Friday, September 11, 2009

We've FINALLY moved!

In Context has at long last relocated, here.

It's about time.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekend reading

Two items in the news lately, both of which have been magnets for a great deal of misinformation, are the subject of two different monographs, both published by Nadav Shragai through the auspices of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Last August, Shragai presented "Releasing Terrorists: New Victims Pay the Price." In the midst of the false rumors and ridiculous demands coming fast and furious with respect to the ever "imminent" release of Gilad Schalit, this piece is more relevant than ever.

More recently, Shragai wrote an in-depth analysis of "The U.S.-Israeli Dispute over Building in Jerusalem: The Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzadik Neighborhood." It's an especially important read in light of the continuing escalation of the building issue and the heat that's obscuring the issue from both sides.

Shabbat Shalom.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Promise Keepers 2.0

They're baaaack!

A Drew University professor who has spent years studying evangelical Christianity says a once mighty men’s revival group is back and is intensifying its outreach to the Jewish community.

And while some of this outreach is in the name of interfaith amity, the group is also firming up its ties to messianic Jews — Jews by birth who profess a belief in both Judaism and Jesus as their messiah.

Messianic Judaism is considered anathema to almost all mainstream Jewish organizations.

J. Terry Todd, director of Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict, recently watched a webcast of a two-day conference and prayer rally sponsored by Promise Keepers.

Yes, they're definitely "reaching out" ... to us.

According to an article Todd wrote for the website, the July 31-Aug. 1 rally, held at the stadium of the University of Colorado, was replete with Jewish symbolism. Leaders blew the shofar, welcomed 10,000 guests with the words “Shabbat Shalom,” apologized for Christian participation in the Holocaust, and even donned yellow stars as an act of solidarity with Jewish victims of the Nazis.

At the same time, Todd wrote, the rally featured a “parade of messianic Jewish speakers and entertainers,” including Jonathan Bernis, Joel Chernoff, Dan Juster, and musicians Paul Wilbur and Marty Goetz.

There's a lot more detail on that rally in Todd's full article, including this:

The Galatians 3:28 theme that played most consistently (and insistently) throughout was the need for reconciliation between gentiles and “believing Jews.” The Messianic Jewish movement focuses on the conversion of Jews to Christianity, yet it also encourages Jews to maintain their cultural and religious identities, including their observance of Mosaic laws. You could see some evidence of this impulse in the audience at Folsom Field: the Israeli folk dancers, the shofar blowers, the men (and even some women) wearing kippot and tallitot, arms upraised, singing the praises of Yeshua. “God loves diversity,” Rabbi Jonathan Bernis of Jewish Voice Ministries declared on Friday night. During the altar call, Bernis told Jews to remember that “if you are Jewish and you have converted, you are still Jewish.”

The afternoon’s “Did You Know?” PowerPoint slideshow proclaimed the Jewish people as “the fathers of the faith,” firmly embraced the Jewish roots of Christianity, and soundly rejected Christian supercessionism. God had not abandoned his covenant with Abraham, the voiceover declared, and the Jews are still God’s chosen people. The slideshow also offered an explicit apology for the church’s complicity in supporting and sustaining anti-Semitism. (In the webcast’s chat room, Stanley from West Lafayette, Indiana, typed, “Please forgive us Lord Jesus for not honoring and respecting our Jewish family.”) Then to great applause in the stadium, the narrator declared, “The Jewish people are coming to Christ in record numbers.”

Uh, no. Sorry. They're not.

If you can't quite recall what all of the fuss was about during PK's heyday, here's a pretty comprehensive (and conservative) critque from that time. For a more liberal perspective, there's always NOW's PK page.

My advice to PK2.0, FWIW, would be to leave the Jews alone. We're really not interested. Honest.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Crape through the window

Our pink crape myrtle just started to bloom last week. It's really late this year. But once it got going, it went nuts. The best view of the blossoms right now is out the upstairs bedroom window. A few bunches of them are mushed up against the pane and aren't that attractive. But most of these still have room to breathe.

Nice. And obviously, they're not done yet.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The right message

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the Wannsee House, the site of a key 1942 meeting during which the Nazis formalized plans for the extermination of the Jews. Netanyahu visited Wannsee Thursday between meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German foreign minister.

Earlier, Netanyahu was presented with the architectural blueprints for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during a ceremony in Berlin.

