Monday, June 30, 2008

Bishop Tutu on Israel, silent on Sudan


Where is Desmond Tutu when my people in Sudan call out for freedom?
Late last month, I went to hear Bishop Desmond Tutu speak at Boston's Old South Church at a conference on "Israel Apartheid." Tutu is a well respected man of God. He brought reconciliation between blacks and whites in South Africa. That he would lead a conference that damns the Jewish state is very disturbing to me.
The State of Israel is not an apartheid state. I know because I write this from Jerusalem where I have seen Arab mothers peacefully strolling with their families -- even though I also drove on Israeli roads protected by walls and fences from Arab bullets and stones. I know Arabs go to Israeli schools, and get the best medical care in the world. I know they vote and have elected representatives to the Israeli Parliament. I see street signs in Arabic, an official language here. None of this was true for blacks under Apartheid in Tutu's South Africa.
I also know countries that do deserve the apartheid label: My country, Sudan, is on the top of the list, but so are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. What has happened to my people in Sudan is a thousand times worse than Apartheid in South Africa. And no matter how the Palestinians suffer, they suffer nothing compared to my people. Nothing. And most of the suffering is the fault of their leaders. Bishop Tutu, I see black Jews walking down the street here in Jerusalem. Black like us, free and proud.
Tutu said Israeli checkpoints are a nightmare. But checkpoints are there because Palestinians are sent into Israel to blow up and kill innocent women and children. Tutu wants checkpoints removed. Do you not have doors in your home, Bishop? Does that make your house an apartheid house? If someone, Heaven forbid, tried to enter with a bomb, we would want you to have security people "humiliating" your guests with searches, and we would not call you racist for doing so. We all go through checkpoints at every airport. Are the airlines being racist? No.
Yes, the Palestinians are inconvenienced at checkpoints. But why, Bishop Tutu, do you care more about that inconvenience than about Jewish lives?
Bishop, when you used to dance for Mandela's freedom, we Africans -- all over Africa -- joined in. Our support was key in your freedom. But when children in Burundi and Kinshasa, all the way to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and in particular in Sudan, cried and called for rescue, you heard but chose to be silent.
Today, black children are enslaved in Sudan, the last place in the continent of Africa where humans are owned by other humans -- I was part of the movement to stop slavery in Mauritania, which just now abolished the practice. But you were not with us, Bishop Tutu.
So where is Desmond Tutu when my people call out for freedom? Slaughter and genocide and slavery are lashing Africans right now. Where are you for Sudan, Bishop Tutu? You are busy attacking the Jewish state. Why?

Author Biography:Simon Deng, a native of the Shiluk Kingdom in southern Sudan, is an escaped jihad slave and a leading human rights activist.
This article can also be read at:

Election '08 issues

Here is a rundown of the issues that concern me in this presidential election. I’m with Sen. McCain on every one of them except choice.

1. Terrorism: Obama seems to think every foreign policy problem can be solved through negotiation. McCain believes in a tougher approach. At least Obama isn’t Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-CAIR).
2. Israel: I do believe Obama supports a strong Israel. Please, he is not a foreign agent for Hamas. But he flip-flopped on undivided Jerusalem, telling the AIPAC conference he supported an undivided Jerusalem and then backtracking the next day. Very disappointing. McCain will probably maintain the State Department’s long history of anti-Zionism, and would probably pressure Israel for an agreement in his second term, but he’s the wiser choice now.
3. Government size: Obama wants to grow government, including $400 billion in new spending in his first budget. McCain has always been a deficit hawk and opposes congressional earmarks (pork barrel spending).
4. Tax increase: Obama wants to raise taxes on individuals making $125K+ and couples making $250K+. I just don’t see how such an egregious tax increase can help in this slow economy.
5. Free trade: Unlike President Bill Clinton, who helped NAFTA through the Senate, Obama opposes free trade. McCain favors it.
6. Nuclear power: McCain wants to build 100 new nuclear power plants across America, reducing our reliance on dirty, environmentally destructive coal and foreign oil. Obama opposes increasing usage of nuclear power.
7. More drilling: McCain favors more offshore drilling, adding to our oil supply. He remains opposed to ANWAR drilling. Obama opposes offshore drilling.
8. School choice: McCain favors it. Obama opposes it. It would be interesting to see if President Obama sends his daughters to Sidwell Friends (Chelsea Clinton’s alma mater) or a D.C. public school. Would the former choice be hypocritical?
9. Gun control: McCain believes people have a right to own guns. Obama said he agrees with Chicago’s gun ban, but then he said he supports the Supreme Court’s decision striking down D.C.’s gun ban. Well, they both can’t be right. Which is it, Senator?
10. Woman’s right to choose: McCain opposes it and will appoint anti-choice judges to the Supreme Court. Obama favors it and will appoint pro-choice judges to the Supreme Court.
11. Gay marriage: President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law. Now Obama says he agrees with the California Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage. McCain opposes gay marriage.
12. Supreme Court: The next president will appoint between two and six judges to the Court. Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Alito and Thomas may be all we will have left from previous administrations. McCain will appoint judicial conservatives. In light of the Guantanamo Bay detainee decision and the close win for gun rights, I’m afraid we are in dire need of more judicial conservatives. I would also be concerned about a liberal High Court approving of gay marriage. Obama will most likely appoint left-wing judicial activists like himself.
13. Health care: Obama wants universal health care. While I’m sympathetic to working Americans who struggle to find affordable health care, giving free health care to illegal immigrants isn’t going to help.
14. Immigration: McCain favors tighter controls on illegal immigration. Obama opposes any further restrictions.

