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SFSU Update: More bad news for GUPS

Armed Liberal reports that GUPS has been put on probation for a year and their funding cancelled by the university. The bad news is that in the interest of seeming to be even-handed (it was both sides' faults), SFSU's Hillel organization was given a warning letter. (If you read this excerpt and then go over to AL's site, you've got just about the whole article and don't need to register with the LA Times to read it.)

After reviewing videotapes and interviewing witnesses about the incident, campus authorities concluded that the counterdemonstrators had violated campus regulations by hurling racial and ethnic epithets, using bullhorns and drums and refusing to remain in their designated area.

University spokeswoman Ligeia Polidora said school authorities also took down the group's Web site earlier this week because it showed an animated image throwing a rock against the Star of David and because the site carried a link to a separate Web site that made claims of "Jewish ritual murder."

Polidora said the warning letter was issued to the Jewish student group Hillel because members also shouted racial and ethnic epithets and hung flags on the student center without permission and because one member used a bullhorn.

The university said disciplinary proceedings are pending against three students, but would not identify their affiliations.

Well. Except for the Hillel warning letter, I'm happy. President Corrigan is keeping his word and taking actions to prevent a reoccurrence. That's the most important thing. The article also mentions workshops and required leadership retreats that will force the heads of the two groups to work together. Hey—don't make fun. I was a student legislator, and those weekend retreats were pretty good for bonding. And drinking, and food fights, and waterfights, and—uh, never mind.

Very funny post on Left of Center about the terrorism warnings:

Careful of tanker trucks? Isn't that a good piece of advice regardless? Maybe the government could give us other warnings that would be equally helpful.

"This just in from the FBI. "Watch out for oncoming traffic."
"This just in from the State Department "Don't forget your sunblock."

Not enough Bills

It is a sad truth that the older you get, the more experienced you become in attending funerals. Last night, I went online about 11 p.m. and saw an email from an old pal, Bill Cavanaugh. It was titled, "About Bill," which led me to believe it was announcing a change in Bill's life. He'd discovered my website a few months ago and we'd been emailing irregularly, filling each other in on the directions our lives had been heading. We weren't ever really close, nor would we ever be—but he was a big part of my college and post-college years. We both were friends with the same group of people, and he and I even lived in the same place for a year or so, so I figured we'd at least always stay in touch.

The email wasn't from Bill. It was from his wife. Bill died Friday morning, unexpectedly; complications of asthma and maybe his bad heart—they're not sure. Does it really matter? The end result is still the same.

Lying in bed, trying to sleep, thinking of Bill and the gang we hung with years ago, I also started thinking of the other premature deaths in my life. In one year, I lost both my childhood sweetheart and a man that I'd been deeply involved with, both at the too-young age of thirty-seven. The man I was involved with was named Bill, too. I used to know more Jims and Bills than I thought any person should have to know; I've insisted for years that I'm going to write a story titled "Too Many Jims" or "Too Many Bills." If I don't get going on that soon, I may not have to.

The other Bill had been out of my life for years when I got the news that he died of a heart attack, also at the age of 37. He'd gotten married only six weeks before his death. I remember feeling very sorry for his widow. That was one funeral I I didn't attend. It wasn't exactly a good breakup, and I didn't see the point of meeting his wife and identifying myself as one of Bill's exes. She had more than enough on her plate, what with being a newlywed widow.

Scott Yeskel was my childhood sweetheart. His mother and my mother were best friends growing up, and his mother's brother married my mother's sister. We have a pair of first cousins in common, which led him to wonder if he and I were related and if we weren't committing incest. I assured him we were cousins through marriage only, not blood, which was a great relief to him. The summer we were thirteen, our lifelong friendship turned to a crush. I remember vividly that night at Bradley Beach, where I was staying for the week with my family and Scott was visiting for the day with his grandmother. We spent the evening together, walking on the beach and the boardwalk, too tongue-tied and unsure of ourselves to say what we were thinking. Finally, his grandmother called him to leave, and we stood on the boardwalk, trying to break the awkward silence. Which he did finally, asking, "Do you like me?"

"Yes," I told him.

"I have to go," he said, and off he went into the car, and off I went to walk the two blocks back to the hotel. My feet never touched the ground the entire two blocks. I've never forgotten that night. He was my first love.

We went out again when we were sixteen, and in college we toyed with the notion of one more time, but by then we had grown pretty far apart. So we went our separate ways. He married, moved to the midwest, had two children and died of a heart attack far too young.

The elephant in the corner that I'm trying not to think about would be the ghost of my cousin Sharon. Thirty-seven seems to be a magic number for premature deaths of people that I knew. She was killed in a drunk driving accident, six weeks after coming to New Jersey for a visit. I hadn't seen her in ten years prior to that visit. She was talking about moving back here. She and I were as close as sisters; I was thrilled, envisioning the two of us growing old and grey together, still laughing over the story of the horsehair cake, a family legend. But she didn't get to come back to New Jersey to live. She came back to be buried, and I visit her grave whenever I go to a funeral at the cemetery where we put her.

