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Total number of comments: 3887 (since 2010-05-31 18:07:51)

piotr

American university faculty member born in Poland.

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  • Israel's new Asian allies
    • I apologize for a comment that is not fully serious.

      In Israeli mental sphere, the universe is centered on Israel, and position of all heavenly and terrestrial bodies are defined by their distance and angle (which can have pro- or anti-Israeli inclination) in respect to Israel. The idea that a South or East Asian politician may spend weeks and months with nary a thought about Israel is too preposterous to contemplate. Say, Prime Minister Modi attended Israeli Air Show in Bangalore. Was it one of large number of similar social engagements, or not?

      In fact, Asians have a huge variety of problems that that have to cope with, of nature about which we may have only very faint ideas. Take Kingdom of Thailand. Former leaders behave seditiously, students show disrespect for the Royal Family, companies earning billions in export revenue are accused of using slave labor, and THE LATEST: invasion of cute aliens!
      link to news.thaivisa.com
      Note that such invasion is very difficult to stop, because regardless how many members of military, police, social service etc. you delegate to the task, they will not take the problem seriously. The invaders are just way too cute.

    • "One day Israel may be relying on a Chinese veto at the UN, not a US one. "

      This is perhaps a dream in Israel, but a totally impossible dream. Even secular Israelis should know something about resting hand on a slender reed. Furthermore, either Israel will sell somewhat crappy stuff to China, severely limiting the gratitude, or it will be on a path of deteriorating the relationship with USA: the first thing to go would be to end sweet agreements on joint development of military technologies, which can be done quite discretely if Pentagon is annoyed. Or not so discretely if Pentagon will be annoyed more.

      A further danger is the conflict in Ukraine. If the hotheads like Biden will win the day, this conflict will linger longer, and Ukraine will get a smattering of American weapons (through UAE?). In due time, those weapons will be smashed by Russian weapons. As a consequence, Russia will have best tested weapon systems that are not Western, and the dominant role of Russia as a supplier to India and China will be restore after temporary wobbling. It is also possible that Russian-made drones will be tested against Israeli drones in Armenia-Azerbaijan.

      Lastly, it is a mistake to read South and East Asian attitudes as "Judeo-philic". Apart from some Islamophobic Indian nationalists, there is no sentiment whatsoever, instead, purely mercantile attitude.

    • Yes, they are in the same company.

  • Inflammatory posters at UCLA call Students for Justice in Palestine 'Jew haters' (Updated)
    • Sadly, pro-Israeli organizations at affected campuses condemned the posters. Why? Incomparable David Horowitz, the most pro-Israel member of Black Panthers that ever was and will be, knows very well why:

      JJ: At UCLA, even the pro-Israel Jewish establishment has come out forcefully against these posters. What are your thoughts on that?
      Horowitz: They are afraid of offending people whose agenda is their elimination. How sick is that? Let’s remember in the lead up to the Holocaust the Jewish councils in Eastern Europe organized the ghettos. They got everybody’s name so it would be easy for the Germans to exterminate them. Of course, they didn’t believe they would be exterminated. These Jews have the same delusion.

      I have trouble understanding DH logic. If the situation is so dire, why is he paying his stooges to ply posters at campuses, plus sundry of other activities, rather than letting them reach safety and spiritual elevation in Israel? What right does he have to condemn young Jewish lives to quite probable untimely death? Additionally, if he calls his fellow pro-Israeli activists "Judenrats", does it make SJP only mildly worse? Seems that Mr. Horowitz detests his fellow pro-Israeli Jews, is it #Jewhatred, or Jewhatred (no hash tag), of "hatred of despicable individuals that only accidentally are Jews and pro-Israeli activists" (not convincing, because they were selected for opprobrium solely on the basis of being in "pro-Israeli establishment").

      Or is it hatred of everybody who is neither David Horowitz nor contributes to material (please donate) and psychological (please flatter) well-being of David Horowitz?

  • Racism is in the air: Video showing racist exchange between Israelis and a flight attendant goes viral
    • The British were definitely supremacist in they colonial period, and insisted on proper manners. The connection is not as close as you describe.

    • My theory on Israeli rudeness is that Israel is a society formed by immigrants, and successive waves were absorbing dominating customs. So probably the initial big wave of immigrants was pretty rude.

      And why they were rude? In part, back where they came from, politeness was something reserved for higher society, and only within the higher society. On top of that, properly accented Polish sounds rather rude to more eastern Slavic speakers, with klipped and missing vowels, and "hard" consonants, so the perception of rudeness (as an object of emulation) was amplified (similarly, proper British accent may sound patronizing, amplifying the perception which is also based on actual behavior). Another part is that Zionism as a matter of principle wanted to erase "stereotype of subservient, deferential behavior of the Exile" and replace it with assertiveness.

    • The attendant was pretty rude as well. What I found particularly funny was an article, I guess in Ha'aretz before paywall, describing complaints of inhabitants of Tel Aviv about the rudeness of French tourists. It totally beats me in what way they were different from the natives.

      Then there are interactions between Israeli tourists and Polish waiters (clash of incivilities?). Luckily, the counties do not share a border, so incidents did not rise to international conflicts.

      And there are also Chinese tourists. link to jeraldinephneah.me

  • Boteach and Israeli ambassador say everything from BDS to Abbas places Jews under threat
    • pabelmont: The wall inside the West Bank is to keep Palestinians separate from parts of occupied territory which Israel claims for itself — in perfect continuation of the war of 1948. -

      Inaccurate, I am sorry to say. I do not recall a declaration that Israel "claims for herself" all lands on one side of the West Bank wall and none of the lands on the other side. Operationally, one side is for quiet rest, and the other, for contact sports. It is there, on the "far side" where the Jewish spirit reaches highest levels, bonding with the land, strafing the enemy daily and so on.

      It is a pablum for the masses that Israel exists to improve the security of the Jewish people. No, the goals are much more sublime: Israel is elevating the Jewish people, to Jews is what Nirvana is to Buddhists. Do not take me wrong, security is of course important, but only in so far as it preserves the feeble spirit on its way to elevation. As both extermination and assimilation divert from the path to elevation, they are equally lamentable.

      Anyway, walls somehow became essential in regulating the process of elevating the spirit. In Gaza one can exercise heroism (Goyim could call it a shooting gallery), but every part serves a separate purpose while all contribute to the "wonderful tapestry of the Jewish spirit".

  • US and Israel divorce rumors over Iran
    • JeffB noted that Congress can nix a foreign policy of the President, and that happened when the President insisting on aiding terrorist gangs popularly known as Contras by exercising its power of the purse, i.e. prohibiting spending money on it. Then the minions of the President solicited money from some strange individuals, like Sultan of Brunei, and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the latter case, in exchange for weapons and spare parts for airplanes. Then the President testified, in the most convincing manner, that he has no idea of what is going on: I recall the feebly shaking head and bewildered expression as if it were today. On that basis, one could venture an opinion that Congress sabotaged a policy about which the President had no idea. If so, hardly a case of disrespect for the exalted office.

