US Jewish leaders call for boycott of Beijing Olympics
By ERIC GORSKI
AP: A wide-ranging group of U.S. Jewish leaders plans to release a statement Wednesday urging Jews worldwide to boycott the Summer Olympics in Beijing, citing China's troubling record on human rights and Tibet.
The statement also notes China's close relationships with Iran, Syria and the militant group Hamas.
So far, 175 rabbis, seminary officials and other prominent Jews have signed the declaration, which comes shortly before Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, organizers said.
"We are deeply troubled by China's support for the genocidal government of Sudan; its mistreatment of the people of Tibet; its denial of basic rights to its own citizens; and its provision of missiles to Iran and Syria, and friendship for Hamas," the statement reads.
"Having endured the bitter experience of abandonment by our presumed allies during the Holocaust, we feel a particular obligation to speak out against injustice and persecution today."
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, past chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, said signers are not alleging that the Chinese government is the equivalent of the Nazi regime, but that China, like Germany in 1936, is trying to use the Olympics as a public relations tool to deflect attention from its record.
The declaration was organized by Greenberg and Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of New York — both Orthodox Jews — and the Washington-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
Several representatives of Judaism's major U.S. branches and large Jewish institutions signed on. They include Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Neil Goldstein and Richard Gordon of the American Jewish Congress; and Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, an association of Conservative rabbis.
The statement seizes on Olympic organizers' plans for a kosher kitchen at the Olympic Village, where athletes stay. Greenberg characterized the move as an attempt to lure Jewish tourists by presenting an image of sensitivity.
"I would say in principle, athletes and tourists and governments should all draw the same conclusion to this," Greenberg said. "Unless the Chinese make some significant corrections, they should not participate."
Meyers said he hopes the declaration is interpreted as a call for Israel and Jewish athletes worldwide to boycott the games, although he doubts such a boycott will come to pass.
"It would be good if that happened," Meyers said. "(But) I know Israel has political ties to China, and does business with China. It presents a somewhat awkward issue for Israel."
...It was the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, a former editorial board member of USA Today who teaches at the Howard University School of Divinity. An ordained minister, as New York Daily News writer Errol Louis points out in today's column, she was introduced at the press club event as the person "who organized" it.
But guess what? She's also an ardent longtime booster of Obama's sole remaining competitor for the Democratic nomination, none other than Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York... [Picture: The Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright at the head table of the National Press Club event Monday which Reynolds helped arrange.]
McCain says that most importantly, we should all just walk a half an hour a day and eat the right foods.
I could not stop laughing.
Errant raccoon knocks out power in 5 S.E. Minn. townsSnuck?
A raccoon that snuck into an electrical substation was blamed for an expensive power failure that struck several towns near Rochester, Minn., Monday night and into Tuesday morning.
Lewiston, Stockton, Utica, Wyattville, Altura and rural areas in between lost electricity to varying degrees starting about 9 p.m. Monday, said Lewiston Fire Chief Charlie Matzke and a utility spokesman.
School was called off in the Lewiston-Altura District, the chief said.
The cost to repair the Lewiston substation will be about $750,000, said Ryan Stensland, of Interstate Power and Light, who added the failure affected more than 1,500 customers.
Stensland said the raccoon "was live when [workers] got there, but they had to destroy it," because it became stuck.
The Adolf Hitler doll which comes with a change of clothes - and a spare head with a kind faceUnbelievable. Yemach shemo!
An action-man style doll of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler has gone on sale in the Ukraine, with saleswomen comparing the doll to Barbie.
Supermarkets in the capital Kiev are stocking the 40 centimetre high figure of the fuhrer, complete with jackboots, leather trench-coat and swastika armband.
The £100 figure has a spare head "with a kind expression on it," glasses and several changes of clothes.
It comes in a presentation box with the dates of Hitler's birth and death on it.
The decision to market the figure comes at a time of growing extreme right political sentiment in Ukraine.
There are also reports of increasing xenophobia and racism, and of some extremists supporting racism similar to that of Nazi Germany under Hitler.
Critics believe a cult of Hitler could spring up among disaffected youths, too young to remember the ravages Nazism wreaked on the country.
Around three million people died as a result of the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine, including 1.5 million Jews.
Hitler wanted to turn the country into a buffer zone with Russia peopled by slave workers working for the Third Reich.
Although Ukranian laws prohibit any form of fascism or propaganda, the dolls are already on sale and will be mass marketed this summer.
One saleswoman said: "It is like Barbie. Kids can undress fuhrer, pin on medals and there's a spare head in the kit to give him a kinder expression on his face.
"He has glasses that are round, in the manner of pacifist Jon Lennon".
The doll will also come with accessories like a miniature Blondi, Hitler's faithful Alsatian who died alongside the Nazi in his bunker in Berlin in 1945.
The doll is dressed in long light-brown cloak, military uniform and jackboots.
According to the saleswoman, should the demand be high, manufacturers will go further and launch a series of themed Third Reich toys, including interiors of Hitler's chancellery, toy concentration camps with barbed wire, barracks and operating models of gas chambers and crematoriums.
Jerusalem's Wailing Wall at risk of collapse
By Carolynne Wheeler in Jerusalem
For thousands of years it has withstood fires, floods and earthquakes. But now a portion of one of Judaism's holiest sites, Jerusalem's Western Wall, is crumbling.
The rabbi charged with watching over the structure, which the faith believes to be the last remnants of a retaining wall from the ancient Second Temple, has warned that a section repaired more than a century ago is again at risk of falling.
Because the weakened stonework is high on the 60ft wall, the danger from any falling fragment to the crowds who pray at its foot each day is particularly acute.
"We found that the stones at the bottom of the wall, the stones from the Second Temple period, were strong and stable," said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. "However, we discovered that there are problems with the smaller stones, those at the top of the wall."
