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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘isn’

Pro-Palestinian Site Exposes IAF Pilots

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

A Pro-Palestinian website exposed the identities of 100 Israeli Air Force pilots.

The list included their names, addresses, and photos.

In Israel, one isn’t allowed to publicize personal details of pilots for their security and safety.

Are You Really a Jew?

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

These days, it’s pretty hard to know who really is Jewish. Let’s take the example of the singles-bar scene in New York. A lot of times a Jewish guy will start talking to girl (call her Debbie) and during the conversation, he’ll ask if she’s Jewish, and she says, “Sure,” when she isn’t Jewish at all. How so?  Let’s say Debbie’s Jewish grandfather married a non-Jew and they had a daughter together. The grandfather told his daughter that she was Jewish, so she grew up thinking she was a Jew. When it came time for her to marry, she married a Jew, to please her father, and so her poor husband married her, innocently thinking she was Jewish because that’s what she believed. When they raised their child, Debbie, they told her she was Jewish, even though she isn’t Jewish at all. Tragically, this scenario has occurred in hundreds of thousands of cases, throughout the Diaspora. It’s another reason why it’s so very dangerous to live there.

So I have devised an almost foolproof test to determine if a person is really a Jew. If you can read Chapter 8 of my novel, “Tevye in the Promised Land,” without getting goose bumps, it may be because you aren’t Jewish. Like I said, the test isn’t 100% foolproof. It could be that you are merely emotionally retarded. Or maybe your concentration span has been so crippled by the Internet that you don’t have the patience to read to the end.

And the opposite is also true. Lots of non-Jews who read the chapter get goose bumps and that doesn’t prove that their Jews. It shows they are lovers of Israel, that’s all. Or that they recognize outstanding literature.

Fortunately for you, this wonderful Jewish novel is currently being serialized in The Jewish Press, www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-chapter-eight-the-holy-land/2012/08/07/

so you can take the test right now. Get ready to shiver!

Good News From Russia

Monday, August 6th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/good-news-from-russia.html

After terrorizing the West for two generations, no one pays much attention to the Great Bear anymore. The latest unrest in Russia has merited a fraction of the headlines about the Arab Spring, Palestine or upset Muslims in Burma. The old journalistic guidelines used to be, “If it bleeds, it leads.” The new journalistic guidelines are, “If it’s not about Muslims, we don’t care.”

But the events in Russia are highly educational, not in their absurd specifics involving a female punk band and overweight thugs beating up people in their street, but in the glorious spectacle of what happens when a government mafia starts running out of money and the economy that it has been feeding off can no longer nurture its numberless ranks of official and semi-official parasites.

Most countries have their mafias, and by that I don’t mean the jolly grunters who run numbers out of basements or break legs over interest rates that even banks can’t charge. The government mafia is a web of mutual connections for mutual profit.

Say Ivan wants a construction contract. So he talks to Alexei, who knows someone in politics who can get him that contract in exchange for a bribe. That someone is Boris, who owes his position in a ministry of something-or-other to his friendship with Anatoly back when they were both junior KGB thugs whose fathers were also in the same business. Ivan gives some money to Alexei, who takes a percentage and passes along the rest to Boris, who takes a percentage and passes it to Anatoly who ushers in Ivan to see Vladimir, who is the undersecretary to the deputy minister of construction, who then demands a bribe that is twice as large as the cost of construction, but that’s okay because the bid is four times the cost of construction.

This is obviously a very inefficient system. In the United States, Ivan would be named John, there would be only half as many people to see, and the bribe would be known as a campaign contribution. And this is also why the United States has fewer bribes and higher taxes, because we don’t believe that government contracts should be handed out to unqualified people on the basis of bribes. We believe they should be handed out to unqualified people on the basis of race, sexual orientation or imaginary environmental crisis.

Our versions of Boris, Anatoly and Vladimir still have to make money. Our version of Ivan runs an NGO dedicated to building clean energy windmills in Ghana or underwater electric cars to feed the hungry in Oslo. Boris and Anatoly didn’t meet while badgering a frightened poet in a Lubyanka basement, but passing a joint at an anti-war rally that the KGB boys in the Lubyanka probably helped organize. Their fathers were both professors of radical history at Yale and have written well-regarded books on how the Founding Fathers only started the American Revolution to protect their monopoly on cotton. They scored the dough for the Ghana underwater hungry windmills by adding a 4 percent tax on gasoline, cough drops or tanning salons. It doesn’t matter because so long as the money exists, the mafia can keep stealing it one way or another.