      However, here we have something quite different. Ordinarily, the President negotiates treaties as he wishes, with no overt interference, and then the Congress can ratify or throw the policy to a waste basket, usually by refusing to pass relevant bills. Interference in negotiations themselves is breaking the tradition. Plus it is unpopular, so Netanyahu and Bo

    • Sorry, I did not connect my remarks to Guliani. He seems to be like Shmuel Boteach: making a carrier as a minion of some powerful folks, so as long as he spews what they like he is doing fine, makes a living, gets media coverage etc.

    • You mean "potentate" or "a pet of an American businessman, who in turn is dependent on Communist China that can squash his main business venture at any time - simply send investigators to his casinos".

      In a major scheme of things the whole affair makes sense from Chinese point of view: Iran forced to rely on Russia and China, and Russia to rely on China, and China is the god guy. Irrational American policies that do not have direct negative effect on China are simply improving their position. Adelson is also doing well: Netanyahu on his mantelpiece is a tchotchke that properly impresses his tycoon friends; he also tried to get a tchotchke of all tchotchkes, a personalized American president, but that is much harder: even several hundred million dollars are not that great of an amount in the multi-billion landscape of American politics.

      As for non-tycoon American, at the moment there are two choices: ignore the reality or get depressed.

    • Guliani: The Ayatollah is insane. He’s like the guy walking around Bellevue Hospital thinking he’s George Washington. Believe me, I know what I am talking about, been there, done that.

  • Netanyahu says Labor will bring ISIS to Jerusalem
    • ISIS is an organization, but it is also used as a label that of late has more shine than al-Qaeda, but as a label it is just a new, improved version. I call those people peripatetic jihadists because from this perspective you can see: (1) causes of dissatisfaction, where I would add traumatic stress disorder that leads to extreme radicalization (2) ideology and organizations, the latter is quite fluid (3) flows of people, money and arms.

      So Israel is not supplying ISIS, but Jordan and Israel seem to jointly prop what is basically al-Nusra of southern Syria, "moderate part of al-Qaeda", while Turkey is a source and conduit of money and arms to the same in the northern Syria. There al-Nusra has a patchy relationship with ISIS which is much stronger, so they have to surrender part of the get to ISIS. ISIS took some territory from al-Nusra and recently they gave it back, which hints some kind of exchange. People kidnapped in areas controlled by al-Nusra were subsequently executed by ISIS which also points to some kind of exchange.

      In short term, the result suit Israel just fine. In the long term, there is a pattern of terrible civil wars terminating with a clear winner. Once that happens, local superiority of Israel will be very much reduced, and it is really an open question how much. Until recently there were speeches and, I guess, actual plans, that the West should not allow any side to win, but now the effects of the civil wars (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya etc.) are accumulating and they are becoming intolerable, so we observe gradual but deep change of the attitude in the West.

      Netanyahu and GOP have a common cause in preventing the recognition of reality to take hold, and they will clearly do their best. The main point is that the fate of the world should be decided in the corridors of Washington D.C. and the spoils should go to those who have most influence there. The counter-point presented by the Administration is that some aspects of the reality should also intrude on our decision making, however slightly -- they are clearly not overdoing it!

  • Hanin Zoabi disqualified from Israeli elections over a mistranslation gone too far
    • I know that it is a Shiboleth of right wing Zionists to never, ever say "Palestinian". Still, it is manifestly OK to use Palestinian and Arab interchangeably when the context is clear. The subtle point is that the usage "Palestinian" has some "in-your-face" aspect, like "We are here, we are queer, deal with it", so in the contact of "unity" the term "Arab" is preferred, but with clear understanding, and statements on the record, that the "Arabs" in question are Palestinian.

      Zoabi herself (and Balad) is given to rather subtle distinctions, as Palestinian nationalist in the framework of individual human rights and not simply "Palestinian nationalist".

    • "Arab" is not a political term like "Canadian", but ethno-linguistic, like "Ango-Saxons" or "Anglophone". If there was a term with wider circulation, say, "Anglian", a person like Obama could at different occasion say "As an American, I blah blah" or "As an Anglian, I find it particularly blah blah".

    • Something is wrong with "edit", sorry for the typos.

    • to a blah chick: I do not think that Israeli's are particularly sexist, a male Arab would have similar problem. Zoabi's first crime was to attempt to kill and kidnap, and in the failed aftermath, to badmouth valiant IDF soldiers who defended their country against a terrorist horde aboard of Mavi Marmara. At least, this is how I understood comments in Israeli online publications. I would need to research why there was an attempt to ban her in 2003: was to for the entire Balad?

      For the high court it is a hard case. On one hand, the legal case to ban her may be thin, something I recall being described in a similar context in USA as "arid legalism". On the other hand, her presence in the chamber of the Knesset endangers Israel -- many members can succumb to hypertension, or if sufficiently medicated, to narcolepsy. In a country with a parliamentary system that can be a profound problem.

      Pragmatic justices may well conclude that narcoleptisy among MKs can actually benefit the state. But I expect stage II: the right wing will challenge the center and near-left to join them and purge the traitor judges who sided with the terrorist (I guess that by that time Zoabi will be promoted to "the terrorist" or even "THE TERRORIST"). Are you, or you are not, a crypto-pro-Zoabi traitor? I would expect that BY, YB, part of the Likud will spearhead the initiative. and I can only speculate where it will end: will meds be provided promptly and in sufficient doses?

  • No one's talking about peace in Israeli election, U.S. liberal Zionists are warned
    • But he [Gorenberg] called on liberal American Jews to speak up about the “the damage caused to Israel and to American Jewry” by the link forged by Netanyahu with one political party in the U.S., the Republican Party. "

      It is hard for me to tell what is good and what is bad for Israel (perhaps they could use some adversarial relationship with U.S.A., at least I really think so), but how would link forged by Netanyahu with one political party damage "American Jewry" in any way? Would it affect incomes, marriage prospects, job opportunities? Would it be hard for an individual Jew to evade collective responsibility, or we would see scenes of carnage like columns of Jewish refugees from Upper West Side trekking to find reach Republican-friendly Staten Island?
      (check the first 40 second link to youtube.com to imagine how that would look like).

  • Warren supporters can't talk about Palestine
    • It does not totally excuse Warren, but internet resembles "Library of Babel" from a story of Jorge Louis Borges, with every book that was and could be written, hence also containing books with every possible error.

      In other words, you cannot use it without some prior knowledge.