His warning came as Israel hosted record numbers of tourists for the Passover holiday and prepares for high-profile visitors for the 60th anniversary of its founding, next month. World leaders including the American President, George W Bush, the former prime minister Tony Blair, and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, are to be joined by others such as the Google founder, Sergey Brin, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman at a conference hosted by Israel's president, Shimon Peres. [more]
By every measure I can think of this man is a maniac, a crazy person, in Yiddish that is a meshuggenah.
The Washington Post article seethes with that premise.
Now there's much to say about our dedication in the US to separating religion from the political sphere of activity.
Religion is a wild world of the past, the present and the future, miracles, apocalyptic predictions and messianic beliefs and expectations, and sometimes morality, ethics and justice sneak into the mix.
None of that has any real relevance to the political needs of a democratic society. It's about power and policies, legislation, executive decision and constitutional adjudication.
We pretend that government does relate to religion. That is the great charade that makes our country work. And oh, we all believe in God.
But please don't make me list the meshuggenah rabbis and white ministers and priests and mullahs alive and kicking today all around the world. [Actually you can read a whole lot about them in many past posts on this blog.]
Barack - please dump this guy as fast as you can. Throw him under the next bus. Or perhaps start laughing at him, mock him, laugh him out of the room.
Washington Post: Still More Lamentations From Jeremiah
By Dana Milbank
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, explaining why he had waited so long before breaking his silence about his incendiary sermons, offered a paraphrase from Proverbs yesterday: "It is better to be quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
Barack Obama's former pastor should have stuck with the wisdom of the prophets.
Instead, Wright has gone on a media tour, climaxing with his appearance yesterday morning at the National Press Club. There, he reignited a controversy about race that Obama had only recently extinguished -- and added lighter fuel.
From the moment he entered the room, Wright seemed to be looking to stir controversy; he was escorted by Jamil Muhammad, a leader of the Nation of Islam, which contributed to the minister's prominent security detail. Speaking before an audience that included Marion Barry, Cornel West, the New Black Panther Party's Malik Zulu Shabazz and Nation of Islam protocol director Claudette Muhammad, Wright praised Louis Farrakhan, defended the view that Zionism is racism, accused the United States of terrorism, repeated his belief that the government created AIDS to extinguish racial minorities, and stood by his suggestion that "God damn America."
Far from softening his provocative words, he held himself out as a spokesman for millions of churchgoing African Americans. "This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright," he argued. "It is an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African American religious tradition." He added: "If you think I'm going to let you talk about my mama and her religious tradition . . . you got another thing coming."
Most problematic for the Democratic presidential front-runner was Wright's suggestion that Obama was insincere in distancing himself from his former pastor. "He didn't distance himself," Wright announced. "He had to distance himself, because he's a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was anti-American." Wright spoke of friends who told him that "we both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected," and he said of his past parishioner: "Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls."
And that apparent decision by Obama to exclude Wright from his presidential kickoff announcement? Didn't happen. "I started it off downstairs with him, his wife and children, in prayer."
The pastor's performance puts new pressure on the candidate to say forcefully that Wright doesn't speak for him or the African American church. Though the candidate said on "Fox News Sunday" that Wright had been "simplified and caricatured" by the sound bites of his inflammatory words, Wright willingly embraced the sentiments of those sound bites yesterday.
In front of 30 television cameras, he mocked the media, leveled charges of racism at the government and, at one point, did a little victory dance on the podium. It seemed as if Wright, who jokingly offering himself as Obama's vice president, was actually trying to doom his former parishioner. The pastor played right into the small band of anti-Wright protesters outside, who waved a sign: "Obama's chicken comes home to roost."
In his 30-minute prepared speech, Wright made a cogent call for a "spirit of reconciliation" and delivered a rebuke to those who questioned his patriotism. "Those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service," he said. He also protested that his infamous quotations were taken out of the full "context" of his sermons.
But the spirit of reconciliation dissipated during the question period, as Wright expanded on his fiery quotes. The crowd (all but a few tickets were bought by churches and organizations supporting Wright) cheered loudly and heckled the moderator, a USA Today reporter, when she tried to maintain order.
He explained his claim that the Sept. 11 attacks meant "America's chickens are coming home to roost." Said Wright: "You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you."
Wright defended Farrakhan's statement "20 years ago that Zionism -- not Judaism -- was a gutter religion." Of the Nation of Islam leader generally, Wright added: "He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century. . . . Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery and he didn't make me this color." At this point he traded a high-five with Barbara Reynolds, a local pastor.
He repeated his belief that the government created AIDS as a means of genocide ("Based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything"). He defended his earlier comparison of U.S. Marines to the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus, saying the "notion of imperialism" is the same.
The moderator asked the audience whether Wright should apologize for his "God damn America" remarks. Shouts of "No!" followed, and Wright used the occasion to demand an apology for slavery.
"Until that apology comes, I'm not going to keep stepping on your foot and asking you, 'Does this hurt?' Do you forgive me for stepping on your foot, if I'm still stepping on your foot? Understand that? Capisce?"
Capisciamo, Reverend. All too well.
Staff writer Hamil R. Harris contributed to this column.
This gives us some further insight into the digital immortal salvation that Google is bringing to ancient books. Meditative process indeed.
Digitizing ancient books a laborious process
Globally, hundreds of librarians turning pages for Google
Natasha Robinson, Associated Press
In a dimly lit back room on the second level of the University of Michigan library's book-shelving department, Courtney Mitchel helped a giant desktop machine digest a rare, centuries-old Bible.
Mitchel is among hundreds of librarians from Minnesota to England making digital versions of the most fragile of the books to be included in Google Inc.'s Book Search, a portal that eventually will lead users to all the estimated 50 million to 100 million books in the world.
