Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spanish Anti-Semites Remind Us Why We Need a Nation-State

In basically every single nation-state, Jews have been expelled/exterminated from all or part of it, reminding us that only in our own nation-state (or in a non-nation-state like the United States) can we really be free and safe.

Spain of course being one of the worst, having expelled and exterminated its Jews via the Inquisition in 1492, forcing those they didn't expel or kill to convert to Catholicism. The overwhelming majority of the Jewish descendents of those expelled from Spain today live in the state of Israel, their ancestors having been expelled/exterminated from at least one place in the intervening period.

Spain apparently hasn't changed much in the intervening 500 years. Apparently now some anti-Semitic external elements have been given permission to work with youngsters in the Spanish education system, resulting in these letters from 5 and 6 year olds:

The Israeli embassy in Madrid has received dozens of postcards addressed to the Israeli envoy - from students ages 5 and 6 - including hand-written messages such as "Jews kill for money," "Evacuate the country for Palestinians," and "Go to someplace where someone will be willing to accept you."

Perhaps Spain should take in Palestinian refugees as full citizens, then. They still owe the Jewish people a major debt, having not paid any restitution for the 1492 expulsion/Inquisition/etc.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lox not kosher? Rabbi (Moshe) Karp urges Ban on Salmon

I keep thinking eventually I will not be shocked by the insanity of the ultra-Orthodox, but I keep getting proven wrong.

There is probably no food more associated with (Ashkenazi) Judaism than lox. The very word lox came into American English from לאקס
in Yiddish, the word for salmon, which our ancestors have eaten since living in Eastern Europe.

Now Rabbi Moshe Karp (yeah, you'd think it's a joke, but this guy exists), the Rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement Modi'in Illit, has ruled that halibut, salmon, flounder and various other fish can no longer be considered kosher, because the roundworm anisakis parasite lives in these fish.

The thing is, the Gemara mentions this (Chullin 67b),
תולעים דרני דבשרא אסירי דכוורי שריין

which means (after looking up all but the third and fourth words in Rav Marcus Jastrow's Talmudic dictionary) Parasitic worms are prohibited in meat (i.e. mammal meat and perhaps poultry) but permitted in fish. According to Dovid Bistricer of the Orthodox Union, the Shulchan Aruch and rishonim say the following:

Mature insects swallowed by fish are considered sheratzei hayam and are prohibited, while insects grown inside the flesh are not considered sheratzei hayam and are permitted until they exit the fish into the ocean. Although the Rambam (Hilchos Ma’achalos Assuros 2:17) makes a distinction between insects grown inside flesh while the fish is alive and while it is not, the position of all other rishonim is that insects grown inside the flesh of fish are permitted even when the fish is alive. The Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah (84:16) rules clearly that all insects found in the bellies of fish are prohibited, while those found in the flesh are permitted.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the anisakis does not reach mature form until after its fish host is eaten by a marine mammal (or a human if improperly cooked)

Yet Karp makes the outlandish claim that new scientific evidence says otherwise:

According to the OU’s Rabbi Goldberg, at the end of the meeting in Brooklyn, a chassidishe rebbe in attendance asked Karp if he was implying that gedolim of yore ate treif. Rabbi Goldberg said that Karp explained, “they did not know what we know and that the fish is assur (forbidden) because we know how the bug works.”

“I asked him to please tell me the name of the Jew or gentile that clarified it for us and where is this research, and when was it put out,” recalled Rabbi Goldberg. He believes the idea of a ban will soon be sleeping with the fishes. “If you say something is based on science then you have to provide the science.

Now, never mind that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein wouldn't even write a teshuva on this because he felt the Shulchan Aruch had already fully answered it. Never mind that whenever science says something about the age of the Earth, causes of earthquakes, etc., Haredim always condemn the science in favor of what Chazal (the sages who wrote the Mishna and Gemara) said. Looks like the Haredim in Israel are going for it , and the ones in Monsey and Lakewood will follow. One hopes the Orthodox Union at least continues to have more sense than this.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Who Funds Aaron Feinhandler's Computer-Smashing Machane Yisrael Yeshiva?

I don't know how many people have seen the footage of this "ceremony" that took place at the Machane Yisrael Yeshiva (ישיבת מחנה ישראל) in the Beit Yisrael section of Jerusalem.

Yeah, that's right, the Rabbi, Aaron Feinhandler (אהרן פינהנדלר), is (with protective eyewear) smashing a perfectly functional PC, after which the yeshiva students all jump on it to further destroy it beyond repair in a ritual seeming like a cross between drunken frat boy antics and a good, old-fashioned book-burning. The yeshiva is oriented towards ba'al teshuvas (those born Jewish but not born/raised Orthodox/ultra-Orthodox who have embraced that lifestyle). He is talking about how computers are in general not kosher, and how the destruction is intended to be some kind of a healing process for the treyf of the computer that had belonged to one of the ba'al teshuvas.

And lest people think that this was just a stunt pulled in the spirit of Purim and the month of Adar, Vos iz Neias contacted Rabbi Feinhandler and, in an exceedingly disturbing interview, he makes it clear that it was done entirely in earnest and that computers are pure evil.

Some choice excerpts:

On the Internet you see women without their hair covered ... The reason we send our children to chareidi chinuch (education) is because we want to keep out everything that is out there. ... This is the 3rd time we've shattered a computer. The first computer we broke was a $1,000 computer ... Our boys visit homes voluntarily to try to get people to remove their computers

Perhaps the most twisted part was about the guy who had owned the computer being smashed in the video.

The computer we broke this time belonged to a photographer. He used his computer to develop his pictures, but then he realized it was causing him to fall spiritually. He decided he's better off taking pictures with a camera and then he'll develop the film in a photo shop.

Note to the rabbi. You cannot remove the 'untzius' elements that may have gotten into your photo if you "develop the film in a photo shop". But you can do that easily with Photoshop.

Needless to say, 'unkosher' cellphones and home computers are prohibited for anyone attending the yeshiva, and they will not marry off anyone who doesn't promise not to use computers.

He gave an interesting answer to "computers for work" question:

They need to work on the Internet for their parnossa? It's better to clean streets and dirty your body than to work on the Internet and dirty your soul.

Of course, few to no Haredim do those jobs either. Feinhandler certainly doesn't. Which leads to the question: Where does he get his funding from?