"Armed barbarians need to be stopped in time for human lives to be saved and civilization secured," said Netanyahu - a reference to the Allies' failure to stop the Nazis but also an allusion to the current situation with Iran.

And Bibi signed the guestbook.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Update: where's the link? Sorry about that. And to make matters worse, the original story has now been revised beyond recognition and the photo of the guest book is gone ... preserved, it would appear, only here at IC. (Though there's an even better photo, including the Hebrew entry, here.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stupid boycott tricks

Fans of Obamacare are now boycotting Whole Foods because of this op-ed by CEO John Mackey in The Wall Street Journal. For the most part, this is called cutting off your nose to spite your face, as Whole Foods provides a notably progressive employee benefits program and promotes exactly the kind of eco- and small farm-friendly agenda that the Obama administration supports.

Not to be outdone, from the ... other side ... along comes this story, supporting the boycott of Whole Foods because the chain "refuses to carry Israeli olive oil" and, instead, carries Canaan Fair Trade olive oil, which allegedly (no surprise) supports all sorts of virulently anti-Israel causes.

The problem is, Whole Foods has no such policy. For the most part and within limits, stores decide which products they're going to carry based on demographics and demand. My local Whole Foods, for example, carries Halutza olive oil, an Israeli company (yes, really!) that harvests its olives from groves in the Negev Desert (check out their website). It also carries Interrupcion Fair Trade olive oil (from Argentina). But there's no Canaan Fair Trade olive oil to be found on the shelves. Go figure.

Just to round out this idiocy, here's a plea to boycott Whole Foods because they sell Israeli couscous and thus support "massacres in Gaza" ("every box is a bullet in the brain"). You can't make this stuff up.

Case closed? I doubt it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


As my original home town of Pittsburgh gears up for the G-20 summit, the residents are getting increasingly unhappy and the bad crazies are coming out.

A coalition of groups opposed to the G-20 met last night to plan what appears to be shaping up as a 21st-century battle for Fort Pitt -- saying the city has blocked plans to protest.

Some hinted at civil disobedience, others at civil litigation.

"I've always had it in the back of my mind about civil disobedience and being arrested," said Kathy Cunningham, a Sharpsburg woman who said she has long experience marching in the streets, but none to date waiting in a jail cell.

The dilemma over when, where and how to take to the streets, emerged, protest leaders said, after the city failed to approve a series of permits sought by a range of groups.

Code Pink and several other groups sought a permit for a tent city at Point State Park and say they were turned down because the police and Secret Service want to use it as a staging area during the Sept. 24-25 meetings.

[ ... ]

Some, such as Albert Petrarca, a Highland Park resident active with the Palestine Solidarity Committee, suggested a two-track struggle: litigate for the permits and, if it becomes necessary, plan for mass arrests.

"It seems to me the only thing they're going to listen to is the threat of non-violent civil disobedience," Mr. Petrarca said. "We should be filling these jails. We should be filling them willingly; we should be filling them joyfully."

The disruption this will cause, I'm afraid, is too high a price to pay for the perceived PR bonus. All of the people I know there are just wishing this would go away.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not so mini link dump

Lots of great stuff out there this week. Here's a sample.

Rick Richman at Contentions:

In some circles, Obama is a “sort of god,” but a conference call with rabbis to urge them to give sermons relating to contentious pending legislation, on the holiest days of the Jewish calendar, seems to me to stretch the bounds of religious and political propriety.

Yes, you read that right. Rick has the nauseating details.

Solomonia has a unique take on the travesty of "justice" perpetrated in Scotland yesterday.

He's freed a man on "compassionate grounds" that, far from deserving compassion, deserved to be tossed out of an airplane 270 times. For that matter, I seem to recall reading that his prison conditions were far from austere. It's leftist panty-waist state gone mad.

So Libya has its mass murdering "hero" back and all's right with the world. The BBC has the whole sordid timeline of al-Megrahi's trials, denials and appeals, from the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 through his release yesterday. Our deepest sympathies (yet again) to the families of the victims (Jim Swire notwithstanding).

Sol also links to this excellent video essay by Bill Whittle over the Pajamas Media.

The Power & Danger of Iconography: The Resistance Steals Obama's Weapons

Don't miss. (Yes, I'm linking to Bill Whittle. What about it?)

Meryl Yourish digs beneath the putrid surface of Sweden's latest blood libel and demonstrates it total lack of novelty as well as the utter disingenuousness of the editor of the rag that published it.

