Friday, March 31, 2006

I Appear in an Array

The Jerusalem Post collected what they called: What the elections mean - an array of views.

Here's me:-

Yisrael Medad:

On the one hand, any further unilateral retreat most certainly did not earn voter approval in these elections as Kadima failed to break 30 and Likud, the party that actually fulfilled disengagement, was abandoned. As Avigdor Lieberman's home is in Nokdim, coalition talks will be difficult.

And on the other hand, Israel's population displayed a bit of immaturity in the surprise Pensioners win, the recipient of the protest vote. Stability still eludes our political system.

On "Wasted" or "Lost" Votes

The concept of a "lost" or "wasted" vote was attacked by AZ who wrote:

I have been hearing this slogan of wasted votes for years. The first time I heard it, it made no sense to me and today it still makes no sense to me. First and foremost, a vote is a statement of belief and support. That is what a free election under a democratic system is all about. If it does not result in the hoped for political results, so what? The voter has fulfilled his responsibilities under the concepts of democracy and voted his conscience. If his is a minority opinion today, there is always tomorrow.

The root of the wasted vote concept is essentially totalitarian. The logical conclusion to such thinking is that one should only vote for the winner. Which is of course whomever is the ruling elite of the country. Even if you do not support them, even if they are totally wrong, even if they are destroying everything you hold valuable, you must vote for them in order to not waste your vote. Those who repeat this mantra are either wittingly or unwittingly promoting a totalitarian ideology and are no more than propaganda tools of the establishment.

The next point I do not comprehend in this wasted vote shibboleth is how am I preserving my vote by voting for a winner? Israel's corrupt and elitist electoral system gives the voter absolutely no input to the process of the selection of candidates for office nor any influences whatsoever on the MKs once they are elected.

So what do I gain by abandoning my principles and beliefs by not wasting my vote?

My reply would be:

It's simple, actually.

In Israel's electoral system, a list needs to pass a threshhold of 2%. It's not a run-of between Democrats and Republicans. The idea is not only to vote your conscience and your ideology but to vote, in proportional representation, for a list that can get in, one out of many. The list must, theoretically, have a chance of getting in and if not, there is always something very close. That is the "lost" meaning: that your vote could have gone, in a field of many, to a better "runner".

Suppose there's a foot race on, in the Olympics, a sprint.

You're black and you'd like the black guy to win proving superiority of Afros. But there's a Jamaican fella who is know to be a bit faster and probably has a better chance of winning the race. Do you bet on the Afro because he's more like you or someone who isn't White but has a better chance of proving that non-Caucasions are faster?



AZ responded and wrote:

You do not address the issue. A vote is a public expression of an opinion as is a non vote. The babble of wasting votes is no more than the cynical efforts of the powerful to discourage the outsiders of the establishment. "Either you are with us and a winner or you have nothing." What would you tell those with a winner takes all district system? Don't waste your vote by supporting the minority candidate? However, even more to the issue is the fact that no MK is obligated to anyone once he is elected. There is absolutely no action that can be taken against an MK who betrays those who voted for him. Nor is there anything to prevent his political patron from keeping him in the Knesset. So stop all this nonsense about wasted votes.

And I replied

Shavua Tov.

Allow me to differ.

Israel has a multi-choice system, it's not either-or as in a district system. In fact, in that system, a party could gain majoritarian rule although a minority in the country and the U.S. has seen that, too.

In addition to voting for the party you like, you also have a second consideration: to enable the coalition of your choice to rule. If theoretically, by voting for a small party, like Merzel, you would negate the chances of a coalition being formed with NU/NRP included, would you be voting smartly or not?

If NU/NRP didn't get in because you decided Merzel was best, wouldn't that be a "lost" vote?


The Jerusalem Post reported, in a follow-up to the bombing of a Jewish car near Kedumim on Thursday night, that

The suicide bomber was identified as 24-year-old Ahmad Mashrake. He was released from a Palestinian prison less than one month ago.

What, then, does this fact have to do with this analysis:

Dichter: Targeted killings usually less effective than arrests

Dichter is now a Kadima MK.

Can we expect more or less security with him in power?

The Least Sickest of the Lot

The above (found here) is the only one I can put up here to at least prove I am aware of the phenomenon of Jews trying to outjew themselves.

Get Ready

If you want to start getting ready, a programme about archaeology that I was interviewed for by the BBC will be on Radio 4 at 1100 on 26 May.

It's about Politics and Archeology and they came out to Shiloh.

We walked over the Tel, our Byzantine churches, a Muslim holy site, etc.

The Math

The Knesset's site provides details as to the voting of last Tuesday, now that all ballots were counted.

The "threshhold barrier" was 62,760.
(In other words, in Israel's system, a party first has to prove its worth by getting at least 2% of all valid votes cast).

Then, all the valid votes were divided by 120 and that figure, the per seat quotient, was 24,609.

If you want to know, 3,188,075 actually voted; 49,704 either voted a blank slip or placed 3 or more ballot slips in the envelope or placed a ripped slip or slips of two different parties. Which leaves 3,138,371 "valid votes".

Baruch Merzel's party receieved 25,935; Kleiner's 2,883, and Tzomet 1,509.

So, to my mind, the lost votes from the identifiable 'Right' equaled 30,327. I'm sure that of the 49,000+ invalid votes, there were many thousands that could have gone to NU/NRP.

The NU/NRP received 223,838 which represents 9 seats.

Likud received 282,070 which came out 12 seats.

In other words, the 60,000 difference between the two translated into a 3-seat parity.

If the NU/NRP had been awarded those "lost" votes, it could have picked up one or two more seats.

Well, thank you Baruch and Michael.

Start-Up Family

I just received this notice:-

The Yeshiva University Israel Alumni wishes a Mazal Tov on the:

Engagement and Marriage of:

Mrs.Tzivi Naiman, (wife of the late Dr. Yechiel Naiman YC)

to Dr. Robert Segal YHS, '56 (husband of the late Susan Segal)

Their children include:

Gershon Segal YC, AECOM
Devora Katsman SCW
Yonina Schein SCW, AECOM
Andrew Schein YC, RIETS
Miriam Haber SCW
Aharon Haber YC
Michael Segal YC
Aliza Levin SCW, BRGS
Ari Segal YC, Wurzweiler SW
Atara Graubard SCW, BRGS
Aaron Segal YC
Chaya Poupko SCW
Ephrayim Naiman, YC
Miriam Naiman SCW
Aharon Naiman YC
Tova Naiman SCW
Geela Naiman SCW
David and Bracha Jaffe
Sara and Moshe Brejt
Avi Naiman

Mazal Tov!


A local Florida TV news station carried this story:-

School's 'Holocaust' Experiment Upsets Parents
Dad: Son Cried Over Becoming Jew For Day

Several parents in Apopka, Fla., are upset over a surprise school "Holocaust" project that some say tormented children, according to a Local 6 News report. Eighth-graders with last names beginning with L through Z at Apopka Memorial Middle School were given yellow five-pointed stars for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Other students were privileged, the report said.

Father John Tinnelly said his son was forced to stand in the back of the classroom and not allowed to sit because he was wearing the yellow star.

"He was forced to go to the back of the lunch line four times by an administrator," Tinnelly said. Tinnelly said the experiment upset his child.

"He was crying," Tinnelly said. "I said, 'What are you crying about?' He said, 'Daddy, I was a Jew today.'" Other parents and children shared similar stories, Tinnelly said.

"They were told that they could not use the water fountains," Tinnely said. "There was even a sign supposedly at one water fountain (saying) if you're wearing a yellow star , you can't use this water fountain."

Tinnelly said he believes it is important to teach the Holocaust, but apparently little was learned during the experiment.

"I tried to talk to my son and I asked all of these questions and the only thing he said is, 'Daddy, the only thing I found out today is I don't want to be Jewish,'" Tinnelly said.

"This was supposed to be a creative way to teach the horrors of the Holocaust but unfortunately, it has sparked controversy and more importantly, it has sparked conversation," Reznick said. "We have now heard from nearly a dozen parents (who are) very upset."

Local 6 News aired a statement from The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida; "Of course, we applaud Apopka (Memorial) Middle School's effort to engage in Holocaust education with the hope of a tolerance education component in the classroom. That is the mission of The Center to teach tolerance through Holocaust remembrance and education. However, we do not encourage nor train teachers to engage in simulation exercises."

Okay, I Admit, I Didn't Like Madeline Either

The New York Daily News' gossip column, Page Six, informsus that one John Green has struck again.

Green, executive producer of the weekend editions of "Good Morning America," made headlines last week when the Drudge Report posted a confidential e-mail he wrote to an ABC colleague in which he declared, "[George W.] Bush makes me sick."

Now, another network e-mail Green wrote in has been obtained in which he argues that Bill Clinton's former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, should not be booked on "GMA" because, "Albright has Jew shame."

Green, who is Jewish, was referring to Albright's reluctance to acknowledge her Jewish heritage when it was uncovered by a Washington Post reporter not long after she was sworn in as the first female Secretary of State in 1997.

Green also says of Albright in the e-mail, "She hates us anyway because she says we promised her five minutes and only gave her two . . . I do not like her."

An ABC News source claims that Green has since "banned" Albright from the show. "This blanket ban was issued because of a personal bias," the source said. "He didn't like her and didn't want to deal with her."

Taking a Stroll

You can't keep the past hidden forever.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the main road that ran from Jerusalem's City of David to the Temple Mount during the time of the Second Temple has been uncovered by Israeli archeologists, those involved in the dig said Thursday. The road connected the Shiloah pool in the City of David to the Temple Mount compound.

The 2,000-year-old road was discovered adjacent to the Shiloah pool during ongoing excavations at the site. The road was used by the tens of thousands of people who came to Jerusalem for the Jewish pilgrimage holidays during the Second Temple Period, who immersed themselves in the Shiloah pool before entering the Temple Mount, Shukrun said. He said the road showed the centrality of both the Temple and the pool for life in the city at the time.