From the American government (via tax-exempt status), for one:

An article from Aish HaTorah's website, somewhat ironically, gives more details about who may be enabling this terrible yeshiva with funding, by providing addresses for "charitable donations" both in the U.S. and Canada.

Machane Yisrael.
9 Leib Str.
P.O Box 5666,
Beit Yisrael,
Jerusalem, Israel.
Tel: 972-2-537-0290
Fax: 972-2-537-4224

For charitable Donations:


Press Foundation
P.O. Box 19
Station T,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


To: American Friends of Machane Israel,
c/o: Gotlieb,
4901 - 18th Ave, Brooklyn NY, 11204.
Tel: 718 - 436 7826

I'm going to do some searching and post another post (which I'll link to) once I've found out more.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Joseph Andrew Stack: A Composite of McVeigh, Ayers, Kaczynski and Atta

A sad day today in Austin and America at large, as the country faced another terrorist attack. Like the last one by Nidal Malik Hasan, this one took place in the state of Texas.

Joseph Andrew Stack, a man from nearby San Marcos who worked for avionics technology company DAC International (via Google cache; they took him off already) as a software engineer, flew a small plane into the IRS building in Austin. As of 3:14 p.m. Central Time 1 man is missing and 2 people are injured (the pilot aside).

He posted a suicide note/manifesto online a few days ago that has since been picked up by news stations.

I fully expect people (though I hope I'll be pleasantly surprised to the contrary) like Rush Limbaugh to call this a leftist attack on America (based on the quoting of the communist motto juxtaposed with a similar motto that makes capitalism look bad), and I also fully expect people on the left to call this a tea party/rightist induced attack on America, based on the fact that the IRS building was targeted.

A more reasonable assessment would note that the terrorist, Joseph Andrew Stack, can probably best be described as a composite of all four major categories of American terrorism in the last 50 or so years.

As I see it, American terrorist attacks can be seen as emanating from one of four ideologies: far-left, far-right, 'mad scientist'/lone nutjob and Islamist.

Some may disagree with these categories. For instance, they may want to split far-left into eco-terrorist and anarchist/communist (possibly splitting those two as well), far-right into white supremacist and anti-government/anti-tax/militia and merge abortion and such terrorism with the Islamist category to a new religious category, arguing perhaps that it's bigoted/prejudiced to have Islamist in its own category. People also might wonder about the 'mad scientist'/lone nutjob category. However, I think these are an apt categorization of American terrorism. Here's an explanation of each category, some notable attacks in each category, and how Joseph Stack shows elements of the category.


One might have the best case to make in regards to splitting far-left terrorism
between eco-terrorism and communist/anarchist terrorism, but I would still put them under the same umbrella.

They hold leftist/liberationist/anti-war/communal/communist/ecology-oriented views, they are largely educated and activity often starts among students; encouraged, perhaps by overly radical professors, such as, perhaps, Herbert Marcuse and more recently Peter Singer. Perhaps most importantly, unlike other categories, their attacks are/were often directed at property and tried to avoid killing people, with the Weather Underground often warning of the impending detonation several minutes ahead of time and the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front usually striking when nobody is in the area. In keeping with the communal spirit, they seem to rarely act alone. They do often have blood on their hands, though.

In addition to the Weather Underground, the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, one might include the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Black Liberation Army in these categories. William Ayers of the Weather Underground is probably the best-known and pretty emblematic. Today a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, he started as a student, set bombs without killing anybody, and rose to prominence after his relatively small association with Barack Obama became an issue in the presidential campaign of 2008.

Some statements in Stack's manifesto are indicative of such an ideology:

Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.
The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.


I think there's less of a case for splitting this category into white supremacist and militia/anti-tax/anti-government, and I think it also makes sense to leave what may be seen as Christianity-inspired terrorism in this category.

The reason is that the white supremacists and militia guys are really hard to tell apart, and are in many ways one and the same. Additionally, while some may argue against putting anti-abortion terrorists in that same category, the fact is that in most cases, they are also one and the same. The first anti-abortion terrorist, Michael F. Griffin, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The most notorious anti-abortion terrorist, Eric Rudolph, who remained a fugitive in the woods of North Carolina for quite a few years, was a member of the white supremacist Christian Identity movement. So in general (even those who haven't been members of white supremacist groups), anti-abortion terrorists fit in pretty well with this category.

Other than the Klan and the Christian Identity movement, various militia groups and some elements of the tea party movement fit in here. Timothy McVeigh, the only man to be put to death by the federal government for terrorism, was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing. A semi-active Ku Klux Klan member who also surfaced in the militia/anti-government movement of the 1990s, for instance demonstrating during the David Koresh standoff in Waco, he also wrote many anti-tax letters to the editor. His target was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building, and he killed 168 people, more than any other attack until September 11.

Joseph Stack's manifesto has elements of the tea party ideology, but the most important factor from this category is that he hit an IRS building, the government agency perhaps most despised by the far-right (either that or the ATF, but I don't think the ATF still exists).

'Mad Scientist'/Lone Nutjob

This category involves the generally quite intelligent, 'misunderstood', lone male with a background in the sciences of some sort, who just go berzerk. There is perhaps a fine line between this category and serial killer, but there is usually something political.

Ted Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, is probably the best specimen of this category. Generally acknowledged to have been an absolutely brilliant mathematician, after getting a Ph.D., life led him to live in the middle of nowhere in Montana, mailing letter bombs to scientists and technological people.
The Virginia Tech shooter and the Anthrax letter guy also fall into this category, as do cyberterrorists.

As a software engineer who seems to have acted alone and sounds 'misunderstood' in his manifesto, Joseph Andrew Stack fits this category to some extent as well.


Some would have you believe that this last category is the only terrorism. It's not, but it does warrant a category of its own. Steeped in fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic texts, often with an (Islamic) nationalist component, these terrorists may also be educated, but their religious-oriented/driven cause is what distinguishes them, whether it is restoring the caliphate, defeating the or wiping Israel off the map.

Mohammed Atta, though his actions as the lead September 11 hijacker are far better known than any of the other categories, is quite possibly less well known than all of the other attackers.

Other than his blanket condemnation of the American system, Stack (who seems to be an entirely non-religious man) mainly drew from Atta in the use of a plane to crash into a building as a weapon.

