Tuesday, April 01, 2014

BSD On-Campus Activities Reminiscent of Nazi Germany

Yes, comparisons to Nazi Germany in the 1930s can be overdone and overwrought, but in the case of the activities of the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement on American, Canadian and European universities, the comparison is apt and needs to be urgently and stridently made. Not only Israel and Zionism, but academic freedom are at risk.

BDS and other on-campus pro-Palestinian activists are the Brown Shirts of our day. Not content to debate issues with their opponents in a dignified and respectful manner (probably because they know that their charges of "apartheid" would not survive the sunlight of free and open debate), they exercise the heckler's veto. They believe that the righteousness of their cause justifies disrupting speakers and classes, and generally try to intimidate and suppress any expression of opinions contrary to their own.

If you believe I exaggerate, please read this account by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East of recent incidents at Vassar College, involving protests and disruption by Students for Jusice in Palestine ("SJP") of Vassar's International Studies 110 ("IS"), because of a planned academic trip to Israel.

The IS trip was taught and led by Vassar professor of Earth Science and Geography, Jill Schneiderman, and associate professor of Greek and Roman Studies, Rachel Friedman. Its educational purpose was to look “at issues of water rights and access to the Jordan River, as well as disparities in water distribution in Palestine and Israel.” Locations visited by students in the class included sites throughout Israeli and Palestinian Authority controlled territories and a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Professor Schneiderman’s teaching objective was inclusive. “I was motivated to propose and teach such a course because from my perspective as an earth scientist,” she wrote in a blog, “I understand how daily and future access to clean water in ample supply is one of the key issues about which people in the region fight. It is also a problem on which Arabs, Jews, Jordanians, Palestinians, and Israelis have worked together with integrity and compassion.”

The response of SJP was not to peacefully protest against the trip. Rather they tried to disrupt the class and intimidate the students enrolled in the course. As Scholars for Peace in the Middle East notes:

On February 6th, nine members of SJP appeared at the classroom for the IS course and formed a human barricade to impede students from entering the classroom. An SJP leaflet distributed to students described Israel as sponsoring apartheid and asserted that “the indigenous people of Palestine” did not want students going on the trip.

Professors Friedman and Schneiderman have noted that the demonstration by SJP was inappropriate because it took place at the classroom itself, misguided because it misrepresented both the purpose and substance of the course, and threatening and intimidating to students enrolled in the class because of the physical presence of the demonstrators and the ululating and heckling that accompanied the protest. When the class did finally begin, protestors continued to shout and students inside the classroom told the professor that they “felt unsafe,” “bullied,” and “harassed.”

The linked account relates how SJP is continuing to use stormtrooper tactics at Vassar. Incredibly, they are aided and abetted by the "Vassar Jewish Union" and the head of the Vassar Jewish Studies department, who support BDS. The Vassar Jewish Union recently declared itself an "open Hillel." Hillel is a national college student organization that is pro-Zionist by policy. Wall Street Journal writer Lucette Lagnado, a Vassar alumna, notes that the Vassar Jewish Union declared its independence so that it would be "no longer obliged to heed Hillel's pesky rule of banning speakers who demonize Israel or believe the Jewish state shouldn't exist." The press release annoucing the change "was replete with more clichés about needing a 'diverse range of personal and political opinions' that it argued Hillel failed to provide." So the Vassar BDS'ers apparently feel that Hillel must be open to a diversity of views on Israel's existence, but not Vassar itself.

Those who would argue that the Vassar Jewish Union has made a stand for academic freedom need to ask themselves: Do pro-Palestinian and pro-BDS organizations invite and welcome Zionist and pro-Israel speakers? Probably not. In fact, I would venture a guess that pro-Israel speakers are not even welcome at the Vassar Jewish Union.

Ms. Lagnado, concludes, "I am still waiting for the day a student or faculty member stands up to these academic hooligans at the Vassar Quad. Now that would show some 'critical thinking.'"

Monday, March 03, 2014

As Russia Tightens its grip on Ukraine, President Obama Issues an Ultimatum--to Israel

The good news is that with the deteriorating situation in the Ukraine, as Russian President Vladimir Putin digests the Crimea and ponders whether to swallow up the rest of the eastern Ukraine as well, today President Obama finally found the backbone to issue an ultimatum. The bad news is that he issued it to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to this story in Reuters:
Obama assured Netanyahu of his "absolute commitment" to preventing Iran from developing atomic weapons, despite the Israeli leader's deep skepticism over U.S.-led efforts to reach a final international deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program.

