding can be whatever you want it to be.

From strongly religious to strictly civil and anything in between
Ceremonies for interfaith couples
Spiritual ceremonies
Couples with no particular religious affiliation
Couples who choose to refrain from expressing religious beliefs.

Kind of hodge-podge mixup.

Well, anything goes.

The Israel Football League

I've mentioned several times, and uploaded clips, about my son playing in the Israel Football League, with full tackle.

Here's the site.

A Fun Run: From the NYT Wedding Section

I haven't been that consistent with my reflections on oddities, fun items and just plain good old stories from the New York Times' Wedding Section.

Here's one from today:

Dena Elyse Rosenberg, a daughter of Denise Rosenberg and Gary M. Rosenberg of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., was married Saturday evening to Thaddeus Marcus Verhoff, a son of Gwendolyn Z. Verhoff of Washington and Dennis F. Verhoff of Reva, Va. Rabbi Edward Schecter officiated at Guastavino’s, an event space in New York.

...The bride and bridegroom met over the Fourth of July weekend in 1996, when Ms. Rosenberg and a friend stayed in Washington as houseguests of Mr. Verhoff’s oldest friend. Ms. Rosenberg and Mr. Verhoff saw each other now and then over the years and even kissed five years later at a wedding. But they were seeing others and were in different cities.

In 2005, both were unattached when Mr. Verhoff contacted Ms. Rosenberg. That led to a date on New Year’s Eve, which eventually led to repeated train travel between New York and Washington.

Mr. Verhoff moved to New York in 2007, and by that summer he and Ms. Rosenberg had devised a list of joint goals: lose weight, get new jobs, and become engaged.

“We were taking a gut check,” Mr. Verhoff said. “ We had to step back and see what we were really talking about and make sure we were heading in the same direction.”

The year, however, ended without an engagement. When they both went to her grandmother’s bat mitzvah ceremony — something her grandmother had delayed until the age of 84 — their rabbi got into the act.

Mr. Verhoff recalled being taken aside by Rabbi Schecter, the same rabbi who led yesterday’s ceremony, who asked: “Are you just going to live together or get married?”

He reassured the rabbi by saying, “Things are in the works, don’t worry.’

A week later, during a run with Ms. Rosenberg in Central Park, he got down on one knee and proposed.

Totally off guard, Ms. Rosenberg agreed, told him to “shut up,” and then punched his shoulder, she remembered.

As they resumed their run, Ms. Rosenberg glanced in disbelief at the ring on her finger and giggled hysterically.

Nice going, Rabbi.

New York Times Editorial Gets Taken to the Wash

Well, as I pointed out, the New York Times' lack of logic was evident to a few other persons who wrote letters-to-the-editor:

To the Editor:

Why spend an entire editorial questioning Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to peace when a supposed “peace partner” on the Palestinian side is a terrorist organization with the stated goal of destroying Israel?

The question of how soon Israel’s next prime minister will remove the blockades and roadblocks erected in Gaza to stop the daily barrage of rockets into Israel seems less urgent than the question of when Palestinian leaders will stop calling for the destruction of Israel and end the rocket attacks.

Given Hamas’s stated goals and track record of devastating terrorism, any Israeli commitment to finding a peaceful solution is extraordinary and should be applauded, not critiqued.

A rebuke of Hamas’s unwillingness to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, let alone propose any peaceful resolution to the conflict, seems as much in order.

Jessica Weber
New Haven

To the Editor:

You assert criteria by which Benjamin Netanyahu, after becoming the Israeli prime minister, can be defined as being “serious about seeking peace.” Those criteria are the same cant that has been recycled for years and lack any creativity that might break the conflict out of its dead-end cycle.

One could view Mr. Netanyahu’s work to forge a broader coalition containing doves and hawks as the best evidence to date of his commitment to creative and pragmatic approaches to Israel’s challenges, which include seeking peace.

We do not know what Mr. Netanyahu will do and what might succeed. But perhaps at the dawn of a new Israeli government working with a new American administration, we should be open to new thinking about how to attack old problems.

Nathan J. Diament
Dir. of Public Policy, Union of Orthodox
Jewish Congregations of America

To the Editor:

The essential difference between Israeli leaders is not whether they do or do not want peace, but whether they believe that peace is attainable, that there is a true partner to make peace with.

Benjamin Netanyahu has been in the camp wary of the Palestinians. Recent history has demonstrated that the right wing in Israel has gotten it right.

It is the Palestinians who have not stepped forward as true partners in peace. It is ultimately not within the power of an Israeli leader, whoever he or she may be, to obtain peace until there is a Palestinian leader who has the desire — and the strength — to make peace with Israel.

Tom Rockland
West Hartford, Conn.

Here's what I would have sent:

Your editorial ("Being a Partner for Peace", Mar. 26) casts doubt on the capability of Israel's next Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, being able to act as a partner for peace, intimating that he built a "reputation as a hard-liner with deep misgivings about the very peace process he now claims to be willing to embrace".

Could it be perhaps that the current peace process is not the way to peace and should be un-embraced? Could Netanyahu's point be that the Oslo path is not the exclusive peace path and, to be a partner for peace, one should explore and push alternatives that could work better? Peace is the goal, not the process.

Provocative Police

First Part:

A Kfar Saba court harshly criticized police tactics in Thursday’s raid on the Meoz Esther outpost in Samaria and freed five activists who were arrested for violence. The police disguised themselves as Arabs, a “provocative” action that incited the residents into stoning them, Magistrates Court Judge David Gadol ruled...He agreed with the defendants' attorney’s argument that the police tactics were even more provocative in light of the murder of two policemen by Arab terrorists in the nearby Jordan Valley two weeks ago.