So, to make a very long story short, I would not categorize this man's attack as fitting neatly into any category.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ken Blackwell: That Darn Jew Chai Feldblum is pogroming us Christians


What is a “pogrom” it’s the word that describes anti-Jewish raids by Cossacks and others in czarist Russia, but a programmatic pogrom best describes what is happening right now.
In Washington, President Obama’s nominee to the federal EEOC, Prof. Chai Feldblum of Georgetown University, is blunt: If there’s a clash between the gay agenda and religious liberty, your liberties lose. If confirmed, she would be in position to pursue the pogrom nationwide.

My great-great-grandparents fled from Eastern Europe to Israel (or rather the British Mandate of Palestine), France and the United States because they were going to be killed

And you have the chutzpah to say Chai Feldblum, descendant of a long line of Orthodox rabbis, who's father survived the Shoah in Lithuania and came here later, is fomenting a pogrom against Christians because they might be subjected to civil rights laws. But seriously, Professor Feldblum has also testified before Congress for religious liberty

Hence the legal and prudential challenge before Congress today. There is still, I believe, widespread substantive agreement across broad spectrums of society that -- as a matter of public policy, and as a matter of respect for the tradition of religious liberty in this country -- greater protection should be available to individuals who may be subject to a law that requires them to engage in some action their religion prohibits, or that prohibits them from engaging in some action their religion requires or encourages. Moreover, as a matter of policy, I believe there is also widespread agreement that, while there should not be absolute protection of religious liberty in such circumstances, the government should generally be required to demonstrate that the law at issue is narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest.

Oh, no! At worst, you might have to let the nigra race into your churches; oh, wait, that was different, huh? Tries to Smear Crist as Anti-Semitic running a nice story written by Noam Amdurski called "On Dec. 15, Gov. Crist Commuted Sentence of Non-Jewish Killer Named Martin, referencing Martin Grossman, who was executed yesterday for murder.

The 'killer' in question is described as follows: "Martin, 30, was sentenced in 2000 to 16 years in prison for her role in the Interstate 4 crash that killed Josh Nicola, 23, and severely injured Scott Schutt, 23"

The clear implication here is that Crist is anti-Semitic since he commuted the non-Jewish Jennifer Martin's sentence but not the Jewish Martin Grossman's.

Now, while I may not like to say something nice about a Republican, Crist is hardly anti-Semitic. He's the guy who freakin' has a note put in the Kotel every year to protect Florida from hurricanes, after he put a note there in 2007 saying "Dear God, please protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties. Charlie," and Florida has not had a terrible hurricane since then, and he has generally been affable to the Florida Jewish community.

But that's not the only reason why this is silly. Grossman, of course, beat an officer of the law with a flashlight and then shot her in the back of the head.

However, even more revealing is what Matzav left out about Ms. Martin.

St. Petersburg Times describes Jennifer Martin's case:

Martin was convicted of manslaughter by culpable negligence after a crash in April 1998. She was speeding on Interstate 4 near Ybor City and lost control of the car. Passenger Josh Nicola, 23, was killed. Another, Scott Schutt, 23, was severely injured. Martin, 18 at the time, had no alcohol in her system.
At the hearing Thursday in Tallahassee, prosecutor Johnson said that Martin had not been drinking but that her two passengers were "inebriated" and "chose not to wear their seat belt."

To win release, three of the four clemency board members — Crist, Sink, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson and State Attorney General Bill McCollum — had to vote to release Martin. The vote was unanimous.

Basically, she did break the law by speeding, and presumably drove poorly given that she lost control, and reasonably deserved a penalty of some sort (lifetime loss of driving privileges, for instance). However, she was sober, unlike her passengers, and nobody would have died or probably even been severely injured had they just Buckled Up, so I'd say her sentence was way too harsh.

The point being, that is completely wrong of to stir things up like this with their intentionally misleading article.

West Bank Settlers Attack the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)

Today was only the latest of many attacks:

A soldier and two Border Police officers were hurt in the West Bank on Wednesday when settlers mistook a military exercise for an attempt to evict them.

Commanders of the Israel Defense Forces' West Bank division had coordinated the drill with leaders in the Yitzhar hilltop settlement near Nablus.

But it appears no one had told the settlement's teenagers, some 30 of whom attack soldiers and border guards with stones.
The army condemned the attack and promised to respond firmly to any future breaches of the peace.

Of course, they've been saying that for a while, and we have not seen a serious crackdown. As bad as attacking anyone (i.e. Palestinians/leftists) is, this is qualitatively worse.

Forget "state unity" or "preventing riots" or whatever. These are acts of civil war, and they need to be dealt with by the IDF as such, both in terms of real, serious responses including everything up to, if absolutely necessary, live fire and in setting a narrative that labels these acts as what they are.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Martin Grossman Execution: Frum Jewish Community's Reaction

Martin Grossman was executed tonight by the state of Florida, the 69th such person since the state of Florida resumed the death penalty in the 1970s. He was executed for murdering a Florida wildlife officer. Given that to have a even semi-fair (i.e. a modicum of effort into avoiding the murder of innocents mistakenly convicted; because that's really what it is if the state executes an innocent person) death penalty system runs up more in court costs than in feeding and housing a murderer for life, on a purely economic basis it makes sense to end the death penalty; that's why New Jersey repealed it. On a moral and Jewish basis, it is also a bad idea to support the death penalty, especially given the way the system usually works.

I wonder if the gedolim in Lakewood came out in favor of the New Jersey repeal, by the way. A group called New Jersey Rabbis for Alternatives to the Death Penalty sent a letter signed by 50 New Jersey rabbis supporting the repeal, probably 60% Reform, 25% Conservative, with a smattering of Reconstructionist and Traditional, and a single RCA member. No Agudath, though (of course, they would be more against the fact that women were being called rabbis on it than the message, I assume).

Incidentally, they don't have that up yet on the Florida death row website; as an aside, Florida's death row website does its best to eliminate the touches of humanity from those the state has executed. At least Texas, despite its 449 executions since 1982, lists offender's last statements

Anyway, from what I understand, Chabad shluchot visited him while in prison and as a result, he became a ba'al teshuva (returnee to traditional Judaism).

