Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bloggers who reject the Katrina theodicy of Lazer Brody and Sultan Knish

A quick shout-out to the bloggers who agree with me and reject the Katrina theodicy of Lazer Brody and Sultan Knish

(1) Gil, as usual, is on the ball, only he has this deplorable habit of putting things gently:

The connection between this evacuation and the recent evacuation of Jews from Gaza has tempted some to consider this a divine punishment. While the attempt to find significance in this seemingly meaningless tragedy is commendable, there seem to me to be no reasonable midah ke-neged midah connection at all between the two events.
(2) Next up, someone more after my own heart, someone who didn't hold back. The very great Miriam Bloghd:

...imho, reading G-d's intentions into acts of nature is theological folly, terrible arrogance and extremely dangerous
3) And, finally, don't miss the withering disaproval of another super blogger: OrthoMom.

4) UPDATE Abracadabrah agrees with me, too.

5) UPDATE Mirty throws in her lot with the bloggers who have common sense.

6) Treppenwitz: "This isn't to say that G-d isn't capable of visiting fire and brimstone (or a hurricane for that matter) upon the entire U.S. gulf coast. But unless you are prepared to call the shot before the devastation begins... you had better be prepared to be judged for trying to make yourself into a prophet on the backs of countless good people's losses!"


Okay, Sultan and Lazer, you've been rebuked, are you ready to recant? Are you willing to embrace humility and to acknowledge that "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether" and not just when you can squeeze them into your petty politics?

I do wonder why you imagine that God went after the poor people of the Gulf-Coast and not someone really evil, someone like Osama bin Ladin who (a) actually has hurt Israel, and (b) is a bad man besides. Was it just easier to send the hurricane? Is God, in your limited imaginations, just enjoying something of a late Summer lie-down? To much trouble was it, for him to send the hurricane after a real villian?

It appears that not only is your God a serial killer, He is a lazy serial killer,

[Related 1 and 2]

Can the invitations be reprinted?

Check out the poorly timed Gala Dinner of the Century.


Let the students be educated to lead the country and let the rabbis (the ramim in local parlance) stay in the bet midrash where they can do some good. Let them have some humility (Rav Lichtenstein comes to mind) and allow those who know more than they do formulate policy and lead. Let them give moral and Halakhic guidance and not dictates.

Just one of several first rate points, made by the OOSJ.

Is Pat Robertson a "friend of Israel?" No.

Jews like Norman Podhoretz and Daniel Lapin (not to mention their water-carrier Toby Katz) are often quick to excuse the frequent anti-Semitic ramblings of people like Pat Robertson on the grounds that he also supports Israel.

In response, I've argued that Robertson that at best a friend of the Likud, and not of Israel as a whole. I've also said that Robertson, and Christians like him, can not be relied upon to support Israel, because their friendship is predicated on the idea that we are to be sacrificial pawns in the rapture story.

Today, I see on Slate that I was right. Pat Robertson has turned visciously on Israel, denouncing the Likud for evacuating the Gaza Strip:
"God says 'I am going to judge the nations who have parted my land.' He said 'I am going to bring judgment against them."
Never mind that most Jews, and most Israelis supported the evacuation. Never mind that the evacuation is clearly in the long-term interests of Israel. The fact that his Christian bible-stories suggest that the evacuations might offend God and delay the rapture is all that worries our friend Robertson. Further proof that if you don't love Israel for what it really is, you can't be trusted to love it at all.


The JTS library fire: How some YU boys helped to save the books

Back in the saddle again...


"President Bush will cut short his vacation to return to Washington on Wednesday, two days earlier than planned, to help monitor federal efforts to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina, the White House said Tuesday."

How strange. Wasn't the stay at the Lazy W supposed to be a working vacation? Did something happen to the President's Internet connection? Did the video conferencing go down? A few weeks ago, the LkwdGuy said "The vacation thing is a total non-issue. There is nothing that he can do in washington that can't be done from crawford."

If that's true, why is he now scurrying back to DC?

Why doesn't God hate the French Quarter?

Well,here's a puzzle for the arrogant bloggers who imagine they've uncovered the secrets of hurricanes and heavenly justice: Why was the French Quarter spared?

Not that I've been there, but from what I understand the FQ is home to voodoo idolatry, public lewdness, bars, strippers and live sex shows.

You'd think that if the Master of the Universe was already going to the trouble of preparing a hurricane and flooding the region under 20 feet of water, He'd find a way to also do some damage to that corridor of debauchery, that American Sodom. Sigh. I guess I have a lot to learn about how the world works. Teach me Sultan Knish! What does noted theology expert, and raving Louisiana nutcase Bridgett Magee say?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

God and Katrina

The word of the Lord, God, to Jonah his prophet:
And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
He cares for cattle, our Lord, but not for Cajuns. That, at least, is the nuanced view of Lazer Brody and Sultan Knish, two bloggers who are dead certain that the very same God who treasured the sinners of Ninveh sent Hurricane Katrina to devastate the Gulf Coast in retribution for the US's role in the recent evacuation of Gaza.

The arrogance of these bloggers is mind-boggling. Though God has not spoken to a mortal in over 2000 years, these bloggers imagine themselves capable of divining His true intentions. No better than a fortune teller with his tea leaves, these bloggers have concluded from a hurricane that God is a Likudnik, and that President Bush has provoked His wrath. And the fact that the God they imagine embraces politics identical to their own is for these bloggers, I suppose, further proof that there are no coincidences.

OrthoMom and her commenters have more.

Yes, God might send a hurricane. But unless He tells us His reason, it is presumptuous to guess. There are lots of possibilities. Perhaps Katrina was sent to punish the French Quarter for tolerating debauchery and gambling. And that's just one of thousands of plausible explanations. To insist that Katrina was sent to punish Bush for provoking the Gaza evacuation, as Knish and Brody did, is to wear your politics on your sleeve.

Where's the "Mission Accomplished" sign?

President Bush delivers a speech celebrating the victory over Japan
60 years ago at the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego.
The "Mission Accomplished" sign is conspicuously absent.

And in another big surprise, the president, in his speech, drew parallels between the war in Iraq and World War II. Wow. Didn't see that coming.

Another insufferable old windbag on the Holocaust

Jesse Helms, writing with the same passion that made him the archconservative of the U.S. Senate for 30 years, renews his criticism of abortion in a memoir being published this week, comparing it to both the Holocaust and the Sept. 11 attacks.
No mention of the Gaza evacuation, but one suspects that Jesse thinks that was a Holocaust, too. Oh, and that time the black people got to vote? Also a Holocaust, according to Jesse, I'll bet.

Hasidic Sefard v. Ashkenaz Smackdown I

I have a friend (neither invented, nor a baal teshuva) who is something of an expert on the Hebrew language. He says that the Hasidic nusach, (ie: the Hasidic variation of the liturgy) was written by "someone who didn't speak Hebrew."

Unfortunately, I am not sufficiently attuned to the nuances of Hebrew to be able to evaluate that claim, but I do know enough about language to be able to tell that the language of the ashkenaz liturgy is more economical, and therefore more elgant, than it's Hasidic counterpart. Some examples:

Tika b'shofar godol Among the ashkenazim, this blessing of the amida ends "...and gather us together from the four corners of the world." Hasidim say, "...and gather us together from the four corners of the world to our land." As if God might take us... where? To Madagascar, instead?

Sim Sholom Ashkenazim end with "and let it be pleasing in your eyes to bless your people of Israel with mercy." Hasidim say "and let it be pleasing in your eyes to bless us and to bless your people of Israel with mercy." Because Hasidim aren't from among the people of Israel?

