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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Show and Tell Picture Day

I don't have a lot of time for blogging these past couple of weeks -- one humor, one wry and one angry was about all I could manage given my schedule, but I do look at other blogs from time to time.

I am amazed at the Useful Idiots that are out there preaching about how Gaza is "under seige" and suffering a humanitarian crisis. Certainly the Pallywood Press plays up that angle.

But pictures are worth a thousand paragraphs of propaganda:

Here is the typical propaganda picture showing what is described as the "wide-spread destruction in Gaza." I only find this laughable because the local (Israeli and Jordanian and Al Jazeera news programs) news often quotes Hamas spokesmen speaking from Gaza with a wholly intact, gleaming city stretching out behind the speaker.

Does this look like a starving crowd of people under seige? Didn't think so.....Hardly the Warsaw Ghetto imagery that the Palestine propagandists pimp to the unwary.

Another shot of shoppers. There is apparently both food and clothing for sale in Gaza and people with enough money to buy. Note that in this picture and the preceding one, the skyline is intact and the city is NOT lying in ruins.

As these two pictures show, neither clothing nor shoes are in short supply.

Candies -- today Grandstanding Galloway is leading yet another 15-minutes-of-fame-pay-attention-to-me convoy of "humanitarian aid" into Gaza. None of the people in these photos look like they need George's help, or his publicity (except for Hamas, whose popularity is quickly waning)and the whole thing is really a stunt organized by Socialist Unity. The fact that foreign aid is trucked into Gaza daily from Israeli crossings goes unmentioned. Hamas's beef is that Israel won't allow in construction materials (kassam rockets are made from pipes; concrete and rebar used to build bunkers and command centers) and insists on searching all the aid packages (because we keep finding weapons and ammunition in boxes marked "baby formula" for example).

This is an older picture of the trucks at the Keren Shalom border crossing into Gaza, waiting to bring in humanitarian aid, which they do on a daily basis.

Really?! you ask--because you've been told that Gaza is "under seige" and "blockaded" by Israel. Well, you've been lied to. It's true that the borders are closed. The borders are closed because an Islamist dictatorship whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and genocide of the Jewish population seized power in a coup d'etat in 2007, and has refused to honor any past agreements (these include agreements on border crossings) with the "Zionist Entity."

Fine. We closed the borders. We will open them as soon as Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by earlier Palestinian agreements with Israel. These aren't just Israel's conditions--they are also the conditions of the international community.

But in the meantime we truck in humanitarian aid daily because Hamas is too busy building tunnels to smuggle weapons, training kassam and missile crews, running war camps for youngsters, building better command and control centers, adding more ammo dumps, to do anything about building an infrastructure for a state that will help its people. Thus, while we have closed borders we do NOT have a blockade.

None of these people look undernourished.

More food.

Gaza. Hardly the image of mass destruction.

And I had to post this picture. I love it! You hear all the time about the "Wall" surrounding Gaza -- well, here it is! A fence with a road which is patrolled by the Border Police and army, as is customary in most nations. But what I like best about this picture is the wide open spaces. Haven't you heard that Gaza is "the most densely populated area on earth?"

It's not. In fact, downtown Tel Aviv is more densely populated than Gaza.

And while civilian deaths are tragic, look at this last picture and understand that Gaza's civilians died because Hamas chose to pick a war and fight from the midst of its civilian areas, even though there was ample room outside the towns and cities to fight in the open. Even the Palestinians say it now, bitterly: HAMAS--stands for Hides Among Mosques and Schools.

Cowards and liars.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Politically Over-Corrected Christmas

I am not generally a huge fan of the New Yorker magazine....or of anything remotely connected to New York City, with the exception of one cousin and some friends who are otherwise such neat people that I can even forgive them for being from the Big Apple.

It is, after all, the place my family ran from as fast as their finances would allow. I've been there. Nice to visit, couldn't pay me to live there.

OTOH, Beth Steinberg tipped me to this tidbit, which is the funniest, snarkiest thing I've seen on political correctness run amok around Christmas. Bad enough that my son's public school teachers were instructed to NOT wish anyone "Merry Christmas" for fear of offending non-Christians, but now offices are having "holiday parties." One year, I couldn't convince my former boss that the reason I didn't go to the office Christmas Party wasn't because it was called a "Christmas Party"--it was so the front office staff COULD go, and the receptionists weren't allowed to party because they had to relieve each other on the phones. So I took the phones for the afternoon, along with another attorney, so our receptionists could relax for one single afternoon of the year. But everyone wigged out over the fact that, "Gosh, she's Jewish, maybe we've offended her!"

Hey, I went to the stupid party for years when it was a "Christmas Party" and only stopped going so I could help out reception. Good grief!

So everyone is so worried about offending non-Christians at Christmas that they've tried to rob the holiday of its religious significance. Sad.