Archeologists had previously discovered the other end of the 600-meter road near the Temple Mount, he said.

The archeologists have not learned when the road was built, but they have determined that it was in use between the first half of the first century BCE and the destruction of the second Jewish Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.

The archeologists also found large stones and boulders from the destruction of the Second Temple, burnt ashes, and an assortment of coins from the failed Jewish rebellion against the Romans.

The latest finds in the City of David, located just outside the walls of the Old City, came two years after Israeli archeologists stumbled upon the 2,000-year-old pool while the city was carrying out infrastructure work for a new sewage line.

The waters of the Shiloah pool, which come from the nearby Gihon spring, were used in Jewish purification rituals carried out, among other times, before visits to the Temple.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Writing with Forked Tongue

The Jerusalem Post has decided to employ the word "convergence" as the English translation of the Hebrew "hit'knasut", the new term bandied about by the media and politicians to describe Ehud Olmert's regurgitated disengagement plan.

Another word, employed by the Jerusalme Center for Public Affairs, is "consolidation".

This, however, is a bit incomprehensible.

The act of converging is defined as moving toward union or uniformity; coming together to unite in a common interest or focus and tending to merge. Now, if Israel and Jordan were to reunite territorially as they were prior to the September 1923 British decision to partition the original mandate area, I could understand the word's use.

Consolidation is defined as the act or instance of unification; solidification; strengthening.

However, what is being done is yielding up further areas of the Jewish national home and aiding in the creation of yet a third political entity in what was once but one geopolitical unit.

What Mr. Olmert is actually suggesting is that Israel turn in to itself by reducing the land mass it controls and surrendering it to a foreign power.

Perhaps, then, 'self-reduction' or even 'diminution' would be a better choice?



The above was published by the Jerusalem Post as a "letter to the editor" on April 2, which is a nice thing for them to do.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How Hitler Was Perceived by An English Fool

I found this wonderful letter in the TLS and it portrays so lucidly the support that Hitler (yimach shmo v'zichro) was able to count on during the 1930s.

And why I have this strange feeling about worthy humanitarians who support today any and all accommodation with his inheritors.

Sir, – George Feaver could not be more wrong when he writes, in his review of Julia Stapleton’s Sir Arthur Bryant and National History in Twentieth-Century Britain (January 6), that Bryant’s views in the 1930s were “less pro-Hitler than reflective of a historian’s convictions about how best to engage a German people who had been unjustly humiliated by the conditions imposed by the Versailles Treaty”. In fact, Bryant was far more pro-Hitler than that.

In 1934 Bryant wrote of how “Hitler, like all the best Germans, is a mystic”, and praised “the mystic dream of inspired leadership and disciplined unity” in Germany. In 1938 he wrote of how the Aryan Germans “felt a growing pride in the revival of German consciousness, prosperity and strength under their Führer”, meanwhile noting that Jews “have seldom been welcome guests and scarcely ever for long”. In April 1939 he described himself to a Nazi official as “one who has been a consistent advocate of Anglo-German friendship ever since the Führer’s rise to power, and still is”. That June he described Hitler as “the restorer of a great but fallen nation” and “the great German whom fate has raised up to rescue his people”. If Hitler did not go to war, he wrote, “he would be recognised in this country as the great man he is”.

Nor is Professor Feaver right to say that at “the very eve of war, [Bryant] threw his authorial energies behind the resolve of Churchill’s wartime administration”. In fact, in the eight months between the war breaking out and Churchill becoming Prime Minister, Bryant supported the peace movement and, in April 1940, published a book called Unfinished Victory, which praised the way that “under Hitler’s forceful leadership” Germany was regaining “a just confidence” in itself. He further blamed Nazi anti-Semitism on the behaviour of Germany’s Jews, writing: “They were arrogant, they were vulgar and they were vicious”.

Neither George Feaver nor Julia Stapleton wants to face the fact that Sir Arthur Bryant was a Fascist.

11 Ovington Square, London SW3.

So, How Many "Orthodox" Blogs Are There?


Nahal Chareidi Gets Serenaded

Found this over here.

NY Chasidic singer, Lipa Smeltzer, serenades the Nahal Chareidi.

First Political Coalition Salvo

Tonight on Channel One TV, Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen said "no more disengagements".

Asked about the "Road Map" plan, he said its first article is no more terror and now we have Hamas as the government there.

And then he added, "I live in Ashkelon and you (turning to Meir Sheetrit) promised us no more missles."

When Sheetrit was pressed about various suggested socila welfare demands of Shas plus Labor, he responded: "from where will the money come? I suggest all who suggest also indicate how to budget the funds." And Shas MK Cohen then said, "from the same place you found money for your disengagement."

The Eclipse in Israel Today

Taken by one Adam Propp and sent to me by Protexia.

Here's the full astronomical story.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

First There Were the Kassams; Now Come the Katyushas

Haaretz reports now:-

For the first time, Palestinians fired a 122mm Katyusha rocket, a much longer-range projectile than the Qassam, from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the IDF confirmed Tuesday night. The Katyusha was fired Tuesday morning. It caused no injuries or damage.

Israel Channel 10 Television said the rocket was apparently fired by the Islamic Jihad, which had vowed to try to disrupt the Tuesday general election. Remains of the rocket were discovered in searches of areas hit by rockets south of Ashkelon.

Military sources said the potential range of the Katyusha is some 15 kilometers, about six kilometers longer than that of the Qassam.

This would place a much larger number of Israeli towns and villages in danger of being hit by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, including the southern coastal city of Ashkelon.

It is believed that the Katyusha fired from Gaza was smuggled into the Strip, apparently across the Gaza-Egypt border from Sinai. Army Radio said the 122mm Katyusha fired Tuesday is a model used by Iran.

Did we say we told you so?

Of All Places to Meet Rebbe Menachem Nahum of Chernobyl

Of all places to run into Rebbe Menachem Nahum of Chernobyl, Martin Cruz Smith's "Wolves Eat Dogs" murder mystery was a surprise location. His major work, M'Or Einayim, was recently published in an English-language edition if you are interested in learning more about a disciple of Dov Ber of Mezeritch.

But getting back to the novel, I checked a few reviews and they all skipped the Hasidic master's presence (as well as that of a character named Yakov who was in the Stern Group and serves as a bodyguard to another character named Bobby Hoffman who went to Yeshiva and who was the son of a Jewish mob figure who gets dressed up as a Hassid and says Kaddish at the reactor site after failing to do so a year earlier when visiting Rebbe Menachem Nahum's Tziyon at the behest of his employer but you'll have to read the book).


In any case, Smith even does a bit of "Torah". Here it is, p. 246 in the paperback edition I just picked up at an airport in Toronto:

"By the way, Noah was an asshole, too."

"Why Noah?" Arkady asked. This was a new indictment.

He didn't argue."

"Noah should have argued?"

Yakov explained, "Abraham argues with God not to kill everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses pleads with God not to kill worshippers of the golden calf. But God tells Noah to build a boat because He's going to flood the entire world, and what does Noah say? Not a word."

"Not a word," says Bobby, "and saves the minimum. What a bastard."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Real Test

Matisyahu has become the victim of a critical barrage of a different sort, reports The Forward.

Taking a page from the classic script of the breakout star, he dropped the producers who'd helped launch his career — JDub Records co-founders Aaron Bisman and Jacob Harris — and signed on with Gary Gersh, the manager credited with steering Nirvana to superstardom.

JDub's Bisman threatened to sue. "We in no way are out to harm Matisyahu," he told Billboard, "but we can't just sit and take this. We have a contract and a longstanding relationship."

But in the eyes of some, Matisyahu's sins go far beyond mere breach of contract. After reading of the singer's decision to leave JDub, Daniel Sieradski, editor of the Web log, called him "a false prophet... who traded in his most devout 'true believers' merely to maximize his cash flow potential."

In the days that followed, Sieradski, who writes under the nom de blog Mobius, expanded his critique to include the singer's boosters. "What's interesting to me about most people's defenses of [Matisyahu's] actions," he wrote, "is their blatant hypocrisy, picking and choosing when halakha [rabbinic law] is relevant. If he broke Shabbos and performed on Friday night, everyone would throw a... fit. But when he violates halakha pertaining to business ethics, no one seems to care."

Actually, I think the kid's real test will be when he marries.

Will it be a Chabad girl or...?

Does This Get You Excited?

During a coffee break early in the conference, Stuart Altshuler, a rabbi from Mission Viejo, Calif., got into an angry dispute with Mr. Falouji, the imam from Gaza, over the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

But the two made up shortly after, saying they had benefited from the exchange. “I was able to meet with Falouji from Gaza,” Rabbi Altshuler said the next day. “I’ve dreamed of a chance to do that.”

Did that get you excited?

The meeting, organized by the French foundation Hommes de Parole, which promotes dialogue between conflicting groups, included hostile exchanges and pointed arguments about terrorism, Israeli settlements and claims to Jerusalem. But it also led to some uninhibited displays of camaraderie, like rabbis and imams singing and dancing together during an impromptu musical performance in the hotel lobby near midnight.

Did that get you excited?

Full story here.

But for a parallel story, one that should cause the French group to stay in France and not get involved with the Middle East, read on here:-

In working-class Parisian suburbs like this one, heavily populated by North African immigrants, the word "Jew" is now a standard epithet. It appears in graffiti on middle school walls and neighborhood playgrounds and on the tongues of the young.

"It's blacks and Arabs on one side and Jews on the other," said Sebastian Daranal, a young black man standing in the parking lot of a government-subsidized housing project with two friends.

Eight men beat the son of a rabbi here in March. Another Jew was attacked the next day.

In the wake of the torture and killing in February of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jew, attention has focused on an undeniable problem: anti-Semitism among France's second-generation immigrant youth, whose high jobless rate the government is trying to address with a law drawing widespread protests across the country.