[More later]

Rabbi Emanuel Feldman on the end of summer

A few weeks ago I wrote:

Ah. The end of summer. Cooler air. Mosquitoes. Kids back from camp. School on the horizon. Will it trivilize the Holocaust to speak of the end of summer as a cashmere-covered, velvet-gloved, cherry-topped sundae of a mini-Holocaust? I don't think so. After all, what is the end of summer but a loving but painful tap on the shoulder, a wake-up call reminding us that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are just ahead?
To my great surprise, you, in your multitudes objected to this analogy. By way of rebuttal, I've invented a highly intelligent baal-teshuva friend who, conviniently, has just finished reading a book on the holocaust. Here is his view on the subject:
Anything you say, Rabbi Feldman is good by me
There you have it. So why such gross misreadings, of my innocuous, yet sensitive, Holocaust analogy? I offer a theory (with no offense intended to shmutz l'aretz Jews, as I am one myself)

The vast majority—if not all—of those who were so upset by my remarks do not live in Israel. While the Israeli Orthodox reaction to the end of summer is highly emotional, that of American Orthodox Jewry is relatively cerebral. That's right: You Americans think too much. If you were emotion-driven hysterics like we are in Israel, you'd just blurt out whatever you happened to be feeling at any given moment and that would be the end of it.

In closing, I will follow the approach of my colleague Toby "Fox is not conservative" Katz and say that I am not being used to pretty up a blog that routinely expresses contempt for Jews. Really. I'm not.

[related: Kaspit; Abu; Godol]

Monday, August 29, 2005

Done for the day

I won't be blogging for the rest of the day... while I'm away, why don't you finish playing 'Nuff Said?

Brooklyn: Good for something

Today we honor Brooklyn, site of one of the more important battles of 1776.

Sure, the Continental Army lost, but the subsequent retreat preserved Washington's army to fight another day. Here's what happened.

On August 29, the entire Army was trapped with its back to the water on the precipice of what is now Brooklyn Heights. Washington called for boats, and under cover of night - and what was later called a "providential" fog - the entire corp of 9000 men snuck across the East River, back to New York, right from under the nose of the British.

It was the revolution's Dunkirk.

A question for the MKWFI

I notice that many of the mighty keyboard warriors for Israel have strategically painted their blogs black to protest the Gaza evacuation. Well done mighty keyboard warriors for Israel!

Once he is made aware of your black blogs, I am sure Ariel will think twice about unilaterally pursuing unilateral policies that strengthen Israel!

Now, a follow-up question. How many mighty keyboard warriers for Israel have surrendered their SUVs? Because it seems to me that giving up the gas guzzler would do more to help Israel than redecorating a blog.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Why school vouchers won't improve schools (briefly)

In which DovBear makes the dismal science less dismal.

CWY asks: And why are schools different from anything else in regards to the market? Yes it's more difficult to open a school than a pizza store, but that doesn't make schools immune from market forces.

Not immune. Just less susceptible. As with almost all things, there is a hierarchy here.

In the perfect market the customer has perfect knowledge of the product, perfect knowledge of what the competitors offer, and equal ability to access them all. Also, in a perfect market, there are no barriers to competition, barriers like regulations, start-up costs, and so on.

Of course the perfect market never exists, but some markets (the market for pizza, for example) are going to be more perfect than others, and therefore more susceptible to market forces.

Education markets are less perfect because consumers can't make informed decisions (it's very difficult to predict how 12 years of schooling are going to affect your child, or to get real information about what a school might do 5 years down the road) and given the realities of geography, there are very few options a consumer can easily access. Also, it's hard for an entrepreneur to join the market because the start-up costs are formidable.

For these reasons, and others a wise man will see for himself, education markets are much less perfect; as a result schools are much less susceptible to market forces.

"... a shout-out to the Gazarian settlers"

[via "I also want to express my token support for the Palestinarian people. I really do hope that you will be placated by the return of your precious dustbowl – if for no other reason than the whole world is really tired of you people whining and blowing yourselves into Alpo."]


...I declare a flame war,,2-1749346,00.html

Looks like the Torah is right about everything.

[Via Mis-nagid]

Photo Friday: Bavarian Pope Edition

Mass during the 9 days, I guess.

Mistakes happen

In a report that Toby Katz is calling both fair and balanced, Fox News recently wrongly identified the house of Randy and Ronnell Vorick as a terrorist lair.
John Loftus, a former federal prosecutor who appears on the Fox News segment "Inside Scoop with John Loftus," gave out the Voricks' address during the broadcast. After the report aired on Aug.7, people have shouted profanities at Randy and Ronnell Vorick, taken photos of their house, and spray-painted "terrorist" (misspelling it "terrist") on their property.
When confronted, Loftus provided the same excuse President George Bush employed after he was told that over 1000 Americans had been killed searching for WMD's and Al Queda links that did not exist
Loftus... apologized and told the Los Angeles Times last week that "mistakes happen. ... That was the best information we had at the time."
Except for the part about mistakes. George W. Bush doesn't make mistakes. No word yet on who told Loftus it was a "slam dunk." We suspect Roger Ailes.

In response, Naphtuli, DovBear's resident GOP-man said, " But... But... But... CLINTON!"

Yeshivas and the regents

Do yeshiva kids today steal regent exames? Don't know. But in 1980, one person was sufficiently concerned about the practice in to send a query about it to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.

Here's how the rabbi responded: (my translation)

Per the question you asked me regarding what you had heard about Yeshivos permitting their students to steal the answers to the questions for the terminal test administered by the state (regents [sic]) so that they receive their diplomas in good standing, this is forbidden, not just because it is the law of the land [dina d'malchusa dina] but also by Torah law [din Torah]

-- Igros Moshes Choshen Mishpat 2:30

I'm happy to see that Rav Moshe's prohibition was unequivocal, however, I'm rather worried about the man who asked the question. What was his assumption? That stealing might be ok?

Where did he go to school?

Liberal animadversions

Reb Yudel vs The New York Times

Watch your back Rabbi Tendler

The New York Times, today, ran another story on metzitzah b'peh, in which, once again, the thoughts of Dr. Rabbi Moshe Tendler on the subject were published: "
The rule that's above all rules in the Torah is that you cannot expose or accept a risk to health unless there is true justification for it," said Dr.Tendler, co-author of a 2004 article in the journal Pediatrics that said direct contact posed a serious risk of infection.

"Now there have been several cases of herpes in the metro area," he said. "Whether it can be directly associated with this mohel nobody knows. All we're talking about now is presumptive evidence, and on that alone it would be improper according to Jewish law to do oral suction."
We agree with Rabbi Tendler (after all, the Chatam Sofer, Rabbi A. Hildesheimer and Rabbi S. R. Hirsch are all on record saying that metzitzah may be done with a device like a sponge or pipe) but we're worried for him. The last time Rabbi Tendler was published on the subject of metzitzah b'peh the thugs who live down the hill from him vandalized his house and shul. In the name of God, of course.

Moron of the moment

David Niederman
"The Orthodox Jewish community will continue the practice [of metzitzah b'peh] that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. We do not change. And we will not change."
Oh. So how did Avraham Avinu perform this ritual on himself? Also, Rabbi Neiderman, don't Orthodox Jews believe that Avraham's bris, the first ever, occurred not 5000 years ago, but about 3000 years ago? Yes, I think we do.

Unfortunately, Rabbi Niederman was not available for further comment on the permanent and inalterable nature of Judaism because he was busy arranging to ship a large bull to Jerusalem for sacrifice on Rosh Hashana, a one-day festival, celebrated with the sounding of a ram's horn, even when the holiday falls on Shabbos.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Liar, Liar

CWY's pants are on fire

Where school vouchers will take us


I hate it when people make fun of Cross Currents *pout*

That's my job.

Connect the dots

Dots appear above certain words in the chumash, a practice that corresponds to that of Alexandrian grammarians who used dots to indicate doubtful passages.

Why are there dots in the chumash, and what do they mean?

I have absolutely no idea, but here's one interesting view (among many) articulated by chazal:

"Ezra reasoned thus: If Elijah comes and asks me 'Why have you written these words?', I shall answer 'That is why I dotted the passages'. And if Elijah says to me 'You have done well in having written these passages' then I shall erase the dots over them." [Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah III.13 and Avot deRabbi Nathan 34]

Suppose we had school vouchers

Suppose we had school vouchers*....