So here it is, Big Apple humor which pokes fun at the idiocy of being TOO politically correct and post-modernly sensitive, to the point where you've overdone it into boorish rudeness:

Holly or Challah?
by Paul Rudnick December 21, 2009

Just because anyone with half a brain celebrates Christmas, no one should ever use the holiday to make non-Christians feel uncomfortable. Here are some tips to help the sensitive Christian make everyone, no matter what they’re wearing on their head, feel at ease and have a Happy Interfaith Holiday Season!

1. When non-Christians are present, don’t call Jesus “Our Saviour,” “Our Lord,” or “Mister Perfect.” Refer to him more casually, as “the Son of God, or maybe not,” “the Jew that got away,” or “the bachelor.” When chatting with Jews, try to avoid the subject of the death of Jesus. If a Jew asks, “So how did Jesus die?,” simply reply, “Natural causes.”

2. Don’t refer to Christmas as a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Instead, try calling it “the world’s day off ” or “a big party for almost everyone.” Instead of saying “Merry Christmas!,” try calling out, “The plain wrapping paper is right over there in the corner!”

3. If you’re visiting a mixed couple during the holidays, here are a couple of gift suggestions: for the Christian wife, a bayberry-scented candle or a fresh evergreen wreath; for the Jewish husband, a lovely framed portrait of his parents, rending their clothes and sobbing.

4. Try to take a delighted interest in the Jewish holidays by asking questions like “Do you ever create a tiny Victorian village under your menorah?,” “Does your family sing ‘Silent Night’ in Hebrew?,” and “When you were little, did you ever wonder if Santa hated you?”

5. When you’re walking down the street with a Jewish friend and you pass a sidewalk Santa, say something comforting, like “Jesus barely knew him,” or “I bet you liked sitting on the big rabbi’s lap.” You might even introduce Santa to your friend by saying, “Santa, this is Richard Weiner. And it really doesn’t matter if he’s been bad or good.”

6. On Christmas Eve, why not remind Jewish children to leave out milk and cookies for Mayor Bloomberg?

7. For a jolly holiday film festival, invite your Jewish neighbors over and screen “White Christmas,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “Munich.”
8. When a Jewish friend compliments your Christmas tree, modestly reply, “Oh, but it’s not as nice as your couch.”

9. Change the words to popular Christmas songs, as in “Frosty the Orthodox Rebbe,” “Deck the Halls with Photos of Your Many Beautiful Grandchildren,” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Our Accountant.”

10. Never refer to Hanukkah as “their Christmas,” “Merry Wannabe,” or “the Goldberg variation.”

11. For real holiday enchantment, tell your kids the story of “Yussel, the Reindeer Who Spent the Whole Night Studying.”

12. If your town wants to put up a life-size crèche on public property, suggest that there should also be, right beside the Nativity scene, mannequins representing a Jewish family, sitting outside the manger and reading the Sunday Times. ♦

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Here's Clarification: Fuck Off

The United States has demanded clarifications from Israel after IDF special forces killed three terrorists Saturday who murdered a civilian, Rabbi Meir Chai, on Thursday.

Nice. Has the United States demanded clarifications from Iran on the nine civilians murdered by government storm troopers yesterday? Of course not.

Is the United States subjecting itself to demands about terrorists it has taken out since 9/11? Of course not.

Did the United States at any time in the last 48 hours demand clarifications from the Palestinian Authority about the cold-blooded gunning down of an unarmed kindergarten teacher and father of seven who was driving his wife and child at the time of the attack?

Of course not. Because the overt and despicable racism of Jew-killing is being deliberately overlooked by the left-wing elites of the Obama administration. You can bet that if a Black father of seven was gunned down in cold blood on an Alabama road for the sin of driving in a "white neighborhood" there would be hell to pay!

Calls were made to National Security Adviser Prof. Uzi Arad, apparently by senior U.S. Administration officials, in which he was asked to provide clarifications. The calls came from the United States after Palestinian Authority officials complained to the Americans that the IDF had carried out “executions.”

No, we killed them. Let's be precise in our terminology. "Execution" means the act or an instance of putting to death or being put to death as a lawful penalty. Its prerequisite is a court order. It implies that there is some legality, some legal procedure at issue here, which is precisely why lawfare gamesters like B'tselem like to confuse the issues with word plays such as these. It implies that they are in custody, which they were not. We did not "execute" them--they were never in our custody. We hunted them down and killed them where we found them, armed. They refused to surrender. Fine. Die.

They were terrorists who thought they had found a safe haven hiding behind their wives' skirts, and discovered they were wrong. Reagan said it: "You can run, but you can't hide."

Arad informed the White House of details of the counterterrorist raid and rejected the PA officials' claims.

The left-wing group B'Tselem also made a public demand that an investigation be launched into whether the IDF “executed” two of the three terrorist murderers. The self-acclaimed human rights group said that an initial inquiry it conducted at the homes of the dead killers indicated that they were executed.