The law, intended to increase employment, especially among the young, has drawn opposition because of a provision that allows companies to hire people 25 or younger for a two-year trial period, during which they can be fired without cause.

Schools are the battleground over anti-Semitism, and teachers complain that the government has done little, despite many proposals.

"The minister of education has done nothing," said Jean-Pierre Obin, an inspector general of education in France, who wrote a report in 2004 that called anti-Semitism "ubiquitous" in the 61 schools surveyed. "He prefers not to talk about it."

Mr. Obin wrote in the report of "a stupefying and cruel reality: in France, Jewish children — and they are alone in this case — can no longer be educated in just any school."

Ianis Roder, 34, a history teacher in a middle school northeast of Paris, said he was stunned by what he witnessed after Sept. 11, 2001. The next day, someone spray-painted in a stairwell of the school the image of an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center beside the words "Death to the U.S., Death to Jews."

When he told his class months later that Hitler had killed millions of million Jews, one boy blurted out, "He would have made a good Muslim!" Mr. Roder told of a Muslim teacher who dismissed her class after a shouting match over Nazi propaganda. The students said the offensive images accurately depicted Jews.

Unfortunate Zealousness

It's one trying to work on behalf of your political party.

It's another to work against your rival party.

This Israeli died as a result of being unable to distinguish between the two.

Read on:

Activist electrocuted to death trying to remove banner

A Labor party activist was electrocuted to death Saturday morning while trying to remove an election banner from an electric pole near a bridge on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Route 1 highway.

Liad Golan, 27, a resident of a kibbutz in the north of the country, reportedly fell while trying to take off a sign of a rival party.

The Labor party announced it was puting its election campaign on hold until Sunday out of respect for the family of the deceased.

"We bemoan the death of the party activist killed while working for the party. Labor embraces the activist's family at this hour," A Labor spokesperson said.

Was he really working for the party or against it or against another party?

And then there's this in the report:-

Meanwhile, Meretz also announced it would cease its campaigning until Sunday out of respect for the family of the deceased man.

Huh? So whose banner was being taken down? That of Meretz? Or that of Likud and Meretz was being all-around sympathetic: for the death of a human being and the death of someone who was helping them out, too?


P.S. Arutz 7 claims he was electrocuted.

Finger of Blame Pointed at Israel Electric

Israel Electric Company officials will be questioned by police regarding the electrocution death of Labor Party activist Liad Golan. According to police, the electric pole that Golan climbed to remove a poster from a rival party was not protected in accordance to law, indicating Israel Electric may be negligent and thereby a contributory factor to the former IDF officer’s death.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Hirsute Hurrah

Well, beards are back in style, lads.

Mr. Martin's idea of a style symbol, seriously, is Ulysses S. Grant, whose beard he came to admire after watching the 2003 Civil War-era drama "Cold Mountain." Two years ago, when he began experimenting with different beard styles, which he described as ranging from neat to burly to unkempt, his facial hair was an expression of individuality in a tide of metrosexual conformity. Now 10 of his 15 co-workers at Vice wear full, bushy beards. In that, they vie with the pro-facial-hair contingent of an editorial rival, Spin, where a rash of new beards has broken out.

"It's a sign of the times," Mr. Martin said. "People are into beards right now."

At hipster hangouts and within fashion circles, the bearded revolution that began with raffishly trimmed whiskers a year or more ago has evolved into full-fledged Benjamin Harrisons. At New York Fashion Week last month at least a half-dozen designers turned up with furry faces.

"This is some sort of reaction to men who look scrubbed, shaved, plucked and waxed," said the designer Bryan Bradley, who stepped onto the runway after his Tuleh presentation looking like a renegade from the John Bartlett show, at which more than half the models wore beards: untidy ones that scaled a spectrum from wiry to ratty to shabby to fully bushy.

"It's less 'little boy,' " Mr. Bradley said. "For a while men have looked too much like Boy Scouts going off to day camp."

On city streets, too, trends in scruff have reached new levels of unruliness, a backlash, some beard enthusiasts say, against the heightened grooming expectations that were unleashed with the rise of metrosexuality as a cultural trend. Men both straight and gay, it appears, want to feel rough and manly.

"It's a nice masculine aesthetic," said Robert Tagliapietra, who with his similarly bearded partner, Jeffrey Costello, designs a collection of pretty silk jersey dresses under the Costello Tagliapietra label. "We both like that aesthetic of New England cabins with antlers on the wall, plaid shirts and a beard."

At the New York premiere of "V for Vendetta" last week, Hugo Weaving appeared (with his co-star Natalie Portman, an adopter of last summer's iteration of the Mohawk) in the beard of the moment, grown for the stage production of "Hedda Gabler."John Allan, the owner of several clublike grooming salons in New York, reports seeing newly bearded customers, but not enough to warrant concerns for the health of his shaving business.

"It will be interesting to see over the next six to eight months what mainland America is going to do with it," Mr. Allan said. "For the past several years we've been stripping guys of their body hair. Maybe now it's time for the pendulum to swing the other way."

Whenever a countercultural trend becomes a mainstream one, there is a natural tendency to look for deeper meaning. Do beards that call to mind Charles Manson suggest dissatisfaction with "the system"? Are broody beards, like the dark and somber mood of the fall fashion collections, physical manifestations of a melancholia in the air? Are they a reflection of the stylistic impact on mainstream fashion of the subculture of gay men known as bears, who embrace natural body hair?

But such theories seem to have less relevance — and beards less shock value — than they once did.

"Style has separated itself from viewpoint," said Tim Harrington, the lead singer of the rock band Les Savy Fav, who is known for his full beard and balding head. "This is not like when beards were worn by hippies. Now you pick a style for aesthetic reasons as opposed to a viewpoint. I wonder if beards can have the oomph they once had when it feels like someone will ask you: 'Where did you get that beard? Is that beard from Dolce & Gabbana?' "

No survey ever conducted about women's attitudes toward beards, even those not underwritten by the Gillette Company, has indicated that more than 2 or 3 percent of women would describe a full beard as sexy. ("I hang out with those girls who are in that 2 or 3 percent," Mr. Martin, of Vice, said.)

Yet the return of the wild beard carries a certain erotic charge that has been missing from beards since the Furry Freak look of the 1970's, or at least those who grow them hope they do.

Andrew Deutsch, a designer of interactive Web videos, swears that having a beard has changed his life, giving him an air of confidence. "I met my current girlfriend a week after I started growing my beard in November," Mr. Deutsch said. Now he finds himself constantly touching and stroking the beard, as if it were a talisman. "It's like a security blanket on my face," he said.

That a full beard can suddenly look right — or, more accurately, not so awful — illustrates how quickly ideals of masculinity can change.

"You know, it's funny," said Lola Phonpadith, a public relations manager for the fashion company BCBG. "I've been talking about this with my friends for weeks. I'm kind of into guys with beards today, and I'm embarrassed to say that. But the pretty-boy look can only last for so long."

P.S. Notice that bit about stroking the beard? Just like in the Beit Midrash, no?

Here They Are

Following my previous Neturei Karta posting, I thought it would be enlightening for my readers to see Moshe Hirsch and Co. in action with a red Hamasnik.

Lichfield Does a Lynch

Gordon Lichfield sleights his writing hand by drawing a comparison between the U.S. and Cuba and Israel and its disputed territories "Cuba on the West Bank" in the NYTimes today (* full article below).

Surely the one way to prove that Hamas can change is for Hamas simply to halt the terror, its own and that of other Palestinian groups. Cuba was a nuisance but after the missile showdown, no real danger to the United States, unlike the very real threat that Hanas is to Israel and its citizens.

But Lichfield errs when he suggests that Hamas would "hold talks on a Palestinian state confined to the pre-1967 borders". Khaled Mesh'al recently spoke of vanquishing Zionism, inundating Israel with refugees and taking over all of Jerusalem to the exclusion of any Jewish shrine. Ismail Haniye, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister announced that "Negotiations are merely a means, and not a goal."

The most Hamas will offer is a truce and then, after a few years, a renewal of the conflict.

And see this MEMRI search result.

Oops, I wrote this too soon.

See here:-

Hamas says it won't arrest militants who attack Israel

By Reuters

Incoming Palestinian interior minister Said Seyam, chosen by Hamas to oversee three security services, said on Thursday he will not order the arrest of militants carrying out attacks against Israel.

"The day will never come when any Palestinian would be arrested because of his political affiliation or because of resisting the occupation," Seyam told Reuters in an interview. "The file of political detention must be closed."

Hamas, whose charter officially calls for Israel's destruction, swept to victory in a Jan. 25 election and plans to present its cabinet line-up to a Hamas-dominated parliament for a vote next week.


Full text:

FOR two months, the world has dithered over how to get a Palestinian authority run by Hamas to recognize Israel and renounce violence, and over how much aid and official contact to maintain until it does. The diplomats' refrain was that once Hamas appointed a cabinet, things would be clearer.

Last weekend, Hamas did name a cabinet. But knowing who has which job has not made things clearer, nor will the Israeli election on March 28. The dispute runs too deep.

American and European bans on aiding or communicating with terrorist organizations, if followed strictly, can stop a lot of money from reaching the Palestinians. But there are creative ways around such restrictions. You can relabel some budget support and development assistance "essential humanitarian aid," send it through third parties like the United Nations or World Bank, or pay it directly to contractors and service providers.

In conversations with officials from various countries, two positions, crudely speaking, emerge. The first, predictably more common among American and Israeli policy makers, says that outside powers should strangle Hamas so that it either moderates or dies. The other, which finds more favor with Europeans, says to keep as much aid flowing as possible, perhaps with incentives for good behavior and sanctions for bad.

Sound familiar? It should. The same debate has been raging for decades about another small, impoverished and controversial place: Cuba. The United States doggedly insists that Fidel Castro's repressive regime must be boycotted to make it collapse. Europeans and Canadians prefer encouraging gradual change through "constructive engagement."

