August 2002 Archives

SLAP!!

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OK, thanks. I needed that.

Stefan Sharkansky has popped open a "scandal" about comedian Jackie Mason canceling his opening act because the guy was a palestinian. Well, as Stefan points out, he wasn't just a palestinian. He was a palestinian with an atteettude (as they say in Philly). Since the spin is already in full gear, here, quick before it disappears, is a sample of Ray Hanania's "comedy" (thanks to Shark Blog reader Yair):

Now is not the time to surrender to Israel and accept compromise.

Now is the time to forge ahead and demand even more. Now is the time for all Arab governments to severe [sic?] all ties with Israel, to isolate Israel again as was done years ago. To return Israel to the situation where it cannot be allowed to think that it can murder innocent Palestinian civilians and find territorial gains.

Israel’s Nazi-like government must be shown that its policies of murder and executions and killings will carry a heavy price in future talks, and that all of Jerusalem is now on the table and that all of Palestine is on the table, too.

Hanania is now crying racism and whining that all he ever wanted to do was "break the headlock of hatred that has gripped Palestinians and Jews."

Like the Sharkman says, "Now is that comedy, or what?"

Sometimes...

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...it seems so easy to tell who's on the right side. And then, sometimes, it doesn't. How do you know?

HOW

DO

YOU

KNOW???

Netzavim

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In Jewish practice, every Sabbath has an assigned Torah portion, a section from the "Five Books of Moses" that's read and discussed during services on Saturday morning. This week's portion, or parasha, contains one of the most potent biblical injunctions, given to the People of Israel at the end of the exposition of the Law in Deuteronomy.

The people are admonished to obey the laws and precepts that have been given to them. They are promised that on that path lies health, happiness and prosperity. Rejection of these laws leads in the opposite direction. The first part of the parasha, called Netzarim, concludes:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your descendants; to love the Lord your God, to listen to His voice, and to be faithful to Him; for that is your life, and the length of your days; that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give them.
Shabbat Shalom.

Other things

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If by some unlikely chance you haven't already, make it a point to read Charles Johnson's masterful fisking of a book review by the ever-more-despicable John R. Bradley. The book is Michael B. Oren's "Six Days of War." This is Charles at his best and Bradley at his worst. A great match.

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According to the New York Post, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has abruptly reversed its recent ban on photographing children carrying weapons. It seems that this ridiculous attempt to avoid bad PR brought them a whole lot of, um, really bad PR.

And the Post editorial sharpens the point:

[W]hat really gets us is that line about "violating the rights of children." The ultimate abuse is encouraging children to pose as murderous warriors in the first place - not taking photos that expose such barbaric practices.

Although it's not hard to understand the urge to suppress such images.

Under protests from foreign journalists, the union yesterday lifted its ban.

Too late.

The news is out.

Interfaith Misunderstanding (conclusion)

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Many of the Jewish immigrants who came to America around the turn of the century had had negative experiences of Christianity in their countries of origin. For those fleeing forced conversions and pogroms, the sign of the cross was a harbinger of dislocation, pain and suffering. Christian missionaries were often startled by the degree of hostility these people exhibited to their advances. But they quickly learned how to get better traction when they understood a few important things about the folks they were trying to “save.” They understood that Jews, especially immigrant Jews, took great comfort in the embrace of their community, their language, and the rituals and symbols that were familiar to them in a strange, new world. And they understood that the very concept of “conversion” carried so much baggage that any reference to it was a total non-starter.

The solution was simple. Bring Jews to Christianity in a different way. Use Jewish texts, Jewish symbols and Jewish language and, most important, promote the maintenance of Jewish community. The "Jewish Christian,” it was now asserted, did not have to “convert” (because Christianity was actually a “Jewish religion”) and did not have to go to a “church” to pray. Thus, the first “Hebrew Christian” congregations were born.

Well, despite the assimilation and integration of the Jewish community into American society, its reaction to missionary efforts hasn’t changed much in the past century. In his essay, America’s Bishops: No Jews Invited , Dr. Zmirak reveals that he grasps this concept all too well.

Centuries of coercive attempts to convert the Jews and dissolve them into the mass of Gentile Christendom should teach us to tread very lightly here. Whatever their motives, Christians from the early Middle Ages on demanded of Jews who converted absolute assimilation, and began to treat “backsliding” as a form of heresy. The most infamous examples of this occurred during the Inquisition in Spain — which popes of the day condemned but were unable to control.
Dr. Zmirak asserts that the Catholic bishops, unable to resolve what they wrongly perceive as contradictions within Church doctrine, are “writing off Jews as outside the Christian mission—radioactive, perhaps, too hot to touch, in the wake of the Holocaust.” But Dr. Zmirak has a "better" way, a solution to this fabricated dilemma that is “offered by—no surprise—a group of Jewish converts to Catholicism, who seek to keep their identity as Jews, the Association of Jewish Catholics."

There are many such organizations in existence today, but this Association appears to be rather unique in one respect. Its goal is not to integrate Jews into the Catholic community but, rather, to create a special environment within which "Catholics of Jewish descent" can flourish. The “Hebrew Christian Fellowship ,” on the other hand, pursues a more traditional missionary approach: “to lovingly and sensitively present the Gospel of Messiah Jesus to Jewish people.” They’re determined to right the wrongs of the past and respect the feelings of those they seek to persuade. But the Jewish people haven’t suffered torture, ridicule, dispossession and death for 2,000 years rather than convert to Christianity because we weren’t asked nicely or offered our own space. We've refused to convert because the basic premise of Christianity is inimical to our most deeply held beliefs. And no matter how loving and sensitive the invitation, the answer is still no.

With some trepidation, I’m going to return very briefly to the analogy of Islam. What if Islamic preachers started to suggest that there should be communities of Catholic Muslims? Perhaps it’s all the Arabic trappings of Islam that are discouraging American Catholics from embracing the true faith. Perhaps these Catholics could cling to the Koran while maintaining their own traditions and customs within the protection of the Umma. Perhaps they could acknowledge Mohammed as the Prophet of God and denounce the divinity of Jesus but somehow stay “Catholic” because…, what? They would carry a rosary? Eat fish on Friday? Pray in Latin instead of Arabic? In what way would a Catholic Muslim remain a Catholic? In no way at all.

What we are being offered here is, essentially, a lobotomy. We may, for a time, continue to walk and talk like Jews, to dress and eat like Jews, if we wish. But the essential underlying premise of our existence and survival, our higher nerve center, the concept that has kept us who we are through the millennia must be discarded. The quintessential declaration of our faith, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” is simply an outmoded expression of the “true” faith we were always destined to accept – that the Lord is Three.

Can Dr. Zmirak possibly be unaware that this proposal of his is over 2,000 years old? That the very first Christians tried to sell the very same story to the Jewish community of Judea in the first century of the common era? I don’t think so. And it’s this hubris, this dishonesty, this disingenuous pretense at ignorance of history that prompted me to jump back into this debate, as distasteful as I find it. It's distasteful because each of the world's great religions has contributed (and can continue to contribute) so much wealth to our civilization, and yet we continue to (ab)use them as crude weapons to fight old, old battles of power, turf and supremacy. After all this time, we’re still playing “my god’s bigger than your god.” Well, some of us still are.

Two thousand years ago, for various reasons, the Jews turned inward, away from conquest, and adopted a defensive posture. Christianity did not, and proceeded to conquer most of the known world. But here’s an interesting little irony with which I’d like to head toward concluding. It was Christianity’s rejection “at home” that ultimately pushed it out of its birthplace. Had the early Christians succeeded in winning over their Jewish compatriots, there might never have been a viable mission to the Gentiles. The Jewish component in the early Church who insisted on conversion to Judaism as a prerequisite to salvation would likely have prevailed, in which case the “New Judaism” would probably have remained the religion of a small, subjugated, circumcised people living in a corner of the Middle East. Who knows what the path of their migration would have been under those circumstances or whether they would not simply have been wiped out by the unconverted pagans of Rome or some other empire?

So, are we done yet? Almost. One of the frustrations that Jews have had to deal with through centuries of rehashing this same argument is that our most basic point is always ignored: Please just leave us alone. Don't tell us what we need. Don't tell us what we want. Don't try to tell us what our Bible really says. Go about your business, in peace, and leave our relationship with God to us. Instead, all kinds of other easily refutable accusations and insinuations are read into our responses that we didn't mean and didn't make. And then (surprise!) they are refuted. Well, this instance has been no exception. But I'm done. On to other things.

Fallen "hero"

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Remember this? Well, James Ujaama has now been indicted on charges of conspiring to "promote 'violent jihad' against the United States."

In all fairness, though, Amir Butler isn't the only one who thought Ujaama was "an American hero."

SEATTLE, Washington (CNN) – For years, James Ujaama was known as a prominent community activist in Seattle, working to help the city's poor and promoting entrepreneurship as a way up the economic ladder.

Ujaama, a 36-year-old U.S. citizen whose birth name is James Earnest Thompson, has written at least three books on how to succeed in business, including one titled, "The Young People's Guide to Starting a Business Without Selling Drugs."

In a 1991 profile, The Seattle Times newspaper called him a role model. On June 10, 1994, then-state Rep. Jesse Wineberry issued a certificate declaring James Ujaama Day in the state of Washington.

But, according to U.S. authorities, there is another side to Ujaama.

A federal indictment charges Ujaama with conspiring to aid Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network since 1999. The indictment says part of the conspiracy was to establish a training camp in Oregon for terrorists to prepare for "violent jihad."

Go figure.

Interfaith misunderstanding (cont.)

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Before I move on to Part 2 (hopefully, tomorrow), a note about Part 1. A few people have written to express their dismay that I would suggest an equivalence between the missionary tactics of evangelical Christians and extremist Muslims, at least as they are practiced in this day and age. So if I’ve been unclear, let me put that to rest right now. My intent was not to make any such odious comparison but rather to suggest the operation of a double standard.

Christians generally tend to abhor and condemn aggressive or violent tactics of conversion and coercion on the part of militant Muslims, despite the fact that the latter claim that these tactics are required by their Scripture. For these Christians, the excuse that God commanded Muslims to disrespect the rights of others is insufficient. But when Christians use that same excuse to justify their much less abhorrent but still offensive denigration of other faiths, we're supposed to accept that they have no choice. Sorry, no sale.

Christians are understandably offended when the validity of their own beliefs is assaulted by others. And they don’t hesitate to suggest that those others need to reexamine their holy texts in order to find a way to be better neighbors. I agree. But I insist on holding them (and myself) to the same standard. And so it disturbs me deeply whn the progress being made in this direction is ridiculed.

By the way, if you’re paying close attention, you may notice that I’ve modified a few small but overly peevish parts of yesterday's post. As a result, I lost a link to one of Judith’s previous commentaries on this thread. So here it is.

"Suicidal resistance"

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Erin O'Connor at Cant Watch posted a dizzying piece that royally fisks translates the ravings at this conference in June at the University of Leeds. There's an email circulating that's drawn some attention to this particular meeting, which you can find here. Judith Weiss has also quoted it in full in the comments section on LGF, here (#45).

This is a nice example of postmodernist pseudobabble from the conference welcoming statement:

Our first theme for CongressCATH 2002 addresses the fractures of sociality and the injuries sustained by social subjects created by the potent and still critical social relation we inadequately and often uncomprehendingly name class. Conjoining this local and global relation of distribution and inequality with the social, ethical and philosophically complex notion of Hospitality addresses the wounds of solitude and human desolation inflicted on the stranger, and on the hybrid figures of movement and change, of encounter and difference that are, at the same time, the possibilities of a future world not phobically resistant to the inevitable relations to the others, no longer forced to bear the disfiguring mark of Otherness.
Erin does a magnificent job of interpreting this incoherence into English. And she has this comment.
We've seen all too clearly in recent months where this romanticized vision of violence-as-ennobling-resistance leads people--into irresponsible, often patently unethical positions on issues of pressing, planet-wide importance, among them global capitalism and terrorism. If September 11 has taught us nothing else, it has taught us about the terrifyingly sociopathic lengths to which academic theory-speak will go in the name of radical political critique. Or, at least, that's one thing it should have taught us.
But apparently not. This is an excerpt from the keynote speech of Columbia University professor and postmodern theorist Gayatri Spivak, which speech gave rise to the aforementioned email:
Suicide bombing--and the planes of 9/11 were living bombs--is a purposive self-annihilation, a confrontation between oneself and oneself, the extreme end of autoeroticism, killing onself as other, in the process killing others. It is when one sees oneself as an object capable of destruction in a world of objects, so that the destruction of others is indistinguishable from the destruction of self.

Suicidal resistance is a message inscribed on the body when no other means will get through. It is both execution and mourning, for both self and other. For you die with me for the same cause, no matter which side you are on. Because no matter who you are, there are no designated killees in suicide bombing. No matter what side you are on, because I cannot talk to you, you won't respond to me, with the implication that there is no dishonor in such shared and innocent death.

Well, even through that morass the basic point squirms through. As Erin points out, this is not fringe thinking within the ivory tower universe. It's more or less the dominant mode of discourse. It's the subtext in the curriculum over a wide range of disciplines in a vast array of institutions of "higher" learning. Institutions to which many of us (not me!) are in the process of packing off their kids at this very moment. Kinda scary.

Bad karma

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The Jerusalem Post reports that the mayor of Jerusalem and respected archeologists say the South wall of the Temple Mount is collapsing. The Washington Post says the same (via Diane E.). The Wakf (Islamic religious trust) says, not to worry. Now, who do we believe??

Interfaith misunderstanding (what, that again?)

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Ah, yes, I thought we were done with this, too, but it seems we’re not. Try as I might to ignore it, it just keeps popping up like a bad jack-in-the-box and smacking me in the face. Beginning with the debate over whether an Orthodox Jew (or any Jew, for that matter) can go to “heaven,” continuing on through the discussion on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ruling on conversion, and slinking through sly ongoing comments and references on various blogs, this topic erupted again in full force last Tuesday on Phil Donahue’s show. And now Josh Trevino, who’s comments on this subject I’ve made a point of ignoring up until now, has thrown up this remark and linked to this polemic. And Judith Weiss had to go and tell me about it.

