October 2005 Archives

Cross, crescent & thingy


What's that thing on the right? Oh, yes. It's a crystal! Cross, crescent and crystal. How awesomely alliterative!

cross crescent thingy.jpgApparently, it's the symbol that, finally, the International Red Cross may permit Israel's Magen David Adom to operate under. In spite of the fact that the symbol of Magen David Adom, unsurprisingly, is this (a Magen David adom -- a red Shield of David):

MagenDavidAdom-logo.pngThis is a very old battle, and it appears that perhaps a compromise is in sight. Magen David Adom may even be permitted to insert a small red Magen David inside the "Red Crystal" that's been proposed as a neutral symbol, devoid of religious significance and thus acceptable as an international insignia of medical assistance. Maybe.

Red Cross, Red Crescent, Red Crystal. One of these things is not like the others.

Spare me


Ignoramous James Smith of the UK offers his analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict in a letter to the Jerusalem Post, here:

Israel and Iran are as bad as each other. Its okay for Israel to destroy Palestine and brutally oppress their people and deny them voting rights (even Iran allows everyone to vote even if it ain't a fair election) whilst Palestinian sympathizers like the Iranians are demonized for wanting to give Israel a taste of their own medicine - seems like double standards.

And please spare me your ridiculous propaganda about their never being a Palestinian state - there was in 1967 and you wiped it off the map!

If there is any justice in the world then the 1967 border will be restored and peace even with the Iranians will become possible but wait Israel would rather have a destructive nuclear war than to let that happen - so your leaders have already sealed your fate. If it ends in nuclear annihilation then yes you have no one to blame but yourselves.

A breathtaking display of ignorance and poor writing skills that's repeated further on down the thread. You really have to wonder.



So tonight, we get an extra hour.

But tomorrow, it will be dark by 5:30.

Oh, well. In less than five months, it will be Spring.

Bereshit, 5766


This week's Torah portion starts back at the beginning. The very beginning.

In the beginning, God created heaven and earth, and the earth was unformed and void and darkness was on the surface of the deep and the spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.

Judaism has many New Years, and this one is the New Year of the Torah. Every year on Simchat Torah (which was Wednesday here, Tuesday in Israel), we read the end and then scroll all the way back to the beginning and start again, but just barely. Tomorrow, we read the full parasha.

There's an interesting symbolism in this ritual that harks back to the essence of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement that we observed just a few weeks ago. How nice it would be to be able to scroll back to points in our past where we made mistakes and start our own story over from there. The healing power of true repentance, it's said, can allow us to do just that, if only on a spiritual level. But that's a good start.

Shabbat Shalom.

Attention employers!


Meryl needs a job.

We interrupt this blog in the hope that someone in the Richmond, Va. area (or someone who knows someone in the Richmond, Va. area) with a job to offer will take notice. As much as Meryl needs a job, I'm really confident that there are a whole bunch of jobs out there that need her. Qualifications (abundant) and contact information are listed here.

We now return you . . .

When will they ever learn


It's not bad enough that a suicide bomber finally got through Israel's security, killing five, wounding dozens. It had to be one of those "good will" prisoner releases.

A suicide bomber blew himself up Wednesday next to a food stand in the central Israeli town of Hadera, killing five and wounding at least 30 people, five seriously. The blast left a scene of destruction at an open air market, police and rescuers said.

[ . . . ]

The suicide bomber who carried out the attack was identified as a 20-year-old resident of the town of Qabatiyeh in Samaria. The bomber's name, Hassan Abu Zeid, was announced over a bullhorn in the town, residents said. Israel Radio reported he was released about one month ago from Israeli prison, as a prisoner who did not (yet) have "blood on his hands."

There's more here.

Islamic Jihad is claiming this attack was "revenge" for the killing of terrorist Luay Sa'adi on Monday (while he was violently resisting arrest). But it's common knowledge that suicide bombings take considerably longer than two days to plan and implement. Israeli security had word that Sa'adi already had an attack in the pipeline when he was killed. Maybe this one.

The etrog


This Jerusalem Post story probably contains much more than you ever wanted to know about the wonderful and mysterious etrog (also known as the not-so-mysterious citron, whose candied peel is commonly found in fruitcake). But it's a wonderful piece that contains nuggets of fascinating information on, for instance, the contribution of Jewish religious rituals to agricultural, economic and gastronomic developments in relatively far flung parts of the world, as well as in Eretz Yisrael.

Enjoy! (And since I neglected to say so earlier this week, Happy Succot!)

Shabbat Shalom.

Today's farce


Did you watch? I didn't, but I did catch part of the re-run. And I read the transcript, which was a little less painful. What is there to say?

Here's something. Throughout our President's fawning remarks and Abu Mazen's whining about settlements and roadblocks (not to mention the reporters' questions, which concentrated more on Harriet Miers than the Middle East), the white elephant in the room garden was. not. mentioned. once.

The elephant, however, didn't quite see it that way.

Hamas has accused U.S. President George W. Bush of trying to bring war among Palestinians on Thursday for urging Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to confront and dismantle armed factions.

