Friday, November 18, 2011

Demographics of Army Service

According to statistics published by the IDF, the city with the highest rate of young people serving in the IDF (i.e 18-21 year olds and not career soldiers) belongs to Modiin. At the bottom of the national list - Jerusalem (52nd) and Tel Aviv (62nd).

Jerusalem is fairly easy to explain - large Haredi and Arab population. But what is the explanation for Tel Aviv being at the bottom? Originally I thought that perhaps Bnei Brak was included inside Tel Aviv's status - however in the list you can see that the Haredi towns (Elad, Bnei Brak, Beitar Eilit) are all counted individually. Interestingly enough, when Ynet tried to work out the statistics according to regions - they removed Bnei Brak from the "Mercaz" region - to make it look a little better. This might actually be the dream of many people in Gush Dan, including those living in Bnei-Brak, but it is little more than cheating on the statistics.

I'll also note, that while Ynet, Ma'ariv, Israel Hayom all noted the low rankings of Tel Aviv (though without giving an explanation), in Ha'aretz this fact goes unmentioned. The piece in Ha'aretz actually deals with the ongoing debate about women singing in the IDF, but it is the only mention I could find of the statistics on their webpage.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Moshe Katzav on Google +?

Well not really. However when playing around on Google+ I did find this hilarious fake Moshe Katzav Page -

The fake post, says that Katzav is back at home after the trial, and relaxing watching a movie. The movie 25th hour is about a man just sentenced to seven years of prison..

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

This quote has been widely reported, but never quite in the same fashion, so I've allowed myself to just use the most entertaining one..

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman:

' Israel would be happy to lift its blockade on Hamas-run Gaza if France would pull its weight - by sending in the Foreign Legion to keep order."Don't send girls with olive branches," .

The girls with olive branches is a reference to some french activists who tried to run the blockade. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"I'm Just In Love With God" - The Amazing Race Religious Couple

No, that quote isn't from Rav Kook. This is a rough translation of a quote from a religious contestant of the second season of the Israeli version of "The Amazing Race". The quote in Hebrew reads "אני פשוט מתה על אלוקים" literally "I'm dead in love with god."

The religious couple - Anahel and Akiva are this years "curiosity item". The amazing race send couples racing around the globe, fulfilling missions in each country to get ahead. In order to allow the religious couple to play they had to change the format a little - no flying on Shabbat, no eating bugs, no eating non kosher food. In one episode where the couples had to wrestle in chocolate (Ok so this isn't high brow entertainment) Anahel and Akiva had to come to an agreement with the non religious couples, that Anahel would not fight, and they would also sit out a fighter.

However it isn't being religious that is so fascinating about this couple. Its their version of religiosity. Anahel constantly talks of how she loves god - in the most mundane way. Whenever they have a stroke of luck (and they seem to have an awful lot of it) they immediately loudly thank god. Annoyingly the wife also has a habit of screaming a pet name she has for her husband "Shushi" in encouragement.

Personally I'm constantly shocked at how their religion is so open. They constantly talk to god as if he is their friend - something that is even stranger when done in front of a TV camera. God is meant to be a more intimate and private affair. To refer to him so casually - feels cheap. It feels somehow shallow.

This couple seems destined to go into religious folklore.

Quote of the Day

From Conrad Black, in an otherwise interesting article "Middle East truth-telling, from an unlikely source":
"Note: Thanks to reader David Walcott for pointing out that Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was the aunt, rather than the niece, of Emperor Charles V. I am in a U.S. federal prison that does not have a proper encyclopedia and I must rely on my generally reliable, but not infallible memory."

Won't someone please donate a proper encyclopedia to this poor man?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When Your Son Becomes Your Great Grandson

Noticed in this weeks parasha:

  וַיְהִי, בָּעֵת הַהִוא, וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וּפִיכֹל שַׂר-צְבָאוֹ, אֶל-אַבְרָהָם לֵאמֹר:  אֱלֹוקים עִמְּךָ, בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר-אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה.22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his host spoke unto Abraham, saying: 'God is with thee in all that thou doest.
כג  וְעַתָּה, הִשָּׁבְעָה לִּי בֵאלֹהִים הֵנָּה, אִם-תִּשְׁקֹר לִי, וּלְנִינִי וּלְנֶכְדִּי; כַּחֶסֶד אֲשֶׁר-עָשִׂיתִי עִמְּךָ, תַּעֲשֶׂה עִמָּדִי, וְעִם-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-גַּרְתָּה בָּהּ.23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son; but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.'

In modern Hebrew the word "נין" (nin)  means great grandchild. However, while reading the parsha I suddenly asked myself why does he mention a great grandchild, before he mentions the grandchild? a quick look in Onkelos showed that he translated Nin as child, and Neched as grandchild. That is also how it was translated above. Clearly this is a case where the modern meaning of the word, is contrary to its biblical meaning.

I have no idea why the word נין(nin) suddenly jumped two generations in modern Hebrew.

Political Motives and Iran

Not having any particular expertise, I have no real view on whether Israel should attack Iran or not. However I am certain of one aspect of this discussion - all of those who are ascribing narrow political motives to Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak or even to Obama are living in an alternate reality. No sane person - not even a politician would ever embark on a possible nuclear war out of such narrow motives.

The immensityh of the situation - a potentially life and death decision for the State of Israel is simply too large for personal egos. 

Some of you might argue that this argument should be true of all wars. However, when the nuclear consideration is added, it isn't just a "war" - it is a national existential moment. I believe those who are arguing that Bibi is acting as he is, due to cynical election considerations are mostly showing their own lack of appreciation of the historical weight of the decision.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Papua New Guinea And Shema

First of all I apologize for very slow blogging lately. I've just been swamped with work.

And now for this unusual video - of natives of Papua New Guinea reciting the shema. Haaretz doesn't really have much detail on why these natives were taught the Shema in Hebrew, other than some speculation (that doesn't ring true to me) that christian missionaries taught them the Shema "to recite the Sh’ma to demonstrate their love and respect for Christianity’s Jewish roots."

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Surprising Google Searches

Go to and do these searches (make sure you press "enter" and don't just let the instant search work):

  • Do a barrel roll
  • tilt or Askew
  • Google Gravity (and press "I'm feeling lucky")
(Some of these seem to only work in Chrome or Firefox)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It Appears That I Am Also Paranoid

This morning I was walking in Bar Ilan University this morning, when suddenly I saw what could only be a missile flying in the air. It was obvious this was a missile by the steep way it rose in the air, and by the ball of fire that seemed to be surrounding it. This is a video of the event from NRG:

In the first instance I thought this must be a rocket from Gaza about to hit Tel Aviv. However a second later I thought it was simply too high to be such a short range rocket - and then I froze. I was sure I was seeing the first rockets of an attack on Iran. People around me were reacting in a similar fashion, and within seconds you could hear everyone whispering/calling on the phone and saying Iran Iran...

Of course by now we know that armageddon has not started. However this only shows the unbelievable situation that Israelis are living in - where on a normal day they can all seriously believe that  World War Three has just started just because of a flash in the sky.