(Really big sigh, here) OK, let’s go around one more time, shall we?

In Donahue's studio on August 20 were Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, radio talk show host (among other things), Dr. Michael Brown, president of “Israel, the Church and the Nation Ministries,” and Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A celebrity rabbi, a Southern Baptist minister and a “messianic Jew.” Hoo, boy! Let 'er rip.

DONAHUE: So a good Jew is not going to heaven.

MOHLER: Well, all persons are sinners in need of a savior. Jesus Christ is the sole mediator. And the gospel, we are told by the Apostle Paul, comes first to the Jews and then to the gentiles. And salvation is found in his name, and in his name alone, through faith in Christ.

OK, nothing new here. Let’s move on.
DONAHUE: …. You know, Reverend Mohler, this is such a vast organization. You have so many wonderful members. This just breeds anti-Semitism. I am sorry. You cannot possibly look a person in the eye and say, if you don’t come to Jesus, if you don’t change your faith, you’re not going to heaven. Reeks of prejudice, and also stirs the soul to evil behavior, in my opinion.

MOHLER: Well, if the church had just come up with this in the 20th century as a novel idea, perhaps it should be subjected to such a critique. But this is the gospel that has been received from the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who said he came, first of all, for the people and children of Israel, and then also for the gentiles.
And he himself declared that he is the way, the truth and the light, and no man comes to the Father but through him. He spoke as a man born of the Jewish race, but who was also the son of God.

DONAHUE: Well, three cheers for the Catholic bishops. And it’s been a while since anybody has given them cheers.
Well, Rabbi, it took us long enough, but we are no longer calling upon our faithful, Catholic faithful, to evangelize and convert the Jews. Praise the lord for that, whichever lord may be your favorite.

Yeah, typically goofy rambling Donahue style, but at least he got it right, didn’t he? Guess not.

“Well,” says Josh , ”looks like Catholics can evangelize Jews after all. Sort of. Perhaps. We're working on it.”

(Well, say I, of course you are. You’ve been working on it for 2,000 years. Ma nishtanah? Why should today be any different?) Josh links to an article in FrontPage Magazine by Dr. John Zmirak called “America’s Bishops: No Jews Invited.” Josh thinks it’s “pretty good.” Judith Weiss comments that, well, she doesn’t.

I won’t delve too deeply into the propositions of Dr. Zmirak’s argument. He basically rehashes the same justifications that we just heard from the Rev. Dr. Mohler and which have already been discussed ad nauseum on this and other blogs in the recent past. But as the name of his article suggests, the main theme here is a two-part premise. First, true Christianity negates the possibility that another faith could possibly stand on its own merit in the eyes of God. Second, by accepting such a possibility Catholics would be rejecting the humanity of the adherents of that other faith and maliciously sentencing them to everlasting damnation. Let’s go back to Rev. Mohler for a minute.

MOHLER: Well, all I know is that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ, and that all who are there come by his grace and mercy alone. There is nothing in us to merit salvation. And so humility has to be the Christian posture.

DONAHUE: There is nothing humble about telling me I’m going to heaven if I don’t believe in Jesus. That is not humility. That’s arrogance.

MOHLER: It would be if this was our message. But if that is what the son of God said himself, if that is the truth, then it would be hateful and it would be intolerant not to tell you what we believe to be the truth. I can’t compel any person to believe in Christ, but I do have the responsibility, with gladness and joy, to share the good news of the gospel, knowing that all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved, whether Jew or gentile.

So these are eternal truths that are supported by quotes from the New Testament which, of course, is all the justification that is necessary. If what is written in the Holy Scriptures is politically incorrect or morally offensive or tends to incite the destruction of other cultures and civilizations, it’s not for us to question and certainly not for us to change or reinterpret.

Now why does that sound so familiar? Oh, yes. It’s exactly the same argument I’ve been hearing on TV lately from Hamas and Al Qaida apologists. Funny. The word of Allah as revealed in the Koran does not permit tolerance of unbelievers nor the possibility of their salvation absent acceptance of Islam and its Prophet.

Sura 3:85

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).

True, there are those who assert that the methods of conversion required by Islam are more offensive than those required by Christianity. But moderate Muslims as well as those who lived (or, more to the point, did not live) through the Crusades or the Inquisition may beg to differ.

As we’re constantly told, there is a controversy in Islam. Some feel that the Koran commands that conversion to Islam be effected through reason, example and gentle persuasion. They are convinced that Allah will rightly guide all of humanity to this path if they are patient and determined. Others believe that the Koran demands that all kaffirs be converted through reason if possible but if that does not immediately succeed, then through military Jihad. Those who do not submit must either agree to be subjugated or be killed. Both of these camps point to clear and unambiguous verses in the Koran.

Sura 2:256

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

Sura 9:29

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [tribute] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Either way, by compulsion or persuasion, there is no question but that a literal reading of the Koran requires the most strenuous efforts on the part of Muslims to convert all non-Muslims until they submit or perish. Is this acceptable to devout Christians? Let’s take one pivotal paragraph from Dr. Zmirak’s article,

...Because Catholics believe this, and because we wish all human beings to follow the easiest and most secure road to eternal union with a loving God, we have an absolute duty to evangelize Jews (along with Protestants and all God’s other children). If we did anything less, it would deny their fundamental humanity. Period.

and modify it just a bit:

Precisely. Because Muslims believe this, and because we wish all human beings to follow the easiest and most secure road to eternal submission to the will of Allah, we have an absolute duty to convert Catholics (along with Jews, Protestants and all other infidels). If we did anything less, it would deny their fundamental humanity. Period.

How would Dr. Zmirak or Dr. Mohler be likely to respond, if confronted with a Muslim making the second argument? I suspect it would be something like “go ahead, deny my humanity if that’s what it takes for you to get that Koran out of my face.”

A few days ago, I linked to an article entitled “How to make America an Islamic nation.” It described a utopian USA, where alcohol is illegal, where presumably the consumption of pork is prohibited and women are required by law to dress and behave in accordance with the Muslim view of modesty. This ideal is to be attained by demographic expansion, education and exposition. In short, by peaceful means.

And yet, I doubt that this is what our leaders, our news moderators and our fellow bloggers mean when they call for the emergence of a “moderate Islam.” Moderate Islam, it is supposed, will encourage tolerance and understanding, Muslim communities living peacefully alongside Christian and Jewish communities, each respecting the traditions and beliefs and lifestyles of the other without having to adopt them as their own and without seeking to impose them on others. We’re told that Islam must change, must abandon its practice of conquest, must reinterpret its Scripture (as Judaism and Christianity allegedly have done) to become a faith that respects other faiths. A faith that respects other faiths.

Now a moderate voice along those same lines has tentatively emerged in the Catholic Church. This voice suggests that perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the policy of denigrating every other faith and belief system on earth, that perhaps it’s time to take a new look at the word of God in light of what humanity has hopefully learned in the past 2,000 years. And this voice is met with ridicule and derision. "Apostasy," says Dr. Zmirak. "Can the US bishops do anything else wrong this year?" asks Josh Trevino. "They don't mean it," says Mark Shea. Why is it that the people who counsel moderation to the Muslims can’t begin to apply their counsel to themselves, their co-religionists and their colleagues?

Tomorrow (or maybe the day after) some thoughts on the differences between genocide by conversion, assimilation and execution and the ancient but still futile mission of the “Jewish Christians.”

A "comment" on women in Israeli politics...

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Yikes! I dropped Imshin a note yesterday to ask if she had a comment on Justin Weitz' recent post about women in Israeli politics. She's posted a comprehensive and quite pointed essay on the subject here.

...and a moving letter

And while you're in the neighborhood, this letter from a couple who recently returned from a trip to Israel is worth taking the time to read. It mirrors very closely what I experienced on my last trip there a few months ago.

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Some fiskally impotent person once said, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

OK...But did anyone else who watched Donahue tonight get the impression that he was trying to pretend he was Louis Farakhan while he was interviewing him? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Rabid

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I was thinking that maybe the reason I seem to be in an especially rabid mood this weekend is that I can't get this story (via Diane E.) out of my mind.

By the way, here is an article at faithfreedom.com that explains how Islam does not encourage discrimination against women and how women in Muslim countries are actually better protected than in the West. They have statistics!

May the force be with him

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Bruce Hill is involved in a blog war with an ignoramous (sorry, pal, no link here) who thinks this guy is a hero.

Hey, Alley-oop! Since you consider ethics and morality a waste of time, maybe I can put this in language you'll understand. They've been clubbing us over the head with the first Dr. Goldstein for over 8 years. And now you want to give them a nice fresh stick. Moron.

More inexcusable garbage from Tikkun

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IMRA publishes this excerpt from an email sent by Tikkun. You know, the "Jewish" magazine whose cover story this month is called "Israel's Human Rights Violations." (The issue also includes an interview with terror activist Adam Shapiro)

A few notes from Tikkun

...3. ...The media, meanwhile, has ignored the voices of those in the Jewish world who supported McKinney.

On the other hand, one reason why the voices of progressive Jews could be ignored was that it was so little so late. And Cynthia McKinney herself contributed to the weakness of that effort. When Rabbi Lerner asked her to make a strong and unequivocal statement condemning the bombing of students in the Hebrew University lunchroom three weeks ago, she did not respond. That statement was planned to be the basis of an ad from Jewish progressives that would have appeared in an Atlanta newspaper endorsing her candidacy. After repeated attempts to secure that statement from her campaign failed, the support for the ad fizzled. This was McKinney not acting in her own self-interest. But unfortunately, it also had the effect of making it appear that "Jews" were united against her, and were raising money from all around the country to defeat her. The Jewish people may, unfortunately, face anger in the future for the role that the pro-Ariel Sharon forces played in defeating a Black woman who championed civil rights and peace.

Newsflash, Tikkun: "Jews" were united against McKinney, as were all other people of good will who had an interest in seeing our Congress cleansed of this blot on its integrity. And another newsflash: the "Black woman who championed civil rights and peace" in that race wasn't defeated. Her name is Denise Majette. She won.

How to..., Part 2: Creating an Islamic state

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A few weeks ago, I commented on two opposing websites: faithfreedom.org and faithfreedom.com. Ff.org is a site dedicated, in a nutshell, to trashing Islam (and, secondarily, organized religion in general). Ff.com is a site dedicated to countering ff.org.

Not content with debunking the most common myths of "peaceful, tolerant Islam," ff.org seeks to attack just about every aspect of the faith and its believers. And there are links to various essays suggesting that Islam (not just "militant Islam") is an immediate threat to democracy and freedom all over the world and particularly in the U.S. This article purports to show how it will be done.

Ff.org is the brainchild of "Dr. Ali Sina," who appears to be an Iranian ex-Muslim. As I said in my previous post, I have some problems both with the abusive tone of this site and with some of Dr. Sina's theological criticism. But since then I've taken the time to delve a little more thoroughly into his work. A different picture is emerging. More on this later.

How to make America an Islamic nation

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There are some fascinating things to be found on Islamic websites. One that I keep coming across in various contexts is the Islamic Awareness site at Geocities. From this page you can link to articles about the evil of the Talmud or an absolute proof that the Jews corrupted the Torah to serve their own purposes:

It will take some time for you to read and digest the following proof, but once you have done so, no Jew will (inshallah, of course) ever be able to respond to you.

But even more interesting is this little essay on "How to Make America an Islamic Nation:"

Congress just passed a bill declaring the consumption of alcohol a felony, punishable by up to 120 days in jail. Although critics said the new law wouldn't work anymore than Prohibition did in the 1920's, supporters of the measure felt confident that it would hold, given the large support from the Muslim America community. Even now, many Islamic organizations are setting up alcohol treatment centers and prevention programs designed to help people kick the dangerous habit. The president, a staunch supporter of moral values, is expected to sign the new bill into law when reaches his desk.

Sound like fiction? It may be fiction now, but the future is like a book of blank, white pages; anything can happen. When I accepted Islam and surrendered my heart to Allah's will, I didn't do it for economic or social reasons. In fact, I suffered in those two areas because of my conversion. Rather, it was a choice on my part to reform my soul, my mind and my understanding of why I was alive and why I would die one day.....

I was born and raised here. This is my land. I'll raise my children here, Insha'allah and probably be buried here as well. I knew that by accepting Islam I was declaring that America needed to do so too. America, my home, would naturally become an Islamic country one day. There is no other way to think if you are a truly conscientious believer in Allah.

This site also has an "American War Crimes Homepage," by the way, and a WTC Bombing page with links to lots of articles on Israeli art students and Jewish conspiracies.

This is not, to all appearances, an extremist website. You're not going to find any ClearGuidance kids here drooling over body parts. As far as I can tell, this is a voice of moderate Islam, urging a steady, non-violent takeover of America using democracy, tolerance and just a bit of gentle misdirection as tools. "The future is a book of blank, white pages; anything can happen."