But, warning that time was running out, Obama also urged Netanyahu to make "tough decisions" to help salvage a faltering U.S.-brokered peace process aimed at reaching a framework agreement with the Palestinians and extending talks beyond an April target date for an elusive final accord.

If his mind runs to plays on words, Bibby Netanyahu may have been thinking, "For me to trust the security of Israel to your hands would be a Crimea."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Syrian Opposition Vows to Conquer Israel and then the World

A recent news item that should be of interest to Secretary of State Kerry and his boss, but probably will be ignored by them:

In a video interview with Vice News Network, linked in this story posted at Jerusalem Online, a young Islamist militant fighting with Al Qaeda in Syria declares, "After liberating Syria, our next mission is to liberate Palestine and the Golan, and then continue our conquests." One may safely assume the young fighter was not limiting his target for conquest to Gaza, Yehuda and Shomron and the Golan Heights, but rather has all of Israel in mind. Al Qaeda's forces in Syria now number over 30,000 well-trained, well-armed and highly motivated fighters. Fortunately, Israel takes this threat very seriously.

Of course, the Baathist Syrian regime the Islamist radicals are fighting is murdering men, women and children, combatants and non-combatants, by any means necessasry other then chemical weapons, including starvation. However tempting it might be to blithely wish both sides in the conflict continuing success in killing one another, given the suffering of innocents among the Syrian people, one must not do so. Hopefully, the West will recognize and prepare to face the threat from Islamist militants allied with Al Qaeda that the fall of the Assad regime, or even its loss of territorial control over portions of Syria, will inevitably create.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Assad Bombs Kill 18 Children--Without Chemicals!

The Jerusalem Post reports that bombs dropped by Syrian Air Force helicopters over the past three days on an elementary school, town square and public market in Aleppo have killed 16 children, 2 of their teachers and over 100 civilians. The barrel bombs, which were dropped from the back doors of helicopters on the Tayba primary school and other civilian targets in Aleppo, almost certainly were intentional attacks, since the helicopters would have been flying low enough to clearly identify their targets.

However, the United States government and the other Western powers surely can take pride in the fact that none of these children, or the more than 100 other civilian victims of the bombings, were killed by chemical weapons.

At the same time, news outlets are reporting that the Western governments have informed the Syrian opposition forces that the ouster of Bassar Assad will not be on the table in the upcoming Geneva peace talks on Syria. Apparently the prospect of an Al Qaeda takeover in Syria has convinced the U.S. and its Western European allies that the Alawite-dominated Assad regime must stay in power.

A NATO declaration of a no-fly zone could stop this airborne butchery. Surely, also, there is an achievable middle gound between the current Assad regime and an Al Qaeda takeover.

What a colossal moral failure on the part of the West. This will and should haunt the Western and American conscience for decades. Someday, perhaps, a U.S. President will apologize for allowing this slaughter of innocent civilians to continue, as former President Clinton eventually apologized for the failure of the U.S. to stop the genocide in Rwanda.

Of course, that apology will mean about as much to the dead of Aleppo as the fact that they were killed by bombs rather than chemical weapons.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Is the Choice with Iran between War and Peace, or between Conventional War now and Nuclear War later?

In today's Wall Street Journal, Norman Podhoretz critically assesses the diplomatic outreach to Iran by the Obama Administration. He suggests that the range of choices posed publicly by the Administration, between war and peace, is actually a choice between conventional war now and nuclear war later. I hope that he is wrong, but I fear that he is not.

