Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why The Dati Leumi Public Isn't Part Of The Protests.

So why isn't the Dati-Leumi public part of the protest?
·         The mood of the protest is too "Tel Aviv".
·         Some of us have some fairly well founded suspicions that behind the scenes this is really a left-wing protest – i.e. aiming to topple a right wing government.
·         Some of us suspect that the next stage of the protest will aim at the settlements and/or Haredim. Some of us don't really want to protest against one or the other or both of those groups.
·         The religious public likes a clear leadership, and a clear goal. At the moment the protests have neither.
However, and after numerous conversations with other young Dati-Leumi people – we all support the protest, yet something feels odd about it. We can't explain it – we don't know why, but none of us feel comfortable at the protests.

My Kind of Judge

From blog, one of the finer moments of the American legal system:

Just for fun, and because it’s a summer Friday afternoon, here’s the text of a court order handed down July 19 by Kentucky judge Martin Sheehan in the case of Kissel v. Schwartz & Maines & Ruby Co. (ScribD, h/t Nicole Black and Daniel Schwartz):

…the parties having informed the Court that the herein matter has been settled amicably and that there is no need for a Court ruling on the remaining motions and also that there is no need for a trial;
And such news of an amicable settlement having made this Court happier than a tick on a fat dog because it is otherwise busier than a one legged cat in a sand box and, quite frankly, would have rather jumped off of a twelve foot step ladder into a five gallon bucket of porcupines than have presided over a two week trial of the herein dispute, a trial which, no doubt, would have made the jury more confused than a hungry baby in a topless bar and made the parties and their attorneys madder than mosquitoes in a mannequin factory;
1) The jury trial scheduled herein for July 13, 2011 is hereby CANCELED…
If you’re curious to know more about Judge Sheehan, a quick Google search indicates that he’s a judge who’s thrown out a lawyer’s libel suit against a critic (a prosecutor!) on the ground that it was constitutionally protected opinion; that he’s adopted civility rules to keep lawyers from beating up each other and each others’ clients over much in his courtroom; and that hestruck down as unconstitutional an overreaching state law that retroactively sought to restrict where past sex offenders could live. Better and better….

In a similar manner, this decision in a local Tel-Aviv court (sorry no time to translate):


As many of you have noticed, I aim to write only quality posts. However no blog is ever perfect without some pictures of cute kittens!

This lovely kitten pictured above has been stuck in  Wood Green animal shelter in Godmanchester, England, apparently due to the fact that his markings make him look a little like Hitler. I will confess that when my sister showed me the picture and asked me who the cat resembles - it took me two seconds to answer "Hitler" so clearly the resemblance is fairly strong.  Personally I would have thought the chance for so many family jokes would have made this kitten a sure fire hit(ler). 

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Memory of Rav Amital Z"l

This Video was shown in Yeshivat Har Etzion yesterday in memory of Harav Amital Z"l who passed away a year ago.

Harav Haim Navon, published this article in Ynet.

Napoleon And Jewish Polygamists

Medallion struck in honor of the "Grand S...Image via Wikipedia
 Medallion in commemoration of the Grand Sanhedrin
About three weeks ago I posted extensively about a bizarre group who wish to reinstate Jewish polygamy. I listened to an interview this week on this topic with a Mrs. Elisheva Bar who was arguing for Polygamy. One of the interesting things she mentioned was the fact that Polygamy was the first question Napoleon asked of his "Sanhedrin".

The Grand Sanhedrin was a Jewish high court convened in by Napoleon I to answer the question of whether Jews could be equals in the French Empire.  The name was chosen to imply that the Grand Sanhedrin had the authority of the original Sanhedrin that had been the main legislative and judicial body of theJewish people in classical and late antiquity.

Here is the question Napoleon asked and the answer the sanhedrin gave:

Emperor Julian's Temple

Emperor Julian the ApostateImage via Wikipedia
I'm a big fan of the "History of Rome Podcast". It is probably one of if not the best historical podcasts, and I eagerly await each new episode.

