Monday, July 31, 2006

Another of of our very best friends has his say

"it's 'ridiculous' to say that Gibson holds anti-Semitic views."
---Michael Medved

" denounce Mel Gibson as an anti-Semite, just isn't fair. It isn't right."
---Daniel Lapin

"F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world... Are you a Jew?"
---Mel Gibson

At the time, Lapin and Medved thought Passions (a vile snuff film which portrayed Jews as demonic god-killers) was a legitimate expression of Christian belief, likely to "propel vast numbers of unreligious Americans to embrace Christianity." They thought Mel was defending family values against secular nihilism. They thought his movie would usher in a new religious awakening.

They were wrong about all of that, and it looks like they were wrong about Mel, too. I wonder if Lapin, and Medved will publicly withdraw the loving support they gave to Mel in 2004. If they don't, they deserve to be ignored forever.

Can the IDF kill civilians?

My friends Chardal and Bluke insist that Jewish law does not recognize the concept of innocent civilians. They argue, therefore, that the IDF betrays Jewish morality when it takes steps to minimize the loss of civillian life, especially when those efforts put the lives of Jewish soldiers at risk. Again, and again they've called on Israel to regard the civilian areas of southern Lebanon in the same way that the US regarded Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not a single soldier should be endanged, they argue, if pockets of resistance can be anihilated from the air, even if this means civillians will be anihilated along with the militants.

As a general rule, Jewish law puts the preservation of life ahead of everything else and, as a general rule, a Jew may not participate in any life-threatening activities. But there are exceptions. Writing in Hilchos Melachim (5:1) the Rambam tell us a Jewish government is permitted to risk the life of its soldiers for optional wars, and optional goals. These include expanding the borders of Israel or increasing the country's greatness and reputation. Will these projects put the lives of soldiers at risk? Of course. Yet the government is nonethless permitted to pursue them.

There are good, pragmatic reasons to avoid killing civillians. If Israel were to carpet-bomb civilian areas, as Chardal wishes, American support would likely evaporate, and more serious enemies such as Syria and Iran might be provoked into war. And even if such a doomsday scenario can be avoided, there's still the danger that a war on civilians might send the Lebanese government running into Syria's waiting arms, and that residual anger and humilaition might one day lead to the creation of something even worse than Hizbollah.

If we're going to live according to Jewish morality, let's not go halfway. The same Rambam who tells us [Hilchos Melachim (6:5, 6:6)] that we are permitted to kill civilians with no restrictions, also tells us that war (and, therefore, the death of soldiers) is permitted for the sake of the country's greatness and reputation. The government which is permitted to kill civillians, is also permitted to put soldiers at risk for the sake of political goals, including nebulous objectives such as protecting the country's reputation.

Does this sound like I am being a bit cavalier with the lives of Jewish soldiers? Perhaps yes; but, unfortunately, as Chardal and his friends never tire of reminding us, Torah morality and Western morality don't always coincide.

Can the IDF kill civilians?

My friends Chardal and Bluke insist that Jewish law does not recognize the concept of innocent civilians. They argue, therefore, that the IDF betrays Jewish morality when it takes steps to minimize the loss of civillian life, especially when those efforts put the lives of Jewish soldiers at risk. Again, and again they've called on Israel to regard the civilian areas of southern Lebanon in the same way that the US regarded Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not a single soldier should be endanged, they argue, if pockets of resistance can be anihilated from the air, even if this means civillians will be anihilated along with the militants.

As a general rule, Jewish law puts the preservation of life ahead of everything else and, as a general rule, a Jew may not participate in any life-threatening activities. But there are exceptions. Writing in Hilchos Melachim (5:1) the Rambam tell us a Jewish government is permitted to risk the life of its soldiers for optional wars, and optional goals. These include expanding the borders of Israel or increasing the country's greatness and reputation. Will these projects put the lives of soldiers at risk? Of course. Yet the government is nonethless permitted to pursue them.

There are good, pragmatic reasons to avoid killing civillians. If Israel were to carpet-bomb civilian areas, as Chardal wishes, American support would likely evaporate, and more serious enemies such as Syria and Iran might be provoked into war. And even if such a doomsday scenario can be avoided, there's still the danger that a war on civilians might send the Lebanese government running into Syria's waiting arms, and that residual anger and humilaition might one day lead to the creation of something even worse than Hizbollah.

If we're going to live according to Jewish morality, let's not go halfway. The same Rambam who tells us [Hilchos Melachim (6:5, 6:6)] that we are permitted to kill civilians with no restrictions, also tells us that war (and, therefore, the death of soldiers) is permitted for the sake of the country's greatness and reputation. The government which is permitted to kill civillians, is also permitted to put soldiers at risk for the sake of political goals, including nebulous objectives such as protecting the country's reputation.

Does this sound like I am being a bit cavalier with the lives of Jewish soldiers? Perhaps yes; but, unfortunately, as Chardal and his friends never tire of reminding us, Torah morality and Western morality don't always coincide.

Another Israeli comments on the rallies

Two and a Half Tribes writes:

Your brothers will go to war and this is all you will do???? (Last week's parsha)

As an American oleh who was obviously rally-crazy during my American days, it came as a shock to comprehend not simply the embarrassment these rallies cause on the part of most Israelis for their lameness, but the true animosity that this is what the Anglo Saxons do in time of war rather than anything serious and halachically commanded --like send your sons and daughters at least to help out in sherut leumi during wartime when the support services are beyond break-point.

I now have 2 children in the active war zone, and fully feel that same animosity now.

I'll let Woodrow give the only possible response:

[Rallies aren't] for the people in Israel, but for us (i.e. the people attending). It gives us a chance to come together as a community, to build relationships, to remind us that we aren't alone in our feelings about Israel. Kind of like the difference between davening at home and with a minyan.

And here's my own take:

What sinas chinan destroyed, achdus can rebuild. According to Jewish tradition, the Temple wasn't destoyed because women went around with their hair uncovered. It was destroyed because Jews treated each other badly. When Jews come together at rallies, or to say tehillim, they are repairing the rift between communities that, per the Talmud, brought about the original churban.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Rashi of the week

I hate people who treat the Torah like a Magic Eye puzzle and squint at every posuk looking for clues about the week ahead; but today, I guess, I am one of them:

When you cross the border of your brothers, the children of Eisav who live in Se'ir; they will fear you, but you must be very careful. (Duet: ii, 4)

Careful? Why? Explains Rashi: Do not provoke them.

Samson Rephael Hirsh says:

The tribes of mankind were guided in their search for their place on earth by HaShem's providential hand. Israel must keep this in mind when it receives its Land from God. When Israel finds its place amongst the nations, it must be wary of the nations' rights to their inheritance. It should not see itself as a conquering people, striking fearamongst the nations, so that no nation would be able to live peacefully in its land. Rather, its acts Rather, its acts and displays of war should be limited to the one Land that HaShem designated for us from the moment of its formation in history.
and displays of war should be limited to the one Land that HaShem designated forus from the moment of its formation in history.

As the ground war with Lebanon continues this week, I join those who are praying for a fast, and final resolution-- but not one that so demolishes and humliates the Lebanese people that they seek to replace Hezobollah with something worse.

As the Troah (per Rashi) warned more than 3000 years ago at the begining of the very first ground war in our history: Be careful. Do not provoke them.

Are Jews really united right now?

The Israel National News web site currently features an internet poll asking if the Olmert government should be brought down. I sent their webmaster the following email:

Almost three weeks into the war with Hezbollah, you still have a poll that basically asks if we should bring down the Israeli government -- and 38% of the respondents are either saying "yes" or giving a conditional "yes". This is exactly what our enemies want to see. We need Jewish unity now. How can you expect support from the rest of the world when you are inviting non-support in these troubled times?
Please remove this poll.

The poll is online at

Friday, July 28, 2006

Who said this?

"From now on, the issue is no longer primarily one of territory, restitution or occupation. Instead, the main issue is the strategic threat to Israel's existence."

"Israel...withdrew its troops unilaterally behind its recognized borders, namely from southern Lebanon and Gaza. Both times, Israel's land-for-peace formula resulted in land for war."

Hint: A prominent European LEFTIST.

For the answer, see here:

A great day in French history

Last year, on July 14, 2005, I celebrated Bastille Day writing:

Never mind the current crop of smug and hateful Frenchies. This post isn't about them. This post is a celebration of the common people of France, who decided, finally, on July 14, 1789, that the would no longer be slaves to an absolute and corrupt minority and that they would no longer be led around, like sheep, by a corrupt and hypocritical clergy.