Wow! Imagine that! B'Tselem ran in there and got the evidence! What evidence?! The self-serving whine of the terrorists' family members, who support them in their chosen career of murdering Jewish civilians? This is, of course, the same Euro-funded NGO that has been repeatedly lambasted for its skewed statistics, lies of omission and lies of comission, and most infamously for white-washing terrorist deaths and trying to pass them off as civilians on the grounds that they "weren't involved in hostilities when killed" -- i.e., he was driving away from the launch site of his kassam rockets when the Israelis killed him, thus he was a civilian. This is, of course, the same "human rights organization" that remained silent when missiles targeting Israeli civilians rained down on civilian population centers. This is the same NGO whose "field investigators" are all Arabs.

READ MY LIPS--this is not a police action. This is a war. The Allies didn't land at Normandy, read the Nazis their Miranda rights and arrest them. They killed them. They killed the soldiers in the field and they bombed German cities into rubble. The Allies, consequently, won.

Terrorists, or if you prefer the politically correct label, "armed militants" who claim allegience to an entity which, despite the momentary quiet, is and has been in a state of de facto war with Israel since 1948, are combatants. In this case, they were battle-hardened combatants who had been taken as prisoners before for their terror activities. The men were identified as 38-year-old Raed Sukarji, 39-year-old Ghassan Abu Sharakh, and 40-year-old Anan Subih. Subih was armed with a handgun and was hiding two M16 assault rifles, and an additional handgun and ammunition.

Surkajy was a Nablus Fatah Tanzim terror operative who had previously been in custody. He was arrested in 2002 for his involvment in multiple terror attacks, and was a senior member of Al Aksa who was also involved with the manufacturing of explosives and the establishment of an explosives-manufacturing laboratory in Nablus. He was released from Israeli custody, no doubt as part of a prisoner exchange or "confidence building measure" last January.

Sharakh was the brother of Naif Abu Sharakh, the former head of the Fatah Tanzim terrorist group in Nablus, who was responsible for planning multiple terror attacks until he was killed by during an IDF operation in 2004. Sharakh did a stint in Israeli prison as well for terror activities. Subih was also an Al Aqsa terrorist affiliated with the Nalus Fatah Tanzim.

They've all been at war with Israel for years. They've all been involved in the planning and executing of mass murder attacks against Israeli civilians. They know the price -- when they kill Israeli civilians, they are hunted down and killed. That is not an "execution," B'tselem & fellow travelers--that is war.

I'm sorry to deflate your happy peace balloon, but the Palestinians, both Hamas and Fatah, still recruit their children to war camps in the summer, train them in hatred and racism towards Jews, incite them to murder in the name of religion and nation, and all the nice talky-talky peacy-peacy vibes from the useful idiots in the West has not changed the fact that Israel is under seige and has been warred upon by Arab entities intent on the destruction of our state and eradication of our people.

And no compromise, no offer is ever good enough. Why? Because they don't want a compromise--they want to win the wars they've lost since 1948, and destroy us. To them, a kindergarten teacher in a van with his wife and kid is just another Jew to be exterminated.

But my favorite posts of the day were these:

1)I feel no need for an explanation as to why you killed barbaric savages.
Keep up the good work and don’t listen to the moonbats currently running our country.

2) The question should be, "Why did you stop at three terrorists?"
Get them all.

3) Here’s clarification: They’re dead.

The Common Man's common sense gives me hope that the Orwellian administration fiddling while the world burns will soon pass. The other silver lining: this terror trio will never be released in some future "confidence building measure" to kill again.

*Photo of Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade courtesy of Life.com

Fly Naked

In a world where normal people are trying to get their children an education and make enough money to pay for a roof over their heads and food on the table, we now have another advocate of mass-murder-in-the-name-of-Allah (in Hebrew, this is called a chillul HaShem--a desecration of the Name of G-d)trying to bring down a plane-load of civilians flying from Holland to the United States.

I can't even call this Islamic extremism because apart from the fact that the would-be mass-murderer is a Moslem, his handlers are of the ilk that have hijacked the Quran and its faith and perverted it into a political instrument. They're not really Moslems in the sense that they submit to the will of their Maker--they can quote from the Quran to justify just about any political abomination or murder they want, and claim, like the bloody-minded Crusaders before them, "Deus vult!" (G-d wills it!) It's really not Islam--its a form of idol worship, with the object of that worship being the temporal desire(s) of whatever scheming warlord is running the operation.

I wonder if there is an Arabic equivalent of chillul HaShem?

I'm waiting to see whose heads roll at State, at TSA and at Homeland Security for this balagan. The three agencies charged with keeping people safe in the air and on the ground from psychotics who dress up their murderous instincts in the clothing of invented grievances simply screwed up big time.

Why wasn't Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab placed on the U.S. no-fly list?

