October 2009 Archives

Rain

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So badly needed in Israel but ...

a blessing and a curse.

Shabbat Shalom.

No Israelis need apply

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Elder of Ziyon has been trying to stay on top of the ever-shifting story of the Susan G. Komen breast cancer awareness conference in Egypt from which the Israeli delegation was dis-invited at the last minute.

It's odd how no updates seem to be forthcoming on this situation.

Last Monday, Israel National News reported that Egyptian Health Minister Hatem El-Gabali had advised the Israelis they would not be welcome at the conference, which was to start two days later. 

On Tuesday, the ADL issued a public call to Komen to protest that decision and demand that the ban be lifted.

On Friday, Komen issued a press release by its founder, Nancy Brinker, suggesting that the problem had been resolved.

After we received the initial report on the situation, we launched a diplomatic effort to ensure they would be able to participate. I am pleased to report that our efforts led to confirmation that all advocates would be welcome to participate in the events.
But subsequent requests for clarification and confirmation have met with ambiguous responses, mostly just referring back to the press release.  This thread at the Komen website open forum is illustrative, with the admin moderator unable to provide a definitive answer as to whether the Israeli delegation was, in fact, seated.  In the last hour, this comment was posted:

from a friend who happens to be in Egypt:
"I'm staying at the same Four Seasons hotel in Giza with the Komen reps - spoke with a few earlier tonight by the pool, they are quietly upset but standing idly by..."
pretty weak...
So far, that's as close to an update as I've been able to find.  If that's the best they can do, I think Komen will be losing a lot of support over this (mine included), for reasons eloquently expressed by some of the other contributors over there.

I'd also point out that this conference was co-sponsored by USAID.  So our tax dollars are at work here.  So far no word from the Obama administration ...

Hummus

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Soccer Dad reports on the latest chapter of the Hummus Wars.  Good grief!  This has gone beyond the pale.

Does the Arab world really think their battle for global supremacy depends upon who gets credit for hummus?  And even if it did ... that the ability to produce it in record volume would in any way reflect upon the bona fides of its origin? 

Hey.  I can, with relatively little effort, produce innumerable tons (or tonnes) of intellectual bullshit.  But that hardly entitles me to claim authorship of the medium.


I am, as anyone who knows me can attest, a hummous afficianado.  An addict.  A massive consumer.  Personally, I couldn't care less who invented it, who markets it or who manufactures it, as long as it tastes like the real thing (as opposed to the bland, nauseating "health food" version that spread across the US of A in the 70s and 80s).  If it turns out that the Arab world has given Israel a tremendously popular snack that's healthy and delicious, well, it's the least they can do to repay their debt.  Without Israel to distract their hapless populations' discontent, all of those obscenely wealthy sheikhs would have been beheaded and eviscerated decades ago.

And speaking of hummus, I really should add this link to my blogroll.  It's a great website, full of interesting information.  Yes, it's long overdue.

Goldstone.

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There.  It's done.  You may have noticed that that name has not previously appeared on this blog.  Not because I haven't been paying attention.  Of course, I have.  Not because I'm not outraged, furious, alarmed, concerned, aghast.  Of course, I am.  It's just that so far I haven't had much to add that hasn't been reported, analyzed, picked over and dissected elsewhere, quite thoroughly and with great clarity and care.  Not much to add, that is, that would be appropriate to post. 

There's now a website where many of the best bloggers and media monitors who have been giving this abomination their full scrutiny are laying it all out, the flaws, the controversies, the debate, and more.

UNDERSTANDING THE GOLDSTONE REPORT.  It's an invaluable resource.

Not exactly jet lag

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It seems like only yesterday that my oldest niece was born.  Last week, she stood under the chuppah.  Yikes.  And the chuppah was in Givat Shaul, in Jerusalem.  So that's where I've been for the past few weeks (in Jerusalem) and that's where I partly still am.  It's not exactly jet lag.  It's more just making the adjustment back from there to here, from Eretz Yisrael to chutz la'aretz, from 100 degree sunny weather to cold, cloudy and damp (and now rain ... please send some over there, they really need it!), from the haredi world of my brother and the machatonim to ... not that.

Need I say she was the most beautiful bride ever?  You'll have to take my word for it.

