April 2005 Archives




Saturday, April 30, 2005
Pro-Israeli Muslim Journalist Freed after 17-Month Ordeal in Bangladesh

[contact info omitted]


Earlier today, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, the Muslim journalist jailed
after publishing articles that urged his nation of Bangladesh to recognize
Israel, advocated interfaith dialogue, and condemned terrorism and the
growing power of radical Islamists in the non-Arab Muslim world, was
released at about 7pm Dhaka time.


Not so fast


Unsurprisingly, it's starting to look more and more like something was a little fishy with the Volcker investigation. The early reports of Kofi Annan's "exoneration," as we've heard for a while already, were highly exaggerated. But now it's starting to reek of a cover-up.

Meanwhile (via Beryl D.), the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania have seen fit to invite Mr. Annan to address the commencement exercises of the Class of '05. Some students, as well as faculty, alumni and community members, find this troubling, to say the least. If you are among them, you might want to fire off a fax, email or paper letter to the Trustees and let them know what you think of their choice.

Office of the University Secretary
211 College Hall
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6303
Email: ofcsec@pobox.upenn.edu

Or, if you prefer (I don't), here's an online petition.

Shabbat Shalom &

Chag Sameach.

AUT boycott annulled?


The effort is gathering steam.

The controversial decision by Britain's Association of University Teachers (AUT), to boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities, may be annulled before it actually takes effect. Members of the association who oppose the boycott are attempting to collect 25 signatures of AUT's council to force a special meeting that will overturn the decision.

One of the teachers behind this move, Dr. David Hirsh, said in a telephone interview from London University's Goldsmith College, that four to five signatures have been collected: "The call went out only on Wednesday. It is still early," he said, adding that he is convinced the remainder will be collected in the coming days. According to AUT rules, if 25 council members sign an official request for a second discussion, the association's president may summon a special meeting of the council.

Hirsh, a sociologist, says he supports a Palestinian state, but opposes an academic boycott. "Israel is not `illegitimate,' as South African apartheid was. Occupation is illegitimate - not Israel itself."

While Bush slept


Actually, while he was entertaining Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah at the Western White House earlier this week, this had just played out back in the Prince's domain.

[April 24, 2005] RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Arabia has detained 40 Pakistani Christians for holding prayers at a house in the Muslim kingdom, where practicing any religion other than Islam is illegal, newspapers said yesterday.

A group of men, women and children were attending the service in the capital Riyadh when police raided the house, Al Jazirah newspaper said.

It said authorities also found Christian tapes and books.

Another Saudi daily, Al Yaum, said the raid took place on Friday while a Pakistani preacher was delivering a sermon. It was not clear what measures might be taken against the group.

Did President Bush bother to mention this during his cosy chat with Abdullah? If so, it hasn't been reported.

Then again, maybe he did.

40 Pakistani Christians who were detained over the weekend in Saudi Arabia for holding a joint Catholic-Protestant prayer service have been released, news reports said Monday, April 25.

Compass Direct, a Christian news agency, quoted the Pakistan Embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh as saying that the last two men of the group, identified as Sardar and Emmanuel, were released late Sunday, April 24. Church sources say "several carloads" of Islamic religious police forces from the Committee for the Propagation and the Prevention of Vice raided the worship meeting at a Riyadh home Friday, April 22.

Surrounding the house, the police reportedly halted the sermon being preached by a man identified only as Emmanuel. The police forces beat some of the worshippers, upsetting the furniture and breaking Christian artifacts and symbols as they searched through the house, Compass Direct claimed.

On the boycott

| | TrackBacks (1)

Gerald Steinberg has a pointed response to the AUT boycott, which I highly recommend.

Meryl links to this comprehensive discussion, which I also recommend.

For a detailed discussion of the Tantura massacre hoax that is one of the focal points of this farce, see my own post of a few years ago, which I've updated to redirect the many broken and defunct links.

Eat kitniyiot


Saul Singer wrote this essay for the Jerusalem Post three years ago. They republish it every Passover. And I'm joining in.

If you follow Ashkenazi tradition and you're wondering why it seems that so much of the stuff you aren't allowed to eat at Pesach bears little if any relation to the Biblical and Talmudic prohibitions against chametz, you'll find some answers (and relief) here.