This week the historical narrative at "The History of Rome" has reached the emperor "Julian The Apostate".  In its honor, and also because Julian's brief attempt to rebuild the temple is not well known, I thought it might make an interesting post.  Additionally it is a fitting topic for the three weeks – telling of how close we were of already building the third temple.

One Prayer You Will Not Hear A Rabbi Say Anytime Soon..

Especially thanking god for his "smoking Hot Wife.." I can't think of a single Rabbi who could get away with that.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Worth a Read 28.07.11

Shhhh No One Tell The Haredim...

Has anyone noticed that today there is the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem? where are the huge street protests? has everyone gone to sleep?

 I'm not sure what to feel on this media silence.Is it possible that the Haredi community has finally seen the error of their violent protests? sigh.

Weirdly enough this silence has me in some conflict. On the one hand I'm happy that this isn't front page news again - no need to see massive protests and hear hate filled rhetoric. However, and this is the weird part - the silence this year only makes previous years hate filled campaigns by the Haredi community seem that much more politically rather then genuinely religiously motivated. I find myself waiting for just a little protest - anything to make me believe that not everything in Israel is just a power game.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Israel The Tourist Trap?

The Economist has this chart showing which countries manage to make the most money out of each tourist, the definition being "When calculated as the total of tourist receipts divided by the total number of arrivals, several geographically isolated countries fare well. This may be because holidaymakers will stay longer and fork out more on a long-distance trip."

Not surprisingly Israel does quite well, coming in at #9. More surprisingly is that Lebanon does even better. One can only assume that these figures reflect very few tourists that actually make it to Lebanon, as well as quite a few muggings.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Settlements and Real Estate Costs In Israel

Well it was only a matter of time, before someone would try and explain how the occupation is also responsible for the price of real estate in Israel:

As Israeli peace activist Dror Etkes noted in Haaretz, the government initiated the construction of about 20 percent of all new housing units built in Israel between 1994 and 2009. During the same time period, however, the government was responsible for building 48.4 percent of all residential units in the settlements. Do the math: The government cares twice as much about building homes for settlers as it does about housing young Israelis in Israel. This is particularly true when it comes to Tel Aviv: Between 2006 and 2009, not a single unit of public housing was erected in what is for many the country’s most desirable market.
Israelis enraged about the cost of housing, then, shouldn’t block roads in Haifa and Jerusalem. They should block roads in Bet El and Ofra and Kedumim and Ariel and the other settlements that continue to receive wildly disproportionate chunks of taxpayers’ money. Nobody can escape politics. And those who try are doomed only to lose at it.

The problem with this argument is that it makes no sense. There are roughly 300,000 settlers. If Israel had not spent the money to house those 300,000 settlers in the west bank, it would have had to house them inside the green line. The total amount of housing that needs to be provided remains a constant.   Furthermore - land in the west bank is certainly cheaper then land near Tel Aviv. The settlements were cheap land – which means that the government got more for its money then it would have gotten if the same sum were spent inside the green line. In essence the settlements were the cheap housing for some 40 years.

There is a simple counter argument. The counter argument assumes that some day in the future these settlements are going to be vacated by Israel – and hence all the money invested in them was wasted. This is certainly a valid argument – but only if you accept the assumption – something that is still being debated.

It would appear that have found at least one  social ill that I don't think you can blame the settlers for.

I'll add one last thought of what should be making any dreamy eyed leftist pause. What will be the effect on the cost of real estate should Israel suddenly have to absorb 300,000 settlers?  

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Who Invented The Sandwich?

Lapham's Quarterly has this graphic up:

Personally I've some doubt over this "win". The language of the Haggadah isn't really clear what Hillel used to do. The Hebrew word KORECH כורך can be either binding, or rolling. Therefore it is easy to understand that
Hillel didn't use two pieces of bread, but rather used something similar to a Lafa (large flat pita). On the other hand, the modern Hebrew word for a sandwich כריך clearly does come from Hillel's Korech.

This is clearly a case for Balashon!