“The police put their lives in danger once again,” Judge Keidar stated, rejecting police officials' arguments that that the officers had taken into account the danger of being targeted for driving in a car with Arab license plates and dressing up as Arabs. The car stopped at the community's gate, prompting the Jewish residents to fear they were planning a terrorist attack.

Second Part:

Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council, called on the police to appoint a commission of inquiry following an incident which took place three days ago at the Havat Gilad community.

Six residents were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of hurling stones at Arab vehicles and attempting to run over a police officer. After their arrest, however, the residents claimed that it was an act of provocation by the police.

And even Ynet had to reveal the story:

Settlers urge police to probe outpost incident

Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union) said he planned to use his membership in the Knesset's temporary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in order to hold a special discussion on the matter.

The incident took place on Thursday afternoon, when six settlers were arrested on suspicion of hurling stones at Palestinian vehicles and attempting to run over police officer. After their arrest, however, settlers claimed that this was an act of provocation by the police.

The Kfar Saba Magistrate's Court released all the suspects and criticized the police, saying that the method of action used in the arrests put human life at risk.

According to the Shomron Regional Council head, "A vehicle carrying two Arabs, who may have been policemen disguised as Arabs, with a Palestinian license plate, infiltrated the Havat Gilad area and stood there with those people 'trying to fix a puncture in the car,' although all four wheels were intact and undamaged.

"This raised the suspicion of the farm's residents that this was an attempted terror attack like the one which took place in the Jordan Rift Valley," Mesika added, referring to a recent attack which left two police officers dead.

"After those two men responded to the questions with suspicious aggression and managed to reach the argument or conflict they sought to create, Special Patrol Unit officers who were hiding nearby emerged and attacked the residents with a great amount of violence and tear gas, including random people they ran across."

Therefore, Mesika stressed, a commission of inquiry must be appointed "and the incident must be thoroughly looked into.

...Yossi Dagan of the Homesh First organization strongly slammed the police, claiming that "the contemptible provocation by the Special Patrol Unit police officers proves once again that everything is permitted when trying to smear the residents of Judea and Samaria. Once again they proved that those who come to harm the settlement in the name of 'the rule of law' act as the biggest criminals.

"The question is why the police are forcefully trying to create a false pretence of violence in Havat Gilad, and what they wish to gain from this. The police officials who were behind this provocation must be dismissed. The police must compensate the residents of Havat Gilad who were badly beaten and arrested for nothing."

A Roy Farran Error

Tom Segev continues with Roy Farran revelations:

In this column last week I wrote about a member of the British counterterror unit, Roy Farran, who allegedly murdered a member of the pre-state Lehi underground militia, Alexander Rubowitz, in May 1947. It seems Farran did not concentrate exclusively on rightist terror organizations. Israeli attorney Mati Atzmon claimed this week that in late February 1948, Farran detained three Haganah members who were manning the Israeli position at Mandelbaum Gate next to Jerusalem's Old City. According to Atzmon, Farran handed over the Haganah members to an Arab mob that murdered them. The crew's commander, Shimon Nissani, was Atzmon's uncle.

Segev got taken in. Perhaps the fact that Lechi might get some positive PR blinded him to the dates.

It was impossible for Farran do be personally involved as Farran left Mandate Palestine in October 1947 never to return.

Perhaps friends of his were involved as we know that British AWOLs were busy blowing up the editorial office and print shop of the Palestine Post, the Jewish Agency building and a car bomb in Ben Yehudah Street, Jerusalem which killed over 50.

By the way, this does not appear in the Hebrew edition. Perhaps he caught his mistake but the English went out as is.

Roy Farran Case Continues

The Roy Farran story gets a boost:

The Sunday Telegraph

British war hero to be investigated again for murder of Jewish 'terrorist'
A private detective has been hired to investigate an alleged murder of a Jewish underground fighter in 1947 by a British major.

...But Major Farran's record of service after the war, when he was seconded to the British Section of the Palestine Police, cast a shadow over the rest of his life. He was implicated in the murder of Alexander Rubowitz, a 16-year-old member of the Jewish underground fighting British rule, who was kidnapped in Jerusalem in May 1947 - and was cleared at the time of any involvement in the Jewish teenager's death.

Now, however, his reputation is posthumously at risk again from a fresh investigation into the ugly incident, and friends fear that it may be tarnished for ever by the claim that Major Farran was the killer.

Steve Rambam, a private investigator from New York, has been hired by an unnamed Israeli living in America to reopen the case. He hopes to find Rubowitz's body, so that he can be given a proper burial, and discover more about who was responsible for the boy's murder.

He will soon visit Britain, where he hopes that five surviving members of the Palestine Police whom he has identified as members of the covert units might be willing to "clear their consciences" and reveal the burial place of their alleged victim. "There are people in the UK who have personal knowledge of the operations of these so-called 'snatch squads' because they were participants," Mr Rambam told The Sunday Telegraph.

"They would have been privy to who the local co-conspirators were, and all sorts of other good intelligence information that could lead us to where the body was concealed."

..."Roy Farran was a lifelong friend, and a murderer he was certainly not," said Mr Green, who now lives in the Cotswolds. "The whole thing was a put-up stunt. He was one of the most highly decorated officers. He was a legend among fighting men. Someone tried to pin something on him to provoke trouble out there."