The result is that an unrepentant Mr. Castro is enjoying his 48th year in power, using the American boycott as a political prop and the rest of the world as an economic prop. Talk to Cubans and two things soon become clear: the main reason any of them support Mr. Castro is for his heroic stand against the Yanqui bully, and the main reason Cubans don't starve is that tourists and foreign joint-venture businesses pump money into the economy.

Something similar could happen with Hamas. A poll out this week found that 75 percent of Palestinians want Hamas to "engage Israel in peace negotiations." But even the most moderate will rally to defend their democratically elected government if they see countries that profess to love democracy trying to destabilize it. That will reduce domestic pressure on Hamas to pursue peace. And if aid from elsewhere meanwhile props up the Palestinian Authority, Hamas can carry on this way indefinitely, playing countries off against one another.

Is either approach to Hamas the right one? The first looks like a very long shot. Even if all the financial taps were closed, Hamas's popular support might drain away only slowly, and probably toward even more radical extremists, turning Palestinian areas into something more like Iraq. And because Hamas can call on the Muslim world for help, closing all the taps is well-nigh impossible. Any boycott will therefore probably lead to a Cuba-like situation.

An argument for keeping the aid going is that only a stable and strong authority can impose order on the fractious Palestinian clans and militant groups, and such order is essential to fulfilling the Palestinian side of any peace deal. Hamas has given more hints of its willingness to moderate its positions in the past month than Mr. Castro usually gives in a decade. Last week, Ismail Haniya, the authority's prime minister-designate, said that Hamas could hold talks on a Palestinian state confined to the pre-1967 borders if Israel first committed to those borders.

That, however, is not enough of a guarantee for Israel. If Hamas in fact harbors long-term plans to destroy the Jewish state, as some fear, then such statements are ploys to give it time to build up its strength. In that case, unrestricted foreign aid will make it more dangerous.

There is only way to find out whether and how Hamas can change. Outside powers should design a policy that combines carrots and sticks, offering both Hamas and Israel incentives to move gradually in the right direction, but preserving some safeguards in case they fail to do so.

That is easy to say and extremely hard to do. But the main point is that whatever the world does about Hamas, it needs to do it in unison — or face indefinite deadlock, as with Cuba.

Gideon Lichfield is the Jerusalem correspondent for The Economist.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Majority Rules is Democracy But so Is Dissent Democratic

If you go here, you can find the entire decision but for a short survey, here is okay.

The story? The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court was in the minority on a question of constitutional validity of a search. What was at issue was the justification the judges used to alter the law, something similar here in Israel in terms of sociall norms, etc.


Writing for the majority, Justice David H. Souter said the search was unreasonable, given the vocal objection of the husband, Scott Randolph. True, Justice Souter said, the court had long permitted one party to give consent to a search of shared premises under what is known as the "co-occupant consent rule." But he said that rule should be limited to the context in which it was first applied, the absence of the person who later objected.

The presence of the objecting person changed everything, Justice Souter said, noting that it defied "widely shared social expectations" for someone to come to the door of a dwelling and to cross the threshold at one occupant's invitation if another objected.

"Without some very good reason, no sensible person would go inside under those conditions," he said.

"We have, after all, lived our whole national history with an understanding of the ancient adage that a man's home is his castle," Justice Souter said. "Disputed permission is thus no match for this central value of the Fourth Amendment."

The dissenters, in addition to Chief Justice Roberts, were Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. In his opinion, the chief justice took aim at the majority's description of social custom, as well as its reliance on that description to reshape "a great deal of established Fourth Amendment law."

Every lower federal court to have considered the issue, as well as most state courts, had concluded that one party's consent was sufficient. The Georgia Supreme Court, in its 2004 decision that the justices affirmed, was in the minority, ruling in this case that the evidence of Mr. Randolph's cocaine use was inadmissible.

"The fact is that a wide variety of differing social situations can readily be imagined, giving rise to quite different social expectations," Chief Justice Roberts said. For example, he continued, "a guest who came to celebrate an occupant's birthday, or one who had traveled some distance for a particular reason, might not readily turn away simply because of a roommate's objection."

Noting that "the possible scenarios are limitless," he said, "Such shifting expectations are not a promising foundation on which to ground a constitutional rule, particularly because the majority has no support for its basic assumption — that an invited guest encountering two disagreeing co-occupants would flee — beyond a hunch about how people would typically act in an atypical situation."

The majority missed the point, the chief justice said; the fact is that someone choosing to share space has also, already, chosen to share privacy.

"Our common social expectations may well be that the other person will not, in turn, share what we have shared with them with another — including the police," he said, "but that is the risk we take in sharing."

In a concluding paragraph of his dissent, he said: "The majority reminds us, in high tones, that a man's home is his castle, but even under the majority's rule, it is not his castle if he happens to be absent, asleep in the keep or otherwise engaged when the constable arrives at the gate. Then it is his co-owner's castle."

In Israel, I can't recall the judges voting that way. In fact, they usually kowtow to Professor Aharon Barak's activism and liberalism.

What Did Johnny Cash Like to Eat?

Johnny Cash, revivalist Christian under it all, had a strange appetite.

Here's what his son has revealed:-

John Carter said that in the early eighties his parents would spend a quarter of their time in the city, and, as the youngest child, he often got to come along. “They had an apartment at 40 Central Park South. They’d come here at the end of tours, just to rest. We’d go to plays and we’d eat a lot. Probably the No. 1 thing was the Carnegie Deli: they’d always order lox, cheese blintzes, and matzo-ball soup.”

Well, lordy lord.

But then, he always was a strong supporter of Israel:-

A frequent visitor to Israel, Cash released an album in 1968 titled "The Holy Land" which dealt with his love of the country. The lyrics to one of the songs on that album, "Come to the Wailing Wall," speak movingly of the strong connection he felt:

"Shout it across the mountain/Shout it cross the sea/We have been delivered/Israel is free/Come to the Wailing Wall...

"Bring the lost ones homeward/Lead them to this shore/The city gates are open/Heaven's blessing o'er/Come to the Wailing Wall..."

Who Shall Ascend?

This is interesting.

Haaretz reports that Imams and rabbis form summit on issues surrounding Temple Mount

Alright, the headline was a pun ("summit", "mount") but the intrigue is there.

In Seville, Spain a panel discussion on holy sites discussed a proposal to establish a permanent committee comprising an equal number of Jewish and Muslim clerics to discuss issues affecting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Rav Ratzon Arussi, though,
stressed that their fear is baseless because Jewish law forbids Jews from entering the site. Rothenberg, who has published research on the issue, said the halakhic prohibition could prevent a religious war between Jews and Muslims

He further
urged the Muslim representative to take action against anti-Jewish incitement regarding the Temple Mount, which he said "feeds extremist elements within Israel."

Well, Aroussi is wrong, as he himself well knows, being a member of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate which itself has a committee to investigate possibilities of entrance even thought, true, the official stand of the Chief Rabbinate is to prohibit all entrance.

Back in February a year ago, the same Haaretz reported

Rabbi Shear Yashuv Hacohen, chief rabbi of Haifa who chairs a committee set up by the Chief Rabbinate to determine which areas on the Temple Mount are permitted to Jews and which are forbidden, publicized a letter of protest he'd written about the fact that the chief rabbis had added their signatures to a new ban on the entry of Jews to the Mount, even before the committee he heads completed its work.

Rabbi Dov Lior and the Yesha council of rabbis openly permit and encourage the entry of Jews to the Temple Mount. This long-standing internal Halakhic dispute is heating up now and causing agitation in the ranks. This in itself serves the Temple Mount movements, which now speak of "mass visits of Jews to the Mount, and a rebuilding of the consciousness of the Mount and the Temple among the public at large."

So, it seems that Rav Aroussi is a bit fablunshet. But to be comprehensive, let's recall that:

It was no coincidence that heavy fog blanketed the various rabbis' positions on a key question that has concerned the Temple Mount movement for years: Is it permitted for Jews in our generation to visit the Temple Mount - as a growing minority of the rabbis believes - or are the halakhic constraints so real that entry of Jews to the Mount should be banned outright?

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu , chief rabbi of Safed and the son of the former chief rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu, who forbids entry to the Mount, was named by the Temple movement as someone who does permit entry to the Temple Mount. Yet he made it clear, when asked, that he had never permitted it, and said that he would publicly announce his approval of entering the Temple Mount only in coordination with the Chief Rabbinate Council.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Go Back to Where You Belong

No, this is not a continuation of the Rav Meir Goldwicht controversy.

But it is about Jews.

Seems Mayor Ken "Red" Livingstone is at it again.

Read on a bit:

KEN LIVINGSTONE was embroiled in a further dispute last night after suggesting that the billionaire Reuben brothers, who are involved with the 2012 Olympics, could “go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs”.

The Mayor of London escalated the dispute over building the £4 billion Olympic City in East London by hitting out at two of its key backers, David and Simon Reuben. Mr Livingstone apparently suggested at his weekly press briefing that if the brothers were not happy they should go back to their country and see whether they could do better under the ayatollahs.

Pressed to clarify his remarks, he told the Evening Standard: “Perhaps if they’re not happy here they can go back to Iran and try their luck with ayatollahs, if they don’t like the planning regime or my approach.” Conservatives on the London Assembly said that the brothers were not Iranian but born in India of Iraqi Jewish parents. Brian Coleman, assembly member for Barnet and Camden, said: “This is the latest anti-Semitic remark by Livingstone.

He clearly has a major problem with the Jewish business community. To suggest that these men should go to Iran is shocking, outrageous and grossly offensive to the entire Jewish community.”

Kameez, Shalwar, Jilbab

Okay, I admit, I didn't know the meanings of the words either.

