Sunday, March 30, 2008


I'm having a really hard time getting back into the writing habit here, so for now, here's something different. A branch growing through a modern wall below the Eastern ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Friday, March 28, 2008


It appears that I'm back but it doesn't really feel like it, exactly. I usually don't suffer from jet lag much but I guess that's what this is. With a touch of the usual homesickness thrown in (go figure). Anyway, it's disorienting. So posting won't resume here for a few more days. Please stand by.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


As you may have noticed, this blog doesn't pretend to be technologically sophisticated. I realize that I could increase my coverage and my readership by adding a few modest increments here and there and some day I may do exactly that. But at the moment it's all I can do to find time to post an occasional thought or rant. So I suspect my readers are and will remain into the indefinite future a small and select minority.

To all of those who constitute that minority ... many thanks and I hope I occasionally reward your patience and your persistence.

A corollary to this technological inepitude or indifference (as the case may be) is that I still do not own a laptop. This allows me to actually, from time to time, take ... a true vacation ... something that I find increasingly rare among my fellow inhabitants of the 21st century of this Common Era.

Every 24 months or so I have an opportunity to hop across the ponds, as it were, to visit my family in Jerusalem. And as I am about to do exactly that, I expect things will be rather slow around here for a while. I will have access to someone else's computer and I'll try to post something from time to time but, as usual on these trips, I will probably be far too busy, intrigued and enthralled to do an awful lot of blogging. Apologies in advance.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

genesis x

Taking a moment out here for the frivolous and nostalgic ... I came across this very old email, forwarded to me by a friend and, I confess, forwarded on by me to a few other people. (Hey, I agreed with the sentiment. I still do.)

From: [ ... ]
To: [ ... ]
Sent: Friday, September 25, 1998 10:59 PM
Subject: A petition to censure and move on

Now that the Starr report is out, and the worst is known, I've been hoping that congress would take swift action and then move on with the business of the country. But it seems our representatives are settling down for a long process, and I'm not sure I can stand it. Worse, I'm not sure the country can stand it.

I'm helping launch an Internet campaign to tell our representatives that we've had enough. The President should receive censure from the Congress and we should all move on. And the independent counsel investigation should end. It's time for the public interest to come first, and for our representatives to show real leadership.

Will you help? Just go to to sign the petition. It only takes a minute. And then if you send a message on to your friends and colleagues, the ball will really get rolling. It's up to us.

Please feel free to forward this message to anyone you think would be interested.

That was the beginning. Before the PAC. Before Soros. Just Wes Boyd and Joan Blades and a small mailing list. The genesis of a monster. Who knew?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Six degrees of separation

Sometimes less. In the Jewish world, very often less, as Soccer Dad (whose nephew learns at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva) demonstrates (the following links are his -- and there are more).

One of my nephew's other cousins usually studied in the library on Thursday nights, but because it was Rosh Chodesh (the new Jewish month) he had gone to the Kotel (Western wall) and was out of harm's way.

I finally found out that one of the young men killed was
my nephew's roommate.

This isn't my nephew's first connection to a terror attack. In 2002 the family of one of his classmates was ambushed. His friend's
father, mother and brother were killed.

And it's not just that nephew. I'm taken aback by the number of terror victims that my brother's family had connections to.

His older brother used to study with the son of
Col. Dror Weinberg. Col. Weinberg was considered a rising star of the Israeli army and was religious too. He was killed in an ambush in Chevron.

My sister-in-law, a doctor, has worked with a brother of
Dr. Shmuel Gillis, a talented hematologist who was known for his treatment of both Jews and Arabs. (Barbara Sofer wrote "Who will care for Jamila now?" in his memory.)

And my brother was friends with Rabbi Shimon Biran, who had been the Rabbi of Kfar Darom in Gaza. And two and a half years ago, my brother had to watch his friend be
buried again.

Of course that's just a small sample of those who have been killed by terror in Israel. Still it gives a sense of the cost of this war against Israel and the degree to which it touches society as a whole.

This is an important element of the solidarity of the Jewish people. And, as our enemy has figured out better than many of us have, a vulnerability that is able to transmit pain and grief on an almost universal level ... to those who care, anyway.