The big scary question is what happens when the money begins to run out? In Russia, the question isn’t merely academic. It’s disturbingly real. Predators expand in proportion to prey. An open system attracts predators who feed off it. We call this taxation, and it works fine, though with more for those at the top of the food chain than those at the bottom. The predators breed larger and larger numbers until they cease to understand that they need the prey to survive. That’s when the predators start telling the prey, “You didn’t build this.”

In the natural kingdom that you can occasionally spot out your window or on a television channel in between shows about truckers on ice roads and mythical monsters, when predators grow in number while the prey dwindles, what occurs is a dieback. The predators are not capable of regulating their numbers. While they try to pretend to be sheepdogs, they are actually wolves. A sheepdog might have enough of a sense of loyalty and duty to go on a diet. Wolves however don’t go on diets. When their food supply is threatened, they sense danger and begin gorging themselves on all the available food to prepare for the famine. They run up a 16 trillion dollar national debt and assure us that they’ll pay it back twenty years from now.

Invaders from Outer Space

Monday, July 30th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/invaders-from-outer-space.html

New York City has been invaded, its buildings blown up and its citizens slaughtered hundreds of times. The invaders come every summer, descending from the sky and under the earth. Sometimes they aliens or gods or monsters. They are, however, never Muslims.

Every summer, for 10 dollars you can see a fantasy version of September 11 reenacted with invading enemies who deserve no mercy and receive none. They come in swarms, buildings fall, people run for cover and then they are beaten back and banished. And then, as summer fades, we pause for that obligatory week in which attention must be paid to commemorating the attacks of September 11 while seeing no connection between the discharges of tension through fictional victories used as an escape mechanism from a war that we dare not fight.

The Dark Knight, the previous Batman film, contained an elaborate analogy to the War on Terror, a shadow version of the real war fought out by men in costumes proving that it was possible to release a big-budget movie supportive of the War on Terror so long as it was dressed up in the right costume.

Since then, and before, New York City has been attacked by meteors, ice ages, mythical skeletons, more costumed criminals, the year 2012, and every possible imaginary scenario that can be dreamed up. It just hasn’t been attacked by Muslims because that’s something that doesn’t happen in movies. Only in real life.

The actual enemy rarely shows up in movies. There have been more movies made attacking the War on Terror than movies showing American soldiers and law enforcement officers fighting terrorists. After ten years of war there have hardly been any movies made about the war in Afghanistan and the most watched movie about the War in Iraq began with an anti-war quote, just so no one made any mistakes about where everyone involved stood. And all of these are a drop in the bucket.

Our cinematic world is a relentless barrage of anxieties; week after week, movie theater screens light up with depictions of civilization collapsing into chaos, overrun by hordes of zombies and monsters, our cities torn down, buildings burning, police and military forces helpless in the face of the enemy. These collective anxieties are packaged up and exported to audiences at home and around the world who sit watching our unacknowledged fears of invasion and collapse play out in movie theaters.

A culture’s art, no matter how tawdry it may seem, is also its dreams. They are the stories we tell, and they are full of conscious and unconscious meanings. Legends are created by a culture to battle its unspoken fears. Its great hunters and warriors, whether born of a god, risen from the sea or wearing a cape take a society’s terrors and defeat them in a story that is reenacted over and over again to bring courage to the people and remind that all obstacles may be overcome with a strong spirit.

No matter how degenerate a culture may be, its people still need such legends because they still have fears that need calming. The more troubled the time, the more they have need of such legends and the more they may even escape into them to find comfort against the coming of the long night.

The Islamic invasion is only dealt with through such legends where the enemy is reduced to metaphors, as the Soviet Union and the threat of Communism were in earlier generations. In earlier generations, we saw the Nazi on screen, and he is still a reliable villain, but the Communist is a more elusive fellow and the Islamist is more likely to show up in British movies than in American ones. Instead, the Communist became subsumed in stories of pod people and zombies, in depersonalized bombs falling from the sky and enemies with accents but no ideology. Even brainwashing was distanced as a technological trick in the Manchurian Candidate rather than an ideological practice.