  • Netanyahu's disaster: speech cost 'omnipotent' lobby a veto proof majority for Iran sanctions
    • I think that this is much more of a problem for Israel than GOP. GOP always "looses its touch", they thrive on reactionary wedge issues, and when an issue does not work anymore, they boldly abandon it and pick another. Islamophobia and "support for Israel is in my blood" are hot, but they may find the fate of Social Security Reform, defense of torture and opposition to gay marriage (still going strong in Alabama, but nation-wide, there is just to zazz in either of those three issues).

      Just see how masterfully GOP played Obama care. Which seems to be working and slowly growing in popularity, but GOP knows how to exploit a pseudo-issue for a few years. So becoming a favorite issue for GOP is like becoming a bride of Ron Perelman.

  • Three Muslim-Americans murdered in North Carolina by gunman (Updated)
    • Actually, CNN and several major news outlets covered the story. From what I could figure out, the murderer had a "simmering parking dispute" with the victims and disparaged their faith in social media. The arc of causality is hard to determine. Perhaps the bitterness of the parking dispute with Muslim neighbors prompted both the murders and hateful remarks. Or prejudice against the Muslim drove him to pick idiotic fights about the parking, but ultimately, to murders? And what was that dispute? One photo showed the murderer on an all-terrain-vehicle, suggesting that he had several vehicles.

      The fact is that parking disputes can be lethal. Several years ago there was a meeting of clerics of several religions in Beirut, and body guards of one of them had a little battle with body guards of another, Sunni versus Shia, with two dead, and it was followed by reconciliation meetings, and explanations that it was a parking dispute. Religion/ideology motivated killings in the region seem more frequent, but they usually have different methods and weapons (car bombs etc.). However, what I have described happened during attempts to park in the same spot, with a body guard in that spot waiting for his person to arrive, but the killing in Chapel Hill was not like that.

  • Stanford petition misrepresents resolution to divest from occupation
    • Secular Israeli tend to believe (or claim so) that they have a God given right to the Promised Land. Israel has a similar problem as Pakistan: the countries were created by mostly secular ideologies that were based on religious differences. Why Pakistanis are not Indians, and Israelis are not Europeans, Arabs, Ethiopians etc.? Thus the role of religion is increasing, and within the religion itself, there are parallel disturbing changes.

      In a nutshel, a secular citizen of Pakistan or Israel is either schizophrenic (more frequent) or unpatriotic (the fringe). In other words, the normal, i.e. schizophrenic, patriotic citizens share the religiously motivated attitudes.

    • Bait: "We believe that the resolution of highly complex geopolitical issues, such as the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict, requires the development of thoughtful and constructive approaches that respect the dignity and rights of both peoples."

      Switch (quotes from JeffB, a self-styled authority on the psyche of the Jewish people): "Cows before they are slaughtered for meat or kept for breeding and milk have the kind of security French Jews. The farmer has the kind of security that Israelis have. " Farmer, always ready to slaughter the cows at any sign of danger, Full accommodation for the dignity and rights. Mind you, the slaughter was approved, nay, demanded by assorted Jewish clerics, who demanded revenge and "not stopping at collecting 300 foreskins".

      It is easy to show that the last war in Gaza was basically a jihad, a holy war demanded by religious sentiments. Modern National Orthodox are particularly virulent, but in time of need, Reform rabbis may join the chorus (except for the talk about the foreskins). I find it quit peculiar. There are other conflicts in the world, Armenian-Azeri, Russian-Ukrainian, Serbian-Albanian, etc. but clergy urging to wash the ground with the blood of enemies is relatively rare. Verbally, contemporary Zionists are right there with ISIL.

      Show "proper Zionist" proposal respecting the dignity and rights of the other side, not offered by the "anti-Zionist fringe", and try to complain again about the "lack of balance".

  • Dear Mr. Netanyahu, please don't cancel your speech
    • Obama seems to be more active. Apparently, he will ask for war authorization, with the duration of three years, to engage against ISIL. And the supporting cast of the ground troops will include … tah dah! … Iran. While Netanyahu is producing newspaper headlines "Israeli bombing in Syria supports jihadists" (you can guess that I have translated that headline).

      So the top national priority will be fighting terrorism, and normalizing relationships with Iran, perhaps very limited, will be part and parcel of that priority. Why do you love terrorists, Mr. Netanyahu?

    • If I were a Prime Minister of Latvia I would have my own list of demands too. Say, U.S.A. should buy all Latvian dairy products that remain unsold because of Russian embargo that was a response to sanctions instigated by U.S.A. The astounding person here is Boehner, Netanyahu is relatively astute.

      In fact, he reminds me the most intelligent hero of Saturday morning cartoons, The Brain, of Pinky and the Brain. Every day they wake up and Pinky, to slow witted one, asks "So what are we doing today?" And the answer is "The same as we ever do, trying to take over the world!". One of Brain's plot was to build a huge radio tower and then to deliver a speech so compelling that all listeners would agree that The Brain should rule the world. Then he had fallen victim of circumstances that prevented him to deliver the speech. So Netanyahu is guaranteed to do better than that! Plus there is already a wide agreement already that Israel should rule the World. Recall a debate between GOP candidates to be candidates for President. Gingrich was repeating Israeli talking points (courtesy of Sheldon Adelson), while Romney declared that rather that wracking his brain out, if there would be any foreign policy problem, he will call Netanyahu.

  • A cosmopolitan's regrets: Roger Cohen on the Jewish condition
    • At least in Boca Raton, and other places in Florida, you can live in a planned community surrounded by moats, so at least some Jews have a modicum of personal safety. On the other hand, the problem of avoiding marriage with infidels is hard to solve.

      To have some idea what happens in the Holy Land I use ynetnews.com, as it is free. Only at those occasions I am exposed to ads encouraging me to date Chinese, or Thai, or beauties from Eastern Europe. How about extolling the charms of Jewish women? Sadly, not much of that. For months, they had a paid link to "Top most attractive Jewish women under 40". It really suggested that if you want to find an attractive Jewish woman, than among those 40+ you could easily get hundreds of them, but in the marriageable cohort under 40 you can barely scrape a list of 20.

    • Q. What is wrong with that: "The Jewish experience over millennia demonstrates that no amount of scholarly questing, of religious devotion, of determined emancipation, or of proud patriotism and service could provide security. People and entire nations might turn on you…"

      A. Is the experience of other people all that different? "rex sedet in vertice caveat ruinam", "The king who sits above all others, beware of ruin", security is not assured by power, money, etc., hence folks over the ages were pondering the vanity of mundane existence, "vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas", "The phrase is late Latin and comes from the Vulgate translation of Ecclesiastes 1:2." And those who got Biblical education in a Hebrew school, should check Kohelet.

  • I misremember Iraq
  • Muslims are Nazis, 'USA Today' jokes
    • Explanation of the editor: "The cartoon also shows the skeleton shouting “Allah Akbar.” Yes, this is an expression of faith employed throughout Islam. But one sad consequence of the extremists’ actions is that the term has been hijacked. Much of the non-Muslim public now identifies those words as a defiant declaration of faith uttered by terrorists before blowing themselves up. We’ve seen this over and over again."