But he is either deeply ignorant, deliberately trying to deflect the subject, or lying. The libel against the IDF—saying that they are killing Palestinians to steal their organs—strongly resemble the centuries-old blood libel that Jews murder Christians to use their blood in religious rituals. But while the blood libel does date back to the middle ages, it is not we who are using centuries-old images, nor are we “propagandizing” the issue. Those who hate Israel and Jews have been utilizing these images since the twelfth century.

And Mere Rhetoric points to yet another example of the State Department's double standard when it comes to Israel.

Just so everyone's clear: for the purposes of pressuring Israel to give away territory, there is a timeless distinction between Palestinian land and Israeli land. But when it comes to letting random Israel-hating US citizens wander between terrorist havens and Israeli cities - well, it's all just land, ya know?

Finally, speaking of Israel ... wealthy Arabs from Persian Gulf states are now buying up land in the Galilee. And it appears that the new land reform laws in Israel are going to make this easier? Bibi is pushing this land reform while Kadima and Meretz oppose it. Something's very wrong with this picture.

And that's a wrap.

Shabbat Shalom.

Not news dept.

Remember the outrage circling the blogosphere a few weeks ago over the website of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that appears (and always has appeared) to ignore Israelis and pander to "Palestinians?" Well, Israel National News reports that, in response to a letter from an angry Florida cardiologist, the Consul General has pretty much admitted that that's exactly what it does and so what?

The reply, received Monday, August 17, speaks for itself:

"Thank you for your feedback on the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem's Website. Just to clarify, the Consulate General in Jerusalem is the principal representation to the Palestinian Authority. We also provide services to American citizens in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

"The U.S. embassy to Israel is in Tel Aviv and is focused on the bilateral relationship with Israel. Their website is The American Center in Jerusalem also provides information about the United States to the Israeli public. Their website is .

"Jerusalem is a final status issue. Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resolve its status during negotiations. We will support their efforts to reach agreements on all final status issues."

Let's remember that the CG and its website are run by the State Department. And this reply, sadly, is a pretty accurate summary of the attitude of that organization, now and since Israel's inception, toward the Jewish State and its status in the Middle East ... which is to say that it's an unpleasant reality they would rather ignore and rebuff and occasionally poke an accusatory finger at and that they are utterly unapologetic about it.

We get that. We really do. Not news. Not even close.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not a giant

Kudos to Debbie Schlussel for squarely nailing this one. With so many "conservative" bloggers and pundits rushing to gush over the late, execrable Bob Novak, she's telling it like it is, in spades.

You won’t see me among the many conservatives crying over the passing of noted anti-Semite and open friend of HAMAS, Robert Novak. I couldn’t care less if he was a conservative. That makes his open anti-Semitism and wish for Israel’s death no less offensive, no less noxious, no less disgusting.

I couldn't agree more. From the comments I've seen on various threads, it appears that a lot of those mourning Novak's passing have passing little knowledge of his consistent positions on issues relating to Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, global jihad, the "root causes" of 9-11, the "Jewish Lobby," our Saudi "allies" or illegal immigration, just to name a few. If you're among them, you might want to click through to Debbie's story as well as this follow-up. Or revisit this essay from 2006 by Jackie Mason.

A man who commanded not one iota of my respect during his lifetime does not become entitled to it simply because he's passed away. Good riddance, I say. RIH.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Imagine that

Muslims, Arabs among J Street donors

The J Street political action committee has received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from dozens of Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as from several individuals connected to organizations doing Palestinian and Iranian issues advocacy, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Additionally, at least two State Department officials connected to Middle East issues have donated to the PAC, which gives money to candidates for US Congress supported by J Street. The organization describes itself as a "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby pushing for more American involvement and diplomacy in resolving the Middle East conflict.

I'm shocked. Really. Who would have thought that a self-described "pro-Israel" organization would have backing from Arabs, Muslims and State Department officials?

But why not? Don't all Jewish and Zionist organizations attract some of that same support?

Not so much.

Arab and Muslim donors are extremely rare for other organizations that describe themselves as supporters of Israel as J Street does, Jewish leaders at organizations across the political spectrum told The Jerusalem Post. Because most of these other organizations are not PACs, however, US law does not require them to release their donor lists. J Street's non-PAC arm also does not release a complete list of contributors.