If Communists occasionally showed up in movies, Islamists are as rare as white elephants. There is plenty of work for Muslim actors portraying unjustly accused men being persecuted by bigoted and ignorant law enforcement officers. But there is hardly any work for them portraying terrorists. Much as negative portrayals of Communists was Red-Baiting, negative portrayals of Muslims is Islamophobia. And it is better to be afraid of imaginary things than real ones.

Rubin Reports: A First Look at Egypt’s New Constitution Shows a Careful Ambiguity On Islamic Rule

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

http://rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/

Although it isn’t official, the first two articles of Egypt’s new Constitution have been reportedly drafted by the committee of parliamentarians charged with that task. Article 1 defines Egypt as part of the Arab and Muslim nation, a compromise between acceptance of the country as a normal nation-state and its identity as either a purely Arab nationalist or Islamist entity.

Similarly, Article 2, according to Mohamed Emara, head of the committee responsible for drafting this section, says:

“Islam is the religion of the state, and Arabic is its official language, and the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source for legislation. Christians and Jews shall resort to legislation derived from their own religions.”

There is some ambiguity here as to whether Egypt would thus be a Sharia state. On one hand, Islamic law is not made the sole source of legislation, while the word “principles” might mean that the interpretation will be loose, principles and not all of the details. Bourhamy says that this merely shows that Egypt isn’t a secular state.

On the other hand, though, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis accepted this formulation which, since they want a Sharia state, apparently feel does not block their goal from being reached. Moreover, precisely what “principles” means will be defined not by some governmental organ but by the al-Azhar mosque university. While the leaders of that institution are more moderate than the Brotherhood and Salafis, presumably President Muhammad al-Mursi will replace them at some point with his own people.

The Arabic word used to define “democracy” was “shura.”  This is a term often used in Muslim countries because it is found in the Koran. It might be translated as “consultative,” since the ruler (in this case, al-Mursi) can consult with the parliament. This might be taken to imply that its decisions are not binding. Also that the parliament does not have a free hand in passing laws since—it is implied—no law can be passed that conflicts with Sharia law.

Non-Islamists can argue that there is no harm in the word but it should be noted that the idea for using this term was suggested by a Salafist.

The bottom line is that there is an ambiguity which Western observers and anti-Islamist Egyptians can say means that the country will not be a Sharia state, while Islamists can maintain their own view. The key point, of course, is not the wording as such but who gets to interpret it down the road.

Finally, Christians, it is implied, will be governed by their own religious laws. But this is a peculiar formulation. If Egypt is not governed by Sharia law then why would Christians need to be exempt from it? If this provision is restricted only to matters of personal status (principally marriage, divorce, and inheritance) then Christians would mostly be living under Sharia law in any state court. And what does this constitutional provision mean for example regarding the status of women, where Egyptian law has granted more rights than Sharia would do? Another important issue will be the appointment of future judges since many of the current magistrates oppose Sharia law as that of the state.

If there is an Islamist president and parliament who pass laws that correspond only to Sharia and who appoint Islamist judges and al-Azhar  shaykhs then Egypt will be a Sharia state. No doubt though the Constitution will be interpreted by many Western observers of proof that the Brotherhood and Salafists have moderated.

The Case for Kosher Lab-Grown Meat

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

According to a recent report, real progress is being made to generate lab grown meat that tastes as good as the real thing without all the cruelty, ghastly side effects, expense and waste of the present worldwide meat industry.

Dr Mark Post, whose lab at the University of Maastricht is experimenting with literally growing meat in Petri dishes, has told the Guardian: “We could be seeing a future where huge quantities of high-quality meat are gown in vats, incorporating not only muscle fibers but layers of real fat and even synthetic bone. In 25 years real meat will come in a packet labeled, ‘An animal has suffered in the production of this product’ and it will carry a big eco tax. I think in 50-60 years it may be forbidden to grow meat from livestock.”

Post is cited in a Grist article as stating something which should be of interest to us Kashrut observers:

“An animal does need to be killed to kick off the in-vitro process, but in theory, a single specimen could provide the seed material for hundreds of tons of meat.”