And in all the excitement I managed to forget my MT password, not that I had time to blog ... anyway ... enough excuses.  I'm back. 

Here's a (slightly blurry) souvenir.  We gave my niece a ride to the Kotel the night before her wedding.  I have no idea who these people are, they're totally unrelated to me, but they were there when the wind finally came up enough to unfurl the flag and I wanted that shot.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Kotel 1.JPGThis ... is ours.

Shabbat Shalom. 

Religious stereotyping

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Anne Bayefsky reports from the UN:

The Obama administration has marked its first foray into the UN human rights establishment by backing calls for limits on freedom of expression. The newly-minted American policy was rolled out at the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council, which ended in Geneva on Friday. American diplomats were there for the first time as full Council members and intent on making friends.

President Obama chose to join the Council despite the fact that the Organization of the Islamic Conference holds the balance of power and human rights abusers are among its lead actors, including China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Islamic states quickly interpreted the president's penchant for "engagement" as meaning fundamental rights were now up for grabs. Few would have predicted, however, that the shift would begin with America's most treasured freedom.

An inauspicious start, to say the least.  But what did we expect?  Oh, yes, the limits on free speech are exactly what you think they are.  No surprises here.  Except that this resolution passed (adopted by consensus) under the guise of supporting free speech.  See, it works like this:

The new resolution, championed by the Obama administration, has a number of disturbing elements. It emphasizes that "the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . ." which include taking action against anything meeting the description of "negative racial and religious stereotyping." It also purports to "recognize . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media" and supports "the media's elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct" in relation to "combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."
Not to put too fine a point on it.

Pakistan's Ambassador Zamir Akram, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, made it clear that they understand the resolution and its protection against religious stereotyping as allowing free speech to be trumped by anything that defames or negatively stereotypes religion. The idea of protecting the human rights "of religions" instead of individuals is a favorite of those countries that do not protect free speech and which use religion--as defined by government--to curtail it.
So, basically, it's an anti-hate speech resolution, targeted specifically at certain kinds of hate speech (racial and religious) pretending to champion freedom of speech.  It's being touted as a "compromise," and it does stop short of including the odious prohibition on "defamation of religion" that's passed at the urging of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in previous resolutions (back when the U.S. wisely chose not to sit on the Council).  Nonetheless, Bayefsky isn't alone in finding this disturbing.  Eugene Volokh expounds here, at length.  More analysis at Howard M. Friedman's Religion Clause blog.

Another passing

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There are heroes.  And then there are heroes.

WARSAW, Poland -- Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the ill-fated 1943 Warsaw ghetto revolt against the Nazis, died Friday at the age of 90.

Edelman died of old age at the family home of his friend Paula Sawicka, where he had lived for the past two years.

"He died at home, among friends, among his close people," Sawicka told The Associated Press.

Most of Edelman's adult life was dedicated to the defense of human life, dignity and freedom. He fought the Nazis in the doomed Warsaw ghetto revolt and later in the Warsaw city Uprising. And then for decades he fought communism in Poland.

His heroism earned him the French Legion of Honor and Poland's highest civilian distinction, the Order of the White Eagle.

One of the few survivors of three weeks of uneven struggle in the Warsaw ghetto, he felt obliged to preserve the memory of the fallen heroes of that first large-scale Jewish revolt against the Nazis. Each year, on the revolt's anniversary, he laid flowers at Warsaw's monument to the ghetto heroes, and called for tolerance.

'Man is evil, by nature man is a beast," he said, and therefore people "have to be educated from childhood, from kindergarten, that there should be no hatred."

There's more.

He also felt obliged to appeal repeatedly to the world for freedom and peace -- even when it had to be won in a fight.

"When you cannot defend freedom through peaceful means, you have to use arms to fight Nazism, dictatorship, chauvinism," Edelman said in an 2008 interview with The Associated Press in his apartment in the central city of Lodz, which was filled with portraits of Jews and of scenes reminiscent of the Holocaust.

He worked at a city hospital [in] Lodz, almost to his last day.

And still more.  Please read it all.  An amazing life that will surely be remembered for many blessings.

Chag Succot Sameach and
Shabbat Shalom.


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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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