So here's the story:

The Law Lords today overturned a court ruling that a teenager's human rights were violated when she was banned from wearing full-length Islamic dress at school.

Lord Bingham said the school was fully justified in acting as it did when it sent Shabina Begum, then 14, home for refusing to adhere to the school uniform policy.

Shabina had previously worn the shalwar kameez - trousers and tunic - but told the school in September 2002 that her religion required her to wear the head-to-toe jilbab.

Lord Bingham said that the rules were acceptable to mainstream Muslim opinion and it was was feared that acceding to Shabina’s request would or might have significant adverse repercussions.

Shabina, now 17, took the school’s headteacher and governors to court for denying her the "right to education and to manifest her religious beliefs" under the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

After being sent home for wearing the jilbab in September 2002, Shabina never returned to the school...To try to accommodate all faiths, the school adopted the shalwar kameez, a garment worn by many faiths on the Indian sub-continent. According to the school’s lawyers, among Shabina’s objections was that the kameez was worn by "disbelieving women".

But Shabina’s counsel, Cherie Booth, QC, said at her appeal that that was incorrect. Her objection was that the kameez was no longer suitable for her because she had reached sexual maturity and it did not sufficiently protect her modesty.

On A Vacation, Sort of

I have flown in to the New York area to attend the wedding of a niece so for all those registering comments and all those expecting more daily brilliant and incisive postings, my apologies for the lack thereof.

But, as someone else more famous than I once said:

I shall return.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's Nice When a Non-Jew Says It

The L.A. Weekly carries an article about:-

Europe will be conquered by being turned into “Eurabia,”


“of the biggest conspiracy that modern history has created,”


Briefly put, the alleged plot was an arrangement between European and Arab governments according to which the Europeans, still reeling from the first acts of PLO terrorism and eager for precious Arabian oil made significantly more precious by the 1973 OPEC crisis, agreed to accept Arab “manpower” (i.e., immigrants) along with the oil. They also agreed to disseminate propaganda about the glories of Islamic civilization, provide Arab states with weaponry, side with them against Israel and generally toe the Arab line on all matters political and cultural. Hundreds of meetings and seminars were held as part of the “Euro-Arab Dialogue,” and all, according to the author, were marked by European acquiescence to Arab requests. Fallaci recounts a 1977 seminar in Venice, attended by delegates from 10 Arab nations and eight European ones, concluding with a unanimous resolution calling for “the diffusion of the Arabic language” and affirming “the superiority of Arab culture.”

While the Arabs demanded that Europeans respect the religious, political and human rights of Arabs in the West, not a peep came from the Europeans about the absence of freedom in the Arab world, not to mention the abhorrent treatment of women and other minorities in countries like Saudi Arabia. No demand was made that Muslims should learn about the glories of western civilization as Europeans were and are expected to learn about the greatness of Islamic civilization. In other words, according to Fallaci, a substantial portion of Europe’s cultural and political independence was sold off by a coalition of ex-communists and socialist politicians.

Read on.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Truth Be Told

The London Times lets us know what a Pal. jail is like:-


Monitors complained that Saadat, Shobaki and the four other “special” prisoners were given the run of the compound by Palestinian guards

They were not “locked down” at night

They were never separated from the 300 other prisoners

They had mobile phones and computers; Shobaki ordered the monitors’ phone jammers to be turned off

They had up to 90 visitors a week and used other prisoners “as domestic staff”

Saadat kept birds and had a big book collection

Inmates and guards referred to Shobaki as “brigadier”. He smoked up to five Cuban cigars a day

and this:-

Cigars, birds, flowers and servants — life inside Jericho jail
by Stephen Farrell

Palestinian terrorist suspects are said to have served their time in style before the bulldozers arrived

BRITAIN...paint[ed] a portrait of a jail controlled by inmates living in luxury.
Palestinian guards confirmed yesterday that Ahmed Saadat, a leading militant captured by Israeli troops in the raid, kept birds and flowers in his quarters. Western officials said that Saadat in effect used other prisoners as “domestic staff”.

- - -

It followed reports by monitors that the six prisoners had access to computers, mobile phones and were not “locked down” at night. The monitors said that they were forbidden to search cells and that mobile phone jammers were switched off.

Rav Goldwicht's Apology

Here it is:

From: "Yeshiva University Israel Alumni"
To: "Yeshiva University Israel Alumni"
Subject: A Message From Rabbi Goldwicht
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2006 12:44:46 +0200

March 19, 2006
19 Adar 5766

To the Yeshiva University Israel Community,

I want to express my sincerest apologies for any negative messages conveyed in my remarks last night at seudah shlisheet. I am honored to be part of Yeshiva University and to have participated in this extraordinary Shabbat experience. Our alumni in Israel represent the highest of ideals of our people. Unfortunately the words from my mouth did not reflect the thoughts in my heart.

Rav Meir Goldwicht

A Bit Risque But...

Hey, this is Purim funny, if you can appreciate such "material".

Kippah tip: SimplyJews

AIPAC Plucked

This report is all the new news.

(And if you want 211 footnotes, go to the original report here).

The esteemed Martin Kramer's comments are here.

And if you want a quick fix:-

A new study, claiming that the pro-Israel lobby in America caused the United States to skew its Middle East policy in favor of Israel, is stirring controversy in the pro and anti-Israel communities in the US.

The 81-page report, written by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, argues that the pro-Israel lobby in the US managed to convince American lawmakers, officials and US public opinion to support Israel, even though this support runs counter to America's own national interests.

"The overall thrust of US policy in the region is due almost entirely to US domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the 'Israel Lobby,'" the paper writes, adding that while other lobbies have tried to affect US foreign policy, "no lobby has managed to divert US foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US and Israeli interests are essentially identical."

...supporting Israel is not in America's best interest and furthermore, that it complicates the US's international stand and its ability to fight terror. "Israel is in fact a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states," the authors write, claiming that "The United States has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around." The paper also argues that the US would not be worried about Iran, Iraq and Syria, if not for its close ties with Israel.

The Harvard paper also argues that Israel is not a worthy ally for the US, that it is not a true democracy and that it uses torture methods that are against American values.

The main claim of the authors is that the powerful pro-Israel lobby in the US is the reason for a biased US foreign policy in the region that favors Israel. They point to The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)'s activity in Congress and in the executive branch and talk about how it allegedly "manipulates the media" and "polices academia" in order to make sure the US maintains a pro-Israel approach. The authors add that AIPAC also uses the claim of anti-Semitism, or "the great silencer" as they refer to it, to shut off any criticism of Israel.

The paper voices the claim that pro-Israeli officials in the Bush administration, namely Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, were behind the push for war in Iraq and that the pro-Israel lobby was a driving force in encouraging the administration to go to war against Saddam Hussein.

Gee, was this a set-up for the upcoming trial or is that a conspiracy theory?

A Lesson for Amona People

One of my personal difficulties has been trying to educate my fellow Israeli activists into the complexities of true non-violent direct action techniques.

A specific difficulty is getting them to realize that one of the paths to success is that the opponent (government, etc.) uses too much power that causes a backlash.

In today's New York Times Book review, Eric Foner reviews 'Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice,' by Raymond Arsenault.

Here are some excerpts that provide an historical backdrop that I think is important to recall:-

In most parts of the world, a bus journey would hardly have attracted attention. In the Jim Crow South of 1961, the Freedom Riders encountered shocking violence that deeply embarrassed the Kennedy administration. Outside Anniston, Ala., a mob set one of the buses on fire. The riders were lucky to escape with their lives. In Birmingham, police officers gave Klan members 15 minutes to assault the riders at the bus station before intervening. The result was what Arsenault calls "one of the bloodiest afternoons in Birmingham's history."

Further violence followed another group of riders in Montgomery, where John Seigenthaler, the president's personal representative, suffered a fractured skull and several broken ribs. It took a small army of policemen and National Guard troops to escort the bus from Montgomery to Jackson, Miss., where the Freedom Riders were promptly arrested for breach of the peace and attempting to incite a riot. Some spent time at the infamous Parchman Farm, a prison plantation the historian David Oshinsky called "synonymous . . . with brutality."

As Arsenault makes clear, the Freedom Rides revealed the pathology of the South. This was a society not simply of violent mobs but of judges who flagrantly disregarded the Constitution, police officers who conspired with criminals and doctors who refused to treat the injured. Southern newspapers almost universally condemned the riders as "hate mongers" and outside agitators (even though about half had been born and raised in the South).

Most remarkable was the supine response of the Kennedy administration. Before assuming the presidency, John F. Kennedy had evinced little interest in civil rights. Once in the White House, he viewed the Freedom Rides as an unwelcome distraction from his main concern — the cold war. The attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy, comes off rather better. Initially as impatient with the riders as his brother, Robert Kennedy became emotionally committed to their cause.

One matter that we suffer in this post-Amona period is that the residents of Yesha and their supporters have time and time again allowed themselves to be marginalized and shunted aside.

We have not found the method to keep the issue in its proper perspective - for example, even if all the demonstartors were doing something unlawful at Amona, for argument's sake, that still does not justify most of the police violence, especially that of smashing heads of kids inside a room, sitting down and not actively resisting the police. (Eve Harow had a letter, in Hebrew, in HaAretz last week on this)

Nevertheless, the understanding that we need marshals, that we have to be as non-violent in appearance as possible (like sitting down with no rocks to throw anywhere, etc.) is lacking.

I have tried to give seminars and workshops (I appeared as an expert on non-violent civil activism at the sedition trial of Feiglin and Sackett) but have been rebuffed and basically ignored.

But maybe things will improve.

Whaha Maha

Maha Nasser had a letter in the New York Times in which she posited that "If all settlements in the West Bank are illegal, then all the illegal settlements must be dismantled" (Letter, March 18). But are they?