Romanian "Christmas Carol" Celebrates Holocaust

Although I am an observant Jew, and therefore reject any belief in Jesus as Messiah or divine in nature, I nonetheless have always enjoyed Christmas carols. We learned them and sang them in music classes in the public schools of Phoenix. Had I requested to be excused from joining in singing the carols, I certainly would have been allowed to do so, but I never did. When I was in high school, I would even join my non-Jewish friends in caroling--indeed, often I knew the lyrics to the traditional carols better than they did. However, apparently, Christmas carols in Romania are a little different from what I am used to here. An international furor has erupted over a Romanian public television broadcast last week of a "Christmas carol" performed by the Dor Transilvan ensemble. Here is an excerpt of the lyrics:
“The kikes, damn kikes, Holy God would not leave the kike alive, neither in heaven nor on earth, only in the chimney as smoke, this is what the kike is good for, to make kike smoke through the chimney on the street.”
Peace on earth and goodwill to men, indeed. To the credit of the Romanian government, official condemnations came swiftly. JTA reports that Titus Corlatean, the Romanian Foreign Minister, has even called for the prosecution of the responsible parties. As a United States citizen who treasures our rights of free expression under the First Amendment, I feel that a criminal prosecution is too drastic a response. Nontheless, I am grateful that Romanian officials took the matter so seriously. What has always seemed utterly incomprehensible to me about Christian anti-Semites is their cognitive ability to hate the Jewish people so thoroughly while worshipping a Jewish savior whose earliest followers consisted entirely of Jews. The founders of the Christian religion, Peter and Paul, and probably three of the four gospel writers, were Jews. Apparently the Dor Transilvan would have celebrated with song the burning of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, James, Peter, Paul, Matthew, Mark, and John along with the other "kikes." If someone can provide a rational explanation reconciling such views with Christianity, I would be grateful. It seems to me to be more of a nearly inbred animosity, reflective of the maxm by our Jewish sages that "Esau hates Jacob" is a matter of natural law.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Caroline Glick: Pew Report Doesn't Show American Jews Abandoning Judaism--They Never Knew About It

The Jewish communal world is all atwitter regarding the results of the recent Pew Research Center report on the American Jewish community, which showed a 71% intermarriage rate and an increasing percentage of American Jews--32% of Jews born since 1980 and 19% overall--who do not describe themselves as Jewish by religion. They instead identity themselves as Jewish by ancestry, ethnicity or culture. Indeed, 42% of those surveyed said that having a good sense of humor is a critical part of being a Jew, as opposed to just 19% who cited observance of Jewish law as a critical factor. Truly, bearing out that last finding, the joke is on us. Caroline Glick makes sense out of all this. In a column published online at Jewish World News, she points out that in an American Jewish community most prominently characterized by Jewish illiteracy, this result is hardly shocking. By Jewish illiteracy, she cites the definition promoted by Yoram Harzony, author of The Philosophy of Jewish Scripture, namely, lack of familiarity with Tanach (the Hebrew Bible) and its rabbinic commentaries. This ignorance is tragic for humanity, not just Jews, because, as Harzony explains in his book:
The Jews were the people who brought the idea that an individual was responsible for discovering truth and right and for bringing it into the world. That is the idea that freed mankind. That is the biblical idea. The Bible is about the expectation that a human being is going to take responsibility for discovering the truth and what's right and devote his or her life to bringing what is right to the world.
Or, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote decades ago, modern Jews are a messenger who has forgotten the message. I would add that an essential aspect of the lost message is the sender. As we read in the current Torah portions, it was God who sent the message, choosing Abraham and his descendents to be the messenger. The command said by God to Abraham that set Jewish history in motion, the phrase, Lech l'cha m'artzecha, m'meladecha u'm'beit avicha," is often translated as "Go for yourself yourself from your land, your birthplace and your father's house," reflecting Rashi's comment that God was informing Abram (his name at the time) that his departure from Haran and travel to Canaan would be for his own benefit. However, one might also, still consistent with Rashi's explanation, translate "l'cha" as meaning "to yourself." In other words, Abram's journey was not merely travel to a new land that his descendents would someday possess, but also to his true identity. Forget the message, forget the messager, and one also has forgotten one's Jewish identity.

Friday, October 04, 2013

President Obama will only Negotitate with non-GOP Terrorists

Yesterday, Senior Whilte House adviser Dan Pfeiffer remarked to CNN's Jake Tapper:

“We are for cutting spending, we are for reforming our tax code, we are for reforming entitlements. But what we are not for is negotiating with people who have a bomb strapped to their chest.”

Actually, this Administration is all for negotiating with people who have a bomb strapped to their chest, or at least those who sponsor them.  The Administration will negotiate with Syria and Iran, both of which the U.S. Government officially designates as state sponsors of terrorism.  It pressures Israel to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, which pays monthly stipends to the families of suicide bombers.  It is only Republican members of Congress with whom the White House refuses to talk. 