The manual scanning - up to 600 pages a day - is much slower than Google's regular process.
"It's monotonous," said Mitchel, 24. "But it's still something that I'm learning about - how to interact with really old materials and working with digital imaging, which is relevant to art history."
The unusually tight binding on the early 16th century polyglot Bible made it hard to expose the portions toward the book's middle as Mitchel spread each pair of pages for the scanner. Librarians believe it is the oldest Bible in the world with Arabic type.
Google, the Internet's leader in search and advertising, says the process it developed and is using for scanning the majority of the books in Book Search is proprietary. Employees will not discuss it, except to say it is much faster than what Mitchel is doing and is not destructive.
Many libraries began digitizing books a decade ago to preserve them. Funding from Google allows the 28 libraries it is working with to cut their digitizing costs, because they do not have to pay for scanning the books Google wants to include in Book Search.
Through Book Search, users can track down a book on any topic and read a small portion. If the book is not protected by copyright, users can download the whole thing. If it is, or if they just want to read an original, they can use Book Search to find copies to buy or borrow.
More than 1 million rare or fragile books have been digitized through the Google-Michigan partnership since it began in 2004, with an estimated 6 million to go.
In the room where Mitchel and colleague Chava Israel, an artist, work, the temperature is always in the 60s.
Each technician has a slightly angled table with a flexible middle that cradles books and holds them still while two overhead cameras photograph the pages. Sometimes the women play music or listen to news online, but often they work in silence, save the clicks of their computers and scanners.
Mitchel glides in a rolling chair between scanner and computer, computer and scanner, turning page upon page and clicking her mouse to shoot each pair. Once the images reach the computer, the women use the book scanning software Omniscan from Germany's Zeutschel GmbH to clean them up.
A final click of the mouse sends each digitized book to Google for optical character-recognition processing, which makes the text searchable. Google then returns a copy of the images and data to the library and posts another to the Web.
Israel, 44, who has been scanning books for three years, takes a philosophical view of the project.
"My favorite part is working with older books and being able to preserve a lot of the knowledge and help bring more people access," Israel said. "I turn pages. It's kind of meditative."
By JIMMY CARTER
It is a counterproductive for Washington to isolate governments that refuse its mandate, as exemplified by recent events in Nepal and the Middle East... yada, yada...
This recent article by Troy makes some common sense points on the needs to repulse the radicals and adds a case for moderation.
Center Field: Committee for tyranny in academe
by Gil Troy
So far, 2007-2008 is looking like another bleak academic year for those of us who want the university to be a fair, welcoming and open-minded oasis where the life of the mind can flourish. In Gaza, Hamas police and their henchmen recently beat professors and students at Al Azhar University, who dared to protest a Hamas rally mourning the death of Hamas's founder. In Great Britain, radical academics are threatening to try boycotting Israel again, despite the financial strain it puts on their union which is supposed to improve scholars' working conditions. In California, an independent task force deemed University of California at Irvine a hostile environment for Jews, with the administration cowed by an aggressive and frequently anti-Semitic Muslim Student Union. And in February, in 20 campuses worldwide, activists spent a week perpetuating the historically inaccurate and libelous comparison between Israel's policies and the old South Africa's systematic, racist apartheid regime.
Despite these assaults on academic freedom and integrity, more of my professorial colleagues are outraged by the failure of the anti-Zionist polemicist Norman Finkelstein to get tenure. Many professors are also furious that some Barnard College alumni vainly tried to interfere in the tenure process of Nadia Abu El-Haj, who sloppily and tendentiously caricatures Israeli architecture as a prop for Zionist colonialism.
THESE TWO cases and others inspired the noble-sounding but deeply biased Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University. This fall, leading scholars from Princeton and Columbia started a petition drive against outsiders imposing "political agendas" at the cost of academic freedom. These external forces, the petition argues in its first paragraph, have defamed scholars, pressured administrators and subverted university governance to achieve their aims. Such assaults violate "an important principle of scholarship, the free exchange of ideas, subjecting them to ideological and political tests. These attacks threaten academic freedom and the core mission of institutions of higher education in a democratic society." The second paragraph then reveals the bias. The petitioners claim that "many of the most vociferous campaigns targeting universities and their faculty have been launched by groups portraying themselves as defenders of Israel." The petition ends by warning of a new McCarthyism, perpetuating a stereotype of embattled liberal academics, and vowing to defend and explain the "importance of academic freedom to a sustainable and vibrant democracy....and more"
Not nice, really.
Hack into Obama campaign site exploited a coding flaw
By JORDAN ROBERTSON
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A simple flaw in the coding of Sen. Barack Obama's Web site led to a hacking switcheroo of presidential proportions just days before the important Pennsylvania primary.
Some supporters who tried to visit the community blogs section of Obama's site started noticing late last week they were being redirected to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's official campaign site.
Security researchers said a hacker exploited a so-called "cross-site scripting" vulnerability in Obama's Web site to engineer the ruse.
Netcraft Ltd. said the hacker injected code into certain pages in the section — code that was then executed when subsequent visitors tried to view the community blogs section. The vulnerability has since been fixed.
While the hack appears to have been a prank, researchers said the breach underscored that candidates risk exposing their supporters to computer viruses and identity theft if they don't secure their Web sites. For instance, a similar mechanism could be employed to redirect campaign site users to a site that steals personal information from visitors.
"With people closely watching the heated contest to determine the next U.S. president, you can bet that this won't be the last time such attacks happen," Symantec Corp. researcher Zulfikar Ramzan wrote on the company's official blog.
Neither campaign responded to e-mail messages seeking comment.
The community blogs feature is working normally again this week. The link that took visitors to Clinton's site now directs visitors to the appropriate page, which is populated with blog postings from Obama supporters around the country.
