I haven't been online in nearly 24 hours. I spent the entire day doing fun things. I refused to go online this morning, choosing instead to go straight to the chiropactor and get rid of this pain in my neck (insert appropriate dumb joke here).
My taxes are done. It's the weekend. Nothing to do but laundry at some point.
Boy, does it feel good.
I wound up spending some time this afternoon catching up with a guy I hadn't seen in--well, let's just say a long time. We knew each other when. He runs a comic shop now, and I'm looking to sell some comics. There was a 15-year-old boy in the store while I was there killing time while his mother got her hair done. So we chatted about comics, and I taught him the correct pronunciation of "Amalgam" (he pronounced it AMalgam, quite confusing the college-aged boy he engaged in conversation later who said, "You mean aMALgam?" even after--sigh--I'd taught him the correct way) while we discussed the X-Men and various other comics characters, and while I browsed through enough comics to make me realize I'm pretty much done with that part of my life (Hulk still smash puny humans, but I won't pay $2.50 to see him do it).
A bit later, I was chatting with his mom, who collects baseball cards, and who noticed something about her son. "Michael--wasn't there something on your head when we left the house?" "Um--a visor?" "And where is it now?" "Um--the salon?" "Why do you do things like this?" she asked.
At which point I said, "Um--because he's a teenager?" and she laughed.
I received a very nice email from an Israeli blogger today. (Meryl, his web stuff looks like yours!) I've been noticing a bump in my traffic from Israel in the last couple of weeks--which is wonderful. I can't give you much more than my words and best wishes, my Israeli cousins, but they're all yours. Stay safe.
And it's official--I'm going to the Israel rally on Monday in Washington, D.C. So I have a few thoughts. Everyone who happens to be reading this site and also plans on going to the rally, let's start a cheer at some point. It's a simple one. It will go like this:
Hey. It may not do much, but it'll sure make me feel better. Especially coming from thousands of voices at once. I should email this request to Glenn.
Actually, I have decided that if I can't do much else, I can savage the savage. Tomorrow, look for the journal of Abu Belah (say it together, quickly), Arafat's aide-de-camp, who has been stuck with him in Ramallah these many unwashed days.
In the meantime, here's a link that might cheer you up just a little. It's more hopeful than many other articles I've read of late.
When will enough be enough? When will there ever be peace?
Another woman blew herself up in a crowded shopping area. Colin Powell was in a helicopter a kilometer away. He heard the explosion, and then saw the immediate aftermath. This attack comes a day after Israelis caught a woman pretending to be pregnant trying to get into Israel. Her "baby" was a bomb. Read the full story for the accounts of foiled attacks. Especially the last paragraph--where a 14-year-old girl entered a Jewish community "to kill Jews". She wanted to be a martyr. This is a sick civilization.
Martin Luther King used civil disobedience to achieve his goals. The south used police dogs and clubs and water cannons, lynch mobs, ax handles, humiliation, beatings--and still, the Rev. Martin Luther King and his followers did not set off bombs in Atlanta or send women to Montgomery with bombs under their clothes.
Jews are in a war of survival in Israel. Make no mistake about it.
And on the Continent, Europe is silent about dead Jews--whether in the Middle East or in their backyards. A natural gas tanker truck "accidentally" crashes into a synagogue in Tunisia, killing four. The synagogue was filled with tourists. Services were being held. How does a truck "accidentally" plow through the wall of the most prominent synagogue in Tunisia?
The Google search on "france anti-Semitic attacks" now returns 37 results. And French Jews adopt a "fortress mentality". Who will be next?
A Jewish man is attacked in Sacremento by a man screaming about Palestinian deaths. And yet again, they tell me that anti-Zionism has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. No, the two are wholly separate, which is why Jews all over the world are being beaten and stoned and murdered.
Victor Davis Hanson on the charges of the Israelis "oppressing" the Palestinians:
I don't know why, Victor. If a man of your background and intellect can't answer these questions, how can I? All I can do is register more cracks in my heart.
Do you know what echoes the most in my head? The account of the Passover Massacre by one man who fled. Before he left the carnage, he asked a woman lying on the floor if he could help her up. "How can I get up?" she asked. "I have no legs."
