Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Israel Being Sued Over Jesus...Again..

From the Jerusalem Post:

A Kenyan lawyer has filed a petition with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, suggesting that the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ was unlawful, and The State of Israel among others should be held responsible, Kenyan news outlet the Nairobian reported on Friday.

Dola Indidis, a lawyer and former spokesman of the Kenyan Judiciary is reportedly attempting to sue Tiberius (Emperor of Rome 42 BC-37AD), Pontius Pilate, a selection of Jewish elders, King Herod, the Republic of Italy and the State of Israel.

"Evidence today is on record in the bible, and you cannot discredit the bible," Indidis told Kenyan Citizen News.
Oh well then..

Yes, those he suggests should have been convicted during the original trial have not been alive for more than 2000 years, however Indidis insists that the government for whom they acted can and should still be held responsible.
“I filed the case because it’s my duty to uphold the dignity of Jesus and I have gone to the ICJ to seek justice for the man from Nazareth,” Indidid told the Nairobian. “His selective and malicious prosecution violated his human rights through judicial misconduct, abuse of office bias and prejudice.”
Indidis apparently named the states of Italy and Israel in the lawsuit because upon the attainment of independence, the two states incorporated the laws of the Roman Empire, those in force at the time of the Crucifixion. 
We did? I really should ask for my money back from Bar-Ilan Law School. However suing Israel for the death of Jesus isn't even an original idea. Haim Cohen, former Israeli Supreme Court Justice recalls:
During 1948, not long after the establishment of the Supreme Court, I then still the State Prosecutor, was called to Moshe Smoira, our first president [of the court], and he showed me some files, filled to the rim, with petitions for the Supreme Court to have a retrial for Jesus the Christian (ישו הנוצרי). The petitioners were protestant reverends from various countries, all arguing that now, with the establishment of the Supreme Court in a Jewish state, our first duty was to correct the mistake of our immediate predecessor, the Sanhedrin, 1900 years ago. The president informed me that he had discussed the matter with the the other Justices, and they -obviously- decided that they don't have the authority to hear these petitions....He also asked me to respond in his name to the petitioners and explain why we didn't feel we had the jurisdiction.(Haim Cohn, A Personal Introduction, pg 305)

Joke of the Day

Spotted on Facebook:

A guy is walking along the beach in Tel Aviv when he comes across a lamp partially buried in the sand. He picks up the lamp and gives it a rub.

A genie appears and tells him he has been granted one wish.

The guy thinks for a moment and says, "I want to live forever."

"Sorry," said the genie, "I'm not allowed to grant eternal life."

"OK, then, I want to die after the Israelis and Palestinians make peace.

"You crafty little bastard," said the genie.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Israeli Half-Shabbos - Bachelors vs High School

Makor Rishon (and NRG) have an interesting piece over the weekend of the Israeli version of the half-shabbos -  religious Jews who observe Shabbos, with the minor exception of texting. The entire piece (published in full at מוצ"ש) is worth a detailed read as it not only describes the phenomenon, it also attempts to give a religious interpretation of it.

However - I wish to focus on one glaring difference between the Israeli and American versions of Half-Shabbos: In America the phenomenon is appears to be a high-school phenomenon. The Israeli version (at least as it is described) appears to be a late bachelorhood phenomenon. I haven't got a good explanation for the difference. One possible reason is that even in America the Upper West Side bachelors are texting on shabbos, but aren't talking about it. However, I'm doubtful of this explanation, as I'm sure some would be willing to talk anonymously.

As such I have no explanation to explain the difference between the Israeli and American phenomenon. Feel free to offer your explanations in the comments below!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Chumra Watch?

So why exactly do I need to know that this chicken was slaughtered after the nine days?

Hat Tip: @Benwaxman

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chief Rabbi Race of Nepotism

The registration period for the position of Chief Rabbi has finally closed. Here is the full list of candidates:

The candidates for Sepahrdi Chief Rabbi are:
  •  Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, 
  • Rabbi Ratzon Arusi
  • Rabbi Tzion Shalom Boaron,
  • Rabbi Yehuda Deri, 
  •  Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, 
  • Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, 
Eliyahu and Yosef are both the sons of former Chief Rabbis, while Deri is the brother of SHAS chairman Aryeh Deri.