July 14, 1789 wasn't the end of the dizzy era of excess and abuse - there are still spoiled aristos and unaccountable priests, still places where peasents are poor and exploited - but July 14, 1789 was the begining of the end. And though the long liberal trip made many wrong turns, and committed excesses of it's own, there's no doubt at all that humankind is better off today - by every conceivable measure - than it was before the liberal journey started. And that embarkment -Bastille Day- is something to celebrate.

So pass the french fries!
Many, by which I mean not one single person, have asked me why I ommited to mention Bastille Day 2006. The answer is simple: I plain forgot. To make ammends let's celebrate another wonderful moment in French History: The guillotining of Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre.

Robespierre's Reign of Terror represents one of the wrong turns I wrote about last year. Though he started off as a liberal, in the end he was a fanatic, who like all fanatics was marked by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm for his cause. Rather then trust democracy to solve disagreements between the various factions competing for influence in revolutionary France, he settled arguments with the guillotine, premeiring the sort of purges men like Stalin would later perfect. In the name of the revolution he subverted the revolution by murdering monarchists, republicans and many others. During the Terror, there was no king and there was no clergy but Robespierre, the man who had swept them all away, was every bit as diabolical, corrupted not by money or power, but by the awful, uncompromising, purity of his own beliefs.

Maximillien Robespierre was executed today, 10th Thermidor An II

Throwing down the gauntlet


In your most recent comment on my blog, you are maddengly brief: "You really need to recheck your facts, DB," you say. But which facts?

On both your blog and mine, I've provided a long list of facts about Pius 12. What follows are brief summaries of some of the more pertinent and damning points:

* Pius 12 played host to the mini-Hitler Ante Pavelic on several occasions, and ultimately gave this master of genocide santuary within the Vatican.

* He negotiated a treaty with Nazi Germany in 1933 as Vatican Secretary of State, a treaty which legitimized Hitler and contained an annex that granted some small protections to Jews who had converted to Catholicism but explicitly defined the fate of unconverted Jews as Germany's "internal affair," about which the Church would have nothing to say.

* He threw a holy fit about the German euthenasia program, and I've quoted to you from the official Vatican statement that unequivocally condemned the killing of “life unworthy of life.” This decree went into every diocese in Germany, and was favorably and publicly commented on by the German bishops, but nothing like it was ever offered by the Vatican or the German bishops on behalf of the Jews.

* He publicly protested the German invasion of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, with separate telegrams to the sovereigns of each (and printed in large type on the front page of the Vatican's official daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano) but no public protest at all was ever uttered about the slaughter of Jews.

* He excommunicated all Communists in the world in 1949, including millions who never shed blood, but never excommunicated a single German or non-German who served Hitler-- or even the Catholic-born Hitler, Himmler and Goebels themselves.

* And most damning of all, he sat quietly during one horrible October night while 4000 Jews were taken from within sight of his bedroom window. The very best that can be said Pius's conduct during this affair is that his Secretary of State Luigi Maglinoe delivered a weak and simpering message* to the German ambassador, but what good was that? After the meeting 1000 more Jews were taken!

Tell me Shmarya which of these facts are in dispute?


PS: Additionally, it somehow escaped my memory during our previous correspondance that Pius 12 also instructed the Catholic church in France not to return baptized Jewish children to their families after the Holocaust, according to a letter dated November 20, 1946.

* Would you like to read Maglione's own notes of this meeting? They are published on page 525 and 526 of Constantine's Sword by James Carroll. You can read them using's "Search Inside the Book" function.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Just in time for Tisha B'av!

Remember Only Simchas Blogging? Of course you do! !!!!

I regret to announce that, like a dog returning to her vomit, Shifra has gone back to her evil ways.

Is Israel's counterattack in line with just war theory?

War Fair
by Michael Walzer

[DB: If you're a lazy reader, never fear: I've bolded the good parts.]

Israel is now at war with an enemy whose hostility is extreme, explicit, unrestrained, and driven by an ideology of religious hatred. But this is an enemy that does not field an army; that has no institutional structure and no visible chain of command; that does not recognize the legal and moral principle of noncombatant immunity; and that does not, indeed, acknowledge any rules of engagement. How do you--how does anyone--fight an enemy like that? I cannot deal with the strategy and tactics of such a fight. How to strike effectively, how to avoid a dangerous escalation--those are important topics, but not mine. The question I want to address is about morality and politics.

The easy part of the answer is to say what cannot rightly be done. There cannot be any direct attacks on civilian targets (even if the enemy doesn't believe in the existence of civilians), and this principle is a major constraint also on attacks on the economic infrastructure. Writing about the first Iraq war, in 1991, I argued that the U.S. decision to attack "communication and transportation systems, electric power grids, government buildings of every sort, water pumping stations and purification plants" was wrong. "Selected infrastructural targets are easy enough to justify: bridges over which supplies are carried to the army in the field provide an obvious example. But power and water ... are very much like food: they are necessary to the survival and everyday activity of soldiers, but they are equally necessary to everyone else. An attack here is an attack on civilian society. ... [I]t is the military effects, if any, that are 'collateral.'" That was and is a general argument; it clearly applies to the Israeli attacks on power stations in Gaza and Lebanon.

The argument, in this case, is prudential as well as moral. Reducing the quality of life in Gaza, where it is already low, is intended to put pressure on whoever is politically responsible for the inhabitants of Gaza--and then these responsible people, it is hoped, will take action against the shadowy forces attacking Israel. The same logic has been applied in Lebanon, where the forces are not so shadowy. But no one is responsible in either of these cases, or, better, those people who might take responsibility long ago chose not to. The leaders of the sovereign state of Lebanon insist that they have no control over the southern part of their country--and, more amazingly, no obligation to take control. Still, Palestinian civilians are not likely to hold anyone responsible for their fate except the Israelis, and, while the Lebanese will be more discriminating, Israel will still bear the larger burden of blame. Hamas and Hezbollah feed on the suffering their own activity brings about, and an Israeli response that increases the suffering only intensifies the feeding.

So, what can Israel do? It is an important principle of just war theory that justice, though it rules out many ways of fighting, cannot rule out fighting itself--since fighting is sometimes morally and politically necessary. A military response to the capture of the three Israeli soldiers wasn't, literally, necessary; in the past, Israel has negotiated instead of fighting and then exchanged prisoners. But, since Hamas and Hezbollah describe the captures as legitimate military operations--acts of war--they can hardly claim that further acts of war, in response, are illegitimate. The further acts have to be proportional, but Israel's goal is to prevent future raids, as well as to rescue the soldiers, so proportionality must be measured not only against what Hamas and Hezbollah have already done, but also against what they are (and what they say they are) trying to do.

The most important Israeli goal in both the north and the south is to prevent rocket attacks on its civilian population, and, here, its response clearly meets the requirements of necessity. The first purpose of any state is to defend the lives of its citizens; no state can tolerate random rocket attacks on its cities and towns. Some 700 rockets have been fired from northern Gaza since the Israeli withdrawal a year ago--imagine the U.S. response if a similar number were fired at Buffalo and Detroit from some Canadian no-man's-land. It doesn't matter that, so far, the Gazan rockets have done minimal damage; the intention every time one is fired is to hit a home or a school, and, sooner or later, that intention will be realized. Israel has waited a long time for the Palestinian Authority and the Lebanese government to deal with the rocket fire from Gaza and the rocket build-up on the Lebanese border. In the latter case, it has also waited for the United Nations, which has a force in southern Lebanon that is mandated to "restore international peace and security" but has nonetheless watched the positioning of thousands of rockets and has done nothing. A couple of years ago, the Security Council passed a resolution calling for the disarming of Hezbollah; its troops, presumably, have noticed that this didn't happen. Now Israel has rightly decided that it has no choice except to take out the rockets itself. But, again, how can it do that?

The crucial argument is about the Palestinian use of civilians as shields. Academic philosophers have written at great length about "innocent shields," since these radically exploited (but sometimes, perhaps, compliant) men and women pose a dilemma that tests the philosophers' dialectical skills. Israeli soldiers are not required to have dialectical skills, but, on the one hand, they are expected to do everything they can to prevent civilian deaths, and, on the other hand, they are expected to fight against an enemy that hides behind civilians. So (to quote a famous line from Trotsky), they may not be interested in the dialectic, but the dialectic is interested in them.

There is no neat solution to their dilemma. When Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks from civilian areas, they are themselves responsible--and no one else is--for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire. But (the dialectical argument continues) Israeli soldiers are required to aim as precisely as they can at the militants, to take risks in order to do that, and to call off counterattacks that would kill large numbers of civilians. That last requirement means that, sometimes, the Palestinian use of civilian shields, though it is a cruel and immoral way of fighting, is also an effective way of fighting. It works, because it is both morally right and politically intelligent for the Israelis to minimize--and to be seen trying to minimize--civilian casualties. Still, minimizing does not mean avoiding entirely: Civilians will suffer so long as no one on the Palestinian side (or the Lebanese side) takes action to stop rocket attacks. From that side, though not from the Israeli side, what needs to be done could probably be done without harm to civilians.