What asleep-at-the-wheel functionary who appears to have not checked or only checked randomly or briefly or incompletely the flight list from Holland is going to get fired? C'mon, I know it was Christmas and you wanted to get home to the family but you permitted the near murder of almost 300 people because you couldn't wait to get to your family holiday celebration.

Or is it worse? Does Al-Qaeda have moles in the aviation industry who coordinate this kind of attack and are they capable of working from inside (or hacking from outside) to prevent the interception of their operative? Doubt it. But if its not that, then it was sheer laziness and stupidity on the part of the U.S. personnel who approved this flight list.

How the hell did he get a U.S. Visa? The Brits have barred him. His own family reported his extremism to British, Nigerian and U.S. authorities.

After the last trans-Atlantic brouhaha, with four planes scheduled to blow up simultaneously over mid-Atlantic enroute from London to the U.S. all kinds of security precautions were put in place....most of them seemingly ridiculous. One security expert at the time said these precautions were a total waste of time, because the fanatics always find a way around them.

A prophet. This time, it wasn't liquid in a bottle. It was, reportedly, nitro and glycerine, (or PETN depending on your news source) smuggled separately, strapped to his body, to blow up the plane over densely populated Detroit (killers please note: Detroit is the city with the biggest Moslem population in the United States--wrong target, idiots).

So how do we avoid future incidents of this kind? What can we do to make flying absolutely safe?

Fly naked.

That's right. From this date forward, everyone will be escorted first to a dressing room, asked to unclothe, given a 4-hour (or six or 8 or 10 hour) sedative, placed naked on a gurney with only a blanket for modesty's sake, then wheeled to their assigned seats (which will have to be reconfigured as beds) and we'll be flown naked and unconscious to our destinations! Anyone who gets out of his seat will be shot by an air-marshall.

That should put an end to this nonsense!

And you won't have to worry about shoe-bombers, under-wear bombers, baby-bottle bombers or any other wanna-be mass murderers in the air.

Random Thoughts

This must be making its way around the internet, but I laughed out loud at a couple of them, which in my mind makes them worth sharing. Thanks, Harriet!!

Random Thoughts:

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection... again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this -- ever.

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

18. My 4-year-old son asked me in the car the other day, "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How do I respond to that?

19. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

20. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Switzerland

I remember a discussion I had with a classmate in class back in the ancient days when I was a high school student. We were discussing things only high school and college students have the time to ponder, and that day's subject was Hate.

She and others had different views of what made people hate other people as a collective group. I disagreed with all of their theses.

"Hate," I said, not entirely understanding where this came from, but quite certain to the depths of my soul about it, "comes from fear."

I have yet to see this disproved. Human beings do not hate without being first taught to fear, and hate is the reaction to that fear.

Switzerland, another European bastion of enlightened western humanism, democracy and human rights (ok, for the moment we won't talk about the stolen Holocaust assets or Nazi gold reserves or shooting Jewish refugees at the borders or turning them over to the SS.....) has voted to ban minarets.

This is one of the stupider decisions made anywhere on earth recently.

First, what does a ban on minarets accomplish?

It tells the world that you are afraid of minarets. And why would you be afraid of an architectural adornment? Because it's emblematic of Islam. And why would you want to ban a Moslem architectural adornment? Well, because you're afraid. What are you afraid of? You're afraid of Islam.

Or what your limited, parochial, impoverished and ignorant understanding of what Islam means to you.

"People's Party lawmaker Walter Wobmann said minarets are part of Muslims' strategy to make Switzerland Islamic. He said he feared Shariah law, which would create "parallel societies" where honor killings, forced marriages and even stoning are practiced."*

Oh, please......you don't already have laws in Switzerland which can address these issues? You don't already have a non-Moslem majority which can pass any law to checkmate these unlikely scenarios? There have been honor killings in the United States -- and there are laws against murder, and they are enforced when one person kills another, no matter what the label. So this is a ridiculous reason that is put forth solely to create division between Moslems and non-Moslems, and to inflame an uneasiness about demographic change into full-fledged hatred.

"The problem is not so much the minarets, but rather what they represent," said Madeleine Trincat, a retiree from Geneva. "After the minarets, the muezzins will come, then they'll ask us to wear veils and so on."*

This is the kind of garbage that the Far Right xenophobic (and antiSemitic) parties of Switzerland are pushing. That's right--let Moslems build a minaret, just like churches build bell-towers, and the next thing you know -- POOF! You'll be wearing a burkha!

The battle lines were drawn over a minaret that went on top of an Islamic cultural center in July, 2009, after a protracted court battle which pitched the local Islamic Cultural Center against neighborhood residents who opposed it.