The candidates for Ashkenazi chief rabbi are:
  • Rabbi David Lau, 
  •  Rabbi Eliezer Igra, 
  •  Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, 
  • Rabbi David Stav,
Lau and Shapira are the sons of former Chief Rabbis. All in all out of 10 candidates, 4 are sons of former Chief Rabbis and one is the brother of a prominent politician.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Richard Silverstein's Logic

I think we are long past the point where there is really any  need to prove that Richard Silverstein is little more than a tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist. So this isn't a post aimed at proving that, it's just a little poke for my own amusement.

Today a story was working its way through the press that Israel had used Turkish air force bases to attack Syrian targets last week. The source of the story was Russia Today (now named RT), who based their report on a single unnamed "reliable source".  I obviously have no first hand knowledge if the story is true. It could be true, stranger things have happened. However, I think any reasonable person, aware of the current animosity between Israel and Turkey would at the very least be skeptical. I said reasonable:

"Given that this story keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, I believe the story is very possibly true. "

Let's follow the logic. The weirder (or "curioser") a story is, the more likely it is to be true. Enough said?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Worst Haredi Hasbara of the Day

Today is a tough one, with Shas (see my previous two posts) working so hard at gaining this award. However, today's winner:

That's right, the Chief Rabbi of Acre (עכו) has suggested that the מי שברך traditionally said in Zionist synogogues for the soldiers of the IDF, should now include not only soldiers but also those who study torah (i.e in his mind Haredim). 

Oh lets just reach into the Zionist holy of holies, and really anger people.

Late Edit - this letter  in Hamodia would have won my illustrious award any other day.

Shas Making Us Proud

Continuing from our last post, one is delighted to hear that Rav Ovadia has enough sons who are "Gedolim" that he can so quickly nominate another for the role of Sephradic Chief Rabbi, as soon as another of  his sons is under police investigation.

It is also convenient that all the appropriate candidates that Shas will support for the position are the progeny of a single family.

Army Service Is Not the Dati-Leumi Sole Characteristic..

So another Shas rabbi has decided that the Dati-Leumi public is Amalek:

Rabbi Shalom Cohen, a senior member of the Council of Sages of the Sephardic Shas party attacked the religious Zionist sector over the weekend, calling its members “Amalek.”
Being Amalek is actually a demotion of sorts in Shas. The Dati-Leumi public used to just be a "House of goyim". However there is no need to fear. Naftali Bennett is here to defend us:

ו“ר ”הבית היהודי“, השר נפתלי בנט, גינה הבוקר בחריפות את ההתבטאות הזו וכתב בעמוד הפייסבוק שלו כי ”ברגעים אלה, אלפי חובשי כיפות סרוגות נמצאים מהגבול בסוריה ועד גבול מצרים, מרמת המחט"ים ועד אחרוני החיילים, ויורקים דם כדי להגן, גם על כבוד הרב. בימים אלה מתקיימות אזכרות לחבריי לנשק ממלחמת לבנון השניה, שמסרו נפשם, בהם חילונים ובהם חובשי כיפות סרוגות, חלקם נפלו עטורי צל"שים על גבורתם. להם גם, למען השם, קורא הרב עמלק“.
Roughly translated:
The head of the Bayit Hayehudi party,  Minister Naftali Bennett strongly condemned this morning the statement, writing on his Facebook page that "At this very moment, thousands of Dati-Leumi soldiers are  found from the Syrian border to the Egyptian border, from brigadier to the lowest ranked soldiers, "spitting blood" to defend, among others the honorable rabbi. In these days  ceremonies are being held to the memory of my brothers in arms from the Second Lebanon War, who sacrificed their lives, including non religious and Dati-Leumi soldiers, some of them with decorations for their bravery. They are who, (For God's sake) the rabbi is calling Amalek. 
Only after he gushes about the Dati-Leumi contribution to the army, does he also mention some other non-Amalek attributes of the Dati-Leumi public. Hey, we learn Torah too!