Site maintenance update
The portal page has been updated. It's a work in progress, so it isn't quite finished yet. Come to think of it, it will probably never be finished. But I haven't even decided on the order of the links. So many decisions! So much time, so little to do! Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. (Yes, that's from Willy Wonka.)
For some reason, I'm feeling a lot more hopeful since last night. It'd be nice to get back to griping about traffic or talking about my weekly dinner with James (for the first time in ages, we barely finished half the chicken & broccoli).
But I think I'm going to Washington on Monday for the pro-Israel rally. Don't think I'll bring my laptop, as it's too heavy and too precious to bang around or lose, but I'll bring a notebook and a pen and write the old-fashioned way. Which will drive me batty, as I type about 100 wpm (one reason I refuse to IM anyone--most of you can't keep up with me and I can't stand waiting for you to finish typing).
Any DC bloggers will just have to catch me next time. I expect I'll join up via my synagogue or JCC and grab a ride on a bus, which means drive there, rally, drive back. I do have relatives in Arlington... hmmm....
Did he use his Dial today?
From a Jerusalem Post article on Yasser Arafat's intention to agree to a cease-fire:
Martin Luther King III joins Rabbi Marc Schneider in protesting French anti-Semitism. You honor your father's heritage, Mr. King.
But the list of evil mounts
Just caught this story: The PLO was evicted from their Washington Office. Excuse me while I catch my breath--this one made me laugh out loud. Of course, they blame Israel. Or at least, U.S. pro-Israeli sympathy.
The WINS version of this is slightly different. I find the differences interesting.
Reuters: "The PLO office in Washington has been a political football for years. A 1987 law prevented the PLO from maintaining an office in Washington but at six-monthly intervals since 1994 the administration has used the waiver authority in the law to allow the office to operate. "
WINS(AP): "A 1987 law barred the PLO from keeping an office in Washington but that prohibition was waived in 1994 by the Clinton administration following breakthroughs in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The Bush administration has continued to waive the provision as a means of supporting a negotiated settlement."
How long does it take a vet smell to wear off a cat, and why do they always have to go near each other at the very moment I'm falling asleep, thus waking me up with their hissing and yowling?
Speaking of cats--wow, you guys really don't want to read about them at all, do you? 17 visits to Cattales since yesterday. Look, that was a FUNNY piece. It was FICTION. It's as good as Iseema's Diary, dammit! I deliberately left it off the main page because, well, I don't write cat stuff on the main page much anymore. Dvorak hurt my feelings. Humph. Philistines. Dog-lovers. [razzafrazzarazzafrazzamumblemumble]
If I were to start a new weblog about the events in Israel, I think I'd called it Radio Free Yourish, and its slogan would be "All Jews, all the time." (Note to non-NY-metro area users: 1010WINS slogan is "all news, all the time". Now you can laugh at the joke.)
My Altavista stalker is back, and I probably shouldn't encourage him, but hey--where's the harm? "deceptive waging daresay localized subfile"--um--nope. Can't think of a thing to do with that one. More creativity is requested, please. It's springtime, and all minds are supposed to turn to romance in the spring. Localized subfiles are so not romantic.
Now would be a really, really, really good time for the Messiah to appear, if you ask me. I volunteer for the job. Hey, nobody says it has to be a man. If anyone out there has a direct line to God, please pass along my request. Much appreciated.
If anyone is offended by the above paragraph, um, well--oh, well.
Howcome every time I go to Little Green Footballs, I keep thinking it's Little Green Footfalls, and I wonder whose little green feet are moving, and why Charles would call his weblog that?
Things I'm reading
James Lileks answers the charges of war profiteering and warbloggering (ooh, I made up a new word!), using lots of [gasp!] facts to back up his case.
While I was there, James pointed to this page, which has photographic evidence of Palestinian lies. Here's the main page. Warning: The main page contains graphic pictures of suicide bomb attacks. And yes, it's an Israeli site. That doesn't lessen the cold, hard truth of the pictorial evidence of Palestinian lies.