Day 1: School vouchers announced. Hurrray!

Day 2: Yeshivot raise tuitions. "If you could afford $6000 before vouchers, why can't you afford $10,000 now?" school administrators demand.

Day 3: Christian bible schools proliferate. Among the subjects: Christian math, Christian history , Christian geography, Christian Science, Christian music, and Christian discipline.

Day 4: Public schools collapse, losing the most important introduction to other cultures, people and beliefs that most Americans get. [via Mis-Nagid]

Day 5: Tests show that the average Christian is about as well-educated and knoeldgable about the larger world as is the average yeshiva student. Meanwhile, the average Christian parent has become as financially pinched as his Jewish counterpart, and the average Christian school administrator has become wealthy and jaded. In other words, school vouchers have done for the Christians what the yeshiva system did for the Jews. Hurray.

Day 6: Fringe groups, like Aryan Nation, the KKK, and the Nation of Islam say, "Me too," and open schools so that they, too, can capitalize on the voucher stream of revenue. Their graduates, suffice it to say, are not among the enlightened and the tolerant.

Day 7: GOP-people review the havoc school vouchers have wrecked and blame everything on the liberals.

[*What are school vouchers? The standard program proposed in dozens of states across the country would distribute monetary vouchers (typically valued between $2,500-$5,000) to parents of school-age children. Parents could then use the vouchers towards the cost of tuition at private schools.]

All honor Ariel

Well wily old Ariel has made his next move. The paper today carried the announcement of his plan to seize the land surrounding Male Adumim, and to extend the separation barrier. Though I'm made very uneasy by the idea of seizing land, I must support the old general's strategy, and I hope his thinking has at last been laid clear to those of you who so viscously oppose him.

Gaza was evacuated to make safe the larger, more prosperous, and more theologically significant towns of the West Bank. The international good-will acquired by the evacuation is now being spent - perhaps, too quickly, but not frivolously.

I've long thought of the large settlement blocs in the West Bank as Israel's New Mexico, Israel's Arizona. Lke the American South West, the land on which these settlements are built was taken in a just war but unjustly occupied; and they have since become too large, too important, and too populous, to be dismantled.

The shrewdness of Sharon's strategy is that he's carved out borders for Israel that encompass land that his people want, places where they are willing to live, and areas his troops can capably defend. When the barrier is built, and separation is complete, Israeli troops will no longer patrol among hostile Arab majorities. No longer will intrepid Jews be permitted to invite and provoke conflict by settling hilltops that overlook swarming Arab villages. Only the well-established and contiguous places will be kept; the rest abandoned or evacuated in a time and a manner of Israel's choosing. No longer will the Palestinian people have soldiers nearby upon which to vent their anger; and, with the barrier in place, no longer will they be able to travel easily into the Israel heartland with explosives; instead their righteous anger will be directed toward the cause of building a viable state for themselves, or at the corrupt leaders who obstruct them.

In every sense, the 20-odd towns in Gaza, and the 4 towns in Samaria, were sacrificed for the sake of this vision, a vision endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Israelis, a vision that offers security for Israelis, and self-determination for Palestenians.

Apparently, I am also a "religious writer."

Go me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Me and MC

[Note to scolds: I have permission to publish this correspondance]

Ever since I nearly wet my pants laughing at Toby Katz for claiming that Fox is not conservative, I've been getting email from a mystery correspondant whose name will remain Toby Katz. Only for the fun of it, I'll call her... lemmee see. "MC." Also, to be fair, I started it by sending an email reading:

It's facinating that there exists someone on this planet who thinks Rush Limbough is anything but a clown, and that Fox is unbiased.

Her reply:

I think you must be a computer-generated idio-bot

Thus baited, I put aside my usual kind and friendly demeanor, and replied:

The fact that you don't think that Fox is conservative suggests you don't watch the station, or that you're too stupid to understand what they are saying.

[I know. Rude, DovBear. Very rude. Accurate. But rude.]

Anyway, by way of reply "MC" had this to say:

"Married....With Children" is a popular CONSERVATIVE sitcom? sure, whatever (I don't know why I bother corresponding with a computer-programmed knee-jerk-bot anyway, but this game IS rather addictive.)

Pretty clever, huh? Only when Toby, I mean "MC," first mentioned Fox is her original post, she was clearly talking about news. Also, in the same paragraph where she said "Fox is not conservative" (hold on a sec. Still can't type that without snickering) she skewered CNN and all the free channels for being too liberal, though according to her own rules shows like "Touched by an Angel," "Seventh Heaven" and "Crossfire" ought to absolve those stations of the liberal label, right? But instead of making that excellent point, I said this:

Aren't we talking about their news? Yes, I think we were. But nice try.

Undettered, unabashed, and unashamed, "MC" plugged along:

Fox News is conservative only by comparison to the other networks' news.

I had to get a little rude again:

Now you're being silly. Actually you're always silly, but denying the conservative bias of the Fox family of news channels is silly even by your low standards.

And that, unfortunately, is where it ended (though I have gotten a few other emails from MC with links to articles slugged: "To be read by the idio-bot") Neat, huh?

Anyway, those of you who think there might be some truth to the idea that Fox is unbiased, are welcome to read, learn, and to laugh along with us. Some places to start:

The Most Biased Name in News, (a FAIR report)
John Moody's Memos (the News Chief puts his bias on the table)
Fox News Admits Bias! (sort of)
Specific Examples of FOX News Hosts Conservative Bias (more than I can count)
Why Fox News Channel Is An Industry Joke ("Because they employ Bill O'Reilly," is not one of the answers)

Pope: Whatta Dope


Why? Because it'll curb violence, of course.
Modern society "has left God aside believing freedom lies in the individual pursuit of happiness," but in that's only brought about violence and crimes against human dignity, said Pope Benedict XVI... Which is why Pope Ratzinger [sic] advocates a defence of the right to hang crucifixes at schools and other public places
What ahistorical claptrap. How do you get to be Pope, without knowing the very basics of history?

Ratzinger appears to have forgotten that Catholics killed more than their share of people over the last 2000 years, often with crucifixes around their necks, and crosses on their shields, flags and uniforms. Anyway, if Grand Theft Auto compels teenagers to go on violent rampages, what do you imagine staring at a man nailed to a hunk of wood is going to do to their delicate psyches??

Next up, the Pope links liberal democracy to facism:
"Drawing on his own experience of the rise of Nazism, the pope links contemporary liberal democracy with fascism. He argues that when liberals believe in nothing, fascism is not far behind."
No. Actually what the rise of Nazism teaches us is that Catholism (often under the crucifix's watchful eye) did a damn good job preparing the soil of Europe for the Nazi nightmare. Does the Popenfurhrer really think that Hitler made all of gentile Europe into murderers in less than 10 years? Preperation was neededm, and during the long years of preparation Europe was dominated by the Catholics and their culture

Finally, we mustn't forget the Pope's immunity attempt regarding the sexual abuse of children, an idea Michael Jackson might have tried. This sordid stunt is only the man of God's latest ploy to avoid accountability in this matter; previously he attempted to obstruct the investigation by threatening to excomunicate Bishops who cooperated with the police.

(Links via Mis-nagid)

Chicago Tuitions

Received via anonymous email:

Do you have friends in Chicago? You might want to give them a call about this. The local Bais Yaakov elementary school is requiring poor people to go out and beg tuition money from rich nursing home owners. So far, two of my friends have had to go out and beg, because the school told them their daughters can't come to school otherwise. Fortunately, I haven't been asked to beg -- yet. One of my friends is a CPA with a very modest lifestyle -- even he can't afford schooling. Another friend, a corporate lawyer, has just moved to Milwaukee because of rising tuition costs.

That's only marginally worse than NY, where deadbeat parents are send to gemachs and instructed to take out loans, the sort of loans, incidentally, that can jeopardize your house if they aren't promptly repaid. And vouchers aren't the answer, by the way. Vouchers don't guarantee the schools will be less expensive, only that you can use tax money to pay the bill. And once that juicy new revenue becomes available, who in their right mind expects greedy school administrators to lower tuition?

