Monday, March 22, 2010

Avigdor Lieberman Continues to Sell Out to the Haredim

Residents of Israel's south have unfortunately been under siege from rockets from Gaza for years and years. A new hospital wing in Ashkelon was planned to be built to be rocket and missile proof, but human bones were found there.

Apparently, United Torah Judaism via (the handlers of) Yosef Shalom Elyashiv has decided that, despite what archaeologists say (that they are Christian or pagan bones) and despite pikuach nefesh, this 90 million NIS ($24 million) wing must be stopped.

Instead, according to MK Yaakov Litzman, they must spent an additional 100 million NIS, more than doubling the price and delaying construction of the facility by 18 months.

5 (or 16 including Shas) MKs apparently are enough to force this, thanks to the help of other coalition members.

An 11-10 cabinet vote approved this disgraceful change.

In opposition were most (perhaps all that voted) Labor ministers, as well as 6 Likud ministers (Yuli Edelstein, Yossi Peled, Michael Eitan, Dan Meridor, Gideon Sa'ar, and Limor Livnat).

Lieberman cast the deciding vote in favor (and two of his fellow Beitenu members abstained; had they voted no, it would also have killed it).

So he's sold out completely on secularism (or even sanity), and has been the PA's best diplomat as foreign minister. How I hope his party goes down next election.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When will the PA Declare Avigdor Lieberman Honorary PA Foreign Minister?

Because he's really doing more for them than whoever their foreign minister is (apparently Riad Al-Malki; not someone we hear too much from, though his name does mildly ring a bell).

His latest advocacy on the Palestinian's behalf is with the very large and pretty important country of Brazil

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday boycotted Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's speech to Israel's Knesset to protest the visiting leader's refusal to lay a wreath at Mount Herzl.

Lieberman also boycotted a meeting between Lula and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming the Brazilian president slighted Israel by refusing the customary diplomatic visit to Mount Herzl and the gravesite of Zionist leader Theodore Herzl.
The Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Lieberman wanted to show the Brazilian leader that Israel takes seriously his dismissal of diplomatic protocols.

You should take it seriously. It is indeed scary that Israel's relations with Brazil are apparently so poor that Lula is skipping visiting Herzl's gravesite. Certainly it would be absolutely horrible if (under the worst case scenario) Brazil were to join the Castro/Chavez axis.

Israel exported 1.172 billion dollars worth of goods to Brazil in 2008, #8, under only (in order) the United States, the European Union, Hong Kong, India, Turkey (there's another country Lieberman and his party have been stupendous ambassadors regarding), the People's Republic of China, and the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland). So we are talking significant sums here.

But the way to take this problem seriously is not to do your frickin' best to worsen relations further and further!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Shelo Asani Isha and the New York Times

So today all three major U.S. Orthodox mostly based on copyright-violating with some original reporting newsblogs (Vos iz Neias, Matzav, and Yeshiva World News), posted a letter to the editor from a (presumably Modern Orthodox given his place of residence and the fact that he reads the New York Times) Daniel Wolf of Teaneck, NJ, complaining/clarifying the purpose of the ברוך אתה ה', אלקינו מלך העולם, שלא עשני אשה (said by Orthodox Jewish men every morning.) from ברכות השחר, part of the morning prayer service.

Maureen Dowd's reference to a morning prayer recited by some Orthodox Jewish men thanking God for not making them women ("Loosey Goosey Saudi," column, March 3) is the second time in two months that a New York Times columnist (after Nicholas D. Kristof, Jan. 10) has cited this practice as evidence of Judaism's oppression of women.

Under Orthodox Jewish practice, women, in recognition of their childbearing and other familial responsibilities, are charged with fewer ritual commandments than men. The blessing in question, far from reflective of officially sanctioned subjugation of women, is simply a daily expression of thanks by men for being given the opportunity to express their belief in God by performing additional commandments.

Now, Maureen Dowd's article was devoted to mocking a Saudi Arabian prince for his temerity to criticize "the democracy of Israel" on the issue of religious and other freedom given that his country is "an absolute Muslim monarchy ruling over one of the most religiously and socially intolerant places on earth." In addition to her nine paragraphs criticizing Saudi Arabia's "glacial pace" of "chipping away at gender apartheid and cultural repression," she does note that while "Israel is a secular society," things are in fact trending to the right due to those want to "impose a harsh and exclusive interpretation of Judaism." She references the arrest of Nofrat Frankel of Women of the Wall at the Kotel for the 'crime' of wearing a tallit, and notes that "in Orthodox synagogues, some men still say a morning prayer thanking God for not making them women."