Since 1922, the original territory of the Jewish National Home intended by the League of Nations to be reconstituted in Palestine has been whittled away and more importantly, Jews prohibited from even residing in those removed areas. Nasser echoes the demand that all Jewish communities are to be dismantled but Arabs living in the pre-1967 borders of Israel are expected to continue to live just where they are.

Perhaps if these Arab towns and villages were to be referred to as "Arab settlements", we may begin to achieve balance and political equality and then arrangements to redraw boundaries will be more effective and fair.

Discussion on Neturei Karta

Here's a discussion I've been having on the issue of the Neturei Karta delegation that went off to Iran recently on MailJewish:-


From: Yisrael Medad
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 12:54:24 +0200
Subject: Just How Jewish?

Martin Stern has published a letter in the Jerusalem Post on March 13 in which he writes about denunciations of Neturei Karta in responses to an op-ed by Michael Freund. He considers them completely out of proportion to the significance of the Neturei Karta.

He then draws a comparison:

"This is especially so when compared to the relatively small reaction to left-wing intellectuals who make such a fuss over the alleged violations of the Palestinians' human rights. These groups, with their constant harping on "the illegal occupation," and "the apartheid wall" are a far more serious threat to Israel than the Neturei Karta."

And then draws this conclusion:

"Both may be anti-Zionist but the leftists oppose Zionism because it is too Jewish, the Neturei Karta because it is not Jewish enough."

Now, while this forum is devoted to Halachic issues, I think it does have room for discussing just how Jewish does Israel have to be so that the Neturei Karta will not have to travel to Durban or Iran to protest its 'lack of Jewishness' or, more to the point, has Martin erred by perhaps misinterpreting Neturei Karta dogma which, I would suggest, discounts and negates any state of Israel - Jewish more or less - before the arrival of a Messiah and has nothing to do with quantitative or
qualitative "Jewishness". As to which is worse, Left-wing antiZionism or Neturei Karta antiZionism, I will leave for another discussion although the "Jewish" element cannot be disregarded.

Yisrael Medad
(and no, this is not a Purim contribution)


From: Martin Stern
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2006 09:46:39 +0000
Subject: Re: Just How Jewish?

On Tue, 14 Mar 2006 12:54:24 +0200 Yisrael Medad wrote:

> Martin Stern has published a letter in the Jerusalem Post on March 13 in which he writes about denunciations of Neturei Karta in responses to an op-ed by Michael Freund. He considers them completely out of proportion to the significance of the Neturei Karta.

Unfortunately certain parts of my original letter were removed by the editor which changed the tone somewhat. This is how I originally wrote it, the excised parts being in brackets:

Michael Freund's article, Neturei Karta sect pays visit to Iran (9 Mar), has {so far (12 Mar. 6 a.m. GMT) received 200 responses on Talkback on the Internet, mostly hostile to this miniscule fringe group} [edited to 'garnered hundreds of "Talkback" responses on the Post's Web site,'] far greater than any other article [Editor's insert: 'on the Web site at the time', to which I might comment: I can't remember any article ever getting even half that number of responses]

{While I abhor their giving public support to a bunch of murderers like Hamas whose name, after all, means 'violence' and is used to describe the state of affairs leading up to the Flood (Gen. 6.11,13),} the vehemence of some of these enunciations is completely out of proportion to the group's significance.

This is especially so when compared to the reaction to the left-wing intellectual fellow-travellers who make such a fuss over the alleged violations of the Palestinians' 'human rights', {presumably including the freedom to move explosive devices without being stopped and 'harassed' by the security forces}. These groups with their constant harping on 'the illegal occupation', 'the apartheid wall' and other similar propaganda slogans are a far more serious threat to Israel than the Neturei Karta.

Both may be anti-Zionist but the leftists oppose Zionism because it is too Jewish, the Neturei Karta because it is not Jewish enough. {Is this the reason why the latter are so violently opposed?}

> Now, while this forum is devoted to Halachic issues, I think it does have room for discussing just how Jewish does Israel have to be so that the Neturei Karta will not have to travel to Durban or Iran to protest its 'lack of Jewishness' or, more to the point, has Martin erred by perhaps misinterpreting Neturei Karta dogma which, I would suggest, discounts and negates any state of Israel - Jewish more or less - before the arrival of a Messiah and has nothing to do with quantitative or qualitative "Jewishness". As to which is worse, Left-wing antiZionism or Neturei Karta antiZionism, I will leave for another discussion although the "Jewish" element cannot be disregarded.

I would agree with Yisrael that the Neturei Karta would not be satisfied with any pre-Messianic Jewish state. However they are such an insignificant group that it is not worth giving them any publicity. Their influence on the non-Jewish world is negligible, unlike the leftist anti-Zionists, yet the latter do not arouse anything like as much hostility. My last (excised) question was suggesting the reason for

The editor's changes might have suggested that I sympathise with their actions in associating with genocidal groups like Hamas and the President of Iran, which I do not, though I can understand their theological position which does, whether we like it or not, have a basis in Talmudic sources.

Martin Stern


Yisrael Medad
(sent last night)

While I sympathize with Martin as a result of his letter undergoing editing, as an editor and as someone who has had his own letters edited, I would have to go with the editor on this. I can discern no real alterations of content or intent. Even the feeling that the alterations might have led someone to assume that Martin had "sympathies" I don't think is justified but, I will admit, that's a subjective matter.

I thank Martin for agreeing with my grasp of NK ideology (40+ years after first buying "VaYoel Moshe" I have not yet finished reading it, for many reasons, some of which I permit all to assume). But, I do wish to challenge two points he raised:

a. he writes: "Their influence on the non-Jewish world is negligible, unlike the leftist anti-Zionists". I beg to disagree. Their influence is not only significant but is actively sought and they, the NK, actively seek it to expand on their antizionist ideology and give it credence. In my understanding, the NK feel that the negation of the State of Israel is so worthy a goal that the goyim's support and cooperation of their activities actually is proof of the rigthness of
their cause. This is a symbiotic relationship and leads into my second point.

b. Martin further writes: "though I can understand their theological position which does, whether we like it or not, have a basis in Talmudic sources." This, of course, is true as far as it goes although I must admit, I do not understand their theological position. But if we stop at the Talmud, well, we'd all be stuck in time. The whole matter of the Three Adjurations has been dealt with most extensively in a summary by Rav Shlomo Aviner that has been recently translated (see Kuntres She-Lo Ya'alu Ke-Homah [Do Not Ascend Like A Wall] at Gil Student's "Hirhurim" Blog) and, as Prof. Aryeh Morgenstern has pointed out, the pupils of the Vilna Gaon invalidated them by claiming that this was supposed to be a
"package deal" and if the goyim don't keep their end of the bargain, well, Bnei Yisrael surely have a right to immigrate to Land of Israel and build it up (see in his book "Geula B'derech Hateva", pgs. 7-9).

To summarize, if the NK really had a Yiddish Kop, they wouldn't associate with Jew haters in Iran period which brings us back to my question: Just how Jewish are the NK?

Yisrael Medad

(to be continued)

Incomprehensible and even Inconsiderate

My wife and I attended the Yeshiva University Alumnus Shabbaton. It was fine, well, until the Seuda Shlishit, the third meal eaten on the Shabbat.

Rabbi Meir Goldvicht spoke. Seems he's the nephew of the great Rosh Yeshiva of Kerem B'Yavneh and has left to live in the United States. About two-thirds into his talk, which was too long in any case (and by that I mean that simply he spoke longer than intended by the organizers), he began to justify the Golah (Exile) living over that in Eretz Yisrael.

At first, most of the 450 people there were puzzled as he quoted a figure of 32% of Religious-stream educated kids becoming irreligious and said that it was because we don't know who the teachers are and because since veryone is Jewish, there is no way to protect our children from influences that come from other Jews. In Chutz-LaAretz, since we know who are goyim, we are better defended against bad influences.

Then he went on to say that in Chutz LaAretz, there is "community" which isn't anymore in Israel even though Bnei Yisrael are only considered a community in Israel.

I don't want this to be too arcane for too many people but I must say it just got worse and maybe he began to realize that he was faux-pas-ing something fierce as his thoughts became slightly disjointed. In fact, when we all walked over to Maariv services, he had a bit of a silly grin on his face as he realized that he erred big time. I mean, after all, he was talking to the YU alumni who had made aliyah and specifically left the US so that they could bring up their kids Jewishly as much as possible with all the dangers that do exist, spiritually and physically.

Rabbi Reuven Aberman spoke to him harshly, quoting assimilationist figures of 70% and admittedly, generously, that maybe he (Rav Aberman) just didn't have the intelligence to comprehend what Rabbi Goldvicht was talking about. Many other people, (many? almost everbody), were disturbed, so much that Richard Joel had to get up and speak for 10 minutes just before Havdallah to try to calm things down. He was interrupted twice and was almost at the edge of an abyss.

To make it short, here anyway, I would suggest that Rav Goldvicht not speak again for the rest of the week. He could only make things worse. Joel should ask him to clarify his thoughts in an article for the Commentator. At the most, it should be fun tosee him either explain himself, apologize or simple recant.

P.S. Here's the apology that arrived Sunday evening.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My Participation on BBC Radio 3

If you go here, and click on Thursday, you can hear me with Professor Ruth Gavison, Professor Nachman Ben-Yehudah and Jonathan Rosenblum discuss Israel and its Jewishness.

Failures and Successes

Aluf Benn has decided that "This is the time to tell the Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) settlers: You have failed. Your grandiose project, which is about to be dismantled, has registered a triple failure."

The first failure, he writes, was in achieving the ultimate goal. The settlers did not succeed in attracting enough Jews so that demographic parity with the Palestinians could be approached.

The second failure was in the settlers' disengagement from the public.

And the third failure was in the field of security as "The settlements did not bring quiet, and when the war broke out, they proved to be irrelevant".