      In other words, the cartoon serves a valuable purpose of perpetuating ignorance of "much of the non-Muslim public". I recall that an accident of Egyptian airliner was investigated, and there was a theory that it was caused by terrorist sabotage. Why? Because the black box recorded that at the moment of the catastrophe the pilot exclaimed "Allah Akbar", while a "normal pilot" would exclaim "oh my God!" It took experts to explain that it would be highly unusual for an Egyptian pilot to shout in English in the face of death, and that his reaction was totally normal, given that he was an Egyptian, which also should not be suspicious.

  • In historic vote, UC Student Association endorses call for divestment in support of Palestinian rights
    • hophmi February 9, 2015, 11:53 am
      This marks the symbolic moment when antisemitism entered the mainstream of student life in the University of California.

      At the first reading, I thought that I have mis-read. I thought that antisemitism is an eternal and omnipresent menace making the security of Jews possible only in Israel (however precarious it is there, as Israel now, more than even, needs your help). I guess that operative word is "mainstream". Yes, there was plenty of the opposition to Israeli policies for years (and this is what defines "antisemitism" in frequent usage), but it could be classified as "fringe". For example, it is a fringe position at Stanford, because only 9 members of the student government voted for it, with 5 opposed, not enough for the resolution to pass. But at UC it is a bit hard to call the statutory majority as a fringe.

      This is the battle of Mainstream Heights. Fringe persons and movements can be discussed, mostly lamenting errors of their ways, but not quoted or invited. Quite a lot of pro-Israeli methodology is based on the assumption that the opposition forms a fringe, so it should be treated like other social problems, say, date rape (that also happens at university campuses). The battle of Mainstream Heights is a recurrent theme. For example, Democrats/Liberals are the fringe, living precariously on the coasts, and Republicans/Conservatives are the mainstream, living proudly in the "fly-over country". In this context, a strategic retreat to the the other side of Sierra Nevada would declare West-of-mountains-California as a coastal moral cesspool, i.e. the fringe of otherwise highly moral U.S.A.

    • As an immigrant 30 years ago I was stumped by the expression "co-ed", in the backward country of my origin English in school was based on British, and why a student of a co-education school should be presumed to be female? (Another baffling moment was when I heard "that's too bad", American for "it's a pity", you mean, you can stand "just sufficiently bad", and this is too much?) Nevertheless. I estimate that many people in the age cohort 60+ use that expression, and we are still not dead.

  • Druze IDF soldier attacked by Israeli Jews for speaking Arabic
    • "Druze genome": I would guess that it does not exists. I read that Jumblatts descend from a Kurdish family that converted, acquired prominence in 15th century and primacy among Lebanese Druze in the early 19th century. Thus I would think that in their formative early centuries Druze absorbed various people from the region.

    • Walid, you do not have to have sympathy for Charlie Hebdo to be revolted by the murders that reflect "taqfiri" bent of mind. Similarly, sympathy or not, the brutal incident reflects a similar socio-mental problem in Israel.

      Concerning Israeli Druze, the idea of two-tiered solidarity and loyalty, to "your group" and then to "your territorial state" has a lot of sense if general, and in the specific case of the Druze, it allowed them to be loyal troops -- and nobles -- of their Sunni Ottoman rulers. Too bad that the Jewish State has a lot of problem is executing that idea (or accepting it, they alternate between "divide and rule" and "they are all the same"). For example, there was a story of two security officers for West Bank Jewish settlements (a Jew and an Arab) who have fallen in love, were not allowed to marry but they did it anyway in Cyprus and the Jewish woman was fired. One: do not work for racist and religious nuts, two: do not fire people because you do not approve the religion of their spouses. These two conclusions are not exclusive.

  • New leftwing anti-semitism is when Jews feel 'attacked' over Israel's conduct
    • A simplistic approach. Did the alleged victim reject a historical offer to participate voluntarily? There are witnesses who swear, under conditions of anonymity, the it was a very generous offer.

  • Let liberal Jews weep for their dream of Israel, and move on -- Alice Rothchild
    • "That comes under my rule of never, ever watching a movie which features a weapon in the poster. "

      Perhaps you should narrow your rule a bit, e.g. to firearm. Consider this poster
      That comes under my rule of never, ever watching a movie which features a weapon in the poster.
      link to cyclopsphoto.ca
      and how many weapons can you find in this poster?
      link to animefanatika.co.za

  • Pro-Israel campus activists acting as agents of state propaganda and intimidation
    • One more thing: for human consumption, sea cucumbers are OK, but nudibranches are usually poisonous.

    • Wrong. Sea cucumber is an echinoderm (like sea star)
      link to youtube.com
      nudibranch is a mollusk, a type of snail
      link to youtube.com

      Some sea cucumbers look superficially similar, but in motion, they are not similar at all.

    • It is perhaps not totally direct precedent, but about 30 years ago there was a documentary on the bad effects of acid rain on forests and lakes in USA and Canada that was financed in part by a grant from Canadian government. Reagan administration issued an instruction that any showing of that movie in USA should be preceded with a warning that this is a foreign propaganda.

  • John Lewis tells D.C. crowd he will not attend Netanyahu speech
    • Is it just me, but having a press secretary with name "Earnest" seems funny.

      On that note, an advise to Zionist lobbyists: keep your napkins dry. What we see is an attempt to collect signatures of 75 senators on a soggy napkin.

  • Netanyahu 'babysitter' ad warns that Labor will give away Israel's house and carpet
    • Could be worse, Mrs. Netanyahu as a baby sitter.

      I am not sure if she has an image of "big spender". I think of her as compulsive penny pincher. The latest revelation about getting bottle deposits of drinks charged to the treasury of the State of Israel fits that. Even with a relatively high deposit (8 cents a bottle) and thousands of bottles, what was it?

  • Lawrence Summers says BDS movement is 'persecuting' Israel
    • Actually, in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Jews had national rights, they had Council of Four Lands with considerable autonomous powers. Interestingly, Lithuanian Jews seceded, preferring to have a separate council (in contemporary terms, "Poland" was roughly today's Poland + Ukraine, "Lithuania" was Lithuania+Belorus+part of Latvia).

    • These were contraceptives, so not same as forcible operations on fallopian tubes. However, when I found an article that JeffB probably had in mind, it described many other types of oppression, ALL of them practiced by Israel, while Israel practices many types of oppression unheard of in China, so there is no basis for the bold claim that "West Bank is controlled benevolently compared to Tibet".

    • Still, can one cite a type of Chinese oppression that is worse than Israeli oppression? Something like "Israel denies access to al-Aqsa to Palestinians under 40 years of age but Chinese deny access to Potala to Tibetans under 70". Summers deploys a rhetorical device that because Israel is adorable, and China is not, Chinese are surely much worse than Israeli, due to the facts about which he does not have faintest idea (or interest). Those damn Commies have no idea how to deploy benevolent types of oppression like skunk water.