This brought the extremists out of the woodwork: "[T]he construction of a minaret has no religious meaning. Neither in the Qur'an, nor in any other holy scripture of Islam is the minaret expressly mentioned at any rate. The minaret is far more a symbol of religious-political power claim [...]." The initiators of the ban referendum went on to justify their point of view by quoting parts of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's 1997 speech, which holds: "Mosques are our barracks, domes our helmets, minarets our bayonets, believers our soldiers. This holy army guards my religion." Inflammatory comments like this from the Islamic Republic of Turkey, or any Islamic Republic, didn't help.

Ulrich Schluer, who is one of the referendum committee’s most prominent exponents, pointed to Erdogan's speech and concluded: "A minaret has nothing to do with religion: It just symbolises a place where Islamic law is established." *

Funny, most people think that a minaret symbolizes a place where Moslems worship. Sort of like how bell-towers symbolize places where Christians worship. Shaaria law is not the law of the land, and to suggest that a minaret makes it so is disingenuous at best, xenophobic for sure.

Noise. We can't have noise! some voters said. Ridiculous. Switzerland already has mosques, including four minarets, and has noise ordinances which prohibit the muezzin calling anyone to prayer in public. So noise isn't the issue.

Building codes? There are already cantonal zoning laws which prohibit the construction of buildings that do not match their surroundings.

Fear is the issue. The campaign posters don't show a graceful spire arising out of a place of worship. It shows, instead, a battery of Islamic missiles arising out of the Swiss flag, a crude but effective message that militant Islam is going to take over your country at weapon-point.

I understand the demographic trends. I understand the cultural conflicts and lack of integration in European society. I understand the fear of more Van Goghs and Halimis, the fear of the dark underside of fundamentalists....

But this isn't the way to handle your fear, or make your Moslem neighbor more integrated. Switzerland has bell towers, church steeples. There is nothing wrong with a minaret alongside those. A minaret in your neighborhood is not going to bring burkhas and honor killings.

[Take note of Iran, the home of jihadi values, where women are demonstrating in the streets against the imposition of hardline fundamentalist strictures, as well as the lack of democracy--and these are Moslem women!]

Some common sense asserted itself prior to the vote: The cities of Basel, Lausanne and Fribourg banned the billboards, saying they painted a "racist, disrespectful and dangerous image" of Islam.*

Of course, this backfired, with subsequent posters calling for a ban of minarets because of censorship.

The EU and UN Human Rights Council (which has bankrupted all credibility by ignoring Darfur and Sri Lanka to demonize Israel) have waxed indignant over the ban, whose passage surprised everyone except perhaps the Swiss.

I live in an area surrounded by minarets. Even in a part of the world where extremists misuse them to store kassams and katyushas and manufacture suicide-bomb-belts, I am not afraid of the minaret. The minaret is emblamatic of Islam, but like the towers of Gothic cathedrals, it is an ancient architectural innovation which, while meant for utilitarian purposes, is also decorative. A mosque, while oft-times misused to engender hatred of Jews and other infidels in these politicized days, was originally intended as a place for worship and is used by most Moslems for just that. The world loves the Taj Mahal, and it is a protected world heritage site--with four minarets.

Fear extremism. Don't fear minarets. Minarets are beautiful, and even useful....I never miss Mincha now....afternoon call to prayer in Islam is the same as afternoon prayer in Judaism.

sources: *Huffington Post and Wikipedia

Hashgachah Pratis in Montana

I found this story in the Facebook Feeds posted by Robin, and it was too cute not to post here also:

Religion Journal
Yes, Miky, There Are Rabbis in Montana

Published: December 4, 2009

Officer John Fosket of the Helena Police Department and Miky, a bomb-sniffing dog trained by the Israeli Defense Forces.

HELENA, Mont. — In Montana, a rabbi is an unusual sight. So when a Hasidic one walked into the State Capitol last December, with his long beard, black hat and long black coat, a police officer grabbed his bomb-sniffing German shepherd and went to ask the exotic visitor a few questions.

Though there are few Jews in Montana today, there once were many. In the late 19th century, there were thriving Jewish populations in the mining towns, where Jews emigrated to work as butchers, clothiers, jewelers, tailors and the like.

The city of Butte had kosher markets, a Jewish mayor, a B’nai B’rith lodge and three synagogues. Helena, the capital city, had Temple Emanu-El, built in 1891 with a seating capacity of 500. The elegant original facade still stands, but the building was sold and converted to offices in the 1930s, when the congregation had dwindled to almost nothing, the Jewish population having mostly assimilated or moved on to bigger cities.

There is a Jewish cemetery in Helena, too, with tombstones dating to 1866. But more Jews are buried in Helena than currently live here.

And yet, in a minor revival, Montana now has three rabbis, two in Bozeman and one (appropriately) in Whitefish. They were all at the Capitol on the first night of Hannukah last year to light a menorah in the ornate Capitol rotunda, amid 100-year-old murals depicting Sacajawea meeting Lewis and Clark, the Indians beating Custer, and the railway being built. The security officer and the dog followed the rabbi into the rotunda, to size him up.

