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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘2012’

On Politicians and Grunt Work

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

MK Uri Orbach is a personal friend of mine.  He even came up with the name “Almagor” for the organization in which I work.  The man is an artist of the written word.  And precisely for that reason, I have to react to troubling comments recently released in his name:

“Under the noses of the political commentators, a new breed of politicians is arising: Shelly Yachimovich, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett.”

Then an insult to the opposition within the party: “Many people are fed up with politicians who will just ‘take care of things’ for them.  They now prefer politicians who inspire confidence, who show they care.”

And a final swipe at MK Zevulun Orlev: “The old politicians wave around their ‘experience’—which often is bad experience—and toss around meaningless numbers as proof of their success.  That’s old politics.”

My purpose here is to present a defense.  Not a personal defense of Orlev or of Nissan Slomiansky, but a defense of my profession and that of many of my friends.  What we have here is a battle about the worth of the grunts, the people who are willing to do the sacred behind-the-scenes work of serving the public without arrogating themselves the status of “leaders.”

The Knesset members who “take care of things” for us deserve to be praised, not insulted: people like Uri Ariel and Zevulun Orlev, whose offices are filled day and night with the representatives of organizations and institutions, religious and secular.  And they “take care” of these people.  It’s true that Ariel and Orlev received popularity ratings of only three percent in a recent poll of the national-religious community, but this isn’t their problem—it’s the respondents’ problem.  Orlev and Ariel are too busy for self-promotion.

The “new” politicians have a certain style.  The public missions that they accept upon themselves somehow seem always to be short-term.  Somehow there always is aspiration to the next job.  Or maybe impatience.  Or boredom.  This raises questions about their future.  Assuming that we vote for them, how long will they have the strength and interest for the drudgery entailed in serving the public from day to day?

Hint: Orbach already “took care of” the answer for us.

And already now there is a line of young people who are studying the model of the “new” politicians and readying themselves to imitate it, young people who have never served the public and never “taken care of things” for it, yet are already setting their sights on the Knesset.

So who will serve the public?  Who will do the day-to-day grunt work that the public needs its servants to do?

I asked that question of a young activist of the “new” model, the sort who obsessively keeps tabs on his position in the polls.  He answered: “the suckers.”

Primaries: The Root of All Evil

At some point in the past, I signed up for an Internet campaign run by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked in behalf of the Yesha Council.  And somehow over the past few weeks, my computer and phone have been bombarded with e-mail and text messages calling on me to vote for them.  There is the question of how they are using data that they gathered in one job to promote themselves toward another one, but that is a separate issue …

There is no arguing that Orlev is a man of action, but he is liable to find himself up against an Internet-borne wave of new party members seventeen years old and up: the clientele to whom his opponents appeal, offering them a twenty-shekel opportunity to capture the party and “take control,” in the words of the banners that have been put on public display wherever there is a large national-religious population.  A movement that was founded over a hundred years ago by luminaries such as Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Reines is now liable to change beyond all recognition.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook used to sign his letters with the words “servant to a holy nation.”  But now there are to be no more public servants.  The new fashion is that of “leaders,” primary candidates, public relations professionals, and strategic advisers … and we’ve already heard from quite a few of them, courtesy of the propaganda campaign being waged by the new candidates.

Daniel Pipes: Why I am Voting Republican

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Note the title is not “Why I am voting for Mitt Romney.” That’s because the two major American parties, Democratic and Republican, represent contrasting outlooks and you vote for the one or other of them, not for a personality. The presidential candidate is captain of the team but its many other players act autonomously. The past half-century has seen a sharpening of the divide between the parties’ philosophical consistency which I (unlike most observers) see as a positive development; who needs Rockefeller Republicans, wets, or RINOs? And ticket-splitting increases gridlock.

I vote Republican because I support the party’s core message of individualism, patriotism, and respect for tradition, in contrast to the core Democratic message of dependence, self-criticism, and “progress.” I am inspired by the original reading of the U.S. Constitution, by ideals of personal freedom and American exceptionalism. I vote for small government, for a return of power to the states, for a strong military, and an assertive pursuit of national interests.

And on my special issues, the Middle East and Islamism, Republicans consistently outperform Democrats. Extensive polling and many congressional actions establish this pattern for the Arab-Israeli conflict and a similar contrast exists also on other foreign policy issues, such as the Iranian nuclear buildup, energy policy, and the Arab upheavals. As for the new totalitarian ideology, Islamism, Democrats show a marked softness, just as they previously did vis-à-vis the communist one.

Finally, I worry that Barack Obama will do far more damage in a second term than he could in his first, that Obamacare will prove just the start of what, before his inauguration, I called the “fundamental restructuring of the relationship between state and society such as occurred under three of his Democratic predecessors of the past century – Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.”