Spencer layeth the smacketh down

I don't watch The Hills. Seriously. Never have. I don't know who this guy is. But man, this was really funny. From today's RedEye, a Tribune Co. publication:

Spencer Pratt isn't pulling any punches in what is becoming a pseudo-feud between him and former high-school acquaintance Mary-Kate Olsen.

"The Hills" star fired back after Olsen told David Letterman last week that Pratt did not have a good temper. She also nodded when Letterman asked if she thought Pratt was "wormy."

Pratt's response?

"I know I've made it in Hollywood when a famous troll is talking about me on 'Letterman,' " he told

"I forgive her, though," he said. "She's had to go through life as the less-cute twin, which must be tough."


Sunday, June 29, 2008


Just a quick note about the problems at the Rubashkin's/Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Ia., which is accused of workplace violations. The Facebook Group "Things at Rubashkin's Are NOT Kosher" asks, "Can you rely on the kashut of meat schechted and processed at a facility repeatedly investigated and cited by the Federal Government and PETA?"

Here's my note: 1) The Federal Government, or FDA, investigates and inspects all meatpacking operations. So that's no surprise.

2) PETA by its nature is deeply antisemitic. And this anti-Rubashkin Facebook group wants to use PETA as a supposedly neutral, objective watchdog group? Please. In PETA's opinion, EVERY meatpacking plant is illegal. In PETA's opinion, every poultry operation, every dairy operation, every egg collection operation is illegal and cruel. PETA cannot abide by the Jewish concept that one can enjoy meat, eggs, and cattle milk while being respectful of animal life. PETA reels at the understanding that the Jewish people, through their Torah, introduced the idea of animal cruelty to the world (that cruelty is not permitted)--and yet to the Jews, eating meat is acceptable. To PETA, animal consumption (meat) or use (dairy) is always cruel. So what is PETA's response to the Jews? "Holocaust on Your Plate," a recent PETA ad campaign.

Rubashkin probably made a grievous error, to avoid a more vulgar term. It's impossible to consume kosher meat in the U.S. and avoid Rubashkin meat. It's just not feasible. I'm not becoming vegetarian, and I'm not dropping my strict kosher diet. Rubaskin will make amends, and kosher consumers will come back to it. In the meantime, let's leave PETA out of this.

Gun ban cont'd.

A friend wondered in a Facebook note about the future of Chicago's gun ban. She was somewhat undecided on the issue. Here is what I told her:

I read your note and appreciate your concerns. Obviously, the gun ban hasn't reduced violent gun crime in Chicago. As for road rage, a friend of mine said half the cars in Chicago have guns on board, which is why cops have their hands on their weapons when they approach vehicles pulled over. If the Second Amendment doesn't refer exclusively to militias, then it MUST necessarily allow guns in the home. I think it's a FIRST Amendment issue (right to privacy), a women's issue, a Jewish issue, and a singles-living-alone-in-a-dangerous-city issue. If I lived in Lakeview, my concern would not be gun sales within walking distance. It would be prowlers/burglars entering my bare-bones-security building and looking for apartments to burglarize. Yes, I would like to keep a gun near my bed. The very fact that law-abiding citizens can own guns (once the ban is overturned) will make all of us safer, whether we pack heat or not. I don't understand the mayor's viewpoint on this. I think he is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Really bad parking job

I'm surprised this wasn't shot on Greenleaf, in front of my house:

Hope the link works. If not, try and search for "Bad parking."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Anti-Israel nastiness in Britain, surprise, surprise