THIS IS WHY

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We Jews have spent thousands of years, chasing our heritage, finally getting there. A vision: Muslims, Christians and Jews, praying together at the tombs of our patrimony. But it's not acceptable. Not us. Nothing acceptable but to wipe out our memory, our being, our existence, our essence. I was raised as a liberal Jew, love your neighbor, judge people on their actions, not on the color of their skin, not on their race or their religion. I believed in this. With all my heart, my soul, my mind. I followed it through, to the extent that in my first year in high school I asked myself during assembly one day, why then do we discriminate against people because of who they choose to love? Could any god really have closed off half the human race to us as partners to love and cherish? What the f*ck is that? 9th grade. Before I had ever heard the word "homophobia." Probably before I had ever heard the word "gay" in that context. I lay down in the middle of the street to protest the killing of what I thought were innocent Vietnamese civilians in a war that I was led to believe was being fought over ideology, over Western domination of Eastern cultures. I lived and breathed Eastern cultures at that time. I "recognized" their superiority over everything I had been taught my entire life. I "recognized" the symbols from my drug-induced fantasies. I couldn't countenance the imposition of "Western" values on those timeless and priceless truths of the East. But it turned out that that wasn't what the Vietnam war was about. It turned out that my own innocence and naivete had been exploited by forces far more insidious and cynical than those I was led to believe were being employed by the USA, the FBI, the CIA. And then I went to Israel. I walked on the Mount of Olives. I wandered through Hebron. I saw the graves that had been desecrated under the stewardship of the Hashemites and the way that sites holy to both Jews and Muslims were now divided in half so that Muslims could worship, uninterrupted, according to their traditions, in their holy places. I saw this and I heard from Jews who just a few years earlier had been prohibited from even setting foot on the ground of their holiest places, let alone permitted to pray in them. This was 1972. The memories were fresh. And there was no hatred. Just gratitude. Great joy, and gratitude (Star Trek fans will appreciate this reference. That's how it was. Exactly.) This is why I became "right wing" on the question of Israel, back in 1972, when I had just become eligible to vote, when I still hoped to change the world with my liberal ideals. This is why I didn't understand how there could be a discrepancy between the liberal vision of peace and freedom for all and the right of the Jewish State to exist in peace and freedom among its Arab and Muslim neighbors. This is why I will never accept any ideology that preaches its own ascendancy at the expense of the demise of others. That is not what Zionism is about. That is not what Zionism has ever been about. No matter how its enemies may try to twist it, no matter how many "peace advocates" misinterpret its doctrines, Zionism is about the attempts of the members of an ancient and much maligned people to assert their right, their justification, their very existence before the court of world opinion and to be recognized, finally, without qualification, as who they are, period.

This is why I am a Zionist. And damn proud of it.

TGIS

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And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all of their inhabitants. And on the seventh day God had finished all the work that had been done, and God rested on the seventh day from all the work that had been done. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it God rested from all the work of creation that had been done.
--- Genesis 2:1-3

Shabbat Shalom.

A real Gem

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Now here's a totally nauseating idea that should go far to jack up the market for dead bodies. Wanna wear your dearly departed in your earlobe? Your navel? Or perhaps around your neck?

For around four grand a thimblefull, now you can.

Go figure

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (yeah, them again) has cut through the BS and ruled against a prison policy targeting gays in Arizona. The policy forbids hugging and kissing between members of the same sex in the visiting room (with the exception of relatives). The lame-o excuse that the Department of Corrections offered was that they were trying to (get this) protect homosexuals.

The policy is a safety precaution, says the Arizona attorney general’s office. The state reasons that inmates seen kissing and hugging someone of the same gender may be labeled as homosexuals and targeted for abuse. However, Karl Whitmire argued that inmates where his partner, William Lyster, is incarcerated already know that he is gay. Lyster was convicted in 1996 of one count of sexual contact with a minor and one count of attempted sexual contact with a minor.

The 9th Circuit ruled there was no commonsense connection between the policy and correctional safety.

I'd say the 9th Circuit got this one right, although I'm somewhat lacking in sympathy for this particular couple. How about a policy forbidding convicted child molesters from any physical contact with visitors, regardless of their sexual orientation?

Bye, bye Bernard!

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And now for some more good news. According to the Jerusalem Post, that shitty little French ambassador to the UK has been recalled.

Blog Bright: what Billy McKinney really is

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See, the mainstream media can't do this. A pity.

But Silflay Hraka can. And did.

Lose your lunch

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Tal G. has posted the text of a recent thread from the now-inaccessible-to-kafirs ClearGuidance website. The kiddies are discussing why women don't get 72 virgins and the, uh, incomparable joy of martyrdom.

OK, we're gloating...just a little

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Anyone who wants to savor the victory of Judge Denise Majette (and truth, justice and the American Way) over the abominable Cynthia McKinney, should mosey on over to Kesher Talk for a refreshing postmortem. It'll do a body good.

The myth of the Al-Aqsa fire

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The Arab News managed to ooze so much slime today that I decided to pick up a little item that Charles left alone.

Thirty-three years ago, on August 21, 1969, an Australian fundamentalist Christian tourist named Michael Dennis Rohan set the Al-Aqsa mosque on fire. The structure suffered considerable damage, not least because Muslim worshippers interfered with the attempts of Israeli (i.e. non-Muslim) firefighters to put out the fire.

Here, however, is the account in today's Arab News.

Today, Wednesday, is the 33rd anniversary of the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Zionist thugs.

On that day in 1969 Zionist aggressors set fire to Al-Aqsa, the first Qibla and the third holiest mosque in Islam, in an attempt to destroy all Islamic landmarks in occupied Palestine......

The crime of setting fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque was part of the ongoing Israeli aggressions against the mosque. Israeli occupation authorities have consistently adopted an aggressive policy toward Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy city of Jerusalem......

Since the Zionist, Dennis Rohan, committed the crime on Aug. 21 1969, Zionist Jewish spite against Al-Aqsa Mosque has been growing. During the Camp David Summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak demanded the establishment of a Jewish synagogue inside the holy Aqsa Mosque compound....[huh??]

The identity of the arsonist is not in doubt. In an article earlier this year for that bastion of Zionist apologetics, BBC News, correspondent Martin Asser describes a recent visit to the mosque. Asser, a Muslim whose account is anything but sympathetic to the Israeli point of view, was eventually able to reach the site despite his "Anglo-Saxon face" and the suspicion directed against Westerners.

Memories are long here, and one of the major events of recent history was when Australian Christian fundamentalist Michael Rohan tried to burn down al-Aqsa in 1969, causing considerable damage.

The Israeli army and police are there to prevent any similar attempt, which conventional wisdom says, if successful, could spark a war dragging in the whole Muslim world.

As I said, neither Mr. Rohan's nationality nor his religious affiliation were ever in doubt (although there does appear to have been some difference of opinion about his sanity). Neither was the motivation of the Israeli government to prevent such an atrocity. So perhaps the editors at the Arab News were relying on a bad reference? Or two? Or several dozen? A Google search for this story reveals many, including references to an "Australian Jew," a "Zionist terrorist" and a grand conspiracy by the "Israeli occupation authorities."

The U.N. Security Counsel actually passed a resolution condemning Israel (UNSC resolution 271) as a result of the incident for some unspecified failure to comply with the Geneva Conventions and international law (the U.S. and three other members abstained). By more than one account, the fire is the "raison d'etre" of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Thirty-three years later, this fire has, quite naturally, of course, evolved into a myth of justification, with only tenuous connections to any actual historical event. The Arab News is just helping that natural process along.

Respect

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At some point in the last few weeks, I came across some troubling comments about the "parasitic" ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel -- how they don't serve in the army and just sit around all day studying Talmud and relying on other Israelis to put their lives on the line to defend them. I've lost the reference and so can't link to it, but that was pretty much the general picture with which I'd like to take issue here.

I have plenty of problems with the "haredi" culture, to be sure. And they sometimes tend to hit home harder because my one and only brother is, well, in it up to his tefillin (that's a little higher than the eyeballs). I felt a little sick a few weeks ago when I read that a United Torah Judaism MK was threatening a vote of no confidence because an El Al plane had been permitted to land in Israel on Shabbat. One plane. A plane that had left Los Angeles a little behind its scheduled take-off on Thursday, July 4, due to an incident at the ticket counter. A plane whose passengers were traumatized and just wanted to be reunited with their families ASAP. And this story made me a little queasy, too.

But there are other stories, such as this one that appeared in last week's U.S. News and World Report. It's about ZAKA, Israel's volunteer Disaster Victims Identification team.

In this tiny nation where no place seems safe anymore–certainly not the buses or the food stands along Hanevi'im Street or even the cafeteria crossroads of the Hebrew University–more and more Israelis wander through their lives with an eye over the shoulder, looking to see if their final hour is gaining on them. Not Natan Koenig. In the near 100-degree afternoon heat at Hebrew University last month, Koenig sat on his haunches, blotting the black-red circle of blood spread wide across the hard tile floor of the cafeteria where seven people, five Americans among them, had just lost their lives. The 25-year-old is one of 604 Jewish men, all but 34 of them Orthodox, who are members of ZAKA, Israel's volunteer Disaster Victims Identification team. They collect human remains for burial, fulfilling the Jewish mitzvah, or commandment, of showing "respect for the dead."

Koenig handed sheets of blood-drenched absorbent paper to a coworker, who placed them in a plastic bag for burial with one of the victims; according to Jewish tradition, a person's soul resides in his blood. His work done, Koenig pulled the surgical gloves–the fingertips stained with blood–from his hands, found his car, and drove himself home. After such an ordeal, he often sings a melody he knows will make him cry: a Hebrew religious song with the refrain "God will have mercy." Says Koenig: "By the time I get home, I'm calm."

Who does such work? When not immersed in this ritual of death, Koenig embraces the rituals of love and life: A caterer by trade, his days are a succession of weddings and bar mitzvahs. Yet for three years he has been drawn to the grisly task that most Israelis are glad to see done but want no part of. Despite crackdowns by the Israeli government, the violence continues. Just last week there were two bombings and three shootings in a single day, killing at least 15 people.

.....

For every volunteer, there is a first encounter with a scene of death. On his first job, after the March suicide bombing of Jerusalem's Moment cafe that killed 11 people, [Yitzhak] Shalita, 25, worked for five hours, well into the middle of the night. He got to the cafe a few minutes after the explosion, before the survivors could even begin to wail. The only sound was the ring of cellular phones.

"The walls were covered with blood," he recalls. "There were broken tables, plates, salads all over the floor, total chaos. People were lying in a pile, one on top of the other, in a pool of blood." He saw a woman seated on a chair at the bar, elbow on the counter, head resting in her palm. A man sat next to her with his hand on the bar as if holding a glass. Their eyes were open. "They looked as if nothing was wrong with them," Shalita says. But they were frozen in death. Shalita doesn't remember thinking or feeling much during that first night, just the sensation of mechanically taking on one task after another: covering corpses with black plastic bags, using a plasterer's knife to collect parts of bodies, and blotting the blood.

The ultra-Orthodox truly believe that their prayer and study contribute as much to the preservation of Israel as the actions of the IDF. While the rest of us might not see it that way, that's who they are. They're also people who, inspired by those same beliefs, are honored to be able to do a job that most of us would cringe from under any circumstances.

Camp Jihad -- Revisited

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Charles Johnson has been keeping us up to date on the fun in the sun at palestinian summer camps. Like this; and this; and this. And this.

That last item deserves special mention, though. It's from a New York Times article dated August 3, 2000.

... there is the chance to stage a mock kidnapping of an Israeli leader by masked Palestinian commandos, ending with the Israeli's bodyguards sprawled dead on the ground. Next, there is the mock attack on an Israeli military post, ending with a sentry being grabbed by the neck and fatally stabbed. Finally, there is the opportunity to excel in stripping and reassembling a real Kalashnikov rifle.

In the summer of the latest Camp David talks, a summer that was supposed to produce a final peace settlement between Israel and its Palestinian adversaries, the Palestinians' idea of a teenage boys' camp is a reminder of how deep old enmities run. At 90 two- and three-week camps on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, youths from towns and villages already ceded to Israel by Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority are learning the arts of kidnapping, ambushing and using assault weapons.

.........

Suleiman Nubaim, 16, said the Camp David talks had given new relevance to what he and his friends had been taught about the exploits of the freedom fighters, or "fedayeen," the name taken by Palestinian guerrillas of the pre-Oslo period. Like many youths, he said he wanted to join the Palestinian forces.

"I want my country to be free," he said. "It's been my dream since I was a small boy."

Asked how he defined Palestinian freedom, he said it included having Jerusalem, and then the rest of Israel. "As long as Israel occupies any part of our land, in Tel Aviv or Jaffa or Haifa," he said, "we have not liberated our homeland."

Although the camps have been run for five years with some weapons training, it is only this summer that they have caused noticeable controversy in Israel. Since Camp David, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli Army chief of staff, has cited the training in the summer camps as evidence of the risks of a new Palestinian upheaval. Israeli officials have said security has been tightened all across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, especially near the 145 Jewish settlements that have been the cause of much Palestinian ire.

That's right [picking up my 2x4]. Almost two months before Ariel Sharon took his infamous stroll on the Temple Mount, the IDF chief of staff was noticing "evidence of the risks of a new Palestinian upheaval." Little kids were being trained to kidnap, kill and maim Israelis. And the training had been going on for five (that's 5) years already, notwithstanding this letter from Arafat to Yitzchak Rabin dated September 9, 1993:

The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.

Yeah. Right.

No, you first

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Israel and representatives of the P.A. have agreed to start implementation of the "new" "Gaza first" plan. Under this proposal, Israel is to withdraw its forces from and ease restrictions on certain areas (in this case, the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem), in exchange for a palestinian "crackdown on terrorists militants." (It's actually a good thing if the agreement says "militants" because everyone knows that there's no such thing as an Arab "terrorist" -- just "freedom fighters," "guerillas" and the occasional "militants," but no "terrorists."

Doesn't all this sound just a little bit familiar? Haven't we been down this road several dozens of times already? Do Jews suffer from some hidden genetic defect that impairs all higher memory function from operating in a crisis? This fiasco is scheduled to begin tomorrow. Maybe it's just a little birthday gag for Bill Clinton.

Denmark, again

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Ha'aretz reports a story published in a Danish paper last week about a group of Danish Muslim hate-bots who have published a hit list of prominent Jews they would like to see dead. They're offering rewards.

This site documents everything you didn't want to know about anti-Semitism in Denmark. And several other (non-Arab) countries, too. It's published by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

News from down under

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Bruce Hill covers and comments (colorfully) on the sentence meted out to the leader of the Lebanese rape gang in Sydney. And the reaction of the local community.