Ho-Hum: Professor Kmiec Found the 2012-2013 US Supreme Court Term to be Pleasantly Uneventful

Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas Kmiec ["Eyeballing Eqality," California Lawyer, Sept. 2013] views the recently concluded term of the Supreme Court to have been decidedly and delightfully uneventful.  His  imaginary interlocutor objects:

Wait a minute, you say. Didn't the Court endorse same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013))? Limit the use of race to achieve diversity in admissions (Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin, 133 S.Ct. 2411 (2013))? Overturn the preclearance portion of the Voting Rights Act, decimating its effectiveness (Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S.Ct. 2612 (2013))? Continue to favor corporations (Mutual Pharm. Co., Inc. v. Bartlett, 133 S.Ct. 2466 (2013) (holding that makers of generic drugs could not be sued for defects in product design))? And isn't the Court now so profoundly divided that civility has succumbed to the delivery of apocalyptic dissents and the eye-rolling of Justice Samuel Alito?

Professor Kmiec responds, "No, no, no; not really; and don't be silly."

He goes on to describe how the Court's holdings, even in the so-called headliner cases, carefully adhered to Supreme Court precedent and, more importantly, to the duty of the Court, as perceived by Chief Justice Roberts and Chief Justice Rehnquist before him, "to keep the Court from opining about difficult and controversial policy questions."  For the details of his analysis, please read the article.  But lawyers and non-lawyers would be well-served to mull over Professor Kmiec's conclusion:

A blockbuster term it was not, yet the fidelity of the Court to the rule of law was consistent and praiseworthy. The Roberts Court answered legal complaint by adhering closely to its judicial vocation. When other nations try to persuade an anxious world that the way to advance democracy is by military intervention, it is a notable and wise achievement for the high bench to reaffirm how law already decided invites "we, the people" to discern the full scope of human equality. 
It is up to us - and not the justices - to determine whether the command for equality enshrined in our Constitution actually adds up to a living reality.
Gee, I wish I had written that.

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Obama Administration Leads the U.S. from Behind into Syria

In the lead [and happily publicly accessible] editorial on today's Wall Street Journal opinion page, neoconservative elder Norman Podheretz argues that the seeming Hamlet-like indecisiveness and uncertainty and amateur fecklessness of the Obama Administration's approach to the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, and to foreign policy in general, is not the result of incompetence, but rather reflects the deliberate implementation by President Obama of a "fundamental transformation he wished to achieve here ... to reduce the country's power and influence."
Mr. Podheretz makes a compelling case, but I believe he is wrong. After shaving with Occam's Razor, I conclude that the simplest explanation is incompetence. As evidence, I offer Secretary of State Kerry's remark today, in an appearance with the British Foreign Secretary, that any U.S. military action against Syria would be an "unbelievably small, limited kind of effort." He as much as announced to Bashar Assad not to worry, this won't hurt very much or do your regime any real harm.
Contrast this with the approach to public statements taken by President George H.W. Bush in the weeks leading up to the first Gulf War. While building his international coalition agaisnt Saddam Hussein and for the liberation of Kuwait, President Bush senior refused to publicly speculate on, or limit in any way, the nature and scope of the military campaign. He let Saddam wonder, and then struck hard and effectively.
Already some two weeks before Secretary Kerry's statement, liberal and sometimes Obama supporter Leon Wieseltier wrote on August 27 in the New Republic:
The White House and its supporters are seeking intervention without interventionism. An operation must be designed that will be limited and fleeting, that will do the right thing as inconsequentially as possible: a cop-out in the shape of a cruise missile. Assad will be punished and left in place; which is to say, unpunished. If he chooses never again to use chemical weapons, then his slaughter may never again be disturbed. Above all, the memory of Iraq will not be defiled. If we must do something—there is that “red line,” after all—then we will do something; but once we do something, we can go back to doing nothing.