From --Ken

Hatred in Britain by Ron Prosor

Britain is a hotbed of radical anti-Israeli sentiment.
Throughout its modern history, Britain has prided itself on its liberal society, which cherishes human rights and values civil liberties.
That pride was well founded, both in the international arena, when Britain stood alone in Europe facing the dark forces of the Third Reich, and in the domestic field, when Britain led the way in establishing a national health service, granting women the right to vote and protecting the basic social rights of the working class.
During a previous posting to Britain, I developed a keen admiration of this record, and of the core British values of fairness, decency and common sense.
Since returning to these shores as Israel's ambassador last November, however, I have been dismayed to find that, as far as Israel is concerned, these values are under threat.
Fairness is all too frequently absent in a debate that has been hijacked by extremists.
Israel faces an intensified campaign of delegitimisation, demonisation and double standards. Britain has become a hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views and a haven for disingenuous calls for a "one-state solution", a euphemistic name for a movement advocating Israel's destruction.
Those who propagate this notion distort Israel's past while categorically denying Israel's right to exist as a liberal Jewish-democratic state. No other country in the world is constantly forced to justify its own existence.
At the end of last month, members of the University and College Union (UCU) passed a motion that in effect called for a boycott of the Israeli academia.
The concept of an academic boycott is a ludicrous oxymoron, undermining the democratic principles of free speech and free debate. Academics, who are supposedly society's guardians of knowledge, objectivity and informed debate, have seen their union held hostage by radical factions, armed with political agendas and personal interests.
British academia has built its reputation on freedom of expression and the pluralistic exchange of ideas. Alarmingly, these values are under threat in an institution that should be safeguarding them.
The boycott campaign, which has been gathering force since 2002, is a license to harass, humiliate and victimise purely on grounds of nationality.
In recent years, cases of discrimination have included two Israeli academics being ousted from the editorial board of a journal and an Israeli postgraduate who was refused doctoral supervision because he had served in the Israeli army.
Over-simplifications, half-truths and lies have been swallowed as reality and disseminated as truth. Israel has been cast as a pantomime villain. A climate of hatred is fomented on campuses. The complexities of the situation are overlooked, as are the responsibilities of other actors in the region.
The pattern is exacerbated when coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is routinely tainted with bias and a surprising lack of context.
Double standards are rife. Israel's military reaction to the attacks it faces is given in-depth, microscopic coverage. Yet the attacks to which Israel is responding are often ignored. Terror attacks, ambushes, suicide bombings, the constant barrage of rockets being fired on Israeli citizens are frequently disregarded.
The average British citizen is painfully unaware that, since Hamas seized control of Gaza last year, 1,400 rockets and 1,500 mortar bombs have landed on Israeli soil. No government in the world would tolerate such a sustained attack without taking action.
Israel is a democracy under fire, but when this context is neglected, it clears a path for the unhealthy, unacceptable demonisation of Israel. While Israel faces many challenges, it is still the only functioning democracy in the region, and the only state in the area that offers minorities full civil equality and freedom of speech.One of my greatest sources of pride is the open discourse conducted within my country. Critical debate thrives and Israelis scrutinise every aspect of our policies. We are not afraid of criticism.
I am concerned, however, that in Britain the most extreme elements of the debate have been allowed to hijack the mainstream. Those who share the values on which British democracy is built must say "no" - no to the delegitimisation of Israel, no to the demonisation of Israel and no to the double standards to which Israel is subjected.
I implore the British public to prevent the radical fringe from monopolising British-Israeli discourse. It is vital that British values of fair play and even-handedness are brought to the debate. The time has come for the silent majority to speak up and say "yes"; yes to context, yes to democracy and yes to an understanding of the challenges Israel faces as a democracy under fire.
This article originally appeared in the
Author Biography:Ron Prosor is the Israeli Ambassador to Britain.
This article can also be read at:

Why is Methodist Church so bad on Israel?

I bet "Rev. Goldstein" really hates Jews. --Ken

CAMERA alert

Help us grow our team! Please forward this alert to people committed to fair and factual reporting about Israel and the Middle East. Do not forward it to members of the news media. Please use this alert as background for your own unique e-mails, letters and calls.
Shalom CAMERA E-Mail Team:

In Brief

While the United Methodist Church did not approve resolutions calling for the denomination to divest from Israel at its General Convention earlier this spring, the denomination is still distributing materials that offer a distorted view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The materials, published by the denomination's women's division, include a ferociously one-sided and distorted "mission study" that portrays the Jewish people as too psychologically damaged to be trusted with a sovereign state and a children's story book that portrays Israeli security checkpoints as the cause, not the result, of Palestinian violence. This message is underscored by the teacher's guide marketed along with the storybook.