Pushing the boundaries


Very interesting article at Israel21c on Israeli strides in stem cell research. These comments come at the end:

How has Israel, a country the size of the smallest US states, risen to such a position of prominence in this crucial field?

First of all, according to Hasson, Israel is disproportionately represented in all the natural sciences. In many US universities, he says, the number of Israeli graduate students in biology-related fields approaches that of their colleagues from India and China, countries that have populations more than 200 times greater than Israel's. In addition, he says, Israelis are forward-thinking, and are attracted to the 'hottest' fields of science.

Perhaps most significant is the fact that ethical issues, which have curbed stem cell research in the US and elsewhere, are muted in Israel. There is no law regulating stem cell research in Israel, and use of embryos for such research is allowed. In the US, embryonic stem cell research is a burning issue that played a major role in the recent presidential election. As of 2001, US President George W. Bush prohibited the federal financing of embryonic stem cell research, although the authorization of such projects is left to the discretion of each state. [*]

These radically different approaches can be partially linked to different religious beliefs.

In the view of Roman and Orthodox Catholics and many other Christians, human beings come into existence with the fertilization of the ovum by the sperm. Thus, as the earliest embryos are human, ending their lives is unthinkable - even for therapeutic applications. IVF procedures, which routinely result in 'surplus' embryos that will never develop, are unacceptable. This prohibits the very source of embryos for stem cell research.

Jewish Biblical and Talmudic Law holds that the embryo acquires full human status only at birth. In connection to the pre-implantation embryo, Jewish Law dictates that genetic materials outside the uterus have no legal status since they are not part of a human being until implanted in the womb. Even in the uterus, the embryo is considered a 'formed' human fetus only after the first 40 days. And as the commandment to save lives is central to Judaism, the creation of embryos by cloning for therapeutic purposes is justifiable.

* This statement isn't entirely correct. The policy in question does permit federal funding for research using a limited category of stem cells.

Funniest headline


From the cover of last week's (Philadelphia) Jewish Exponent:

In Every Generation: A holiday that binds people the world over

Yes indeed. (Someone has a warped sense of humor.)

Ma nishtana


Why is this night different from all other nights?

Tomorrow night, Jewish children all over the world will be asking that question. And the answer begins a long time ago in a land that may or may not be far away, depending on where you're telling the story.

Shabbat (HaGadol) Shalom.

Chag Pesach Sameach.

Another oops


Now this is a shocker.

Two suspects in the Stage nightclub suicide attack escaped from a Palestinian prison in Tulkarm.

The two, Shafik Abdul A'ani and Ahmed Zaki- members of Islamic Jihad. were arrested two months ago, shortly after the suicide attack and were held in detention until their trial, Israel Radio reported.

Palestinian security forces said they are searching for the escapees.

Uh huh.

Meryl's 4th


It's Meryl's blogiversary. Four years!

As it happens, I first stumbled upon Yourish.com three years ago today, on Meryl's 1st anniversary. "Blog?" said I to myself. "What the heck is a blog?" Who knew what a can of worms that question was about to open?

Here's wishing Meryl all the best and many more years of blogging to come.

Pesach cleaning


Posting will continue to be light around here today and then non-existent for the next few.

Cleaning is one of my very least favorite things. Until I moved out on my own (many years ago), Pesach was actually my favorite holiday. Well, I guess it still is, because once it starts, the cleaning is done!!!



Ever since I was old enough to think about it, the Pope has always been called John or Paul. Or both.

This is going to take some getting used to.

Don't worry. That's all I have to say about it (in public, anyway).

On the brink


I've never been a fan of Ha'aretz, but lately the paper seems to be on the edge of some sort of virtual nervous breakdown.

Exhibit A:

[ . . . ]

Yasser Arafat was a strong leader of the sort that can make peace. But since he refused to sign an agreement that many Israelis considered "the most generous offer," and did not give up the use of violence in its entirety, he won a double title - both "not a partner" and "irrelevant."

It's said about Mahmoud Abbas that he does want to put an end to the bloodshed and solve the dispute through peaceful means. He wants, but he's a loser, he can't do it. They say Abu Mazen's one hand is cuffed to evildoers from the Fatah leadership and the other hand is cuffed to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad. So, what's done for a neighbor such as this, who wants peace but regrettably faces some difficulties? Correct. Offer a helping hand while learning the lessons from missing the opportunity to consolidate his power when he served as prime minister under Arafat. But Sharon, then as now, first cuts his wings and then compares him to a featherless chick.