Secretary Kerry also today may have intentionally or inadvertently provided Syria and Russia with an escape hatch, through which the Obama Administation could escape as well. The choice between intention or inadvertence depends on whether one accepts the Podheretz theory or the alternative explanation of gross incompetence. In any event, Secretary Kerry, almost in a throwaway afterthought, said that Syria could avoid an attack by putting its chemical weapons under international control. Russian and Syrian diplomats leaped at the opportunity that Kerry perhaps accidentally opened, and suggested negotiations toward achieving that goal.
Yes, the Administration, while welcoming the overtures, expressed deep skepticism about their sincerity. Yes, one should always exhaust every reasonable diplomatic channel before resorting to war. However, one remains suspicious that this will devolve into another effort by the President to kick the Syrian can down the road. As one wag said in a call to the Hugh Hewitt radio show, maybe someday Mr. Kerry will say that he was for the Syrian attack before he was against it, or visa versa. Remember 2004?

Friday, August 02, 2013

Amar'e Stoudemire Seeks Israeli Citizenship

Readers may have noted my long absence from posting. I explained to one inquirer that the news bored me. But at last there is really something important to write about. Previously, back in July 2010, in a post entitled "Mover Over, Jordan Farmar. Amar'e Stoudemire is the NBA's Biggest Jewish Star," , the Kosher Hedgehog reported on New York Knicks star Amar'e Stoudemire's claim of maternal Jewish ancestry (which is what counts under Jewish law) and his enthusiasm about his first trip to Israel. Since then, Mr. Stoudemire has made several trips to the Holy Land, most recently to participatae in the Maccabiah Games as assistant coach of the Canandian basketball team. He has even purchased an ownership interest in the Israeli basketball club, HaPoel Jerusalem. He has told JTA that he is regularly studying Jewish holy texts with New York rabbis. Now comes the lastest news--my Jewish brother Amar'e is seeking Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. Amar'e, my brother, may you be successful and move from stength to strength.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8 will have far-reaching consequences that have nothing to do with same-sex marriage.  The people's right under the California State Constitution to pass laws and amend the State Constitution by initiative has been gutted.  It is a tremendous victory for the monied power elites that often control elected officials.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the initiative process is to allow the people to pass legislation when the California State Legislature or the Governor refuses to address an issue.  Therefore the Governor and the California Attorney General frequently oppose initiatives, especially where they share the same political party or ideological positions.

Now, under the precedent of Hollingsworth v. Perry, if the opponents of a successful proposition can find one U.S. District Court judge to invalidate it, and the Governer and Attorney General, as in the case of Proposition 8, choose not to appeal the federal trial court decision, the will of the people can be ignored, because no one else has standing to appeal the court decision.

This is not a problem that can be fixed by an amendment to the California State Constitution, giving proponents of an initiative standing to appeal.  Standing in the federal courts is a federal issue, wholly controlled by the judiciary. The State of California is powerless to confer standing on persons whom the U.S. Supreme Court declares have no standing.  Not even Congress can confer standing on parties whom the federal courts declare have none.

Only Justice Kennedy's dissenting opinion recognizes this risk.  As noted by Andrew Cohen in his piece on the decision in The Atlantic, Justice Kennedy rightly expressed the fear that "the Perry case could permit state officials who disagree with the results of ballot initiatives to routinely walk away from them in a way that thwarts the purpose of the initiative process."  Cohen then predicts, "I'm not much into guarantees, especially with this Court, but I guarantee you that the Perry case will be cited for this technical proposition far more quickly and more often than it will be cited as any sort of victory or defeat for same-sex marriage advocates."

I fear that Mr. Cohen and Justice Kennedy are correct.  Regardless of one's position on same-sex marriage, today's decision in Perry is a victory for the power elites who hold sway in Sacramento and a defeat for California populism.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Our Economic Wreck of a City, Los Angeles

Even if you, dear reader, do not live in Los Angeles County, California let this be a warning to you.

Does the reputation of our City and County of Los Angeles as hostile to business have any harmful effect?  Well, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports that Los Angeles County managed to shed 81,000 payroll jobs in January, with the unemployment rate rising to a France-like 10.4 percent!  81,000 payroll jobs gone in a single month!  While about a quarter of the job loss, some 20,000 jobs, represented the layoffs by the retail trade of its holiday hiring, that still leaves a 61,000 job loss in other sectors.

Although the rest of the State of California is by no means enjoying a business boom,  even with the drag of the Los Angeles County figures, the State as a whole posted a net gain in January of 1700 jobs.

If Los Angeles County leads the entire State downward, the City of Los Angeles leads the County.  The unemployment rate in the City of Los Angeles was above 12%.  That compares with 9.8% statewide and 7.9% nationally.