He added: "I can think of many atrocities committed by Jewish terrorists." He recalled how many of his friends had been killed or badly injured, including one who was paralysed for life. Asked whether Major Farran had a violent temper, Mr Green said: "No, Roy was always very calm."

In October 1947, the entire investigation file was burned by the British authorities in Palestine. Mr Rambam believes this was an officially sanctioned cover-up. But copies of some documents had been already sent to London, where they were kept secret for almost 60 years until being disclosed in 2005.

...When he visits Britain, Mr Rambam hopes to meet surviving members of the so-called "Q" patrols, the secret counter-terrorism force charged with suppressing the Jewish underground.

His client wants to find Rubowitz's body so that the boy can finally be given a proper burial. The documents suggest his corpse was disposed of somewhere along the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.

...But Edward Horne, 87, who serves as President of the Palestine Police Old Comrades' Association, said: "It's not the way the British do things, we were not fighting the Gestapo. I was vehemently against the squads, the incident never should have happened."

and the Jewish Chronicle

SAS hero’s guilty secret

...Farran described some of their operations and claimed they were on the brink of a decisive success when he was framed. The Jews accused him of abducting and killing a teenager named Alexander Rubowitz. With bitterness he alleged that the British government was prepared to make him a scapegoat so he fled to Syria and was only persuaded to return by his old regimental commander. Farran absconded from detention a second time after he was formally charged with murder and gave himself up only after Lehi gunned down several British soldiers as a reprisal.

He was eventually acquitted after a remarkable trial in October 1947...What Farran did not reveal was that his barrister, William Fearnley-Whittingstall, got him off the hook thanks to some dubious manoeuvres. Fearnley-Whittingstall manipulated client-attorney privilege to prevent the prosecution submitting in evidence a potentially damning written statement Farran had made while in detention. The rules of a court martial also enabled Fergusson to decline to give evidence of what Farran had said to him about the incident lest he incriminate himself.

After the trial, Farran’s solicitor blackmailed the Palestine administration and police into destroying this crucial evidence. He threatened to expose the covert operations of the “special squads” unless every copy of Farran’s statement was burned. Even though the Rubowitz case was still open, the police felt forced to comply.

However, Farran’s lawyer overlooked crucial dispatches that were sent to the Colonial Office in London. These survived in the files unnoticed until they were recently released. They include the report of a statement by Bernard Fergusson that, on May 7 1947, the day after Rubowitz was abducted, Farran told him that his squad had seized the boy, whom they spotted distributing Lehi posters in a Jerusalem suburb. They had driven to a remote spot outside the city, where, in the course of “interrogation”, Farran struck the teenager on the head with a rock and killed him. The policemen had then mutilated the boy’s body, burned his clothes, and left the corpse in the desert.

The historian is always to some extent a detective, but it’s rare that scholarly research leads to the solution of an actual crime. Sadly, the proof that Roy Farran of Winged Dagger was a killer casts a pall over his glittering career.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not Spying, Intelligence-Gathering

Reuters reports:

U.S. diplomats assessed Jewish settlement activity at an Israeli-occupied district near Jerusalem on Friday, in a public signal of greater activism by the Obama administration in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, confirmed the visit took place "as part of our ongoing observation activities in the area," which Israel sees as a critical link between Jerusalem and the sprawling settlement of Maale Adumim.

Palestinians say building in what Israel calls E1, an area of occupied land between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, would deny them a viable state by cutting the West Bank in two and isolating Arab East Jerusalem, which they want as their capital.

An assessment of Israeli activities, prepared by the diplomats, will be sent to Washington.

The visit comes just days before Benjamin Netanyahu takes over as Israeli prime minister...

...Hagit Ofran of the Israeli Peace Now organization, which tracks settlement growth, said the Obama administration was concerned about future building plans under Netanyahu.

She said Friday's visit was "a signal to say to the new Israeli government that the Americans are interested in what's going on the ground and that they don't want to see the Israelis constructing in E1."

U.S. diplomats frequently visit East Jerusalem and the West Bank to monitor Israeli settlement building, but such visits are rarely public.

"We keep track of all developments in the West Bank and Jerusalem on an ongoing basis and report regularly to Washington," Schweitzer-Bluhm said.

Well, perhaps human rights groups from abroad should visit immigration detention centers, the fence near Mexico, Indian reservations?

Temple Mount, Tendler, Cont'd

You saw (here) the video clip of Rav Moshe Tendler on the Temple Mount.

The story is not over:

Clip of U.S. rabbi on Temple Mount reignites debate

A YouTube video released one week ago depicting a prominent American rabbi visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has sparked a new round of controversy about whether it is permitted for Jews to enter Judaism's holiest site, which is believed to have been the location of the Holy Temple.

...Within a week of the video's appearance it has been watched more than 7,000 times, prompting both approving comments and harsh criticism...At the American-Haredi news Web site Voz Iz Neias, which reported the posting of the clip, more than 110 readers commented on the film - some calling Tendler a "complete heretic" who is liable, according to Halacha, to karet, or premature death.

...The popular yeshiva head and Jewish medical ethics professor maintains that Jews have been visiting the site throughout history and that, if properly prepared, they can do so in accordance with Jewish law.