The problem with Bush

The problem with Bush for those of us who love truth, is not simply that he's an utter fraud (my apologies to any of you who think he is a self-made millionaire and also a cowboy, born and raised on the hardscrabble Crawford ranch.) but that he lies and lies without shame.

Further evidence from his speech this week in Utah:

My administration remains firmly committed to serving America's veterans.
Huh? Bush cut soldiers’ danger pay and family separation allowances, cancelled a Congress-proposed doubling of servicepeople’s life insurance benefits, and slashed GI Bill benefits. Most servicepeople now are too low-paid to receive Bush’s per-child tax credit and many live on food stamps. Bush also cut $600 million from the Veterans Administration budget. Oh, and starting a war on fictitious grounds, isn't exactly pro-veterans.

The war came to our shores on the morning of September the 11th, 2001
Bzzz. Wrong. The war brought to our shores on the morning of September 11, was sponsored by Al Queda and bin Ladin. As the president wishes us to forget, Iraq, the country we are currently fighting, had no connection to September 11. None. Zero. The president knows this to be true, yet he continues to muddy the waters. Shameful.

Now Iraq's leaders are once again defying the terrorists and pessimists by completing work on a democratic constitution.
Democratic? Sure, if "democratic" means hostile to Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, to the rights of women, and to Jews.

Israel's best friend

George Bush:

"We'll continue working for the day when the map of the Middle East shows two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security."

Moans from the GOP-Jews. Cries of Nyah!, Nyah! from those of us who told you so.

"...we demand an end to terrorism and violence in every form."

Wait a second. We know the Palestenians are responsible for the "terrorism" but who does the "violence?" Oh my. Is the president of the United States of America, the right honorable George W. Bush, war president and friend of Israel, creating a moral equivlance between terrorism, and Isarel's efforts to defend itself?

Ye Gods. I think he is.

Benny Morris' history

An apolitical* Op-ed from the New York Times reality, the Gaza Strip and the coastal towns to its north, for most of the years between, say, 1250 B.C. and 135 A.D. - the era in which the Jews lived in and often ruled the land of Israel - eluded firm Israelite or Judean control and, indeed, Jewish habitation. It is not even clear that the great Hebrew kings David and Solomon, under whom the kingdom reached its vastest expanse, ever directly controlled the Gaza area. [...more]

[* Sigh, I know many of you out there in readerland are going to insist that this editorial is, in fact, political because it challenges Israel's historical right to Gaza. So permit me a preemptive Shut up! You can report the dry facts of history without also committing yourself to one act of policy or another.]

Ariel Sharon's Statesmanship

A pro-Israel* Editorial from the New York Times

This page has never been shy about criticizing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. But this week... it is incumbent upon us - and all of Mr. Sharon's many critics - to reflect on [his[ extraordinary accomplishment. [...more]

[*Sigh, I know many of you out there is readerland are going to insist that this editorial is, in fact, anti-Israel because its pro-evacuation and anti-settler. So permit me a preemptive Shut up! You can be anti-greater Israel and anti-settler, as many Israelis themselves are, without also being opposed to Israel itself.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

While Nero Fiddles

...his approval ratings drop.

An A for Israel

...for the flag anyway.

The US gets dinged for too many stars, and for being "too busy" and takes a C+

[HatTip Mis-Nagid]

While Nero fiddles

Your George W. Bush vacation death count is 67

Foaming at the mouth....

Toby Katz popped some shrillagra this morning, and dedicated a post to me. That's right. I was MC. It was also yet another post from Toby on politics, leading me to recall that Yitzchak Alderstan said "Cross-Currents is trying hard to stay out of the political arena."

So has Toby broken some sort of rule posting, as she has, about the 2000 election three times in one week? Will she be reprimanded, or better yet fired?

Anyway, some real time thoughts, as I read her latest piffle.

Krugman is now lying, as he so often does, totally misrepresenting what his own newspaper and the Miami Herald reported in 2001
Krugman isn't lying. He's very upfront about the Time's report on the 2000 election, and he says plainly that Bush would have won, according to three of the nine hypothetical ways of recounting the Florida votes. But the other six ways would have given the election to Gore. Toby, not Krugman is the one who is lying when she says otherwise. And quite possible she's also lying when she says she read the report, given her flawed interpretation of it.

The idea that Bush “lied” itself a lie
A "lie" is when you present false information with the intention of deceiving. Though Toby insists that Bush never lied about the Sadaam Al-Quda link, or WMDs or about American intentions during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, she's wrong (or lying herself.) Click here for more (Don't be shy: it's a conservative source: WoldNet Daily)

Fox is not conservative
Ahhhh. Hahahahahahhah. Ahhhh. hahahahah. See this is where Toby crosses over into la-la land. No fair-minded person actually believes that Fox News is unbiased, let alone that it isn't Conservative. Toby saying that Fox isn't Conservative is a little like Nixon telling people he wasn't a crook.

Rush Limbaugh is an ohev Yisrael who is very vocally pro-Israel.
And like the other other media "right-wing thinkers" such as Sean Hannity, G Gordon Liddy, and Michael Savage, he is also a liar and a fraud. As for his position on Israel, at best he's pro-Likud, which is not the same as being pro-Israel as people like Toby often forget.

One very ugly midah I see in Jewish Democrats is a complete and utter lack of hakaras hatov
I see the same midah in Toby Katz. Though her blog receives several hundred hits per week from me, she's never said thank you, never reciprocated with a link to my blog, and, now, when she finally dedicates a post to me, she changes my name. That's ingratitude.

Listen to [Rush] for six weeks and you will be convinced that he is one of the most decent men in the public forum today
If I listen to Rush for six weeks, my ears will bleed. Anyway, read about his personal life, and it's hard to escape the fact that he's a vile person who flaps his mouth now and again about "Family Values" just to keep the cash coming in.

It behooves us to be grateful to our friends, not to spit at them.
Sorry, but I don't value the friendship of a man who spent the month of December telling his listeners that the "Jews are destroying Christmas." And if you had an ounce of self-respect, neither would you.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Who dropped the ball?

Lazer's plan to save Gush Katif:

"If each of us commits to saying Perek Shira for the next consecutive 40 days, we shall undoubtedly move mountains and help save our brothers and sisters from forced exile."

From the moment Arik announced his plan for Gush Katif, one of the following outcomes was certain:

1 - The evacuation would be canceled.
2 - The evacuation would be delayed.
3 - The evacuation would proceed as planned.

As long as you have a shpiel for each of the three eventualites, you can be a miracle worker and some people will believe it.

1 - Ah. The power of Perek Shira
2 - We're almost there. More Perek Shira, everybody!
3 - Who dropped the ball / If only more of you had joined us...

Now that the evacuation is finished (choice 3) how long do you think it wlll be before the Perek Shira people start pointing fingers?

Shorter Paul Krugman

Shorter Paul Krugman: Toby Katz was wrong


Bluke calls for genocide

Another retarded post [Hat tip Jeff]

I was all set to explain why Bluke's facts are even more offensive than his logic, when I noticed his commenters had already done it.

Nice work, fellows.

A Litvshe Yid calls for genocide

A retarded post

One of the main points of this weeks parsha talks about the commandment to conquer the land of Israel

First, this week's parasha also talks about the commandment to relinquish your rights for the sake of a higher purpose. Moreover, you can find anything you like in the parsha. Neat, huh?

Yehoshua understood this and made the people promise to conquer their desire to show mercy to the nations of Canaan, since doing so would only be to the detriment of the Am, as is clearly seen from not only ensuing generations, but our own as well.

Second, Moshe was commanded by God to fight Sichon (in last week's parsha no less) yet he explicitly violated the command and instead "pursued peace" by sending messangers to Sichon. I guess its true, that "lo kam b'yisroel k'moshe od," also to the detriment of the Am, etc.