In other words, it's a vulnerability that's also a strength. As my years increase, I become increasingly aware that we, as a people, have come close to perfecting the process of grieving, deeply and sincerely grieving, and then moving on. We've had to. And yet, we have never, ever, elevated death over life as a goal or an aspiration.

This is just one of the many things that make us better than our enemy. In spite of the tactical edge that it sometimes gives them, this is just one of the many reasons why we will prevail ... and they will not.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed

-- Deuteronomy (devarim) 30:19

Friday, March 7, 2008

A city united in grief

Psalm 122

A Song of degrees of David:
I was glad when they said unto me:
'Let us go unto the House of the Lord'.
When our feet stood within thy gates, O Jerusalem;
O Jerusalem, built as a city that is united together;
For there the tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord,
as a testimony of Israel,
to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.
For there are set thrones of judgement,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
they that love thee shall prosper.
Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.
For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will say now,
peace be within thee.
For the sake of the House of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.

Shabbat Shalom.

Action alert

Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury has been out of the news for the past several weeks while his trial for the crime of trying to visit Israel for a writers' conference (a/k/a "treason") has been continued yet again. His next court date is coming up on March 12. I get the impression that the government of Bangladesh intends to keep this trial going in bits and pieces until the earlier of a) Choudhury's assassination, God forbid, or b) a lapse of attention by the US Congress and Choudhury's influential supporters around the world, which they figure will happen sooner or later and which would likely lead to the same outcome. He potentially faces the death penalty, so this is no small matter.

In March, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed this resolution urging the Bangladesh government to drop all charges against Choudhury. It passed by a vote of 409-1 (the sole dissenter was Ron Paul).

We may not be able to do much about the attempts on Shoaib's life other than to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. But we can certainly do a great deal to make sure that his unjust persecution and prosecution never escapes the glare of the media spotlight and Congress' scrutiny.

For ways you can help and for more information, go here.

Read and weep



Soccer Dad


LGF ... and LGF ... and LGFBoker Tov Boulder ... and BTB again

Israelly Cool

Elder of Ziyon ... and here ... and here ... and here

Sometimes I wonder. Will there come a day when the righteous rage of the Jewish people will reach critical mass and boil up in a conflagration the likes of which the world has never seen? Or will we just continue nursing it and smothering it and keeping it in check, hoping it will recede again, hoping against hope that we can prevent an event that will ignite it again. It had been 1,261 days since the last major terrorist attack in Jerusalem, so .... Never mind Sderot. And Ashkelon. And the summer of 2006. Where, exactly, is that fuse?

Do me a favor. Click on every one of those links. Really. They're all worth your time. And your tears. And your rage. Don't hold it back. How do you breed the kind of sub-human who could open fire on dozens of seminary students huddled over their books in a library? What kind of "society" could produce such a monstrosity, such a debased life form? And why is so much of Western "civilization" so dead set on preserving, protecting and praising the perpetrators of such acts and the depraved culture and twisted faith that engender them?

Questions to ponder. Questions that could make you go stark raving mad.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Getting it

Soccer Dad has a great fisk-fest this morning with the target-rich material of useless idiot Richard Silverstein. Highly recommended reading.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but Canada's National Post, in an editorial entitled "Palestinian self-destruction," makes many of the same points, and more.

On Saturday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for "excessive and disproportionate" use of force. We reject that censure of Israeli actions, as should leaders of all civilized nations. No nation on Earth would sit back passively as a neighbouring territory bombarded its cities with rockets.

It is true that the Palestinians have suffered the bulk of the casualties in the ensuing counterterrorism operations. But such arithmetic does not change the moral calculus: It is not Israel's fault that the Palestinians choose to keep reigniting a lopsided and unwinnable war. Moreover, so long as Palestinians maintain the inhumane and terroristic practise of launching their rockets from civilian areas, Israel is blameless -- under both the letter and spirit of international law -- for the fact that some civilians die alongside the jihadis who deploy among them.

The situation of the Palestinians is a gruesome tragedy. But insofar as post-occupation Gaza is concerned, it is entirely self-inflicted. When Hamas, or whoever else takes over Gaza in coming years, decides to stop using the Palestinian people as one collective suicide bomber, they will find a willing peace partner in Israel. Until then, the Palestinian blood that flows won't stain Israeli hands.

The National Post gets it. Please read - and link - the whole thing.