By most standards that would be deemed at least "tacky" and by some, "an insult" to the community. Here is the blogger's comment:
Hagahot Blog: As you may know, a new and comprehensive catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Vatican libraries is on the way. Meanwhile, I checked the IMHM catalogue and found only two Vatican manuscripts dated 1435. One of them, Rossiana 555, is a copy of Rabbi Jacob ben Asher's major work, the Tur. It was copied in Italy and contains decorations of some sort, making it a likely candidate for the gift (for a short description of the manuscript, see here, at the end of the 'Text' section).Here is some more information about the manuscript facsimile from other news sources:
What makes it funny, or maybe upsetting, is that this particular manuscript was copied by Yitshak ben Ovadiah of Forli. Who, according to Nurit Pasternak (Tarbits 68), converted to Christianity.
CNS: Before leaving, the pope gave the Jewish community a gift: a copy of a page taken from an illuminated 15th-century manuscript from the Vatican Library. The work of a Hebrew scribe who lived in Italy, the page depicts the scene of a traditional Jewish wedding.
AsiaNews.It: The pope gave the community a copy of a 15th century miniature taken from a manuscript of the Vatican Library, depicting a Jewish wedding.
The codex dates from 1435 and is of Italian manufacture, probably from the city of Mantua where it was produced by the famous scribe Isaac ben Ovadia who was unique among his contemporaries for his ability to blend the characteristics of Hebrew and Latin manuscripts. It is a copy of an older (13th-14th cent.) juridical work entitled Arba'ah Turim ("Four Columns"), the title of which alludes to the number of sections into which it is divided.
[Source: Radio Vatican]
Sperber Conclusion: Real Rabbinic Judaism was more like me, less like all the other Orthodox rabbis alive today.
Critique of Sperber: When you skew and select the data to "prove" your hazy and fuzzy points, you actually prove only your scholarly incompetence, i.e. that you are an academic hick.
A Torah expert faults the rabbisAnecdotal research like this, with a few confusing counter-anecdotes thrown in to "balance" the presentation, would not get more than a C as an undergraduate term paper.
By Yair Sheleg
"Jewish halakhic decisions," says Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber, "tended throughout most of the generations to be user-friendly. There are impressive examples in halakhic history of the willingness of poskim (arbiters of Jewish law) to allow the taking of interest or to prevent the cancellation of debts in order to make economic life possible; to allow the sale of chametz on Pesach and a heter mechira (permission to sell land to a non-Jew) during the sabbatical year to prevent losses; even to impose severe sanctions on those who refused to grant a get (a religious divorce) or to release agunot (chained women, whose husbands cannot or will not grant them a divorce) under lenient conditions. Only in recent generations has pesika (issuing a halakhic ruling) become extreme and increasingly stringent."
This argument is not new, of course. For many years it was voiced by Conservative and Reform Jews, women's organizations and ordinary liberal religious Jews...
The work is full of mistakes of logic, method and, yes we must say this, integrity.
Dear Friends and Fans:
LIke most of you, I've been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.
He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where "...nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone."
At the moment, critics have tried to diminish Senator Obama through the exaggeration of certain of his comments and relationships. While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man's life and vision, so well described in his excellent book, Dreams From My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment.
After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as Americans.
Over here on E Street, we're proud to support Obama for President.
Cooler heads prevailed as they instead selected the refined, "Take That" as their headline.
It is among people who take the content of their prayer more seriously.
Ben Harris writes in the JTA blog that, "An interesting spat has broken out over my recent article about how a Brooklyn minyan, Altshul, is grappling with how to pray for Israel."
We heard about this debate over the holiday from a close and reliable source.
Now, Reuters reports, "Orthodox Jews protest over 'evil' Passover ruling." Background last week,
Bread sales at Passover in Israel outrage Orthodox Jews
By Beth Marlowe, Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM --An Israeli court has ruled that shops can sell leavened bread during Passover in violation of Jewish religious law, deepening tensions between observant and secular Jews ahead of the weeklong holiday.
The ruling comes as good news for businesses selling bread and other leavened products during the holiday, which begins Saturday night.
But Orthodox Jewish groups say that it violates the spirit of what Israel is meant to be -- a Jewish state. They are threatening to hold demonstrations at establishments selling pizza, bread and other leavened products.
"The argument is not about the law," said Yehuda Meshi-Zehav, a spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox community. "It's about people trying to keep Israel as a Jewish country, and people trying to make it the opposite."
A central aspect of Passover is the biblical ban on eating bread or other foods that take time to rise, in commemoration of the hasty exodus from Egypt by the ancient Israelites escaping slavery under the Pharaoh.
But many Israeli Jews don't follow the strict laws. Some stock up on bread before the holiday, and secular Jews insist on their right to buy and eat whatever they want in public.
In 1986, Orthodox Jewish political parties pushed a law through the parliament banning the sale of bread products in public places.
But earlier this month, a Jerusalem court threw out fines slapped on four Jerusalem businesses last Passover by arguing that stores and restaurants do not constitute "public" establishments and are therefore not bound by the law.
The owner of Chili's, one such restaurant, said she has arranged for extra security and insurance to protect her establishment in case protests get out of hand. Allison Lahav said she has received "a thinly veiled threat" in a letter from one group.
Though she plans to serve bread, she said she would be discreet by not offering outdoor seating and keeping bread away from the windows.
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, called on secular Jews on Thursday to show understanding.
"Please consider the feelings of the religious community," he said on Israel TV. "Don't put bread products under their noses."
At least half of all Israeli Jews will forgo bread products this Passover, according to pollster Camil Fuchs, a professor of statistics at Tel Aviv University. Secular Jews may abstain because of family tradition, or simply because it's hard to find.
"You have to make a statement in order to eat bread," he said. "You have to make the effort.