By continuing to distribute these materials, the United Methodist Church is encouraging its members to embrace a distorted and dishonest view of the Arab-Israeli conflict which will affect how the denomination deals with Israel-related resolutions at its next General Convention in 2012. It is time for the UMC to set the record straight, issue corrected versions of these materials and commit to offering fair and accurate materials about the conflict in the future. [ A Detailed Analysis Follows the Action Items ]

Action Items

Please contact the following two officials within the United Methodist Church, informing them of the problems with the texts (described below). Ask them to make the necessary corrections and emendations to the texts before distributing any more copies to UMC members or to the general public.

Harriett Jane Olson
Deputy General Secretary
Women’s Division
General Board of Global Ministries
United Methodist Church

Bishop Felton E. May
Interim General Secretary
General Board of Global Ministries
United Methodist Church

In Detail

The Women's Division of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries has produced three publications that offer a distorted view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The publications, which were available for sale at the UMC's General Convention held in San Antonio earlier this spring, offer a distorted view of the Arab-Israeli conflict and need to be rewritten or at least amended and reissued.

Mission Study

"Israel - Palestine: A Mission Study for 2007 - 2008" was written by Rev. Stephen Goldstein, an ordained Methodist Minister who serves as Assistant General Secretary for the Mission Personnel Program Unit of the General Board of Global Ministries.

Rev. Goldstein portrays the Jewish people as too paranoid and psychologically scarred to be trusted with self-determination. The main thesis of this one-sided treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict is that Israelis are too obsessed with the Holocaust to affirm the humanity of the Palestinians and too crippled by their history of suffering to take the risks needed to make peace.

The Mission Study also systematically suppresses and omits any information that would undercut his unstintingly negative portrayal of Israel. In particular, he downplays the 60-year history of Arab violence against Israel, fails to credit Israeli efforts to negotiate an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, downplays the violent aftermaths of the Camp David and Taba negotiations of 2000-2001 and Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He also ignores persistent expressions of hostility toward Jews and Israel in state-controlled mass media throughout the Middle East. All these failings serve to buttress Rev. Goldstein's efforts to portray Israel's use of force as a belated, psychotic and hysterical response to the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany in the 20th Century rather than a response to the relentless Arab attacks Israel currently faces.

This thesis is outlined on pages 100-103 of the mission study, in which Goldstein writes:

The early Zionists had intended Israel to be a safe haven for persecuted Jews, yet ironically Israel had come into existence without being able to save the dead millions. To this day there is a latent hysteria in Israel life that springs directly from this source. It explains the paranoiac sense of isolation that has been a main characteristic of the Israeli temper since 1948. Generations of Israelis have been brought up on this grim tenet: Jews were singled out to die not because of their religion or because of what they did; but simply because they were there, they existed. The message has been instilled in them for years and with far-reaching political, cultural and religious consequences.

And it has been the single most significant factor in Israel's unwillingness to trust their Arab neighbors or the Palestinians, whose land they have colonized, and who are being victimized on a daily basis.

Since 1948, the Holocaust and the fear of anti-Semitism have also created a consciousness that has contributed significantly to preventing Israel from making peace with its Arab neighbors.

And on page 102, Rev. Goldstein writes, "Standing behind each Arab or Palestinian, Israelis tend to see SS men determined to push them once again into gas chambers or crematoria." In his discussion of the Six Day War, Rev. Goldstein portrays Israelis as suffering from a "psychosis" and as "hysterical."

Ultimately, Rev. Goldstein portrays Israel as congenitally incapable of completing one of the most basic tasks required of any sovereign state - maintaining peaceful relations with its neighbors. He does not, however, fairly or accurately describe the obstacles Israel has faced in the pursuit of peace. He mischaracterizes the Camp David offer of 2000 by asserting Ehud Barak "was not really prepared to close a deal" and suggests that Israel could make peace with Hezbollah - located in Lebanon - by returning territory Israel gained from Syria in the Six Day War.

For an extensive analysis of the mission study, please see the CAMERA report, "Methodist Manual Maligns Israel, Stereotypes Jews."

Children's Book and Teacher's Manual

The UMC has also published, "From Palestine to Seattle: Becoming Neighbors and Friends" billed as a "storybook on Israel and Palestine" for children six through 12. This book, written by Mary Davies, a retired Methodist missionary, is no benign Sunday school text, however. It is a well-crafted bit of propaganda that portrays Israeli security checkpoints as the cause, not the result, of Palestinian violence. This message is underscored by the teacher's guide marketed along with the storybook, written by former UMC staffer Faye Wilson.