An Australian opinion on the Muslim world's refusal to take any kind of criticism about why they are--in Pakistani President Musharraf's words: "the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most unhealthy, the most unenlightened, the most deprived and the weakest of all the human race". Via Wetlog, who has a lot more to say than just accusing the warbloggers of profiteering (which I thought was silly, especially as he draws his conclusion using a common logical fallacy).
Saddam Hussein proudly announced to the world a few weeks ago that he was increasing the Iraqi payment of suicide bombers' families from $10,000 to $25,000. Saudi Arabia adds another $5,333 to the total. So the suicide bombers' families will get thirty grand for murdering as many Jews as they can. Now that's civilized behavior. Bring on the Caliphate! Not.
Some days I wonder why I even bother to raise my voice on these pages. I wonder if it makes a difference, truly, or if anyone is even bothering to listen. There seem to be about three distinct mindsets, really--people who read your pages because they agree with you strongly and aren't likely to change their opinions, people who read your pages because they disagree with you strongly and aren't likely to change their opinions, and those who are unsure, and looking to form an opinion.
The problem is, there's no real way of telling what the percentage of each mindset is, because nobody fills out a form before typing in the URL or clicking on a bookmark. It's difficult to tell with email as well, because how many readers does one message represent? In the print journalism business, I learned that a letter was considered to represent the opinions of about 100 people. It's a guess, really--when the Newark Star-Ledger of NJ asked its readers to fill out a poll over which comic strips should stay and which should go--yeah, I know, a matter of great importance--they received, I believe, under 200 responses out of a circulation of hundreds of thousands. (In point of fact, changing the comic strips without notice is more important to readers than you realize; it usually brings dozens of furious letters from people who don't seem to think that Little Orphan Annie's time came and went by, oh, 1940.) But how does that translate to weblogs? You just can't know.
Yesterday was a horrible day. The news was filled with more suicide bombings, more death, more anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, more world opinion screaming at the Israelis with almost no voices saying that the terrorist bombing of a civilian bus is evil. And so I wondered--why am I bothering? The shrieks on the other side aren't lowering, they're rising in decibels. World opinion is nearly united against Israel, and by proxy, European, Canadian, Australian and American Jews--judging by the rising numbers of synagogues torched.
And then something happened. I've been corresponding with a young man who disagrees strongly with me on my points of view--or so I thought. I normally don't respond to letters that end with a statement like, "You'll probably rebut by calling me an anti-Semite," but for some reason, I did answer his letter. Without calling him an anti-Semite, a term that I reserve for true anti-Semites--not for people who disagree with me on issues about Israel and Judaism--or anything else, for that matter. You won't find a single validation of that lie anywhere on the web--or off.
The young man, who had been aggravating me by co-opting the language of the Holocaust for use in defending the Palestinian side of things, read my blog earlier today ("The True Holocaust," which was partly inspired by his letter, scroll down to read it), and sent me a letter agreeing that he had been misusing the terms. We're a long, long way from agreeing on the rest of the issues, but his letter made me realize: I'm not writing in a vaccuum. People can, and do, change their minds.
And they are who I write these essays for. The ones who are unsure of the issues, and who just want information. The ones who can come here and know they won't get a facile recitation of a party line--said when it becomes fashionable to say it. Or the ones who have been misinformed and simply need to get the facts from the other side of the story.
I don't pretend to present an unbiased version of the facts. This isn't a newspaper--it is my opinion. Having said that, I strive to present facts to back up my arguments. I generally do not issue ad hominem attacks. You won't see vacuous pronouncements and references to sources that pretend to be independent journalistic sites (Indymedia, for example) while all the time grinding their very large axe. Regular readers will note that I mentioned Debka only once or twice--because after a sustained period of reading the site, my conclusion is that it has a pretty clear agenda, and being objective ain't a part of it. If I reference an opinion column, it is quite clearly marked as such by the columnist's website. And if I reference another blogger's post, it's generally because I've found someone who is writing a fact-based opinion that I respect. If you want blather, you can find it yourself. I haven't the time or patience for ill-written, ill-thought out treatises on "The Israelis Are Really Bad People And They Kill Kittens And Puppies, Too, Just Like Nostradamus Predicted!"