I was recently asked to sign a condemnation of the Israeli operation in Gaza--a statement claiming that the rocket attacks and the military raid that led to the capture of Gilad Shalit are simply the inevitable consequences of the Israeli occupation: There "never will be peace or security until the occupation ends." In the past, I am sure, some Palestinian attacks were motivated by the experience of occupation. But that isn't true today. Hamas is attacking after the Israelis departed Gaza and after the formation of a government that is (or was until the attacks) committed to a large withdrawal from the West Bank. Similarly, Hezbollah's attacks came after the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The aim of these militants is not to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel; it is to destroy Israel. Admittedly, that is a long-term aim that derives from a religious view of history. Secularists and pragmatists have a lot of trouble acknowledging such a view, let alone understanding it.

By contrast, the Israeli response has only a short-term aim: to stop the attacks across its borders. Until that is achieved, no Israeli government is going to move forward with another withdrawal. In fact, it is probably true that the Hamas and Hezbollah attacks have made any future unilateral withdrawals impossible. Israel needs a partner on the other side who is, first of all, capable of maintaining security on the new border and who is, second, actually willing to do that. I can't pretend that the Israeli military operations now in progress are going to produce a partner like that. At best, the army and air force will weaken the capacity of Hamas and Hezbollah to attack Israel; they won't alter their resolve. It will probably take the international community--the United States, Europe, the United Nations, some Arab states--to bring the Lebanese army into the south of the country and make it an effective force once it is there. And it will take a similar coalition to sponsor and support a Palestinian government that is committed to two states with one permanent and peaceful border and that is prepared to repress the religious militants who oppose that commitment. Until there is an effective Lebanese army and a Palestinian government that believes in co-existence, Israel is entitled to act, within the dialectical limits, on its own behalf.

Good Going Jan

He may have a girl's name, and he may work for the UN, but Jan Egeland knows the score (as reported by the pro-Israel New York Times:)
A day after criticizing Israel for “disproportionate*” strikes against civilians, Mr. Egeland accused Hezbollah of “cowardly blending” among women and children.

“I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this,” he said. “I don’t think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men

*Dispoportionate? Look, everyone knows Israel's strikes have been out of proportion to Hezbollah's original provocation. What is is dispute is whether or not this disproportionate response is justified. Fair minded people can disagree.

Later today, I'll tell you what the very brilliant Michael Walzer had to say on the subject.


Mochassid reports:

"I saw the following message that was distributed on our community message board:

On Motzae Shabbat a group of leading Rabbis from New York accompanied by other dignitaries led by Dov Hikind will be leaving on a Solidarity Mission to Israel. I will be participating in this Mission and hope to visit and give hizuk to the embattled communities in Israel, victims of violence, bereaved families and the soldiers who are waging this heroic battle.

Oh goodie.

Riddle me this: If you were (god forbid) a resident of an embattled community or a victim of violence is there any chance in hell you'd be comforted to see Dov Hikind and his company of self-important fat cats knocking on your door?

Didn't think so.

The New Republic Hearts Israel

Anyone who thinks the "media" hates Israel is invited to review the last few weeks of work from The New Republic (and please, let's not have a "No true Scotsman" debate about whether or not TNR is part of the media.)

For starters read "Why Israel's use of "disproportionate force" is justified' by Jonathan Chait. I'll have more to say about some of the other articles shortly.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lebanon (at least its President) isn't innocent

There is a myth circulating around the world that Hezbollah are the bad guys, and that the rest of the Lebanese are peaceful bystanders. Getting in the way of this is the fact that Lebanon has been in a state of war with Israel since 1948 and refuses to negotiate a peace treaty.

An interview with Lebanon’s President, Emile Lahoud, should be further evidence against this conjecture

“Hezbollah enjoys utmost prestige in Lebanon, because it freed our country. All over the Arab world you hear: Hezbollah maintains Arab honor, and even though it (Hezbollah) is very small, it stands up to Israel. And of course Nasrallah has my respect.”

Right. Like Arafat respected Hamas. Lahoud is a terrorist in a suit.

“We have today around half a million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, their birth rate is three times higher than the Lebanese. That is a time bomb. It is the basic problem of our country, it led to the outbreak of civil war in 1975 and still remains unsolved today. Everybody today is talking about UN resolution 1559, but nobody mentions resolution 194, which recognizes the Palestinians' right of return (to Israel). Lebanon is small and can't integrate the Palestinians.”

So Gen. Lahoud wants to solve Lebanon’s demographic problem by destroying Israel. This does slightly increase my sympathy for the Palestinians -- nobody wants them -- but it really shows that Lebanon has an evil regime.

Elsewhere in the interview he complains that Israel is attacking Lebanese Army positions. Given that Israel and Lebanon are in a state of war, and given the above statements from Lebanon’s President, I would think that Israel would be remiss in NOT attacking them.

(And this is the government that President Bush wants to preserve?)

Lets spread this around the pro-Israel internet community; maybe some of the mainstream media will pick it up.

Guess who's been accused of "fully supporting" Israeli "war crimes and terrorism?"

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

What fresh hell is this?

Annan: Israel deliberately bombed UN observers

Too soon to know if Anan's accusation hold any water, but certainly, this seems to play directly into Hezbollah's hands.

However, it's interesting to note how the Times played the story. The death of the UN observers is not today's main headline, and all it says in the sub-head is "4 From UN Die in Strike" You need to read the article itself to find out what happened.

The conservative Washington Times, however, pulled no punches (and got the facts wrong). Their headline reads: Israeli strike kills 2 U.N. peacekeepers

The silence of the left

Some of your most important liberal bloggers haven't said much about the war in Lebannon. Why not?

The Poor Man Institute: I’ve said nothing about war in Lebanon... because I have nothing to add, and also because - as you may or may not be aware - the United States is actually involved in a hugely bloody war right now, and this is more of a pressing concern to me personally. I don’t know the secret formula for ***** any of these beds - I promise I wouldn’t be shy if I did - but I currently only have to sleep in one of them; and, as it turns out, that’s the one bed where I actually have some miniscule chance of influencing the situation. So that’s my concern.

As Jews, we find it very hard to accept that Israel's troubles aren't at the top of everyone's list of proirities -certainly I'd like to see more on the subject from my favorite bloggers - but there are other things happening in the world, things which are also being ignored by the media and many bloggers: Ethiopia's war with Somalia, for example.

Answering Shmarya

Shmarya, I must note, continues to bait me.

When Shmarya and I first crossed paths, he was at war with the Lubovitch Rebbe for allegedly telling Chabad emissaries not to help Ethiopian Jews. Shmarya, enraged, published a series of posts condemning Chabad for their indifference in the face of suffering. He uncovered old letters, and old quotes, and managed to prove, to the satisfaction of many, that Chabad has some blood on its hands. All in all, it was a run of solid blogging.

But now Shmarya has a new mission, a mission which is the exact antithesis of the mission that first brought him to my attention. When I men Shmarya he was assiailing the Lubovitcha Rebbe's apathy, but today he whitewashes another man's indifference. Again, and again he attempts to exonerate the legacy of Pius 12, the man who permitted 4000 Jews to be rounded up within sight of his own bedroom window.

And that's not all.

As scholars have documented, Pius 12's crimes include an overeadiness in 1933 to negotiate a Nazi-legitimizing Reichkonkordat and an indifference to the fate of unbaptized Jews as reflected in the record of Vatican initiatives limited to converted Jews. They include his 1939 cancelation of his predecessor's encyclical condemning Nazi anti-Semtism, and his failure to mention the Jews - or even the Nazis - is his Christmas message of 1942. They include his many meetings with Ustashi leaders, including at least one - the mini-Hitler Ante Pavelic - who was given sanctuary in the Vatican after the war.

And even that's not all!

As Daniel Goldhagen has famously asked:

Why, as a moral or practical matter, did Pius XII excommunicate all Communists in the world in 1949, including millions who never shed blood, but not excommunicate a single German or non-German who served Hitler-- or even the Catholic-born Hitler, Himmler and Goebels themselves?

Why did the Church hold a special memorial service for Adolf Hitler?

Why did Pius XII encourage the clergy to speak out against the Nazis' murder of the mentally ill and yet remain silent about the killing of Jews?

Why did Pius XII intervene in Germany on behalf of Catholics who had converted from Judaism but not on behalf of Jews?

Why did Pius XII protest the Germans' invasion of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, with separate telegrams to the sovereigns of each (and printed in large type on the front page of the Vatican's official daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano) but not the Germans' slaughter of the Jews?

Why didn't he ever instruct preists and nuns to give sanctuary to the Jews?