His becoming a ba'al teshuva spiked an outpouring of support from the frum (observant) Jewish community. As Dov Bear notes, hypocrisy seems to abound:

Grossman is a Jew, the son of a Jewish mother. As a result, objections to his execution have been raised from some unexpected RW Jewish quarters. YWN, for example, has been running editorial after editorial calling for clemency; Rabbis who use the word shvartze with impunity are calling for tehillim and staging protest rallies; and emails and online poetitions (sic) are being passed around by Jews who, at other times, are firmly pro-death penalty.

Now, mind you, it seems reasonable that opposition to his execution is the Torah-true position. Dov Bear's point is that the right wingers who've generally been firmly pro-death penalty are being hypocritical.

Though they did not, for some reason, even note it during the broadcast, Vos iz Neias reports that, as is customary, he said the Shema as his last words.

For some hilariously crazy comments on the issue, check out the Vos iz Neias thread; in fairness, they run the spectrum (from anti from a more liberal standpoint to pro to pointing out hypocrisy), though, and I wouldn't ascribe the craziest ones to the community at large.

Still, though:

It is also the responsibility of all Yidden and even of Lehavdil Goyim, who see the injustice in this Murder today, to donate money to help the Opponent of the current Governor Charlie Crist.

The Christians, (In Yiddish they are called by the Governors name " the CHRIST'n") have Murdered Yidden throughout all generations and todays murder by Charlie Crist must be avenged.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Site devoted to Troppergate posts censored Leib Tropper sex tape

Eternal Jewish Fraud is the name of the site.

Of course, Youtube leaves a lot out, and I can in no way vouch for the man in it even being Leib Tropper, much less one of the two women not being his wife (though obviously if it is him, at least one of the two women is not his wife, since Rabbeinu Gershom banned polygamy many hundreds of years ago) or anything really hardcore actually happening.

But I can definitely embed the video.

רק שתי מילים Just two words?

The Jerusalem Post ran an article from one of the totally assimilated American Jews whose Jewish identity (and identification with the Land of Israel) Taglit-Birthright is trying to strengthen.

I figure she has to have been utterly, utterly assimilated. I mean, she claims "I knew two Hebrew words coming to Israel: shalom and humous."

Now, this is (I hope) an exaggeration. For one, if those are really the only two words in Hebrew you know, you actually only know one word in Hebrew, because there's pretty much no way you're pronouncing the ח
correctly, and as such, you're saying it far closer to the Arabic pronunciation/word than the Hebrew one.

But seriously? תורה, שבת, מצוה, אמן, you didn't know? Not that those would've helped you at all in getting around, but seriously?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

They're Throwing Iron Rods at Police Now?

Haredi riots reach a new level (unless they've been throwing iron rods for a while and I just missed it).

Police forces were called to the scene and began dispersing the protesters who set garbage bins on fire and threw iron rods at police officers.

Why didn't the police respond in kind? (or at least with rubber bullets)

"Unauthorized" (Meshichist) Chabad Houses

Okay, I just found out about this phenomenon in conjunction with the recent terrorist attack in Pune, India. The attack is suspected to have been directed towards a nearby Chabad house. That Chabad house, however, is not authorized by the main New York Chabad, due to its being a major center for Meshichism (Yechi adoneinu moreinu v'rabbeinu melech hamoshiach l'olam vaed). To find out more on the subject of Chabad messianism read Wikipedia and once you've familiarized yourself with the quite thorough information there, go to Frum Satire for even more details.

Anyway, I figured I might as well list as many "unauthorized" Chabad Houses as I can. Doing this will make me a lot happier than working on Senior Design, that's for sure.

Chabad Tokyo Japan

This is somewhat upsetting. Apparently the U.S. Ambassador to Japan went to the Meshichist Chabad house for Chanuka, and the picture has him wearing a Yechi yarmulke.

Now, on the one hand I would like to praise the Rabbi there, as I tend to doubt that Ambassador John Roos was born Jewish (his last name is Dutch, and of course he spells his first name with an 'h' like the Gospel dude rather than like the son of King David) or converted with an Orthodox rabbi (that is assuming he did convert at all). Now, I certainly still would consider him Jewish as long as he did convert, but very few Orthodox rabbis would, and yet this Rabbi (Binyomin Edery) does.

I'm really tempted to write to the Honorable Ambassador Roos about this, though, because he may not be aware of the Meshichist issue.

Meshichist Chabad House Targeted in Terror Attack in Pune, India

So sadly there was a terrorist attack in India today:

A bomb tore through a crowded cafe popular with foreigners on Saturday in the city of Pune in western India, killing nine people and wounding 53 near a famed meditation center.

The blast threatened to damage new efforts to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan, with Hindu nationalist leaders already placing the blame for the explosion at India's Muslim neighbor.

Indian intelligence services say it is highly likely that the bomb was meant for the local Chabad House, several dozen meters from the cafe. It remains unclear whether the coffee shop, a popular tourist spot, was the target for the bombing, because the bomb apparently detonated after a waiter opened a bag left on the premises.

Now, I had never heard of Pune before, but that does not mean much. After all, I'd only heard of the ginormous 3 (Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi) and Bangalore (because of it being such a major high-tech center), or at least that would have been all I could name if challenged.

But apparently Pune is pretty huge, with over 5 million in the metropolitan area. So I checked the Chabad website ( to look for the Chabad house there; nothing was listed.

I soon found out why. Here is a picture of the Pune Chabad house, run by Rabbi Betzalel Kupchik.

No, it's not the elephant. While (I'm pretty sure) elephants are treyf, so are horses, and it is clearly permitted to ride horses.

It's the big yellow flag, which says יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד
signifying that this Chabad house is on the hardcore Meshichist (i.e. they believe the 7th Rebbe of Chabad, Menachem Mendel Schneerson ז"ל is the Mashiach (or Moshiach, as they pronounce it)) end of the spectrum.

The photo came from here, while (like the overwhelming majority of Lubavitchers) will presumably not rule out that Schneerson is the mashiach, they do unequivocally acknowledge the fact that he is deceased, and their shaliachs are, as far as I know, taught not to even mention the subject of the Rebbe and the mashiach to those not already deeply committed to Chabad (whether they mention it at that point, I do not know).

The branch of the Chabad I believe controls the vast majority of Chabad houses in the United States. However, I believe it is another story in Israel and elsewhere. I'm going to have to look into this.

משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה (Mishenichnas Adar marbin b'simcha!)

