Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jewish Burqa Update - Kids Will Be Kids

Its been awhile since we addressed the ever frightning Jewish Burqa cult. The video below was supposedly filmed in the Jerusalem area, and shows a young girl who is happily skipping around, despite her Burqa:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Does Feiglin Actually Make A Difference?

In one word - no.

How will it affect Israel? Most of us couldn't name any other MK who was chosen 15th in their party list. The chances of him being given any ministerial job are somewhat lower than the chance that the Messiah himself will arrive on a white donkey and proclaim Bibi the one true king. The only problem is that from now on, we can  expect Israel Haters-Bashers-Well Meaning but naive people,  to quoting every racist or delusional utterance that  Feiglin makes, as representing Israel proper. This will be a Hasbara nightmare.

How will it affect the Likud? other political parties will now have a field day attacking the Likud. This will probably cost it a few mandates. Feiglin does not bring with him any voters. Those who voted for him in the primaries, do not actually vote Likud on election day. Furthermore, since he is in a fairly safe spot, there is no need for them to vote for the Likud to ensure that he will make it into the Knesset.

In Natalie Portman One of the Worlds Most Important Jews?

Had a look at the entry "Jews" in Wikipedia. On the right hand side of the entry there are pictures of some famous Jews:

I'm not sure what the list represents. Surly these are not the most important Jews in history, nor even the most well known. Point in fact is that I had to look up who Emmy Noether actually was. I'm also somewhat dismayed that whatever anonymous contributor chose the list, only put in a single religious personality. 

Fixing Past Wrongs - Sephradic Jews And Spain

From the NYT -

Spain announced Thursday that it would grant automatic citizenship to Jews of Sephardic descent as a further gesture of reconciliation after their ancestors were expelled more than five centuries ago. Sephardic Jews already benefit from a preferential naturalization procedure that requires them to live in Spain for only two years before claiming citizenship, but the change means that Jews will have to present only a certificate confirming their ancestry to claim a Spanish passport.

Its not clear to me how anyone can present a certificate "confirming their ancestry". I can only assume that they do not have to prove their ancestors were exiled five centuries ago, nor the purity of their descent. Assuming that you only have to prove some non Ashkenazic blood - I'm happy my children will be able to pick up their fourth passports.

However, there is actually a more interesting aspect to this story. I'm all for fixing past wrongs, but surely there must be some limit. It is especially troubling as Sephradic Jews really have no lost longing for Spain, or any cultural connection with modern Spain. Citizenship should involve some connection to a society, and not an historical anecdote.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why the blogging has been slow

Simply put, I was called up for operation Pillar of Defense (עמוד ענן), and my phone got broken on the very first day of the operation.

Hopefully blogging will return to its normal rate in the coming few days. Until then, here are some of the pictures that I took while I was "In green"..

A yellow scorpion that I spotted seconds before I almost touched it with my hand.

 What is left of an Iranian rocket that was fired at one of the villages in Israel's south.

Sunrise over the base.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Quick Thought On Missile Hitting Tel-Aviv

Anyone who is rejoicing that finally also "yuppie" left wing Tel-Aviv is getting hit with missiles, is just proving how little Achdut/Ahavat Israel/Basic human sympathy/Common sense he has.

And no, Tel Aviv will not "get you" now.

Tweets From Pillar of Defense

I don't have much time to blog, but I did find these tweets funny:

 Oh no, all my 72 virgins are men!!!

Think I'm Scary? You Should Meet My Martyr-In-Law

Shiite happens 

 My Other Car Is An Explosive Filled Donkey

Monday, November 12, 2012

More On The Non Existent Anglo MK

Yesterday I asked the question "Why Don't We Have An Anglo MK". Today, Ellie Fischer addressed the same issue in his post at the Times of Israel "Don't Vote For The Anglo Candidate". His post is noteworthy for two reasons. The first is that he is almost certainly referring to me when he writes:

“Ah,” the skeptical and perhaps somewhat bigoted ‘mainstream’ Anglo voter objects, “Litzman is Haredi, and Haredim hardly represent the typical Anglo voter.”
This somewhat bigoted blogger has taken note, and will get his own back in the next sentence. The second reason why the article is noteworthy is that despite listing every possible "Anglo" MK since the inception of the state, Fischer misses the point completely. We want an Anglo MK, not an MK who is Anglo. None of the people that Fischer mentions (at the very least from the last 20 years) were exceptionally Anglo. In other words none of them thought of themselves as representing the Anglo community. I don't think any of them even spoke Hebrew with a strong Anglo accent.

Every other community has a "representative" in the Knesset, or at the very least MKs who proudly wear their social/ethnic association. Why are  Anglos the exception?