...Tendler also says his father-in-law knew about the practice and never opposed it. Yet, leading rabbinic authorities - including both Israeli chief rabbis - prohibit going up the Temple Mount as they rule that the exact location of the holiest parts of the former Temple is unknown and that it is forbidden to defile their holiness...Observant men who visit the Temple Mount immerse themselves in a ritual bath and abstain from sexual relations until they return from the site. They also avoid wearing leather shoes. Orthodox women follow yet more complex rules.

For much of Israel's religious establishment, however, these precautions are not sufficient.

"I firmly oppose those who ascend the Temple Mount, and so do all important rabbis and halachic authorities in Israel," Rabbi Schmuel Rabinowitz, who is in charge of the Western Wall, told Anglo File. "Not only are they possibly transgressing a Torah prohibition, those who see these actions learn from them and imitate them, without being careful about the necessary preparatory steps and will certainly transgress this prohibition."

Rabinowitz reject's Tendler's interpretation of Rabbi Feinstein's silence on the issue. "Had Rabbi Feinstein written that it is permitted, we would all go up. But he never did, and it is certainly forbidden. Rabbi Tendler is not in a position to decide otherwise."

Well, so what did Rabbi Moshe Feinstein write?


HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt'l on the Permissibilty of Jews Ascending the Temple Mount

The following excerpt is a halachic response written by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt'l, considered by world Jewry as a gadol hador - that is, among the outstanding halachic (Jewish legal) authorities of his generation. The direct question he is relating to is not whether it is permissible halachically for Jews to enter the Temple Mount. However, in the course of his response he finds it necessary to address the issue of Jews ascending to the Temple Mount. It becomes clear by Rabbi Feinstein's words that he held that areas on the Temple Mount situated outside of the Temple courtyard boundaries are absolutely permissible for entry by Jews, after having first immersed in a mikve.

The excerpt below has been translated by Rabbi Chaim Richman. Bracketed words were added by Rabbi Richman for the purpose of helping to convey Rabbi Feinsteins's thoughts, which, in the Hebrew original, are expressed in the terse legalistic style typical of halachic literature. Bolded words represent aspects of Rabbi Feinstein's responsa most relevant to the subject of Jews entering the Temple Mount.

The original, untouched Hebrew text appears directly below the English translation.


"Concerning that which you answered"

Now concerning that which you answered regarding the question raised in the book Omer HaShik'ha, regarding the fact that in both the Tur and Shulchan Aruch there is no mention of a law stating that in our time, it is forbidden to spit on the Temple Mount:

[You offered as a possible answer] that in any event, such a case is only hypothetical because such a possibility could never occur since it is forbidden for tamei meitim (those rendered impure by exposure to death) to enter into the area of the Temple Mount, and [after all] we are all in that category today [and this would be the reason that the aforementioned codes of law did not mention this principle - namely, because it has no practical bearing] -

But observe, there is a place on the Temple Mount where entry for tamei meitim is permissible, even according to [the stricter] rabbinical ordinance - that is, up to the cheil, which lay within the soreg. Now, as far as that which the Rambam cites (Hilchot Beit HaBechira, Ch. 5,3) that the soreg encompassed all around, it is possible that the cheil was also encompassed all around. The Tosafot Yom Tov (Midot 2,3) explains it this way in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov - according to this, it is permissible for tamei meitim to enter into the Mount until the soreg (which was a number of cubits wide - I have not been able to determine how many) from all sides, even from the west. And according to the opinion of the Rosh (ibid) who maintains that the soreg was only on the eastern side from north to south, perhaps the cheil was also only to be found there, and if that were the case, perhaps on the other sides the ten cubits of the cheil were past the Women's Court - and thus, it would even be permitted (for the tamei met) to enter from the west.

Now regarding other forms of impurity [that may effect an individual], after all, it is possible to immerse [in a mikveh, and thus be purified of these other types of impurity, therefore the issue of other forms of impurity other than that of death is not an issue that could prevent one from entering into those areas of the Temple Mount which are permissible for tamei met to enter]. If one is concerned [about the more severe state of impurity - not common in our times - ] about zivah, then that individual can count seven clean days, and immerses in a spring (or other natural source of fresh water) and afterwards wait until the following day [and that process would be sufficient even to allow a zav, a person with an unnatural flow, to enter into the Temple Mount as described above]. And even though such an individual is still in the category of mechusar kapara, [a halachic category referring to one who has now been rendered pure but is still missing an element of atonement because he did not bring a required offering - that is not problematic, for] the Rambam cites in Hilchot Beit HaBechira 3,5 such an individual may still enter, even into the Women's Court - [which possesses a higher level of sanctity] - and may certainly enter into the other areas of the Temple Mount.

Thus we find that the law which forbids spitting on the Temple Mount in the areas in which entry is permitted to tamei meitim, is indeed applicable...and thus, the question raised by the Omer HaShicha is a valid one.

[Rav Moshe now offers a possible explanation, in order to suggest an alternative answer to the question of the Omer HaShicha, as to perhaps why the issue is not addressed by the Tur and Shulchan Orech]. Now perhaps it is somewhat unclear as to which wall (this is) - was there a clear tradition that it is the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, or was it perhaps the wall of the Azara behind the location of the Holy of Holies - and if that were so, indeed entry for tamei metim into that area would be forbidden, as you have postulated. Alternatively, it is also possible that this is the wall of one of the cells, an area that would be forbidden even according to the opinion of the Rosh.

I seem to recall that in the book She'alat Dovid by the Gaon, Rabbi Dovid of Karlin, the author expresses doubt as to which wall this is. Perhaps this is the reason why it is related that the Gaon of Brisk Z'tl did not visit the Kotel Ha Maarivi out of concern for impurity.