Delusion 2: Hamas won't ever recognize the Jewish State.
Delusion 3: After his failure, Secretary Rice disavows all knowledge of Carter's actions.
Rice says Carter was warned against meeting with Hamas
KUWAIT CITY - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday the Bush administration explicitly warned former President Jimmy Carter against meeting with members of Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip and which is regarded by the U.S. as a terror group.
Rice, attending a regional meeting on Iraq's security and future, contradicted Carter's assertions that he never got a clear signal from the State Department. Rice told reporters that the U.S. thought the visit could confuse the message that the U.S. will not deal with Hamas.
"I just don't want there to be any confusion," Rice said. "The United States is not going to deal with Hamas and we had certainly told President Carter that we did not think meeting with Hamas was going to help" further a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Carter said top Hamas leaders told him during seven hours of talks in Damascus over the weekend that they are willing to live next to Israel, but a top Hamas official said the group would never outright recognize the Jewish state...
קשת - ערוץ 2
ynet ידיעות אחרונות -
בפעם השנייה החודש פרסם איימן אל-זוואהירי, מספר 2 באל-קאעידה, קלטת שבה השיב לשאלות גולשים באתר אינטנרט איסלאמי. הוא הביע התנגדות נחרצת לתמיכת החמאס בהסכם עם ישראל שיאושר במשאל עם: "כיצד ניתן להעלות למשאל עם דבר המנוגד לחוקי השריעה?" איימן אל-זוואהירי, סגנו של מנהיג אל-קאעידה, אוסאמה בן לאדן, מתח היום (ג') ביקורת על הסכמת תנועת חמאס להגיע עם ישראל להסכם שלום שיאושר במשאל עם פלסטיני. בקלטת שמע שפורסמה באתר אינטרנט איסלאמי שב זוואהירי גם על איומו לפגוע במדינות המערב שהיו מעורבות במלחמה בעיראק. ...
Al Qaeda No. 2: Attacks on Western nations in works
Ayman al-Zawahiri, seen in 2006, said in a recent tape that Iran and Hezbollah sought to discredit al Qaeda. The voice in the lengthy file posted on an ...
I never thought I would be comparing HRC to Ronald Reagan. This threat of nuclear obliteration goes beyond Reagan in its irresponsibility. This latest nonsense from HRC cements my support for Barack.
Tikun Olam Blog puts it succinctly:
Hillary Clinton must think she’s auditioning for the role of Curtis LeMay in a Hollywood film. That’s the only reason (other than a looming PA. primary in which she’s desperate to sound tough as nails) I can figure she’s sounding more like a Gen. Buck Turgidsen in Dr. Stangelove than a presidential candidate.Here is one account,
Clinton threatens to 'obliterate' Iran if Israel attacked
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton threatened to "obliterate" Iran if it launches a nuclear attack on Israel, in an interview broadcast Tuesday.
"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton told ABC News, asked what she would do as president were Iran to launch a nuclear attack on Israel.
"In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."
The tough talk came just prior to Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary, a key milestone in the marathon Democratic nominations race pitting Clinton against her rival Senator Barack Obama.
Clinton must win the Pennsylvania primary, but she needs to do more than simply scrape past Obama to rescue her trailing White House bid, pundits say.
Obama's camp Monday accused Clinton of trying to scare voters, as she rocked their White House race with a dark campaign ad featuring images of Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The ad uses pictures of Pearl Harbor, bin Laden and the devastating 2005 hurricane that swamped New Orleans, mirroring the "3:00 am phone call" spot credited with helping Clinton to win in Texas and Ohio last month.
"You need to be ready for anything -- especially now, with two wars, oil prices skyrocketing and an economy in crisis," the male narrator intones. "Who do you think has what it takes?"
Both Democrats have vowed to defend Israel against any Iranian attack, but they differ on how to engage the Islamic republic over its nuclear ambitions.
Both call for diplomacy, but Obama has gone further, renewing a promise of "direct talks" at a leaders' level with Tehran and others the United States regards as foes, at a candidate debate here last week.
Iran should be presented with "carrots and sticks," the Illinois senator said, while stressing "they should also know that I will take no options off the table when it comes to preventing them from using nuclear weapons or obtaining nuclear weapons."
At the debate, he said: "An (Iranian) attack on Israel is an attack on our strongest ally in the region, one whose security we consider paramount."
"That would be an act of aggression that I would consider unacceptable, and the United States would take appropriate action."
PS: TownCrierBlog likes this? Go figure?
GOP candidate Zirkle addresses Nazi gathering[Thanks to Wonkette.]
By DUSTIN GROVE, WSBT-TV and NANCY J. SULOK, Tribune Staff Writer
SOUTH BEND – Tony Zirkle, Republican candidate for 2nd District congressman, said he is willing to talk to any group that invites him, and that’s why he addressed a weekend gathering in Chicago of the American National Socialist Workers Party.
The occasion was a celebration of the 119th anniversary of the birth of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Zirkle said he agreed to address the group and talk about his experience as state's attorney. He also said he took the opportunity to preach the gospel and handed out commentaries on the life of Jesus.
“If you want to witness to people, if you want to share your message with people, you have to talk to them,” said Zirkle. “By not taking a risk and going out there and addressing issues that your enemies can paint you as a racist or a bigot, then we're never going to address them.”
"I cannot believe that in 2008 anyone could think so backwards," Luke Puckett, another GOP candidate for 2nd District congressman, said in reaction to Zirkle’s visit.
“The ‘R’ next to Tony Zirkle’s name does not stand for Republican. It stands for ‘repulsive,'" Chris Riley, chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party, told WSBT-TV. "The Republican Party stands for two basic principles: individual freedom and government accountability. Nazi socialism and fascism is the polar opposite of those two principles so for him to align himself with this puts him at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Republicans. And the visual images of Tony Zirkle standing in front of a Nazi flag are nauseating and repulsive."