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Hear The Golden Bell Found In Jerusalem

Last week a "Golden Bell" from the second temple period was found in Jerusalem.  There is a tendency that whenever any item is found in Jerusalem it is immediately ascribed to some well known figure. In this case a golden bell was a no brainer - and was immediately connected to the High Priest. PaleoJudaica puts it nicely:

Well, maybe. On the one hand it is true that the only references to golden bells in the Hebrew Bible are to bells on the vestments of the high priest (Exodus 28:33-34; 39:25-26). On the other hand, first, the only other mention of bells (a different Hebrew word) refers to horses' trappings (Zechariah 14:20). Presumably, bells were used in many other contexts, so our sample of cultural allusions is limited. But, you say, what about golden bells? Well, second, Isaiah 3:16-18

Monday, July 25, 2011

To Rejoice Or Not To Rejoice?

There is a famous Midrash regarding the proper attitude we should have when our enemies have fallen:

Talmud  Tractate Megillah 10b:
As the Egyptians started to drown in the Red Sea, the heavenly hosts began to sing praises, but God silenced the angels, saying, "The works of my hands are drowning in the sea, and you wish to sing praises!"

In high school the moral I was taught from this Midrash is that you should not rejoice at the death of your enemies. However, post high-school I started hearing a different reading. The new understanding stressed the fact that it is Angels who are being criticized for their singing.  The moral level where one should not show joy at the downfall of his enemies is reserved for the heavenly plane. This understanding of the Midrash is backed up by the fact that there seems to be no criticism of Israel singing the "Shirat Hayam" after the splitting of the red sea.

Just How Low Israel's Image Really Is

From the JTA:

German journalist Ulrich Sahm reported on the pro-Israel website that many of the youths who survived the massacre said they thought the killer, dressed as a police officer, was simulating Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories. They believed that "the cruelty of the Israeli occupation" was being demonstrated to them, Sahm wrote.

In other words these youths were so brain washed, that when they saw a man running around camp shooting people - they didn't think "Terrorist" but rather they thought "Israeli". Can we go any lower then this?

Hat Tip: Jeffery Goldberg.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meet The Na Nachs

A nice slideshow trying to explain who are the Na Na Nachman Chasidim. You can read the full article Here. 

Why Are There No Self-Hating Catholics?

Robert Fulford (who isn't Jewish), asks this interesting question in Today's National Post:

Among the multitude of insults that float around my world, there's one I always find disturbing and a little mystifying: "Self-hating Jew."
Among religious and ethnic insults, it has no obvious parallels. I've never heard anyone described as a "self-hating Roman Catholic," though many Roman Catholics are harsh judges of their Church. Is there such a thing as a self-hating Chinese? I've known Anglicans who make fun of their Church, but no one denounces them as self-hating Anglicans. Muslims may turn against Islam without being called anything similar.
As a disparaging term, it has an unusual effect. It sounds like the start of an argument, but it's more often the end of one. Those who use it believe that it settles the issue. Once the label is applied, the person using it believes the discussion has ended.

I recommend you read the whole thing. Sadly the author does not seem to give a convincing answer. His suggestion seems to praise Talmudic culture for producing a Jewish tendency to think critically - and ergo critique. This does not though seem to answer the question.

Alternative Names For the Orthodox Facebook

Mandy has 321 male friends. His wife, Chaya Mushka, has 321 girlfriends. How many new couples will they be able to match? Well, none.
All these friends are on FaceGlat – the haredi version of the Facebook social network, in which Mandy and Chaya Mushka are not even allowed to meet.

Yes, the Jewish mind doesn’t rest. Technology keeps presenting new wonders, and there's always someone ready to take the challenge. This time it's Kfar Chabad resident Yaakov Swisa, 25, who founded a "kosher" social network with complete segregation between men and women and free of any immodest pictures or ads.

Being a terrible speller myself, I'm fairly sympathetic to people who cannot spell. However, I'm fairly sure Glat is normally spelled Glatt. A spelling mistake in the name of the website, is already a major turn off. Another similar and annoying complaint is that in the picture posted on YNET which is shown above, the labels in English are Arnold Schwartzenegger style - "Man" and "Woman", and not "Men" and "Women". Possibly in their rush to beat the competition, this website was unveiled a tad too early.  Luckily this seems to have been fixed (left).