But I find this strange: in that place of our prayer, there is certainly a well established tradition that it is permitted to go there, dating from the time of our early sages - and how is it possible to differ with them?

With esteem,
Moshe Feinstein

See you on the Mount.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ignatius Misleading

Following up on that David Ignatius op-ed on charitable funds to projects beyond the Green Line, I reread it after someone commented to me on this statement:

A 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service stated: "The United States stipulates that U.S. aid funds cannot be used in the occupied territories."

Now, in the first place, in the context of Ignatius' assertion that money donated to Jewish communities should not be tax-exempt, that is poorly worded as what it actually means is that US aid funds to the government of Israel cannot be used in the "occupied territories". That is clear from the next sentence:

Because U.S. economic aid is given to Israel as direct government-to-government budgetary support without any specific project accounting, and money is fungible, there is no way to tell how Israel uses U.S. aid.

I found the original document here.

In the second place, a lot of American taxpayers' money surely does go to the so-called "occupied territories", actually, "disputed", as well as private charitable contributions, without complaint by Ignatius.

It's just that the money officially goes to, well, Arabs.

In Gaza, they are getting (and that "they" could probably be Hamas) almost a billion US dollars a la Clinton. In other words, there seems to be a geographical discrimination criteria in place or advanced by Ignatius. What Ignatius seems to be promoting is that you can get tax-exemption for your donation if the money doesn't go to Jews? Or are there other areas around the globe where a similar thesis could be argued, that you can separate between peoples in the same territory? I once had Senator Jesse Helms get involved in this matter but the Israel Foreign Ministry shot down my project as they were scared.

So, what was Ignatius implying?

Money surely can be given - without doubt - to Jewish charitable enterprises in Judea and Samaria and there should be no implied criminal stain or hint of illegality Government policyt can change overnight. The way he phrased it was unethical journalism, the old sleight-of-the pen/keyboard trick.

Now, his father may be the president of the Washington Post but that shouldn't be a license to scare people, intimidate people and mislead them.

The Gordon Brown Limerick Contest

It's over at the London Times.

Some examples:

The nation of cynics,
see through the gimicks,
of Bankers & Labour grand.
Get me my coat love,
get mam to tape Big Bruv
and lets sod off sharpish to Greenland.

There was once a bald man from HBOS,
With whom an ex-manager was quite cross,
The FSA he advised,
'til he was then surprised
by allegations that some called pure plain dross.

To my sourest Prime Minister Brown,
Whose dourness is brightened with frowns,
We long for a smile
Within the square mile,
Else the footsie will further fall down.

There was an old codger called Brown,
Who always gets everyone down,
He hired the FSA clot,
Who fired the best of the lot,
And now he has devalued our pound.

More on Mitchell Muckup

The pride of George Mitchell in his achievement of an Irish peace, was quite noticeable in his approach to the last month Israel-Arab conflict. The killings of two policemen in Ireland did dampen things.

Today, the London Times is reporting that:

A republican was charged last night with the murders of two soldiers shot dead by the Real IRA in Northern Ireland.

Colin Duffy, 41, will appear at Larne Magistrates’ Court today in connection with the murders of Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, outside the Massereene barracks in Antrim on March 7. Shortly after the shootings the Real IRA claimed responsibility.

Mr Duffy has also been charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

First of all, I'm glad to see the police are striving and being successful, if he is indeed involved.

However, this renewed violoence had me thinking and two weeks ago, I blogged about the murders, and wrote that if what Gerry Adams claimed - "that the British Government must resist 'any temptation or any demands for a return to the bad practices of the past. This would be equally wrong. It would also sideline the peace process and political leaders'.” - is acceptable to George Mitchell, then:

Does this mean that if Hamas, Fatah or Islamic Jihad or some other "Martyrs' Brigade" starts up again with the suicide-bombing, Israel would be prohibited from carrying out drastic but necessary action?

Well, it seems the parallel's been twisted:

Republican Sinn Féin...held a press conference...Richard Walsh, the organisation’s main spokesman, said of the killings: “I don’t accept the use of the term murder. They are acts of war.”

Josephine Hayden, general secretary of Republican Sinn Féin, who served a six-year prison sentence in the 1990s for weapons possession, said: “Once you have an occupation force in a country you would have resistance to it. It was inevitable, and it was resistance as far as I would be concerned. It wasn’t murder, no.”

...“Ireland is no different from any other country in the world; it has a right to defend itself and its sovereignty. It is regrettable that loss of life occurs but sadly an inevitable fact.”

So, it would be okay for Hamas and Fatah to continue killing Israelis according to the Mitchell Paradigm?

I'm mixed up.

One of Those Little Great Stories of Life

Arthur Richman...a longtime employee of the Yankees and the Mets, died Wednesday at age 83...

....The only president I met was George H.W. Bush. I saw Bush and a Secret Service agent walking through a hotel in Palm Springs, Calif. When I mentioned that I knew Arthur, the 41st president stopped and talked for 10 minutes.

...Speaking with Richman was like opening a baseball encyclopedia. He knew an army of people in every city the Yankees or Mets went. He called women “dollies” and he called his daily drinks “toddies.” Richman, who was Jewish, was so well connected that he secured Jim Thome a papal blessing from Pope John Paul II as a wedding gift. As a Catholic, I told Richman how impressed I was with what he had done for Thome. So he asked me if I wanted a papal blessing, too.