And so I am voting the straight Republican ticket and urge readers to do likewise. (November 4, 2012)

Originally published at the National Review Online and at Daniel Pipes.org on Nov. 4th, 2012.

Daniel Pipes: Superficiality Reigns Before the Election

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

It happens every four years, as U.S. presidential elections roll around: I feel like a stranger.

That’s because news reports blare out what’s not of interest: trivial statistics (171,000 jobs added in October; jobless rate up 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent), biographical irrelevancies (claims that Romney outsourced jobs to other countries when at Bain Capital), and forgettable gaffes (Obama saying that “Voting is the best revenge”).

This limited discussion misses two main points: First, the quite contrary philosophies of Democrats and Republicans. Where’s the discussion of equality vs. liberty, the federal government vs. federalism, much less about topics like education, immigration and Islamism? What are the candidates’ criteria for appointing federal judges, their ways to solve the debt crisis, or their guidelines for the use of force abroad? What about the scandalous administration reaction to the events in Benghazi on Sep. 11, 2012? It almost seems that the candidates tacitly agreed to ignore the most important and interesting issues.

Second, the debate ignores that the candidates are not isolated individuals but heads of large teams. Who are the candidates for secretary of state, defense, and treasury, and for attorney general? Who are likely heads of the National Security Council and the Council of Economic Advisers? What are the implications of each team taking office?

Let’s hope that voters can see their way through this miasma of superficiality. (November 3, 2012).

Originally published at National Review Online and DanielPipes.org on November 3, 2012.

Parshas Vayera

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
November 2, 2012 – 17 Cheshvan 5773
5:30 p.m. NYC E.S.T.

 

Sabbath Ends: 6:34 p.m. NYC E.S.T.
Weekly Reading: Vayera
Weekly Haftara: Ve’isha Achas (II Kings 4:1-37 Ashkenazim; II Kings 4:1-23 Sephardim)
Daf Yomi: Shabbos  30
Mishna Yomit: Nazir 6:2-3
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 147:7 – 148:1
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Nizkei Mamon chap. 9-11
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 6:33 a.m. NYC E.S.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:04 a.m. NYC E.S.T.

 

This Saturday night at 2:00 a.m. (Sunday 2:00 a.m.) we set the clock back one hour as we resume Standard Time.

Community Currents – November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

The Nation of Islam Discovers Scientology

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The Nation of Islam’s historic role as a bridge between American blacks and Islam ended in 1975 when W. Deen Mohammed followed his father, Elijah Muhammad as leader of the Nation and immediately disavowed his father’s folk religion, bringing his followers to normative Islam, the Islam of the Middle East. From then on, despite the theatrics of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation has been in a long downward trajectory. Now comes evidence, thanks to Tony Ortega in the Village Voice and Eliza Gray in The New Republic, of a jaw-dropping turn by Farrakhan, 79, to Scientology; as Gray’s subtitle puts it, “America’s two weirdest sects join forces.”

The connection goes back seven years, Gray explains:

the story of how Farrakhan came to embrace it concerns a Nation minister in Los Angeles named Tony Muhammad. In 2005, Muhammad was beaten by the LAPD at a prayer vigil he’d helped organize for a young man killed in a drive-by shooting. The incident plunged him into an agitated, depressed state. A concerned friend introduced him to Scientology, which he credits with saving his life. When Farrakhan later met with Muhammad, he was amazed by the transformation and, as Muhammad tells it in an audio clip posted on YouTube, exclaimed: “Whatever you’re on—I want some of it.”

Five years later, things moved into high gear:

The first large-scale introduction of Scientology to Nation members took place in August 2010, when hundreds of believers from around the country traveled to Rosemont, Illinois, near the Nation’s headquarters, for a seminar in Dianetics, a foundational belief system of Scientology. There, they were guided through auditing sessions—a kind of hybrid between hypnosis and confession—in which a Scientologist purges painful experiences from his subconscious in the presence of an “auditor.” At the end of the seminar, Farrakhan told the group he wanted everyone in attendance to become a certified auditor.

“I’ve found something in the teaching of Dianetics, of Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, that I saw could bring up from the depth of our subconscious mind things that we would prefer to lie dormant,” Farrakhan announced on July 1, 2012. “How could I see something that valuable and know the hurt and sickness of my people and not offer it to them?” Farrakhan plans to build a Scientology training center in Chicago and has even stated that “Nobody can lead in our Nation until and unless they become clear,” a reference to Scientology’s most enlightened state. He also voiced a hope that the two organizations maintain a “long and beautiful relationship.”