Rav Yehuda uses this phrase at the very end of the first column of page 29 of Tannait in the Babylonian Talmud:

אמר רב יהודה בריה דרב שמואל בר שילת משמיה דרב: כשם שמשנכנס אב ממעטין בשמחה - כך משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה

Now, my Aramaic is far weaker than my non-too-strong hodgepodge of Biblical and Modern Hebrew, but I think Rav Yehuda is essentially saying that the minimization of happiness upon entering the month of Av (when both the First and Second Temples were destroyed) is proportional to the maximization of happiness upon entering the month of Adar (the miracle of Purim and then soon after the miracles of the Exodus from Egypt into Eretz Yisrael).

Of course, משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה has inspired a song. I have not been able to figure out who wrote the upbeat, happy, and frankly awesome tune. However, here's a nice video of the Jerusalem Soul Center singing it last Rosh Chodesh Adar.

The Jerusalem Soul Center is, from what I've read, a center of hipster new age religious Zionism.

Friday, February 12, 2010

This May Be Why Police Don't Respond So Vigorously Against Settler Violence

Apparently the West Bank (i.e. Judea and Samaria) police are under a major torrent of abusive phone calls from Palestinians.

From The Jerusalem Post:

“Without the screening, we would be getting 90,000 to 100,000 bad calls a month,” Carmeli said. The calls range from personally abusive to threats of terrorist attacks, he added.

“We often hear people cursing our sisters and mothers. Sometimes we get callers threatening to blow us up or carry out a suicide bomb attack,”
“Efforts to trace the call continue until we can determine whether it is a real threat or not,” he added.

With 50-60 percent of all calls coming into headquarters being abusive, and operators fielding an average of 1,500 bogus calls a month, Carmeli said the problem has “really harmed our ability to respond to calls.

Operators get 50 such calls a day, and assuming an 8 hour shift, that's like one every 7 or 8 minutes.

I understand that many Palestinians have legitimate reasons to be angry at the police, but this is just a terrible, terrible idea; one can be pretty certain that this sort of thing affects the ability and willingness/promptness of the police to respond to the very real and very disgusting problem of settler violence.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Ignorance of Richard Silverstein

Really silly that he has the audacity to claim that nobody on the Israeli left criticized the Goldstone Report. Even though he's also nuts enough to claim Meretz isn't leftist, I suppose because they're Zionist.
Of course, by that standard, there are about 5 Israeli leftists; even Hadash is still far too Palestinian nationalist to possibly qualify as 'leftist' by that standard, even if their biggest faction is "Communist" (though then again, so is China's government, in name).

But one of those 5 leftists would undoubtedly work for B'tselem, whose leader

Jessica Montell said:

There's no question that the HRC, which mandated the Goldstone [fact-finding mission into the Gaza fighting], has an inappropriate, disproportionate fixation with Israel," she said

Furthermore, the Goldstone Report itself, which was presented in its final version to the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, is "disagreeable" and mistaken in some of
its gravest accusations against Israel

Hopefully he reads this, as I left a fairly angry response on Shmarya Rosenberg's blog to his comment on the subject. If so, perhaps, just perhaps, he'll have learned something.

Rafiq al-Husseini S*x Tape Surfaces!

Okay, this is pretty awesome. High-ranking Palestinian official Rafiq al-Husseini apparently had a s*x tape made of him.

Not Paris Hilton style, of course, where a "private" tape was "accidentally" leaked. No, this was Fahmi Shabaneh, a former Palestinian intelligence official who's been in some hot water lately. The reason was his "terrible crime" of pointing out that Hamas may end up in power (and pull its usual crap, making retaliation necessary and inevitable) if Fatah's corruption doesn't stop. So apparently he decided to release this video to take the heat off (from a semi-censored Israeli TV playing of it)

Now, if it was just sex, I would say good for Mr. al-Husseini and his free love agenda. But apparently, he was boning the lady in return for getting her a job. Reminds me of the sexcapades of Leib Tropper.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

23% "Considering" voting for Yair Lapid-headed list

I've been hoping Yair Lapid would get into politics since I started reading his columns in Yedioth Ahronot. He's recently been moving more surely in that direction, and the latest Haaretz-Dialog poll has potentially good news in that 23% of Israelis are "considering" him.

How the news is, of course, depends on exactly how תשקול להצביע לה was interpreted by voters, i.e. whether they interpreted תשקול more as "not ruling out" or as "my number choice right now" or (more likely) somewhere in the middle of the two; my Hebrew is not good enough to make a guess, unfortunately, especially since I'd have difficulty figuring out how American voters would have interpreted a similar question asked in English.

Certainly, if it can be interpreted as having a real shot at 28-29 mandates, that's not bad at all. The article notes that nearly half of those mandates (approximately 14) would be from people who said Kadima in the poll that asked only about parties running in the last election.

I would be interested to know whether the other half came from. I have to assume a decent number came from either Likud or Yisrael Beitenu, since (sadly) the descendants of the two largest parties (Labour and Meretz) in the 1st Knesset election only get 14 seats combined in the latest poll.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Strategy to Fight Muslim Speech Disruptors

Hopefully the Muslim Student Association disruptors of Ambassador Oren's speech will indeed face the suspension/expulsion threats. UC Irvine has been a hellhole of this kind of behavior for a while now, one of the reasons I didn't apply for grad school there. Note that by contrast, there were no disruptions of Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia.

One option would be to hold up one of the Mohammed cartoons; I think it would've been classic if someone had held up a big blow-up of that cartoon after the moron who shouted "Propagating murder is not free speech" and said "No, but THIS is!"

Better yet, why has nobody done the whole "Free Palestine, Texas from the Rio to the Gulf".

That would also be hilarious.  Better yet, 

"Palestine: 400 Shekels Or Best Offer"

The 400 shekels would, of course, be a reference to Abraham's purchase of the machpelah in Hebron, but the whole thing would generally be a pun on "Free Palestine"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

We deal with Dick Wadhams, Dick Swett, Dick Armey; they should deal with Akbar Zeb

So apparently Pakistan appointed an Ambassador to Saudi Arabia whose surname, Zeb, while common in Urdu, refers to the penis in Arabic. His first name, Akbar, means Admiral great in Arabic, i.e. "Allah Akbar," so essentially, they would have been introducing "His Excellency Biggest Dick" at state functions. Under pressure from the Saudis, Pakistan withdrew him in favor of someone with a different, less controversial name.