Saeb Is In Shtup

Does this sound like Saeb Erekat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s negotiations department, to you?

"Considered one of the most influential persons in the office of the President. For years he accompanies Abu-Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas - YM] and is thought of as his closest and most 'keeper-of-secret' friend. He is involved in internal Palestinian politics as well as the foreign affairs of the Authority including the political process with Israel".

Well, if it does, he's

in trouble.

According to today's Maariv, who published a story by Amit Cohen, the subject described above, whoever it is, if it's true, was caught on video tape in the offices of the Palestinian Authority doing the randy-dandy with one of the secretaries.

He further names who was responsible for the filming and its subsequent showing before Abbas: Fahmi Shabana, in charge of the Palestinian Authority's General Intellegence Unit in East Jerusalem, who it just so happens, is under arrest and held in an Israeli jail.

Worse, the tape, it is claimed, was handed off to Hamas.

Now, I found this:

A veteran Palestinian negotiator visited the United States to promote an upcoming Palestinian unity government...sources said that the negotiator, Saeb Erekat, kept a low profile in his visit to Washington where he held intensive meetings with American officials to urge them deal with the government.

But I doubt the low-profile was because of these rumors. Or maybe yes?

And for those presuming this is part of a libel campaign against all Arabs, Muslims or whatever, please, remember, we have Moshe Katzav to deal with.

P.S. Whereas the Yiddish shtup has a distinct sexual connotation, I use it in the sense of: he's in deep sh*t or he's being screwed.


Oh, and in case you have any doubts, here's the scanned story:

Media Self-Serving Oh-Really-Now Statement of the Day

Found in a story about President Barack Obama's going-out style:

Political observers are still debating whether this out-and-about style simply reflects the personal inclinations of the Obamas or some political calculus (or both).

P.S. Varied?

The Obamas are clearly scoping out varied restaurants and places to visit.

Mr. Fenty said it was the president who suggested lunching at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a well-known black-owned restaurant. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s delegate to Congress, said Mrs. Obama suggested lunch at B. Smith’s, also black-owned, a Southern-style restaurant near the Capitol.

Bon appetite.

"Partner for Peace" or Partner of the New York Times?

The NYTimes' editorial insinuates he can't be trusted.


...He said that his government will be a “partner for peace.”

“I will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority for peace,” he said.

We would like very much to take Mr. Netanyahu’s words at face value, and it would be a lot easier to do that if he had not worked so assiduously to build his reputation as a hard-liner with deep misgivings about the very peace process he now claims to be willing to embrace...He still cannot bring himself to endorse a two-state solution — which we believe must be part of any serious regional peace effort"

But, wait, is the New York Times missing something?

"We believe". Ah. They believe.

I don't. Neither, it seems, does Bibi.

Could it be, perhaps, that the current peace process is not the way to peace?

Should it be either rejected, modified or alternatives searched for to achieve a better peace than Oslo and the plain Two-State solution? One that doesn't encourage terror, doesn't weaken Israel's long-term security nor undermine its historic and legal national claims?

Could the point Netanyahu is making is that Oslo is not the only path to peace and, for one to be a partner for peace, one should seek something that better works?

If peace is truly the goal and not some unadulterated anti-Israel agenda, well, who cares about the sanctity of a process?

Is This Islamic Sex Abuse?

I have dealt with the topic of "honorcide" (honor killings) and other forms of cultural and religious-based sexual abuse of the females within Islamic society, which I consider rather unique than plain criminal sexual abuse.

Found something new, well, for me:

...a group of Saudi women — sick of having to deal with male sales staff when buying bras or panties, not to mention frilly negligees or thongs — have begun a campaign this week to boycott lingerie stores until they employ women.

It is an irony of the kingdom's strict segregation of the sexes. Only men are employed as sales staff to keep women from having to deal with male customers or work around men.

But in lingerie stores, that means men are talking to women about bras or thongs, looking them up and down to determine their cup sizes, even rubbing the underwear to show how stains can be washed out.

The result is mortifying for everyone — shoppers, salesmen, even the male relatives who accompany the women.

I am sure they'll find a solution.

I mean it can't be that this is just a prelude to the "72 virgins" shtik.

P.S. In Syria, it's, er, handled differently.

Tzipi Livni: What's Worse Than Being in Opposition?

Bad news for Tzipi Livni who really preened during the last electoral campaign, even having all her major photo shots airbrushed, etc.


Blonde Peruvian congresswoman Luciana Leon, 30, tops an online poll of the world's most beautiful female politicians, the Daily Mail reports.

Peruvian Trade and Tourism Minister Mercedes Araoz ranks second in the light-hearted list which also features Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and Segolene Royal.

Beauties from 30 countries from Israel to Afghanistan and Angola to New Zealand have won votes in the internet survey for Spain's popular 20 Minutos newspaper.

She didn't make the Top Ten.

Orly Levy of, oh no, Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu Party, came in 11!

Pnina Rosenblum was 22. Ruhama Avraham was 26.

Oh well, there's always Head of Opposition as a good enough title.

Darwin Award Winner Suicide Bomber

It's terrible to laugh at this, but life goes on, right?

A would-be suicide bomber accidentally blew himself up on Thursday, killing six other militants as he was bidding them farewell to leave for his intended target, the Interior Ministry said. "The terrorist was on his way to his destination and saying good-bye to his associates and then his suicide vest exploded," a statement from the ministry said...the incident happened in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan where mainly British troops are struggling against a growing Taliban-led insurgency.