Exhibit B:

[ . . . ]

But if someone wishes to find the old Harlem, or the Jewish Sadr City, he should go to the center of the city of Hebron, to the ghetto called Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Forefather). If this is too frightening, he can suffice with the television footage filmed on Wednesday, when the attorney general came to the ghetto. As in certain countries in South America and in Iraq, where attorneys general or district attorneys cannot travel without bodyguards, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz also arrived in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood surrounded by half an army. But the hooligans and rulers of the neighborhood long ago stopped being impressed by the state's army or its symbols of sovereignty. Like their Arab neighbors, they regard Israel as an enemy state - a state that is ready to surrender land and, in particular, does not allow them to take control of the entire city of Hebron.

Exhibit C:

[ . . . ]

Hamas published an unprecedented statement Monday apologizing for the murder of a young woman by its gunmen near the town of Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip.

According to Palestinian sources, several armed Hamas gunmen stopped a car with four passengers at around 9 P.M. last Friday. The gunmen who apparently were attempting to rob the couples - two brothers and their girlfriends - suddenly opened fire at the car for unknown reasons and killed 20-year-old Yusra al-Azami, a student at the Islamic University in Gaza.

Now the problem with that last item isn't readily apparent. But as this article at CAMERA points out, the rest of the media, including both The Independent and Hamas itself, acknowledged that the incident in question was no robbery attempt. It was an institutional honor killing by the new Hamas morality police.

Mushira Masri, a Hamas spokesman, said last night that the gunmen had not known that the couples were betrothed. "The brothers who did this made a mistake. There was suspicion of immoral behaviour" . . .

More on the original story here and here.

Don't miss


Andrew McCarthy's essay at NRO last Thursday: Material Support to…“Business Professionals” -- The Bush administration has some explaining to do on Hamas.

[ . . . ]

The rationale for the Bush presidency, the bedrock basis for reelection, is that the President has been clear-eyed and unflinching on the central issue of the day: the threat posed by militant Islamic terrorism. Again and again, he has said it: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. This was the firm foundation of the Bush Doctrine — no quarter for terrorists, no place, no how. And no exceptions for the Palestinian Authority.

We have structured our law around it. Numerous people have been prosecuted under beefed up laws that forbid providing any kind of material support to terrorist organizations. In case after case, those defendants plead the same thing — what we might now call the “McClellan Defense”: “Sure the government might say they’re a terrorist organization, and sure they might mass-murder civilians, but they do a lot of good, too. They run charities. They run social service organizations. They have a lot of good business people who talk about improving the quality of life. I was only contributing to this happy-face side of the house, not the bad terrorists.”

The defense gets laughed out of court, because most people are not fools. As a practical matter, people know dollars are fungible. If you give money to a terrorist organization — like the $350 million McClellan indicates we are thinking about giving to a Hamas-dominated PA — you don’t control it; the terrorists do, and they decide whether to channel it to healthcare or bomb-building.

More importantly, as a behavioral incentive, people understand and endorse what antiterror law seeks to achieve. If an organization practices the savagery of terrorism, if it seeks political accommodation by murdering its way to the bargaining table, it must forfeit any right to be heard or, bluntly, to exist. No matter how many hospitals and charities it runs. No matter how many nice men in nice suits it trots out to prattle about social justice. End of story.

That's not the end of McCarthy's story, though. He makes the point another way, and this part hits very close to home for me.

President Bush has always seen the likes of Hamas as Hamas — i.e., as thugs, not businessmen. It was because of this that he was preferable to Senator Kerry, who saw terrorism as a problem to be managed in conjunction with the international community and its nuanced view of the world’s Hamases as “political resistance movements” that, alas, occasionally strap explosives to adolescent suicide bombers — a somewhat less-than-nuanced way of killing lots of civilians.

Yes, that (and not "moral values") was a big part of the reason I and a lot of other lifelong Democratic voters I know pushed the lever for Bush last November. So I'd echo McCarthy's call for a retraction, correction or damn good explanation for McClellan's remarks ASAP. At least this is one subject we can agree on.