Why didn't he ever instruct local parishes to destroy the baptismal records the Nazis used to identify Jews?

Why? Why? Why? And why does Shmarya think he's serving the cause of truth by seeking to exonerate this man? How can it be said that the Pope did everything he could to save Jews, when he did so much more on behalf of converted Jews?

Return of the link dump

Once upon a time, before Ezzie stole "check it out" from OrthoMom, and before HavelHavalim started cramming hundreds and thousands of links into each and every edition, there were DovBear link dumps: (Here's one, or two, and another from when I called it Link-O-Rama. Oh, what the hell: look at them all.)

I discontinued the feature for several reasons, chief among them was that I stopped caring. Also, it was hard to find a snarky remark for each link. Anyone can dump links. I wanted to adorn each one with an obnoxious and clever remark, too. (Ezzie and HH, I notice, skip this important step; no doubt this helps to explain their longevity.)

But so much for that.... here's some of what's been clogging up my in-box lately:

CWY declares war on Time Magazaine; oddly, he fails to recognize that a "real creepy [photo] of children dressed in fatigues saluting and pledging their commitment to martyrdom" might be construed, in some quarters, as a pro-Israel image.

The Village Voice declares war on Avrohom Mondrowitz, a Hasidic psychologist who's been indicted for molesting small boys.

Per kablogalah we see the war in Iraq is a fiasco.

Meanwhile, JewZoo interrupts his important Met-related research to mock both the president and the Lubovitch people.

Batel beshishim finds a ball-player named Gemarah and makes with the funny. Imagine what he could do to poor J.J. Putz.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Supporting Israel...

Someone said:
"The various rallies that have been held round the world give much chizuk to Israelis and they truely appreciate it."

As an Israeli, I can honestly say that I :

1) Did not even hear of your rally
2) Don't get 'chizuk' from them.

Personally, I feel they're quite useless and are there to make the attendees 'feel' as if they are doing something to help, while not doing much to help
Do most Israelis think this way?

I won't speak for the people living there, but as an American I, too, sometimes think that we take the easy way out when it comes to supporting Israel.

Take Tehillim, for example. They are being said for the sake of Israel in every corner of the Jewish world- from GoldaLeah's liberal congeration to the shteebles of Brooklyn. But what for? Does saying an extra chapter or two of Psalms really do any good? Or is it just so much flag waving, a way to wear your support for Israel on your sleeve? I address this question specifically to people who make a fetish of saying tehillim, but can't be bothered to show up in shul on time, or to say their prayers with a minyan - if at all.

And even if we do concede that rockets are diverted when Jews recite the right combination of Hebrew words, is this the best way to help Israel? Whatever magical power the Psalms possess, the Rambam affirms that "the community's prayers are always heard." (Rambam, Prayer 8:1) So, along with adding Psalms to the services, shouldn't we be making an effort to join minyanim - men and women alike?

And what about rallies? They have two purposes: (1) letting the media and politicians know that Israel has supporters in the disapora; and (2) providing courage and confidence to the soldiers, together with those who are dodging missiles and sending their sons and daughters into battle. Certainly, the first purpose obtains -some of the time, at least- but what about the second?

Israeli readers, we'd like to know: Are you, and your friends and neighbors keeping track of the rallies? And does this really do anything to help you manage the large and small stresses of war?

Liberal Rabbis

Well, yet another leftie Rabbi has gone ahead and made a parade of his staggering ignorance.

First, the guy interprets a word that appears in the TORAH on the basis of the fact that it SOUNDS like a word from another language. HOW ABSURD!! Next is he going to say God created dogs on the fifth day, because the English word "dog" sounds like "dag," the hebrew for fish?

Then, the same guy expresses bewilderment that Chazal never offered an explanation for the appearance of a particular word in Tanach. Well guess what? The jokes on him! Because as a matter of fact this very issue is discussed in both the midrash and the talmud.

Oh, you want to know the name of the Rabbi I am talking about? Why Rashi, of course. [/sarcasm]

Back-story: On Numbers 31:42 ("And he called it Novach/Vayikra l'uh novach") Rashi points out that because the last letter of the word "l'uh/it" does not contain a mapik the word is pronounced "loh" rather than "l'uh."

"Loh" (ie: lamed hai-sans mapik) is a homonym for the Aramaic word for "no." (ie: lamed aleph) This, Rashi says (citing R' Moshe Hadarshan) is a sign that the name "Novach" did not survive as the name of the city.

In the second part of his comment Rashi writes: "I can't understand why the same explanation isn't given in two similar instances (when the word "l'uh" is spelled without a mapik) ie: "Boaz said to her," (Rus, 2:14) [and] "to build her a house." (Zechariah, 5:11)

As the Ramban points out with, well, a bit too much glee, both verses are discussed in Midrash Rus, and in both instances the mapik-less word "l'oh" is interpreted as "no." As Avigder Bonchak says in his book What's Bothering Rashi it seems, simply, that Rashi was not aware of the Midrash's explanation.

Anne Frank 2006: War Diaries Online

What might Anne Frank have made of
...Galya Daube, a 15-year-old from Haifa, Israel, uploaded a jittery, first-person video clip last week, made as she ran through her home, rushed down whitewashed staircases and blurred her way from room to room toward the family’s bomb shelter (

Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group that set off a furious air and artillery assault from Israel on July 12 by crossing the border and kidnapping two Israeli soldiers, was raining missiles of its own on Galya’s seaside city, where she was enjoying summer break between her freshman and sophomore years of high school.

A civil air raid siren can be heard in the background.

“I was home alone with my mom during the alarm,” Galya wrote in an e-mail message. She has since fled Haifa to stay with her brother in Tel Aviv. “Since my camera was right next to me, I made a short clip of my running down to the shelter. Once I saw the clip, I decided to post it online so people could get a glimpse of what we go through when under attack.”

Call it an entry in the diary of Galya Daube...
[Hat-tip: The New York Times]

Monday, July 24, 2006

Two Weeks of the Times (cont.)

Some notes before I continue:

* I don't believe that the Times is anti-Israel, but I agree with those who say that a case for their being pro-Israel needs more evidence than two weeks worth of headlines, and front page photos. Of course. Likewise, the headlines and front page photos alone can't *prove* that the Times is anti-Israel. (You're welcome to click on the links provided for your convinience if you want to read the articles themselves.)

* So what am I doing? Documenting, satisfying my own curioisty, and attempting to provoke conversation, I suppose. I'd really like to hear from those of you who think these headlines and pictures represent bias- in either direction (I've already heard from people on the Arab side of the aisle who think the Times headlines favor Israel.) I think we can have an interesting give and take about the relative merits of these headlines and photo choices. One is already underway here.

* I am not prepared to comment on the reporting of any other station, magazine or newspaper. You're welcome to tell me what you've seen, either by email or in the threads, but I may not respond. Guest posts on the topic are welcome.

July 19
U.S. Seen Waiting to Act on Israeli Strikes in Lebanon
Photo: A solider and some people walking I can't tell if they are Israeli or Lebanese. (the caption is too small to read online, and I can't find the picture elswhere on the Times site)

July 20
Death Toll Rises in Mideast Fight; Bunker Bombed
Sub: Land Combat in Lebanon
Photo: Israeli soldiers hiking on a dusty trail

July 21
Marines Return to Beirut to Aid U.S. Evacuation
Sub: More clashes in Lebanon
Photo: A US soldier loading a transport ship. Caption: An American sailor prepared for the departure of American evacuees near Beirut Thursday. They were taken to a ship headed to Cyprus(top)
The Many hidden faces of Palestenian Militia Forces (bottom left)
In Tyre, the Dead Wait for the Bombings to End (bottom right)

July 22
Israeli Buildup at Lebanese Line as Fight Rages
Photo: Lebanese coffins lined up in front of numbers
Caption: Coffins bearing the names and bodies of 86 civilians are lined up for a mass grave in Tyre, Lebanon. They will be given proper burials later.

July 23
U.S. Plan Seeks to Wedge Syria From Iran
Photo: Burned out buildings along a coast
Caption: A deserted holiday resort near a burning fuel depot outside an electrical power plant in the town of Jieh, south of Beirut, after it was attacked twice by Israeli air strikes since the start of hostilities.

July 24
Israel Weighs Foreign Troops on Border
Photo/Caption: Victims of a missile outside the village of Tireh arrived at a hospital outside Tyre. (top)
Photo/Caption: A woman held a photograph of her brother, who was killed on Sunday by a rocket that hit Haifa. (bottom)

RE: Solidarity Rally

Hi Dov Bear,

I went to the "Yes to Peace - No to Terror" Solidarity Rally held at the Jewish Free School today. There were 7,500 people (which is a lot for British Jews, considering our numbers). There were messages of support from the British Hindus and British Anglicans who said that they stood with the Jewish people and the people of Israel in their fight against terror.