The only good news is that things were even worse a year ago, in January 2012.

Leading Los Angeles Mayoral Candidate Wendy Gruel announced this week that upon taking office she will erase one of the few accomplishments of current and outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa--she will reopen negotiations with the City's public employee unions on the pension plan reforms implemented by Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council.

With leadership like that, perhaps job loss and unemployment in January 2014 will match those January 2012 figures.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ben Shapiro: To Save Traditional Marriage, End State Involvement

I do not always agree with my neighbor and friend, Ben Shapiro, the Breitbart editor, AM 870 talk show host and conservative pundit, but I do with his column posted today at the AM 870 webside, entitled "To Save Traditional Marriage, End State Involvement in Marriage."  The political battle to preserve government benefits for traditional marriage, but not same-sex marriage, is lost.  I know that others whom I respect, such as Michael Medved, will disagree, but the time has come to divorce marriage from government.

Marriage in its essence is a religious covenant or sacrament, sanctioned by God, not by the state.  If the state is involved in marriage, and confers special benefits on married persons, including same-sex couples, then in our current culture and political climate, traditional Christians, Jews and Moslems will be compelled to in effect recognize same-sex marriage.  By removing marriage as a state-sanctioned institution, and leaving it as a purely private relationship, governed by contract and one's personal religious beliefs, that concern is removed.  Those liberal churches and synagogues that wish to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies will be able to do so, removing the argument that traditional marriage advocates are trying to impose our religious beliefs on them.  Those traditional religious institutions that will not recognize same-sex marriage will not be compelled to do so.

I do believe that there will ultimately will be a societal cost to pay for same-sex marriage, even as a purely private institution, although the adverse effects may be subtle and take many years to manifest themselves.  It is possible that the damage to society will be difficult to identify and measure even once it occurs.  Think about the effects that past "progressive victories" such as unrestricted abortion, easy availability of contraception and no-fault divorce laws, have had on our society in the last 50 years.  Although progressives will not acknowledge it, those consequences include a loss of respect for life, promiscuity, epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases, and, ironically, an explosion in births out of wedlock and single-parent households.  So I am not unmindful of the potential damage from fully separating Church and State when it comes to marriage.

However, that risk seems preferable, to me at least, to having the State officially recognize same-sex unions as marriage.

If, contrary to what Ben would advocate, the public determines that there are sound policy considerations to conferring special benefits on certain types of unions, the appropriate way to confer those benefits is through recognition of civil unions, not through state involvement in a religious sacrament.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Official Palestinian Daily Lauds Hitler, Blames 9-11 on Freemasons and Zionists

Where a government controls and censors the press, nothing is published that does reflect the regime's own point of view.  Therefore when an op-ed piece by Mr. Hassan Ouda Abu Zaherone appeared today in the official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, praising Hitler, and blaming 9-11 on Freemasons, one can be confident that the Palestinian Authority itself has approved the message.

Here is an excerpt from what one might call the PA's welcome to President Obama on his visit to Israel and Ramallah:

"'History is a great lie written by the victors' - said Napoleon Bonaparte, the source of dubious historical writing and father of Freemasonry in France. If so, is the history planted in us through TV and the standard educational curriculum indeed true? The source of this history is the West - the victor ever since the fall of Andalusia (Muslim Spain)! ...Our history is replete with lies, from lies about the corrupt [Caliph] Harun Al-Rashid, which ignore the sources indicating that he dedicated one year to pilgrimage [to Mecca] and one year to Jihad (i.e., he was a good Muslim), to the lie about Al-Qaeda and the Sept. 11 events, which asserted that Muslim terrorists committed it, and that it was not an internal American action by the Freemasons, which was mentioned in the Illuminati game cards ten years before it took place, and in over 15 Zionist and Freemason Hollywood-produced films in the 1990s. The method of repeating [the lies] over and over has authenticated false facts. Had Hitler won, Nazism would be an honor that people would be competing to belong to, and not a disgrace punishable by law. Churchill and Roosevelt were alcoholics, and in their youth were questioned more than once about brawls they started in bars, while Hitler hated alcohol and was not addicted to it. He used to go to sleep early and wake up early, and was very organized. These facts have been turned upside down as well, and Satan has been dressed with angels' wings..."