What is worst for me however is that the name "FaceGlat" is just so boring. If you are going to offer a Haredi version of facebook (Ignoring the question of why those Haredim are online in the first place) at least give it an interesting name.

Some suggestions:

·        "Shomer Poking".
·        No good for Shiduchim.
·        Facing  book, not wife.
·        Mechitzah book.

Please post your inspired suggestions.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Technology and Memory

Andrew Sullivan recently posted this about Google and Memory:
The Internet is wreaking havoc on our memory skills, a new study finds. Nick Carr is all over it: If a fact stored externally were the same as a memory of that fact stored in our mind, then the loss of internal memory wouldn't much matter. But external storage and biological memory are not the same thing. When we form, or "consolidate," a personal memory, we also form associations between that memory and other memories that are unique to ourselves and also indispensable to the development of deep, conceptual knowledge. The associations, moreover, continue to change with time, as we learn more and experience more. As Emerson understood, the essence of personal memory is not the discrete facts or experiences we store in our mind but "the cohesion" which ties all those facts and experiences together. What is the self but the unique pattern of that cohesion?And, to invoke another metaphor, because the brain is like a muscle, taking away the tiny but countless opportunities to exercise it weakens its ability to perform the higher-level thinking that we can't use computers for.
I've been having a similar argument for years with some of my friends – whether the internet is making us smarter or dumber. In the Jewish context I often argue how Bar-Ilan's responsa project has made every single semi-competent former Yeshiva bachur (i.e myself) able to quickly research any topic and have an opinion. However the question of whether it is making us greater in Torah or not, remains somewhat open. Personally I can't imagine my torah study today without the internet as a backup for finding resources, articles and ready made opinions. However much can be said that this method of study hurts the ability for creativity in torah study – as we  lack having a large corpus of knowledge from which to draw from – and more importantly find new connections from.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Conversations You Hear In Miluim

Conversations you hear/have only in miluim:

1.       A 34 year old programmer who earns nearly 30K NIS a month, explaining to a 38 year old Ethiopian immigrant who works as a security guard and presumably earns minimum wage why it was unfair for the government to tax him for the car he receives from his employer.
2.       Another older programmer having an honest heart to heart with a youngish farmer, who is trying to decide if he should continue his family's business of milk production in the cow shed, or go learn to be a programmer.
3.       A non religious soldier explaining to me that after he saw how the rabbanut would not allow his friend to marry a Giyoret (convert) because she was not religious, he does not intend to marry his girlfriend in a religious ceremony.
4.       5 non religious soldiers trying to remember what the fast of 17 betamuz is about. Finally one uses his smartphone to check Wikipedia. I watch both amused and sad.

Evidence From The Dead

Every legal system has its share of nuts. Israel just has a few more. I recieved this example from a lawyer friend of mine:

בית המשפט המחוזי בחיפה

ת"א 5211-02-09 קאסם ואח' נ' דוידוב ואח'

מספר בקשה:17
כב' השופטת  יעל וילנר
1. עז' המנוח מרואן קאסם
2. שאדיה קאסם
3. חנאן קאסם
4. מרווה קאסם
5. ספא קאסם
ע"י ב"כ עוה"ד סאהר עלי
 מדינת ישראל – משרד הביטחון – צבא ההגנה לישראל
ע"י פרקליטות מחוז חיפה (אזרחי)

בעקבות החלטתי בה הוריתי על הגשת תצהירי עדות ראשית, הונחה בפני בקשה להתיר הגשת עדותו של המנוח - שעזבונו הוא התובע בתביעה שלפני - באמצעות נשמתו שהתגלגלה, על פי הנטען בבקשה, לילד בן 7 שאת תצהירו מבוקש להגיש.עם כל ההבנה לרקע שבבסיס הבקשה, דיני הראיות במדינת ישראל מצויים בסְפֵירָה המשפטית שאינה זהה ואינה חופפת לסְפֵירָה האמונית/דתית. משכך, אין באפשרותי להיעתר לבקשה, שכן התצהיר שהגשתו מבוקשת, אינו עונה על הדרישות על פי פקודת הראיות והדין הנוהג.בנסיבות אלה, לא מצאתי לבקש את תגובת המדינה לבקשה.512937154678313אין לפרסם את שמו של הילד.
יעל וילנר 54678313מזכירות מתבקשת להעביר החלטה זו  לצדדים באמצעות הפקס.
ניתנה היום, י"ז תמוז תשע"א, 19 יולי 2011, בהעדר הצדדים.

it reads:

Haifa Municipal Court,
case no...
Before the honorable Judge Yael Vilner.
on the matter between:...