Obama campaign embraces Kurtzer
The Obama campaign has sought to bolster its outreach to Jewish voters with Daniel Kurtzer, the first Jewish U.S ambassador to Egypt and the first Orthodox Jew to serve as envoy to Israel. But in some circles he could prove more problem than solution, given his stance on the Middle East.
WASHINGTON (JTA) – In recent weeks the Obama campaign has sought to bolster its outreach to Jewish voters with a big name: Daniel Kurtzer, the first Jewish U.S ambassador to Egypt and the first Orthodox Jew to serve as envoy to Israel.
Kurtzer, whose role has sharply increased ahead of the critical April 22 primary in Pennsylvania, would appear to embody the bipartisan reach that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has preached in his bid to win the Democratic presidential nod.
President Bill Clinton named him to the Cairo post in 1997, and President Bush sent him to Tel Aviv in 2001...more
Guaranteed laughs courtesy of Yitz! Good find!
On August 15, 2006 Dennis Leary and Lenny Clarke "ham" it up in the booth on Boston's Jewish first baseman Kevin Youkilis and Mel Gibson.
Or find it here.
Here is today's Times' story on Youkilis:
By JACK CURRY
Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox remembered how a kid who was about 12 years old used a four-letter word to tell him that he stunk at Yankee Stadium. The kid was sitting with his father, but Youkilis said the father never reprimanded him. Youkilis called the abuse “the worst thing I ever heard” directed at him during a game.
While Youkilis has heard far worse expletives than the R-rated version of stink, and surely mutters some of his own after frustrating at-bats, this insult stuck to him like pine tar. Youkilis did not understand how a kid could use the word so liberally and could do it in front of his father.
As Youkilis discussed what it felt like to be one of the players Yankees fans love to hate, he spoke calmly about being a verbal target. Youkilis called it a form of flattery and said he was resigned to hearing it, even if he did not always comprehend why so much venom was flung at him.
“It’s weird thing, though,” Youkilis said. “It’s real different where I grew up. I was a real Cincinnati Reds fan. If some guy was using expletives and this and that to a player on the field, with kids around, a parent would say something to those people. Here, it’s like it’s taught to the kids.”
Youkilis said he did not blame a kid who used nasty words or an adult who used them or failed to stop someone else from spewing them. Instead, Youkilis, who is known for his intensity, blamed the intense environment that permeates professional sports, especially in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. And Youkilis stressed that the noise was not confined to the Bronx.
“You hear it in Boston,” Youkilis said. “It’s everywhere. Oakland. It happens everywhere. I think it’s just the nature of sports these days. It’s really serious.”
Since Youkilis is a serious player, it was interesting to elicit his thoughts about being verbally clubbed in the Bronx. What Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter hear at Fenway Park, Manny Ramírez and Youkilis hear at the Stadium. But Youkilis refused to place himself in Ramírez’s stratosphere when it came to who was the most booed Bostonian.
“I think Manny’s got me beat,” Youkilis said.
Youkilis was right. Ramírez was booed lustily before he batted against Mike Mussina in the first inning and promptly homered over the center-field fence. Ramírez added another mammoth homer in the third. Youkilis, who was not booed nearly as much as Ramírez was, had two hits and scored twice as Boston beat the Yankees, 7-5.
As a player, Youkilis is reminiscent of Paul O’Neill. Youkilis grinds through at-bats, talks to himself after at-bats and expects to slap a hit in every at-bat. Youkilis is a mostly bald-headed perfectionist who is also versatile.
After Mike Lowell sprained his left thumb and went on the disabled list last week, Youkilis, who has not made an error in a record 199 straight games at first base, coolly shifted across the diamond. In Youkilis’s first game at third, he charged in to field a tapper bare-handed and made the kind of play that would have handcuffed some third basemen. The Red Sox recognize his value.
“He wins a Gold Glove at first,” Manager Terry Francona said. “He goes to third and he plays a major league-caliber third base. You can hit him anywhere in the order. He works the count. He really has turned into a very good major league player.”
Although Youkilis naturally is overshadowed by Ramírez and David Ortiz, he does not believe he is underrated. He leads the team with a .371 average. Still, Youkilis said he considered himself more of a steady player than a superstar, saying he does not think he will ever be a superstar.
“When you win a World Series and stuff like that, it shows it’s not all superstars,” Youkilis said. “You can’t just have superstars on a team to win.”
In tracing the fans’ ire toward him, Youkilis said he evolved into more of an object of derision after Joba Chamberlain threw two straight 98-mile-per-hour fastballs over his head during a game last August. Youkilis said it was senseless to him that “I got two balls thrown at my head and now everyone yells at me.”
Still, Youkilis said there were some cool aspects of being berated, including how “people know your name” and “you don’t know their names.”
When Youkilis repeated something that had been yelled at him, he was told that it would never appear in a newspaper unless one word was replaced with the word “stink.” Youkilis quickly said, “They don’t say stink.”
As long as Youkilis plays for the Red Sox and as long as he plays in his intense way, he will always be a verbal target here. Youkilis knows that, which is why he long ago decided to treat any boos like a badge.
“If people don’t like you,” he said, “you’re doing something right.”
Author James Carroll traces the history of Catholic anti-Semitism in the new film "Constantine's Sword."
By Ben Harris Published: 04/15/2008
NEW YORK (JTA) -- If the producers of "Constantine's Sword" were looking to send a message about the implications of their film for Catholic-Jewish relations, they scarcely could have chosen a more appropriate theatrical release date.
On Friday, April 18, within hours of the film's first New York screening, Pope Benedict XVI will make a historic visit to an American synagogue -- a gesture of goodwill observers say is intended to smooth over feelings unsettled by the pope's recent revival of a prayer for Jewish conversion.