Hanukkah has a special significance in Montana these days. In Billings in 1993, vandals broke windows in homes that were displaying menorahs. In a response organized by local church leaders, more than 10,000 of the city’s residents and shopkeepers put make-shift menorahs in their own windows, to protect the city’s three dozen or so Jewish families. The vandalism stopped.

Lately, the only commotion about Hanukkah has been the annual haggling among the rabbis over who gets to light the menorah at the Capitol. (It has since been resolved — at this year’s lighting, on Dec. 16, they will each light a candle; in the future they will take turns going first.)

Last year, the rabbinic debate resumed as the hour of lighting neared and 20 or so Jewish Montanans filed into the Capitol.

One woman could be heard reporting, excitedly, that a supermarket in Great Falls would be carrying matzo next Passover; a guy from Missoula was telling everyone that he had just gotten a shipment of pastrami from Katz’s Deli in New York.

The menorah was lighted and Hebrew prayers chanted, while the officer watched from a distance with his dog. He figured he would let it all go down and then move in when the ceremony was done. The dog sat at attention, watching the ceremony with a peculiar expression on its face, a look of intense interest. When the ceremony was over, the officer approached the Hasidic rabbi.

“I’m Officer John Fosket of the Helena Police,” he said. “This is Miky, our security dog. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Miky, pronounced Mikey, is in a Diaspora of his own. He was born in an animal shelter in Holland and shipped as a puppy to Israel, where he was trained by the Israeli Defense Forces to sniff out explosives. Then one day, Miky got a plane ticket to America. Rather than spend the standard $20,000 on a bomb dog, the Helena Police Department had shopped around and discovered that it could import a surplus bomb dog from the Israeli forces for the price of the flight. So Miky came to his new home in Helena, to join the police force.

The problem, the officer explained, was that Miky had been trained entirely in Hebrew.

When Officer Fosket got Miky, he was handed a list of a dozen Hebrew commands and expressions, like “Hi’ sha’ er” (stay!), Ch’pess (search!), and “Kelev tov” (good doggy). He made flashcards and tried practicing with Miky. But poor Miky didn’t respond.

Officer Fosket (who is not Jewish) suspected he wasn’t pronouncing the words properly. He tried a Hebrew instructional audio-book from the local library, but no luck. The dog didn’t always understand what he was being ordered to do. Or maybe Miky was just using his owner’s bad pronunciation as an excuse to ignore him. Either way, the policeman needed a rabbi.

And now he had found one. They worked through a few pronunciations, and the rabbi, Chaim Bruk, is now on call to work with Miky and his owner as needed. Officer Fosket has since learned to pronounce the tricky Israeli “ch” sound, and Miky has become a new star on the police force. The two were even brought in by the Secret Service to work a recent presidential visit.

So all is well in the Jewish community here because the Hasidic rabbi is helping the Montana cop speak Hebrew to his dog. It is good news all around. The officer keeps the Capitol safe, and the Hebrew pooch is feeling more at home hearing his native tongue.

But the big winner is the rabbi, a recent arrival from Brooklyn who is working hard (against tough odds) to bring his Lubavitch movement to Montana. He has been scouring the state for anyone who can speak Hebrew, and is elated to have found a German shepherd he can talk to.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The NSA Finally Wakes Up

This just in from Associated Press:

Obama national security adviser: Picture not good on Iran


Nice that NSA and other administration Great Thinkers and Policy Wonks have finally gotten on the same page with the rest of us.

That loud noise emanating east of D.C. is all of Israel simultaneously chorusing "Duh!" We know genocidal fascism when we see it. Been there, done that.

Never again.

US President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser James Jones on Sunday said the door remains open for Iran to work with other countries on its nuclear program but the "picture is not a good one."

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Jones said the clock is ticking toward the end of the year.

That's when Obama has said it would be clear whether Teheran was ready to work with the United States, other UN Security Council members and Germany to assure the world it was not trying to build a nuclear weapon.

So far, the Islamic republic has rejected calls to enter negotiations, and Obama is believed preparing to seek harsher international penalties against Iran. Jones said "the door remains open" for Iran to change course.

Hello? Has Iran demonstrated any evidence that it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon? Other than the formulaic and meaningless statements, uttered with barely suppressed hilarity, from Iranian spokesmen?

Yeah, let's all worry about those nursery schools and one-room additions the Jews living in the territories are building. Certainly a new nursery school is far more threatening to world peace than a nuclear-armed End-Times theocracy bent on what they believe is a G-d-given mandate for regional domination and Jewish genocide, no?