Yes, well.

Update: (10/21) The other shoe drops.

WASHINGTON - The United States will not actively oppose Hamas' participation in the Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections, Palestinian officials said following U.S. President George Bush's meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday.

Meryl's all over this one.

Laurence Simon, too.

And Ocean Guy.

More on Yom Kippur


I just love this essay by Judy Lash Balint on Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. It captures the essence of a very special and completely unique experience.

I know most Jews call Yom Kippur by other names, but here in Jerusalem, it's the Day of No Traffic Lights. There are no traffic lights because there's no traffic on Yom Kippur in Jerusalem.The city just turns them off for 25 hours. Imagine--a capital city without any motor vehicle traffic at all except for emergency vehicles and army patrol jeeps. The quiet is absolutely stunning.

Starting from sundown on erev Yom Kippur, 25 hours of blissful peace and quiet. Pedestrians share the road with bicycles ridden by hundreds of secular Israelis who savor the day as a safe opportunity to try out their biking skills with no irritating traffic lights or crazy Israeli drivers. But the overwhelming sense is of a people taking a complete day to evaluate and perhaps change their lives.

Walking to Kol Nidre, the streets are thronged with people clad in white, to signify purity and a withdrawal for one day from the vanities of our usual fancy clothing.

Every synagogue is packed to overflowing, and several hundred community centers around the country offer Yom Kippur services too, with emphasis on discussion and openess for those who might never have stepped foot in a synagogue.

After the Kol Nidre prayers are over, it's as if the entire city spills out onto the streets. Strolling along in the middle of roads usually clogged with cars is the main pastime as people saunter off home, greeting friends along the way.

Who knows? Maybe next year, as we say...

Shabbat Shalom.



Oooooo. I just noticed. Vicky's back!

Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Blogging Yom Kippur


Jill Miller Zimon

Mike Sanders



and, of course, Judith (also here, here, and here)

G'mar hatima tova



Just in time for Yom Kippur..., it appears Mr. Assad has found himself a scapegoat.

Ynet reports:

Syria’s interior minister, who ran Lebanon as security chief until 2003, committed suicide Wednesday, Syria’s official news agency reported.

Kenaan, a general by rank, was the top Syrian official in Lebanon for two decades, starting in the 1980s and up until 2003. In that capacity he controlled Syrian intelligence forces active in Lebanon.

During that time, he was characterized as “the strongest man in Lebanon” and “the country’s real ruler.” Several years ago he was promoted to the post of interior minister as a reward for his service. Under the new position he gained control of Syria’s internal security apparatuses.

Kenaan is also considered to be behind the initiation of Syria-Hizbullah cooperation, particularly in matters related to the transfer of weapons.

His death was reported days before the expected release of a U.N. report into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Effing J Post


Every so often, the Jerusalem Post changes the links to all of its articles. They did it again today. Once in a while, I go through and try to fix at least my most recent links to J Post articles so that they'll work again. But, first, Google has to catch up. None of their links (except to the front page) work either, right now.

Effing J Post.

Undivided and eternal


A few weeks ago, this item popped up in the news. It's an official response by Jordan's "Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs" to Ariel Sharon's reference to Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided and eternal capital" during his speech at the U.N. "Lies," says the Royal Committee. "False claims and biblical legends . . . which have been refuted by historic, demographic and religious facts, and by archaeological discoveries."

I was reminded of that story last week when Muslim leaders went all apoplectic over the announcement that Uzi Landau planned to visit the Temple Mount. (He canceled the plan.) So although many of you are probably already quite familiar with the following irrefutable facts, I thought I'd post them anyway, as a refresher.

For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem (1948-1967), they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.

In the Jewish Bible, Jerusalem is mentioned over 669 times and Zion (which usually means Jerusalem, sometimes the Land of Israel) 154 times, or 823 times. The Christian Bible mentions Jerusalem 154 times and Zion 7 times. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran. Jerusalem is also not mentioned in the Palestinian Covenant.

King David established the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the whole Land of Israel. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem. Jerusalem remained under Turkish Ottoman Empire rule from 1517 to 1917, and under British rule from 1917 to 1948.

Spread the word.

Cognitive dissonance


Thanks to Mike Silverman for pointing to this incredible photo essay of a demonstration by the mindless drones who call themselves "Queers for Palestine," also known as QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terror). Uh huh.

What is left to say about the fundamental self-contradicting nature of such a group?

Actually, there's quite a bit. Zombie's commentary is excellent, and his/her(?) home page is full of fascinating photos and details of things I've always wanted to learn more about. Like this (which I've discussed here before). And this (which I haven't).

A horrible choice


To close out the week, a few brief comments on the Miers nomination and the commentary thereon:

1. "Passionate conservative" does NOT necessarily equal "strict constructionist."

2. "Legislation from the bench" and "judicial activism" do NOT necessarily equal a liberal result.

3. If you have any doubt, take the time to listen to yesterday's White House conference call to conservative activists. (Yes, both sides do it. That's not the point.)