Kudos to Palestinian Media Watch for translating and publicizing this column, as part of its ongoing mission to make the English-speaking world aware of what is published and broadcast in Palestininan and other Arab media.

About those "Illuminati game cards," are any of our readers familiar with the paranoid fantasy that Mr. Zaherone is spinning here?  It's new to me, but as a card-carrying Zionist myself, I sure would like to get myself a deck.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Big Data in the Big Apple

Slate has published this fascinating article  on how Mike Flowers (photo above), the first City of New York "director of analytics," adapted data analysis techniques he initially learned from the military in Iraq to revolutionize building inspections in the Big Apple.  According to authors Viktor Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier:

Prior to the big-data analysis, inspectors followed up the complaints they deemed most dire, but only in 13 percent of cases did they find conditions severe enough to warrant a vacate order. Now they were issuing vacate orders on more than 70 percent of the buildings they inspected. By indicating which buildings most needed their attention, big data improved their efficiency fivefold. And their work became more satisfying: They were concentrating on the biggest problems. The inspectors’ newfound effectiveness had spillover benefits, too. Fires in illegal conversions are 15 times more likely than other fires to result in injury or death for firefighters, so the fire department loved it. Flowers and his kids looked like wizards with a crystal ball that let them see into the future and predict which places were most risky. They took massive quantities of data that had been lying around for years, largely unused after it was collected, and harnessed it in a novel way to extract real value. Using a big corpus of information allowed them to spot connections that weren’t detectable in smaller amounts—the essence of big data.
The application of innovative data analysis to municipal governance  potentially offers as significant paybacks as have been produced in law enforcement by the policies and techniques developed by Chief William Bratton in New York City and later employed by him with great success in Los Angeles. Mr. Flowers was fortunate to have the enthusiastic support of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is always on the lookout for innovation in municipal governance.  That is why New York City is probably the best-governed large city in the United State.

In contrast, the municipal government of the City of Los Angeles  is. to say the least, not so enlightened and effective. Whoever becomes the next mayor of Los Angeles, let us hope that he or she will look hard at the achievements of Mike Flowers in New York.

 [Hat tip to SZ for calling my attention to this story]

Monday, March 04, 2013

Department of Irrefutable Truths: The Grateful Dead Were at Their Best in 1972

Over the past two days I have listened a number of times to the performance of the "China Cat Sunflower--Know You Rider" medley from the Grateful Dead's Europe 72 live performance album.
Those numbers recorded the Dead at the height of their ensemble artistry, and in my humble but infallable opinion rank among the best rock and roll concert performances of all time.  More than 40 years later, I still marvel at their virtuosity.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Who Knew Department: Jefferson Airplane Wrote Songs About the Wife of Israel's Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren

Sally Oren is the wife of Michael Oren, Israel's superb ambassador to the United States.  It turns out that when Sally Oren, then Sally Edelstein, was a teenager growing up in San Francisco, she hung out at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium, played frisbee with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead and ate hot dogs in Golden Gate Park with Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia.  Jefferson Airplane even wrote two songs about her, one of which, Young Girl Sunday Blues, is on the After Bathing at Baxter's album (album cover above).  Jeffrey Goldberg tells the whole story in The Atlantic online.    Who knew?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why Does Egypt Require F-16s?

The proposed sale of advanced F-16 fighters to Egypt increasingly concerns me. Here is the text of an e-mail that I have send my U.S. Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer:
Dear Senators Boxer and Feinstein: Why does Egypt require advanced fighters such as the F-16? Egypt does not face a a military threat from any of its neighbors that would require advanced fighters. The U.S. and NATO provide sufficient air protection for Egypt from an attack by Iran. The only potential use of those aircraft is against Israel. Israel wants to preserve peace with Egypt and would never initiate an attack on Egypt. Therefore the only conceivable purpose for Egypt to have F-16s is to attack Israel. While President Morsi to date has not repudiated the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, he has on several occasions declared his support for the ultimate goal of Israel's destrution and openly supports Hamas, with its program of eradication of the Jewish State. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, like Hamas, have declared that hatred of Jews is justified and that the Jewish people should be elimninated. For the sake of the security of the United States and Israel, and for Middle East peace, please oppose this sale in the Senate. Thank you.
If you disagree, and see a reason why Egypt requires F-16s, other than to use against Israel, please let me know. However, if you agree with me, please write your Senators and member of Congress, and request that they oppose the sale of F-16s to Egypt.