Most people, of course, are quoting this piece by Ari Shavit,
entitled: Olmert's Arrogance which includes these gems:

The history books will record Olmert's unconditional withdrawal as the unconditional surrender of Zionism. No, it will not be the end. But it will be the beginning of the end. While relying on big money on one side and big journalism on the other, Olmert will lead the country to the beginning of the end.

...the Olmert plan has a small flaw: It has no Palestinians. This is a plan whose logic is simplistic and patronizing. This is a plan for Israelis only, which ignores its ramifications on Israelis. It takes an extreme unilateral position to the point of absurdity, totally ignoring the fact that the conflict is bilateral and the political reality is multilateral...What Olmert plans to do in the next few years is to establish an armed Hamas state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

...Olmert's Hamas state [will be transformed] into one that will endanger the very existence of the State of Israel.

...But it is not just the stability of Israel that Olmert is endangering. He is also endangering the regional stability. A Hamas state will accelerate Jordan's collapse...Egypt will also be threatened...His radical unilateral process will disrupt the American strategy in the area and will bury U.S. President George W. Bush's dream of stability and democracy in the Middle East.

...the Hamas victory has made a two-state solution more distant and more complicated. Olmert's convergence plan makes it impossible. Therefore, if the public gives him the chance to carry out his arrogant plan, then March 28, 2006, will go down in history. History will remember it as the day that did not bring peace and did not bring security, but began the end.

Now, let's go back to Benn.

A. Considering the opposition we in Yesha faced, a good deal from people like Benn, over a quarter million Jews across the Green Line is not a failure. There are approximately 20% Jews in Yesha and there are 20% Arabs in Israel. Is that not enough to demand at least the equality of rights Arabs enjoy in Israel? And does Benn think that that 20% Arab population will not present a demographuc threat sometime in the future if his own prognosis is correct?

B. True to an extent, our enthusiaism and activism, based on religious fervor, was not perceived as akin to the original Zionist pioneering spirit. But, again, that is as much the fault of Israel's left-wingers and the school educational system that downplayed Zionism as not relevant to modernity as it is anyone else's.

C. This is ridiculous. The kibbutzim on the borders in the 1950s and 1960s didn't prevent war, fedayin terror or other hostilities. So, they should have been disbanded and Israel turned into a military garrison state? Communities are the essence of Zionism and if they have a secondary purpose, fine.

Benn is nitpicking and doing it badly.

(I might come back to this)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Excellent Amona Summary

It's in Hebrew, but the pictures tell 80% or more of the story.

What is important is that at the beginning, you see the police advancing on foot, the demonstrators peacefully standing and then the horses break through to attack. No stones, no blocks, no bricks.

There are also a few other elements like the policeman crashing down his baton inside the house and this time you can count the blows (8, at least); like the policeman kicking a downed boy; another policeman smashing a medic (!) in the head with his helmet; etc.

Click here.

Background to Today's Operation

This is the text of a letter sent to PA head Abbas from the U.S. and U.K. complaining about the way the "prisoners", actually terrorists, were being kept in contravention to a previous agreement [source: CNN]:-

March 8, 2006

Mr. President:

The Palestinian Authority has never fully complied with basic provisions of the agreement that established the U.S. and UK Jericho Monitoring Mission.

While the six detainees -- Fuad Shobaki, Abmad Sa'adat, lyad Gholmi, Hamdi Qur'an, Majdi Rimawi and Basel alAsmar -- are held in continuous custody at the Jericho prison, the Palestinian Authority has consistently failed to comply with core provisions of the Jericho monitoring arrangements regarding visitors, cell searches, telephone access and correspondence.

Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority has failed to provide secure conditions for the U.S. and UK personnel working at the Jericho Prison. Repeated demarches by our governments to the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority have not resulted in improved compliance with the Jericho monitoring arrangements.

The pending handover of governmental power to a political party that has repeatedly called for the release of the Jericho detainees also calls into question the political sustainability of the monitoring mission.

If the Palestinian Authority would like the U.S. and UK to continue their involvement with the monitoring mission, conditions at the Jericho Prison must be brought into full compliance with the Jericho monitoring arrangements.

Alternatively, the Palestinian Authority can come to a new arrangement with the Government of Israel regarding the disposition of the six detainees. Likewise, adequate measures must be put in place to assure the security of the U.S. and UK personnel working at the prison.

Regrettably, if the Palestinian Authority does not come into full compliance with the Jericho monitoring arrangements and make substantive improvements to the security of the U.S. and UK personnel working at the prison, or come to a new agreement with the Government of Israel, we will have to terminate our involvement with the Jericho monitoring arrangements and withdraw our monitors with immediate effect.

I hope you understand our concerns and the seriousness with which we take this matter.


Jake Walles, U.S. Consul General

John Jenkins, UK Consul General

Anti-Neturei Karta Satire

From SultanKnish, this Purim satire on Neturei Karta (for the pic, ya gotta go there):-

In time for Purim leaders of the Neturei Karta organization announced plans to pay a visit to Sushan in support of controversial Persian leader Haman HaRasha.

"We are here to proclaim that we absolutely reject the Zionists like Mordechai who claim to speak for the Jewish people," said Rabbi Dovid Weiss. "Haman is not an Anti-Semite, this is a lie. Haman did not want to kill all the Jews, he only wanted to kill the Zionists and we support him in this. While Zionists like Mordechai and Ezra are working to rebuild Israel and displace and persecute the native Samaritan and Idumean peoples, we Torah-true Jews reject this and stand with Haman and the Amalekite peoples in utter opposition to Zionism."

As part of their tour Rabbi Dovid Weiss, Rabbi Moshe Ber Beck and Rabbi Datan Aviram approvingly visited Haman's lots casting chambers, the king's treasury and the gallows where he plans to hang Mordechai.

"Haman is a great leader," said Rabbi Moshe Ber Beck. "For too long the Zionists have oppressed the Amalekite people and massacred their great king Agag. We support Haman's call for justice and a day of reckoning with the Zionists which we look forwards to knowing that no Torah-true Anti-Zionist Jews will be harmed in the process."

While the Jewish community of Sushan was busy fasting and praying the Neturei Karta delegation toured happier parts of Sushan where weapons were being sharpened and stakes prepeared by the sons of Haman for the Jewish community of Sushan.

"We have met with Haman and his beautiful wife Zeresh, we have enjoyed the hospitality of their home and their many possessions which Haman eagerly showed us," Rabbi Datan Aviram said. "I am sure that his ten sons will grow up to follow in their father's footsteps. They share our common opposition to Zionism and we are sure they will rise very high."

On departing the Neturei Karta delegation expressed their hopes that Haman would help ensure the dismantling of the Jewish authority in Israel and fully restore the rule to its rightfull Idumean, Philistinian and Amalekite rulers.

"I am not a Zionist or an Israeli," said Rabbi Moshe Ber Beck, "I am instead proud to call myself an Amalekite too and hope one day to live under an Amalekite government in an Amalekite state."

Muhammed and Jews

One example of "kindness" (found here):-

An unnamed man strangles an unnamed Jewish woman.

Narrated Ali ibn Abu Talib:

A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet . . . and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah . . . declared that no recompense was payable for her blood. (Abu Dawud)

This hadith communicates that a Jewish woman is worth nothing. In early Islamic sources, Jews too often appear as extra-bad. Who was killed? Who is a murderer? A Jew? That’s no big deal. Of course. That’s to be expected. So what else is new?

Is it any wonder why so many Muslims who are educated in their source documents hate Jews? How can Muhammad and his sacred texts tell them to stop?

Regardless, in both murder cases, no one was arrested or executed, like-for-like. No one was even scolded. The murderers were let go on the grounds that insulting the Prophet deserves death. The translator of Abu Dawud informs us that all Jews or any non-Muslims who insult the Prophet should also be killed (vol. 3, note 3800).


Muhammed refers to the Jews as brothers of monkeys, citing a legend that he believed, namely, that God turned some disobedient Jews into apes. (see also Ibn Ishaq pp. 461-62).

Tough Luck

I stumbled over this Little Green Footballs piece three days late to be directed to this JPost story:

Palestinians throughout the West Bank expressed sorrow Saturday over the killing of American Tom Fox, 54, who had traveled to the West Bank to protest for their cause before he was taken hostage in Iraq.

Fox's body was found shot in the head and chest Thursday near a Baghdad railway station. He had worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Palestinian areas before he began work with the group in Iraq.

Fox, from Clear Brook, Virginia, had demonstrated in the West Bank town of Jayyus against the construction of the security fence and he helped Palestinians pick olives, local Palestinians said.

"Tom used to sit in front of the (Israeli) bulldozers to block them," said Jayyus' mayor, Shawka Shamha. "Hearing news that he was killed makes me very sad."

In other words, while he wasn't crushed to death by Israeli bulldozers, his Muslim friends didn't realize what a treasure they had in their hands and tortured him before shooting him in the head.

Peace activism can be a 'tough luck' business these days.

Baskin B*ll

I had had an exchange with Baskin previously that I put up on this blog.

Well, he's back, this time in a JPost op-ed.

Here's just the beginning:-

Almost all of my Palestinian colleagues tell me that Hamas will change. They say that once Hamas has the burden of governing they will have to become more pragmatic. They speak of the process of change that they themselves went through.

In 1976 together with a small group of Zionist students in New York I had a clandestine meeting with the PLO ambassador to the United Nations attempting to convince him to support the two-state solution and to recognize Israel. His response was "over my dead body." At that point I realized that until the PLO made the decision to support the two-state solution there was no basis for dialogue. In March 1988 shortly after the outbreak of the first intifada, reading the flyers of the Unified Leadership of the Intifada which called for ending the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, I came to the conclusion that the PLO had changed.

In November 1988, the PLO made that change official at the meeting of the Palestine National Council in Algiers. In early 1988 I began working on the establishment of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, a joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think-tank in order to advance the two-state solution.

And another excerpt:

It may take time for the Hamas to meet Israeli conditions for negotiations. Hamas will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state - I cannot say Fatah ever recognized Israel as a Jewish state.