Demonstrating Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules For Good Writing

Elmore Leonard started out writing westerns, then turned his talents to crime fiction. One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, he’s written about two dozen novels, most of them bestsellers, such as GlitzGet Shorty,Maximum Bob, and Rum Punch.  Unlike most genre writers, however, Leonard is taken seriously by the literary crowd.
What’s Leonard’s secret to being both popular and respectable? Perhaps you’ll find some clues in his 10 tricks for good writing:  

1.  Never open a book with weather.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. 

The ten rules can be read here, for those of you who didn't appreciate my joke. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why We Don't Have An Anglo MK...

Ever wonder why of all the immigrant groups to Israel, only the Anglo one hasn't got any representation in the Knesset?

This week's Makor Rishon (9.11.12) (Not online) had a whole two page article on the subject. Its basic conclusion can be summed up in two points:

  • English Olim tend to integrate into Israeli society, and hence vote like "normal" Israelis.
  • English Olim tend to be well off and don't need any special lobbying. 
Both points are reasonable, though they are not really two separate points. Anglo olim are on average better off than the average - and hence do not have a problem assimilating.

 Makor Rishon estimates that there are between 100-300 thousand Anglos in Israel - or roughly enough for 10 MKs. Of the established parties, only Yisrael Beytenu (ישראל ביתנו) has an ongoing Anglo campaign, as well as a long running anglo candidate, who never quite manages to make it into the knesset.

In the upcoming elections several parties are trying to woo the Anglo vote. Yesh Atid has Dov Lipman, who made his name campaigning against the Haredi wackos in Ramat Beit Shemesh. I can guess that he is a bigger celebrity in Ramat Beit Shemesh than in the rest of the country where he is largely unknown.

 Habait Hayehudi is also having a bit of an Anglo renaissance, with - Jeremy Gimpel - a young Anglo candidate in its primaries. Gimpel appears to be slightly over estimating his own appeal. In the Makor Rishon article he is quoted as stating that 95% of Anglos know him, and that he is as famous in the Anglo community as Yair Lapid is in Israel. I happen to know who Jeremy is,  but I highly doubt that he is anywhere near as well known as he seems to believe.

Despite the raised profile of Anglos in the election, I've yet to hear of any specific Anglo concerns that the parties, or their anglo representatives are raising. I'm eager to hear from my readers what they would like their Anglo representatives should be doing on their behalf... 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Quick Feminist, (Or Anti) Thought Of The Day

Looking at this weeks Parasha, I noticed a pattern.

Rivka can go to the well, and fill her bucket by herself -

טז  וְהַנַּעֲרָ, טֹבַת מַרְאֶה מְאֹד--בְּתוּלָה, וְאִישׁ לֹא יְדָעָהּ; וַתֵּרֶד הָעַיְנָה, וַתְּמַלֵּא כַדָּהּ וַתָּעַל.16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her; and she went down to the fountain, and filled her pitcher, and came up

Just one generation later, the roles are reversed:

י  וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר רָאָה יַעֲקֹב אֶת-רָחֵל, בַּת-לָבָן אֲחִי אִמּוֹ, וְאֶת-צֹאן לָבָן, אֲחִי אִמּוֹ; וַיִּגַּשׁ יַעֲקֹב, וַיָּגֶל אֶת-הָאֶבֶן מֵעַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר, וַיַּשְׁקְ, אֶת-צֹאן לָבָן אֲחִי אִמּוֹ.10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother.

Jacob not only opens the well, he also waters the flock. 

The reversal is permanent:

טז  וּלְכֹהֵן מִדְיָן, שֶׁבַע בָּנוֹת; וַתָּבֹאנָה וַתִּדְלֶנָה, וַתְּמַלֶּאנָה אֶת-הָרְהָטִים, לְהַשְׁקוֹת, צֹאן אֲבִיהֶן.16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
יז  וַיָּבֹאוּ הָרֹעִים, וַיְגָרְשׁוּם; וַיָּקָם מֹשֶׁה וַיּוֹשִׁעָן, וַיַּשְׁקְ אֶת-צֹאנָם.17 And the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.
So...did Rivka teach her children, and from there all the rest of the generations, proper manners? or perhaps Rivka was the last great feminist, and after her its all male domination at the well?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Worst Religious Hasbara Of The Day

Apparently Shimshon Klein, a commander in the IDF in charge of recruiting Haredi soldeirs, gave this answer to a Haredi youth asking about the halachic problem, where female soldiers sing before a male audience:

"Its possible that the female soldier you see, has had a sex change operation"

It is clear this was meant both as a joke, and as a private comment. However, in making the headlines, Shimshon Klein is awarded our Worst Religious Hasbara Of The Day Award.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama Won, Welcome To Canada

Via: @RabbiYYS

Women, Havdalah, Wine, Beer and Body Hair

Observing the closing havdalah ritual in 14th-century Spain.
That's a big candle!
I was looking for the origin of the myth that women drinking Havdalah wine will grow either beards or mustaches. This was somewhat urgent, as my little 3 year daughter insists on drinking most of the grape juice I use every week.