Update January 30,2013:  UPI reports that an Egyptian state news official stated Sunday that the Holocaust was a hoax perpetrated by the United States during World War II.  As reported by UPI:
"The myth of the Holocaust is an industry that America invented," said Fathi Shihab-Eddim, a senior figure close to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi responsible for appointing the editors of all state-run newspapers. "U.S. intelligence agencies in cooperation with their counterparts in allied nations during World War II created [the Holocaust] to destroy the image of their opponents in Germany, and to justify war and massive destruction against military and civilian facilities of the Axis powers, and especially to hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atomic bomb."
Shihab-Eddim went on to say that the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust actually emigrated secretly to the United States.

Tell me again why we want to sell F-16s to these people?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why Does Western Media Ignore the Palestinian Authority's Vicious Anti-Semitism?

Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi recently kindled a firestorm with the dissemination of videos of 2010 interviews on Egyptian and Lebanese television, in which he called for a boycott of the United States, attacked President Barack Obama as a liar on behalf of Zionists, extolled Jew-hatred and called Zionists "bloodsuckers"and the "descendents of apes and pigs."  Then, as reported by FORBES, he doubled-down in a conference call last week with United States Senators, in which he claimed that his remarks had been deliberately taken out of context because the American media is "controlled by certain forces."  And we all know who they are (wink, wink, nod, nod). His original outburst has now been condemned by the White House, the State Department and in editorials of major newspapers, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

I am grateful that the American elite media ultimately picked up on the Morsi story.  However, it begs the question of why the Palestinian Authority, through its television, newspapers and school books, spreads equally blatant and vicious anti-Semitism on a daily basis, and gets a free pass from the West.  Here is a prime example, courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch, broadcast January 1, 2013 by Palestinian Authority television:

"Faced with the Jews' schemes, Europe could not bear their character traits, monopolies, corruption, and their control and climbing up positions in government. In 1290, King Edward I issued a decree banishing the Jews [from England]. Following him were France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Spain and Italy. The European nations felt that they had suffered a tragedy by providing refuge for the Jews. Later the Jews obtained the Balfour Declaration [which called for a Jewish homeland in Palestine], and Europe saw it as an ideal solution to get rid of them."
Another example is the political cartoon above, which first appeared in a Jordanian newspaper, and was then broadcast on Palestinian Authority television.  It portrays the United States and Israel as plotting to divide up Somalia, in order to grab its oil.  Note how Israel is portrayed as a Chasidic Jew with a huge nose and earlocks.

(These examples refute the frequently asserted defense that Arab anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Like President Morsi and the cartoonist, Arab enemies of Israel do not differentiate between Zionists and Jews in general. To say that a Chasidic Jew in traditional garb and earlocks is emblematic of Zionism or Israel is ludicrous; indeed, many such Jews are anti-Zionist. But that fact of course does not concern the likes of President Morsi, the cartoonist or the Palestinian Authority, whose true target is the Jewish people.)

So why does American media largely ignore the anti-Jewish propaganda spewing daily from the Palestinian Authority?  A partial answer is that our media do not consider anti-Jewish sentiments by Arabs and Muslims to be newsworthy--it's "dog bites man," not "man bites dog."  Indeed, when MEMRI initially released its translation of the 2010 Morsi remarks, leading American media ignored it, only picking up the story after being chastised by Richard Behar in Forbes, which gave the story heavy play. Mr. Behar actually resorted to writing, "Knock, knock, New York Times? Anybody home?"

But the larger truth is that American media, and perhaps Americans and Westerners in general do not expect anything more civilized from Arabs and Muslims.  This attitude is, to use understatement, patronizing and insulting to Arabs and Muslims.  It in effect assumes that Arabs and Muslims cannot behave rationally and reject hatred, bias and prejudice.   The presence of contrary Arab and Muslim voices (alas, still far too few) not only gives the lie to that complacent point of view, but demonstrates the real damage done by the media in giving a free pass to Arab and Muslim, and especially Palestinian, anti-Semitism.  The sane and rational voices in those communities can only be discouraged when they are disregarded, isolated and relegated to obscurity by the media, which treats their anti-Semitic opponents as the accepted and inalterable norm.