Monday, May 31, 2004

When Harry met a gangster

Harry meets, and contemplates knocking off, a senior Israeli mobster (in crappy sandals).

Why did the haredi man cross the street?

'Cos the woman was on his side.
According to Ma'ariv, the Admor Mevishna Street in Bnei Brak will now be segregated-- men on one side, women on the other.
I remember when they first suggested seperate buses, the joke was, what's next, segregated streets? So, what's next, seperate cities (perhaps husbands and wives can meet on neutral ground at appointed visiting hours)?

UPDATE: Apparently the men are supposed to walk on the west side of the street, women on the east. The majority of the shops are on the east.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Interfaith interference

The British government sets out to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of its Muslim youth – and comes up with a disturbing plan, with implications for all religions practiced in the UK. According to the London Times,
“In future the government plans to boost the careers of moderate clerics who back Blair’s line on terrorism... Among those identified by the government in the documents is Amr Khaled, 36, an accountant-turned-lay preacher who came to prominence in Egypt in the late 1990s and now lives in Britain.
“The government will also seek to “promote awareness” of foreign-based imams, including Hamza Yusuf and Suhaib Webb. Yusuf is an adviser to President George W Bush and is described as the “rock star of the new Muslim generation”.... The Home Office is setting up a series of government-backed training courses for a new generation of British imams likely to be modelled (sic) on Yusuf and Webb.”
While Britain is entitled to refuse entry to, or deport, men and women who are dedicated to its destruction, the government should probably think several times before interfering in Muslim culture and religion. The Muslim decision to fight the drift towards religious fundamentalism must come from within; No Western government can – or should - do it for them.

Israel declares Europe ‘non-relevant’

If you ignore your troubles, will they just go away? Israel seems to think so.
Earlier today, its High Court rejected a petition to stop Zvi Hefetz becoming the next Israeli Ambassador to Britain. We now can safely assume that the businessman, who has little diplomatic experience and a heavy Russian accent in English, will soon be on a London-bound plane to fill one of Israel’s most important diplomatic positions.
Through this bizarre appointment, Israel seems to be turning its nose up at even its best friends in Europe, as if to say, ‘we know you’re against us anyway, so we’re not going to bother communicating or engaging with you in any serious or professional manner. Hopefully, by ignoring you, you will just cease to exist as far as we are concerned.’
Well, of course they won’t – although it might feel good to pretend for a moment. If anything, Europe will become more and more relevant as Israel limits its ability to exercise damage-control.
By sending someone whose sole qualification for the ambassadorship seems to be that he is a friend of Omri Sharon’s, Israel has forfeited its right to complain that Europe is ‘against’ it.

Friday, May 28, 2004


Another week, another three articles on the Jewish singles “crisis.”
This time the culprit is the NY Jewish Week, which in a package deal, addresses the high number of Israeli singles; ‘spiritual’ events for singles; and the new, badly-designed dating site,, which has snagged a series of rabbinic endorsements.
Which begs the question – why would a site which is nothing more than a convenient vehicle to get in touch with matchmakers need them? Isn’t this just another example of the Orthodox community’s increasing dread of being labeled non-conformist, in every activity, big and small, whether there are halachic implications or not?
I (and others) continue to be puzzled by this overwhelming fear of 'independence' -- or rather, of being seen as ‘independent.’ How is the Orthodox community going to ever break out of this?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A belated welcome

It’s been a week since I started Bloghead, and I’d finally like to welcome everyone to my brand-new blog. I finally feel it’s taking shape, especially since I (or more accurately, my husband, Danny) added links and a blogroll, and an improved system for comments – which I hope people will start using more frequently.... Why has everyone been so shy?
I won’t be blogging Wed.-Thurs. because of Shavuot, but should be back online on Friday (late-ish). In the meanwhile, I wish you all a Chag Sameach!


Sorry, more Nazis

"Nazi" is a nickname Shanaaz Ismail has had for 34 years - but the sight of it on her personalised number plates has upset Jewish people.
So after a request from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the provincial department of transport has asked Ismail to change the offending number plates bearing the words "Nazi - WP".
Personally I'd change the nickname as well as the numberplate.