So why do they support J Street? Beats me. Somehow, though, they must be getting the idea that J Street is furthering their agenda.

The funds that come from these sources indeed constitute a small fraction of the year-and-a-half-old organization's political fundraising, which totaled around $844,000 in 2008 - a key election year - and $111,000 so far in 2009. They comprise several dozen of the PAC's 4,000-5,000 donors.

But some of the contributors play key roles in the organization. The finance committee's 50 members - with a $10,000 contribution threshold - include Lebanese-American businessman Richard Abdoo, a current board member of Amideast and a former board member of the Arab American Institute, and Genevieve Lynch, who is also a member of the National Iranian American Council board. The group has also received several contributions from Nancy Dutton, an attorney who once represented the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Smaller donors include several leaders of Muslim student groups, Saudi- and Iranian-born Americans, and Palestinian- and Arab-American businessmen who also give to Arab-oriented PACs.

It's odd, by the way. J Street also styles itself as a peace-promoting "alternative to AIPAC." And they both do lobby Congress and other government officials. But, unlike J Street, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is not a PAC (Political Action Committee) and doesn't support or endorse policital candidates (no matter what its detractors claim). So it's not so much an "alternative" as it is an opponent. And its supporters know that.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not dissing surgeons

OBAMA: So we are going to be taking steps as part of reform to deal with expanding primary care physicians and our nursing corps. On the doctors front, one of the things we could do is to reimburse doctors who are providing preventive care and not just surgeon who provides care after somebody is sick. Nothing against surgeons. I want surgeons. I don't want to be getting a bunch of letters from surgeons now. I'm not dissing surgeons here.

All I'm saying is: Let's take the example of something like diabetes, a disease that's skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it's not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now, if we paid a family -- if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they are taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance.

But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, immediately, the surgeon is reimbursed. So why not make sure that we are also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation? Right? That will save us money.

I heard the President say that at the town hall meeting in Portsmouth, NH, yesterday, and I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. Does Obama think we should be reimbursing doctors $30,000 a pop for providing nutritional advice and monitoring medications? Is he trying to equate the level of time, skill and expertise necessary to provide those services with that necessary to successfully amputate a limb? Clearly, he fails to realize that the number of diabetics who require amputation are only a tiny fraction of those who require nutritional advice and medication monitoring (less than 0.4%) and that increasing reimbursement for the latter to even remotely approach appropriate reimbursement for the former would not save money but would vastly increase spending for medical care.

Oh, and, by the way, while I'm a huge advocate of preventive care from a wellness perspective (something that HMOs used to promote in the good old days), Obama's cost-savings-of-preventive-care meme has already been thoroughly debunked. (via Hot Air)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Not so much

So our President has been reaching out, again, to the Arab world. And, again, he's finding the door slammed in his face. The latest is no surprise.

Saudi rebuffs US on improving ties with Israel

By MATTHEW LEE (AP) – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia on Friday bluntly rejected U.S. appeals for improved relations with Israel as a way to help restart Middle East peace talks, saying the Jewish state is not interested in a deal.

After talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said his country will not consider steps suggested by U.S. Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell until Israel accepts Arab demands to withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territories.

And there you have it. A textbook example of what happens every time an attempt is made to appease and conciliate those whose goal is nothing less than Israel's destruction. It's a gap that will never be closed, because every step taken in their direction, whether by America or Israel herself, results in a larger step backward by the target of the rapproachment. The harder we try, the deeper they entrench. But some people never learn.

There's a wealth of good analysis out there. Soccer Dad, for example, has a terrific post today on some of the subtler nuances of this dance. Who's paying attention?

I've been away on my usual July vacation. I'm back now but only sort of. Kind of hard to tear myself away from this.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tour stuff

This so sucks.

VITTEL, France -- Lance Armstrong's teammate Levi Leipheimer withdrew from the Tour de France before Friday's 13th stage after breaking his wrist in a crash, his Astana team said.

Leipheimer fell off his bike about 1.86 miles from the finish line Thursday in a crash involving two-time Tour runner-up Cadel Evans.

The American was fourth overall, 39 seconds behind race leader Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy.

Levi can't get a break ... ok, bad choice of words. But he missed the race last year due to stupid bureaucratic BS (or something worse) and a lot of people were really looking forward to seeing him on the Champs-Élysées. Damn damn damn.