Wrap up


Solomon has a very good piece on a very important issue: the archeological destruction of the Temple Mount by the Islamic Wakf. (Update: Omri does, too.) Forgive me for pointing out, once again, that there is a very clear method to this madness: the eradication of any evidence of Jewish history at our most sacred site. It's an important step on the path to eradicating ... us.

Here's a story that's sure to titillate.

NABLUS - Troops searching a West Bank house for a wanted Hamas gunman found his sister hiding his gun in her underpants, the army said, adding that it would consider renewing strip-searches among Palestinian women when searching and screening for potential terrorists.

The soldiers in the Balata refugee camp, a terrorist hotbed, found the gunman inside his house and ordered him to surrender his weapon. He refused, saying he didn't have it. After questioning, they found the man's sister had hidden it her underwear.

Troops then arrested the Hamas terrorist. They also found a gun holster and bullets inside the building.

An army spokesman said the incident raises serious questions about the need to search Palestinian women, mainly at checkpoints.

“Until now we have gone easy on women,” a spokesman said. “Perhaps we need to reconsider that policy.”

And, hallelujah, another tax season has come to an end. In the old days, it seemed like we were always working up until the last minute. Things are better now, perhaps due in part to better software. I was all done on Wednesday, including my own stuff, amazingly enough. (Well, almost.)

And now (sigh) it's time to start getting ready full tilt for Pesach. After Shabbat, of course. Ahhhh! Rest for the weary.

Shabbat Shalom.

Oh not this again


Mormons are still conducting posthumous baptisms. Even though they promised to quit, more than once.

I'm shocked. Truly shocked.

Meryl has this covered. I have little of substance to add, except perhaps this: The website linked above, cleverly named "helpingmormons.org," is an anti-Mormon website filled with invective and explanations of why Mormons aren't saved. Ordinarily, I'd avoid linking to such stuff, but religious bigotry is a nasty thing, especially when it's disguised as "well-intentioned." And those who are defending it should take a look at its naked face.

Still waiting


Remember Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury? Maybe this will refresh your memory. Or this.

Well over a year ago, Choudhury was arrested in his native Bangladesh (a putative democracy) for the crime of promoting better relations between Muslims and Jews and for encouraging better relations between his country and Israel.

Unbelievably enough, he's still in jail.

An article in today's Jerusalem Post describes his situation.

Shoaib Choudhury is a Muslim who had the courage to condemn radical Islam's growing power in Bangladesh. The newspaper he published and edited, The Weekly Blitz, gave his people their first unbiased news about the Middle East before police grabbed him in 2003 as he prepared to address the Hebrew Writers' Conference in Tel Aviv on "The Role of Media in Creating a Culture of Peace" (see excerpt on this page).

Shortly after his arrest, police raided his home and business, seizing computers, files and other material. A mob then sacked the premises with impunity. His family was threatened, even attacked. His brother twice fled the capital. Mobs gathered in front of their home, and police blamed it all on the Choudhurys' "alliance with the Jews."

The government said Choudhury was "spying for the interests of Israel against the interests of Bangladesh," then orchestrated a vilification campaign. They called Choudhury's undelivered speech their strongest evidence of his perfidy and said he broke Bangladeshi law by trying to visit Israel.

Since at least one member of the U.S. Congress is now involved in the latest efforts to get him out, you can probably help by contacting your own representatives and/or linking to the story on your own blog.



Another adorable palestinian child had his fun and games interrupted by nasty Israeli soldiers today.

A 15-year-old Palestinian carrying five pipe bombs was arrested by soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint outside of Nablus when he attempted to detonate one of the bombs near them.

Soldiers' suspicions were aroused when the youth reached the checkpoint wearing a coat despite the hot weather. The soldiers stopped him and asked him to remove his coat; he lit a match in an attempt to detonate one of the bombs but dropped it when a soldier aimed his weapon at him. Inside the coat soldiers found four other pipe bombs. The youth was handed over to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for questioning and sappers blew up the bombs.

What is it with the Hawara checkpoint and little kids with bombs?

The checkpoint has been the scene of numerous attempts to either smuggle bombs through to others waiting on the other side or blow up near soldiers.