I'm certainly proud of my IDF service as a paratrooper. But is serving in the army really the defining characteristic of the Dati Leumi public? is that really our first (and largest) claim to not being Amalek?

One can't help but notice that for ex-commando Bennett it will always come back to the army.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Changing Nuclear Deterrence

From the London Review of Books:

Indeed, while Obama is struggling to manage the legacy of mutually assured destruction, nuclear deterrence has assumed a radically altered form. Powerful states no longer secure peace by threatening to launch unimaginably destructive weapons at each other. Instead, weak states seek nukes so that they can threaten to lose control of them in the event of foreign support for violent regime change. Bashar Assad was prevented from trying this by the Israeli strike on the Syrian reactor in 2007. But we have to wonder whether his resort to Sarin gas on a small but verifiable scale is intended to make Western powers shudder at the consequences of his regime’s unravelling.

I recommend you read the entire article, which argues persuasively that the result of liberal policies against holding terrorists for indefinite periods of time, as well as torture have resulted in the administrations preference to killing them through drone strikes.

Those Jews and Their Brains...

The Times Higher Education reports on an academic conference on BDS:

Looking at the struggle against apartheid, Saul Dubow, professor of African history at Queen Mary, University of London, pointed to the huge propaganda impact of sporting boycotts. “The real hurt to South Africa came with the Stop the Tour campaigns of 1969 and 1970, which targeted international cricket and rugby tests – a body blow to white South African masculine pride.”... 
In terms of visibility and desired effect,” he suggested, “universities are to BDS what athletic teams were to the anti-apartheid movement…"
I honestly don't know if I should be offended or flattered. I'm also somewhat reminded of this:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Shameful Chief Rabbi Race Moment Of The Day

From the Jerusalem Post:

"Rabbi Avraham Yosef, one of the leading Shas candidates for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi, was interrogated for eight hours by the police Wednesday morning under suspicion of a breach trust relating to a conflict of interests within the framework of his duties as chief municipal rabbi of Holon, the police said on Wednesday. 

According to the police statement, the conflict of interests relates to the granting of mehadrin kashrut license in the city."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Too Early...

Ha'aretz reports on a letter sent by a group of "Intellectuals" אנשי רוח urging Netanyahu to kick out of the coalition the Jewish Home party for their support of Rav Shmuel Eliyahu as Sepharadic Chief Rabbi. Problem? The Jewish Home hasn't actually announced any support for Rav Eliyahu yet. In fact the Head of the Jewish Home Minister Naftali Bennett specifically stated  THIS MORNING that the Jewish Home has yet to support anyone for the Sepharadic Chief Rabbi. Too early, too eager...

Lets Get Serious..

This has to be the single worst argument against Women of the Wall yet made...Dov Helbertal warns us in Ynet: that " In the End They Will Want To Pray Naked." .(Heb). The argument is basically a slippery slope allowing WoW to pray in the Kotel, we are placing individual fulfillment above Jewish tradition. Once we go down that slippery slope, can we ever stop? what happens when some new age hippies demand to pray naked?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

British Understatment

The BBC has a terrific interview with the Syrian heart eating cannibal. After some discussion of did he or did he not actually take a bite from the heart, the Syrian soldier tries to put things in context::

"He goes on to talk about the man whose flesh he held in his hands: "This guy had videos on his mobile. It showed him raping a mother and her two daughters. He stripped them while they begged him to stop in the name of God. Finally he slaughtered them with a knife... What would you have done?"

Good question. What would you have done? The BBC reporter tries to give us his answer, in classic British understatement.
"Well, perhaps not make a meal of my enemy, I think."

You think? do you want to take another minute to consider?