    • "Anti-Zionism may be legitimate, but it too often seems like a way of expressing anti-Semitism. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has always troubled me, but it is governed benevolently compared with the way China oppresses Tibet — and where are those demonstrations?"

      I truly doubt the esteemed professor on that point. It is not like Communist rulers add shredded Tibetan children to their breakfast cereal or dumpling stuffing. What are the types of oppressions that Chinese apply to Tibetans that Israel does not apply to Palestinians, and vice versa, where are roads for Chinese only, settled areas where Tibetans are prohibited to enter, demolished Tibetan villages where Tibetan return is prohibited, areas of Tibet where building permits are routinely denied and so on and so on. Then how many Tibetan demonstrators were killed or maimed last year, versus Palestinian? And so on. And remember: the Chinese have only one state, and Bhutan is actually a Tibetan state, while Myammar is "Tibeto-Burman" linguistically, so perhaps Chinese have more existential threat worries than Tibetans? Remember that Taiwan is actually a part of China, and Singapore, as diaspora, does not count.

    • RoHa, you should be ashamed of yourself. This is a basic Hasbara point.

      Jews have only one state, and Arabs already have 22, so creation of Palestinian state is totally unnecessary, while Jews are on the verge of non-existence because they have only one. Thus we need to cut them some slack.

      I usually proceed to ridicule the claim "already have 22", because that count includes: Somalia, Comoro Islands, Djibuti and ... Palestine. If you believe that Arabs have 22 states, then you believe that Somalis, Afars and Comorians are Arabs AND you believe that Palestine is a state, the first three can be questioned on linguistic and cultural grounds, while the last is denied by the very people who invoke the argument. It is amazing how many "experts" with high academic degrees or impressive think tank titles cannot count to 22 (or fail to visualize the map of Africa and Middle East, experts should manage).

      In general, there is tolerable ethic cleansing or slaughter, pertaining to people that have some other states, and intolerable, affecting people who have only one state. For example, the slaughter of Communists and other leftists in Indonesia in 1965 was tolerable because Communists had so many other states. But if, say, North Korea would become the only Communist state left, we should start treating them with newly deserved deference.

  • Netanyahu is a paper tiger
    • Results of Google search, reply to a question about the usage of the word "existential" in different phrases.

      "The first phrase, existential threat, is used in texts or discussions about politics, usually politics in the Middle East." I cut out some obfuscating verbiage from the explanation, sometimes a professional expert wisely avoids clarity. This phrase is used exclusively in speeches, texts and discussions about a certain Middle Eastern country that happens to lack Muslim or Christian majority in order to stress positive attitude about that country, a kind of shibboleth. There is a number of phrases to the same effect, and the art of being a solid defender of that unnamed country is to deploy all of them, even if time constraints allow you to say only two-three sentences. For example, you should say that this is "the only ... country" without trying to be cute "the only only country".

      On edit: another explanation! "Existential can also relate to existence in a more concrete way. For instance, the objections of your mother-in-law may pose an existential threat to the continuation of your Friday night card game." I guess this person does not like the aforeunmentioned country too much.

    • Sure, it is alive, but note the crowd that managed to get into the picture of its prone and tranquilized body. Netanyahu would also made a memorable trophy.

      It could have the form of Democrats not merely abstaining from the session but crowding all possible news and talk shows, and late night comedy hours explaining to all and soundly why they decided not to attend, commentators analyzing if Netanyahu made his decision because of Asperger syndrome -- thus unable to read the atmosphere -- and so on, complete with totally insanely looking defenders of Netanyahu clinching the case,

    • "it’s a mistake to assume that most Americans believe the policy to appease Iran is in the American interest." DaBakr

      It is a mistake to assume that the best policy of U.S.A. is to follow what our wise and benevolent allies in the region tell us what to do, in this case, the Saudis and Israelis. Sunni radicals recruit Western young people who learn how to shoot and bomb, absorb the insanity of bloody civil wars and then return back home, where in 99% are given to peaceful pursuits, but the remaining 1% (or less) is more of a headache that can be tolerated. Permanent civil wars in the Middle East, once thought by Western establishments as very convenient are now disdained. How they can end? Well, in Syria and Iraq they can end only with Iranian support. Corollary: it is not in the Western interest to make Iran go bankrupt by ever-tightening sanctions.

      Gulf monarchs, Turkish government and Israeli government think differently, and this is where their interests (as they perceive it) diverge from Western interests. On the other hand, many American Zionists increasingly disagree with the idea of Israel-Gulf-taqfiri "Judeo-Sunni axis". Would Netanyahu stick to what he does very well, like expanding settlements, there would be few problems now, but as we all know, this is not the topic of the planned joined kvetching session of the two chambers of Congress.

    • Sounds too normal to be true. However, Zionists made it official that Netanyahu will diss Obama. I started to get unsolicited e-mails like that:

      ** Bibi, nevermind offending Obama
      ------------------------------------------------------------

      ** By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
      ------------------------------------------------------------
      There is nothing wrong with an Israeli Prime Minister doing his utmost to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, even if it offends the sensibilities of the American president.

      Boteach is not a loose canon, but the official sidekick of the official chief benefactor (owner?) of Prime Minister, Sheldon Adelson (who also is a chief benefactor of ZOA and Drill Sergeant of top Republicans on matters pertaining to Israel). So they decided to toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny.

    • What can happen to a real tiger proudly roaming vast forests along Jordan river?
      link to programmes.putin.kremlin.ru

    • Actually, it is not that clear if Israel is increasingly right wing, but the political shifts are slight. Labor/Livni selected name Zionist Camp, longing for the good old days when Labor ruled, Revisionists were in loyal oppositions and "Israeli Arabs" were under military rule, and the combination seems to attract several more Knesset seats. Arab parties were forced to unite which will probably gain them 2-3 seats. The custom of excluding them will probably force yet another coalition presided by Netanyahu, who is a cunning and resolute politician who will not hesitate to create a Cabinet with 61 ministerial seats if this will be what it takes. (You need a majority of 61, and Likud already plans more than 30 ministerial seats, meaning, 1 for each 2 members of the coalition, but perhaps 2 for 3? I predict 10 ministries directing Hasbarah efforts from different perspectives.)

  • Upping the ante against Israeli Apartheid
    • On edit: this is about increased unpopularity of Israel in UK and elsewhere.

      I am not sure if this is just Gaza. A title in a Polish news site today: "Israel supports Syrian rebels", and the text makes it clear that the rebels are al Nusra, i.e. Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. How does a right-wing European react to news like that? Traditional types see another evidence of evil conspiracy, but most seem to follow a more modern view that people in Israel increasingly go nuts. I would need to investigate more how left-wing Europeans react. Also, the readers of link to wiadomosci.onet.pl seemed to be from "disenchanted right", kind of like American paleocons, but in Europe they seem more numerous.