So, providing that the original specimen was kosher, isn’t this something we Orthodox Jews should welcome?

No one can say it is not acceptable. After all the Gemara tells us that R. Hanina and R. Oshaia spent every Shabbat evening studying the Book of Creation and as a result they were able to create a third-grown calf (comments: or a three year old, or a fat one) and ate it (Sanhedrin 65b).

So, if you could conjure up a living being from a Kabbalistic source book, then why not from a lab? Not only that, but given the halacha, shechita itself would not be necessary, because, purely following the letter of the law, if you kill a cow properly and then out comes a calf, you don’t need any further shechita to make it kosher.

Yet you can bet there will be opposition. Whenever anything threatens the Kosher Meat trade the Rabbis and Dayanim who live by it automatically cry “foul” because they will lose a major source of income. That also explains why those few rabbis who became vegetarians, like the Kamenitzer Maggid, or supported vegetarianism in principle, like Rav Kook, were excoriated and virtually written out of Haredi history.

But the point can be made that, since the Gemara says that the best way to celebrate Shabbatot and Chagim is with meat and wine, it would, it seems, be an offense against tradition to be a teetotal vegetarian – even if no one could point to an actually halacha against either.

Unlike my brother David, I am not a complete vegetarian, but I welcome the possibility of scrapping the meat trade. Indeed, I hope that when Elijah comes to earth he will tell us that in the Third Temple there will only be vegetarian offerings. I find the current situation unacceptable. We spend more money raising one beef animal than would feed an Indian village for a month. Most processes are offensive: the ghastly way most animals bred for slaughter are treated, the awful sights and smells hidden from consumers, the amounts of chemicals fed into animals reared for human consumption, not to mention the dangers of our modern diets. I am not opposed to eating protein but I’d be delighted if there were some way of doing it without subjecting animals to human cruelty.

Mind you, this is not an attack on Shechita. I have seen virtually all officially sanctioned methods of slaughter and I am utterly convinced that of all of them, Shechita, when carried out correctly, is the least painful and disturbing. But as Temple Grandin has shown emphatically, so much of the awfulness of slaughter has to do with the lead up, the corralling, the forcing of animals towards the fate they can smell and hear, not to mention so much cruelty involved in the rearing, the transportation and the preparatory processes of meat production. If only we could have the tasty protein without all that.

Let us assume that all the unemployed Shochatim could be trained to work in other areas of the kosher trade. Why do I still envisage opposition? One reason is simply the reluctance to countenance anything new or to allow science or modern values to challenge ancient traditions. A new concept of religious correctness is that ‘Masorah,’ the way we have always done things, trumps innovation. But there is in fact another issue and it is the tension that exists between the letter of halacha and the spirit.

This is not of course a halachic responsum, but it is conceptual analysis of why in our tradition there is an imperative to consider the careful treatment of animals and why this new development could be very significant and certainly should be welcomed.

The Torah commands us to sacrifice and the cohanim to eat meat. But it is also full of laws concerning animals: not killing a cow and its calf on the same day, not taking a fledgling or egg in front of the mother, not ploughing an ox with an ass together, not muzzling an ox while it threshes.

The rabbis are divided in their rationalizations. Some of course refuse to accept the idea of explanations altogether and emphasize only the significance of an act of obedience to a higher power. Some do indeed say it shows Divine mercy to creatures as a sign of greater mercy towards humans, and others do actually argue that the purpose of showing mercy to animals is to imitate Divine qualities of caring. Neither do I need to rehearse the laws of cruelty to animals, Tzaar Baaley Chayim and the Noachide Laws of “Eiver Min HaChay,” not taking a limb from a living animal. And yet too often one hears these ideas dismissed as figments of non-Jewish moral relativism. “The Nazis were kind to animals” or “Englishmen prefer dogs and horses to humans.”

There is indeed a massive challenge to reconcile caring for animals with the meat trade. And this where Meta Halacha plays an important part. Humans do indeed come first. But that does not mean we should not be concerned with animal welfare. Yet somewhere along the march of history we have lost the thread. Just look at how the custom of Shlogging Kapporas causes such cruelty and no one seems to care.