The Jew who fell in love with a Nazi

My favorite part of the story takes place after he asked her to marry him:
"'In my desperation I told him the truth, I told him I was Jewish. Then I told him to sleep on it, but he said he had lied to me too and that he was married and getting a divorce and had a daughter.' ‘So we’re quits,’ he replied, and said again that we should marry. I said yes.”
So basically they knew nothing about each other. Not to mention that he was a Nazi.

Free Walid Shoebat!

According to Protocols, Palestinian terrorist-turned-lover-of-Zion Walid Shoebat will be speaking at UCLA Hillel this Tuesday.
Shoebat, a convert to Christianity, certainly has been doing the rounds: just a couple of weeks ago he was the guest of Aish in London, he’s due next month in Atlanta, and a quick Google search reveals that in the last few months, he’s spoken to Jewish audiences in Berkeley, Riverdale, Montreal, Winnipeg and Toronto, amongst other places.
Mr. Shoebat is an odd character: some reports have him donning a kippah and saying “Ani Tzioni” in Hebrew during his speeches, whilst others have him “allowing’ Palestinians to continue living in an Israel that includes “Judea and Samaria” – “as long as they pledge allegiance to Israel and become Israeli citizens.” (As a Zionist, has he thought this one-state-solution through properly?). I personally find it strange, even a little creepy, for him to have switched sides so completely that he seems to be actually rooting for his former enemy. Frankly, I would have found him more reliable and more compelling had he emerged with a more nuanced message.
Still, far be it from me to criticize Mr. Shoebat, a man willing to admit where he was wrong, and campaign for justice, perhaps at risk to his life. And there is no real harm in Jewish organizations listening to his story, either: it is reassuring and comforting to know that even a former Palestinian terrorist concedes we’re right.
My question is: what’s the point? He’s preaching to the converted. Why does Mr. Shoebat, who claims his aim is to spread his story and message as widely as possible, waste his time talking to Jewish organization upon Jewish organization – when it’s the waverers and opponents he needs to convince?
A cynic would suggest Mr. Shoebat was earning a lot of money for each talk – but I’ve found no mention of what happens to his fees.
The real lesson is about one of the weaknesses of the Jewish community’s hasbara efforts. Instead of focusing on a really aggressive campaign to defend and promote Israel, we spend way too much energy sending each other emails about the “matzav,” and listening to our own side reassure us we’re right, because it makes us feel better.
We made a similar mistake with Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble with Islam, who with the publication of her book became the darling of every Jewish organization, overnight. Manji, who wrote her book specifically in order to challenge and revitalize her fellow Muslims, suddenly found herself talking instead to dozens of Jewish audiences, who experienced a collective emotional catharsis as they heard their thoughts about Islam validated by a Muslim. (At least Manji, if she followed the lines of her book, had much to say about the historical development of Islam and what can be done to help its moderates; Shoebat, as far as I can make out, has little more to offer beyond his personal story and some wildly unrealistic projections – see above).
Surely our long-term goals would be much better served if we spent our free evenings listening to, and learning the lessons from, our opponents; listening to, and learning the lesson from, strategic thinkers; campaigning to get fairer coverage; sending mass-emails about the matzav to someone other than our Jewish best friends; or frankly, doing the washing-up. At least we would free up Mr. Shoebat, Ms. Manji and their likes to talk to the people who really need to hear them -- which is not us.

UPDATE: Manji, a Muslim, was the star speaker at a conference last week entitled, "Canadian Jewish Women Speak."

Monday, May 24, 2004

American Muslim soldiers

Too-short article in the Washington Times on an American Muslim soldier in Iraq; I hope someone else will pick up the story and elaborate.

Flying high

El Al will become the first airline in the world next month to equip all its planes with an anti-missile system.
Now how about an anti-engine-failure-in-midair system?
And while I'm offering El Al advice, maybe they could adapt Delta's new scheme , whereby flight attendants can give out free tickets to "passengers who are nice to each other." In El Al, it might be more beneficial to let passengers give free tickets to flight attendants who are nice to them.
(Just kidding. I actually think El Al service -- in the plane, if not in the check-in area at Ben Gurion -- has vastly improved in the last few years.)