The real question exercising everyone is to what extent should the ethnicity of the guilty be reported. For those of you who have come in late, a Lebanese rape gang terrorised parts of Sydney in the period leadingup to the Olympic Games. The testimony at the subsequent trials shows clearly that the accused felt that young white Australian non-Muslim females were whores and sluts and that they were in some sense entitled to rape them.

The behaviour of the accused towards the girls during the trial was appalling, smirking and mouthing obscenities at them. I can't believe their attitude helped them much when the judge was considering the sentencing.

When SBS (Australia's ethnic broadcaster) sent a camera crew round to the Lakemba Mosque to do an item on reactions to the sentence from the Lebanese community they got a pretty straightforward answer - they were beaten up! The mother of the guilty man issued an appeal for the Lebanese community not to "take the law into their own hands", and said the "cycle of violence" had to be broken.

See? Gang-raping non-Muslim women on one hand, and being sentenced to a long prison sentence by the proper authorities afterwards are morally equivalent! Fuck me dead!

Bruce takes a good, hard look at why the ethnic identity of the attackers is important and why the focus on that aspect of the trial is not racist. Amazingly, as Bruce points out, Amir Butler agrees with him.

The palestinian candidate

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The sole (so far) palestinian intending to oppose Yassir Arafat in the allegedly upcoming presidential elections says that he "might ask for more than the borders of 1967 and this will be in my election program." Husam Nazzal made this statement after a meeting with Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, apparently in an attempt to win the support of the terrorist Hamas leader for his candidacy.

I wonder if this is the kind of "reform" President Bush had in mind.

Six of One...

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And a controversy has erupted in a perhaps not-so-unlikely place over who is more virulently anti-Semitic: "Israel Shamir" or Bill White.

Unveiled

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Imshin exposes the putrid enigma that is "Israel Shamir".

She thinks he's a kook. I think he's a fraud. And a kook.

Wholier Than Thou

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Chris Newman points to a wonderful article on the website of the American Council on Science and Health. It describes a lawsuit that the Council is bringing against a stupid law, using a certain purveyor of "whole foods" and whole food myths as its ostensible target. I confess that I do a lot of my own shopping at that same purveyor, but mostly because I like a lot of the stuff they carry, not because I believe that it'll make me healthier.

At any rate, this story is informative not only in its exposure of the excesses to which some food legislation has gone, but also in its demonstration (read the comments) of the ways in which the legal system can sometimes be manipulated in a useful and constructive way.

Meet Allegra

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She's the first Israeli ever employed by UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency, a/k/a the UN palestinian relief agency). And yes, she is Jewish.

But don't get too excited. She doesn't actually live in Israel and, um, she's not exactly a Zionist.

I was hoping to have something more upbeat to post here. At least it was a quiet day.

Shabbat Shalom.

Parental responsibility -- a lighter look

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I’ve decided to come clean. Meryl Yourish is my blogmom. And Michael Kielsky is my blogdad. Shocking, I know. They more or less knew each other before I came along, I think, but they’ve never made any kind of commitment to a long-term relationship or, for that matter, to any relationship at all (sluts). I must point out, however, that each of them knew full well that their advice and encouragement was likely to lead to the birth of a new blog. With all this talk of parental responsibility for child support, I got to thinking. What kind of linkage do I have the right to expect, nay, demand from my blogparents?

Michael’s a man. So perhaps he should get to just walk away and forget me. And he’s having serious hard drive problems, so whatever degree of support he owes me, I understand that he gets a break, at least until he gets back on his feet. But does he, I wonder, really have an incentive to get back up on line if it means he’ll be required to spend so much more effort to satisfy his support burden?

Meryl, on the other hand is, well, a woman. And she gets gazillions of hits (she taught me that word – gazillion). So by all rights she should really bear the brunt of my support here. And answer for my faux pas. And clean up my messes. And teach me how to put comments on my blog. (Do I really want comments on my blog? I don’t think so. Meryl doesn’t have comments on her blog.) If she didn’t want all of this responsibility, she could have just kept her knees together. Or ignored my emails.

On reflection, though, I really have no legitimate gripe here. After all, Meryl was right behind me when I took my first step and Michael was there when I learned my first code word (“a href=”). Consulting my handy volume of “Blog Support in a Nutshell,” I see that the official age of blog maturity is 100 hits. Thanks to the careful nurturing of my blogparents, I passed that milestone before I even got my first site meter.

So Meryl and Michael are off the hook. But that hasn’t put a dent in the generous support I continue to receive from them both. Thanks again, guys. I’ll try to make you proud.

PMW on Dalal al-Mughrabi

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First, a clarification. Palestinian Media Watch is an invaluable resource that translates and interprets items from the palestinian press. It's located in Jerusalem and headed by Itamar Marcus. Palestine Media Watch, on the other hand, is an Arab propaganda tool that mobilizes support for pro-palestinian, anti-Israeli media drives. It's located in Wayne, Pennsylvania and headed by Ahmed Bouzid.

With that settled, it was PalestinianMW, of course, that broke the story that IMRA forwarded to the State Dept. last week on the use of USAID funds in the "Dalal al-Mughrabi" school project. As a result, the school will no longer be named after a terrorist murderer.

PalestinianMW is not sitting on its laurels, however. Its website is undergoing some rennovations but, in the meantime, you can find this PMW alert (in full) on IMRA's website, here:

The State Department's swift response to PMW's exposure of the Palestinian Authority [PA] girls' school named for the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, is welcome, but it should not be presumed the essential problem has been solved. The naming of a girls school for this terrorist was not in a vacuum. Dalal Mughrabi, killer of 36 Israelis and the American Gail Ruben in 1978, is the Palestinian's heroic, ideal woman. "Dalal is a symbol for the Palestinian nation" [PA TV, August 30 2000] because her killing of so many civilians on a bus is seen as "one of the greatest successes of the struggle." [Al-Ayyam, March 9, 2000]

The school naming is part of a pattern of PA glorification of terrorist killers, a PA policy even when the Oslo process was presumed to be
progressing. This brief study looks at the PA adoration of Dalal Mughrabi together with examples of glorification of recent woman suicide terrorists, Wafa Idris and Ayyat Al Akhras. It demonstrates the values the PA is inculcating among their people and their children.

Mughrabi is honored in names of summer camps, schools, and college, police and military courses. Annual ceremonies and TV broadcasts commemorate the day of her terror mission. TV documentaries have been aired about her, an 18 part documentary series ran in a PA daily, and she is the subject of quiz shows for children, crossword puzzles, cultural programs and more. The PA has as policy been encouraging children to see as role models - not doctors and lawyers - but terrorists. The implications for future peace are ominous.

The following are some examples of the PA representation of Dalal Al-Mughrabi as a Palestinian symbol, and examples of how the PA is now turning the two recent woman suicide bombers into new symbols using similar social tools.....

It's a long and detailed list, worth a look.

Israel's ludicrous left

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Michael Freund explains why the Israeli left is obstinate, oblivious and nearly obsolete:

In Israel, there are a variety of organizations spanning the spectrum, with some calling for annexation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and others demanding that the territories be handed over to the Arabs.

In the Palestinian-controlled areas, by contrast, no such political diversity exists. Last time I checked, groups such as "Arab Friends of Israel" or "Palestinians for Peace" had yet to be established.

To put it even more bluntly: there is no organized Palestinian left-wing to mirror that which exists in Israel. One would expect that if Palestinian society were truly longing for peace with the Jewish state, then its political arena would somehow reflect this.

When was the last time you heard about Palestinian relief groups offering to help Israeli victims of terror? When have Palestinian human rights organizations pressed Palestinian officials to make concessions to Israel? How many Palestinian clerics have issued rulings forbidding suicide bombing attacks?

We all know the answer to these questions. All of us, that is, except for the hard-core ideologues of the left.

.............

Moreover, for all the invective that the left directs against the Israeli government and Jewish settlers, the fact remains that there is - thankfully - no such thing as "Jews for Jihad" or the "Likud Tanzim."

The popularity of such groups among Palestinians, and their absence on the Israeli scene, is hardly coincidental. It speaks volumes about the two societies, their values, goals and objectives.

"Palestine Media Watch" Revisited

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My old buddy, Ahmed Bouzid is now picking on MEMRI. With a nice boost from Brian Whitaker, the Middle East editor at that bastion of objective reporting, The Guardian.

It was only a matter of time before the the likes of Bouzid and Whitaker started to become uncomfortable with MEMRI. For too long, the Western media has been pretty much oblivious to the anti-American, anti-Semitic rhetoric that's been pouring from the pages of the Arab press on a daily basis. The folks at MEMRI have opened a lot of eyes to the internal dialogues of our partners in peace. And they're obviously doing too good a job.

Bouzid has added MEMRI to his list of totally nefarious characters such as "Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, Dennis Ross, the dynamic trio of Alon Pinkas, Dore Gold, and Ra'naan Ghissin, and their Godfather, Benjmain Netanyahu." And he wants his readers to alert the media that MEMRI is really a secret "propaganda arm of the Israeli PR machine." But Bouzid leaves the real hachet job to Whitaker, whose oh-so-cleverly titled article ("Selective Memri") he includes in full on his site.

Whitaker really pushes the limits of investigative journalism on this one. He has actually uncovered, by retrieving "now-deleted" pages from the Internet archives, an incriminating statement that MEMRI once had on its web page that referred to "the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel." (Since my skills are no match for Mr. Whitaker's, I'm unable to find any such phrase anywhere on the internet, which just shows you how good this guy really is.) And he's uncovered more dirt, such as this obvious conspiracy:

The reason for Memri's air of secrecy becomes clearer when we look at the people behind it. The co-founder and president of Memri, and the registered owner of its website, is an Israeli called Yigal Carmon.

Mr - or rather, Colonel - Carmon spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin.

Retrieving another now-deleted page from the archives of Memri's website also throws up a list of its staff. Of the six people named, three - including Col Carmon - are described as having worked for Israeli intelligence.

Among the other three, one served in the Israeli army's Northern Command Ordnance Corps, one has an academic background, and the sixth is a former stand-up comedian.

Col Carmon's co-founder at Memri is Meyrav Wurmser, who is also director of the centre for Middle East policy at the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute, which bills itself as "America's premier source of applied research on enduring policy challenges".

The ubiquitous Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's defence policy board, recently joined Hudson's board of trustees.

A pretty devastating indictment. But wait, there's more:

Nobody, so far as I know, disputes the general accuracy of Memri's translations but there are other reasons to be concerned about its output.

Hey! How'd that get in there?

Not to worry. Whitaker proceeds to totally discredit all of MEMRI's big scoops. Like the one about Saddam Hussein cutting off defectors' ears. Dr. Adil Awadh, the source of that story, can't be trusted because he used the story as part of his petition for political asylum in the U.S. Oh, and he's a member of an Iraqi opposition group. And then there's the story MEMRI broke about the Purim pastry blood libel that MEMRI said was published in a Saudi government paper. Whitaker reveals that, in fact, it was published in privately owned Saudi paper. And we won't mention that nothing gets published in any Saudi paper without the permission of the government, ok? Or take seriously the characterization of that same paper in the Buenos Aires Herald (another secret Israeli propaganda arm) as "Al-Riyadh daily newspaper, which often reflects government views." And then, of course, there's the misinterpretation of the poem written by Saudi Arabia's ambassador in London last month praising suicide bombers.

Whitaker assures us this is all just a Zionist plot to discredit Arabs in general and Saudi Arabia in particular in the eyes of Americans. And he urges his readers to take action.

It is not difficult to see what Arabs might do to counter that. A group of Arab media companies could get together and publish translations of articles that more accurately reflect the content of their newspapers.

"Articles that more accurately reflect the content of their newspapers." Now, that would be interesting.

Update!: For a black belt fisking of the Guardian piece: Pejman.

Clearing the Skies

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USA Today (not my usual news source) has an absolutely bone-chilling story here and here of life in air traffic control the morning of September 11, 2001.

.......As Marquis, 45, considers what he can do, air traffic controllers at the FAA's Boston Center reach the same conclusion. Flight 11 has stopped talking. Its pilots don't respond to calls; its transponder signal has disappeared. Worse, controllers report hearing a man with a strange accent in the cockpit.

"We have some planes," he says through an open mike. "Just stay quiet and you will be OK."

Could more hijackers be out there?

In the FAA's command center in Herndon, Ben Sliney learns of the radio transmission. The words will haunt him all morning. "We have some planes."

Some? How many?..........

More "Interfaith Understanding"

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It's come to the attention of Josh Trevino and, of course, Mark Shea, that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has "declared unequivocally that the biblical covenant between Jews and God is valid and therefore Jews do not need to be saved through faith in Jesus."

Does this take Mark Shea is off the hook? Hardly. This news, following upon the "interfaith understanding" controversy of the last few days has simply provoked comments like this:

"Look, folks. This is the deal. There is one Way, one Truth one Life, that He is Jesus. He is the Savior of all who are saved, whether they explicitly realize it or not. If you folks will be saved it is through His Blood. That is what I believe and I believe that because He revealed it to us. Now, I don't expect that to thrill you. But on the day we start saying that Jesus is NOT your Savior, watch out -- because we will be saying that you aren't human."

And this:

Jews get closer to Christ by drawing close to the heart of their covenant, not by renouncing it. That, by the way, was Mother Teresa's way of bearing witness to Christ too. She urged Muslims to be the best Muslims they could be and Hindus to be the best Hindus. She was confident that Christ was real enough that he could meet them in the way they understood best.

And this:

Today's document makes clear that Jesus is the savior of all people, whether they realize it or not. It was to that question I originally spoke and there is simply no shred of evidence that the bishops denied this. That would be the essential heretical statement, if there were one in this document. It's not there.

It appears from the posts on Mark's blog that the notion that God honors solemn covenants, doesn't abrogate them unilaterally and has the ability to offer different paths of "salvation" for different people is so abhorrent to some Catholics that the bishops couldn't possibly have meant what they said. Pretty sad.

Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy

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(Via IMRA)

Frankenthal would not have honored Oslo if he were a Palestinian

[IMRA: Yitzchak Frankenthal is the chair of the Bereaved Families Forum, a group of Israeli and Palestinians who lost a family member during the course of Oslo (for example, the Palestinian parents of a suicide bomber and the Israeli parents of the victims) who all agree that Israel should make concessions for peace. The question of if the Palestinians should also make concessions for peace has never been addressed by the group. ........]

"Had I myself been born into the political and ethical chaos that is the
Palestinians' daily reality, I would certainly have tried to kill and hurt the occupier; had I not, I would have betrayed my essence as a free man."

[Extract from a speech given by Yitzchak Frankenthal, Chair of the Bereaved Families Forum, outside of the Prime Minister's residence on July 27, 2002.]

Update: Imshin has another story in a similar vein.

Go Here!

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I've been looking over the rest of Ronnie Schrieber's blog. He's already got me frightening the cat (well, I would have if I still had a cat). This is a gem (permalinks please):

Great Moments in Political Fiction
The Palestinians are the great political fiction of our era. More fictional than Yugoslavia. They are the Kwanzaa of nationalities. Of course, Joan Peters seminal book, From Time Immemorial, details how most “Palestinians” are in fact descended from recent immigrants to “Palestine” from surrounding Arab regions.
I say regions and not countries because nation states are sort of new to the Middle East. A holdover from European colonialism. Traditional Arab culture has loyalty to the clan or the faith, not some political entity.

So I have some questions to those who consider the Palestinians to be the indigenous culture with a long and storied history:
Name 10 notable Palestinians who lived from 1700-1900.
What Palestinian was notable for bringing electricity to Palestine?
Who was the best selling Palestinian author of the early 20th century?
Name five Palestinian inventors or scientists.
A number of Palestinians have the surname, Al-Masri. Doesn’t Al-Masri mean “the Egyptian”?

"The Kwanzaa of nationalities?" Too much! And the post before that takes on America's Finest. I get the distinct feeling Vegetative State is a PC-free zone.

Interfaith understanding (cont.)

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This discussion has branched off in some interesting new directions. Judith Weiss has this to say, and then this, in the course of which she links to a peach of a post by Ronnie Schrieber (whose permalinks don't seem to be up yet) in which he responds to Meryls' latest entry. And then there's this from Jeff Cooper (who also blogs wine, so he's someone I definitely want to keep an eye on).

I said the debate would get us nowhere, but it seems to be going somewhere all on its own. There are some really good insights percolating in there so, if the subject is of any interest to you, link up.

True faith

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Joe Katzman has posted a detailed response to the thoughts posted yesterday by me and Meryl on the matter of Abraham Zelmanowitz's true faith. Just writing that last sentence makes me a little queasy. How inappropriate! Nevertheless, because I feel that Joe so completely missed the point in his response, I feel obliged to try to address a small but critical segment of his post. Joe said:

Abe Zelmanowitz was a great Jew. And a great Christian. And a great Muslim, who died in true Jihad and a state of marifah. He stood fully in the spirit of G-d, where all of those faiths intersect without conflict.

No, Joe, he wasn't. And he didn't. I don't think you can possibly know anything about what kind of Jew Mr. Zelmanowitz was. Neither can I. What I do know is that he wasn't any kind of Christian. And that for someone to suggest that this devout Jewish man, who was murdered along with thousands of other people by jihad-crazed Muslims, was "a great Muslim, who died in true Jihad" is more than I can deal with in anything resembling civil discourse. (I apologize. This is a cop-out. But words fail me here.)

As for this mythical space "where all of those faiths intersect without conflict," it doesn't exist unless you first intend to deny each of those faiths their unique, special essence. You're inventing your own private religion here, Joe, and insisting that it trumps the most basic beliefs of millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims. I am you and you are me and we are we and we are all together? If that's your faith, then who am I to disagree? But it has nothing to do with Judaism, Christianity or Islam, and it has nothing to do with Abe Zelmanowitz.

Joe continues:

Like I said in my Saturday blog post:

"Whatever church you're talking about, if it's a real church then Abe was inside. All the way inside."

I don’t know what this means. A “real church?” The word “church” has a definition in the English language. Here it is (via Webster’s):

church (chûrch) n., v. (churched, church-ing) n.
  1. a building for public Christian worship.
  2. a religious service in such a building.
  3. (sometimes cap.). a. the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom. b. any major division of this body; a Christian denomination.
  4. a Christian congregation.
  5. organized religion as distinguished from the state.
  6. (cap.). a. the Christian Church before the Reformation. b. the Roman Catholic Church.
  7. the profession of an ecclesiastic.

At the risk of repeating myself, an Orthodox Jew does not consider himself to be "inside" any church. If, on the other hand, your intent is to define "church" as whatever state of grace you imagine Abe Zelmanowitz to have been in, and to then say he was there, the statement is a tautology. It doesn't tell us anything.

Sadly, this "debate" will get us nowhere. It's pointless (although sometimes interesting) to debate matters of faith, precisely because they are so personal, so emotional, so baggage-laden, so utterly inconclusive. Meryl and I each tried to express how and why we are deeply offended by efforts to invade the spiritual essence of our Jewish heritage and replace it with something else, whether that something else be traditional Catholic doctrine or some new age, universalist group hug. We don't find value in attempts to take the core principles of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and try to puree them in some big happy food processor in the sky. We've tried hard to express our outrage without insulting the beliefs of others. It appears that our sincere attempts to explain the offense have only resulted in additional insult. And Mr. Zelmanowitz's name and memory have already been abused too much in this discussion.

Not enough Muslim defense

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The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC)
The American Muslim Alliance (AMA)
The American Muslim Council (AMC)
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
The Muslim Students Association of USA & Canada (MSA)

Obviously, there hasn't been anyone to protect the rights of Muslims in this country, until now. So a new organization was necessary -- the Muslim Legal Defense and Education Fund.

According to the American Bar Association Journal, the organization's founding was necessitated by the increased discrimination against and insensitivity to Muslims in the wake of 9/11:

The federal government froze the assets of two Islamic charities in December during Ramadan, a sacred month when contributions to such charities are at their peak, says lawyer Kareem M. Irfan. The donations never reached those in need, leaving many Muslims, including Irfan, to wonder whether they were fulfilling a religious tithing duty known as Zakah, an act of purification by sharing wealth with others.

"That demonstrated a high degree of insensitivity to the Muslim population," says Irfan, an intellectual property lawyer who chairs the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. "They should have informed the community [before the freeze], so at least we could have given elsewhere."

For reasons such as this, as well as new federal laws and hate crimes that seem to target Muslims in the wake of Sept. 11, Irfan applauds the formation of the Muslim Legal Defense and Education Fund, a Washington, D.C., group. Founded in January, the group seeks to protect Muslims against discrimination, much like similar organizations formed to ensure the civil rights of African-Americans and Latinos.

Of course, the Journal is careful to present a different perspective on this issue, as well:

Washington, D.C., lawyer Stewart A. Baker is a member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security. While he does not take a specific position on the new organization, Baker says that many of the government’s actions are necessary to protect the country's security, including the seizing of assets during Ramadan.

"If those assets were being used to support terrorists who were trying to kill Americans, then the sooner those assets were frozen the better," he says. "I wouldn’t want government attorneys wringing their hands about providing notice, which may lead to assets disappearing. To see an attempt to prevent the funding of terrorists through the lens of some kind of sensitivity grievance strikes me as absolutely the wrong way to look at what was done."

Yes, thanks, I do believe that was rather the point.

It remains to be seen whether this "new" organization will emerge as yet another apologist for terror or will blaze a more moderate path. It's mission statement says:

The Muslim Legal Defense & Education Fund (MLDEF) aims to preserve, protect, and promote the rights of the nearly 10 million Muslims in the United States. By so doing, the Muslim Legal Defense & Education Fund will work to ensure that the U.S. government treats Muslims across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic boundaries equitably.

These sound like worthy goals, although one wonders what part of this agenda the ACLU can't already be counted upon to vigorously pursue. But here, perhaps, is a clue:

One of the community’s problems is that there are few Muslim attorneys in the United States, [Talib] Karim [a media lawyer who chairs the MLDEF's board of directors] says, but many think that will change in the next decade, in large part due to the situation at hand.

The "situation at hand," apparently, being

...complaints of increased religious discrimination in the workplace, and issues of people being jailed,"...referring to actions taken jointly by the FBI and INS, in which Muslims have been detained for alleged immigration violations.

I guess that the likes of Stanley Cohen and Lynne Stewart can't be really be relied upon to adequately defend Muslim interests.

Poll talk

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A new palestinian poll was released today. It was conducted by the Development Studies Programme at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. Some selected statistics (quoting from the summary of results):

  • If elections were to take place today, the majority (55%) would vote for Mr. Yasser Arafat; 31% would not vote for him. Over 60% of Palestinians planning to participate will give their vote for Mr. Arafat. In contrast, 26% of those intending to vote said that they would not for him.


  • 42% support a “democratic – pluralistic” political system; an equal percentage (42%) supports an Islamic one.


  • The most important characteristic of any president for Palestine is his/her ability to “confront Israel” (74% said that was very important); the second most important characteristic is “commitment to Islamic values” (70%).


  • 81% of Palestinians do not know the names of the new ministers in the newly formed - cabinet.

  • 91% feel that the United States is not serious about reform in Palestine; instead it is furthering its own political agenda.


  • 62% said that they are boycotting Israeli products, while 63% said that they are boycotting American products.

  • 55% support political negotiations with Israel (a decline in support from 63% in May 2002 and 70% in February 2002).
This series of polls hasn't asked about support for suicide bombing against Israelis. But here's an interesting result from an earlier DSP poll published October 11, 2001:
  • If it is proven that the party responsible for the attacks in New York and Washington is of Arab-Islamic descent, should these groups be seen as representing Arabs and Muslims as a whole? 49.5% responded "Yes," 41.8 responded "No," and 8.7 responded "Don't know-Not sure."

Almost 50% of the palestinians polled last September thought that the 9/11 hijackers should be seen as representing Arabs and Muslims as a whole -- assuming, of course, that it's "proven" that the hijackers were of Arab-Islamic descent. People who say that in this country are accused of racism, intolerance, profiling and willful ignorance of Islam. What am I missing?

Google Doo

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If you do a search on Google that contains the word "palestinian," you get a sponsored link to this website. Feh!

No. Abe was not a Christian.

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On the Jewish Sabbath, Shabbat, the seventh day of the week when God rested from the labor of creating the world, we Jews are supposed to follow suit, and take a break from “business as usual.” Some bloggers take the day off. Joe Katzman blogs Sufi mysticism and other spiritual or non-confrontational stuff on Shabbat. That’s cool.

But yesterday, Joe blogged some comments from Mark Shea’s “Catholic and Enjoying it” concerning the life and death of Abraham "Avremel" Zelmanowitz that really were, well, pretty confrontational. Although that probably wasn't Joe's intention.

Here’s a link to Mark’s post. I’m not going to quote his remarks on this subject at any length here because, frankly, I don’t want to. But I encourage you to follow this link and read the whole post (as well as others there – it’s a good blog). Mark is clearly struggling with the notion of a person who is not a Christian making a truly selfless sacrifice and also with the idea of such a person being allowed into heaven. And he resolves this dilemma by concluding that Avremel Zelmanowitz, a devout Orthodox Jew, somehow, without knowing it, must have been, at least in some small part, a Christian.

Now, I never knew Abe Zelmanowitz. But I do know a few Jews, Orthodox and otherwise, and I’ve spent more than a small part of my life studying Judaism. And I can assure Mark that he will have to find a different way to resolve his dilemma if he’s going to be truly honest with himself or with the spirit of the man whose hereafter he’s taken it upon himself to contemplate. Joe called Mark’s ruminations “a shining example of interfaith understanding, without denying or glossing over the conflicting principles of either faith.” I have to disagree. Mark’s comments reflect an appalling but all-too-common lack of “interfaith understanding” and totally ignore one of the most basic conflicts between Judaism and Catholic theology.

It’s fashionable these days to pretend that Judaism and Christianity are really just two sides of the same coin, two views of the same picture. They’re not. A fundamental premise of Christianity is, was and always will be that Judaism is dead. History. Superceded by a superior theology. And ever since the rise of Christianity, one of the fundamental premises of Judaism has been that the Christian heresy was just that – an error. A mistake. A misinterpretation of our scriptures by which we must not be led astray. There are conflicting views on this subject. But for the most part they represent ineffective attempts to paper over the very real and inevitable conflict between these two great faiths. Which is not to say that there has to be conflict between the people who profess them, as long as we respect each other’s space. The problem arises – the problem with religion has always arisen – when the adherents of one faith feel the need to intrude themselves into the sanctities of the other faith. And that’s what Mark Shea, with all due respect, has done here.

So, with that long-winded introduction, let me try to respond succinctly to Mr. Shea’s comments. In our tradition, Mark, in our tradition, the ability to do good in the world comes from our God-given inner being, created in God’s image. We constantly struggle with the temptation to do evil (the "bad inclination") and, hopefully, the "good inclination" wins out, but the ultimate outcome is up to each and every one of us. This "grace of god" thing, this necessity of divine intervention to facilitate righteousness, is alien to Judaism.

If Avremel Zelmanowitz were here to respond to your well-intentioned attempt to sneak him into your heaven in the guise of an inadvertent Christian, I suspect he would thank you politely and tell you that he has his own ticket. Jews, you see, don’t really go to “heaven.” They earn a place in the Olam HaBa, the World to Come, which is both a "place" and a "time." And in the Olam HaBa, according to at least one tradition, Jews are ultimately rewarded by spending eternity in the blissful study of Talmud. So if Abe Zelmanowitz does in fact meet Jesus in his hereafter, it's likely to be across a table when they’re sitting to study Gemara together. And nobody will be calling anybody else “Lord.”