When you've stopped giggling, ask yourselves:

Do all seven go to Paradise?

Do they all get 72 virgins or only the suicide bomber, for after all, they all probably intended to be suicide bombers eventually, no?

In this case, does he get beautiful and gorgeous virgins or just ugly ones?

There's A Battle Out There

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Matter of Expectoration

In 1995, two Yeshiva students were caught spitting on Yitzhak Rabin's grave and brought to trial.

Two ultra-Orthodox Jews apologized yesterday for spitting on the grave of murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin but denied trying to urinate there. "I did it without thinking," Yehudah Kiegel, 20, told a judge after he and a fellow seminarian were arrested yesterday at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem. Kiegel admitted spitting three times on the fresh grave of the international hero, but he said it wasn't planned. "I had a thought, it happened in a second," he said. "I'm very sorry about it. Really, I can't think why I did it. It's as though I was crazy."

Avraham Birenbaum, 20, said he spat once on the grave and "might have made an obscene gesture." But he did so, he said, without evil intent. Still, the judge described the desecration as akin to "undermining the foundations of the state." He ordered the students held for six days while cops probe whether anyone at their school, the Beer Ha Torah Yeshiva, incited their actions. They face up to three years in jail.

Rabbi Aharon Feldman expelled them from the Yeshiva.

And what happened today?


Meretz youth activists on Thursday put up a sign on former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's grave bearing the words "Shalom Labor."

Referring to former US president Bill Clinton's famous "Shalom friend" eulogy at Rabin's funeral, the message insinuated that the founding party was dead.

Labor released a statement calling what the activists did an "ugly, shameful and cheap provocation from a party the people are sick of."

And what will happen to these Meretz activists?

After all, 14 years ago,

The desecration is "lunacy," said Yossi Beilin, minister of the economy, who is expected to be a key player in Prime Minister Shimon Peres' new government. Beilin called for an end to state funding to groups that foment extremism.

Didn't these Meretz 'lunatics' symbolically "spit" on Rabin's grave?

Were they not acting out of extremism?

Great Story from the Holocaust Era

Holocaust Legacy Written in Letter

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Barry Friedman heard about the postcard in January, just a few weeks before his mother died.

His grandfather had written it in January 1944, when he and his wife were on a train headed to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. He was worried about his children -- 14-year-old Anne, who became Barry Friedman's mother, and her younger sister. When he finished writing, Izak Altenhaus tossed the note out of the train window, hoping someone would find it and deliver it.

Izak and Pepi Altenhaus arrived at Auschwitz, where they and 417 others on the train were fatally gassed by the Nazis.

But someone found his note along the tracks, put it in an envelope and addressed it. Anne Altenhaus got it, packed it away, and immigrated with her sister to America in 1946.

She married Thomas Friedman, learned English, had four sons, made a life.

A few days before 79-year-old Anne Altenhaus Friedman passed away on Jan. 30, Linda Peck, Barry's wife, asked if she knew where the note was. Anne shrugged: Good luck finding it.
...Peck looked down and saw an envelope. It was so old, the paper had softened. It was addressed: Prevos, Van Marlanstraadt 37, Antwerpen.

"You know what," Friedman said, "maybe we're looking for an envelope, not a postcard."

...From the envelope, the couple slid out a small piece of paper. It was ragged on three sides, cut cleanly on the fourth. It might have been written on a piece of toilet paper that Izak Altenhaus tucked away, Peck thinks.

Altenhaus had scrawled the letter in French. The couple don't know the language, so Peck drove to the home of a friend, who translated it.

"These two letters have been found along the train tracks. Please send this letter which is not yours."

In the note, Altenhaus wrote not to his daughters, but to friends who could reach them:

"Mr., Mrs., and dear Monique, I thank you one thousand times for the packages. I regret a lot that I couldn't write to you from Maline. It was forbidden. Unfortunately, we were denounced October 20. I am so happy that my children are in a good/safe place. If my children ask you (something illegible), tell them only that we will do it when we come back. ... We are on the road to the unknown. Most cordial greetings and see you soon."

He signed just his last name.

Anne Altenhaus never saw her parents after that. So Friedman never met his grandparents, and for the longest time his mother didn't talk about the war.

...Peck called the Holocaust Museum in Washington, museum officials found Anne Friedman's memoir. When she told them about the note, they wanted to see it -- and would travel from Washington for it.

Friedman, as long as his brothers agree, would like to donate the letter to the museum.

Strawberry Not Quite Forever

That was a bullet going through.


Life Goes On

BBC's Tim Franks, back from a vacation, has a report on my neighboring community to the north, a mile away, Eli.

In New support for West Bank outpost, he claims "an unauthorised settlement in the West Bank, illegal even under Israeli law, appears to be benefiting from state funding".

The crime?

A road is being built from the established settlement of Eli, near [near? not really] the Palestinian city of Nablus, leading east to the illegal outpost at Hayovel...under Israeli law, those newer, smaller settlements - known as outposts - which have not received authorisation from the government are deemed, by the Israeli government, to be illegal.

The details:

Drive up the twisting, landscaped roads of Eli, a mid-sized settlement in the heart of the West Bank, and you come across a scene of intense construction activity...outside observers are not welcome. The BBC was asked, twice, to leave the settlement, when we drew too close to the site of the road.

...Abdel Nasser...shows on a map, the new road to the outpost carves straight through land which he says is owned by his village, Qaryut...an official from Israel's Civil Administration said that the matter was now in the hands of "inspectors".