The documentary, which traces the violent history of Church-sanctioned anti-Semitism, is a powerful reminder of why many Jewish leaders regard the prayer not as the Vatican has tried to spin it -- as an inconsequential matter of internal Church politics -- but as a dangerous step back from decades of Jewish-Catholic rapprochement....more
When my father became the rabbi in 1952 it was called Zichron Ephraim.
We celebrated the bar mitzvahs of both my sons at the synagogue (1987 and 1990).
COVENANTAL IMPERATIVES: Essays by Walter S. Wurzburger on Jewish Law, Thought, and Community edited by Eliezer L. Jacobs and Shalom Carmy, Hardcover, 325 pages
Covenantal Imperatives, a collection of essays selected from the nearly six decades of Rabbi Walter Wurzburger's illustrious career, combines the author’s mastery of Halakhah with a deep understanding of Jewish philosophy. By adopting religious cohesion as the cornerstone of his ideas, Rabbi Wurzburger builds a case for the meeting point of ethics and traditional Judaism, delving deeply into the thoughts of some of the greatest Jewish thinkers, especially those of his teacher, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Covering topics ranging from cooperation with non-Orthodox branches of Judaism, the Sabbath, and his concept of modern Orthodoxy, Rabbi Wurzburger’s essays are a true representation of the work of an original thinker and leader in the American Jewish community.
Rabbi Shalom Carmy, who teaches Jewish studies and philosophy at Yeshiva University, is an Editor of the series Me-Otzar ho-Rav: Selected Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Rabbi Carmy is also the Editor of Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought.
A graduate of Rutgers University, Elie Jacobs attended Yeshivat Sha’arei Mevaseret Zion in Israel. Elie works as a public relations consultant and lives in New York City.
Many Viewers 'Bitter' About ABC Debate
By DAVID WRIGHT As you'd imagine, the debate is the talk of the town here today, and not all of it is positive. The consensus seems to be that Sen. Barack Obama had a rough night, and many are objecting to the tenor of the questions.
ABC criticized for handling of Democratic debate
Gibson, Stephanopoulos criticized for work on debate
From Barack's camp...Subject: Gotcha
If you did, you saw more gotcha politics and distractions than questions about the pressing issues affecting our country.
In fact, it took more than 45 minutes before Barack was asked about the economy, health care, or foreign policy.
Regrettably, Senator Clinton seemed all too comfortable with that type of debate. She's running a 100% negative campaign in Pennsylvania, taking every opportunity to make personal and discredited attacks against Senator Obama.
You can send a message that politics doesn't have to be played this way.
You've gotten us this far, and I thank you for your support. But now is the time to reach out and bring more people to the cause.
Make a personal connection with a fellow supporter. Help build our movement by giving $25 and matching the gift of a first-time donor:
Senator Clinton's false, negative attacks are exactly the kind of say-anything, do-anything politics that the American people are tired of.
That's why polls show that the majority of Americans think she's running the most negative campaign, and 58% of voters do not find her honest or trustworthy.
Barack Obama wants to end the politics of division and distraction in Washington so we can bring about real change for ordinary Americans.
The stakes are too high to play the same old games. More than 1.3 million supporters have responded to Barack's message of change, and with your help we can reach 1.5 million by May 6th.
Make a matching donation of $25 now and help bring a first time donor into our movement for change:
Thank you for your support,
Obama for America
Here is Newsweek's 25 Best Rabbis List.
Based on the overwhelming response to the "influentials" list last year, Lynton, Ginsberg and Sanderson put together a list of the best pulpit rabbis in the country. The most powerful people, it turns out, are not always the most inspirational. Here are the criteria for pulpit rabbis:
• Ability to inspire congregation through scholarship and oratory
• Success in growing and expanding congregation
• Community leadership and innovation
• Ability to meet spiritual and personal needs and goals of his/her congregation
• Leadership within denominational movement
|1.||David Wolpe (Conservative) |
Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, CA
|14.||Mark Schiftan (Reform) |
Ohabai Sholom, Nashville, TN
|2.||Haskel Lookstein (Orthodox) |
Congregation Kehilith Jeshurun, New York, NY
|15.||Peter Rubinstein (Reform) |
Central Synagogue, New York, NY
|3.||Jack Moline (Conservative) |
Agudas Achim, Alexandria, VA
|16.||Rachel Nussbaum (Conservative) |
Kavana, Seattle, WA
|4.||David A. Lyon (Reform) |
Congregation Beth Israel, Houston, TX
|17.||Rick Block (Reform) |
Tifereth Israel, Cleveland, OH
|5.||J. Rolando (Roly) Matalon (Conservative) |
B’nai Jeshurun, New York, NY
|18.||Janet Marder (Reform) |
Congregation Beth Am, Palo Alto, CA
|6.||Avi Weiss (Orthodox) |
Hebrew Institute, Bronx, NY
|19.||Kenneth Hain (Orthodox) |
Congregation Beth Sholom, Lawrence, NY
|7.||David Stern (Reform) |
Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX
|20.||Ed Feinstein (Conservative) |
Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, CA
|8.||Brant Rosen (Reconstructionist) |
Jewish Reconstructionist, Evanston, Ill
|21.||Amy Schwartzman (Reform) |
Temple Rodef Shalom, Falls Church, VA
|9.||Sharon Brous (Conservative) |
IKAR, Los Angeles, CA
|22.||Asher Lopatin (Orthodox) |
Anshe Shalom, Chicago, IL
|10.||Andy Bachman (Reform) |
Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, NY
|23.||Terry A. Bookman (Reform) |
Temple Beth Am, Miami, FL
|11.||Yosef Kanefsky (Orthodox) |
B’nai David-Judea, Los Angeles, CA
|24.||Mordechai Finley (Reform) |
Ohr HaTorah, Los Angeles, CA
|12.||Harold Loss (Reform) |
Temple Israel, Detroit, MI
|25.||Moshe Waldoks (Renewal) |
Temple Beth Zion, Brookline, MA
|13.||Jeffrey Wohlberg (Conservative) |
Adas Israel, Washington, DC
For video interviews with Rabbis from the list visit www.jewishtvnetwork.com
Voice of America -
By VOA News President Bush is to welcome Pope Benedict with a 21-gun salute in a ceremony at the White House Wednesday. Nine-thousand guests are expected to greet the pope at the White House on his 81st birthday today.