Jewish Terrorism

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Yes, there is, according to Dr. Fahed Fanek, "Jordan's leading economics and media consultant." And here's a prime example:

The New York Times was forced to apologize to its readers for printing a photograph of a pro-Israel rally, which also showed a few anti-Israel demonstrators in the background an unacceptable transgression, it seems, in the land of free speech and press objectivity.

Such overwhelming Jewish domination indeed, terrorism will definitely result in a violent reaction.

Which reaction will, of course, not be in the least motivated by anti-Semitism. The main thrust of this article, you see, is that the all-powerful Jewish lobby in the U.S. has overplayed the anti-Semitism card.

Using the anti-Semitism card, however, is about to lose its effectiveness. It has always been a shabby blackmail of a weapon and is beginning to cause genuine anger and contempt.

I guess we'd better stop talking about it then. Don't want to cause genuine anger or contempt. And there's certainly no possibility that any of us would dare accuse Dr. Fanek of being an anti-Semite, after he was kind enough to warn us.

Yet, it still is an extremely effective weapon in Washington, where no member of Congress from either party dares vote against Israel, despite knowing deep down that their votes were going to support an outlaw state.

Even the president of the United States, the most powerful man on planet Earth, who sees himself as Israel's staunchest friend and ally, trembles with fear of the American Jewish lobby called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which can easily set the US media against him.

Gee, the President is trembling, Congress in on its knees and, of course, the media is under complete Jewish domination. But we still can't get the American embassy moved to Jerusalem, where it belongs. Funny.

Huh??? (Our tax dollars at work)

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The State Department is financing a study on the conditions for establishing a Palestinian state. But the study has ended up in the hands of a pro-Palestinian group at the Council for Foreign Policy in New York. Or so reported Ze'ev Schiff in this article in Ha'aretz.

Schiff makes a point so obvious as to be beneath the State Department's notice:

The study ignored the fact that for the last two years a war initiated by the Palestinians has been underway. The lessons from this war must be the basis for any future security arrangements. In light of massive Palestinian violations of the agreements, which began while Rabin was still prime minister, and the lies that have since been exposed, Israel must insist on much wider security margins than those in the Oslo Accords and the interim agreements.

So can we stop talking about the "Clinton proposals" already? Please???

It's not an enemy -- it's a disease

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I just noticed this eye-opening post on "Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology" at Occam's Toothbrush. It's a different way of looking at the "war on terror." It's probably a much more effective way to look at the "war on terror."

Welcome, Judith!

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Judith Weiss has posted her first essays (all of them excellent) in her new position as contributing editor on Kesher Talk. This probably presages some shrinkage in the comments section of a number of blogs. The good news is, now we know exactly where to find her.

"Real Reform"

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Bill Herbert wants to know why Dennis Ross isn't our Secretary of State. And he's got video of yesterday's presentation by Ross and Charles Krauthammer at the American Bar Association annual meeting meeting in Washington, D.C. They were discussing the role of mediation in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Ross gave a good talk, as did Krauthammer. It's a pity there were only about 20 people in the room (as the camera's periodic panning during the C-Span broadcast made abundantly clear).

Ross would certainly be a welcome addition to the State Department from my perspective, but he'd be unlikely to fit in well. And in spite of all the much-needed clarity he's been able to bring to the actual facts behind the breakdown of the Camp David peace talks, he remains a little starry-eyed on the prospects for the future. In his speech to the ABA, he made repeated and enthusiastic reference to the readiness of "most" palestinians for reform. But what kind of reform, and who are these palestinians? Ross didn't want to name names, but it seems unlikely that the people he's been talking to are really in a position to effect the kind of change they profess to desire. Here's are some telling excerpts from a Fateh Online "Editorial" on "Introducing Real Reform":

...Israel and the US Administration have identical views regarding the required changes in the Palestinian political system and in the Palestinian leadership. The European Union (EU) and some of the Arab countries look forward to a change that satisfies the Palestinian ambitions; a change that is based on self-reform rather than an Afghani type of change.

...The Intifada broke out to strengthen adherence to the basic principles. The Israeli military escalation against the peaceful demonstrations was meant to break the will of the Palestinian people so as to impose the Israeli plans. The fact that we did not succumb to their plots made Israel and the US Administration insist on a change that is based on the following:...a. To end the Intifada as a form of resistance; b. To reorganize the security apparatus in a way to ensure the protection of the Zionist entity and to carry out Tenet’s recommendations. These are 1) apprehending Palestinian freedom fighters according to lists prepared by the Israeli security forces, 2) destroying the infrastructure of resistance, and 3) collecting arms used against the occupation to be handed over to the US.

....Since the PLO’s Executive Committee represents the central government of the Palestinian people, Fateh believes that the Committee should activate its role. It should involve its departments in the process of mobilizing our people in the Diaspora to participate in strengthening our steadfastness and in escalating the confrontation.

....The Central Committee has realized the importance of moving forward in all areas of development, but a major undertaking should be the encountering of hostile ideas about reform. The change called for aims to impose Israeli diktat after destroying the revolutionary infrastructure of our movement.

The nature of the reform we in the movement are looking forward to requires scrutinizing all aspects of the current situation to avoid at least the evils embodied in the Israeli and US allegations regarding reform. In putting our house in order, however, we need to place the right person in the right place.

Revolution until victory.

Doesn't sound like cause for a great deal of optimism.

Shir HaMa'alot

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A Song of Ascents (Psalm 126)

When God brings brings home the captivity of Zion,
We will be like those who dream.
Then our mouths will be filled with laughter,
and our tongues with singing;
Then they will say among the nations:
"God has done great things with them."
God has done great things with us;
We rejoice.

Return us from our captivity, God,
As streams in the desert.
They that sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
Though one goes on the way weeping, who bears a measure of seed,
That one shall come home with joyful song, bearing sheaves.

Shabbat Shalom.

Reviewing Posse Comitatus

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In case you're wondering what all this is about, the Amercian Bar Association Journal has the scoop.

The Bush administration has ordered lawyers in the departments of Justice and Defense to investigate whether the Posse Comitatus Act should be amended to allow the U.S. military to become more involved in domestic law enforcement.


Review of the 124-year-old law is part of the administration’s planning for a comprehensive homeland-security strategy. Congress will vote this fall on a bill to allow the federal Office of Homeland Security to coordinate and oversee domestic terrorism defense, potentially including advising the president to send U.S. military personnel to assist in the investigation and capture of suspected terrorists on U.S. soil.

Truth, Justice and the American Way

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Charles Johnson pointed out this story about USAID funding the rennovation of a palestinian high school that was named after a terrorist.

Well, Aaron Lerner at IMRA brought the matter to the attention of the right people, and it seems something is being done about it.

A letter from Jamal Al Aref, the Acting Middle East Representative of ANERA [American Near East Refugee Aid] gives some background and a summary of the corrective actions that are being taken:

The school's original name was Hajj Issa Al Mashni Secondary Girls school. This is how ANERA reported the name of the school in its proposal to USAID and this is how the name of the school appears on ANERA's grant agreement with the Shuyyukh town council.

Several months ago, the ministry of education decided to change the name of the school to Dalal Al Moghrabi school simply because they wanted to give a woman's name to the girls school [OK, we'll just let that slide, for now]. Actually the original name was chosen because Hajj Issa has been the donor who started the school building......

The present situtation: ANERA started immediately, this morning, through its director in the Halhoul office, a discussion about the issue raised and how this can be resolved with the least damages possible. ANERA was successful in obtaining the Ministry of Education's commitment in writing that they are reverting, immediately, to the old name for the school which glorifies the person who contributed to the construction of the initial classrooms for the girls school. The letter is in Arabic and ANERA Jerusalem office is keeping a copy for further reference. The Shuyyukh town council called ANERA and expressed their intention to change the plaque at the school to reflect the original name of the school.

ANERA's future steps: ANERA will carry out all the necessary steps in the future to make sure that such incidents do not occur. We all understand that we live in a highly sensitive environment that could damage a lot of the good-intended works.

Also ANERA will adjust all internal records to reflect the original name of the school (i.e. on the contracts documents, the construction plaque on site, .) as was mentioned in the proposal. Moreover, when the time comes and the contract is signed with a specific contractor, ANERA will make sure that this event gets maximum publicity in all the local newspaper with an emphasis that the true and correct name of the school is mentioned.

A good result.

Attack Iraq?

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The buzz on this topic has certainly been ramping up of late. Lots of conjecture on whether Sadam is or is not a threat and, if so, to who, whether we have really given sactions a chance to work, how many more ultimatums the US must give him before we act so that "our allies" will support us, blah, blah, blah.

Imshin says that her "interest in the Iraq offensive is more than academic. It's more of a survival interest thing."

Imshin, of course, lives in Israel.

London Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic 04 Aug 02

[FBIS (US Government service) Translated Text]

(Via IMRA)

Shaykh Abd-al-Aziz al-Rantisi, one of the leaders of the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, denied yesterday that the movement is willing to stop fighting or observe a six-month truce acknowledged yesterday that all this talk of a truce has been a smokescreen to make it look like the Israelis scuttled a chance for peace by assassinating that worm Shehadah. He asserted that these are lies and nonsensical reports that express the wishes of the defeatists who do not want to achieve liberation and a return to the homeland any palestinian who claims to want peace with Israel is a liar and a fraud (and who are we to disagree with him?). He affirmed that the martyrdom operations suicide homicide bombings and drive-by shootings against Israeli targets will continue and that HAMAS will continue its blows everywhere until the day comes when Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River is again Arab and Islamic palestinians from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River are utterly defeated down to their last slingshot.

In a telephone conversation from Gaza through which he addressed a festival organized by the Islamic Action Front Party in Amman, Al-Rantisi declared that the confrontation against the enemy will continue despite the war crimes and organized state terrorism that the tyrannical occupation forces are carrying out in most Palestinian towns and population centers, most recently in Nabulus, Gaza, Hebron, Tulkarm, and Ramallah asked: can anyone get me one of those camels?

The leading HAMAS figure explained that his movement will pursue the enemy movements are bigger than anybody's and that it they will not be stopped or hindered by any local, regional, or international obstacles, obstructions or hemmorhoids, including the conspiracies that are being concocted in Washington with the help of some Arab regimes to restrain the Palestinian people. He emphasized that all conspiracies against the Palestinian resistance will fail and that the resistance will continue until Jerusalem is liberated resistance is futile and that Jerusalem will be assimilated.

Al-Rantisi said that Palestinian children are being killed with US bombs and missiles and vicious websites, but that the youths, both male and female, have listened to the call of righteousness ClearGuidance, are following the path of jihad, and vying with each other to become martyrs dead murderers. This, he noted, proves that the nation is standing on the threshold of a new era, the era of victory that comes in the wake of the setbacks and the age of defeated persons who agreed to be subjugated failed to note, proves that the "nation" (such as it is) is reeling on the edge of an abyss, the abyss of extinction and obscurity that comes in the wake of pointless, directionless hatred and [blither about defeated persons that makes no sense]. He remarked that the women of Palestine (where?) are following the example of Al-Khansa [woman in early days of Islam who encouraged her sons to go to war] other subjugated and disenfranchised persons throughout history who have allowed themselves and their children to be used as canon fodder by those in power.

He added that the Israelis are suffering much hardship these days as a result of the continuing resistance atrocities perpetrated by the palestinians, that their morale is low, and they are emigrating from the country in increasing numbers. (Well, one out of three right ain't bad for someone who can't find a camel in the Middle East.) Noting that Sharon and his allies are trying hard to stop the martyrdom operations and the resistance to entrench the settlers in the land and raise their morale determined to stop all terrorist actions, Al-Rantisi reiterated that the resistance terrorism will continue until the last occupier leaves Palestine palestinian blows himself to bits.

During the festival, which was attended by more than 1,000 citizens (wow! puts Woodstock to shame, don't it?), Israeli and US flags and models of Israeli settlements were set on fire stuff was, as usual, set on fire. Two young cubs (?) toured the festival carrying a plaque on which the words "Israel we will definitely vanish" were inscribed. Jordanian policemen who were present on the site confined themselves to watching from a distance and did not intervene.

Natch.

A Monumental Crime

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Judith W. is again reminding bloggers of an onging atrocity that tends to get lost amid the life-and-death issues currently facing the State of Israel. For years now, the Muslim religious trust ("Waqf") that contols the Temple Mount has been systematically destroying invaluable archeological artifacts in an attempt to obliterate all physical trace of Jewish history on that site. Judith points to a compehensive article by Hershel Shanks in Moment (on line only), in which the entire history of this crime is set forth in excruciating detail. Some sticky questions arise here.

Why did the government of Israel cede control of the Temple Mount to the Waqf in the aftermath of the Six Day War? Throughout the period of Muslim sovereignty over the Jewish holy sites -- the very holiest Jewish sites -- their sanctity was repeatedly violated and the rights of Jews to visit them or pray at them was curtailed, if not prohibited. Yet Moshe Dayan, upon Israel's triumphant return to Har HaBayt, felt obligated to turn over exclusive control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock to the Muslim authorities. In his biography, Dayan recalls this discussion with Arab officials:

I said that Israeli troops would be removed from the site and stationed outside the compound. The Israeli authorities were responsible for overall security, but we would not interfere in the private affairs of the Moslems responsible for their own sanctuaries. These were two Moslem places of worship, and they had the right to operate them themselves. My hosts no doubt knew that on the day we had captured this site, I had given orders that the Israeli flag be removed from the Mosque of the Dome, where it had been hoisted. We had no intention of controlling Moslem holy places or of interfering in their religious life. The one thing we would introduce was freedom of Jewish access to the compound of Haram esh-Sharif without limitation or payment. This compound, as my hosts well knew, was our Temple Mount. Here stood our Temple during ancient times, and it would be inconceivable for Jews not to be able freely to visit this holy place now that Jerusalem was under our rule.