I think that Hamas will be pressured by the Arab world to support the Arab League peace initiative which calls for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines, in return for which Israel will be recognized by the entire Arab world who would sign peace treaties with Israel.

Hamas, at this time is not interested in a mini-Palestinian state in part of the West Bank and Gaza with provisional borders as called for in Phase II of the road map. Hamas is not interested in negotiations with Israel.

Despite the comments of Khaled Mashal against the Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan for unilateral disengagement from most of the West Bank, Hamas has no real problem with that plan.

Hamas will not oppose any Israeli decision to withdraw or to remove settlements. My friend, the PA minister, tells me that since the Palestinian elections Hamas has toned down what he called "the culture of resistance." He says that Hamas is now speaking much more about "steadfastness" - the same term used by Fatah during the 1970s and 1980s.

This is so much b*llsh*t. And he's a "peace activist".

Arutz 7 Goes Purim

Arutz 7 has a Purim Issue out.


Purim Satire News Headlines:
1. Sharon Wakes From Coma – Declares He Is a Changed Man
2. Mahmud Hamandinjad House Gets Nuked, All Within Die
3. Jews "Get It", America Faces Nationwide Bankruptcy
4. Marzelchai Refuses to Bow
5. Gov´t Begs Arutz-7: Please Resume Broadcasting
6. ´Save the Kinneret´ Purim Drive Raises Water Level Muchly
7. Concern in Israeli Police: Can´t Find Good Truncheons Anywhere
8. Ahashverosh ruled over 127 Medinas, here are most of them...

One section:

Concern in Israeli Police: Can´t Find Good Truncheons Anywhere

By Yehezkel Laing (Bin Nun)

There is growing disappointment in the Israeli Police Department over the quality of their truncheons.

The problem came to a head last month during the dispersal of protestors at Amona when under the strain of battle, many police batons simply broke.

"Mine broke over the head of a youth," says one angry officer. "After only five minutes of beating him it split in two! Can you believe that! I think the quality has gone way down.'

Another officer agreed and said the clubs should be made out of harder material. "When I hit a settler I want to know that he is going down for good," said one officer, on condition of anonymity. "One guy I hit got up three times before I finally knocked him out."

The French manufacturer who makes the equipment guarantees the truncheons for three years. But the company claims that the police used the truncheons improperly and specified that they should not be used on hard materials like walls.

"That is just a lie", countered another officer. "I was hitting an elderly women who was frail and soft and still it broke! It's gotten to the point where you cant trust anyone nowadays."

But a senior officer was more hesitant, saying "It's true that sometimes the officers hit the ground or rocks when they miss. These religious youth are very wily and are hard to catch and pin down. If only they would hold still longer while we beat them, we would have less problems."

"The kipot [yarmulkes] make their heads slippery", lamented another officer.

Jeffery Goldberg is Misleading

Jeffrey Goldberg is a staff writer for The New Yorker and, it seems, the author of a new book "Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide."

He is also someone who has written terribly, in quite a biased manner, about our own little conflict here on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, across from the Jordan River. I can say thaty with impunity because I was interviewed by the man for a story and all that I said, in almost 90 minutes of an interview and a few e mail communications was left out of a hatchet job he did on the subject of "settlers". [Andrea Levin of CAMERA thought so, too]

I guess I was too rational, too cogent, too not-too-extreme to be included as it would imbalance the line he was trotting out (sorry for that unabshed bit of unhumility). [here's my previous bash of him]

Well, here's his new foray (please see my response letter which follows at the end as I doubt the NYT will print it):-

The Ghost of Purim Past

THREE years ago, while visiting Tehran, I was introduced to a charmless man named Muhammad Ali Samadi, who, I was told, would parse for me the Iranian theocracy's peculiar understanding of Judaism and Zionism. Mr. Samadi said that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, held no brief for anti-Semitism. Then, a moment later, he deployed an epidemiological metaphor to explain the role of Jews in history. "There are always infections and diseases in man," he said. "In the world there is an infection called international Jewry."

A year later, Mr. Samadi became the spokesman for the Esteshadion, or Seekers of Martyrdom, a group that has as its mission the training of young Iranians to kill Salman Rushdie, commit acts of suicide terrorism against Americans in Iraq and blow up Jews everywhere. "The Zionists should know that they aren't safe so long as they are an affront to God," he said. I asked him if, by "Zionists," he meant Israelis or, more generally, Jews. "Jews, Zionists, Israelis," he said, only semi-ambiguously.

I was not visiting Iran in order to collect the anti-Semitic leavings of second-tier terrorists, though I did buy a knapsack's worth of Jew-obsessed pamphlets and books, including a copy of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in Persian. I was in Iran mainly to cross over into Iraq, whose dictator was about to be deposed by the United States Army. Saddam Hussein had once promised to "make fire burn half of Israel" — and he tried, ineffectually, to do so in the 1991 gulf war.

As chance would have it, it was on Purim that I tried to cross from Iran to Iraq. Purim is the famously disorderly holiday, celebrated today, that commemorates the hairbreadth escape of Persia's Jews from annihilation at the hands of the evil vizier Haman. The Purim story is recounted in the Scroll of Esther, which was read last night, Purim eve, in synagogues all over the world — including those in Iran, which is home to a remnant of a great and exceedingly old Jewish community. Judaism predates Islam in Iran by 1,000 years.

Purim is the ne plus ultra of the "They Tried to Murder Us, They Failed, Let's Eat" subcategory of Jewish holidays, and it is a self-consciously raucous day, a Jewish Mardi Gras when even rabbis are expected to drink themselves oblivious. It is possible to imagine, though, that Iran's intermittently persecuted Jews, living today under a president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the historical truth of the European Holocaust while threatening a new Middle Eastern one, might see Purim not as a story of tragedy averted but as one of tragedy foretold.

The Purim story is suspenseful, ribald, comic and almost certainly false, a fantasy of revenge and redemption. Scholars generally agree that it is a pseudo-history introduced into Judaism about 2,400 years ago, at a time when the memory of Jerusalem's conquest by the Babylonians was still laying Jews low. In the story, the supercilious King Ahasuerus chooses the beautiful Esther to be his queen. Esther, who keeps her Jewishness hidden, has an uncle, the stoic and brave-hearted Mordechai, who does not conceal his faith, and who earns the wrath of Haman when he refuses to bow down before him.

Haman, in his anger, decides to visit his retribution not only on Mordechai but on all his tribe. "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom," Haman tells Ahasuerus. "It is not for the king's profit to suffer them." The king agrees to have his Jewish subjects exterminated.

To save her people, Esther reveals to him that she is Jewish. Shocked into understanding, the king orders Haman hanged on the gallows originally built for Mordechai. But he is powerless to reverse his genocidal edict, so instead he allows the Jews to arm themselves in self-defense, and, on the day of the planned extermination, they do the slaying.

It is an outlandish story on several counts, not least of which is that ancient Persian kings tended to tolerate other gods and the men who worshipped them. Such tolerance, it must be said, is one of the main attributes of polytheism; Jews were not seen as threats to the theological order of pre-Islamic Persia.

The Muslim Middle East of today, alas, is a more plausible backdrop for the sort of anti-Jewish plot outlined in the Scroll of Esther than was the Persia of antiquity, the story's actual setting. The Iranian regime, after all, parades Shahab-3 missiles through Tehran draped in banners that declare, "We will wipe Israel from the map." The head of one of Iran's leading clerical councils, Hashemi Rafsanjani, said in December 2001 that the "application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would produce minor damages in the Muslim world." And the supreme leader himself, Ayatollah Khamenei, said of Israel in 2000, "We have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should be removed from the region."

There are multiple tragedies here. Persian civilization, pre-Islamic and otherwise, has not been notably hostile to Jews. In fact, one of the great heroes of Jewish history is Cyrus, the Persian king who restored the Jews to Israel after the fall of the First Temple. And the Islamic Republic of Iran, though no Semitic utopia, has not been Poland, either. Even today, the febrile ranting about Jews one hears among the intelligentsia in Beirut and Cairo is mostly absent in Tehran, except among the clerical elite, who understand the utility of anti-Semitism in their effort to gain favor with Arab Muslims.

Which is not to say that the clerics don't believe what they say. This brings us back to Mr. Samadi's unfortunate metaphor. The terminology of disease control has now thoroughly infiltrated anti-Semitic discourse in the Middle East. Four years ago, a Hezbollah leader in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley named Hussein Haj Hassan told me that Jews function "in a way that lets them act as parasites in the nations that give them shelter." The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad speak in much the same manner.

One worries about overreacting, but such language echoes the passage of "Mein Kampf" in which the Austrian Haman compares the Jew to "a sponger who like a noxious bacillus keeps spreading as soon as a favorable medium invites him."

I still assume that the Jews, and the Jewish state, will survive their encounter with the Iran of Mr. Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei. Iran's leaders don't yet have the bomb, and eschatologically minded though they are, they might not be entirely immune to the charms of rational deterrence theory. And, of course, both parable and history teach that Jews somehow always manage to survive.

Nevertheless, a great many people, in Iran and beyond, believe that the Jewish state is a cancer, and it is foolish to believe that this is an idea without consequences. As one Islamic Jihad leader told me not long ago, "Everyone knows that the cure for cancer is radiation."


My response letter:

Jeffrey Goldberg's complaint about Muslim antisemitic-coded propaganda is quite justified but, in referring to the Palestinians, he writes: "The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad speak in much the same manner" ("The Ghost of Purim Past", March 14). But that is misleading.

Antisemitic vocabulary, imagery and caricature are the stable of public Palestinian intercourse including, as has been documented in the pages of this newspaper, elected officials, educational textbooks and the media all representing Palestinian Authority officialdom.

More needs to be done to repress and eliminate this corrosive aspect of the conflict before any peace can be realized.