More Re-Invention

According to the UK's Sun (not exactly the most reliable of sources), the real reason Madonna cancelled her upcoming performances in Israel was not fear of harrasment by 'real' Kabbalists, but specific threats from Palestinian terrorists.
What kind of Kabbala student is more scared by a bomb than by a Pulsa D'Nura?

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Still Life With Bombers

Very positive review in the NYT of Still Life with Bombers by David Horovitz, an outstanding book on current reality in Israel (which I reviewed for The Forward a few weeks ago). Recommended.

No sex in the city?

Another week, another article on the Jewish Orthodox singles “crisis.”
This time the culprit is Ha’aretz. To its credit, the paper actually vaguely points to the real reason, in my opinion, for the high number of unmarried older women: that many of our men don’t know how to relate to, or just plain don’t like the idea of, women who are more educated, more ambitious and more successful in their careers than ever before in history.
The paper gives a very comprehensive overview of every possible issue involved in the “crisis,” including several I blogged about on Protocols a couple of weeks ago, such as the difficulty of living in a family-oriented community, and the increasing number of single women considering having a child alone. The paper also addresses one important issue which singles are only just beginning to talk about publicly: the difficulty of being asked to forgo or limit physical contact with the other gender until they finally marry at 30, 35 or 40.
"In every traditional society, the myth of the preservation of virginity until marriage prevails. Among themselves, however, these women do not hide the fact that they cross the lines. [Sharon] Mayevsky does not understand the point of the prohibition at a more mature age. ‘My body, the thing with which I'm supposed to be on the friendliest terms, because it is `I,' is so much in conflict with itself because of the restrictions imposed by the rabbis.’
“At a conference held at the Laifer center a few months ago, which dealt with the subject of niddah (ritual impurity during and immediately after the menstrual period), she raised her hand and asked, in front of an audience in which there were many single women, why they weren't talking about ritual baths for unmarried women.
“The daring question is still hanging in the air. This is the next debate. ‘If someone is looking for the framework of Jewish law, she has to perform the ritual bath if she has sexual relations,’ says Mayevsky. ‘I don't understand why someone like that has to lie to the bath attendant and say that she is married.’”
It's not enough to say, 'this shouldn't happen,' because it is happening, all over Katamon and the Upper West Side. Can / will the rabbis do anything to help this community, frustrated in more ways than one, beyond turning a blind eye? It will be interesting to watch how the debate develops.

Christopher's Bar Mitzvah

According to the London Times, Bar Mitzvahs are becoming popular among non-Jewish American teenagers. “Are they just an excuse for a treat?” the paper asks seriously. Let’s weigh up the evidence:
“An Iranian family recently put on a “faux bat mitzvah” for their daughter at the Bryant Park Grill in the heart of New York City (the party organiser and caterer Christian Pascal, who arranged it, reports that it was a “wonderful” occasion, with a fashion show, dancing, DJs and a big movie screen).
“Meanwhile, Terry Macklin, a non-Jewish DJ in Ohio who has been playing at bar mitzvahs for more than 20 years, recently gave his twin daughters, Jennifer and Jessica, a “black” mitzvah. ‘It is just a good way and a good time to celebrate becoming a teenager,’ he says. ‘I suppose parents feel that giving a party at 13, rather than the traditional sweet 16 or graduation parties, is safer, as there will be less likelihood of drink and drugs.’
“He had been playing at bar mitzvah parties every weekend since the girls were babies ‘and so when they said they would like one too, I thought it was a great idea.’”
“Marsha Bliss, of Hart to Hart, a Californian party company, has organised more than a dozen faux bar mitzvahs in the past year. ‘It’s all about having a good time,’ she says. ‘And why not?’”
Well, I say we allow anyone who wants to to share in our traditions. On one condition: just for the sake of appearances, they have to take on other symbolic rituals as well. Like circumcision. Ooops, where have all the faux Bar Mitzvahs gone?
One additional noteworthy item in the article: one of the Jewish kids’ Bar-Mitzvah celebrations cost his parents $90,000. NINETY THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!! If non-Jewish parents are stupid enough to want to emulate that horrible, horrible waste of money, who can stop them.