But, of course, things didn't turn out quite that way. A few weeks later, on Tisha B'av (the day on which the destruction of the Temple is mourned), a group of Jews prayed on the Temple Mount, over the strenuous objections of Arab leaders. To avoid "a religious clash," the Israeli government decided to "maintain" the Arab ban on Jewish prayer at the site. And things have only deteriorated from there.

Why has the government of Israel repeatedly refused to raise a finger to stop the destruction of Judaism's archeological heritage? No one seems to know. While bulldozers plow up and discard ancient artifacts in a city dump and while hisstorical ruins are smashed to smithereens and paved over, successive governments, including Sharon's, have sat quietly by and watched.

And, finally, where is the world's outrage? When the Taliban blew up the ancient giant Buddahs in Afghanistan, people all over the globe justifiably erupted in protest and anger. That atrocity couldn't be prevented because the Taliban ruled the land in which those antiquities resided. But the Waqf doesn't rule the land of Israel. The Waqf doesn't rule Jerusalem and, but for the grace of the Israeli government, the Waqf doesn't even rule the Temple Mount. An outpouring of world support for the protection of Judaism's holiest site would surely alert the Waqf that its actions are unacceptable. The world's silence goes a long way toward confirming the opposite. Which, I suppose, is at least part of the answer to the previous question.

Read the Moment article.

A Note on Hoaxes and Hatred

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There's still no word on the source of the flier that was circulating a few weeks ago at Florida Atlantic University. The University and the ADL say it's a hoax. But the problem here, I believe, is the definition of what constitues a "hoax." According to Webster's, a hoax is "something intended to deceive or defraud." So, technically, if the authors of the FAU flier intended to convince people that it was the work of a student group voicing a grievance when, in fact, it was not, then it would appear to fall within the definition of "hoax."

I don't believe, however, that whoever published that piece of garbage expected anyone to buy that. I don't think for a second that they had any expectation of even one of those "demands" being taken seriously by the University or anyone else. And I seriously doubt that it was concocted by a student organization, official or otherwise. On the other hand, I do think it's a piece of virulent hate literature intended to make a point -- not a sick joke or a stupid prank. And I have to say that if such a document had been directed against a different ethnic group, neither the University nor the ADL would have encouraged people to ignore it. And even if they had, the media wouldn't have allowed that to happen.

Hate is hate. Our constitution requires us to permit the expression of hate (within limits), but it doesn't require us to stand by silently in the face of such expression. Hate, whether disguised as parody, metaphor or even "hoax," is still hate. No matter who it's directed against. That's why the FAU flier should not be ignored.

Thinkhalal.com

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I've been spending far too much time visiting websites with which I share a general view of the world. So I decided to do a little browsing on the dark side, and encountered this blog. This guy (I'm pretty sure it's a guy) has some cool stuff (to which I'm not linking...go if you want, but please don't bring this jerk back here). A post called "Fuck palestine"

Had a cousin of my indian brother-in-law come in for a visit last week and we got to talking about india and palestine, and he basically said that he and the rest of the indian muslim community could give two flying donkeys about palestine and that he'd slap the first palestinian he saw for all the relief, sympathy and equal treatement under islam which the arab world has given toward the nearly 2,000 dead victims of gujarat, which in one month ammassed more dead Muslims than palestine has in at least the last five years.

with which sentiments he appears to disagree. And a message of sympathy and support for Mona Baker, in which he advises us that

the tide is now turning and Mona is beginning to receive support from all quarters, including from jewish individuals and organisations disgusted at her treatment and that of the Palestinians. Indeed some of the strongest support of her action and some of the most uncompromising criticism of Israel's injustices in Palestine have come from jewish academics and groups. (See example below)

but I couldn't find the "example below." And a critique of Buffy's feminism (hey, Meryl!) for which he appears to have found his inspiration here.

Anyway, our intrepid blogger has his detractors. Some of his readers have accused him of being "vulgar" and "unislamic." But nobody, including "Ms. Jihadette," appears to be accusing him of being racist or anti-semitic. Yet.

Condemnation -- palestinian style (redux)

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The "Palestinian leadership" (we don't even get a spokesdrone named this time) "expressed its condemnation" (oops, no "vehemence"?) of Sunday's attack on a civilian bus:

The Palestine National Authority (PNA) condemns the attack on an Israeli bus near Ssafad City this morning.

(Whew! Glad that's over!) And, again, here's the rest of the official "condemnation."

The PNA considers that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government, by carrying out mass detentions, repressive measures and home demolitions in Nablus and Jenin cities, is creating the necessary environment for the continuation of this series of bloodshed.

It is imperative that the world stops Sharon's crimes and intervenes immediately to put an end to the wave of war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation army through mass detentions, home demolitions, siege, and imposition of curfew, in the aim of pushing the Palestinian People towards starvation.

Different lyrics, same tune. (Yeah, I'm boring myself, too.)

Discipline

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Glenn Reynolds calls attention to this article by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post. The article is mostly about the massacre of truth at Jenin, but Cohen also notes some fundamental differences between Arab and Israel army tactics:

The fact is, though, that Israel has largely eschewed such methods. It fights hard and sometimes ruthlessly -- assassinations, for instance -- but it has generally adhered to Western standards of warfare. It has the only army in the Middle East in which reservists have refused to serve for reasons of conscience -- an option I wouldn't recommend to any soldier in any Arab army....

Maybe this is part of what he was talking about:

The problem started in 1994 when Saddam Hussein issued a presidential order to cut off the ear of any military person who failed to report for military service, or defected from the army. Unfortunately, I had just started my residency after graduating from medical school. I never imagined that an Iraqi physician would be forced to perform mutilating surgeries... But this is exactly what happened... the day came when Iraqi military physicians... were forced to cut off the ears of officers and soldiers...

Why we're still better

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My friend Ellen sent me a copy of this article by Martin Peretz, which I hadn't seen before. I think it's the best response to the brouhaha over the assassination of Salah Shehada I've seen so far.

....To Shehada one can attribute literally dozens of successful mass atrocities and hundreds of innocent dead. Shehada had been atop Israel's most-wanted list for two years, and Israeli interlocutors had pleaded again and again with Yasir Arafat's men that this master terrorist be arrested--which, of course, he was not. At least eight times the Israelis had aborted operations meant to assassinate him, each time in order not to endanger Palestinian noncombatants. The last aborted attempt occurred the day before Shehada died.

Israelis are now engaged in a process of examination and self-recrimination: How could they not have known that a big bomb, however "smart," would cause collateral casualties? And why was Israeli intelligence so wrong in thinking that this operation could be carried out with pinpoint accuracy? I do not know the answers. But I am proud that Israelis pose such painful and perplexing questions to themselves, professionally and communally, and that they insist their government protect them while also protecting--as their military rules command them--adversary civilians, "their lives, bodies, dignity, and property." Many outside Israel, of course, are eagerly asking the same questions about the attack. But too few acknowledge the basic fact that Shehada did not have an idle mind nor idle hands and that every additional hour he lived he was preparing another enormity against innocent life. This is the difference between the Israeli and the Palestinian ways of war. In fact, the Palestinian polity's distinct contribution to world politics--from Arafat almost four decades ago until today, from Munich to the bombing in the old Tel Aviv bus station last week--is the utter routinization of the savage killing of innocents, "the banality of evil" in another era. And Shehada was the ultimate routinizer. He was an exemplar of the Palestinian political tradition, not an exception to it. Which is why he enjoyed so much popular support. The rage in the funeral streets of Gaza would have been just as great had he been the only casualty of the bomb.

Peretz is right. Most of us have done some serious agonizing over the unintended loss of life that occurred as a result of taking Shehada out. Was the bomb too big? Was the intelligence sloppy? Why couldn't it have been avoided? All good questions, but Peretz puts the prime focus back where it belongs. And he reminds us in the process where our values and our strengths, as well as our priorities, lie.

Scrollin', Scrollin'....

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This page is getting way too long. I know. Until I get a response from Blogger (or anyone else, if you have an idea) as to why the archived posts suddenly reappeared and won't leave, there's gonna be an awful lot of scrollin' going' on. Sorry. To be fixed ASAP.

Update: Problem solved?
So it would appear, although I have no idea how. Hey, Blogger! If you fixed it, thanks. Hope it sticks, this time.

Go here

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Justin Weitz, over at The American Kaiser, is on a major roll. Check it out.

"Forced to mingle with Jew students"

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The Media Line also points to a flier that was being circulated at Florida Atlantic University a few weeks ago. It was supposedly published by group calling itself the "Islamic-Arab Students Defense Committee," and it seems they have a problem:

When we Arab-Muslim students came to America for study, we had no idea that we would be forced to mingle with Jew students and take instruction from Jew teachers. This is offensive to us since it is well known that the Jews are the most corrupt and violent people on Earth. We live in constant fear because of the threats of violence made by these Jews against Arab students.

Because we want to help build an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, devoid of confrontation and conflict, we are asking the FAU administration to:

1. Separate Jew students from Muslim students. Jews should be taught only by Jew professors and instructors. Muslim students should not be forced to take education from Jews.

2. Require Jew students to wear some sort of identifiction so Muslim students can avoid them socially. Indicate Jew professors in the university course listings.

There are more helpful suggestions, but you get the idea.

The University says the flier is a hoax, that there is no such organization on campus and that the Muslim Students Organization is "disgusted" by the message. The University believes that publicizing the flier only plays into the hands of hate mongers, and they've asked The Media Line to remove it from their website (which so far hasn't happened). The Anti-Defamation League agrees.

Should this turn out to be an actual hoax, I'll remove it from this site, as well. For now, though, I have my doubts. Someone did distribute this on campus even if it was not, as it would appear, a university organization. In the meantime, the reason for the lack of any public denunciation of the flier by either the University or the Muslim Students Organization is obviously their desire to, um, yeah, avoid playing into the hands of hate mongers by giving them publicity. Right.

Just punishment

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That's what the several terrorist palestinian actions perpetrated in Israel yesterday were, according to the palestinian weekly, Al Manar.

On a day of armed actions against Israeli crimes, dozens of Israelis were killed and wounded in courageous operations: that is the lead headline of today’s edition (August 5) of the Palestinian weekly Al-Manar, which is published in Jerusalem.

The item details the various terror attacks that took place across Israel yesterday:

• the suicide bombing on the Egged bus in the north
• the shooting in Jerusalem
• the shooting at a car near Tulkarm
• the stoning at Tapuah junction in Samaria
• the attempted seaborne terror attack at Dugit in the Gaza Strip
• the mortar fire at Gush Katif in Gaza
• the roadside bomb detonation near Beit El.

The author of the item ends by stating there are an increasing number of calls by Israelis for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to stop the terror against the Palestinians, because those attacks are leading to revenge operations, which are resulting in the deaths of more Israelis.

The Media Line has a photo of the front page, complete with gory pictures. And some interesting cartoons from the Arab press. And....(see above).

A word to the wise

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SANA, the Official Syrian News Agency, says the Arab League has some advice for US:

CAIRO, August 05 (SANA)

Arab League reiterated Monday absolute rejection to the US. threats to launch a military strike against Iraq, underlining that any such military action will be “dangerous and wiseless”.

An American hero?

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Just before my NIC blew out on Saturday, I was doing some browsing and noticed Amir Butler whining about the fate of a certain James Ujaama. Mr. Ujaama, before his recent incarceration, was the editor of a pleasant little website called StopAmerica.org. (Go on, take a peek.)

Butler thinks the man is (or at least was) "an American hero" because he used his own money to publish a book called "Young People's Guide to Starting a Business Without Selling Drugs." And to support this point (?), he links to this article (among others):

Feds Arrest Al Qaeda Suspects With Plans to Poison Water Supplies

WASHINGTON — Federal officials have arrested two Al Qaeda terror suspects in the U.S. with documents in their possession about how to poison the country's water supplies, Fox News has learned.

The first case involves James Ujaama, 36, who surrendered to the FBI last week in Denver. Sources say they found documents about water poisoning among several other terrorism-related documents in his Denver residence.

Sources say the government has additional evidence that prior to Sept. 11 James Ujaama acted as a courier delivering laptop computers to the Taliban. Federal agents seized two computers and two floppy disks from the house where James Ujaama had been staying when he was arrested as a material witness to terrorist activity, his brother said.

James Ujaama's brother is Mustafa Ujaama, the founder of the now-closed Dar-us-Salaam mosque in Seattle. The FBI has been investigating activities and officials from the former mosque for several months.

Investigators believe officials and members of the mosque were trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., Fox News has confirmed. Investigators say there is evidence that Mustafa Ujaama visited Bly to check it out as a possible facility location.

Butler says Ujaama was arrested because he "criticizes American policy." Michelle Malkin isn't convinced. But she's coming at this from a different angle:

Ujaama hasn't been charged with anything. He is, of course, innocent until proven guilty of any terrorism-related allegations. But if you are a family member or old acquaintance of such a suspect, you might properly feel alarmed. Angry. And maybe even secretly suspicious of the person you thought you knew so well, but perhaps had deep, unspoken doubts about over the years.

If you are a prominent local black activist or politician, however, you whip out your race card and start making excuses, spreading blame and mouthing off when chastened silence would be the wiser course.

"I don't know everything James Ujaama did when he was in London," said Charlie James, a black community activist in Seattle who heads something called the "Organization of African American Unity." "But I've been knowing (sic) him all his life." Ujaama -- who founded an extremist pro-Muslim Web site after Sept. 11 called "StopAmerica.org" and visited Pakistan several times since the terrorist attacks -- has a "streak of militancy," James acknowledged. But he declared unequivocally that Ujaama is not a terrorist.

Ron Sims, King County, Wash., executive and the highest-ranking African American elected official in the state, echoed the declaration publicly. Of Ujaama and his younger brother, Mustafa, Sims said: "These two gentlemen are community activists, not terrorists." Larry Gossett, a black King County councilman added: "Both of these cats have had a positive, contributing role in the African American community here."