The storybook describes the adventures of two children from Seattle - Allison and Matthew - whose father, a Protestant minister, has just returned from a visit to Bethlehem. The book describes the children's email correspondence with Tarek, a young Palestinian boy whose family's life has been disrupted by checkpoints on the West Bank and Miriam, a Jewish Israeli girl, who participates in a program that brings nine- to 12-year old Israelis and Palestinians together to play and learn about each other's religion and culture. Miriam's cousin, an Israeli soldier, has been put in prison for refusing to man checkpoints "because he thought they were wrong and were hurting people."

When Allison and Matthew see a checkpoint for themselves as they travel to Bethlehem, they are "shocked to see a barricade across the road, with sandbags and barrels lining the street. Looking up they saw a soldier with a gun sitting in a watchtower!" The image accompanying this part of the story shows five menacing soldiers standing around the van in which Allison and Matt ride and a sixth soldier standing in a guard tower nearby.

The story continues with the children participating in a peace rally in Bethlehem. Before the rally they are greeted by the Mayor of Bethlehem, who in real life is a U.S. citizen named Victor Batarseh, who according to a May 20, 2005 report by Agence France Presse is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group responsible for the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in October 2001, a December 2003 suicide attack that killed three Israelis, and the murders of several Americans including wheel-chair bound Leon Klinghoffer, who was pushed off a cruise ship in the Mediterranean in 1985. The mayor's connection to PFLP is left unmentioned in the Methodist storybook.

Teacher's manual

The teacher's manual offers other distortions. For example, it encourages instructors to have their classes play a game of "Stop and Go" after reading the section in the storybook on the checkpoints. In the game, some children are given "STOP" passes and others are given "GO" passes.

The children are then directed to form a single line and approach a refreshment table and attempt to get a cup of orange juice. Those with "GO" passes are given a drink, but those with "STOP" passes "must either wait in line or go back to their seats." Then the process is repeated with grapes. Children with "GO" passes are allowed to eat; those with "STOP" passes are not.

The teacher's guide then tells instructors to ask how the children with the "STOP" and "GO" passes feel about the situation. The lesson then ends with this coda: "Remind the children that when people are denied things that they believe everyone should have, they feel bad and sometimes become angry, too. Invite the remaining children to get juice and grapes from the refreshment table."

The implication is undeniable. Suicide bombings - which are not described anywhere in either the storybook or the teacher's manual - are the consequence of Israeli checkpoints, which deny the Palestinians "the things that they believe everyone should have" and in turn make "people feel bad and sometimes become angry." The impression the children are left with is that if the Israelis took down the checkpoints, Miriam, the young Israeli would no longer be frightened of bombs going off in her neighborhood.

History demonstrates otherwise. From 2000-2004, Israel was attacked by suicide bombers from the West Bank with many of the attacks originating from towns from which Israel withdrew its soldiers in the 1990s. In 2006, Israel was attacked by Hamas from the Gaza Strip from which it withdrew in 2005. Also that year, Israel was attacked by Hezbollah from Lebanon from which it withdrew in 2000.

For more information about the children's book and the accompanying teacher's guide, please read CAMERA's analysis "Methodists Invite Children Into Alternate Universe."

CAMERA is not alone in condemning these books. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) also condemned the materials. In March, Ethan Felson, JCPA's Associate Executive Director, said that "when taken together, the Methodist materials paint a very troubling picture. The implicit and explicit thrust is that Israel is not only wrong, but evil."

It is time for the UMC to stop disseminating distorted, inaccurate and inflammatory anti-Israel propaganda. With thanks,

Dexter Van Zile
Christian Media Analyst

Cubs for sale

The Tribune Co. wants to see the Cubs and Wrigley Field. It’s having trouble doing so. Here’s my take. I’d like to write a letter to the editor, but I’m not quite sure how to put it.

First, who put former Gov. “Big” Jim “Taxaholic” Thompson in charge of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority? Why would anyone trust that sleazy bastard? He was Tax Increase Champion, at least until former Govs. Jim Edgar and George Ryan came along. Thompson built Comiskey Park for the White Sox owners with $175 million of taxpayer money the state didn’t have. Now he wants the State of Illinois to buy Wrigley Field? And he insists it won’t cost taxpayers anything? And we’re supposed to believe this guy?

The state certainly has an interest in keeping the Cubs in Illinois, and the city has an interest in keeping the Cubs in Chicago. The Cubs produce a geyser of tax revenue. The ticket prices include sales and entertainment taxes. The food is taxed at restaurant sales tax rates; the liquor the same, plus excise taxes; the ticket brokers pay licensing fees; and there are taxes on gift shoppe items, hotel stays, and restaurant meals related to fans looking for places to eat. Cub fans visiting from out of town go shopping, too. The Cubs create a cottage industry.