In debate, settlements are what used to be called a "red herring" -- a deliberate attempt to change a subject or divert an argument. Oooooooo....look, the Jews are building houses*! Nevermind those hundreds of centrifuges spinning Iran towards a nuclear bomb, or the upgraded missiles and payload systems. How many power plants in France have state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missile batteries? None. How many sites in Iran do? All of them. Which is a clue that Iran isn't building a power plant, ferhevinsake....but the most important thing on Obama's Middle East agenda is stopping Jewish parents from adding a bedroom to their home for their new baby.

*photo courtesy of Kochav Yaakov website

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Gaza "Civilians" -- The Movie

From Wikipedia: The Big Lie (German: Große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf for a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously".

Here's Gaza's Big Lie:

Kol Ha K'vod, Elder of Ziyon !

Welcome to Orwell's World: civilians = terrorists; Israeli self-defense = war crimes. Then the West complains when we don't listen to them, because we don't believe them. DUH!

Take THIS, Lebanon!!

A few months ago, the Lebanese got all huffy about the fact that Israeli hummous was being sold abroad as an "Israeli" foodstuff.

They promptly went whining to the E.U. and complained that hummous, a dish known all over the Middle East, should be trademarked solely to Lebanon.

This is, of course, all about money. The Lebanese don't care that Syrians and Turks or whoever eat and sell hummous, for example, but what galls them no end is that Israel markets more hummous to the rest of the world than Lebanon does. They're asking Big Brother--oooops, the E.U.---to designate hummous as a "Lebanese" specialty so that any other country (hah!-they mean Israel) who calls their product, for example, Israeli hummous, can be sued.

The French did this with champagne; the Greeks did it with feta cheese; the Italians did it with Parmesan and Gorgonzola cheeses.

What the Lebanese miss in this argument is that champagne is regional--it originated only in the province of Champagne; ditto Parmesan cheese. I haven't a clue how the Greeks got away with "feta" but I'm sure it ticked off the Danes, who make a decent "feta" of their own.

But hummous? Calling hummous "Lebanese" is like insisting that beer is Iraqi. Don't laugh -- the earliest beer recipe in history was found in Sumerian ruins. Think the Germans and Czechs would sit still for that?

Hummous is Middle Eastern. Even the rest of the neighborhood, ranging from cool to downright hostile to Israel, is not getting on the bandwagon for "Lebanese" hummous. The overall tone of blogs, letters and op-eds has been "yawwwwwnnn" around the Mediterranean, with a few Arab writers pointedly stating that hummous is Arab, not merely Lebanese, so maybe the Lebanese should shut up about this already.

What next? A regional trademark war over who gets to call their fruits "olives?" Maybe the Italians want to get on board and insist that no menu outside of Italy can list "pasta" as a dish?

But undaunted by the Lebanese tirade and hummous cook-off, Israelis responded with a different world-record-setting dish: meorav Yerushalmi. A group of 9 chefs got together at Machane Yehuda souk, and cooked up the world's biggest example of this local specialty.

NO ONE can claim this dish except Jerusalem Jews. It's actually delicious although the pictures posted of the event wouldn't lead you to believe it. [Hit the link in the title].

Meorav's origins were poverty. Jerusalem Jews didn't have it easy under either the Turks or the British, and then in the war for Independence, nearly starved to death due to the Arab blockade of Jerusalem where food rationing included items like one egg every other week for protein. Even after Independence, meat rationing was in effect for years.

What did we eat? We ate meorav Yerushalmi, known in English as Jerusalem mixed grill. [The very best is supposed to be found on Agrippas Street at restaurant Chatzot, but since the link to that site was broken in the reviews I've read, maybe the restaurant has succumbed to the Great Recession? I happen to know that the best hummous in town is served at Yossi's mom's house but you're out of luck unless you know her...]

Meorav is made by grilling a mixture of chicken meat, chicken livers, hearts, kidneys and other innards (don't grimace--what do you think you're eating when you eat a non-kosher hotdog? Trust me, if you don't know, you don't want to know...) with thinly sliced onions and seasoned with unique spices, served up with pita bread. (Shall we fight about who has the trademark on pita bread? Let's talk matzah!!)

The nicer grills serve meorav with tehina, and often tabouleh, spicy Morrocan carrots, or kruv salad (chopped cabbage dressed with lemon, oil and vinegar), or Arab salad (yes, it's called "Israeli salad" in San Francisco, but Israelis call it "Arab salad," a delicious concoction of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs and dressed with lemon and oil).

So Israelis, undeterred by Lebanon's one-upsmanship in the hummous competition for the Guinness Book of Records, came back with the record for the World's Largest Meorav Yerushalmi.

And we always serve it with hummous. Israeli hummous. B'teavon!

Friday, December 04, 2009

On 9/11, citizens of over 92 countries died in a terror attack in American skies. Last month saw the launch of a new U.S. war ship, built with parts of the World Trade Towers.