Shameful Chief Rabbi Race Minute of The Day

I think we can split today's award:

  • Kipa is reporting on a petition to the HCJ by The Movement for Quality Government in Israel  - a well known anti-corruption NGO- to ban Mayors who have been criminally charged  from being part of the electorate body choosing the next Chief Rabbi. The 159 person electorate body includes the 25 mayors of Israel's biggest cities. At the moment two mayors have been indicted, and two others are awaiting a hearing before being indicted. 

  • Bechadrei Haredim summarizes an incident that occurred last week where some of the leading candidate were hosted at a public panel to discuss their visions for the rabbinate. After some gentle barbs between the other candidates, it was the turn of Rav Stav to explain his positions. During the speech Rav Stav claimed that tens of thousands of Israeli couples have gotten married outside of Israel because of the Rabbanut. Harav Yosef , interjected that the true number is "only" 11,000. The audience at that point burst out into screams at Rav Stav accusing him of being a liar. Apparently it got so bad, that all the members of the panel just got up and left. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Worst Ha'aretz Translation Ever

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu (Yeah I'm not a fan) is facing severe scrutiny. In the last few days an old answer he gave on the Website Kippa, was doing the rounds on Facebook, and through there made it into Ha'aretz. The screent-shot of the answer is on the left. The question being posed is how should a religious person use his anger over the disengagement in a positive manner.

However before we get to analyzing the answer lets have a quick look at how the Ha'aretz translators summarized the answer:

"The text attributed to Eliyahu urged revenge against secular Jews, calling on people to attack them, smash their heads in and bring their children back into the religious fold. "
Ha'aretz yet again demonstrate that their translators have no understanding of spoken Hebrew. The phrase להסתער עליהם, לטחון להם את הראש would if translated word for word using only a Hebrew-English dictionary mean roughly what Ha'aretz ascribed it. However, we do expect translators to have some basic understanding of the language they are translating beyond using a dictionary. In spoken Hebrew the phrase להסתער means to do something with enthusiasm. לטחון את הראש is usually used in the negative sense to mean to bring something up again and again to the point of being a nuisance. Together, the entire pharase would mean that you should go with enthusiasm to Hilonim and talk/argue with them to the point of being a nuisance. I.E. work really hard at convincing them to do Teshuvah.

**Late Edit - After I pointed out the error on Twitter, Ha'aretz swiftly corrected their translation.

OK, now that we've removed the bizarre interpretation given by Ha'aretz translators, lets try and understand what Rav Eliyahu actually said. When you read the text carefully, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu only really says two things. One - you should get revenge on the non religious. Two - that revenge will be by making them or their children do Teshuvah (I.E. become religious). That's it. The text is not as bad as some people are interpreting it. However, it is bad enough. I don't think any real rabbi would object to a general aim of making all the non religious do Teshuvah. However, Rav Eliyahu is not talking about a process that comes out of a deep love for all of Israel.  What comes across quite clearly is that Rav Eliyahu sees all the non religious as the enemy. They need to be conquered. Just as troubling he is convinced that no one could be religious and approve of the disengagement. That is because for him there is only one legitimate religious position - a far right one.

A Chief Rabbi can not see the majority of the nation as enemies. The Rabbanut is already hated, and needless to say this kind of rhetoric will not make it any more loved.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why Harav Shmuel Eliyahu Should Not Be Sephradic Chief Rabbi

Summary of the opinions on today's Facebook feed:

Harav Benny Lau (Heb) - Rav Eliyahu does not accept the State's law ( including equality to all), Harav Eliyahu is not sympathetic (and worse) to those who made Aliyah but may not be halachically Jewish.

Harav Bazak (Heb) - A Chief Rabbi can't be someone who holds what even he admits are "extreme" positions - specifically regarding Israeli Arabs (gives the example of transfer). Secondly Rav Eliyahu often expresses himself badly and delegitimizes the opinions of rabbis he disagrees with.

I would have gone further on each of the points, but I think it is important that the more liberal rabbis of the Dati Leumi movement have come out clearly against Harav Eliyahu. He is not a valid candidate, nor is he representative of Religious Zionism.