There were various speakers, Zvi Heifetz the Israeli Ambassador, the head of the UJIA who said (quite correctly) that we are the true authentic voice of British Jewry (an attack on those who signed the anti-Israel ad in The Times a couple of weeks ago), and the Chief Rabbi who made a very emotional and inspiring speach. We had a live satelite link-up with the mayors of various Northern towns. I am sure you will be able to find various reports on various website - this is one of the first I have come across.It was all very moving and we were very proud of most of the Jewish community.

The one upsetting part, in my mind, was that apart from Chabad (who were there ostensibly to put Teffilin on people), the Chareidim werea lmost non-existant. Chareidim are usually quite noticable - but almost none could be spotted. A few of my friends there commented similarly.This on top of the fact that someone told me that in his Chareidi shul yesterday when he asked them to make a special mishaberach for the matzav in Israel they refused saying that it wasn't warranted.

I was hoping that, with your help, maybe some of your readers out there in the blogosphere could offer a suggestion as to why Chareidim feel that showing solidarity with their fellow Jews in Israel is not of particular importance to them. Any chance of a post on the subject?

Best regards
The Beadle

Two Weeks of the Times

Armchair generals are making their usual noises about the so-called biased and supposedly slanted reporting afflicting Israel. Rather than argue with them directly, I thought it might be interesting to look at how the New York Times has been covering the crisis.

You can draw your own conclusions in the comments

What follows is a list of the Time's lead headline and a decription of their front page photos dating back to July 12, the day the two soldiers were taken.

July 12
White House Says Terror Detainees Hold Basic Rights
Photo: Crowds milling around a destroyed train (top)
Victims of the train bombings in India (bottom)

July 13
Clashes Spread to Lebanon as Hezbollah Raids Israel Sub: 8 Israeli Troops are Killed and 2 are Held
Photo caption: "An Israeli artillery unit fired across the border into Lebanon Wednesday after Hezbollah fighters launched a raid into Israel, killing eight soldiers." [Note this was a mistake in favor of Israel. As a later correction noted, only three soldiers were killed during the raid.]

July 14
Israel Blockades Lebanon; Wide Strikes by Hezbollah
Photo Caption: "Fuel tanks burn at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, which was shelled by the Israeli military for the first time since 1982. " (top)
"Hezbollah rain rockets on Israel" (bottom left)
"Old Wounds re-open in Lebanon (bottom right)

July 15
Israel Vows to Rout Hezbollah
Sub: Beirut Bombed- Drone Hits Israeli Ship
Photo: A Lebanese soldier is shown in front of a destroyed building

July 16
Israel Widens Scope of Attacks Across Lebanon
Photo: Soldiers walking among wounded people who are spread out on gurneys. I think they are Leabanese, but I can't say for sure.

July 17
Israel Bombards Lebanon After Hezbollah Hits Haifa With Missile
Photo: A scene from the destroyed train station (top)
Destroyed Lebanese buildings (bottom)

July 18
Diplomats Seek Foreign Patrols to Calm Mideast
Photo: Two Lebanese men weeping by a ditch (top)
Israeli soldiers weeping (bottom right)
Israeli civillians screaming (bottom left)

[To be continued]

Wearing Tzitzis Today Is Stupid

Wearing Tzitzis Today Is Stupid
by CousinOliver

Well, at least the emphasis that my stupid community/society places on it is stupid. Here is why:

Numbers 15:38 - Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, they should make themselves tzitzit (fringes) on the corners of their clothing throughout their generations, and give the tzitzit of each corner a thread of blue.
Reason it is stupid: My clothes don’t have corners and the blue isn't even confirmed.

Deuteronomy 22:12 - You shall make yourself twisted threads, on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.
Reason it is stupid: I don’t have a garment with four corners to which I cover myself.

Numbers 15:39 - And they shall be tzitzit for you, and when you look at them you will remember all of the Lord's commandments
Reason it is stupid: Really? Does anyone REALLY look at their fringes and think this? Don’t a lot of people keep them tucked in so you don’t even see them?

Numbers 15:40 - In order to remember and do all My commandments
Reason it is stupid: So what now, If I DON’T wear them Im not going to remember to do the commandments? Am I a child that needs a string around my finger?!

Rambam - says it is commandment just as important as bris milah and korban pesach.
Reason it could be stupid: 1)I have no idea why he makes this comparison. 2)Korban pesach isn't done today. 3)If you don't do a bris milah, you are transgressing; by not wearing tzizit, you are not.

I know that people specifically put on a four cornered garment so that they can fulfill the positive commandment. That’s fine if you want to do that, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with deciding not to and I surely think it is extremely wrong to judge someone you see not wearing them.

Why did it take almost 9 days?

Note: Links have been fixed.
Additionally, please note that the 12 Democrats who opposed the "we love Israel" resolution have been roundly condemned on this blog. Meanwhile, I am still waiting for even ONE GOP blog to celebrate the nearly 200 Democrats who supported the resolution or to condemn the House Republican who voted "no."

Also, it would be nice to hear some disaproval from the GOP-Jews for John Warner. Warner is the Republican Senator who called Israel's acts of self defense "extraordinary" and urged the Administration to call on Israel to use restraint because he worried that Israeli actions might"affect our operations in Iraq..."


Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers on July 12, but it took almost nine days for the Republican led House to denounce it and pass a resolution in support of Israel.

Here's why:

Wednesday, July 12
* Hezbollah terrorists cross into Israeli territory, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and killing seven others.
* Democrats, led by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) , House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (IL) , and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) immediately express their full support for Israel and call on Hezbollah to return the soldiers and end terrorist attacks on Israel.

Thursday, July 13
* Hezbollah fires countless missiles into northern Israeli towns.
* Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi signs off on an Israel solidarity resolution and calls on House Republican Leadership to pass the resolution before adjourning for the week.
* Republicans reject Democrat's request and adjourn the House of Representatives until July 17 without considering the resolution.
* Democratic support for Israel is overwhelming.

Friday, July 14
* Israel continues to be hit by Hezbollah missiles.
* The Senate does not pass an Israel solidarity resolution before adjourning for the week because two Republican Senators, including Republican Senator and Chairman of the Armed Services Committee John Warner (VA), object to a line in the resolution urging the President "to continue fully supporting Israel as Israel exercises its right of self defense in Lebanon and Gaza."
*Nothing from the House.

Saturday, July 15
*Israel continues to be attacked by Hezbollah terrorists.
*The Associated Press reports that Republican Senator Warner considers Israel's acts of self defense "extraordinary" and urges the Administration to call on Israel to use restraint because Israeli actions could "affect our operations in Iraq..."
*Still nothing from the House.

Sunday, July 16
*Haifa is attacked.
*The House is still silent on Israel despite House Democratic Leader Pelosi having signed off earlier in the week - for the second time - on a resolution expressing U.S. solidarity with Israel and calling for its immediate passage.
*Republican Senators are still holding up an Israel solidarity resolution.

Monday, July 17
*Haifa and cities north are all but shut down because of continued attacks. The Israeli military reports shooting down a long-range missile that was possibly aimed at Tel Aviv.
* Republican Senators finally let the Senate vote on Israel solidarity resolution. The resolution passes.
*Still nothing from the House.

Tuesday, July 18
* Hezbollah terrorists continue to attack Israel.
* Still nothing from the House.

Wednesday, July 19
*Hezbollah militants clash with Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon.
8 Republicans finally permit the House to begin debating an Israel solidarity resolution at 6:55 PM, but not before pushing through a bill stripping the Judiciary of its constitutional right to hear cases regarding the Pledge of Allegiance and which will "severely limit the rights of religious minorities."
*The House adjourns without passing the solidarity resolution.

Thursday, July 20
*Eight days have passed since the conflict in Israel began. Israeli towns from Haifa to the northern border are being bombarded by missile attacks.
* FINALLY, after a week of playing politics with the resolution, Republicans permit the House to vote on an Israel solidarity resolution at 12:10 PM.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Connecticut primary could be a dangerous omen

Early in August, a primary election will say a lot about the future of the Democratic party in the US. Senator Joseph Lieberman is facing a tough primary election against a millionaire businessman, Ned Lamont, who is running what is essentially a one issue campaign. The latest poll shows them basically even.

What is amazing about this campaign is the Lieberman still has the endorsement of a host of the usual suspect liberal Democratic groups, including Planned Parenthood, League of Conservation voters, Human Rights Campaign (yes, the most important Gay Rights lobby endorsed an Orthodox Jew who opposes same sex marriage!), and
12 different labor unions. Lieberman's record in support of those causes (with the single exception of same sex marriage) makes that support well deserved; this is not a case of lesser of two evils. In addition, a host of unquestionably liberal elected officials from Connecticut and across the US have endorsed Lieberman, not to mention former President Clinton, who will be campaigning for Lieberman tomorrow.