...All this has been happening under a government which is publically committed to the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state, in the West Bank.

The future Israeli government, which is likely to come into office next week, will be led by a man, Binyamin Netanyahu, who sees no such need...the momentum on the ground appears to be swinging the other way.

Well, maybe authorisation is just around the corner, maybe Abdel Nasser doesn't own the land and maybe the courts will agree.

Blogging Should Be Intellectual

Been To Jerusalem Lately?

My very good and old friend Uri has.

I picked three out his dozens:

Almost a 'minyan' of birds at the Kotel:

A sun's peep over the Mount of Olives and into the Temple Mount compound:

Golden Dome of the Rock marking the site of the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temples:

Ignatius, Ignorant or Misinformed?

David Ignatius has an article out, "Funding Israeli Settlements" and here in the WashPost, dealing with "a tax break fuels Middle East friction", he claims.

For many years, the United States has had a policy against spending aid money to fund Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which successive administrations have regarded as an obstacle to peace. Yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax-exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes.

There's nothing illegal about the charitable contributions to pro-settlement organizations, which are documented in filings with the Internal Revenue Service. They're similar to tax-exempt donations made to thousands of foreign organizations around the world through groups that are often described as "American friends of ... " the recipient.

But critics of Israeli settlements question why American taxpayers are supporting indirectly, through the exempt contributions, a process that the government condemns. A search of IRS records identified 28 U.S. charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007.

"This is an issue that has not gotten the attention it deserves," said Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, a lobbying group that opposes settlements. "I don't know how many people, including in the U.S. government, realize the extent of private American funding to settlements. ... Every dollar that goes to settlements makes Middle East peace that much harder to reach."

...One of the Israeli organizations that has led the way in developing this area of East Jerusalem is called Ir David, or City of David. Like other pro-settlement groups, it has an active fundraising effort in the United States. According to Form 990s filed with the IRS, Friends of Ir David raised $8.7 million in 2004, $1.2 million in 2005 and $2.7 million in 2006.

The group's primary tax-exempt purpose, according to the IRS filings, is: "To create a charitable fund to provide financial aid & other reasonable assistance to benefit the Jewish people of the Old City of Jerusalem. To teach about the history and archeology of the biblical city of Jerusalem. To offer aid & assistance for education, housing & the rehabilitation of distressed properties."

A senior Jordanian official argued in an interview this week that Israeli pro-settlement groups such as Ir David are seeking to transform the demographic character of East Jerusalem so that a two-state solution, with Jerusalem shared by Israeli and Palestinian governments, will be impossible.

Hebron is another controversial area where settlements have received substantial tax-exempt gifts from America. According to IRS records, the Hebron Fund donated $860,637 in 2005 and $967,954 in 2006 for "social and educational well being"; the fund's online mission statement makes clear this is for Israeli settlers inside the city. The Hebron settlement of Kiryat Arba received $730,000 in 2006 from a group called American Friends of Yeshiva High School of Kiryat Arba.

Often the U.S. charities will specify that their gifts are going to charities in Israel, even though the recipients are in the West Bank, which the U.S. regards as occupied territory. American Friends of the College of Judea and Samaria, for example, said its donations were "to provide for the expansion and furtherance of the needs of educational institutions in Israel," even though the college is in the settlement of Ariel. Similarly, other filings speak of gifts to "Elon Moreh, Israel," "Gush Etzion, Israel," "Karnei Shomron, Israel," "Efrat, Israel," and "Bat Ayin, Israel," even though those settlements are all in the West Bank.

A 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service stated: "The United States stipulates that U.S. aid funds cannot be used in the occupied territories." The issue came to a head during a 1992 dispute over the uses of U.S. loan guarantees. A Jan. 25, 1992, story in The New York Times said that Secretary of State James A. Baker had cautioned Israel's ambassador "that the administration was not going to underwrite Israeli policies that fundamentally contradict its own principles and long-stated policies."

U.S.-Israeli friction over settlements is likely to increase...

I left a comment there, which I'll expand on here:

As a resident in Shiloh, a revenant Jewish community built in the territory the international community awarded the Jews through a long process of international law, Peace Conference at Versailles, San Remo Conference, League of Nations, to be developed as the "reconstituted Jewish national home", as the official wording goes, including "close settlement on the land", I dispute the supposed 'illegality' claim.

I am living on Jewish land, where Joshua set up the Tabernacle, where Samuel prophesised and judged and where Achiyah berated a king of Israel. This is not religious belief or fiction for the historical records and archeology support the Biblical account. And if there were no Jews residing there prior to 1967, when the Arabs lost that land due to their aggressive war, let's recall that whereas Arabs continued to live in Israel, the area partitioned off from the original Mandate area after 1948 to be the "Jewish state", all Jews where ethnically cleansed from the Arab areas. That's why you probably think it's "Arab" and we're there somehow "illegally".

As regards the tax question, American money goes to all sorts of purposes. Americans supporting a Palestinian state, which doesn't even exist, has been earmarked in Foreign Aid bills for three decades, at least, for NVOs, etc. That's okay even when much of the money was spongeable for Arafat's terror? What hypocrisy!

If what irks other persons who left comments in that they are concerned about democracy and enfranchisment, well, (a) first stop terror and then you'll get democracy; and (b) we can arrange for them to vote within the Jordan political system and have an autonomous administration.

There are solutions for all problems.

P.S. And I left another comment here.