As the Gemara says, he who is merciful to the merciless, will in the end be merciless to the merciful.

Third, who says we should be "merciful to the merciless?" No one.

I think, Litvish Yid, that you're confusing the immoral idea of being "merciful to the merciless" with the very moral idea of being "merciful to those who simply have an ethnic resemblance to the merciless."

As you prepare the pitchforks and torches, I hope you remember the difference.

Mourning with Israel

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

An Israeli army soldier praying at the back of the synagogue shortly after about 1,000 teenagers were evicted.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

One of several sympathetic photos of the Gaza evacuation published online at

[About the title: Last week, one of the dimmest lights in the blogsophere (minor in European History and all) chose to honor the residents of Gush Katif by throwing some sand into the eye of a major media conglomerate. She published three silly pieces of media critism, two about the Times which she called Rejoicing with the Palestenians. Review the source material for yourself, and I think you'll agree that, overall, the Time's coverage was balanced, if not actually mourning with the Israelis.]

Coincidence? Or not?

Those of you who believe with your whole hearts that there are no coincidences in the world are not going to like this one bit. Those of you who believe that hints to the week's events can be found within the sedra which belongs to that week are going to like it even less. I think.

You see, in parashas Devarim, the parsha we read on the week before Gush Katif was evacuated, I found the following verses and gloss.

The verses:

(1) Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess [it], and contend with him in battle. [D 2:24]

yet two verses later:

(2) And I [Moshe] sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying, Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet [D 2:26-28]

The gloss

Had Sichon acceeded to Moshe's request would he then not have fought him? Surely this would have been a criminal violation of God's word. Yet, had he, in spite of their peaceful arrangment made war with them [as per the command of God] that would have undoubtedly constitutted the breaking of his word. [Abravanel]

In other words, why did Moshe attempt to make peace with Sichon?

[For all other mitzvoth] if the opportunity for obseving them comes your way, you are obliged to perform them. But you are not obliged to pursue them. In the case of peace, however, it is different.... Although the HOBBH said to them:" Begin to take possesion and contend with them in battle," they pursued peace as it is written: "And I sent messangers... to Sichon... with words of peace." [Medrash Tanchuma]

And in Parshas Eschanon, the the parsha we read on the week after Gush Katif was evacuated, I found the following verses and gloss.

The verses:

Be sure to keep the commands of the LORD your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the LORD's sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers[D 6:17-18]

The gloss

The idea behind this command is as follows: At the begining He asked us to obsevrve "his statutes and testimonies which he had commanded you" and now He wished to add that you should do whish is right and good in His eyes, even in regard to those things where no specific divine command applies, since He loves that which is good and upright...accepting where necessary even a compromise... and going beyond the letter of the law. [Ramban]

The good that you do makes you worthy of the land. Your uprightnees gives you the spiritual height before with the material importance of your enemies disappears.... the principle primarily... orders us not to make use of a right which we could legally enforce... even that which you are legaly entitled you should relinquich for the sake of a higher positive good purpose. [Shimshon Rephael Hirsch.]

By my lights you have two choices: Either (1) accept that these verses and their respective glosses are telling us something important about the evacuation of Gush Katif, which went on during the week between the Shabbasot when these verses were read (good); (2) or admit that attempting to glean lessons about the week's event from Parsha verses is a meaningless parlor game that can be spun anyway you wish (also good.)

Look Ma. That rabbi's brains are falling out.

People say I'm a liberal, too liberal in fact. And they're not wrong.

The mistake is when they suggest my liberalism is not in keeping with Torah ideas, so I thought it would be instructive to play a little game I like to call "What's Torah True?"

Here's how it works, I'll provide a situation, and you tell me which of the options that follow the situation is the Torah True(TM) approach. OK? Today's situation comes from the Talmud, Bava Mezia 83:A

Rabbah bar bar Hannah's porters broke his jars of wine. He took their cloaks (as collateral for the debt they owed over the lost jars of wine.) The porters plead their case to Rav. What did Rav do?

A - Released the hounds.
B - Congratulated Rabbah bar bar Hannah for teaching those clumsy porters a lesson.
C - Told the porters they were lucky to keep their underwear.
D - Threw them in jail until the debt could be paid.
E - Ordered Rabbah bar bar Hannah to return the cloaks

The porters further said to Rav: We are poor men who have worked hard all day; we are hungry and have nothing. Said Rav:

A - Yeah, life sucks
B - Yeah well, maybe you should have worked a little harder yesterday.
C - Who am I, your mother?
D - See me after seder.
E - (to Rabbah bar bar Hannah) Go and pay their wages!

Your hint: Rav Yochanan said: Jerusaelm was destroyed only because they judged in accordance with the letter of the law and did not go beyond it [Bava Metziah 30b]

Gish Katif Media Coverage

Why is so much energy being wasted complaining about the media coverage of Gush Katif? What's the matter with people? (especially, with Cross Currents who posted 3 times on the subject of how awful the NYT is, even as Jews were still being dragged out of their homes) The coverage was not bad, as those of us who actually read the newspaper understand.

If you doubt me, go to the NYT webpage, and see for yourself. Start with the slide shows, and the pictures but before you go, be sure to read ""The Dispossessed" which ran Sunday on the op-ed page.

It is perfectly simplistic to say the Times in particular, or the MSM in general is anti-Israel, which is why it is the sort of statement made most often by simple people.

Trumping the Haredim

Mirror, mirror on the wall / who's the most modest of them all?

Not who you might expect.

Hat tip: The very Modest Orthomom (who probably found this site shopping for suitable vacation wear)


Ok, amatur sociologists, riddle me this: What does it mean when you take the amud to serve as chazan for shachris, or when you get called up for maftir, and the nearby men say pssshhhhh?

Insult, compliment, or indigestion?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Welcome to Freedom. Your papers please.

Not quite grasping the concept, the Defense Department plans to screen participants in the Pentagon's "Freedom Walk."

You know, the one celebrating Saddam's attack on us on 9/11.

Hysterical Heshy

I don't link to lunatics, so you'll need to find Heshy's House of Vice and Ill Repute on your own, but my new pal, the Balabusta in Blue Jeans thinks Heshy's agenda for bringing Moshiach is pretty funny. She is right. The comments it produced, especially those written by "Chamsa," are great, too.

Highlights (all comments belong to Chamsa, with Heshy in purple, because it is really his color):

Special shock unit of Torah-observant teenagers who will flood secular neighborhoods, leaving Torah-oriented tapes and CDs on every vehicle windshield in the early morning hours before the crack of dawn.

Because everybody loves the Mooneys...

Special crack-units of tall, highly intelligent young adult women who are well trained in Torah ideals, outfitted in all black (leather jackets & gloves, long skirts and stockings) are to target secular streets of Tel Aviv and Haifa dishing out steaming, hot portions of cholent from mobile crock pots into heavy-duty disposable black bowls with sturdy black forks.

I'm guessing this is some sort of personal fetish of yours. Discuss it with your Rav or Psychologist. Do you have ANY idea what the weather in Tel Aviv is like? It's not exactly chulent weather.

Religious mothers and daughters should man model Shabbos tables in front of all super markets throughout Israel on Fridays.

Aren't they busy wearing black leather and handing out chulent? [But] gosh, you have 3 suggestions for taking them out of the kitchen! Good for you.

Every religious household should invite one or more secular neighbors for Shabbos meals.

Newsflash for Heshy: Chareidim don't have secular neighbours.

We must infiltrate the entire secular educational system from kindergarten through university.

Yes, fight the chilonim by sending your frum kids to chiloni kindergartens. Or maybe by becoming a university professor. I'm not sure which you mean.

From my kid's school handbook

...yarmulka pins, leather yarmulkas, crochted yarmulkas, or yarmulkas with words or the names of organizations are expreslly forbidden.

And the logic behind this is...?


German-born Pope Benedict XVI on Friday became the second pope to visit a synagogue, entering to the haunting tones of a shofar, praying before a Holocaust memorial and winning praise for warning of rising anti-Semitism.