What is going on here?

I am worried. If Democratic primary voters across the US adopt an ideological purity attitude, the party will be condemned to minority status for a generation. The ONLY real issue in this race is that Lieberman refuses to support a fixed time for withdrawl from Iraq. You can disagree with him on that, or agree with him, but you can't argue that he hasn't been a tremendous supporter of Democratic causes for his entire political career. Even if he loses the primary, Lieberman may still run in the general election and could win as the Republicans do not have a serious challenger this year (and one incumbent Republican congressman, Chris Shays, has already said he is voting for Lieberman). But most Democrats will not have that luxury.

And a Lieberman primary loss will make it difficult for the Democrats seeking to oust the states three Republican members of the House of Representatives, all of whom are vulnerable and represent districts that voted for Kerry over Bush, as described here. The Democrats need to win seats like that if they are to take back the House of Representatives. But for some, ideological purity seems more important.

The primary is Tuesday, August 8.

Yeridah exceeding Aliyah

This week, over 200 Jews from North America made aliyah dispite the war, as described here:

"A record-setting year of North American Aliyah continued Thursday..."

But this does not represent the trend. The number of persons making yeridah from Israel to the US during US fiscal year 2005 (10/1/2004 to 9/30/2005): 6,963

(Source: US Government).

I think this represents an increase over recent years, but the table that would have this information was unavailable.

By comparison, aliyah from the US to Israel during the first half (January 1 to June 30) of the following years:

2004: 601
2005: 564
2006: 589

(Source: Government of Israel)

The recent flights do not come close to counterbalancing the much larger numbers making yeridah. Clearly, there is still a pretty strong net migration from Israel to the US. Anyone want to speculate as to why?


Did they say tehillim this weekend in the shteebles?

I've heard from several of you who daven with Hasidic Rabbis, and so far all of you are reporting that no special prayers have been said for Israel or the soldiers.

Note: As a rule, I don't make a big deal about tehillim. I mean, if you want something to happen, and you're looking for a supernatural solution, why not try davening? If you're worried about Israel, you shouldn't be adding tehillim, you should be showing up on time for services, and if you're a woman you should be adding shachris and mincha to your daily exertions. [More on this tomorrow.]

However, with all that said, I still think that tehillim are an effective litmus test. If your shul isn't offering special prayers for Ehud ben Malka, Eldad ben Tova and Gilad ben Aviva either your Rabbi doesn't believe that prayers work, or he thinks kidnapped Jews are not entitled to them.

By email, I've heard from "Hector" who says his Local Hasidic Rabbe did not permit his congregation to pray publicly for Israel on shabbos parshas Pinchas; however, by shabbos parshas Matos-Massai community presure had forced the man to alter his position, and tehillim (the last 30 perakim, ie, "tehillim l'yom hashabat" in fact.) were recited after davening. Also, a mee-shebayrach was said for the kidnapped soldiers.

That's one. Any others?

Why they voted no (and present)

Willendorf explains why 4 democrats neglected to vote in favor of the House's "we love Israel" resolution.

Her explanation is good-- and better, certainly, than the bogus, insulting to the intelligence, excuse GOP Jews offer for the refusal of Trent Lott and 20 other Republican sentators to denounce lynching.

Tikun Moonbats Under the Sun.

Michael Lerner's most recent Tikun Magainze article is making the rounds -- it's already linked on over 10,900 websites. From "Radio Left" (which bills itself: Now in our 6th year driving the right-wing nuts. Internet talk radio for Liberals and Democrats) to Air America (which needs no introduction), Lerner demonizes Israel's right to defend it's sovereign borders from terror attacks.

One of the more annoying paragraphs was the following:

For Israeli militarists and the settlers, Hamas recognition of Israel, however partial, would have been a dramatic propaganda defeat. Within days Israelis began shelling inside Gaza (allegedly to stop Hamas' firing of Qassam rockets against Israeli population centers). One such shell landed on a Gaza beach, killing a family of eight who were simply enjoying the sun and water. A few days later, a Hamas group captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and Israel used this as its excuse to implement a plan it had developed months before to re-enter Gaza and destroy the Hamas infrastructure.

He posits:

1. Israeli settlers would face a dramatic propoganda defeat were Hamas to recognize Israel. Actually, most settlers don't really care if it's Hamas or Fatah running the Palestinian Authority or if they recognize Israel. In the Middle East, its facts that make a difference, and we've all seen over the past 10 years that it doesn't matter who's running the Palestinian Authority -- the bottom line is that they want to kill Jews. the Palestinian Authority is not really interested in Peace with Israel. Not every Arab wants to kill Jews, it's just that regardless of who is running the PA, the terror is still the same. For an enlightening (yet depressing) post on the subject -- a liberal Egyptian blogger has the following to say comparing Israel's Left and the Arab Left:

"But then I rememberd that we- the majority of us anyway- don't want peace with Israel, and are not interested in any real dialogue with them. We weren't then and we are not now. The Entire peace process has always been about getting the land back, not establishing better relations. Even when we do get the land back, it's not enough. People in Egypt lament daily the Camp David treaty that prevents us from fighting. In Gaza they never stopped trying to attack Israel. In Lebanon Hezbollah continued attacking even after the Israeli withdrawel. And the people- the majority of the arab population- support it. Very few of us are really interested in having any lasting Peace or co-existance. I mean, if our left is asking for war, what do you think the rest of the population is thinking?

I think that the Israeli want peace with us because they don't want their lives disrupted. They don't want to have the IDF soldiers fighting in Gaza, rockets coming into their towns from Hamas or having to go to wars against Hezbollah to get their soldiers back. I think they want peace because they want their peace of mind. They view us as if we were a headache. We view them as if they are a cancer.

And this is why there will never really be any peace in the middle-east."

2. One such [IDF] shell landed on a Gaza beach, killing a family of eight who were simply enjoying the sun and water.Despite the empirical and factual evidence that the IDF was NOT responsible for the death of 8 Palestinians in this particular incident, Lerner uses this lie anyway to bash Israel.

3. Everything Israel does is either an excuse or an alleged response...and Lerner offers Israel no credit for any military action.

Is this guy really representative of Liberal Democrats or is he off the deep end?

A good week to us all,


Friday, July 21, 2006


I'm pleased to announce that the Republican-dominated House of Representative has today, (finally!) condemned the recent attacks against the State of Israel, held terrorists and their state-sponsors accountable for such attacks, supported Israel's right to defend itself, etc. etc.


I'm also pleased to announce that close to 200 Democrats voted in support of this resolution.

I'm not happy about the 12 fringe lowlifes who voted against, but before any of you in the peanut gallary try to say that their opposition tells us something terrible about the Democrats as a whole, I'd like you to take a spin with me down memory lane.

Back in June of 2005 the Senate voted on a resolution officially apologizing to the families of lynching victims for never outlawing lynching as a federal crime. The apology resolution had wide support, and was co-sponsored by almost all of the Senators, but there were a few holdout Senators who couldn't quite bring themselves to say that lynching is wrong. They were (surprise!) all Republicans, and included Thad Cochran and Trent Lott who both are from the state responsible for the highest number of lynchings (MS with 581.)

Shall we conclude from this that the GOP is objectivly pro-lynching? No, of course not. And we shouldn't conclude that the failure of 12 people to support today's resolution means that the Democrats are anti-Israel. Ok?

Chukas HaGoyim?

Browsing around the internets, I came across this interesting recollection in an article by Timothy Noah about how people react to summer camp:
"Some people really, really enjoy camp. I wish I could tell you that these people grow up to be really, really normal, but they don't. You know who I'm talking about. These are the ones who wept uncontrollably when the paper-mache numbers spelling out 1967 were set ablaze on a little raft that a camp counselor, under cover of darkness, towed stealthily to the middle of Lake Weecheewachee on the evening of the last group sing."
Group sing? Every Jewish camp -even the uber-Haredim- does something just like that right after Eicha is read. To be honest, I never understood the point, and the discovery that this ritual was copied from the WASP camps doesn't shed any light on it.

PS - At my camp, the numbers (letters actually: This was the hebrew year) were gasoline soaked tampons-- not paper mache.

Culture of Life?

I'm a bit confused about the White House's position on the sanctity of life. Perhaps someone in the reading audience can help.

There are just two intellectually coherent positions on human life. You can be like the Catholic Church and say that it's all holy and to be protected. This means, as the Catholic Church teaches, that abortions, stem cell research, war, and executions are all equally offensive to the sacredness of human life.