James Ujaama's "biggest problem is that he's so damn inquisitive that he'll go anywhere anyplace anytime. I think that's what got him in trouble," Charlie James naively pontificated. Most of us satisfy our inquisitive impulses by visiting a library, not by hopscotching across hotbeds of al Qaeda activism. But never mind that. Building on this innocent scholar image, James told another reporter that Ujaama simply traveled abroad "to see how other Muslims are living." He's "a curious guy," James said. "He goes out to see the world."

Where did Ujaama, a young, self-employed computer technician of limited means, get the money for all these travels?

Of Ujaama and his brother's visit to the Bly, Ore., site suspected of being a terrorist training camp, Charlie James shrugs. It was simply a recreational "practice shooting" trip, he pooh-poohs.

Practice for what?

Malkin makes some interesting points, but her essay also suggests a more sinister element of this story. To what extent might some find it expedient to manipulate post-9/11 sentiments to exacerbate racial polarization in this country? Not a pretty picture. Unless, of course, an America divided on as many fronts as possible is your ultimate (or, rather, penultimate) goal.

Electrifying

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Nothing like having your network card (not to mention the router port) blown out in front of your face by a lightning strike to liven up your day. Or evening, as the case may be.

We had quite a few interesting little storms on the East coast this weekend. I was much luckier than this guy.

Zichronam l'vracha*

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This is the eyewitness account of 17-year-old Ayelet Hashahar Dikstein, whose parents and younger brother were shot to death last Friday while in route to Havat Maon, south of Hebron, for the Sabbath. Ayelet had been asleep in the car. She woke up when the shooting began.

I saw a whole load of flashes, and only after a couple of seconds did I realize that they were shots. Dad was holding Mom's head which was pouring with blood. When the firing stopped, Dad got out of the car crying. On the other side of the road was an armed man. Dad thought it was a soldier come to help. He tried to talk to him, but the man loaded his rifle and fired at Dad.

...The terrorist came up to the car and looked at us. I remember his face well. I guess his magazine was empty because the shooting stopped. Another gunman threw another magazine at him which fell too far away. He apparently had to go over and get it because he went away and did not come back.

...We were all covered in blood and I thought the terrorist would come back and shoot us. Later I thought that maybe he hadn't noticed that we were still alive....I remember the gunman so well, he looked us straight in the eyes.

Yosef and Hannah Dikstein left nine surviving children, aged 18 months to 20 years. 9-year-old Shuv'el was murdered along with his parents.

Zvi Yehuda, the oldest son, spoke at the funeral:

You, Mom and Dad, who gave up your dreams for us, left your comfortable house and nearby place of work in [Jerusalem's] Givat Shaul to strengthen Psagot in these difficult days. You were murdered not in a gang war, nor in a car accident, nor for some sin that you committed. You were killed in daylight, in front of your children by an abominable murderer because you were Jews who lived as free people in your country.

This triple homicide, by the way, wouldn't have been covered by the alleged cease-fire that was supposedly scuttled by the assassination of Salah Shehada. The Diksteins weren't civilians. They were "settlers." And their slaughter occurred ourside the Green Line. Fair game under any interpretation of any cease-fire offered, promised or suggested by any palestinian group or leader to date.

*May their memories be a blessing.
Shabbat Shalom.

Star Blog Bits

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Charles, over at Little Green Footballs, has been having some fun with the news editor of the Saudi English language paper, Arab News. Said editor, one John R. Bradley, has been inflating his credentials a bit and Josh Trevino had sort of, well, called him on it and then Charles had picked it up and, well, then things started to get interesting. A feisty exchange (which I'll paraphrase somewhat) ensued on LGF’s comments board, including some incisive questions posted by Joe Katzman, some of which were adroitly dodged and the rest of which were pointedly ignored by Mr. Bradley.

In the meantime, Bradley complained that Charles was blocking posts from Saudi critics. It’s not that I’m worried about critics, responded Charles, it’s just that this is what I get when I don’t block general access from SA. But..but..but, whined Bradley, why can’t you just block the accounts that are offensive. Well, responded Charles, since you live in SA and know everything there is to know about it, I surely don’t need to tell you this, but

...you see, unfortunately the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has implemented proxy servers on all public Internet accounts that use their ISU, in order to watch what their subjects are doing on the Net. Here in the USA, we call this "invasion of privacy." You might have a different name for it.

OK, said Bradley, “point taken re your reasons for blocking everyone.”

But after being called a few nasty names by other participants in the melee, Mr. Bradley pouted, collected his marbles and headed for the fabulous, crime-free Jeddah Corniche to clear his head. “I’m not in the habit of hanging out with white trash,” he declared, and then went off to cover the Monster Truck Show at the Abha Shopping Festival.

P.S. Whatever point Mr. Bradley “took” obviously wasn’t the point that Charles was making. Almost before the Monster Truck Show was over, JRB was complaining to his readers about the big bad bullies at LGF:

...a hate-mail oriented, extreme right-wing website that acts as a kind of magnet for Arab-haters…. largely devoted these days to launching personal attacks on me, since I am what the posters seem unable to comprehend: A Westerner who lives in Saudi Arabia, has Saudi friends, and genuinely likes the life here. The posters appear particularly to loathe everything Saudi Arabian, although none of them have ever been here. Almost needless to say, the hate site itself has oh-so-conveniently blocked all access to those surfing the Net in Saudi Arabia….

Point not taken, John.

Unholy Web Wars

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A person who goes by the name of Ali Sina has assembled an intriguing group of interrelated websites, including islamexposed.com, rationalthinking.humanists.net and the apparent granddaddy, faithfreedom.org, all of which are virulently anti-Islam sites purporting to be published by disillusioned ex-Muslims. Enter faithfreedom.com, whose mission statement basically introduces it as an attempt to counter the "defamatory" nature of Mr. Sina's site(s).

This is all rather entertaining, not to mention informative, even though the whole mess seems to have sprung up in an attempt to capitalize on the post-9/11 interest in Islam. But while my general sympathies would ordinarily tend to lie, I must say, with Mr. Sina's position, my brief perusal of some of his essays leaves me less than impressed. For example, Mr. Sina examines this now fairly well-known hadith:

Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985:
Narrated AbuHurayrah:
"Allah's Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) said: The Last Hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews."

Mr. Sina's critique:

The ridiculous nature of this passage is so laughable, it is not even worth commenting on, but since so many idiots believe this nonsense I will make a few observations. Trees and stones do not have vocal cords, lungs and a brain, so the above verse does not even merit metaphoric assumptions. But the irony is that the author has these stones and trees taking sides in this war, in this case they will not only talk but for some strange reason they will side with the Jews. NOTE: The nature and depth of Muslim hatred towards the Jews should be clear once more.

Leaving aside the last sentence, it's really Mr. Sina's scholarly analysis that's laughable -- especially since he seems to have entirely missed the point by confusing which "side" the inanimate objects end up "taking" in this battle. Moreover, however much I may agree with the points he's ultimately trying to make, I continue to believe that a more respectful tone is called for when discussing matters of faith. Many people take this stuff very seriously.

On the other hand, Mr. Sina takes several good shots at the myth of "peaceful Islam" before lapsing into some pretty harsh ad hominem attacks on the Prophet himself. (For the myth itself in a rather restrained form, check out ff.com's version.) This battle could eventually shape up to be interesting but, at the moment, most of ff.com is still under construction. In the meantime, a lively exchange has been underway at ff.org between Ali and a persistent detractor who's trying to convince him to shut down his site(s). Stay tuned...

And by the way...

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Hamas has already replaced the dead terrorist -- last Friday.

Hamas on Friday appointed Muhammad Deif the new commander of its military wing, following the killing of his predecessor, Salah Shehadeh, in a bombing strike last Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

Deif, 40, from Khan Yunis, is also known as Abu Khaled. He was Shehadeh's deputy. Deif’s name has been appearing on Israel's most wanted list and was held by the PA for several months before being released.

Where's the massacre?

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Charles Johnson takes the BBC's coverage of the UN Report on the "Jenin massacre" apart. Piece by piece. The "massacre," of course, is nowhere to be found.

Some key observations from the report:

53. That the Israeli Defence Forces encountered heavy Palestinian resistance is not in question. Nor is the fact that Palestinian militants in the camp, as elsewhere, adopted methods which constitute breaches of international law that have been and continue to be condemned by the United Nations. Clarity and certainty remain elusive, however, on the policy and facts of the IDF response to that resistance. The Government of Israel maintains that IDF “clearly took all possible measures not to hurt civilian life” but were confronted with “armed terrorists who purposely concealed themselves among the civilian population”. However, some human rights groups and Palestinian eyewitnesses assert that IDF soldiers did not take all possible measures to avoid hurting civilians, and even used some as human shields.

..... 56. Fifty-two Palestinian deaths had been confirmed by the hospital in Jenin by the end of May 2002. IDF also place the death toll at approximately 52. A senior Palestinian Authority official alleged in mid-April that some 500 were killed, a figure that has not been substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged.

And then, of course, there's stuff like this:

59. ....Witness testimonies and human rights investigations allege that the destruction was both disproportionate and indiscriminate, some houses coming under attack from the bulldozers before their inhabitants had the opportunity to evacuate. The Palestinian Authority maintains that IDF “had complete and detailed knowledge of what was happening in the camp through the use of drones and cameras attached to balloons … [and] none of the atrocities committed were unintentional”.

And this:

64. Many of the reports of human rights groups contain accounts of wounded civilians waiting days to reach medical assistance, and being refused medical treatment by IDF soldiers. In some cases, people died as a result of these delays. In addition to those wounded in the fighting, there were civilian inhabitants of the camp and the city who endured medication shortages and delays in medical treatment for pre-existing conditions. For example, it was reported on 4 April that there were 28 kidney patients in Jenin who could not reach the hospital for dialysis treatment.

"Witness testimonies" and "reports of human rights groups" supplied the greater part of the information upon which this report was based, as the Israeli government (belatedly) elected not to lend its imprimateur to this witch hunt. Nevertheless, there's still no sign of that massacre....

Condemnation -- palestinian style

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Yasser Abed Rabbo, the P.A. Minister of Culture and Information, "vehemently condemned" yesterday's attack on the Hebrew University Campus:

The Palestine National Authority (PNA) absolutely condemns the attack against the Hebrew University today.

That the was the lead sentence. Now, here's the rest of the official "condemnation."

The leadership considers Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon as being responsible for this cycle of terror. Sharon’s army is continuing its policy of destruction, killing and collective punishment, including curfews and siege, to paralyze the Palestinian society, government, and civil institutions, including the Palestinian security services.

This cycle of terror is a result of policies that are adopted [by Sharon’s government] which escalated with the assassination that took the lives of 17 Palestinians in Gaza, including 9 children, and the continuation of arrests of thousands of Palestinians in mass detention centers.

We call upon all forces inside Israel, who oppose this continuation of the cycle of terror, to join ranks with each other, so that we can put an end to terror, violence and mainly to policies that are behind them and provoke them. Sharon’s policies thrive on massacres, bloodshed and suicidal attacks.

What exactly is it that's being vehemently condemned here?

Strange Bedfellows

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Joel Orr caught my attention with an old but very apt joke about context last week (well, it was actually his link to my blog that initially caught my attention -- thanks, Joel!). But in exploring his website, I came across several seductively pro-Israel essays by Gary Bauer, and this disturbed me. It's one of those really uncomfortable aspects of being a social liberal (more or less) who supports Israel (more) that I often find myself agreeing with statements by people who I normally cannot stomach. And Gary Bauer is probably the epitome of that dilemma.

So I checked around to see if perhaps my opinion of the man had been unfairly colored by my exposure to his ideas through the prism of the left-biased media. No, I don't think so. Here's a sampling, for instance, of the views on sexuality promulgated by his Family Research Council:

Talking Points: How Homosexual 'Civil Unions' Harm Marriage -- A man and a woman joined together in holy matrimony is the universal "yardstick" for marriage: You cannot alter the definition of marriage without causing social chaos any more than you can change the definition of a yardstick.

Talking Points: Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse -- Despite efforts by homosexual activists to distance the gay lifestyle from pedophilia, there remains a disturbing connection between the two. This is because, by definition, male homosexuals are sexually attracted to other males.

Powell's Reckless Comments Put Young Lives at Risk -- Secretary of State Colin Powell misled millions of young people worldwide when he advocated condoms to protect against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Secretary Powell literally put young lives at risk in comments on a recent, globally broadcast MTV special.

Huh? Huh? And Huh? There's a "universal yardstick for marriage," and anyone who wants to apply a different measure such as, oh, I don't know, love, respect, deep and abiding affection or (can I even say it?) physical attraction, had better get off that train quick 'cause it's going nowhere. Pedophiles? Well, Bauer the FRC paid for a study that would distort and manipulate the data to get to the right result and, by golly, they got that result. But the logic of the above statement completely escapes me. And how dare Colin Powell suggest that kids use condoms to block the spread of STDs? If they have sex, they deserve to die. Or to get pregnant. And so here is Bauer's position on abortion:

Q: If someone in your family was raped and became pregnant and wanted an abortion, would you support that decision? A: I would comfort her. I would pray with her. I would explain to her that she couldn’t make right the terrible thing that had happened to her by taking the life of her innocent unborn child. But most important. [is] what I would do as president. And as president I would throw rapists in jail for a long time so America’s women wouldn’t have to worry about it. (Source: Republican Debate in West Columbia, SC Jan 7, 2000)..

And at this point, I've had enough. There's plenty more where that came from, but I'll pass on giving this kind of twisted trash any more air time than it's already got. Gary Bauer, in my book, is out there on the far lunatic fringe. These here are not what I consider to be mainstream American values. They're sorry, hateful, entrenched doctrinal horse hockey, no better than the invective of the imams on Saudi TV.

No, Gary Bauer is one fellow I don't want anywhere near my bed. Israel can certainly use all the support it can get these days, but I think I'll continue to guard my right flank just as closely as my left.

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