In February this year, Mahmoud Tabouk, 15, was arrested by soldiers at the checkpoint after he was caught carrying an explosives belt, a makeshift rifle and M16 bullets that he was to hand over to someone on the other side. Last October a female would be suicide bomber was arrested at the checkpoint en route to launch an attack in Israel. Last March soldiers prevented Husam Abdu, 14, who wore an explosives belt from blowing up at the checkpoint. The same month soldiers arrested Abdullah Kuran, 11, who acted as a porter at the checkpoint and agreed to carry bags to the other side after receiving NIS5, he was unaware that one contained a 10-kilogram bomb. When he was stopped by soldiers for inspection his dispatchers attempted to detonate the bomb but to no avail.

Brand new blog


CAMERA's got a brand new blog. Snapshots. Check it out.

Oh, and in re: trouble


No problem.

Fears of a violent clash between Jewish and Muslim worshipers on the Temple Mount were allayed Sunday after police barred both a group of Jewish ultra-nationalists and Arab men from entering the Jerusalem holy site, temporarily ending weeks of built-up tension over a planned Jewish rally at the compound.

Actually, if you read further, they didn't actually succeed in keeping many of those "Arab men" from entering the Temple Mount complex, but acknowledging that upfront would have sort of destroyed the symmetry of the lede. Accuracy is a small price to pay.

But in a setback to police, hundreds of Palestinians, including West Bank Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, managed to enter the Temple Mount compound early Sunday morning in defiance of police restrictions in place at the compound Sunday on all worshipers.

In a live broadcast from the Temple Mount on the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera, Yousef called on Palestinians and Muslims from all over the world to come and "save" the Al-Aksa mosque and Jerusalem from the Jews.

"Al Aksa is in danger," Yousef said. "The attempts to desecrate Al Aksa have not ended."

If a Jew sets foot on the hill where our holy Temple once stood, you see, it would desecrate the holiness of the site that the Muslims erected there for the purpose of establishing the superiority of their faith to ours.


But you would think the Jerusalem Post would know better than this.

As the day ended without major incident, Jerusalem police breathed a sigh of relief, all too aware that the tinderbox that the Temple Mount is was likely to erupt another day.

By late afternoon on a mild spring-day, the security cordon around the Old City was lifted, and, as the sun reflected off the ancient temple walls, life was returning to normal.

"... is was...?" And as everyone knows, it's been over 2,000 years since the sun last "reflected off the ancient temple walls." If we can't get our own story straight, then maybe it's asking too much of the AP to do so.

They're back!


Being as tax season is upon me, and nearing its "end," (no such thing, really), I've been more than a little out of touch lately. But I finally did notice that Mitch and Karl are back from their break and, as usual, are managing to say so much that I wish I'd had the time or the guts or the erudition (or all of the above) to say myself. Not to mention linking to several superlative items that, unfortunately, aren't getting the attention they deserve.

Casey Jones


Trouble ahead . . .

The police in Jerusalem are on high alert, preparing for today's Moslem prayers at the Temple Mount. Only Moslems over age 40 and with Israeli citizenship will be allowed in.

Hundreds of policemen are deployed in the Old City, with Islamic and PA groups having called on Moslems all over the country to come to Jerusalem and prevent Jews from ascending to the Temple Mount. The Islamic Movement in Israel has declared this Sunday as a day for Moslems to ascend to Temple Mount mosques.

A new organization named Revavah has been calling for months for 10,000 Jews to arrive at the Temple Mount this Sunday, the first day of the month of Nissan, known as the Month of Redemption. The police announced yesterday that no Jews would be allowed to do so, declaring the holy site closed to Jews – but thousands are still expected to arrive in the Old City.

Trouble behind . . .

Arab terrorists Saturday night renewed their offensive against Israel, launching 56 Kassam rockets and mortal shells on Jewish towns in Gush Katif after Israeli soldiers killed three arms smugglers.

The IDF has not responded to the mortal shells, which damaged one house without injuring any of the 8,000 Jewish residents in Gaza. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he was worried by the attacks, and terrorists threatened further violence.

The attack on Gush Katif began around 6 p.m. and followed IDF counter-terror actions against five youths who were trying to smuggle arms from Egypt along the Philadelpi Route. Terrorists continued the barrage throughout the evening and early morning hours.

The Arab press reported that the soldiers fired on innocent children who were playing soccer. Mofaz asked the PA to control the terrorists. The PA did not publicize that the youths were trying to smuggle weapons despite Israeli reports that the PA later caught two of them. PA chairman Abu Mazen insisted that the youth "were unarmed and did not endanger Israel."