Following my decision asking the sides to submit their testimony via affidavits, I recieved this request to allow the testimony from the deceased - who's estate is the claimant in this case - via his soul which had reincarnated, according to the request into a seven year old boy who's affidavit was submitted.
With all due sympathy to the request, the laws of evidence in the state of Israel are to be found in the legal sphere which is not equal to, nor overlaps the belief/religious sphere. As such I cannot accept the request, which does not fulfill the criteria for an affidavit as set in the law of evidence or legal practice.
As such I did not feel it necessary to recieve the defendant's response to the request.
The name of the child may not be published.
Yael Vilner

Oh those crazy lawyers. Weirdly enough I had a case with a similar problem, where a client had written an affidavit and signed it, but it was not submitted, nor did he stand for cross examination before he passed away. We similarly asked the court to allow evidence from the dead, though without recourse to finding his reincarnated soul.

I also have a dim memory of some aggadah of a rabbi bringing the dead back to life in order for him to testify (Using a coin in the mouth, or something similar). However, no amount of Googling has so far had any success at locating the tale, and so I'm hoping one of my readers manages to find it for me.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blogging Break

I have a week of training in Miluim. Regular blogging will continue on Fri 22nd.

Shavua Tov!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ancient Shabbos Boundary Markings?

This story was reported in JPOST:

An ancient rock inscription of the word “Shabbat” was uncovered near Lake Kinneret this week – the first and only discovery of a stone Shabbat boundary in Hebrew.

The etching in the Lower Galilee community of Timrat appears to date from the Roman or Byzantine period.

News of the inscription, discovered by chance Sunday by a visitor strolling the community grounds, quickly reached Mordechai Aviam, head of the Institute for Galilean Archeology at Kinneret College.

“This is the first time we’ve found a Shabbat boundary inscription in Hebrew,” he said. “The letters are so clear that there is no doubt that the word is ‘Shabbat.’” 

Aviam said Jews living in the area in the Roman or Byzantine era (1st-7th centuries CE) likely used the stone to denote bounds within which Jews could travel on Shabbat. The Lower Galilee of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages had a Jewish majority – many of the Talmudic sages bore toponyms indicative of Galilee communities.
The engraving uncovered in Timrat is the first and only Shabbat boundary marker yet discovered in Hebrew – a similar inscription was found in the vicinity of the ancient Western Galilee village of Usha, but its text was written in Greek.

Aviam and his colleagues plan to enlist local help in scouring neighboring areas to locate additional inscriptions, and eventually to publish their findings in an academic journal.

“This represents a beautiful, fascinating link between our modern world and antiquity, both emotional and archeological,” Aviam said. “Certainly for those of us who are religiously observant, but also for the secular among us who enjoy a stroll on Shabbat to know that we’re walking in places where Jewish history lived two thousand years ago.”

There is at least one other similar case I'm aware of - some stones found around Gezer, with markings saying "boundary" were found. You can see pictures here.  However I've always been a little skeptical - I just don't remember a talmudic or other early source mentioning this kind of custom.
H/T Elder of Zion

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Worth a Watch

This video is extremely well done. I don't agree with its message though - but probably because I'm the "academic" type.

I'm wondering what this video would look like if someone tried to apply it to Judaism. Are we encouraging "standardization" in Judaism? are we killing our own divergent thinking in Judaism?

Hat Tip: Rav Tzair

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Malkot (flogging) or Prison?