You can also be like the progressives who say that life begins sometime after conception, so there are certain protections which need not be extended to fetuses and stem cells. A progressive isn't being inconsistant when he embraces stem cell research or abortion, while also opposing war and capital punishment because he believes that life, though sacred, does not begin within the first few days, weeks, or months of a preganancy.

What you can not do, however, is make pious sounding noises about the sanctity of life and then shrug your shoulders while civilians die in Israel, Iraq and Lebanon. You can't embrace capital punishment, while bending over backwards to protect embryos. If life matters, life matters.

[Where do I stand? None of your business, really, but I suppose I'd put myself in the progressive camp. I do think life begins in the very early stages of a pregnancy, but I recognize this is a statement of theology, not scientific fact, and I am shy about imposing my theology on other people. I oppose captial punishment, except when a case can be made that the death of an individual would benefit society. I oppose using it as a deterrent (because it isn't) or as a punishment (because, too often the wrong person is convicted.)]

Do me a favor.

If any of you out in Readerland are having lunch with the president this weekend, please ask him this very serious question on my behalf.

At almost the same time the President declared that "Israel has a right to defend itself," the President's Secretary of State said, "It is extremely important that Israel exercise her restraint in its activities of self-defense." How does the President believe that it is possible for Israel to be "restrained" in fighting a two-front war against terrorists?

If you're feeling gutsy, you can also ask him if the Secretary of State was speaking for the President when she contradicted him, or was she acting on her own, while the President, acting much like the Lebanese government, looked the other way, and mantained a degree of deniability while others he should have been able to control acted destructivly.

Oh, and don't let the President answer with his mouth full, and keep the kids away in case profanities start flying.


Is Sunday the day of rest for liberals?

Money quote:
In the second quarter, the Sunday-morning programs [ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and NBC's Meet the Press] continued to host more Republicans and conservatives than Democrats and progressives. Across all three shows, Republicans and conservatives made 66 appearances, compared with 48 appearances by Democrats and progressives
Even if all the gentile liberals and progressives are too busy with church on Sunday morning to participate in the talk shows, you'd think the networks would at least give some air time to the Jewish liberals. There are loads of them, right?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Right and Wrong

There was an important error in the post which appears directly beneath this one.

It is not true that there were only two Arabs in the Knesset when it accepted Oslo 1 in September 1994. I've been able to confirm that there were at least 8 -- and, though I've found no reliable first hand information about how they voted, the conventional wisdom appears to be that all of them agreed with the Jewish legislators who also accepted the accords.

I've also managed to satisfy myself that the claim that "the majority of Jewish residents of Israel voted against Labor and against the ill-considered peace plan" is false. Israeli citizens- Jewish or not - were never given the opportunity to vote directly on Oslo, but various opinion polls show that a majority of Israelis supported the government's peace efforts. I am continuing to work through the data, and I hope to post links shortly. Meantime, you are welcome to see what Google brings you

RWers reinvent history

An epidemic of RW revisionism seems to be underway today.

First an example from my own comment thread, with the smackdown provided by Charlie Hall

Daganev said: 'The roadmap was invented by Clinton, what do you mean Bush intorduced it???'

Charlie Hall replied: It is amazing how right wingers will do anything to deny facts that aren't consistent with their preconceived notions.

The Road Map was published by the State Department under George W. Bush on April 30, 2003. Clinton had been out of office for over two years. It specifically referred to events that occurred after Clinton left office: 20062.htm

I am sure that you believe with perfect faith that George W. Bush does not believe the things he put in the Road Map, that he doesn't support a Palestinian State, that he does not support Israeli withdrawl from occupied territories, that he does not oppose further settlements in the occupied territories. It takes perfect faith to believe that because the Road Map includes all those things. And to believe that, you must believe that he is a liar.

Next we go to Cross Currents where Joseph takes down the always unreliable Yaakov Menken

Yaakov said: ...just a gentle reminder: the majority of Jewish residents of Israel voted against Labor and against the ill-considered peace plan. The liberals drove the process forward, oblivious to the fact that they were only able to do so thanks to the support of Arab Knesset representatives—many of whom have, in the intervening years, openly taken the side of our enemies [DB: Yaakov's link leads to an article about Wasal Taha. Wasal Taha was not in the Knesset when Oslo was debate and accepted.]

Joseph replied: is simply not true that the majority of Jewish residents voted against Labor or against Oslo.

In 1999 Ehud Barak won a direct election of the prime minister with 56 percent of the vote, suggesting very strongly that a majority of Israelis agreed even with those policies of his that may have been influenced by Bill Clinton. Anyway, Barak didn’t run as a candidate from Labor, but as a member of the One Israel Party (an alliance of the Labor, Gesher and Meimad Parties)

The vote on the Oslo Accords was held in the Knesset on Septmeber 23, 1994 in the form of a motion of no-confidence that the opposition brought against the accords and their Labor formulators. (Israeli voters were never given the chance to vote on Oslo) The vote passed 61-50 with 8 abstentions (all 8 were Shas, that’s right, Shas(!) abstained)

There were only two Arab in the Knesset at that time (Abdulwahab Darawshe and Talab El-Sana) so it’s very hard for me to understand why you think that a Labor coalition with Arabs pushed Oslo through.

As for other votes on the peace processs…

The Hebron Agreement was approved by the Knesset on January 16, 1997, by a majority of 87 in favor, 17 against and one abstention. The Knesset also approved the Wye River Memorandum (signed in October 1998 in Washington) within the framework of a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister on November 17, 1998, by a majority of 75 in favor, 19 against, and nine abstentions. Both of these votes took place during the Netanyahu years.

Based on these facts, I fail to understand why you think that Arab support was essential to the acceptance by the Keneeset of the Oslo accords or to the elevtion of Ehud Barak in 1999. I also think you are discounting the two essential agreements (Hebron and Wye) accepted by the Kenesset by very wide margins during the Netanyahu administration.

It seems clear from this that during the 1990s Israelis – Jews, and non Jews alike – supported the peace procees.

The real traitors


[Spoiler: The "real traitors" aren't Peace Now, or Meretz, or any of the other Zionist and pro-Israel people like who have had the temerity to second-guess Ehud Olmert Oh no. The link won't take you to the left, but to the far fring of the right. Enjoy your trip.]


The cartoon is from 2003, but it was just yesterday that Bill Kristol, a hawker of the Iraq war, completed the prophesy by calling for war against Iran and saying that the Iranian people were likely to embrace "the right use of targeted military force."

As Mr. Bush has said: "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

Sigh. Why does Chimpy always to make a fool out of himself, and embaress America when he goes overseas? Previously, he has tried to exit a room full of people via a locked door, destroyed the Queen's flower bed, and fallen off his bike. Now he's been caught trying to grope the Chancellor of Germany. Dare we ask what's next? Of course we do!

Please Choose One
At the next international summit, George Bush will give a national leader:

a) a wedgie
b) the finger
c) a wet willy
d) a mooning
e) a cockpunch

Full story

Is Etger right?

As you know, I am very sympathetic to Israel's mission, and would like nothing more than to see the final rout of Hezbollah. Still, despite what Etgar Keret said about this being a black and white war, I see ambiguities.

The other night I saw a Hezbollah spokesman on Fox news speaking passionatly about the Lebanese "hostages" Israel is holding. He seemed to believe that two Israeli soldiers were taken last week, not because Hezbollah wanted to provoke Israel into war, but because they wanted to provoke a swap. In the past Israel, has always been happy to trade prisoners and such exchanges are part of the regular business of Mid-East diplomacy. Could Hezbollah know that this time Israel would refuse to play its part?

Now, of course, I found the spokeman disengenuous because he neglected to mention that Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli towns and villages preceeded the kidnapping. Also, I am prepared to believe that the people being held in Israeli jails are all criminals, and not prisoners of war, as the spokeman suggested. But this isn't to say that there was nothing compelling about his points. Sympathtic as I may be to the Israeli position, I still posses the power of imagination. With very little effort, I can put myself into the shoes of a simple apolitical Lebanese farmer, and imagine what it might be like to be caught between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah, after all, is a minority party in Lebanon; most people don't support it politically. With quite a bit more effort, I can pretend to be a Hezbollah supporter who remains outraged that Israel took Shebba farms and keeps my father or my brother or my son in a distant jail. And of course, because my father, my brother and my son truly are, in a sense, hiding in bomb shelters from Hezbollah rockets, it is very easy to imagine what its like to be a victim of Hezbollah's terror.

I also recognize that though I long for a final rout of Hezbollah, such a rout might send Leabonon into Syria's welcoming arms, a development that might arguably be worse for Israel that the previous border skirmishing with Hezbollah.

I've been struggling for the better afternoon to end this post on a positive note, but I don't think I can. Instead, let me just assure you that while I recognize the moral ambiguities of the current situation, I still want Israel to win, and I want Jews to be safe.