In other words, she's being charitable and going easy on Orthodoxy/the Israeli ultra-Orthodox, limiting critical remarks in this area entirely to purely religious/prayer-related practices, while going after Saudi Arabia for religious-based influence on society in general.

Frankly, even on the issue Daniel Wolf criticizes her for, she's letting Orthodoxy off easily. Unless I am much mistaken, in all Orthodox synagogues, from Ohev Shalom--the National Synagogue in Washington, DC, whose Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, wrote to the Israeli ambassador criticizing the arrest of Frankel on religious grounds, to synagogues in the Old City whose rabbis pushed for Frankel's arrest, all Orthodox men say שלא עשני אשה

This is one of the very few areas in which the Conservative nusach differs from the traditional Nusach Ashkenaz used in non-Chasidic Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogues. The Conservative movement decided to modify all three שלא עשני
blessings (where God is thanked by men for A) not making them a goy [non-Jew] B) not making them a slave C) not making them a woman).

The Conservative nusach thanks God for making one a Jew שעשני ישראל and making one a free person שעשני בן/בת חורין. For the "not making them a woman", it totally scratches the dichotomy of "not making me a woman" for men versus "for making me according to Your will" for women. Instead, both women and men say שעשני בצלמו
(that I was made in Your image).

However, more importantly, especially during a week where a bunch of anti-Semites are participating in "Israel Apartheid Week" worldwide, Mr. Wolf should be thankful for the tone of the article.

Frankly, she could've made analogies to the situation in Israel for a whole bunch of nasty Saudi Arabian practices. For instance, "the bearded religious police officers who patrol the streets" of Saudi Arabia have a non-governmental analogy in the Vaad hatznius (modesty police) in Jerusalem and other ultra-Orthodox areas.

The arrest of an American woman for sitting with a man at Starbucks? The new ultra-Orthodox ice cream parlors, with the popular lemon-vodka flavor, were opened specifically as a no-seating ice cream parlor to avoid that altogether. Where there are benches in Mea Shearim that cannot easily be removed but could be used by young men and women to sit together, the problem is solved with sticky raspberry syrup. Women not being allowed to drive? Well, the Haredi community generally cannot afford private cars, but they have brought back the 1950s Southern United States by forcing women to sit in the back of the bus.

So seriously, Mr. Wolf. Better to work to solve the problems.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Who Created the Parody of Israel PR (Masbirim) Website?

OK. MK Yuli Edelstein, as Information Minister, put together as part of a new Israeli PR campaign.

Today, it appears some leftist types have taken a page out of the book of the people who created the porn site 10 years ago.

They've created a very similar-looking site at

Of course, the site is instead called מיניסטיריון האמת
(Ministry of Truth) and has links to B'tselem and a few other sites, as well as a video of the rock-slinging (in the sense that they use slings to hurl them much harder than could be done by hand) 'non-violent' Bilin demonstrators.

Now, I believe it is meant for internal Israeli consumption seeing as it is all Hebrew, and it's possible they're not even anti-Zionists.

A whois shows that the site is registered with one Ofri Mann of Rishon LeZion, though he may just be an Internet guy and not one of the people behind the site.

In any case, as the hardly left-wing editor of Jerusalem Post, David Horowitz, notes, the whole campaign is kind of ill-conceived.

“Are you going overseas? Hosting people from abroad?,” asks the Ministry of Public Diplomacy’s new masbirim – “explainers” – Web page. Well then, it gushes, you too can become “ambassadors for Israel” and “together, we’ll change the picture.”
[Israel will do better] When it internalizes that, no, we’re not a “normal” country with which Europe and the West can be expected to easily identify, but rather a lonely, gutsy democracy under relentless attack in a tyrannical region.

Israel will fare better when, before going to war, it prepares the diplomatic and the legal and the media ground as effectively as its prepares its fighting forces.

For all our righteous sense that we are so far more sinned against than sinning, Israel is also hobbling itself through incoherence.

While Fatah ostensibly wants peace along the pre-’67 lines and Hamas unequivocally wants us gone, nobody, but nobody, knows quite what it is that we want.

Our prime minister says he has a vision of a Palestinian state, but he is also planting saplings at bombastic ceremonies at West Bank settlements and extending national heritage status to the Cave of the Patriarchs. Even if that makes a certain kind of sense to some of us here, it is plain incomprehensible to most who are not. The Goldstone Report is a strategic threat to Israel but Israel is begging Mahmoud Abbas – who initiated Goldstone by accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza – to please, pretty please, come and talk peace with us. Where’s the clarity?