As every student of Jewish Law knows, flogging is one of the central tools that were meant to be used as a form of punishment by a Jewish Beit Din. Luckily for us, the lack of Jewish autonomy have made this form of punishment more or less historical.

Similarly, flogging is no longer used as a form of punishment in the western world. It is seen as "cruel and unusual" punishment. However a recent article in the Boston Globe  - reviewing a book "In defense of flogging" makes an argument for its return:

Peter Moskos, a criminologist at the City University of New York and a former Baltimore police officer, has just published “In Defense of Flogging,’’ a serious if startling proposal to drastically shrink America’s “massive and horrible system of incarceration’’ by letting most convicted criminals choose between going to prison and a semi-public flogging with a rattan cane. An absurd thesis? Don’t reject it out of hand, Moskos says, before considering what you would want for yourself. “Given the choice between five years in prison and 10 brutal lashes, which would you choose?’’ A flogging would be intensely painful and bloody, but it would be over in a few minutes. Prison would mean losing years of your life, being locked away from everything and everyone you care about.
Offered those alternatives - hard time or the lash - most people would choose the lash. Better the short, sharp humiliation of a flogging than the prolonged emotional torture of being shut in a cage. Better to be punished and be done with it. 
The argument is not without some merit. There is little doubt in my mind that prisons are an extremely cruel form of punishment - and somewhat ineffective. Normblog (highly recommended) has tries to refute the argument:

What has struck me now - taking longer to do so, perhaps, than it should have - is that the argument from what the convicted would prefer can't by itself be decisive. To see why, just 'stretch' the example: instead of five years in prison and 10 brutal lashes, let's say 20 years in prison and the surgical removal of one of the would-be prisoner's eyes. I don't know whether, offered this choice, there wouldn't be people who might choose the loss of an eye over the 20-year sentence. But eye-removal should not be introduced in a civilized society as an alternative to long prison sentences.
 I don't find his argument convincing, though it does have a certain instinctive weight. Norm is arguing Ad-Absurdum. However is it really an all or nothing question? may we not accept that certain limited pain is morally defensible, while other more extreme cases are not? Admittedly drawing the line is sure to be difficult. However difficult is not impossible.

And so I ask: will Flogging make a comeback? Does it have a better chance in a Halachically influenced one?

Human Rights Imperalist

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) released two decisions regarding the British military’s alleged violation, in Iraq, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”). In the second, Al-Skeini and Others v. the United Kingdom, the Strasbourg-based ECHR unanimously held that the United Kingdom had violated Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”), by failing to perform an adequate investigation into the deaths of five Iraqi civilians who were killed in 2003, during British security operations in and around Basrah City.

One of the Judges lashed out at the United Kingdom - for apparently denying that the Convention applied in Iraq - a non member of the convention. His language is worth noting, both for its content and for its blatantly anti-Iraq war tone:
I confess to be quite unimpressed by the pleadings of the United Kingdom Government to the effect that exporting the European Convention on Human Rights to Iraq would have amounted to “human rights imperialism”. It ill behoves a State that imposed its military imperialism over another sovereign State without the frailest imprimatur from the international community, to resent the charge of having exported human rights imperialism to the vanquished enemy. It is like wearing with conceit your badge of international law banditry, but then recoiling in shock at being suspected of human rights promotion.
Personally, I would have respected better these virginal blushes of some statesmen had they worn them the other way round. Being bountiful with military imperialism but bashful of the stigma of human rights imperialism, sounds to me like not resisting sufficiently the urge to frequent the lower neighbourhoods of political inconstancy. For my part, I believe that those who export war ought to see to the parallel export of guarantees against the atrocities of war. And then, if necessary, bear with some fortitude the opprobrium of being labelled human rights imperialists.
I, for one, advertise my diversity. At my age, it may no longer be elegant to have dreams. But that of being branded in perpetuity a human rights imperialist, I acknowledge sounds to me particularly seductive.