Me, I think Pakistan should never have caved in. After all, many people feel the most important criteria in choosing a UN Secretary General is the hilarity generated by his name among Americans.

Dag Hammarskjöld, U Thant, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and of course the current Ban Ki-moon are all widely felt to have become Secretary General due to this fact.

But it's not just foreigners. We've got Dick Wadhams, the erstwhile GOP consultant once hailed as Rove's "heir apparent," until his dreams got Macacaed by his client George Allen.

Dick Swett, the former Congressman from New Hampshire.

And let's not forget Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader. He embraced the hilarity of his name in office, telling famed humorist Dave Barry that, "Yes, I am Dick Armey. And if there were a dick army, Barney Frank would want to join up."

But I guess the dick in question is just too big for Saudi Arabia to handle.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Apparently Chabad Offers Birthright Trip (and Their Site Shows Little Difference From Traditional)

I just got this in my inbox.

You’ve heard so much about Birthright from your classmates, your cousin, your best friend. You heard of the fun, the thrill, the spirit, the life changing experience; seems like everyone’s been but you, now it’s your turn!

[Specific Chabad org excised] be taking a Birthright trip this summer leaving May 26th. We work with “Mayanot” one of the top Birthright providers, known for providing the best experience, and memories for a lifetime. Check out their website for more details on this 10 day whirlwind tour of the Holy Land with 40 other college kids just like you

I attend the Chabad on campus weekly Parsha and Pizza group, primarily for the delicious, delicious kosher pizza, though I do pay attention and try to engage-though I spend most of the time when the shaliach gives "Der Rebbe's" opinion on a matter from the parsha trying to figure out whether the shaliach believes Menachem Mendel Schneerson is z"tl or shlito (I'd probably lean z"tl if I had to choose one or the other, but I'm not sure).

Anyway, I suppose it's hardly that surprising that Chabad has a Taglit Birthright trip of its own. After all, why they may have technically refrained from open "Zionism" (i.e. secular Zionism), they are vociferously engaged in being pro-Israel and have gotten into fights in the streets of Brooklyn with the Satmars over this issue. Especially given their being the #1 (in terms of resources and activity) kiruv organization in the world, it's hardly a surprise.

What is a surprise is the nature of the trip, at least based on the sample itinerary they present, and how similar it is to what I expect of a "generic" Birthright Israel trip, like the Shorashim one I hope to take this summer (of course, if I take a Birthright trip, I'm staying in Israel for at least a month, as I might not get a chance to go again for a long time. Hopefully I can spend some of the time staying with relatives if some of them will have me, and maybe if I'm lucky/skilled I could get some friends in Israel to let me crash at their place, especially since hostels will eat up a ton of money I'd rather spend in other ways (including on friends!). Sadly, like friends I made elsewhere in life, I have not done a great job of keeping in touch with people I met at Ramah Day Camp when I was 9, and I actually don't even know their last names-perhaps my mother has a list).

Anyway, yes, they go into the Golan (not that I have an issue with anything regarding the Golan) and do the tunnels thing in Ir David (I remember that being fun and hearing the Mu'azzen from the Arab neighborhood on the side we got out on), but I see nothing at all in the West Bank, despite Chabad's fervent opposal to surrending an inch of Judea and Samaria.

Nor do they seem to hit up Kfar Chabad. Though on the other hand, doing that might be counterproductive. Not everybody who goes on a Chabad Birthright trip will be deeply enough into things to go along with the Yechi types.

Arthur Finkelstein is advising Avigdor Lieberman. That Explains a Lot

So apparently Arthur Finkelstein is advising Avigdor Lieberman, and is the one who told him to make the foolish, unnecessary (policy-wise) remarks towards Syria because they would benefit him politically. The 12% or so of the Israeli electorate who voted for Minister Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party in the 2009 election is probably not particularly happy with him right now, as he has basically succumbed to the ultra-Orthodox demands on the party's civil agenda (which was a significant factor in getting votes among those who want the civil agenda but aren't left-wing enough on the Israeli-Arab conflit for Meretz), and for that matter, on foreign policy as well, where he has basically been shunned by much of the international community, having Defense Minister Barak and Prime Minister Peres (and, though he had his own issue lately, even to some extent Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon) take up the slack. "Getting tough on Syria" is presumably expected to help him here, even though the Northern front has, Baruch Hashem been very quiet.

Finkelstein, an American Jewish pollster and campaign strategist, has spent his career working to elect very conservative candidates. He helped elect James Buckley to the Senate from New York in 1970, he helped take down liberal Jewish Republican Jacob Javits and install Al D'Amato in 1980.

Despite being Jewish, he also was probably the guy behind one of the first push polls in the 1978 South Carolina 4th District Congressional race between Republican Carroll Campbell and Democrat Max Heller, who had managed to escape Austria to South Carolina in the 1930s, despite that being very difficult. The campaign made phone calls emphasizing that Heller was "Jewish immigrant" who didn't believe in Jesus. Campbell won.

However, he was probably best known for working for Jesse Helms. This is especially surprising given that Arthur Finkelstein is openly homosexual, having gotten married in Massachusetts in December 2004.

Finkelstein worked for Likud in their 1996 return to power, and it seems now he's moved on to Lieberman, and despite his claims of favoring "freedom," it seems he's doing nothing to get Lieberman to advance the civil agenda in Israel that his party claims to support. Shame on him.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin and Twitter

Okay, this is more than a little funny. As part of the utterly doomed campaign to free Sholom Rubashkin, a FriendsofSholom Twitter account has been set up.

On January 29th, the following was Tweeted:

# RT @shdeen: Rabbi urges non-Jews to have 7-14 kids; rabbis demand Sholom Rubashkin be released on bail; Ed Koch doesn't like... http://b ... 9:29 AM Jan 29th from web

Now, the incompletely linked post by shdeen does indeed say Rubashkin should be freed before sentencing. But it says it like this:

A number of rabbis traveled to D.C. to demand that Sholom Rubashkin be released on bail as he awaits sentencing on the 86 counts of financial fraud that a federal jury found him guilty of last fall. He might end up with a particularly harsh sentence, 21-27 years in prison, and as a father of ten, that would be seriously hard on his family. And while we’re no fans of felons, Chasidic or otherwise, whatever happened to ankle bracelets? Let the gentleman get some quality time with his family before being gang-raped in the slammer.