This article by Ari Z. Zivotofsky (quite a name) entitled "Wine from Havdalah, Women and Beards" examines the issue in some depth. I recommend you read the entire article, though below I've collected some of the more interesting tidbits from the article:

The origin of women not drinking Havdalah wine (among other halachic reasons he explores):

The reason originally mentioned by the Shla6 is that because the
Eitz Hada’at, the tree of knowledge, was a grape vine7 from which
Chava squeezed wine in order to separate from man, a wish she was
granted via dam niddah, menstrual blood, she does not partake of
the havdalah (separation) wine.
Despite the widespread mention in later sources attesting to this
custom, it appears to be a custom of relatively recent vintage [Nice Pun!], with
the first written source being the early 17th century. The lack of a
written source does not preclude the possibility that a custom existed
but is simply not attested to in writing.

On the origin of the hair myth:
 The closest written source I have found is a cryptic remark in
the “hashmatot section” of Sefer Matamim (Rav Yitzchak Lipiyatz,
p. 242 in 5753 reprint, p. 144 in 1891 edition) where he explains
that it is because women do not have beards that they are prohibited
(!) from drinking the havdalah wine. He offers no explanation
for this seemingly bizarre connection. But one could imagine that
such a statement could easily lead others to conclude that if she did
drink it, she would grow a beard. However, despite the inclusion of
this statement in Sefer Matamim (originally published in 1891), it
does not seem to have been a widespread idea, and I have been unable
to find it recorded elsewhere.

A possible theory:

the Gemara asserts that drinking beer causes unwanted hair on females, and it was
girls who drank beer who required the use of the described methods
to remove the unwanted hair.

In Eastern Europe wine was a rarity. The Aruch HaShulchan
(OC 182:1) explains that despite the halachik obligation, they did
not bentch over wine simply because it was very expensive.21 According
to all opinions chamar medina may be used for havdalah
(MB 271:56). Because of the difficulty in obtaining wine, it is possible
that in Eastern Europe beer was the beverage commonly used. 
for havdalah and hence women were advised not to drink it because
beer, not the havdalah beverage, causes unwanted hair. This bubba
meise that was originally based on the specific beverage22 was eventually
ascribed to the ceremony, and the legend evolved that women
drinking the havdalah wine grow unwanted hair

Daily Show on Yesterday's US Elections

Don't miss this gem:

Appoint Mitt Romney As US Ambassador To Israel

Foreign Policy has an interesting list of suggestions, what Mitt Romney should do next:

Another outside-the-box idea for how a second-term Obama administration could make use of Romney. For all the talk of who-threw-whom under the bus, there aren't that many differences between the two men on substantive policy toward Israel. Both favor continuing heavy military aid to the Jewish state, both are committed -- at least in public -- to negotiating a two-state solutionfor the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and both favor a mix of sanctions and negotiations with Iran without ruling out the possibility of military action.
But tone and personal connections do matter in diplomacy. Obama and Netanyahu have had a frosty relationship from the start, while Romney and the Israeli prime minister are old friends who share more than a few allies and donors. Preventing a war in the Middle East in the next four years may require reigning in the hawkish Israeli leader, who looks like a lock for re-election. But such a message might be more effective if delivered by someone Netanyahu trusts.

I actually think this is a superb idea. Israelis both love Romney, and distrust Obama. Appointing Romney as the US Ambassador would in one sweep do much to calm twitchy Israeli nerves about the Obama administration.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Habayit Hayehudi Ads - How Not To Do Them

Habayit Heyhudi is having it primaries this week and next. Tomorrow (6.11.12) members will be asked to choose a new party leader between Naftali Bennet, and Zevulon Orlev. After the results of the leadership race are announced, members will choose who will become the party's candidates for the Knesset.

The race between Orlev and Bennet has been long, hard and dirty. Keep that in mind when you look at some of these posters:

This is an ad for Harav Rechamim Nesimi - who I know next to nothing about. However, what caught my eye was his attempt to have his cake and eat it too. The ad talks about "unity" and has the rare photo of both Orlev and Bennet together with Nesimi in a show of unity! Problem? its photoshopped (it says so on the bottom left). Even worse - Bennet has the top spot! Ironically, Nesimi is endorsing Orlev! but but but..he is also calling for people to give Bennet a high placing in MK listing (hence the unity!).