"Second pope?" No, no, no, you media morons.

Norman Ravitch: "That is precisely the problem. The first few "popes" (even if they were then quite simple men) went regularly to synagogues since they were Jews. The fact that from perhaps the end of the first century AD til the end of the 20th Century no popes visited synagogues simply highlights with great clarity the anti-Jewish nature of Christianity as it developed and existed from the end of the first century to the end of the 20th."

Also, MSM, maybe you ought to point out that for hundreds of years, no Jewish man would have been permitted to shake the Pope's hand: he'd have been required to kiss the pope's foot instead. That would be great for context.

Gaza Math

Events of the last week compel me to accept the truth of the following statement:

Ordinary People + Land grievance + thousands of idealist teenagers + irresponsible religious leadership = [X + Y]

With me so far? Ok, now even if we insist on the fabulous and absolute truth of Ashrecha Yisroel Mee Kamocha, still it breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes to conclude, as I must, that the following is also true:

[ [X + Y] - self-determination + extreme poverty] * (38 years) = Z

Hashem yirachem

The New York Times strikes again

Rotton anti-Semites

I spy... (from the comments)

by Anon: There's always a howler in these articles. Here: Tisha B'Av is a nine-day holiday when you don't wear shoes.

by Mis-Nagid: ...this was funny: "Ladies, girls, preteens, shabbos clothing, tickles, snoods and toys galore." Tichels don't tickle! (But they are ugly)

by Rachel: One woman approached Mr. Rosenzweig with finger wagging. "I'm very angry at you," she said, breaking into a smile. "Where have you been? We've been waiting for you all summer." For me the above explains perfectly the tickle/tichle typo.

The Grand Blog Debate

Here's how it works:

Naphtuli and I have agreed to debate the following proposition: During the past years, Israel has assassinated top leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, each time without going through the official criminal procedures. Should Israel be carrying out such a policy?

Nephtuli has argued the affirmative (I and II.) I will argue the negative.

We've also agreed to keep this as formal as possible. Naftali has already made his argument. After I've made my own argument, (below) we'll each rebut the other's original argument. No new information or arguments may be provided in a rebutal. I have not yet read Naphtuli's argument, and my argument is not meant to be a response to anything he has written. That will come in the rebuttal.

You're welcome to play along in the comment section. Also, if you'd like to propose a debate topic, or challenge either of us to another round of argument, please do so by email.

Here we go:

I object to the Israeli policy of assasinating terrorists because it is (1) counterproductive; (2) illegal; (3) dangerous; and (4) useless.

Counterproductive: The assassinations have not slowed the pace of suicide bombings but have instead radicalized Palestinians, encouraging even more to back violence against Israelis. By responding to lawlessness and violence with more lawlessness and violence, Israel has invited the Palestinians to respond in kind, resulting in even more Israeli casualties. It was not until the Security Fence was put in place, that instances of terror abated.

Worse yet, Israel is executing people without charging them with having committed a specific crime; without furnishing any evidence as to their guilt and without the due process of a free and fair trial. When you arrest a criminal and formally present evidence against him, your justice system acquires credibility because it becomes obvious to everyone that you are preceding with integrity and a commitment to fair-play. Israel policy of extra judicial killings produces the opposite result: With no indictment, and no public presentation of evidence, it becomes too easy for Israel’s enemies to argue that wrong man was assassinated or that he was assassinated for the wrong reason. By doing away with the criminal justice system, Israel is playing directly into the hands of people who wish to convince their followers that Israel is unjust and immoral. This seriously undermines Israel's claim to being a democratic state based on the rule of law. How can Israel claim to be morally superior to the Palestinians if they both play by the same rules?

Illegal: Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinians is illegal according to both Israeli law and international law. There is no death penalty in Israel, yet the policy of extrajudicial killings unlawfully circumvents this.

The policy is also in clear violation of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to which Israel is a High Contracting Party. Article 3(d) of this Geneva Convention prohibits at any time and in any place "the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

Also, there is a very real risk of collateral damage. When Israel sends a missile through a window, other people in the building and on the street are put at risk and often killed. The killing of innocent non-combatant violates international norms and laws.

Finally, the policy violates U.S. law by employing U.S.-supplied weaponry, including Apache helicopters, in a manner which is proscribed by the U.S. Foreign Assistance and Arms Export Control Acts. United States law stipulates that any defense articles and defense services to any country shall be furnished "solely for internal security or for legitimate self-defense" (22U.S.C. 2302 and 2754). Israel's policy of extrajudicial killings, designed to eliminate religious and political leaders, hardly qualifies.

Dangerous I call the policy dangerous, because it invites abuse. Currently, Israeli troops execute Palestinians militants on the say-so of a commander in the field. But how can we be sure that the commander isn’t abusing his power? How can we be sure he isn’t carrying out a petty grudge? The rule of law is valuable because it protects against the capriciousness of one person. Worse, if society grants a military commanders the right to act as judge, jury and executioner, what’s keeping society from one day giving police commanders the same power on the streets of Tel Aviv? By arguing for the judicial protection of Arabs, I am also arguing for the judicial protection of Israelis.

Useless The strongest argument against the policy of extrajudicial assassinations is that they don’t work. There is no compelling evidence the killings are effective in reducing the terror menace. So given the serious concerns outlined above, why bother?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Kabalah! Knows All!! Tells Some!!!

I think it is very important to distinguish between Esther/Madonna/Britney Kabaalah and the Kabaalah practiced by Israel's great kabalists.

Whoops. My bad. Turns out they are both bogus.

Question for the Kabbalah-lovers: Will this colossal failure of kabbalistic clairvoyance stop you* from...

...believing in kabbalah magic? (no)

...relying on kabbalists? (no)

...citing kabalists? (no)

...scorning those of us who think kabbalah magic is false?

...practcing Kabbalah magic (red bendals, etc.) yourself?

Oh. Whyever not?

Because you have a short memory and a gift for justification.

(*I don't mean anyone in particular, and certainly not the very rational Gil of Hirhurim)

Lies, lies and more lies

Do you remember Jean Charles de Menezes?

He's the fellow the British police executed on the subway. If I recall, you weren't too bothered. He was running, was wearing a bulky coat, acting suspicious, right? The cops were just foing their jobs, right?


According to the recently leaked report:

No bulky coat...
Stopped to get a paper...
Walked through the ticket barriers...
Ran only when he saw the train coming...
Sat down on a seat on the train before being...
Held down by police and shot 7 times in the head...

Oh, best part: The London cops lied about it through their yellow, tea-stained teeth.

Damn. This means the terrorists are winning.

We win!

Ask and you shall receive

The Slippery Slope write:


I want to get this quote publicized... Can you please check out this post and either link to it or post something on your own?

Thanks, be well,

Happy to help, but I only honor one wish per blogger, and this is yours. :)

Dumb Comments


There is no equating the Arab claim to this territory to the Jewish claim to this same territory according to the Torah.

But what about the opinion in the Koran? Why do the authors of the Torah get more say than the authors of the Koran? Ok, because God wrote the Torah, fine. We'll pretend that can be proven. Still, are the only legitimate claims in the world the ones that are expressly sanctioned by God? What about the fact that the Palestenians have lived there for hundreds of years? What about the fact that they were born there, raised their families there, buried their dead there? Is that worth nothing?

Hence, equating the situation of a "Palestinian" (there is no such thing)

Says who? You? Why do you get to decide what people call themselves? What if I were to say that there's no such thing as Jews? That we're just slightly different Cannaanites, with weird land ownership claims?

"There's no such thing as a Palestinian" falls afoul of the Paradox
of the heap
. If no small changes over time can ever make someone a Palestinian, there can never be the creation of an identity. Hence, American, Israeli and Indian don't exist either.

boy to what is going on here is unfounded and dishonest. A Jewish parent has the right to put his/her child in that situation, the Arab parent does not.