Celebrating Ethiopian Aliya

The Jerusalem Post weighs up the successes and failures of the absorption of the Ethiopian Jews into Israeli society, and cautiously concludes that “at the end of the day it was a success story,” considering how far the Ethiopians, many of whom had never lived in a city before and few of whom had any formal education at all, had to come.
“The hurdles for satisfactory absorption of Africans into any white Western society are famously formidable,” the paper says. “In countries larger and wealthier than Israel, the very notion of willingly admitting such a large population in such a short period of time would be considered a non-starter. It wasn't for Israel.”
Sounds impressive. But among Israel’s achievements, the editorial counts the following facts: “Over 12% of children of Ethiopian-born parents passed their high school matriculation exams last year (22% of those who finished 12th grade). Over 700 Ethiopian students take pre-academic courses and there are 400 Ethiopian university students.... It may not sound like much” – damn right – “but not too many years back there were none. This is how social mobility starts.”
Unfortunately, the best measure of how successful the absorption of the Ethiopian Jews has been is not how far they have come since Africa – but whether they have achieved anywhere near as much as they could have done?
My (admittedly limited) experience with the Ethiopians suggests that in many ways, Israel underestimated and undermined their drive to learn and succeed, and has consigned many of them, needlessly, to a life of struggle and poverty.
For one month in 1997, I volunteered in an Ethiopian caravan park just outside of Haifa. I will never forget the sight of dozens of Ethiopian teenagers, boys and girls, lining up at a bus stop at 7 am, in order to voluntarily attend extra English and math lessons during their Pesach holidays. I remember wondering which of my friends back home would have done the same.
Another sight I will never forget: several days earlier, at the local school, sitting in on a “special needs” class about Passover. Every student in the room was Ethiopian. At the break, I asked the teacher whether there were any Ethiopian students I could visit in the “regular” class.
“No,” she said. “There aren’t any.”
“None??? There’s not even one Ethiopian student capable of participating in the regular class?”
As we were speaking in the school corridor, two students, an Ethiopian and an Ashkenazi pupil who were previously playing together, got into some sort of fight and started scuffling. Without even bothering to check the facts, the teacher grabbed the arm of the Ethiopian, and started screaming at him that ‘that’s not the way we behave around here.’ He skulked off, humiliated, while the white pupil got off scot-free.
The more time I spent with the Ethiopian kids, the more I became convinced of their drive, determination and spunk. While they were facing an uphill battle to overcome horrific conditions at home including illiterate parents, horrendous poverty, and sometimes abuse, their chances of ‘making it’ would have vastly improved had they been offered proper support and encouragement at school. Instead, they got stifling racism and condescension, if not worse – which, I suspect, was endemic.

Friday, May 21, 2004

O Chavruta O Mituta

"Either Companionship or Death"... Sometimes both. According to the NYT, "A woman is accused of pouring boiling oil on her boyfriend's face in an argument over a Bible verse."
Haven't they ever heard of "70 Panim LaTorah" out there in Oregon?

(Via Religion & Society)


A little late, but... the New York Times has a run down of all the rich Jews queuing up to buy The Jerusalem Post – or, as it calls it, that “Small but Special Israeli Daily.”
In the lead: Can West, owned by Canada’s Asper family. (Safe but boring)
Close behind: Chaim Saban, the Israeli-American half-owner of Fox Family Worldwide and producer of the Power Rangers. (“Take that, Ha’aretz!”)
In with an outside chance (not really): The UK’s Jewish Chronicle. (Not even worth commenting on.)
Least likely: former Israeli MK and convicted criminal, Shmuel Flatto-Sharon.
"People read it all over the world," Mr. Flatto-Sharon said, "and it's important it stays patriotic. That's worth a couple of cents." (Convicted criminal? A couple of cents? By the sound of things, already in line with the management philosophy of the Post’s current owners, Hollinger. Perhaps in with an outside chance after all).

Reform Reform!