And another link or three
Daddy Warblogs, with a short history lesson on how the Palestinians refugees came to be. It's the one titled "Israel's Untold Tale."
Okay, here's a funny one completely unrelated to current events.
Another day, another terrorist attack, another European anti-Semitic act
I have nothing to add to that. Well, I do, but none of it is printable and I'm not in the mood to swear online right now.
Victor Davis Hanson's latest:
I'm tired of the Palestinians and their supporters attempting to co-opt the language of the Holocaust. The Israelis are no more Nazis than I am a Christian. Take a trip over to REMEMBER.ORG, a "Cybrary" of Holocaust facts and documents. Read the language of hate for yourself, and then try to tell me that Israel is perpetuating a "holocaust" on the Palestinians. Below are accounts of what the real Nazis did during the real Holocaust.
Here are excerpts:
Excerpts from a letter by an American soldier who liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp:
And here's a picture of a mass grave, for those who have forgotten:
I have not forgotten. I will never forget. Nor will I let the Palestinian propaganda machine co-opt the language of true genocide--which was perpetrated against the Jews. There is no attempt at genocide against Palestinians by Israel. It is a lie, and I'm tired of hearing it.
Okay, I have my Tig back, and I also have a new Cattales. Even Dvorak will like this one; it's excerpts from Tig and Gracie's diaries over the last day or so. It was an astonishing find--Tig actually had his hidden in the towel in the cat carrier, and I caught Gracie trying to hide hers in the closet in my storeroom, where she is currently sulking because she is no longer an only cat. I'm not sure I got all the translations correct. I think "mrow-ROWR!" means "Your mother wears doggie coats!" but "MROW-rowr" means "Mother." It's all in the correct pronunciation.
I was also rather hopeful, for a few brief minutes. Then I browsed the rest of the articles. The stardust fell off my glasses. It's a call to arms to the Arab nations so that they can stop being third-rate tyrannies and start being first-rate industrial states. Best of luck there, pals, and here's a hint: Try the Israel model. It works.
Another chapter in Bruce Hill's swing from left to right. (Howcome I have to fill in the anchor number on your permalinks myself? What's with your software?)
David Warren: "When its exponents say, 'Islam is a religion of peace', they correctly describe about three of its 14 centuries."
More David Warren. Bruce, the engagement's off. I want to marry this guy. Sorry.
I was going to write this someday. John Scalzi saved me the trouble.
Anthony Woodlief has the best deconstruction I've seen of the much-put-upon essay on Non-violence.org about whether or not the killing of civilians is justified. Instead of mindlessly jumping on the idiocy of the author's premise, Anthony takes it point-by-point. Nicely done.
Oh, but he doesn't want violence against the Jews, and he can't control terrorists. He's just an old peacenik from way back. (Take the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympics, for instance.)
Also from Damian, a Reuters article on how the French are not anti-Semitic, according to their President. Included in the article is an attack that I somehow missed: A Jewish pre-school in Marseille was set on fire over the weekend.
A Jewish pre-school.
If you're expecting the latest serious essay about current events today, scroll down for my (apparently subconscious) contribution to Yom HaShoah, which I wrote yesterday, not realizing what day Tuesday would be.
The rest of you, well, bear with me. If you don't, I will write the story behind why I was late for work this morning, and it includes my cat, his bowel movements, regurgitation, a depressing number of cleanups, and what promises to be an extraordinary vet bill. The lone bright spot in all of this: When they told me they had to anesthetize him for X-Rays, I told them to clip his claws while he was out. It's the only way you can get it done without losing at least half a pint of blood.
Just out of curiosity, I checked the word count on my longest essays. They average about 1,000 words, no more than 1,100. That's four to five typed, double-spaced pages. I figure a weblog ought to stick to a format like that. If you make them much longer, your readers will wind up with keyprints on their faces after they pass out from boredom.
And no, there will be no pop quizzes.