With that in mind, the state should not tell a private business, the Cubs, where to operate. Oh, the state wants Wrigley Field to remain as it is, including that stupid pathetic scoreboard? Fine. It would be a popular tourist attraction if the Cubs were to leave. The best way to keep the Cubs in Wrigley Field would be to let the Cubs run it the way they want to. Let them raze and renovate the main grandstand. Let them play as many night games as they want! Thompson and his minions come off as meddlers in this situation. If they would let the Cubs make a private sale, and indicate their approach to the ballpark will be hands-off, then of course the Cubs would stay in Lakeview. Of course they would continue to be a successful ballclub and hot tourist attraction. But trying to take control and telling the Cubs what to do with their ballpark doesn’t help anyone.

Honesty vs. false courtesy

Which is better: brutal honesty or friendly white lies? I want to reference “What Every Teenager Ought to Know,” a best-selling booklet by Dear Abby (Abigail Van Buren; Pauline Esther Phillips) that I sent for by mail in the ‘80’s. One section was on how to ask a girl out. “You and the Bell Telephone,” she wrote. For girls, advice “If Mr. Wrong calls,” was to keep saying, “I’m busy,” repeatedly, and “he’ll eventually get the message.”

Do people still use the telephone to ask out others? Or is it all email, FB, and text messaging? That would have made high school a lot easier.

I have a situation which I won’t detail here in which people try to be friendly, but they don’t mean it. I wish they would stop.

Grandma's yartzheit cont'd.

So I went to ma’ariv, the evening service, at Sha’arei Tzedek at 9:30 last night to say Kaddish for my grandmother. (One cannot say Kaddish alone.) Then I busted a move to bed by 10:20 so I could hit shacharis, the morning service, at 6:20 this morning. I stumbled over the Rabbi’s Kaddish, which has extra lines in it that I never learned correctly, even after my dad died. But it turned out all right, for the most part. The lainer, Jeff Cohen, let me lead the service from Ashrei (after the Torah reading) to the conclusion. I need practice! I made it through okay. I topped it off with a bagel and chocolate chip cookie from B.B.’s across the street from the shul.

More airline regulation?

My letter to RedEye, responding to its article about dealing with cost-cutting airlines:

Dear Editor:

Airline critics like Kate Hanni, of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights, cling to the Holy Grail of more regulation. ("Trouble in the Air," June 25.) If only the federal government cracked down on the airlines, Ms. Hanni believes, everything would be fine. The government can't sell the airlines $1/gal. jet fuel. The government can't compensate the airlines for unsold seats, eliminating the need for overbooking. The government can't prevent bad weather in New York from affecting travel nationwide. Government regulation sounds good to angry travelers, but only results in what we all want to avoid: higher fares.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My maternal grandmother's 9th yartzheit tonight

My grandma’s ninth Hebrew yartzheit, 23 Sivan, starts tonight at sunset. A quick note about "Gram," a truly wonderful woman whom I didn’t properly appreciate during her time on this Earth. Married for 50+ years, mother of three, grandmother of eight, she had so much to be proud of. She always enjoyed our visits in Cincinnati and Tupper Lake* and her visits to see us, either with Gramps or by herself. Twice, as a young teen, I stayed in Cincinnati after my family left in December to spend extra time with my grandparents and then flew home on my own. And twice, before my sixth and seventh grades, I flew by myself to visit them in Tupper. It’s hard to understand, as a child, how valuable that time is until it’s gone, and then it’s too late.

*Summer home in Upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains, near Lake Placid. My last visit was 1987.

Buerhle shuts down Dodgers in 2:05

It frustrates me how long Major League Baseball games take. The Red Sox and Yankees specialize in pushing games long past three hours, too often to the 3:20 or 3:30 mark. Last night's White Sox-Dodgers game in Dodger Stadium ran a quick 2:05, helped by the speedy White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buerhle. The Sox won 6-1. Besides foul balls that drive up pitch counts, pitchers and batters spend way too much time standing around because they're "not ready." Yes, in a short game, the home team doesn't have a chance to sell as much food and beer, or gifts in their shoppes. But viewers don't have time to sit through a 200-minute American League marathon. I don't mind a game that runs 2:30. I get antsy after that and annoyed at numerous pitching changes. Baseball should attempt to strike a balance between revenue and boredom.

Obama rumors need to stop

There are many legitimate reasons for people not to vote for Sen. Barack Obama for president. "He's a secret Muslim" is not one of them. At a shabbos lunch a few weeks ago, a friend subjected me to a diatribe about Islam's law of patrilineal descent, and his dad was Muslim, so he must be a Muslim. Well, he converted--an act recognized by Islam as a capital offense--and he is an avowed Christian. We may not like his church or his pastor, but he is a Christian. He and his wife are raising their daughters as Christians. This business about his secret Muslim faith is nonsense, and it makes the gossip-mongers who repeat it look very bad. It's loshon hara, frankly.