In turn, the head of Scientology, David Miscavige, finds bringing blacks into his organization super cool, praising “a most influential culture. … I’m speaking of those who truly set cultural trends, and across every avenue: fashion, music, you name it. So talk about a pervasive culture, talk about a permeating and penetrating culture, or to put it another way: Most white folks wouldn’t have a clue of what it means to be cool if it weren’t for black America.” To smooth the way for NoI’s members to rise through the notoriously expensive Scientology ranks, Miscavige even cut them some financial breaks.

Comment: This fascination with Dianetics probably marks the terminal point for NoI. Normative Islam reigns supreme in America. (October 25, 2012).

Originally posted on DanielPipes.org and Blouin News on October 25, 2012. 

Parshas Lech Lecha

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 43                                          5773

 

New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
October 26, 2012 – 10 Cheshvan 5773
5:39 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Sabbath Ends: 6:43 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Lech Lecha
Weekly Haftara: Lama Tomar (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)
Daf Yomi: Sabbos  23
Mishna Yomit: Nazir 4:2-3
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 143:2-4
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Kelim chap. 27 – Hilchos Mikva’os 1
Earliest Time for Tallis and Tefillin: 6:25 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 10:00 a.m. NYC E.D.T.

Chagall Redux

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Nassau County Museum of Art
One Museum Drive, Roslyn Harbor, New York
Nassaumuseum.org 516 484 9338
Tuesday – Sunday; 11am – 4:45pm: Adults $10, Seniors $8
Until November 4, 2012

Chagall’s reputation needs no burnishing and yet refinements are always welcome. Indeed the Nassau County Museum of Art has mounted a wonderfully extensive survey of Chagall’s works with a unique emphasis on his 1957 Bible series of hand-colored etchings that significantly casts many aspects of his work as uniquely Jewish. Amid the complexity of Chagall’s entire oeuvre, this is deeply significant in the exhibition history of non-Jewish institutions.

The current show is sensitively curated by former director and guest curator Constance Schwartz. The first floor features an exciting survey of many of his early works from both private and public collections (including A Pinch of Snuff(1922) – a rabbinic figure about to take a olfactory hit) all of which emphasize the wide range of Chagall’s imagination and pure joy of image making. Further along we see examples from his etchings of Gogol’s “Dead Souls,” his problematic images of “universalist” crucifixions, clowns, circuses, and many playful pastiches of his signature motifs; flowers, lovers, flying animals and other fantasia all held together with vividly beautiful color. It is tour-de-force of Chagall the master conjurer of instant visual delights.

Crossing the Sea (1957) hand-colored etching by Marc Chagall
Courtesy Haggerty Museum of Art, Gift of Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty
Marc Chagall © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

From a biographical perspective Chagall’s last painting, Job, finished on March 28, 1985, the day he died, is perhaps the most moving. At the age of 97 Chagall, who had continued to create artwork seemingly unabated, was “deeply aware of his own mortality,” and therefore this work and its subject takes on added significance. The gouache on paper was actually a preparatory image for a massive tapestry that was in fabrication at the time for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where it has been since 1986. This commissioned work, created in close collaboration with the renowned weaver Yvette Cauquil-Prince, depicts Job and his wife and was dedicated to the disabled of the world, a more than fitting appropriation of the tragic story of Job. Poignantly it is a reflection of Chagall’s own tortured struggle with faith, Jewish identity and the vicissitudes of 20th century history.

Upstairs on the second floor 50 of 100 hand-colored images from Chagall’s 1957 opus “Bible” are displayed in quiet splendor. Next to each 24” x 18” image is the biblical text. In a superficial way we are well accustomed to these images. As we have recounted many times in these pages, Chagall first began his Bible etchings from 1931 to 1939. Interrupted by the war and exile he returned to France in 1952 and finally completed the black and white etchings in 1956 when they were published, along with a separate limited edition of etchings that were hand-colored by Chagall himself. This selection at the Nassau County Museum of Art is on loan from the Haggerty Art Museum of Marquette University in Milwaukee.

It is crucial to note a fundamental difference between the black and white edition and the hand-colored images currently on display. Aside from minor printing variations between sets, all of the black and white images are identical. The opposite is the case with the hand-colored etchings; each is totally unique since each was thoughtfully and sparingly colored one by one. And most importantly, each was the artist’s refinement and comment on work he had done up to 24 years earlier.

Descent Towards Sodom (1957) hand-colored etching by Marc Chagall
Courtesy Haggerty Museum of Art, Gift of Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty
Marc Chagall © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Almost 60% of the etchings were originally done before Chagall’s exile, the War, the Holocaust, and the devastating death of his beloved first wife Bella. The Chagall hand-coloring his interpretations of the biblical narrative was a deeply different man from the man who first created them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/chagall-redux/2012/10/25/

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