If it's called Daylight Savings Time, where's the Daylight Savings Bank? Can I make Daylight Savings Withdrawals in, say, February, when I'm so sick of winter I sometimes consider moving to Florida? (Luckily, spring arrives shortly thereafter and I regain my senses. No offense, Floridians--it ain't you I'm avoiding, it's the snowbirds and Northeastern retirees.)
On Friday night, while shopping with James and his mother, I did the world a tremendous service: Helped James buy a snake-in-the-can-of-peanuts, thus ensuring a whole new generation of extremely annoying practical jokers. Next up: A Whoopee cushion.
I also saved him from extreme embarrassment by convincing him that a "Keep Out" sign for his doorknob with the reason "Spanking the Monkey" was funnier than he thought, and not in a good way. (He's ten.) Gotta love that Spencer's gifts. Me, dragging James by the collar: "Get out of this aisle." "But why?" "Just do it." [cut to: sales clerk, giggling.]
For that matter, if you want to make a group of children laugh, make a fart joke. Kids can't resist fart noises. Come to think of it, neither can grown men, but they never outgrow that "Pull my finger!" thing, either. It's a mystery to women, one of the few mysteries men get to keep forever. (We are so on that leap-up-and-touch-the-awning thing.)
Finally rented AI last weekend. Steven Spielberg continues to prove how much he loathes children. Harlan Ellison is right about that.
I was thinking of this yesterday. I read many 18th- and 19th-century French novels in high school and college. I can recall the names of older French novelists: Voltaire, Hugo, Dumas. Have there been any French novelists of note in the 20th century? Why can't I remember? I can name half a dozen modern British writers off the top of my head, but no modern Frogs. Why is that?
Would that be why they're so pissy lately?
The use of the word "must" instead of "will" in the title of this essay is necessary, because the ability to prevent a second Holocaust does not lie with the Jews. There are only a handful of us worldwide, really; an estimated 13 million, barely a blip on the radar screen of the world population. We are a people that, by all the rules of chance, should have been made extinct centuries ago. What other nation has been removed from its homeland by force, thrown out of its new home not once, but again, and again, and yet again, even up to the modern era? What other people has been pursued over the centuries as relentlessly as have the Jews and survived? What other people has been forced into ghetto after ghetto, watched as each country in which they lived restricted their rights to trade, own property, work, worship, and live--until the host nation needed a scapegoat or a government needed money and forced the Jews to look for a new home again, without, of course, any valuables the more fortunate had managed to accumulate. What other people had the resources and "scientists" of a major world power thrown into a horrific machine whose sole purpose was to rid the world of its kind as quickly and efficiently as possible with the "final solution"? How many pogroms, how many massacres, how many expulsions can a people suffer before they are allowed to say to the world, "Enough"?
How many thousands of years does it take for the Jews to be able to live in peace in the nations of the world? Why are we still not safe in France, in Germany, in Belgium, in Canada? Why are we not safe in Berkeley, California? Synagogues are burning in Toronto and Ottawa and Marseille and Paris and Brussels. A kosher butcher shop was fired upon in France, and I don't think they were aiming for the display. An athletic club was torched. A bomb was discovered in a Jewish cemetary that had already had a prayer pavilion burned. Its target could not have been the corpses; even anti-Semites aren't stupid enough to try to kill the dead. But the symbolism is chilling: Here you will die; here you will be buried. We're saving you time.
I say again: Those of you who believe that you can separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism are lying to me, and to yourselves. Tell me what a Jewish athletic club in France has to do with the events in Israel. Tell me how the destruction of a synagogue changes the balance of power in the Middle East. Tell me how a man selling kosher meat has any affect whatsoever on the policies of Ariel Sharon and Israel. There are only these common denominators: Jews, and anti-Semitism.
Flip through the index of a Jewish history book, and look up the word expulsion. You will find Spain, Portugal, England, France, Brazil. Look for forced conversion. Jewish Ghetto. Massacres. Riots. The history of anti-Semitism goes back before the time of Christ--but it got more prevalent as time went on. And there's been plenty of Muslim anti-Semitism as well--it's not a new phenomenon, as some would have you believe.