I know however that they chances of this happening are slim and none. (Not Virginia Slims...)
Here is what one public health professional has recently written on the subject:
Some twenty years ago, while preparing a book on the history of the cigarette in America (A Smoking Gun: How the Tobacco Industry Gets Away With Murder, Stickley, 1984), I wrote to the Cardinal of New York and asked him why the Church had no pronouncements on cigarettes, the leading cause of premature death -- a clear threat to the value of life. The letter I received back was scathing, calling me stupid and naive, arguing that I had obviously not traveled outside the U.S. much and seen poverty and hunger -- otherwise, I would not be worrying about something as trivial as cigarette smoking.Here is a cigarette ad from the Phillipines:
As a public health professional, I do not consider 485,000 premature deaths annually in the United States to be "trivial." And I am outraged to see the ongoing marketing of cigarettes here in our country. But the recently-announced move by Philip Morris to addict hundreds of millions more people in Africa, China, Korea, Russia, and beyond is nothing short of appalling. As this international massacre continues -- indeed, intensifies -- is silence by the Church compatible with a pro-life commitment, or is it just sheer hypocrisy?
Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan is president of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH.org, HealthFactsAndFears.com).
Right Wing Proclaim Marx Wrote Our Capitalist Guidebook: How to Employ Religion as the Opiate of the People
Who, not only accept the idea that religion is the opiate of the people, but have also put it into action through their politics?
Why it's the right wing of the GOP of course.
Bill Kristol (in the Times) and Karl Rove (on Fox News) know a lot about Marxism, so much that they glibly accused Barack Obama of making a Marxist remark. To wit, in his recent Times opinion Kristol characterized Obama's "bitterness" remarks as a virtual equivalent of Marx's credo which stated:
...in the original German in which Marx somehow always sounds better: “Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes.”But the GOP guys know that communism has been defeated. So why bring up Marx? See these GOP guys don't really read Marx as a dangerous critic of the evils of capitalism.
These Right Wingers read the original works of Marxist analysis as a friendly recipe book, as a valuable user manual that instructs them on how to employ religion as the opiate of the people. (They also use guns, xenophobia, etc. in the same way.)
Marx taught the GOP how to use faith and God as great diversions, while they raid the treasury of the United States and amass the nation's capital in their own corporate and personal coffers.
Yes, the GOP administration has given loud lip service to religious groups and the Bush henchmen have resoundingly echoed each other's support for faith agendas.
Bush will even go out to the airport to pick up the Pope!
But in the end they delivered to their religious voter base next to nothing, only the opium rush of political exposure, a bunch of photo ops (=opiates) with the President.
Is it any wonder that when George Bush says he owes much of his political success to Karl, you really should ask him, do you mean Rove or Marx?
By NOAM COHEN It’s not easy to write a book. First you have to pick a title. And then there is the table of contents. If you want the book to be categorized, either by a bookseller or a library, it has to be assigned a unique numerical code, like an ISBN, for International Standard Book Number. There have to be proper margins. Finally, there’s the back cover.
Oh, and there is all that stuff in the middle, too. The writing.
Philip M. Parker seems to have licked that problem. Mr. Parker has generated more than 200,000 books, as an advanced search on Amazon.com under his publishing company shows, making him, in his own words, “the most published author in the history of the planet.” And he makes money doing it....
How far the mighty cedar has fallen! Read the post from the Think Progress blog:
Lieberman: It’s ‘a good question’ to ask if Obama is ‘a Marxist.’»
In his New York Times column today, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol claimed that Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) now-infamous “bitter” remarks sound like Karl Marx’s “famous statement about religion.” On the Brian and the Judge radio show today, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asked Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) if Obama is “a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case?”
“I must say that’s a good question,” replied Lieberman, before stepping back to say that he would “hesitate to say he’s a Marxist”:
NAPITALIANO: Hey Sen. Lieberman, you know Barack Obama, is he a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case in today’s New York Times? Is he an elitist like your colleague Hillary Clinton says he is?
LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I must say that’s a good question. I know him now for a little more than three years since he came into the Senate and he’s obviously very smart and he’s a good guy. I will tell ya that during this campaign, I’ve learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn’t…I’d hesitate to say he’s a Marxist, but he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America.
Listen courtesy of the folks over at the Think Progress blog and be sure to read all the comments there. They are a riot.Example: Dr. Hussein Matt Says:
I can’t keep track of all his affiliations: Muslim, liberal, far left-liberal, elitist, Anti-American, Socialist, Marxist, Anti-Christian, half-frican, smoker, terrible bowler, drug addict, etc., etc., etc.,
Why not try peace through blogging?
Nothing fancy - just people who are saying to give peace a chance. Like this one...
This blog is written by 2 friends. One lives in Sajaia refugee camp in Gaza and the other lives in Sderot, a small town near Gaza on the Israeli side. There is ongoing violence between Israel and Gaza which has intensified greatly since October 2000. Many have been killed and many have been injured. The media coverage on both sides has been extremely biased. Our Blog is written by 2 real people living and communicating on both sides of the border. [Your comments are welcome]