      Recall that nixing of the Western intervention in Syria started with the rebellion of Tory backbenchers, and these issues are quite related.

    • I checked. Poroshenko: listed as Eastern Orthodox, and a former president is a godfather of his younger children, something Jews usually do not ask for. Yatsenyuk is Greek Catholic. Calling disliked public figures "Jewish" is pretty standard in the region (I am familiar with the comments in Polish websites, but I bet that Ukraine is the same).

      OTOH, a bussiness tycoon who funds ultra-nationalist Ukrainian volunteer battalions is Jewish.

    • [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

      Headline in ynetnews: UK poll: Israel's popularity is both growing and declining

      As ascending angels go, asked to name their favorite country, 1% more mentioned Israel than two years earlier, and in the other direction, and asked to name the least favorite country, 18% more mentioned Israel, taking 11% away from Iran, several percent away from Pakistan etc.

  • Drones over Auschwitz and Gaza
    • About the support of despotic regimes. Perhaps the most bloody character in the recent history of Latin America was Efrain Rios Mont, and mind you, this is not for the lack of competition. Two cites from his article in Wikipedia:

      [1] During a meeting with Ríos Montt on December 4 [1982], Reagan declared: "President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. ... I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice."

      So what could we expect from the closest ally of USA, sharing the values etc.?

      [2] In 1982, Ríos Montt told ABC News that his success was due to the fact that "our soldiers were trained by Israelis."

      "Promotion of social justice" and "Success" meant slaughter in six digits.

  • The betting line on Netanyahu's speech to Congress
    • You have various hedges for "non-unanimous standing ovation". I foresee that at least one member will not be able to take part for the lack of stamina. As it was shown on unaired but available skid of SNL, support for Israel became kind of a sport, and increasing efforts are required to maintain top standing. Senator McCain, with a war injury and high ambitions for an excellent result is one candidate for a willing spirit not supported by an equally willing body.

    • What will be the number of Congress members in need of medical help due to excessive clapping?

  • Charlie Hebdo: The sacred of the 'wretched of the Earth' and its desecration
    • Charlie Hebdo committed a number of "obscenties", and one of them was this cover
      link to electronicintifada.net
      It is a jolly laughter after supporters of a president deposed by a coup were massacred by fascist junta. If you laugh at massacres, it really decreases my compassion when you are on a receiving end.

      There is also a question why one should direct ridicule and derision at religion itself and religious symbols, rather than at political leaders and political movements? I cannot discern any worthy reasons for that.

      I am not a religious person, but the fact that I could invent jokes deriding various religions does not mean that I should ply such jokes. One should have other ambitions in life than being a brainless troll under a bridge insulting people passing by. And what Charlie Hebdo was doing was worse than that, insulting people "down there" to increase the group solidarity of those "up here".

  • State Dep't says Netanyahu speech is not inappropriate, disrespectful, humiliating or embarrassing
    • I think that there is a reasonable suspicion of CIA creating the "false flag" to cover their asses. Pakistani intelligence and military would have few regrets over supporting "Sunni extremists", but those extremists are also Beluchi separatists, so they were livid, and to continue operating within Pakistan, CIA needed some placating story.

    • I tried to check what Walid posted. CNN posts a video "Hezbollah attack kills 3 IDF soldiers".

      It opens with a joyous jingle, but that was GEICO commercial, so perhaps others will see a more somber opening. Next comes a static photo of missile smoke in a verdant mountain valley and an interview with IDF spokesman, who inform that seven civilian vehicles travelled on a civilian road, and they were attacked with "five lethal anti-tank missiles", and it just so happened that there were only soldiers inside. The explanation that anti-tank missiles are lethal signifies low confidence in the intelligence of the listeners, and the other tidbit, high confidence in having stupid listeners.

      Since it comes a few days after IDF killed six Hezbollah members without a provocation, I suspect that even Palau will not support an escalation, so killing a UN observer can be IDF masterstroke, showing that "they will respond to any attack without hesitation etc. etc. etc." while actually avoiding escalation, i.e. killing more members of Hezbollah.

  • Menendez bags on Iran sanctions, and congressman says AIPAC demands deference to Israel over US
    • Kay24: there is harmless grandstanding, and harmful grandstanding. The business of imposing additional sanctions on Iran, structured so they would continue forever, like there were imposed on Cuba, is disastrous, whether it would not work (USA proving that it can be ignored and SHOULD be ignored) or whether it would work (if the economic crisis in Iran gets serious, the biggest counter-force for ISIS+similar nuts will be undermined, and this is really la arger risk than any member of Establishment with functional brain is willing to accept).

      This is not the first time that grandstanding Democratic senators, including Schumer, folded to obey the President. I bet my farm that the members of the Establishment with functional brains include some major Zionist political donors (surely, not Adelson, but almost surely, Saban). It is still the case, IMHO, that if the major Zionist political donors are united, we have a steam roller, and thus Israel can expand settlements with impunity -- to cite one clear issue.

  • Former Obama aide's thinktank calls for 1/4 of French Jews to move to Israel
    • He had Catholic-born stepfather and non-religious upbringing.

    • It depends, but in a multicultural society this is OK. The interest that Ross has in prevention of intermarriage is strangely at variance with his personal experience. Perhaps he concluded that intermarriage leads to a twisted personality and bizarre views.

    • I do not know about you Walid, but like most of the public, I have preferences how I want to die. Accidental death, like automobile accidents, raises least fear, and perhaps least of all, death by motorcycle crash with you as the rider.

      And being a victim of a terrorist attack that is not very thoroughly and mercilessly avenged by your state is close to the end. It is not like Israelis never suffer anxieties induced by terrorism, but how many villages could the French wipe out to feel better? Not even one? That will not do.

  • When discussing Islam, which Islam and whose rationality? 
    • There is nothing wrong about "freedom of the press", but the establishment practices it like other freedoms. Case in point: academic freedom. Apparently, it is the freedom of administration of academic institutions to sanction and defund voluntary associations of academicians and to fire/deny employment to the same. And as I have read in lengthy essays, unlike any other freedom, on this one we should never compromise (of course, it was written by a former university administrator). In a similar vein, there is nothing wrong about "civility", but again, one has to patiently read through lengthy small print to figure out what is meant by that.

      Freedom of expression, as (mal)practiced by the State, is similarly burdened with copious small print, "none of that shall apply in cases of ... and of ... and of ...". For example, do we care, or we do not, if this freedom is violated abroad, and how we make distinctions between violations by the state and by individual "terrorists". As far as states are concerned, one can compile a list of states who can determine, in the majesty of the sovereignity, what they wish to do (say, strife a press building with bombs and missiles, close the premises, send military to confiscate the equipment, tolerate death squads that kill journalists) and the list of the countries where such acts are deeply offensive to our values. With that list we can try to apply artificial intelligence techniques of "unsupervised agnostic learning" to figure out what those values are. I would not be surprised if the answer will be "sharing economic interests with the elite of major Western countries", but I admit that there are many possibilities.