I do believe Obama thinks he can deal with terrorists like the president of Iran by negotiating with them. I believe that is a grave mistake, and it's a reason I'm considering (no, seriously) voting for Sen. McCain. That is very different from alleging Obama is a terrorist puppet ready to turn America into a Hamas apologist and enabler. I think he loves his country and supports Israel, although not in the strong, Zionist way I would like. I just read a stupid blog post by an American-born rabbi who made aliyah about 30 years ago. (I can't find it now, but it was here.) "Of course he says he supports Israel," this rabbi wrote. "If the head of Hamas were running for the U.S. Presidency, he would say the same thing." Well, the head of Hamas is an antisemitic Israel-hating terrorist. Obama is not. So now we're resorting to comparing Obama to terrorists. We need to stoop that low? Obama met with pro-Israel groups in Chicago during his 2004 U.S. Senate run. He delivered the keynote address at a CityPAC fundraiser that year. He delivered a major foreign policy speech as part of an AIPAC event when he began his run for president last year. Obviously, he addressed the AIPAC conference this year. You can check his pro-Israel voting record with AIPAC. Likening Obama to Hamas terrorists makes Jews look weak, foolish and desperate. There are plenty of issues to focus on that don't require lies or lashon hara. Could we please focus on them?

Lost cont'd.

Just wondering: we last saw Mikhail blowing up the off-shore operation at the end of last season. Whatever happened to him? Is he back with Richard, Locke and the Others?

We never figured out the Others' whispering trick. Is that just something they do to scare people?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

CAMERA on Washington Post

Camera Alert

Help us grow our team! Please forward this alert to people committed to fair and factual reporting about Israel and the Middle East. Do not forward it to members of the news media. Please use this alert as background for your own unique e-mails, letters and calls.

Shalom CAMERA E-Mail Team:

The Washington Post's June 20 article, "In Gaza and Israel, a Wary Quiet; As First Day of Cease-Fire Passes, Hamas Faces Questions About Intentions," is by no means an exceptional example of Arab-Israeli mis-coverage. Rather, it demands responses because of its "normality," its repetition of chronic Post mistakes. These exemplify a rigid, superficial, pro-Palestinian tilt.
Errors of commission and omission
* The Post's Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Griff Witte, writes that with the truce, "Hamas faced a new challenge in having to explain why, after two decades of battling the Israeli occupation [emphasis added], the group is suddenly ready to lay down its arms, however temporarily."
Hamas has NOT spent "two decades battling the Israeli occupation." Its rocket and mortar attacks on Israel and attempted infiltrations (including the raid that murdered two soldiers and captured a third, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, in 2006) escalated dramatically after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in September 2005. Shortly after the start of the 1993 Oslo "peace process" between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas began blowing up buses and staging other mass murders inside Israel proper, not in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The "occupation" Hamas battles, as its charter and its leaders make clear, is Israel's existence.
* The Post notes that Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement) "was founded in the mid-1980s as an armed Islamist movement dedicated to the destruction of Israel" and that "unlike the rival Fatah party, it has never been willing to recognize the Jewish state or participate in peace talks." But after quoting a Palestinian political scientist on Hamas' alleged moderation since taking power, the paper states "Israeli leaders doubt the sincerity of Hamas' conversion [emphasis added]."
What conversion? By this glaringly wrong choice of a single word, The Post implies something for which there is no evidence. Has Hamas revised its anti-Zionist, antisemitic charter? No. Has it committed, like Fatah has in word if not deed, to meet the 2003 diplomatic "road map" requirements of recognizing Israel, ceasing terrorism, and upholding previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements? No.
One day after publication of The Post's article, Reuters news service reported that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his organization would not stop weapons smuggling into the Strip, or impose the cease-fire on other "militant groups," both required by the cease-fire. Using the word "conversion" in a context meant to imply "conversion to moderation" when accuracy would call for "commitment to the cease-fire" instead is misleading, something between wishful thinking and editorializing in a news article.
* The Post refers to "daily rocket strikes against Israelis" and, a sentence later, "frequent Israeli attacks [emphasis added]."
Accuracy would require that the Israeli actions be described as "counter-attacks." They are responses to, not equivalents of, the "daily rocket strikes." A June 20 Associated Press dispatch refers to Israeli counter-terrorist attacks as "reprisals." Here The Post implies that Israeli responses against combatants and their infrastructure are equivalent to Palestinian provocations, which mostly target Israeli civilians.
* The paper reports that "there is a widespread assumption in Israel that the [Palestinian terrorist] groups are simply using the truce as an opportunity to rearm and prepare for the next battle. The suspicious are mutual [emphases added]." It then cites top Hamas spokesman Ahmed Yousef - previously quoted describing Hamas as "pragmatic ... not al-Qaeda" - as saying "I have no confidence at all that the Israelis will keep their word."
Israelis - no senior officials are directly quoted - "assume" the Palestinian Arab leadership won't keep the cease-fire but instead rearm and prepare for more terrorism (a good assumption, given Haniyeh's public statement 24 hours later). Yet The Post - which has failed to cover the Iranian-funded Hamas build-up in the Gaza Strip except occasionally and in passing - implies, without relevant distinguishing detail, that Hamas' assumptions of Israeli unreliability regarding the cease-fire are equally valid.
* Two photographs accompany the hardcopy article (online version may be different). The larger, 3 columns by 4 3/4 inches, tops not only the story but also the lead World news page, on which it appears. It shows Palestinian fishermen taking advantage of the cease-fire. The second, about half the size of the other, shows Israeli children riding bikes, a rare activity during the past 33 months of rocket fire.
The size and placement of photos is one more example of The Post's Palestinian-centric perspective of the conflict. Israelis, their rights, grievances, and concerns are virtually always subordinated to "the Palestinian narrative," newsworthiness or the unsubstantiated nature of much that narrative notwithstanding.
* The article continues Post practice of referring to Hamas' "military wing," as if it were a) military and not essentially terrorist in nature and b) describes Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups as "armed Islamist," "militant organization" or "armed groups."
The words terrorist and terrorism never appear, although that is how these groups are designated by Israel, the United States, and other countries, and despite the fact that threatening and using force against non-combatants to influence larger audiences in pursuit of political, economic, religious and other goals is the definition of terrorism and the most accurate description that can be employed. And it is employed properly by The Post frequently when describing terrorism or terrorist threats against Americans.