Apropos my last post (below), perhaps this is what the Orthodox Rabbis are scared of:

"The branch of American Judaism that pioneered elevating women to leadership positions is now wrestling with an uncomfortable issue: Where have the men gone?
"Reform Jewish leaders in many communities say females outnumber males in areas ranging from summer camp to synagogue leadership, prompting concern that men feel abandoned by the religious movement and are turning away from it....
"'Men just don't know where they fit in,'" said Doug Barden, executive director of the Reform movement's North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods. "They're kind of betwixt and between.'"
"Several rabbis said it is not unusual for synagogues to have nearly all women in the clergy and lay leadership.
"There's been what some people call a feminization of our movement," Rudin said. "We need to have a Reform movement for everybody."
Interestingly, the article points out that there's no gender imbalance in the Conservative Movement. Can anyone explain the difference?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

For the slippery slope

Bracha Rutner has become America’s first female “Yoetzet Halacha,” or “Advisor on Jewish Law,” trained to answer women’s questions on the laws of family purity. She has been employed for almost a year now by the Riverdale Jewish Center – but the press has only just picked up the story.
Predictably, there is a big rush to deny that the appointment is in any way “revolutionary,” or a real change to women’s leadership roles in Orthodox circles.
“This is not a revolution. This is not about feminism. This is about Torah,” said Rabbi Rosenblatt, who hired Rutner. “She doesn’t have a rabbi’s portfolio.... This is an educational function — a community educator.”
Adds Samuel Heilman, professor of Jewish studies and sociology at the City University of New York and an expert on the Orthodox world: “This is an administrative thing, it’s not a rabbinic thing... I don’t know that it’s different than having a woman who is an assistant to the rabbi” and handles certain educational and administrative duties.”
Well, of course it’s different: Rutner is giving religious rulings, not doing bookkeeping. And as far as I’m concerned, a good thing too. There is no reason why if an Orthodox woman knows as much about halacha as a man, he should have the option of becoming a halachic authority, while she shouldn’t. Men should not have a monopoly on halacha, which concerns us all.
What the Rabbi (although probably not Heilman), of course, is trying to preempt, is the ‘slippery slope’ argument that by appointing a woman to give any sort of official halachic advice, women rabbis are just around the corner. Instead of denying the revolutionary nature of the appointment, he could perhaps explain that in Israel, where there are dozens of “Yoatzot Halacha,” or “Yoatzot Nidda” as they are called there, the practice has so far not resulted in women gaining any other religious roles.
But truth be told, it is only a matter of time – perhaps a long time, but a matter of time nonetheless. As women begin to get comfortable dispensing halachic opinions in one area, they will justifiably begin to wonder why they are not allowed to rule on others. As women begin to get comfortable asking other women for halachic advice in one area, they will naturally begin to ask if it is a cultural tradition, rather than law, stopping women giving rulings in other areas. Call them women rabbis, call them pseudo-rabbis, call them something else – they’re on their way. And like I said, a good thing too.

Barking mad

Prison guards to study dog language

"Israeli prison guards are being trained to understand dog language so they can tell the difference between barks.
"Scientific analysis has shown dogs bark differently depending on what they have seen, from a prisoner escaping to a stray cat in the yard.
"According to Israeli paper Jedijot Achronot (sic), the training of the guards to understand the language of dogs is being carried out by a system that electronically analyses the guard dogs' bark in each prison... The idea is that guards on patrol will soon learn to tell when a bark should be acted upon."
I always knew Jews had a talent for languages.

Hair we go again....

Sally Berkovic, who, according to the amusing tag-line at the end of her article, “wears knee-length skirts and covers her hair with a hat,” tries to get under the sheitel controversy in The Jerusalem Post. She offers two cynical explanations for why the issue of Hindu ritual has taken root now, ten years after it was first raised:

1. Rabbis have long objected to human hair sheitels because they’re not modest enough; they have finally found a “halachically legitimate way for the rabbis to control women by forbidding the wearing of inappropriately attractive sheitels.” (Or at least, one assumes, making inappropriately attractive sheitels more suspect and less fashionable; they can’t use the Hindu excuse to forbid human-hair sheitels altogether.)