      But here we had a case of "terrorists". And how do we tell the difference between "terrorists", "freedom fighters" or mere "militants"? If someone amasses an impressive collection of weapons and military gadgets and proceeds with the murder of 30 Batman fans, we do not apply any of those terms, the guy was simply nuts. So there are also those. But some "terrorists" had mental problems too, so we do not need a certificate of mental health to apply "terrorist" label. Honestly, terrorists should have some ideology, and there is no evidence of anti-Batman ideology, but that leaves the cases of "militants" who do have "ideology", including the plan to openly spend 500 million dollars from US Treasury to recruit and train "moderate militants" to moderately practice bombings of schools, supermarkets and cafes, plus slaughter in civilian neighborhoods.

      One tentative conclusion is that our establishment cannot practice introspection, because it is not clear if it would survive the experience. Yet, while the labels are being hopelessly muddled, support and apologies for terrorism are criminalized and some graybeards claim that laws should be clear. Luckily, there is a simple solution. A law is not "unconstitutionally vague" until a court declares it, so if the judges are as biased as the rest of the establishment, there is no problem.

  • There is no pride for Jews in the state of Israel
    • "You’re right that a husband who refuses to grant a gett puts the wife in a nasty position. The husband, too: he could be sent to jail."

      This is not a joke, people are put in jail for that reason in Israel, which I find quite insane.

      In a sane world, either we think that the spouse has no right to prevent the marriage from being dissolved, and if so, the opinion/agreement of the spouse should not matter, or the agreement is necessary, and thus the business is up to that person. In other words, forcing a chap to give the get is ridiculous.

      Halacha has more such mental pretzels. For example, if a husband dies and there are no children yet, his brother has the duty to marry the widow (does not count as bigamy), but the widow has the duty to refuse the offer of her brother-in-law. It kind of say that while initially Hashem had a good idea, now, in different circumstances, we should not follow that idea, but make some pretense of following it, lest Hashem will be sad. Apparently, while omnipotent, Hashem is rather childish.

    • Labour recruitment agreement with Poland in 1906 would be hard, as Poland was not independent at the time. And recruitment from Russia in 1960s? Is it what is documented in movies! link to youtube.com

    • I do not understand your complaint about NPR. I recall when folks were making a strong case that Christianity is not a religion of peace. The context was that some American Christians were objecting to Bush Jr. plans to invade Iraq "without exploring all peaceful alternatives", and claiming that this is un-Christian. Theologians from AEI were disputing that, and their favorite Biblical verse was the following: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

      And thus Christian Jihad was invoked to smite the infidel tyrant Saddam of Iraq.

      Conclusion: when this point, "not a religion of peace", is raised, one has to check if the speaker personally wants a "religion of peace" for himself, or only for the others.

      PS. I actualy remember this guy only:

      Michael Novak, retired George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy from the American Enterprise Institute, is an author, philosopher, and theologian. Michael Novak resides in Ave Maria, Florida as a trustee and visiting professor at Ave Maria University.

      It was the Pope who objected to war plans, and Novak who disputed the Pope.

    • Continuing with the theme, "is it a good thing", I did Google search and, lo and behold, this is the first hit:

      When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11-2.

      I tried to find non-Biblical proverbs on "pride", but there are so many Biblical ones, and on so many web pages that it is a bit hard. Then I tried "pride citations" and I got that: "More Than 60 Alcohol Citations Issued During Pride Festival [Long Beach, CA, May 2014]". Apparently, pride is not conducive to sobriety.

    • Years ago there was a delightful series on PBS about English-Scottish border region. One scene shown an annual celebration in a border Scottish village, when young lad would ride around the village on a horse carrying a broadsword, and he would receive it from an elder with those words: Here you have a sword, carry it with pride. This delightful rolling Scottish R made it a truly marvelous.

      And some Israeli can roll R with an equal pride, unlike, say, Senator Schumer, who does proclaim his heritage to all and sundry with utmost confidence, but with with no such sonorous color. Then again, Netanyahu himself has a rather bland accent, so I guess that he measures the pride level differently.

      So, continuing with Sen. Schumer example, is it true that while in Israel he is even more full of himself than back in U.S.A.? And if true, is it really what we need?

  • Why do Muslims object to depictions of their prophet?
    • Why 1400 hundred years? My great-grandparent were married before reaching puberty, in a shtetl in 19-th century. It was not so long time ago that in Europe there was no "age of consent", but "consent of the parents".

    • Actually, the oldest Polish text that school children is a poem "Satire on lazy peasants". Satire on lower classes was historically popular, in American culture blackface skids were of that kind.

      Hebdo also did a cover on Christian trinity: link to fellowshipofminds.files.wordpress.com

      In this case, as Christianity is a dominant religion in France, it was not mocking of the powerless, but a joyful celebration of brainlessness and assholery.

    • Wikipedia: In Israel, blasphemy is covered by Articles 170 and 173 of the penal code.[37][38]

      Insult to religion
      170. If a person destroys, damages or desecrates a place of worship or any object which is held sacred by a group of persons, with the intention of reviling their religion, or in the knowledge that they are liable to deem that act an insult to their religion, then the one is liable to three years imprisonment.
      Injury to religious sentiment
      173. If a person does any of the following, then the one is liable to one year imprisonment:
      (1) One publishes a publication that is liable to crudely offend the religious faith or sentiment of others;
      (2) One voices in a public place and in the hearing of another person any word or sound that is liable to crudely offend the religious faith or sentiment of others.
      The law is traced back to the British High Commission "The Abuse and Vilification (religious invective) Order No. 43 of 1929", enacted in efforts to suppress the 1929 Palestine riots. The order contained the language: "Any person who utters a word or sound in public or within earshot of any other person that may be or is intended to offend his religious sensitivities or faith can expect to be found guilty and eligible for a one-year jail sentence."[39]

    • Quran allows the "people of the Book" to adhere to their religions, hence, make images of their religious figures if they are so inclined.

      Blasphemy is a different story. And a cover showing a North African woman naked with burqa shoved into her ass, while not blasphemous, was "rather incitful".

  • When blasphemy is bigotry: The need to recognise historical trauma when discussing Charlie Hebdo
    • Years ago there was a case of publishing Satanic Verses and serious death threat. In case you are unfamiliar with the book, the most offending passages were dreams of a madman, but various clerics were not amused, and there were fatwas and even a bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie.

      As far as the context is concerned, I wrote "Now that alumni of Syrian war are finding their way back home, more mad and more lethal from the experience, ...". Even fanatics or "self-radicalized misfits" do not readily go from a vehement condemnation to actual killing, but war experience changes that.