Says who? You? Why is a Jewish resident of Gaza permitted to use her children to protect her home, her holy places and her burial sites, while an Arab resident of Gaza is prohibited from doing the same?

Furthermore to assuage your liberal conscience, humans are not capable of defining morality.

Then who is? Carrots? Even if we agree that God originally gave us the rules in His book, it is still humans who have been interpreting those rules for the last 2000 years.

History has proven this

It has? News to philosophers.

so let's leave that to G-d.

God hasn't said anything to us in thousands of years. If we leave it to God, we don't have much to go on. Just silence. Besides, do you suppose God wishes us to disregard our God-given brains? He's given us the power to work things out, but expects us not to use it?

Misplaced rachmanut like yours is warned about by G-d to His people over and over.

Where? Did you make that up, or do you actually have a verse to cite?

Anyway, I don't advocate rachmanus for murderers and their enablers. I advocate rachmanus for people who may look like the murderers and their enablers, but have done nothing wrong. Not all brown people are terrorists, you know.

We have suffered for it before and unfortunately have not yet learned the lesson. You would do well to review it for yourself.

When have we suffered for "it" before? Can you give an example? Even one? You would do well to read Philosphy and/or History for Dummies. There are some lessons in there you haven't learned.

More dumb arguments

More dumb arguments

Showing compassion towards the cruel will ultimately lead to being cruel towards the compassionate.
Don't be daft. No one advocates showing mercy to cruel people. We advocate showing mercy to people who have committed no crime, other than the "crime" of sharing an ethnic group with cruel people.

Al Queda is going to turn Gaza into a terrorist training camp!
With virtually the entire Mideast already at its disposal, why would Al Queda choose Gaza?

The withdrawl brings the terrorists closer to the Israeli heartland.
Closer than Lebonan? Jordan? Syria? Egypt?

The other Arab nations should take in their Arab brothers?
Why? Because you hold a condecending definition of "Arab-brotherhood?" All the ants might look identical to you, but an Arab from Gaza is not culturly the same as an Arab from Iraq. Besides. The Arabs from Gaza, don't want to go to Syria, any more than the Jews of Teanek want to live with the Jews of Boro Park.

There's no such thing as a Palestenian!
Why do you get to decide that? Why don't people get to callthemselves anything they like? Anyway, who care?

The West Bank is next!
Says who? (I mean besides Condaleeza Rice and Hamas radicals)

It is a reward for terrorism!
It's the right thing to do, irrespective of how terrorists might choose to interpret it. (Terrorists aren't known for being great at logic anyway.)

Jews don't expel Jews!
It isn't an expulsion, not when they were offered homes and other compensation. Not when they are being brought into Israel.

How can you make areas of Israel - or any land for that matter - off-limits to Jews?
The Temple Mount is already in that category. And though Jews certainly have rights, to Gaza for instance, they also have brains. And sometimes, it's simply not smart to exericse your rights. This is one of those times.

(Thanks GH for inspiring this post)

Ariel Sharon on Gaza

Ariel Sharon:

"When I see the families with tears in their eyes and soldiers and police with tears running down their cheeks, too, as they help them pack their possessions and the children's toys, you can't watch it without - I find myself crying, too. I'm proud that our army and police are capable of displaying such great sensitivity alongside the effort to fulfill all the instructions they have been given"

My feelings exactly

The Bush Administration on Gaza

During an interview with reporters and an editor from The New York Times at the State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered sympathy for the Israeli settlers who are being removed from their homes in Gaza but also made it clear that she expected Israel and the Palestinians to take further steps in short order toward the creation of a Palestinian state.

"Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing," Ms. Rice said. But she added, "It cannot be Gaza only."
I don't agree. The next move belongs to Abbas. If he can transform Gaza into an Arab Signapore, perhaqps we can talk about more than Gaza. But until he at long last demonstrates control over his radicals, and a willingness to punish criminals, it must be Gaza only and it is obscene for a senior representative of "Israel's best friend" to be calling for additional sacrifices from the Israelis.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

We get letters

Dear DovBear:

Real historians know that Dalin's defense of Pius XII is fraudulent. Pius was not an evil man but he was most concerned with the institution of the church and what would happen to it after the war. While he knew intimatedly about German affairs and how he himself had helped to destroy the earliest enemies of Hitler, the Catholic Center Party, he feared Boshevism more. Like many on the Right the fear of Bolshevism prevented any meaningful help for the Jews, even when this fear was not coupled with the tradition anti-semitism of the Church.

One has only to ask one question: do you really think that in less than 10 years of Hitler's regime, from 1933 to the start of extermination in occupied Russia, Hitler was able to turn normal Germans into muderers? It needed the 1800 years of preparation through Christian hatred of Jews.

Our rightists want to defend Pius XII because they see him as a bulwark of anti-communism. They are not interested in truth, only in propagands.

Norman Ravitch
Emeritus Professor of History
Univ. of California, Riverside

Thank you for your letter Dr. Ravitch. To your final point, I'll add only that our rightists (by which I mean the GOP-Jews) wish to defend Pius because they see him as a religious, god-fearing man, and their limited imaginations simply can't conceive of a religious, god-fearing man behaving improperly.

Who else dislikes Cross Currents?


Weird One

Neve Dekalim lo yipol shenis... or at least not until after the IDF puts on tefilin(paragraph 9, via Uncle Moishy)


Amshi points to a shocking act of police brutality

Arutz Sheva reports that the perpetrators will stand trial for their crime, which is wonderful. Still the unpleasent side of me is asking familiar, unpleasent questions:

1 - Would you be outranged if the same act of violence had been commited against an Arab? I would, I hope.

2 - Would a policeman be brought to trial as quickly had he brutalized an Arab demonstrator. I hope so, but I don't know.

3 - Is this an isolated incident, or is this sort of behavior endemic in the ranks of the Israeli police? Are other Jews being beaten by policemen? And if they are, shouldn't we assume that the same thing happens to Arabs?

Lessons of the Gaza Withdrawal


For the left
The Israeli army is magnificent. The troops are preceeding with restraint, with caution and with compassion -- though I imagine most of the secular soliders participating in the operation must be fed up with the settlers, and glad to be rid of Gaza. Nontheless, their professionalism has been impossible to miss. Mavin yavin.

For the right
It sucks to have your home taken away by men in uniforms, and it sucks to have your community destroyed. Mavin yavin

What if...

This is the picture the Times put on its cover this morning, above the caption: With tears and a shove, an Israeli boy tries to push away one of the border guards sent to evacuate the settlement at Neve Dekalim, in Gaza.

What if the soldiers were not in Gaza, but in Jenin?
What if the teary boy was not an Israeli, but an Arab?

Wouldn't you be howling that the Times had undermined the Israeli army, and glorified the resistance?
Wouldn't you screaming anti-Israel bias?
Wouldn't you be furious that another picture, of equal size and weight, hadn't been published showing how careful and concientious Israeli troops are?

So what's different now? Where's your rightuous indignation? Are your principles, at bottom, simply a matter of whose ox is being gored?

The Times hasn't changedt. Their photo-editors always choose photos like this, photos that use children to romanticize the underdog, often at the expense of soldiers in uniform. Today's photo choice is perfectly in keeping with many of the Times pictures you have (often rightfully, often wrongly) objected to in the past.

So why aren't you howling now?

Some of what you would say if the boy was Arab, and if the soldier was in Jenin:

(1) How dare the Times put an angry looking soldier on the cover when the soldiers have proceeded with such compassion!
(2) How dare the Times show a little boy gently pushing a big strong soldier, when other settlers have thrown acid in the face of soldiers!
(3) How dare the Times make it seem like people are being forced out, when in reality the soldiers have spent weeks trying to organize a peacful evacuation!

And so on....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Still more stuff Toby Katz knows nothing about (part II)

Like Bush v. Gore

It was the Florida Supreme Court, attempting to throw the election to Al Gore, that made a blatantly political decision...

cough... Katherine Harris... cough

The US Supreme Court merely upheld Florida’s law and determined that the Florida Supreme Court had overstepped its bounds. Several US Supreme Court Justices who are generally considered to be on the liberal side of the spectrum concurred in that opinion.