Invasion of the (Haredi) Body Snatchers

Man, things are just getting crazier and crazier among Jerusalem's Haredim. Things have literally reached body snatching. No joke.

A lady in her 20s was found dead in an abandoned building in (where else?) Mea Shearim. That's when things went nutty

A police car was dispatched to the area as well, and an initial investigation revealed that the death was likely not the result of a criminal incident.

But the affair did not end there. Dozens of haredim arrived in the area and, according to the police, began assaulting the policemen, caused damage to their car, grabbed the body and escaped. Additional police forces were dispatched to the area to help locate the corpse.

Eventually, the body was recovered with the help of the ZAKA rescue unit under condition that no autopsy be performed (autopsies are, with limited exceptions, prhobited in traditional Judaism as desecrating the dead; for more on this see here or here (Chabad should be in line with everyone else on this, the Rebbe aside). ZAKA, of course, are the true tzaddiks who a few weeks ago were saving lives in Haiti.

Of course, ZAKA didn't come out of it unscathed; ZAKA Jerusalem leader Bentzi Oring was beaten on his way in to try to negotiate things out, a major chillul Hashem.

The paramedic who was present when the body was taken really does have a dystopian sci-fiesque story:

"[The policeman] said he was hit in the face, pushed down and that the corpse was snatched on a stretcher. I looked outside and saw a stretcher march of 30 haredim running with a covered body. They shouted, 'The daughters of Israel will not be deserted.'"

According to the paramedic, "It was a well planned operation."

The Haredi news site Behadrei Haredim has their version of the story and an update. What's worth noting is the clear attempt there to distance the broader Haredi community from the קנאים (zealots) who pulled this.

They also have pictures of the police and some of the protestors. One interesting thing is the presence of at least two dark-skinned police officers, presumably Ethiopian Jews since I think they are a bit too dark to be Yemenite (I could be wrong, though). Either way, I liked seeing that.

The lady of blessed memory whose corpse caused this whole thing apparently had head surgery several weeks ago, and on the advice of her father, took too many painkillers, resulting in her death.

Props to John Hagee's Organization regarding anti-Semitic Im Tirzu Ad

The Im Tirzu ad was indeed anti-Semitic, resurrecting the "Jews have horns" bullshit of hundreds of years ago.

So, props to Christians United for Israel for standing up against

Christians United for Israel objected to an advertisement run by a group it funds that depicted the president of the New Israel Fund wearing a horn.

"Although we are often demonized by our critics, CUFI never demonizes those with whom we disagree, and we object when anyone does," CUFI spokesman Ari Morgenstern told JTA.

However, I do have to wonder: why is a guy named Ari Morgenstern working as the spokesman for Christians United for Israel? I guess I hope it's just a paycheck ...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Learning to Read Megillat Esther Online Free of Charge

(OK, if this is still up so high in Google, better add something ...)

There are a whole lot of sites on the Internet that will help you learn how to read it, but for a fee.

But I did manage to find places for it for free.


A woman affiliated with the Israeli Masorti movement reading the trope (she also has reading of the actual megillah)

Beverly Hills Chabad has scans of a tikkun with the Megillah (i.e. both with trope and vowels and in the form it appears on the actuall scroll). They also have audio files, but I would NOT recommend learning to read from them.

For one, they're reading with the Ashkenazi-on-steroids pronunciation that the Lubavitchers (and perhaps all Hasidim; I'm pretty sure misnagdim are more straight-up Ashkenazi pronunciation that a lot of our fathers/grandfathers/great-grandfathers even used in their shuls [assuming they weren't Hasidim]). Not just the Ashkenazi pronunication of ת without dagesh (i.e. sov) and of kamatz as aw, but multiple crazy-ass pronunciations of holam as well.

But more importantly, they're reading for real, and thus (as is the tradition) extremely fast. Instead, I'd use Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning:

the guy reading is a baal kore at a Conservative shul in Toronto, so it's perfect for me; however, the trope is as far as I can tell the same as what the Lubavitchers are reading.

If you cannot deal with either the Lubavitcher or the Conservative version, you could try the Cantor Pinchas Rabinovicz version. He is affiliated with Aish, and his pronunciation is pretty hard-core Ashkenazic (though not quite the steroids version of the Lubavitchers), but he does read it nice and slowly, making it ideal for learning to read.

Everybody Must Fill out and Do the Census

Based on some searches people have been doing, many people aren't sure whether they are required to fill out the Census.

The answer is yes, every person residing in the United States, even if they are not a citizen and even if they are not here legally, must fill out the Census. The law specifies a fine of $100 for anyone who does not fill out the Census.

The Census Bureau's official website will answer any other questions you have. Among other things, nobody, not even the FBI, CIA, or immigration authorities, may have access to the information from the 2010 Census until 2082. After the 72 year period, the Census makes its information public. This information is, among other things, a valuable resource for people researching their ancestors.

If you want to know what the official Census form looks like, go to this link (also from the Census Bureau). If you get a form asking questions not on the form at the above link, it is most likely a counterfeit Census form, and I would advise you to contact law enforcement to help prevent other people from being scammed.

The Mahmoud al-Mahbouh Death Circus

That's probably the best word to describe the hubbub surrounding the death of Hamas bigshot Mahmoud al-Mahbouh in Dubai last month.

The initial story coming from Hamas, as published by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an News hours after his death, ascribed it to terminal cancer.

About a week later (on or about January 29), we hear a new story from al-Mahbouh's brother, saying he died from a shock from an electric appliance that was held to his head. His brother, Fayed al-Mabhuh, said that test results from a Paris laboratory had confirmed this.

He of course, immediately blamed the Mossad, though without providing any evidence.

Two days later we hear in Britain's Sunday Times that he was injected with something.

The Sunday Times said the hit squad injected Mabhuh with a drug that induced a heart attack, photographed all the documents in his briefcase, and left a "do not disturb" sign on the door.

Again, Israel is generally blamed.

Today, we're hearing that it was probably asphyxiation with a pillow:

Post mortem examinations revealed signs of electrocution beneath both ears -presumably from a device used to stun Mabhouh, whose nose was bleeding and whose teeth showed signs of abrasion.

Pathologists determined the cause of death as asphyxiation, probably with a pillow found near the body and stained with blood.