      You mentioned India. A while ago a rather naive Australian designer of bath suites made a series with the image of Lady Lakshmi on various body parts (well, where can you can put an image on a bikini?), and there were demonstrations in India, grim fellows carrying placards with the pictures of a model in the offending garments. The young woman was very apologetic and she quickly dropped the design, and there were no howls about the surrender to bigotry and self-censorship.

    • One aspect is that many Muslim, not the majority but too many to call them marginal, treat blasphemy with truly unhealthy vehemence. Pakistan is top of the list in that respect, but this is not the only example. But the race to reach higher levels of fanatical strictness that at occasion leads to murders is not a unique specialty of Islam, and in the last year one can find examples among Christians, Jews, Buddhists and perhaps Hindu as well (I did not follows events in India closely in 2014).

      That said, the blasphemy in Charlie Hebdo represented neither intellectual courage -- pandering to majority -- nor intellectual anything. It is a bit as if there was a massacre in the offices of pornography publisher -- most lamentable, to be sure, but we would not raise placards "we are all pornographers".

      My last point, one that I made before, is that there is a wide gap between ordinary fanaticism and murderous fanaticism, and historically, the jump over that gap is closely associated with wars. PTSD affecting millions, revenge ideas finding wide currency, devaluation of human life, wars breed madness (and widespread skills in the arts of killing). Fomenting wars is stupid, and "the West" has blood on its hand in that respect. (I put "the West" in quotes because obviously, not all Westerners support those policies, this web site being an example.) In particular, the establishment Western press romanticized jihad against "deserving regimes" even when the latter was associated with indiscriminate terror, and even now did not abandon the idea of supporting the taqfiris in Syria (and of course, the establishment media follow their governments). Now that alumni of Syrian war are finding their way back home, more mad and more lethal from the experience, Western governments are getting second thought, however slowly and gradually.

  • 'With God’s help, the journalists at Haaretz will be murdered just like in France': Death threats follow publication of cartoon in Israeli newspaper
    • Tribal unity in good old days:

      "They said, "All right, say 'Shibboleth.'" If he said, "Sibboleth," because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time."

  • Why I am not Charlie
    • And this is how NYT reports the bombing in Lebanon. Simply by posting AP news:

      A suicide bombing at a coffee shop in the northern city of Tripoli killed at least seven people and wounded more than 30 on Saturday, security officials and the Red Cross said. The Nusra Front, a militant group in Syria, claimed responsibility on Twitter for the attack in the mainly Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. The group said the attack was carried out by two bombers. Violence from Syria’s civil war has been spilling into Lebanon.

      The perpetrators are not even called terrorists, just a "militant group", which perhaps is getting American support.

    • Look, Hezbollah condemned the terrorism in Paris as well, which is only natural. This also reminded me a singular lack of indignation in our media when car bombs were detonated in "Hezbollah bastions" like parking lots of supermarkets.

    • "or have the ability to move people like Um Kulthum ?"

      Nothing moves people as effectively as a bullet train (or a good subway system).

  • Eric Fingerhut, head of Hillel, says JVP is 'frustrating' and that Open Hillel movement has no legs
  • Hillel exec likens Open Hillel to biblical rebel against Moses who was swallowed up by the earth
    • Frankly, I was a bit hasty. I assumed that Fingerhut pretty randomly picked upon a passage in the Bible that remotely resembled the situation at hand (a dispute among the Jews, that kind of describes half of the Scripture) and pulled conclusion out of his gut (through the anus). But on the closer reading I concluded that Fingerhoot is right and Goldstein is wrong.

      Short synopsis: Moses is about to enact hereditary two-tier priesthood with taxation powers (10-th of all crops etc.), and Korach, for unclear reasons, offers himself as the top priest, supported by 250 notable men. Apparently, Moses and Aaron were not particularly popular, otherwise they would secure support of 500 notable men and there would be no need for miracles. It was agreed that burning incense will be offered to Hashem, and acceptance/rejection of the offering will decide the issue. Hashem rejected the offering of Korach supporters in the most violent manner, the earth opened and swallowed them. Amazingly, still enough people opposed the scheme that the next trial was needed: staffs were presented, one from each tribe, and one from Aaron. Clearly, personal motives of Korach were not the issue, as he was not around anymore, so I surmise that most Jews figured that priestly services can be delivered with a smaller cost than 10% tithe (5%?). But lo and behold: the staff of Aaron bloomed with green and the tribal staffs remained dead wooden sticks.

      Conclusions: how should community disputes be decided? First, try Kaboom!!! method, smite the rabble rousers. If that does not work, compare the fate of the staffs of the contending parties. Open Hillel staff, if any, are just volunteers, barren like wooden sticks, while Hillel International has staff covered by greenery (at least in U.S.A., in the form of green bucks).

    • I am thinking of starting a new religion, with the sacred text consisting of one large ink blot per page, The Book of Rorschach. Then a sermon will start like that: please all of you look at the blot at page 117. link to trinities.org
      Isn't it Korach rebelling against Moses?

      By the way, “a special role in setting boundaries" requires a dedicated and vigilant cadre of border rangers. I wonder if they should be grim
      link to th03.deviantart.net
      or cute
      link to d3b4yo2b5lbfy.cloudfront.net

  • The Israel lobby rallies inside the Republican Party
    • American politics works more perversely than that. Rand was and remains a long shot. If he gets the beneficence and munificence from folks elated with his proposal, it can be a wash by discouraging many "paleo-Conservatives".

      But it is quite rewarding to run a well funded campaign. All family members and friends can get paying jobs from the campaign itself and from campaign consultants. The trick is that the hopelessness of the campaign should not be obvious, with luck, not before, say, 20 primaries.

      I would also add that Rand is quite consistent. As a fiscal libertarian, he does not want to fund anyone, so any reason to "cut funding" is good. Starting a war is a different issue: it actually increases the government speding.

    • There is no anomaly. It is not like Democrats are some kind of Communist Party. On issues related to preservation and increase of incomes of upper middle class and the rich, there is not a hell lot of difference between the two. I would generalize that GOP is more prone to accept, and fight for, concepts developed by think tanks and lobbying group, which are in SHORT TERM interest of various rich groups, but Democrats try harder to reconcile those with wider needs and some analysis if the concepts make any sense. If you are a Republican, you may perceive it differently.

      But a majority of wedge issues that GOP selects is quite repulsive to non-Christian educated upper middle class. Gay bashing. Denial of global warming. Denial of evolution. A weird type of Christian religiosity (e.g. how to use Biblical teaching in designing Randian tax reforms??? a theme of a workshop for freshmen GOP congresscritters). Death penalty. Attacks on abortion rights. Hostility to sex education. Why is GOP so unpopular among college professors? It is not like Communists are in charge of hiring there.

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