Action item
Write to Copy Jerusalem Bureau Chief Griff Witte at, Foreign Editor Scott Wilson at , Assistant Managing Editor for Foreign News David Hoffman,, Ombudsman Deborah Howell at and Publisher Kathrine Weymouth at Point out some or all of the above mistakes. Note that this is but the latest example of a chronic flaw in Post Arab-Israeli coverage. Accurate, objective reporting, from word choice and illustrations to substance --- including the "Israeli narrative" in context and balance --- is long overdue.
Please send CAMERA a blind copy of your letter(s):
With thanks,
Eric Rozenman
Washington Director

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

GOP Ticket trivia

Except for 1964, this is the first presidential election since 1948 the GOP hasn't had one of the names Nixon, Dole or Bush on the ticket. Isn't that amazing?

1952 Ike-Nixon
1956 Ike-Nixon
1960 Nixon-?
1964 Goldwater-Miller
1968 Nixon-?
1972 Nixon-Agnew
1976 Ford-Dole
1980 Reagan-Bush
1984 Reagan-Bush
1988 Bush-Quayle
1992 Bush-Quayle
1996 Dole-Kemp
2000 Bush-Cheney
2004 Bush-Cheney
2008 McCain-Romney (well, I hope not)

Election 2008

Is Sen. Obama more centrist on any issue than Carter, Dukakis, Kerry or Gore? No? That's what I'm afraid of.

Sen. Obama may be the most left-wing nominee since George McGovern, 1972. 49-state landslide.


I finally finished the last three hours of Lost for the season, and I'm almost sorry I watched at all. Furthermore, I'm not too enthused about watching next season. So we can see Sayid conspire with Ben to take out more people? Not sure if I'm too interested in that. The season finale was so, so sad. We knew we were going to lose Jin, but still....Did George and Rose stay on the island? Are Cindy and the little kids still in the Others group? Do the nurse and Sawyer hook up? I thought the nurse wanted to go home. No? What about Miles? Why did he want to stay? Didn't make sense to me; I thought he was just a hustler and con man. Why did Charlotte want to stay?

How did Locke get from the island back to L.A.? Before or after he died?
How did Ben get from the island to the Sahara Desert?
What really happened to Claire?
Where the hell did the island go?

Instead of lying about the island and its inhabitants, wouldn't press attention focused on the island persuade Charles Whitmore not to attempt another massacre operation? And wouldn't at least one media group attempt to visit the island to see it for themselves? Just saying, "Oh, no more survivors" wouldn't really cut it.

I'm thinking back to the Season 3 finale, when Jack first made contact with the ship. A few of them got what they wanted--rescue. Would Penny have rescued them all anyway? And why didn't her boat go to the island to fetch more people? They all wanted to stay?

First post

......and we're off!