2. The economic argument, which is often, incidentally, used to explain the high price of Kosher food: If the Indian hair-cutting ritual is “definitively ruled to be avoda zara, the community is going to need rabbis to supervise wig factories to ensure that no forbidden hair is found. Rabbis will need to be trained, a process of certification will be required, and ongoing quality control will be necessary.” All this will be paid for, of course, by the consumers, who will not be able to give up on wigs that actually look decent.

Both of these arguments are convincing, although not together; either the rabbis wanted to completely get rid of human-hair sheitels, or they wanted to profit from them. My suspicion is that the Rabbis probably started off using Indian rituals as an excuse to limit human-hair wigs they hated anyway, but will quickly discover the economic benefits of their ruling. Either possibility is hair-raising......

UPDATE: From a feature in The Jerusalem Post's weekend edition: "Rabbis are organizing to set up kashrut boards for supervision and certification of wigs."

Typos found in the Bible

The Christian bible, that is.
“Thank the Lord -- and the proofreaders at Peachtree Editorial and Proofreading -- that the Bible refers to ‘‘our ancestors" instead of ‘‘sour ancestors," and calls for an end to ‘‘factions" -- not ‘‘fractions." The proofreading service caught those typos and others before the latest edition of the Holy Book went to press.”
Among the errors which did go to print in the past: “Thou shalt commit adultery,” in a 1631 King James edition.
Sounds to me like someone might have put that in deliberately....

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Can we kvell over this?

David Weiss, an observant Jew, wrote Shrek II. Well, was one of a team of 6 screenwriters, anyway...

Israel and Abu Ghraib

This rather strange article goes to extraordinary lengths to disprove allegations aired on CBC that Israeli interrogators were involved in abuse at Abu Ghraib. The latter half almost reads as if it is based on talking points provided by Israel's foreign office.
As far as I was aware, the CBC allegations were not taken seriously by anyone; the network itself aired an apology on the evening news for ever broadcasting them. Why would Ha’aretz risk giving such unfounded and harmful rumors more publicity, indeed, more credence, by going into such a tortured (ahem) refutation?

Not preaching to the converted

Last week, the UK's first online, 3D chapel opened under the sponsorship of the Methodist Church. The 'cyber pulpit' was meant to enable worshipers who found it hard to get to a ‘real’ church to be part of a community.
Now, it seems, the whole enterprise has been disrupted “after a large number of online worshippers logged in as Satan and shouted expletives.”
Church wardens are on duty with “smite buttons” to consign blasphemers to virtual hell. But some of the worst offenders are from the US and Australia and visit in the middle of the night, when the wardens are asleep. Hackers have broken in disguised as wardens, sworn at the congregation or greeted newcomers by saying “Satan loves you”.

Perhaps an i-shul isn’t such a good idea after all.....

Osama's shack is shocking

An exhibit recreating Osama bin Laden’s last known address in 3D has been shortlisted for the ever-controversial, designed-to-shock Turner Prize.
So far, critics seem to be focusing on how tame "The House of Osama bin Laden" is, at least compared to Damien Hirst's animals pickled in formaldehyde. Has the Prize entered a new, "mature" era?
In my opinion, not.
The most instructive writing on the exhibit appeared in The Observer in late 2003, when “Osama’s House” was being shown in the Imperial War Museum in London.
According to Ben Langlands, one of two men responsible for the piece of so-called art,
'In a way, it's about bin Laden’s absence more than anything... He is now this unseen presence who, in many ways, is more powerful now than when he was visible. In a way, the house is a metaphor for bin Laden, a Scarlet Pimpernel figure.'

The comparison to the fictional Scarlet Pimpernel is unfortunate; while he was “darned, elusive,” rather like bin Laden, Baroness Orczy’s hero of the French Revolution was famous for saving people, not killing them. Langland’s words betray a subconscious element of admiration for bin Laden; could it be that Langlands sees in the murderer something of the Pimpernel’s dashing adventure?
Adds Nikki Bell, the second “artist”,
'People are always interested in visiting places where certain people lived. They want to go to a house where someone lived in order to somehow explore that life.'