Take these two narratives about Rebbi Yehudah Hanassi in Bava Metzia 85a
Why did he suffer in life? A calf was being taken to the slaughter. It broke away, hid his head under Rabbi’s skirts, and began to howl. “Go,” he said “because you were created for this.”’ Then they said (on High) “Since he has no pity, let us make him suffer.”’

And why did his suffering end? One day Rabbi’s maidservant was sweeping the house; [seeing] some young weasels lying there, she was about to kill them. He said to her “Let them be, for it is written “ He extends his mercy to all of his creation.” Then they said “‘Since he is compassionate, let us be compassionate to him.”

You could not have a more explicit expression of the significance of the issue. And if this new method can in fact (and it still has some ways to go) change the way we get our meat, then all I can say Yishar Co’ach and Tavoh aleyhem beracha.

Why the West Loves Lying to Itself About Islam

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/why-west-loves-lying-to-itself-about.html

Say that you get a tempting offer from a Nigerian prince and decide to invest some money in helping him transfer his vast fortune from Burkina Faso or Dubai over to the bank across the street. The seemingly simple task of bringing over the 18 million dollars left to him by his father hits some snags which require you to put in more and more of your own money.

Eventually you have invested more than you ever would have ever done up front, just trying to protect the sunk cost, the money that you already sank into Prince Hussein Ngobo’s scheme. And to protect your self-esteem, you must go on believing that, no matter what Prince Ngobo does, he is credible and sincere. Any failings in the interaction are either your fault or the fault of some third party. Anyone who tells you otherwise must be a Ngobophobe.

Now imagine that Prince Ngobo’s real name is Islam.

That is where Western elites find themselves now. They invested heavily in the illusion of a compatible Islamic civilization. Those investments, whether in Islamic immigration or Islamic democracy or peace with Islam have turned toxic, but dropping those investments is as out of the question as writing off Prince Ngobo as a con artist and walking away feeling like a fool. Western elites, who fancy themselves more intelligent and more enlightened than the wise men and prophets of every religion, and who base their entire right to rule on that intelligence and enlightenment, are not in the habit of admitting that they are fools.

The Arab Springers who predicted that the Muslim uprisings would bring a new age of secularism, freedom and an end to the violence between Islam and the West; are busy writing up new checks. Thomas Friedman is penning essays explaining why the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood will mean regional stability and peace with Israel (and if it doesn’t, it will be our fault.)

It’s not insanity; it’s the term that rhymes with a certain river in Egypt. The Brotherhood’s victory discredits the Arab Spring, which discredits the bid for Arab Democracy, which discredits the compatibility of Islam and the folks on Fifth Avenue. Follow the river back along its course and suddenly the Clash of Civilizations becomes an undeniable fact. It’s easier to give up and let the river of denial carry you further along until, five years from now, you find yourself explaining why Al-Qaeda ruling Libya is actually a good thing for everyone.

In 1991, Israel cut a land-for-peace deal with a greasy Egyptian bloke named Yasser Arafat. The Cairo-born Arafat would turn his gang of terrorists into a government and police force, and rule over an autonomous territory, in exchange for ending the violence. Clinton smiled beatifically as hands were shaken and a new era of peace was upon us. The era, however, has yet to show up.

Over two decades of terrorism have not shaken the belief of the American or Israeli establishment in the “Two-State Solution”, which has solved absolutely nothing, except perhaps the problem of how to make the Middle East into an even more unstable place. As the violence increased and the pathway to peace decreased, American Presidents and Israeli Prime Ministers redoubled their concession offers and their faith in the Two-State Solution—now an article of faith in most circles. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt; it also laps at the shores of Tel Aviv, flows out to the English coast and all across Europe.

Ask a Eurocrat for the time of day and he’ll calculate how much to charge you for the subsidies to artisanal clock farmers that it will take to answer that question. Ask him about Islamic integration and he will instantly tell you that everything is going smoothly and the problems only exist in the minds of a few bigots and the pages of a few tabloids.

Muslim integration into Europe is going swimmingly, much like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Arab Spring. It’s going like a house on fire, not to mention a bus, a lot of cars and two towers on fire—on the other side of the Atlantic. Whatever problems there are, as with the peace process and the spring process, are undoubtedly the fault of someone who isn’t a Muslim.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/sultan-knish/why-the-west-loves-lying-to-itself-about-islam/2012/07/11/

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