HOWEVER, I'm against him being blocked from running for the position by the Attorney General. Through his own choice, the Attorney General has previously decided not to prosecute Rav Eliyahu for his outlandish comments, and even worse he allowed him to remain a tax-payer supported communal rabbi. There is no general "Not a nice guy" or "No Racists" criteria in the law for Chief Rabbi. As such the Attorney General should not take it upon himself to create criteria where none exist. (See also this letter).

Wittiest Political Soliloquy Of The Week

Best  Political soliloquy of the week goes to President Putin:
Putin denied that the Russian special services were debriefing Snowden. “I would prefer not to deal with such matters because it’s like shearing a piglet -- there’s a lot of squealing and not much wool,” Putin said.

Luckily the BBC already did the research for me:

The piglet line appears to be an authentic but little-used Russian saying. One Russian source tells the Monitor that the full version begins: "Arguing with a woman is like shearing a piglet etc." 

Not From The Onion: Mongolian neo-Nazis rebrand themselves as environmentalists

The Guardian reports:

A Mongolian neo-Nazi group has rebranded itself as an environmentalist organisation fighting pollution by foreign-owned mines, seeking legitimacy as it sends swastika-wearing members to check mining permits.

Tsagaan Khass, or White Swastika, has only 100 or so members but it is one of several groups – others have names including Dayar Mongol (Whole Mongolia), Gal Undesten (Fire Nation) and Khukh Mongol (Blue Mongolia) – that are linking nationalism and resources as foreign firms seek to exploit the mineral wealth of the vast country, landlocked between Russia and China.
Based in an office behind a lingerie store in the Mongolian capital, the shaven-headed, jackbooted Tsagaan Khass stormtroopers launch raids on mining projects, demanding paperwork or soil samples to be studied for contaminants.
"Before, we used to work in a harsh way, like breaking down doors," the group's leader, Ariunbold Altankhuum, 40, told Reuters. "But now, we have changed and we use other approaches, like demonstrations."On a patrol to a quarry two hours' drive from the capital, members wore black, SS-style Nazi uniforms complete with lightning flashes and replica Iron Crosses.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dude, where's my tank?

This Russian tank was found buried in Holon. No one seems to know how it got there, though one theory in Ha'aretz is that it was left there from an old army course.

You can see more pictures of the tank, in the Israeli Police Facebook page. 

Shameful Chief Rabbi Moment of the Day

I'm starting a new feature on this blog "Shameful Chief Rabbi Moment of the Day". I should have started this long ago, and certainly I've missed some great stories this week. However today's moment goes to Rabbi Ratzon Arusi (Rabbi of Kiryat Ono), in the running for the Sephradic Chief Rabbi - who legally changed his date of birth so that he would not be over the cutoff age of 70. Harav Arusi explains that when his family arrived from Yemen, there was some confusion over his age. Recently he discovered a previously unknown cousin, who was able to correct his date of birth - conveniently just before he announced his candidacy!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The New Yorker Gets The Wrong Wall

Wrong Wall New Yorker!

The New Yorker has this charming tidbit about the movie World War Z:

"What do the Israelis do? They build a wall. But they’re basically humane, civilized people, so in Jerusalem, where we join them, they keep a gate open to let in the as-yet-uninfected un-undead—Palestinian Arabs, by the look of them. All goes well until some Palestinians already in the city start singing too lustily, and the massed zombies, also seemingly Palestinian, decide that they want in, too. (Zombies are attracted by loud noises.) This leads to the most remarked-upon scene in the film, which takes place at what resembles the Western Wall. The scrambling West Bank zombies just keep coming, climbing on top of one another until they form a giant ex-human pyramid, a siege engine of the undead, stacking up and spilling over the barrier. We are left to infer that everything probably would have still been O.K. if only the gates had been kept shut."

Does it really resemble the Western Wall? I think not... someone mixed up their walls...

Hat Tip: @lahavharkov