Hat Tip: Lawfare 

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Tolerance, Human Remains and Weird Israeli Politics

Building plans for the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem have just been approved, and building should commence soon. One would think that the museum would be fairly uncontreversial. However when dealing with Israel, nothing can ever be easy. Jpost reports:

Palestinian leaders claim the site, opposite Independence Park, is an ancient Muslim cemetery from the twelfth century. The Center had previously completed the long approval process following a four-year legal battle over the controversial location. 
So is Israel building a Museum Of Tolerance on-top a Muslim cemetery from the twelfth century? well no. Or at least not exactly. According to the findings in the Supreme court's (Bagatz 52/06) the graves were discovered by accident. Since the 1960's The land on which the museum is planned to be built was being used as a car park, with no one thinking it was part of the cemetery. For 50 years or so no one protested – since the clear border of the cemetery did not involve this land. As such all the stages of planning were passed without anyone even imagining there was a problem. Only once they started to dig on the site, did they start to discover graves – apparently about 300 years old. In other words, we are not dealing with an active or even known cemetery, but rather with a previously unknown site which was discovered only after work had begun. The court after much deliberation let the work continue.

Is Israel treating the Muslims differently than it does Jews? Luckily one highly publicized case involving jewish remains occurred only a year ago. Israel wanted to expand a hospital wing in the town of Ashkelon. Extreme Ultra Orthodox groups objected and even rioted when human remains – allegedly Jewish were discovered on the site. Despite their protests, the court ordered the work to continue. Weirdly enough this is an example of Israel being consistent in the application of the law.

And this is where the weird politics of Israel come into play again. According to Channel 1 Muslims and Extreme Ultra-orthodox groups are in negotiations for a deal. The Muslims want the Ultra-Orthodox to protest the construction of the museum, as they did the construction of the Hospital. In return they are offering to make sure that Jews visiting the Jewish graveyard on the mount of Olives will stop being harassed.

Never a dull moment.

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Welcome Back?

Some noteworthy stories:

The NYT reports that an Israeli Beit Din has handed down a broad ruling on the Jewishness of Majorcan community:

PARIS — Centuries after the Spanish Inquisition led to the forced conversion of Jews to Catholicism, an ultra-orthodox rabbinical court in Israel has issued a religious ruling that recognizes descendants from the insular island of Majorca as Jews.
The opinion focused narrowly on the Majorcan community of about 20,000 people known as chuetas and did not apply to descendants of Sephardic Jewish converts in mainland Spain or the broader diaspora of thousands of others who scattered to the Ottoman Empire and the Spanish colonies in South and North America.

Arutz Sheva has a brief quote from the Psak Din:

n his written opinion, Rabbi Karelitz stated that, “Since it has become clear that it is accepted among them [the Chuetas] that throughout the generations most of them married among themselves, then all those who are related to the former generations are Jews, from our brethren the children of Israel, the nation of G-d.

It should be pointed out that this Isn't an officially recognized Psak din. However, if a Ultra Orthodox Beit din is willing to accept them as Jewish, one can only suppose that the official Rabbinical courts will come to a similar decision. I can't help but point out the irony, that the ultra-orthodox are willing to accept Jews who have for some centuries have had to at the very least pretend to be Christians, but are not willing to accept Jews converted by the IDF.

 In another non related story, YNET is reporting on an Italian synagogue that had been a church for the last 800 years, and has now been returned to its original purpose - with the christian artwork being hidden behind a curtain. 

Noam Chomsky Makes An Embarrassing Error

Eldar of Zion has caught Chomsky out in an embarrassing error. In his recent article in the Truthout Chomsky wrote:

The U.N. would presumably recognize Palestine in the internationally accepted borders, including the Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza. The heights were annexed by Israel in December 1981, in violation of U.N. Security Council orders.

I've stressed the Golan heights. Isn't Syria going to be a little upset over having to hand over the Golan Heights to the Palestinians?

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Ok this is the last one

I know that this Polygamy story didn't really justify so many posts. However I couldn't resist this last one..

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Polygamy For All The Sons Of Abraham

Just as we are discussing (well kind of) polygamy in orthodox Judaism, it seems the exact same debate is going on in Jordan. Even more astounding is that the same reasons are being used in both debates - the unmarried elder woman. Both seem to be debating the religious question as well as the cultural one.