On a cheerier note, good decision.

TONNERRE, France -- Earpieces will be allowed Friday on the Tour de France after the International Cycling Union lifted a ban an all communications between sports directors and their riders for the 13th stage.

"To put an end to the controversy which is compromising the running of the Tour de France, the UCI management committee has decided not to repeat the experiment of a stage without radio communication on Friday 17th of July," the UCI said in a statement on Thursday.

Earpieces were banned on Tuesday in order to spice up the race, but 14 of the 20 teams protested, filing a petition to the sport's governing body and riding the 10th stage at a leisurely pace.

Heh. I used to think race radios were a cop-out. But it's become clear they perform both an important safety and strategic function and are now considered pretty much indispensible by the riders. Sounds like TPTB got the message.

In other Tour news ... oh! There were Senate confirmation hearings this week for Judge Sotomayor? Yes, indeed there were. Yes, I did watch. I thought her performance was abysmal. I thought she contradicted herself and meandered all over creation in her "answers," many of which weren't answers at all. I thought she was embarrassing and confusing. I think she'll continue to be embarrassing and confusing on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately.

There are at least dozens of qualified liberal judges out there who could run circles around her. The job she's seeking does, after all, require coherent thinking, communication and persuasion skills, none of which appear to be her strong suit. It's a shame and just a part of the legacy of poor choices and policies that Obama is piling up. But who knows? Maybe she'll grow into the job. I believe Clarence Thomas (whose appointment also caused me some concern) did just that. Of course, he'd only had two years' experience on the federal bench while she's had seventeen. But now I'm rambling and the sun is setting.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, July 10, 2009


A question that has been bothering me for weeks is this: what's up with all of the misleading reports out of the Arab press about Gilad Schalit? It seems that every day there's another false rumor planted and duly published by the Western (including the Israeli) media, usually with a caveat attached but WTF?

Today's item:

'Israel, Hamas agree to discuss Schalit'

Israel and Hamas have agreed to renew negotiations for the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, London-based Arab newspaper Al Hayat reported Friday morning.

G-8 leaders urge Hamas to release Schalit, give Iran till September on nukes

An unnamed Egyptian official told the paper that Cairo wants to understand the new Israeli government's position on a prisoner swap.

"So far, the Israeli government has not given any offer that we can work with," the source said. He said that much progress had been made with the previous government and that it would be a shame to start again from scratch.

"The agreement to renew talks is a positive step, but we are waiting to hear the Israeli position," he said.

The Jerusalem Post could not independently verify the Al Hayat report.

Of course they couldn't. Two weeks ago, it was this:

Report: Schalit release imminent

The London-based Asharq Alawsat reported Saturday significant progress in negotiations to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip for over three years.

According to the report, Israel and Hamas reached a compromise according to which Israel would eventually release 1,100 Palestinian prisoners, of which 400 would be picked by Hamas.

Hamas ministers and parliamentarians would also be released, according to the reported agreement.

Israel would also remove the siege of the Gaza Strip, open the southern Rafah Crossing and return it to the level of operation that existed before the Hamas coup two years ago.

The paper reported that the plan received the blessing of the United States.

Israeli and Palestinian sources both doubted the veracity of Asharq Alawsat's report, and The Jerusalem Post could not verify its reliability.

Moshe Feiglin asks why Schalit isn't home yet. There's an unpleasant answer lurking between the lines in another recent report:

Hamas says has no knowledge of Shalit's life

GAZA, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic Hamas movement on Thursday said it cannot confirm or deny if the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive.

"The crazy war on the Gaza Strip wiped out everything so we don't know if Shalit is still alive or if he has died," Osama al-Muzini, a Hamas official authorized to speak on this issue, told Xinhua, referring to a 22-day Israeli offensive against the Hamas-controlled territory in January.

Al-Muzini, however, said Israel has to go ahead with talks to exchange Shalit for a number of Arab prisoners "whether the soldier was dead or alive."

"The Zionist enemy has to pursue negotiations without any signal confirming or denying this argument," al-Muzini added.

Hamas has gotten a heck of a lot of mileage out of hiding the ball when it comes to Schalit. They would lose all that if they either released him or acknowledged that he's no longer alive and I doubt there's any price high enough to make up for that. It's extremely unlikely, sad to say, that there will be any reliable information on the true fate of this brave soldier any time soon.

Shabbat Shalom.