God speaks?

I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn´t do my job.
---George Bush, July 9, 2004

---George Bush, or was it God? July 17, 2006

Where did we get the idea that the Republican Congress cared about Israel?

Ira Forman: "... just today, the House Rules Committee debates 'Pledge Protection' while a majority of the House voted to enshrine bigotry against gays into our Constitution.

Neither the Pledge of Allegiance nor marriage are currently threatened. After all, these bills would simply maintain the status quo. Yet each 'issue' was a priority for the House, which at this time has still not passed a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel.

When the going gets tough, the tough play to their base. Instead of determining how to best support Israel in its time of need, the House of Representatives has been debating artificial issues intended to divide Americans rather than solve real problems."

And while we're on the topic of Republicans failing to match actions to words, let me ask this: Where did we get the idea George Bush was tough on terror? It's a bit of conventional wisdom duitfuly and unreflectivly reported by the MSN, but is it true?

If you are sincerely determined to reach a goal, you do not spend the bulk of your energy and capital in pursuit of a conflicting goal — in this case, the conquest of Iraq and the accumulation of totalitarian power.

If the White House was determined to “fight” terrorism, why did we divert our superior mi litary away from Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why are we refusing to adopt measures like container searches that would protect the homeland? Why are we occupying Iraq with far fewer troops than is needed to secure peace?

I could go on, but the pattern is clear: this White House is soft on terrorism.

The Good War?

The Way We War
Reprinted, without permission.
Originally published in The New York Times on July 18, 2006

YESTERDAY I called the cable people to yell at them. The day before, my friend told me he'd called and yelled at them a little, threatened to switch to satellite. And they immediately lowered their price by 50 shekels a month (about $11). "Can you believe it?" my friend said excitedly. "One angry five-minute call and you save 600 shekels a year."

The customer service representative was named Tali. She listened silently to all my complaints and threats and when I finished she said in a low, deep voice: "Tell me, sir, aren't you ashamed of yourself? We're at war. People are getting killed. Missiles are falling on Haifa and Tiberias and all you can think about is your 50 shekels?"

There was something to that, something that made me slightly uncomfortable. I apologized immediately and the noble Tali quickly forgave me. After all, war is not exactly the right time to bear a grudge against one of your own.

That afternoon I decided to test the effectiveness of the Tali argument on a stubborn taxi driver who refused to take me and my baby son in his cab because I didn't have a car seat with me.

"Tell me, aren't you ashamed of yourself?" I said, trying to quote Tali as precisely as I could. "We're at war. People are getting killed. Missiles are falling on Tiberias and all you can think about is your car seat?"

The argument worked here too, and the embarrassed driver quickly apologized and told me to hop in. When we got on the highway, he said partly to me, partly to himself, "It's a real war, eh?" And after taking a long breath, he added nostalgically, "Just like in the old days."

Now that "just like in the old days" keeps echoing in my mind, and I suddenly see this whole conflict with Lebanon in a completely different light. Thinking back, trying to recreate my conversations with worried friends about this war with Lebanon, about the Iranian missiles, the Syrian machinations and the assumption that Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has the ability to strike any place in the country, even Tel Aviv, I realize that there was a small gleam in almost everyone's eyes, a kind of unconscious breath of relief.

And no, it's not that we Israelis long for war or death or grief, but we do long for those "old days" the taxi driver talked about. We long for a real war to take the place of all those exhausting years of intifada when there was no black or white, only gray, when we were confronted not by armed forces, but only by resolute young people wearing explosive belts, years when the aura of bravery ceased to exist, replaced by long lines of people waiting at our checkpoints, women about to give birth and elderly people struggling to endure the stifling heat.

Suddenly, the first salvo of missiles returned us to that familiar feeling of a war fought against a ruthless enemy who attacks our borders, a truly vicious enemy, not one fighting for its freedom and self-determination, not the kind that makes us stammer and throws us into confusion. Once again we're confident about the rightness of our cause and we return with lightning speed to the bosom of the patriotism we had almost abandoned. Once again, we're a small country surrounded by enemies, fighting for our lives, not a strong, occupying country forced to fight daily against a civilian population.

So is it any wonder that we're all secretly just a tiny bit relieved? Give us Iran, give us a pinch of Syria, give us a handful of Sheik Nasrallah and we'll devour them whole. After all, we're no better than anyone else at resolving moral ambiguities. But we always did know how to win a war.

Etgar Keret is the author of "The Nimrod Flip-Out.'' This article was translated by Sondra Silverstone from the Hebrew

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

DovBear explains

Bluke wrote:

In war civilians get killed, period. Israel as opposed to Hezbollah does not target civilians. Hezbollah does not care about civilians one whit and therefore places arms, people etc. specifically in civilian areas.

The reason for bombing the airport, bridges, roads etc. is twofold.
1. They want to make it hard for Hizbullah to move around (including moving the captured soldiers)
2. That same infrastructure was/is being used to bring in more weapons to Hezbollah.

This makes the infrastructure a perfectly legitimate military target.

This is more or less my view. I don't think Israel should deliberately target civilians under any circumstances, but during the current war with Hezbollah, I also don't think the IDF needs to be especially concerned about things like collateral damage, nor do they have to cross every T and dot every I before ordering a strike.

I make a distinction between the war against Hezbollah and, say, the Intafada. When the IDF operates in areas conquered in '67, Israel has responsibilities and worries that do not apply when a war is being waged against a foreign power.

Why? Because when Israel vanquished Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 1967 over 1 million Arabs became residents of Israel. I can tolerate some collective punishment and some presumption of guilt when you're waging a war against another country, but your own residents deserve better.

A7: World leaders... have come down squarely on Israel's side


Front Row to Media Bias (A guest post by Golda Leah)

This past Sunday night Jews in Denver gathered at the BMH-BJ synagogue for a rally in support of Israel. The crowd packed into the large sanctuary and the newspaper report estimated 1,200 people in attendance. Denver, people. 1,200 Jews rallying in support of Israel. A friends and I drove an hour to be there, and it was an amazing experience. There's something special about being in a room full of people who agree with you, for once.

We supped at the local kosher restaurant (yes, we have one!) and anxiously awaited the local news at 10:00. My TV is lucky it survived.

Here's a link to the video:

It was surreal to see an event that I actually attended edited and spliced for public consumption.

The big editing sins:

1. Including the comment from the Muslim women who asked "Who are the real terrorists?" Seriously. Someone give me the journalistic reason for inserting this in the middle of a story about the Jews in Denver gather in support of Israel. (In the middle!)

2. They called it a "Rally for Peace." Yes, some of the speakers talked about peace, but it wasn't advertised or designed as a rally for peace. It was a gathering in support of Israel.

3. If you watch the video, notice the Israeli professor who teaches at the University of Denver. They quote him as saying "there is always a way for peace," etc. ec. It's video, it's not a misquote, but he ended his speech by saying that "there is always a way for peace" isn't how he thinks anymore. He came to the rally as an "angry Israeli" to say "enough is enough!" and got a standing ovation for it. Yet he was portrayed as a peacenik.

I didn't think of myself as a naive person, but this still came as a shock. I was so happy to see that the media had shown up at all. To watch that woman show up in the middle of a report about supporting Israel only to call Israel a terrorist state was lick a smack in the face -- shocking and infuriating. Their insult has made me adamant in a way I wasn't before. Gosh, I'm even considering a letter-writing campaign.


Attention all Right Wing Bloggers

I propose a deal.

Write a post on your blog praising Hillary Clinton for her stalwart support of Israel during this time of trouble, and I'll reprint the press release where Bush warned Israel not to destabilize the Lebanese govt.

Deal? I'll even throw in free links to the post where you say nice things about Hillary.

Free links:
Irvine Chassid

StepIma Explains


Every one of you who is saying "so what" [about the President's casual use of profanity] is misunderstanding the Christian take on the use of profanity.

The "true Christians" on the far right, the evangelicals whom Bush claims to be one of, don't have a concept of a 'casual' profanity... I can guarantee that they're up in arms over this one on their own blogs.

These are the people who have enough clout in this country that even with a free press, you can't get best-selling albums with parental advisory stickers at Wal-Mart, or NC-17 movies at Blockbuster Video. And most broadcast stations using the same "s-word" would be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of the stated "religious beliefs" of people who include President Bush. If you don't understand Christianity, and that the New Testament isn't the Torah (and the Gospels sure aren't halacha), you don't understand.


It's pointing out yet more hypocrisy from a man who is using religion as a cudgel. A leader who practices what he preaches is a leader whose integrity can be respected, or at least whose actions can be can be understood in perspective. When that's off the table - when Bush says "I do X (encourage this law, invade this country, oppose this scientific research) because I am a Christian," when you can see that he isn't - what are you expected to believe?