The trouble is, bin Laden isn’t just “certain people.” He’s an evil, mass-murdering terrorist; nosing around his former haunts, which don’t contain any of trace of his presence anyway, won’t solve the bin Laden enigma. The way Bell is talking, you would think bin Laden’s house was just one more stop on the Hollywood Celebrity House Tour.
This is why this piece is almost dangerous: it turns bin Laden, the epitomy of evil, into just another famous star, whose disappearing act makes him exciting, kind of Romantic. We are meant to feel a thrill at being up close and personal, in bin Laden's personal space, in awe of his celebrity – while his evil, if remembered at all, seems more and more banal.
The Turner Prize has long been sensationalist and tasteless; I have no doubt “Osama’s House” will win. But don’t go see it when it does.

Al-Qaeda targets Diamond Joe

Detailed notes of an alleged al-Qaeda plot to terrorise Australia's Jewish community have been revealed during the trial of a man accused of planning to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra.

"The main objective here is that this operation will not only be done once but issuing targets and disappear - in the future we will do something again and disappear.
"Their decision is two important targets in Australia - Israel Embassy and/or Jews named Joe Gutnick.
"I also need to find other Jewish targets - for example when there is a meeting of a lot of Jewish, etc".

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


Ma’ariv Online publishes one of the most unexpected, shocking, completely unbelievable “exclusives” of all time – and then mysteriously removes all trace of the story, replacing it with this. Bit of luck I was in time to take a screenshot of the original, or at least the original ridiculous headline, which can now be seen here.
My God, I still can't believe it. Any more "exclusives," Ma'ariv?

Modern Methuselah

Fidel Castro's doctor says he can live to 140.
120 isn't enough any more?

Rock of Europe?

God Back in EU Debate
An interesting dilemma in a pretty Godless continent; in the UK, for example, church attendance (among all denominations) is now less than 8%, while Tony Blair is regularly mocked for being a practicing Christian. The Israelis resolved a similar debate over their Declaration of Independence with a reference to the “Rock of Israel”; will the Poles and Italians manage to swing a similar compromise?

Another Saudi initiative?

According to a new ruling from the Edah Charedit,
“It is [forbidden] for women to drive taxis... It is pritzut [licentiousness]. The Beit Din ruled two weeks ago that women are not allowed to work as taxi drivers.”
The cause of this unusual ruling (I can’t think of many other professions, other than prostitution and according to some, the military, that women have been explicitly forbidden from entering) was an enterprising Haredi woman, who persuaded a cab company in Jerusalem’s largely ultra-Orthodox suburb of Romema to let her serve their female customers. The Rabbanim initially thought this was a great idea – until the woman was sent by mistake to pick up a Neturei Karta rabbi, who couldn’t wait for another cab.
The revocation of her license was swift. But was pritzut really the reason? According to the owner of the cab company,
"We tried to present the argument that we were offering a more kosher service, but they argued the future downfall of the Jewish family if women begin to get such freedom."
Sounds more like RoMecca than Romema to me.

Poor Anglos

A minor, yet interesting angle this Jerusalem Post article on Israeli soup kitchens misses, is the number of anglos eating at such institutions. As a regular volunteer at a Jerusalem soup kitchen before I left Israel in Feb. 2004, I was constantly shocked by the stream of former Americans, Brits and Australians asking for food. There were students, former lawyers and other professionals with degrees from Ivy League universities, and old-time olim reduced to homelessness. I was even once set up on a date with a perfectly nice professional guy, who a year and a half later wandered into the soup kitchen where I was volunteering -- as a customer.
While everyone knows that "the way to make a small fortune in Israel is to come with a large one," especially in the current economic climate, few realize the true depth of the current Israeli recession. Although the financial professionals keep on telling us that the recession is officially over (typical -- just after I leave), it will probably take years for the benefits to trickle down to those who have been hardest hit.

Sheitel Shanda

If the creators of this t-shirt really wanted to capitalize on the sheitel shanda, as suggested by Fiddish, shouldn't they have made the sleeves just a little longer?


One of three teenagers accused of firebombing a Montreal Jewish school has been released on bail.

According to the suspect's lawyer, the bail money was easy to raise: '"The money comes from relatives and friends who can't accept the idea of a teenager remaining in custody," he said.'

Funny, what I can't accept is the idea of a teenager firebombing a school.