So I ask again: How much is enough? You have to tell us, because Jews don't control the levels of anti-Semitism in the world. You have to let us know, because we're not the ones spreading the blood libel and virulent hatred of Jews throughout the Arab (and some non-Arab) media. You have to give us an idea, because we have no control over the burning of our synagogues and meeting places. Tell us how much anti-Semitism you think is enough, tell us what level will satisfy you, and then tell us when it will finally be all right to be a Jew in another country, because the world has been screaming at us for fifty-five years how little they want us to be a Jew even in Israel.
I'm one of the more fortunate ones. I live in America, the greatest and most tolerant nation in the world, which I love with all my heart. But even here, I keep an eye out for hate. Because we don't control anti-Semitism, not even here. It is the rest of you in whose hands lies the future of the Jews.
And all I want--all we have ever wanted--is to live in peace with our neighbors, no matter which country that may be.
So tell me, please--how much is enough?
Okay, I get that there are translation problems, really I do. But taking a look at some of the Arab protests around the world, I have to put in my two cents regarding protest chants.
Egypt: Same old, same old with something new. Okay, guys--"Death to America! Death to Israel!" has been done to death. Nobody listens to you anymore when you're chanting that, and we don't even register "Death to the Jews!", trust me on that one. Your attempt at a new chant--"One, two, where is the Arab army?"--is severely flawed. First, it makes the Arab armies look like cowards, as the civilians are calling for them to step up to the plate and, well, they don't. Second, uh, guys--you live in a dictatorship. Protestors asking where the army is is a really bad idea. Oh, look--there they are--no, wait! It's the police in riot gear and clubs and--duck! Run!
Might I suggest, oh inheritors of the culture that gave us paper and letters, you should set up a Committee To Look Into New Anti-America And Anti-Israel Chants. Here's a hint: Read up on your 1960s American college campuses. They had some good ones. (My personal favorite has always been "Hell no, we won't go!" because it fits so many occasions. "C'mon, kids, get in the car, we have to go to Grandma's house." "Hell no, we won't go!" You see?)
France: Oh, this is too easy. "Chirac-Jospin, do something, go to Ramallah." Asking the French to do something is like asking Marcel Marceau to address the United Nations. (That was a reference to the man who inspired mimes to act out their various talents in the public places of America during the 1970s and 80s. Marcel Marceau, a man whom, had no one ever imitated him, would have been able to die in peace without being thoroughly hated by millions of crass bourgeoise Americans--so much so that one of the greatest jokes in the film "Tootsie" was watching a pissed-off Dustin Hoffman pass a mime in Central Park who was pretending to walk a tightrope, stop, and shove him to the dirt. This parenthetical foray has been brought to you by Americans With No Sense Of Pop Culture Before 1990.)
Ask the French to do something? Aren't they already torching synagogues and shooting at Jews? What more can you ask the French to do, revive the Vichy government and put the Jews on a train to Iraq?
More France: "Sharon Assassin'' and "Arabs, Jews together against Sharon." Hm. That togetherness in the last one, especially the Jews bit--uh, hello? On Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath? When a pro-Israel rally is due on Sunday? How dumb do you think we are? And, uh--your slogans suck, dudes. See suggestions for Egypt, above.
Rome: Let's see if we can put this one to music. Shall we try the Fish Heads Theory? "Sharon--assassin, boycott Israel." Nope, can't be sung to Fish Heads. Oh, wait--that was on signs, not chanted. Even so, let's deconstruct: The ambiguity of the phrase seems to be that although they think Sharon is an assassin, they want him to boycott Israel. I'm missing the purpose of this suggestion. Perhaps they think if Sharon has to leave the country to shop, a rival faction might take over the government?
Sydney: "Free Palestine." Oh, come on. Surely you can come up with a better slogan than that. Listen, all you have to do is hold up a lighter while shouting it incoherently and people will take you for burned out Lynyrd Skynyrd fans. "Free Bird! Free Bird!"
By the way, check out Bruce Hill's account of the Sydney protest. Come to think of it, they were trying to force their way into the Israeli Embassy and they did try to fight mounted police officers--maybe they were burned out Skynyrd fans.