Unsurprisingly, The Volokh Conspiracy is a treasure trove of links and commentary, both pro and con. Among other things, Jim Lindgren links to this page (scroll down) which includes a (very short) catalogue of Ms. Miers' published articles. And through a comment somewhere over there, I found my way to this article at The American Spectator: John C. Wohlstetter on The Recusal Trap. It raises some important questions about one of the administration's latest defenses of the nomination.

Then, of course, there's Krauthammer, Kristol and Will. They speak for themselves.

Time to switch gears. (A bit abruptly. Sorry.)

Here it is, Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur -- the period when we shift our focus from judgment to mercy.

This period, between Rosh Hashona (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is a time for introspection, for reflection on the past and for taking on good resolutions for the future, to improve and to grow over the new year which has just started on Rosh Hashona, to return to our roots, to G- d and to ourselves.

This idea also fits in with this week's Torah portion, Vayeilech, describing the last days of Moses' life. The title of each Torah portion highlights an important concept which is taught in that particular portion. Vayeilech literally means 'and Moses went' from the root of the word Halicha, meaning 'going' in Hebrew. 'Halicha' also means the idea of being on the move, of not being stagnant. By subjecting ourselves to an honest reckoning, using this time for introspection and self-assessment and drawing the necessary conclusions, we are able to move on and to grow as people, rather than remaining stuck where we are. We have the capability to 'go', to reach very high moral and spiritual levels. We cannot remain standing still, we must be 'mehalchim' - 'goers', movers and shakers, people who grow, who make a difference to what is going on.

May we all be granted health, happiness and success, may each of us grow and develop, both as individuals and as a community, and may each of us, together with all the world, be judged favourably on Yom Kippur and blessed with long life and happiness.

Shabbat Shalom.

Moskowitz endorses Landau


Good for Moskowitz.

So do I. You know, who cares? But so do I.

Bush names the enemy


"Islamic radicalism."

Finally. This is helpful.

They keep saying this speech was originally scheduled for 9/11 but was postponed because of Katrina. So it was rescheduled for the first day of Ramadan?

It was, on the whole, a good speech. The President looked and sounded presidential, for a change. Are the rumors of the Bush doctrine's demise perhaps premature? That remains to be seen.

Rosh Hashana 5766


May it be a sweet year, a year of peace with our neighbors and joyful celebrations with friends and family, a year of good health and prosperity for all.

L'shana tova tikatevu.

May you be inscribed for a good year.



Michael Rubin (current editor of the Middle East Quarterly) has a sadly spot on piece about the demise of the "Bush doctrine" at Ha'aretz. (This link, though, is to the Middle East Forum website, which is much less annoying.)

On January 20, 2005, George W. Bush outlined the goal of his second term. "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world," he said. "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."

Less than a year later, the Bush doctrine is dead, the victim not of outside circumstances, but rather lack of will and ineptness. While Bush may be sincere, across the Middle East, his administration's willingness to sacrifice those seeking freedom has become legendary.

For those of us who voted for the doctrine in spite of our misgivings about the man, this has been a betrayal of the first and worst order. Rubin spells it out. Please read it all.

Not news alert


Suddenly, the blogosphere is in a tizzy over Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal's purchase of over 5% of News Corp. (the parent of Fox News). This is hardly news, as the prince picked up most of this stake back in November, 1997.

Saudi Prince Al Waleed Goes Spending Again
[10:00AM] Following his purchase of a five percent stake (valued at $115 million) in Apple Computer last April, Saudi Arabian prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul has gone spending once again, this time picking up five percent stakes in both Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Netscape Communications. The prince told Time magazine, the latest edition of which is available on the Web, of his new investments, one of which also includes a sizeable stake in Motorola. "I want to concentrate on communications, technology, entertainment and news," Al Waleed told the magazine. "This is the future. News Corp is the only truly global news and intertainment company. Netscape is strongly involved with the Internet. Motorola is very global in telephones and satellites. These companies are going to play a crucial role," he said.

A statement from the prince's office in Riyadh detailed the specific cash amounts of each purchase. It said the prince bought the News Corp stake for $400 million, the Netscape stake for $146 million and the Motorola stake for $300 million. "Prince Al Waleed has shifted investment gears today with substantial investments buying telecommunications shares in the world's largest media conglomerate, News Corp Ltd, the world's leading online browser Netscape and the world's leader in telecommunications equipment manufacturer Motorola," the statement said.

And the rest, as far as I can tell, in 1999.

When I first saw this story several days ago at Arutz Sheva, I did a quick check, discovered it was erroneous misleading and figured it would go away. It didn't. The problem may be in the fact that the prince recently converted his non-voting shares (which had apparently shrunk to 3%) to voting shares. Whether this will, in fact, make a difference in Fox's treatment of Saudi Arabia is not a question I have the time to delve into just now. But a little fact checking goes a long way.

(For a more detailed discussion, with links, see the comments at Roger Simon's blog, here. And for an interesting but outdated list of Prince Alaweed bin Talal's holdings, click here.)

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2005 is the previous archive.

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