See, I've never been a big Grateful Dead fan, so I was kind of surprised when this song started playing in my head tonight. Not so surprising, though, I guess.

Trouble with you is the trouble with me,

Got two good eyes but you still don’t see. . .

I don't get this


Howard Bashman reports on an LA Times editorial on a story originating in my back yard.

The case began a decade ago. A staffer for the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., reported on a stormy City Council meeting in nearby Parkesburg that disintegrated into name-calling outside the council chambers. The issue isn't whether Councilman William T. Glenn Sr. called the mayor and another city councilman "liars," "queers" and "child molesters" or whether the newspaper's reporter accurately reported Glenn's raw charges.

The targets of the vitriol sued for damages by claiming that because Glenn's charges were false, the newspaper's story repeating them constituted defamation. Last October, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed, reinstating a libel lawsuit against the newspaper reporter, his editor and the publishing company.

This is nuts. And for some unexplained reason, the U.S. Supreme Court last week summarily refused to review the Pa. Supreme Court's decision. At first glance, this seems to have even more ominous and sweeping implications than regulating blogs. More on this later, probably.

None of the above


IMRA has posted this palestinian poll on attitudes of Israeli Jews toward issues surrounding the current "conflict." The results are unsurprising, with the notable exception of this one.

Perceptions of what happened in 1948:
- Israel committed a wrongdoing against Palestinians-3%
- Palestinians misbehaved and consequently inflicted harm upon
- A wrongdoing was committed against Palestinians regardless of who is
responsible for it-16%
- The Palestinians got what they deserved-18%
- No response-3%
- None of the above -1%.

I guess maybe you had to be there.

It's the lack of other choices (i.e., the possibility that "what happened in 1948" wasn't all about the palestinians) and the miniscule number of Israeli Jews who responded "none of the above" that I find interesting.



This photo has been making the rounds the last few days, but I haven't seen much reference to the more ominous text that accompanies it.

Beirut, Lebanon, Apr. 1 (UPI) -- The leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah militant groups met Friday in Beirut and signed a statement declaring their armed resistance against Israel legitimate.

Following a meeting with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal said his group would not disarm.

The joint Hamas-Hezbollah statement said both sides underlined the legitimacy of their resistance activities against Israel. Hamas stressed that the continuation of the current cease-fire in the Palestinian territories depended on an end to Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and the release of all prisoners.

The statement said, "Hamas will not be committed to remain calm if Israel fails to meet its demands."

Just to be clear, "the current cease-fire," while touted as a concession to the "peace process," is nothing more than a temporary expedient that neither Hamas nor Hezbollah nor Abu Mazen is pretending will last, regardless of what Israel does. Hamas is "committed to remain calm" for only so long as it requires to regroup and rearm.

The only real demand that Hamas has ever required Israel to meet is to cease to exist.

So since Hamas is winning overwhelming popular support in the new "democratic" palestinian elections, it's time to ask the question once again.

Is it peace yet?

"Disengagement" perks


Yeah, right. Last week, Sharon finally managed to get the withdrawal ducks to line up in a row. Here's the first payoff.

The State Department Saturday called on Israel to forswear nuclear weapons and accept international Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on all nuclear activities.

This is the second time in about two weeks that officials in the Bush administration are putting the nuclear weapons of Israel, India and Pakistan on a par.

The officials called on the three to act like Ukraine and South Africa, which in the last decade renounced their nuclear weapons.

The similar phrasing used by the officials refers to Israel's military nuclear capability, as distinct from "nuclear option," which is to be rolled back, although not necessarily in the "foreseeable future."

The rare use of these terms contradicts the custom of senior administration officials to avoid any possible confirming reference to Israeli nuclear weapons.

.... (crickets) ....

I don't trust myself to comment right now.

Parashat Shemini


This week's Torah portion, Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47) contains one of those biblical events that tend to generate a lot of comment, controversy and confusion.

Now Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu each took his fire pan, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered before the Lord alien fire, which He had not enjoined upon them. And fire came forth from the Lord and consumed them; thus they died at the instance of the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord meant when He said:

Through those near to Me I show Myself holy,
And gain glory before all the people."

And Aaron was silent.

I'm not even going to try to comment seriously on that bit right now. The High Priest's sons are both incinerated by God for committing some vague offense, and Aaron is "silent." You could write a hefty essay on that last line alone. But perhaps it was one way of saying "Pay attention to the details here, folks, because one little mistake, even with the best of intentions, and you could end up as soot."