Wrong in every essential way. So wrong, in fact, it's almost funny.

In Bush v. Gore, Bush made two different claims, and asked for one remedy. The court voted on all three items.

The first claim, that "different standards of counting in different areas without a single overseer violated equal protection," had absolutely nothing to do with the Florida court "overstepping." This is the claim that was approved 7-2, with the liberals concuring.

The second claim, the claim that the Florida Court had "overstepped" by creating a new law was rejected by SIX of the nine justices, with (surprise!) only Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas in support.

The third point, the remedy of ceasing all recounts, was approved by 5 to 4. (Kennedy, O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas in support; Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens opposed)

I know because I live in Florida and I get the Herald, and I read that entire report.

Amazing! Despite living in Florida and reading the entire report, Toby manages to cite only one of the three issues, and she gets the outcome completely wrong. Quite an impressive performance!

Incidently, discovering Toby's errors took...let's see, carry the the, five seconds. And no reading of reports required! Thanks Wikipedia!

Yet Something Else Toby Katz Knows Nothing About.....

Like the 2000 election.

The NY Times report concluded that Bush won Florida by a comfortable margin. It was not close.

This took me less than one minute.

New York Times

News analysis of comprehensive review of uncounted Florida ballots in 2000 presidential election, which solidifies George W Bush's legal claim on White House; review does not diminish heartbreaking might-have-beens for former Vice Pres Al Gore, since it also suggests that more Floridians intended to vote for him; Bush's victory was so breathtakingly narrow that there is no way of knowing with absolute precision who got most votes.

Cindy Sheehan

I'm feeling a lot of tension over the sad case of Cindy Sheehan.

On the one hand, I totaly agree with Hitch: "The military and its relatives have no extra claim on the chief executive's ear."

....on the other hand, though, here's a picture of Bush driving right past her on his way to a party for donors who've given at least $25,000 to the RNC.

As DU puts it "...there you have it. Want some accountability from the president of the United States? Dubya won't give you the time of day. Donated $25,000 to the Republican party? Step right up and shake hands with Our Great Leader! That, right there, pretty much sums up the "morals and values" of today's Republican party and the Bush administration."

Still Hitch (again) is not wrong when he says, "Any citizen has the right to petition the president for redress of grievance, or for that matter to insult him to his face. But the potential number of such people is very large, and you don't have the right to cut in line by having so much free time that you can set up camp near his drive."

However, it's hard to support Bush after he delivered this, the least compasionate statement in the history of the presidency:

Whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job. And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life. Americans, Bush said, want their president in shape and "in a position to make good, crisp decisions.*"

So what is a well-meaning liberal, with cruel yet handsome eyes, supposed to think? Especially now that a stout-Republican loser like David Duke has misconstrued Cindy Sheehan amaturish take on the causes of terrorism, leading everyone to think that Cindy is not just anti-American, but anti-Israel to boot?

Should I side with Cindy, and agree that our President is an insenstive, mean-spirited lout? Or should I concede that even insensitive, mean-spirited louts need time to exercise and go to parties?

It's very confusing.
** IOW (1): "It's my job to be as comfortable and well-rested as I possibly can." \

IOW (2): "I'm going to go on with my life, and do some biking, while the guys who got killed because I lied about the war eat dirt. So Nyah." (One can only imagine the howls of outrage if Clinton has said something like this. )

IOW (3): Brush-clearing and bike-riding is the president's idea of having a "balanced life."


Gross, but funny. Side point: In these parts we yell "Tekiah!"

Chaya shows us a(nother) photo of soldiers hugging settlers.
One's wearing a gun. Why? Aren't the soldiers conducting the evicitons supposed to be unarmed?

Shanna says "Jews don't throw acid into the eyes of Israeli police officers." Word, sister.

Darn it! Why do they call her "Fudge?"

Golda sends her prayers the long way around. Does it matter?

GH collects 198(!) comments, mostly angry objections from Mis-Nagid, by re-writing a kinah. Tomorrow, GH parodies the Kayl Moleh. On Friday, the kaddish.

DM, the Hasidic musician we love and admire - and now we know why - calls Cross Current's "close minded." And it cost us nothing.

Stop the presses: Aidel is depressed.

And now let us say Amen


Yaakov Menken:

"Today's [snip] are all doing the newest, hippest activities as a pale imitation of what the non-Jews are doing, and everyone knows it. The activities may have changed, but the underlying behavior hasn't moved an inch. They are trying nothing new they are following the trends of [popular] culture"

Oh my. What has poor Yaakov so upset? When he describes Jews who are simply doing activities that non-Jews do, and following the trends of culture, is he talking about...

(a) 21st century Jews, who've converted the hats once worn by gangsters into religious vestements?

(b) Hasidim who, in the 18th and 19th century, blatantly ripped off non-Jewish dress, non-Jewish music, and non-Jewish superstitions?

(c) 16th century residents of Safed who copied the local Arab and Musta’ribi celebrations at the grave of Shmuel Hanavi, celebrations that included bonfires and haircuts?

(d) Solomon Ibn Gabirol, who in the 11th century borrowed from his Islamic mentors the terms and ideas that became the basic building blocks of the Kabbalistic system?

(e) any of the other numerous examples of Jewish borrowing from local cultures described here?

(f) Jewish drum bangers, rap singers and modern dancers?

The answer of course is (f) but only because Yaakov is repeating the same mistake he always makes and imagining that Judaism was utterly unchanged until our current day when, for the first time ever, it has been polluted by outside forces. It's the same mistake my Haredi neighbor made Sunday when he objected in my presence to Holocaust Kinos because they were "too new." Had he lived in the 12th century, I imagine he would have protested Crusade Kinos, too.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Round up the (insert ethnic group here)

If Americans want profiling, I say give them profiling.

Just remember to apply it across the boards. For example:

(1) That nasty list circulating on the Internet says six of the ten worst landlords in NYC are Jewish. Shouldn't the Housing Authority be puting all Jewish landlords under the microscope?

(2) Tax evasion is, primarily, a white man's crime. So let the IRS focus on white people instead of wasting their time and our money reviewing tax returns submitted by other ethnic groups.

(3) Both US presidents who were impeached came from southern states. Logic therfore demands that all presidents from the south be subjected to closer scrutiny.

Are my proposals ridiculous? You bet. And ransacking exclusivlyArab suitcases in airports is every bit as rediculous, and for the same reasons.

You see, here's the little fact profile-lovers can't seem to wrap their sheet-covered heads around: More than 3 million Arab-Americans live in the United States. Even if 500 of them are terrorists-in-training more than 99.99 percent of Arab-Americans are no more connected to terrorism than is the bluehaired Jewish lady from Boro Park who uses a walker to get around.

Like the average NYC landlord, the average white man, and the average US president, the average Arab hassled at an airport is not a criminal, and should not be molested.

[Cartoon courtesy of Mis-Nagid]

Best president ever?


W sends a woman to the kitchen


Media Bias Discovered!

It doesn't happen very often, but I, DovBear, have discovered an instance of media bias in the mainstream media.

In Defiant settlers try to block Israeli soldiers, MSN makes it seem like the overwhelming majority of Gaza residents are activly and forcefully resisting eviction.
Defiant and tearful Jewish settlers locked their communities’ gates and formed human chains to block troops from delivering eviction notices Monday, as Israel began its historic pullout from the Gaza Strip after 38 years of occupation.
Not until the 15th paragraph are we told the truth:"Many of Gaza’s 8,500 residents have already left," and an "additional 300 families [will] leave on Monday."

That's the story, in my opinion. Thousands are complying with the will of the nation, and those thousands should be celebrated as examples of Israel's renewed commitment to peace and justice. The handful who are resisiting are not the story, and they are not representative of Israeli society. Those thousands who left peacefully, tell us something important about Israeli society, but you would not know it from the stories about the few resistors.