Last month also saw the dedication of a memorial, built from parts of the World Trade Towers, in memory of the victims of Moslem terrorists. The memorial stands at the gates of my city, and commemorates those who died in New York, in Washington D.C. and the heroes in the skies of Pennsylvania who died wrestling their plane into the ground rather than letting it be used to cause more civilian deaths.

A friend of mine who lives in the States sent me this video, and commented sadly that while the launch of the warship got endless coverage, the unveiling of the memorial at the gates of a Jerusalem, a city which too well understands the carnage of Moslem terrorism, received no coverage.

It doesn't matter. Everyone driving into Jerusalem will see this, and know that here too is a nation that stands firmly against the tide of rising evil in the East.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Why We (Still) Need Checkpoints

YouTube got the title wrong, of course....it's much more sinister to label the civilian security guard, who makes minimum wage, as a "soldier" when in fact he's just a guy checking your purse.

Unfortunately for him, she had another knife. One person posted that she was Hamas, but she's probably just another brainwashed loser faced with an honor killing, the main recruitment tool for Arab women.

But this is why we need checkpoints...our "partners for peace" are still sending their killers:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Meet The Neighbors

"Take us the foxes, the little foxes,
that spoil the vines: for our vines
have tender grapes."

Meet my neighbor. We were privileged to see someone almost never seen in the daytime here or in the neighboring regions.

This is a Blanford fox. Reports state that he is usually found in the driest and hottest regions of the Middle East. In Israel, researchers report that the densest population is found in the Judean Desert at elevations of 100-350 meters below sea level.

It must be getting crowded there, because Renaud has moved to our neighborhood.

Of course, the wadi just outside my window, if followed relentlessly eastward, ends at a row of hills and over those the undulating descents to the Dead Sea commence. Foot traffic from the Dead Sea is eminently possible.

I wouldn't have seen him at all but for The Husband's sharp eyes. "Come quick," he called. "See the fox?"

Silly question. I am blind as a bat without glasses, and even with glasses, picking out a grey something that is lying on grey rocks in the shadow of a rock wall is not particularly feasible. But I took his word for it, and kept my eyes glued to the spot. Nothing. No motion.

But there was motion down the slope. Our neighbor the Palestinian/Jordanian-settler-rancher/shepherd, was herding his sheep up from the lower pastures, now green from the rains, up to higher pastures.

Renaud didn't twitch.

Once the herd of sheep and goats meandered out of sight. Renaud jumped up onto the rock wall, and into the rocky olive orchard beyond. My last glimpse of him was that of a quick-trotting, confident fox making good time through the sparse orchard, tail streaming out behind him like a banner.

I did a little trotting through the internet myself, fascinated by our fox. My husband had seen a lot of them down in the Arava during his kibbutz sojourn, but I had only seen the Sierra-Nevada variety.

It appears that the Blanford fox is nocturnal, so we were lucky to see him (or her) at all during the day. However, mating season is from December through January (another source said January through February), so maybe he was looking for a mate. Dry creek beds are the most popular range for these foxes in Israel, according to researchers, because of an abundance of prey in that locale. It just so happens that at the foot of our terraced wadi is a creek bed which is mostly dry until it rains.

Renaud eats everything. Not merely omniverous, he also like fruit, insects and olives. Maybe wind-falls are why he's hanging around in the olive groves below. This also explains the verse from the Tanakh: as a child I always wondered why a fox would eat grapes, and dismissed it as mere poetic license.

Wrong. Renaud likes his fruit. "The species has been observed eating domestic crops and seems to prefer melons, grapes, and Russian olives in some areas."**

Russian olives??!

He also is known by other names: royal fox, hoary fox, king fox, Blandford's fox, corsac, dog fox, steppe fox and Afghan fox. His "official name" is Vulpes cana, a name seemingly shared with most foxes and which in Latin sounds suspiciously like "wolf-dog." Various maps on the internet show him living in Israel and Jordan, Egypt, the coasts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, he is a trusting soul with no fear of man, so while he is not endangered (yet) he is easy to trap and often is trapped for his fur. Not in Israel, however, where he is a protected species. Although I can't answer for what might happen if he decides he wants one of my neighbor's lambs for dinner.....

Reports are that the fox is strictly monogamous, although one has to wonder why....it seems the female and male have barely overlapping territories, and after mating, the female is the one to care for and raise the kits. Mom has the kits out of the den and foraging with her after 6 weeks, and by four months they are hunting on their own. They reach sexual maturity at 10-12 months and live in the wild for only 4-5 years. Pity. Something this handsome should have a longer life.

I hope he/she finds his mate. I hope they have a den in our honeycombed hills along the wadi. I hope their kits make it, and dine on windfallen olives, and run like the wind through the groves and hills and desert.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Information courtesy of Geffen, E., Hefner, R. and Wright, P. (2004) Blandford’s fox. In: Sillero-Zubiri, C., Hoffmann, M. and Macdonald, D.W. (Eds) Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan.IUCN, Gland.

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