According to Al-Jazeera:

In modern Jordan, polygamy has both its critics and supporters.
Those in favour, such as the recently launched Committee for Supporting Polygamy, see it as a practical solution to the rising number of unmarried women.
But critics say there are as many number of unmarried women as men due to the heavy cost of weddings.
Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Amman.

It would seem that this is another instance where Judaism and Islam are facing similar difficulties, and are sharing the same debate. Well, almost. Enhanced by Zemanta

We might as well declare this, Polygamy day.

There seems little point in fighting it. The silly story of the ad in shabat be'shabato is spreading  and has become the joke of the day. 

The story was picked up by the radio, and numerous other news outlets. According to Israel Radio which interviewed the nutcase behind the "full Jeiwsh Home" organization, they are actually succesful. He claims that last week Israeli Sephradic Chief Rabbi Harav Amar actually allowed a person to marry a second wife with the help of his organization. 

However the real shock of the day - one which I'm not quite sure if its serious or not, was provided by the website "Srugim" which claims that the money for the advertisement was provided by...Single religious women.

They quote an anonymous source:

"I'm a 39 year old religious single woman that is worried that she will soon no longer be able to be a mother. Two years ago, I enquired about sperm donation, but all my rabbanim rejected the issue, and I also felt it was a terrible thing for a child no to have a father.
According to Sara (not the real name) she was advised of a halachic solution of wedding a married man. Sara, brought up the idea to her fellow single and divorced female friends who are in a similar situation, and they set up a support group with the encouragement of Rabbanim. They joined forced with the organization "The complete Jewish Home" that provides advice and solutions on the subject of polygamous marriages[1].

Sara continues and explains that there are 27 female members in her "support group" in Jerusalem, all of whom are religious, religious light or chozrim Be'teshuva.

   ?Will we all have to rethink this story 

"אני רווקה דתיה בת 39 שחוששת שעוד מעט ואאבד את היכולת להיות אמא.  לפני כשנתיים  התעניינתי בתרומת זרע אך כל רבותי דחו את העניין  וגם אני הרגשתי שזה נורא שלילד יחסר אבא."
לדברי שרה, הוצע להם פתרון הלכתי של נישואים לגבר נשוי. שרה, העלתה את הנושא בפני חברותיה הרווקות וגרושות הנמצאות במצבה, וכך הן הקימו קבוצת תמיכה בעידוד רבנים, כשהן חוברות לארגון 'הבית היהודי השלם' שמספק ייעוץ ופיתרון בנושא נישואים ליותר מאישה אחת.

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How to Teach When You Believe What You Teach Is A Lie

The following picture, supposedly from a high school's official text was posted on Rotter.Net:

The text reads : To the student. What is written in this booklet, is good and appropriate for the "Bagrut" exam in Citizenship. However you should know, that most of the material does not correspond to the truth. The one and only truth in the world is told by our holy torah that was given to the people of Israel by God himself. Goodluck Studying. Part 1: The declaration of Independence.

Some of the comments in Rotter are claiming that this isn't an official school text, just a popular "summary" that is sold to students. Regardless I can think of no better example of double-speak. I am fairly certain that no student who reads this booklet is going to be a good citizen later. However I take some comfort that even though whoever wrote this booklet believes it to be a lie, perhaps some of the readers will be more convinced by the content rather then the warning on the cover. I prefer religious students learn about civil rights, albeit with a disgusting warning, then learn nothing at all.

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More on The Polygamy Ad

Following up on my last post, it seems I wasn't the only person to notice the advert for polygamy. Harav Rozen, who is in charge of Shabat Be'shabato which run the ad responded by stating that the advertising in the leaflet is run by an outside advertising company without his screening.  He also jokingly claimed that when he first saw the ad he thought it was meant as a satire of the book "Torat Hamelech" - in stating halachic claims that are baseless. "What is next" he asks "A store selling human flesh with a hechsher? Perhaps a Aron Kodesh (A place where the torah is kept)  with a dual use function - as an Aron and a Chicken coop for laying special holy eggs? Halachic sources permitting will be produced at a later date".