This time, an Arab government is being blamed by Hamas.

What's next? I'm hoping they blame the Lizard People, myself.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ron Paul Votes in Favor of Government Spending-On Poverty?

Now, yes, technically it was just one of those meaningless and frankly time-wasting "sense of the Congress/such and such Month" resolutions not involving any actual money being spent, and Mr. (or Dr., I should say), Paul may be pre-occupied with his son's Senate race in Kentucky, but still, this is somewhat of a shock that Paul would vote for this.

The non-explanation part of the resolution, introduced by McDermott:

Whereas it would be appropriate to designate the month of January 2010 as Poverty in America Awareness Month: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That--

(1) the House of Representatives--

(A) supports the designation of Poverty in America Awareness Month; and

(B) recognizes the important contributions of those individuals and organizations that have made a commitment to providing critical support and services to needy individuals and families; and

(2) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that--

(A) eradicating poverty in the United States should be the goal for all people in the United States, including all levels of government;

(B) the severe economic downturn has highlighted the need to ensure that the Nation's most vulnerable individuals and families are able to meet their most fundamental needs during a time of financial crisis; and

(C) Congress should recommit itself to helping individuals and families facing economic hardship receive the assistance they need and deserve in moving towards greater economic security through programs under Title IV of the Social Security Act and other related programs.

18 Republicans voted against it, but not Ron Paul. He was one of the 387 YEAs. If I were one of his minions, I'd be pissed right about now.

Mahmoud Abbas Endorses Egyptian Border Wall with Gaza

Of course, that's the only at all reasonable position. As a sovereign state, Egypt can build whatever on its territory. But will we hear an outcry about this?

From an interview in yesterday's Guardian

The Palestinian president also defended Egypt's decision to build an underground wall on the blockaded Gaza strip's southern border to prevent smuggling through tunnels. "I support the wall," Abbas said. "It is the Egyptians' sovereign right in their own country. Legitimate supplies should be brought through the legal crossings."

Human Rights Watch Seems to Have Heeded Robert Bernstein

Last October, Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times condemning its overwhelming focus on (and bias regarding) Israel out of all the countries in the Middle East, despite the fact that every other country has a terrible record on human rights, and lack the home-grown human rights organizations that Israel has to fight against the rights denial.

Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations ... probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

Additionally, he pointed out their failure in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to address human rights abuses not committed by Israel. He especially pointed out that unlike those committed by Israel (and those not committed by Israel but reported anyway, like Jenin, organ harvesting, Mahmoud al-Mahbuh's death from terminal cancer etc.), these abuses have nobody else to cover them.

There may be one or two human rights organizations, but they are small in number and poorly funded to boot.

However, Israel's human rights organizations are generally quite well-funded (with this funding, especially for some of the orgs which are not as clearly dedicated to human rights, coming under criticism from the right and far-right).

The New Israel Fund (a generally fine organization which my parents donate to, though I personally have huge issues with a few of the groups they fund and with today's easy targeting funding enabled by the Internet, when I start having money to donate, it'll go directly to organizations), for instance, has given more than $200 million to over 800 organizations in the last 30 years. European governments and other big individual donors have also provided a ton of money.

And not just rights on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; in every area where human rights are an issue, there's an org in Israel (and with a decent amount of funding).

So Bernstein had a major point, and the fact that this was coming after Human Rights Watch controversially accepted a whole bunch of funding from the Saudi government, which is generally awful on human rights even in comparison to the rest of the Middle East just helped make his point.

And it seems like his point has gotten through.

On January 27, 2010, Hamas made the 110% bullshit claim that they were only targeting the military with their Qassam and Grad rockets. Still, despite the bullshit nature of the claim, newspapers were still going to report it (and some not so critically). However, HRW was ready, and the very next day HRW had a press release calling out their bullshit

"Hamas can spin the story and deny the evidence, but hundreds of rockets rained down on civilian areas in Israel where no military installations were located," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Hamas leaders at the time indicated they were intending to harm civilians."

That pretty much sums it up, although I'm not sure if Hamas has ever hit a military installation with rockets.

Then today, they released a 60 page report on Kingdom of Jordan has been stripping citizenship from Jordanians of Palestinian origin

Here's the summary:

More than half of the 6.3 million population of Jordan is of Palestinian origin—that is, from areas west of the River Jordan, including the West Bank, today’s Israel, and Gaza. With the exception of persons from Gaza, the vast majority of those persons of Palestinian origin have Jordanian citizenship. However, since 1988, and especially over the past few years, the Jordanian government has been arbitrarily and without notice withdrawing Jordanian nationality from its citizens of Palestinian origin, making them stateless. For many of them this means they are again stateless Palestinians as they were before 1950.
Some Jordanian officials have said they are doing so in order to forestall supposed Israeli designs to colonize the West Bank, by maintaining the birthright of Palestinians to live in the West Bank. Yet the real reason may be Jordan’s desire to be able to rid itself of hundreds of thousands of Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin whom Jordan could then forcibly return to the West Bank or Israel as part of a settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem caused by the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars. At least that appeared to be the interpretation of a high-ranking Ministry of Interior official who in July 2009 said that certain Jordanians of Palestinian origin would remain Jordanian nationals only until such time that a refugee settlement had been reached.
So far, Jordan has withdrawn its nationality from thousands of its citizens of Palestinian origin—over 2,700 between 2004 and 2008 alone. It has done so, in the individual cases Human Rights Watch identified, in an arbitrary manner and in violation of Jordan’s nationality law of 1954. Under that law Palestinian residents of the West Bank in 1949 or thereafter received full Jordanian nationality following Jordan’s incorporation of the West Bank in April 1950.

I do have one quibble with the report-it's not clear to me that every Jordanian who considers themselves to be of Palestinian origin does so from roots outside of today's Jordan; areas east of the Jordan River were after all considered to be part of Palestine for periods before 1948.

However, I do particularly like their acknowledgement that pretty much entirely before 1950, Palestinians were stateless; in 1940, 1930, 1920, etc. They made have had Palestinian citizenship (like my great-great-grandfather Beryl Rubin) but they were still stateless. This counters the bullshit claim made by anti-Israel types that "Palestinians have been suffering/oppressed for 62 years" At least that's how I read it.

So, anyway, if this continues, bravo, HRW.