The "details" that follow consist of a lot of rules and regulations (this is Leviticus, after all), including the core of the rules of kashrut. For those who might be wondering where the extensive Jewish dietary restrictions have their origin, this would be the place.

These are the creatures that you may eat from among all the land animals: any animal that has true hoofs, with clefts through the hoofs, and that chews the cud--such you may eat. The following, however, of those that either chew the cud or have true hoofs, you shall not eat: the camel--although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you; the daman--although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you; the hare--although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you; and the swine--although it has true hoofs, with the hoofs cleft through, it does not chew the cud: it is unclean for you. You shall not eat of their flesh or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

These you may eat of all that live in water: anything in water, whether in the seas or in the streams, that has fins and scales--these you may eat. But anything in the seas or in the streams that has no fins and scales, among all the swarming things of the water and among all the other living creatures that are in the water--they are an abomination for you and an abomination for you they shall remain: you shall not eat of their flesh and you shall abominate their carcasses. Everything in water that has no fins and scales shall be an abomination for you.

Then come birds and creepy crawly things. It's enlightening reading.

Well, we've come to the end of a tough week.

Shabbat Shalom.

Doom and gloom


Disturbing reports abound at the JCPA Daily Alert today.

The Intifada Will Resume in the Fall - Alex Fishman
(Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 1Apr05)

Right after the Gaza disengagement, according to military assessments, the cessation of terrorist attacks will end.

The theater of operations will be Judea and Samaria.

The threat will entail attacks on major roads, military camps, and settlements.

The main threat will come from mortar and Kassam rocket attacks on Route 6 (Trans-Israel Highway) and on the cities of the coastal plain.

The terrorist organizations have started to order rockets, while Israeli security services unite in an attempt to block the smuggling.

Whether Israel's security services will block the smuggling of rockets or not will make all the difference between a political settlement or a war.

The IDF Central Command is already prepared for the next round of armed conflict with the Palestinians.

The JPost is a little more optimistic. They figure it'll last until the end of the year. At best.

IDF: Relative calm at least until after pullout

The relative calm in the region will continue at least until after the implementation of the disengagement plan this summer, a senior officer in the IDF Intelligence Directorate estimated on Thursday.

The source, according to Army Radio, said that there is a high probability that the terror groups would refrain from carrying out attacks until the end of 2005 if Israel abides by its commitments to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

And what about after that? Because

Abu Mazen is losing strength and stamina

By Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)

Almost three months after taking office, it has become clear that Abbas' influence over the armed men, the security services and the leaders of Fatah's institutions is virtually nonexistent. The gap between his exalted international standing and his ability to impose his authority at home is growing, and it is not clear what will remain of his promises to reform the PA and provide personal security to ordinary Palestinians. His resignation threat during Monday's session of the Fatah Revolutionary Council underscored his growing distress, and recalled his serial resignation threats - which were eventually carried out - during his brief stint as Arafat's prime minister. Then, his excuse was that Arafat was undermining him. Today, the key problem is his inability to forge political alliances and to win the allegiance of the heads of the security services and of Fatah's younger generation.

Ze'ev Schiff seems to agree but then comes to this idiotic conclusion.

Israel is asking itself how to respond. The internal argument here indicates that Israel is also standing in place. Its hesitation is reminiscent of the mistakes made after the Oslo Accords. The question at the moment is not how to pressure Abu Mazen, but how to strengthen him in spite of all the failures in the field. It is already clear that in the process taking place at present, we will find a stronger Hamas further down the road.

And more cheer from Caroline Glick.

But developments within the PA this week indicate that both Israel and the US have been horribly wrong in their decision to accept Abbas. As was the case with Arafat, for many it is unclear whether or not Abbas wishes to or is capable of reining in terrorists, and it is equally unclear that the question is beside the point. At the same time, in contrast to Arafat, because they have placed so much stress on Abbas's legitimacy, both the Bush administration and the Israeli government are clearly averse to mentioning that there is a serious problem with what has been happening in the PA since he took over. Their aversion is increased against the backdrop of Sharon's proposed evacuation of Gaza and northern Samaria and the effective establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders in its wake.

Well at least the sun is out today. That's something.

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