Jeremy Gimpel (candidate for the "young" position) released a cute video - but there is one major problem. He is wearing a BLACK kippah. That is a  major error in the RZ crowd, as Black Kippot are normally signs of American Haredism, Americans, or just Haredim. Also it would have helped if his Hebrew was slightly more polished...

I'll also add that I really hate his campaign slogan "Jeremy brings mandates to the Mafdal". All candidates claim that they bring mandates. The slogan is especially annoying, when everyone else is using some kind of idealistic slogan.

Who Knew?

The New-Yorker has this description of Daniel Craig in "Skyfall", the new James Bond Movie:

Daniel Craig is amusingly single-minded. He has the strange attractiveness—prominent nose, hooded eyes, narrowed forehead—of an intelligent cobra. He’s dry, a little grudging, even, with only the flicker of a smile and no discernible soul. Of course, he doesn’t need a soul. What would be the bloody use of it?, as M. might say. Just as he is, he’s sufficient for his job, his body a frequently unsheathed weapon, alabastered and fast, cutting through cluttered sets and straitened passageways.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

George Jonas On Antisemetism Vs Legitimate Criticism

George Jonas puts it eloquently:

Judging by the volume of correspondence last week on the question of whether Israel’s critics are anti-Semites or not, the subject exercises National Post readers a great deal. To me, the answer seems uncomplicated and self-evident. I’ve been offering it for years and will probably continue in years to come. Watch my lips: Some are and some are not.
These six words contain everything one can usefully say about the subject, at least until the art of mindreading becomes more reliable. Some critics of Israel are anti-Semites and some aren’t, and no one can tell in advance which one is and which one isn’t, although one can often make a shrewd guess. No, the mere fact that a critic is Jewish doesn’t preclude him being anti-Semitic
More importantly, knowing the answer still doesn’t tell us whether the critic is right or wrong. The fact that a critic isn’t anti-Semitic doesn’t prove that his criticism is right; the fact that he is anti-Semitic doesn’t prove that his criticism is wrong. I wish it would but it doesn’t.
I personally cringe whenever anyone defending Israel uses the "Antisemitism" argument. I don't doubt in the least that much of the criticism against Israel display a deeper antisemitism, but it is only God (and the shadow) who knows what thoughts lie in the hearts of men. One should only ever accuse another of such a harsh label as an antisemite when you are sure beyond any reasonable doubt.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bye Bye Bug Free Lettuce..

According to a report in Ynet, Israel's Chief Rabbi, Harav Shlomo Amar has paskened that there is no benefit to eating the "Bug Free" produce (the best known is the Gush Katif) such as lettuce, Mint, Parsley etc..

The reasoning seems to be multiple. The first and most worrying is that the heavy use of pesticides used to create the "Bug Free" produce is a serious health risk. Additionally, the article seems to suggest that Harav Amar is skeptical that the lettuce and other bug free products, are in any way superior to the old fashioned method of washing the lettuce. Lastly Harav Amar blasts the high cost of "Bug Free" produce, and states that people are wasting money they don't have for little benefit.

Since "Gush Katif" has become the halachic norm in many a RZ household, I'm waiting eagerely to see if this cry for sanity will catch on..

Was Abraham Responsible For Sdom's Demise?

In this week's parasha we are told of how Abraham argues with God over the planned destruction of Sdom. However, it is interesting to note that this isn't Abraham's first encounter with Sdom. Famously, Abraham saved all the people of Sdom, during the war of the kings in chapter 14 where Abraham refuses to receive even a "shoe latchet" as a reward.

Is it possible that Abraham ruined God's lesser evil plan? did God originally only mean to send Sdom into exile as punishment for their sins? However, Abraham ruins the plan to send the men of Sdom into exile, and they continue to sin, until their just punishment is no longer exile, but rather death?

Why Are There So Many New Political Parties Being Suggested

If you read the Israeli news, you can't have missed the political craziness of the last few weeks. Almost daily the Israeli public is being told of the possible creation of a new political party - Olmert, Livni, Kahlon, Olmert-Livni, Livni-Kahlon, Kahlon-Amsalem etc. This is a continuation of some political rumors, which have left the theoretical and become a reality - Yair Lapid and the return of Deri.

So why are so many new parties coming into theoretical existence? The simple answer is that it shows how much Israelis are not content with their current political choice. This is most pronounced in the left, where there seems to be a consensus that there is no suitable leader to challenge Netanyahu. However, there might be another simple explanation. It has been 4 very stable years in Israel since the last election. This is quite a rare occurrence  in Israel. The norm for the last 20 years or so, has been merely 2 years between elections. As such many have been politicians, or newcomers have been waiting for this opportunity for quite awhile. Additionally, those who would normally have to wait for the next elections before "stepping up" are worried that they will have to wait, not two but four years before making their move, and have had to act quickly to join "the party".