It frightens me, Death. I'm not ready for it. I have too many things I still need to do. I want it neither for myself nor for any of my friends, even the ones I no longer keep in touch with. And every time Death takes one of my peers, I think again how fragile life is, how easy it is to turn around and see your footsteps washed away by the waves lapping at the shore. This footstep was Sharon. That was Bill Baker. The one way back there was Drew Dangell, your classmate killed at age thirteen, your first brush with the death of someone your own age.

I have a wake to go to on Sunday, and a funeral Monday morning. Another Bill.



SFSU pulls the plug on GUPS hatesite

Erin O'Connor, who promises more on the SFSU story on Monday, points to an article that details how the anti-Semitic organization has had its SFSU-sponsored website pulled:

The 14-member committee found the site violated SFSU Web policy in disseminating "obscene, harassing, threatening, or unwelcome communications," and contradicted sections of the student code of conduct in directing "abusive behavior toward members of the campus community."

The committee also found the site to be in violation of sections of Title V of the state administrative code regarding disruption of the educational process and misuse of campus property.

The Web Committee recommended SFSU's dean of students and office of programs and leadership development look into possibly punishing the Palestinian student organization.

In the meantime, I've heard from Patricia Jennings that President Corrigan is stonewalling her and Laurie Zoloth, choosing instead to focus on how they have "ruined his reputation." I expect that reputation may keep on heading toward the toilet if Corrigan doesn't take seriously what happened at the near-riot in May.

What we really need here is a San Francisco-based college student who wants to dig up new information at the two SF colleges currently displaying the most anti-Semitism, as well as a San Diego-based student who wants to tackle UCSD. Any takers out there? And yes, this is a serious request. Look at it as extra credit, and good practice on how to find information not easily available in a library catalog. Completely ethical and legal, of course. Email me.

Tally uh-oh

My very generous readers are pledging more dollars to Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Thank you so much; I'm on my way up the donors list with $335 pledged so far. I would like to point out, however, that when the form is asking for an email address, they want yours, not mine, as I'm supposed to send out an email to all of my sponsors reminding them to pay up. May I say I salute your ingenuity in not wanting to give out your email address by giving out mine instead?

It's okay, the Blogathon won't give it out to spammers, and I am highly amused when I receive a letter that says, " has pledged xx dollars, bringing your total amount pledged to..."

I know I sometimes hear voices in my head, but I was unaware that they're also making donations in my name. I hope we can afford it.

I'm currently creating a little number counter that I will put on the top of the page to keep a tally of the amount pledged. I found some pretty sickly green-on-black numbers to email Laurence if he wants to do the same. Have to keep to his color scheme, dontchaknow.

Peter David Hulk smash Bill Mantlo Hulk

On my table in front of me is the latest issue of Comic Buyer's Guide, open to Peter David's column, "But I Digress." He gave up all but four paragraphs to the Stan Lee Solution, which someone (probably his editor) renamed "The Green Solution." He even included the later question one of my readers sent. And then Mr. David oh-so-kindly invites his readers to ask me more Hulk questions. So I must return the favor by sending you all over to Peter David's brand-spanking-new weblog, that perhaps has solved its birthing problems by now. You don't have to tell him I sent you. His referrer logs will do that nicely.

By the way, he's more of a hawk on the Palestinian terrorism situation than I am. But I certainly feel his pain.

Oh, the title of this post? For some reason, the editor chose to use a scene from the Bill Mantlo Hulk issue that featured Sabra, Israel's stupidly-named superhero (hey, we should be grateful she's female and shutup, right?) with, like, some kind of porcupine cape (really not explained satisfactorily). Peter did the Middle East issue in a far, far better manner. Do I detect a whiff of moral equivalence in the selected scene, because Hulk is telling Sabra that a boy died because her people and his wouldn't share the land? Uh--yeah. I felt I should point out to you that the scene is not representative of the Hulk that Peter wrote for twelve years. His was much, much better.

I am not my blog

Jason Kenney has gotten my attention with this thoughtful post that joins in the discussion of identity being carried on elsewhere.

The blog is simply part of the person, the identity, and not the identity itself.

In order for a blog to fully represent ones identity it must be complete and honest, something that is very rare indeed. I do not talk about my entire life on my blog, nor do I give the complete picture on the things that I do talk about. When I speak about my political beliefs, I'm keeping a lot to myself because it either hasn't come up, I don't know exactly how to phrase it in type, or it really doesn't matter. When I speak about my relationship with Jenn, there are many, MANY things that are very private, but go a long way towards defining my identity, that's a part of me that you will never get on the web.

That was in response to Mike Sanders, answering Shelley Powers' post on identity that has since been pulled:

One of the favorite pastimes of blog readers is pointing out your character or thought-based flaws based on what you have blogged. Your personal goal then becomes examining the criticism for any validity. One thing is clear is that it is impossible to reveal your identity on your blog. The people who really know you will always be your closest friends and families who have witnesses your thoughts, feeling and actions in numerous situations over an extended period of time. And that time is usually measured in years.

I have had differences of opinion with two people who I used to be pretty close to within weblogging circles: Meryl Yourish and Mike Sanders. In fact, Meryl addresses me directly in a posting today. Still, however much I may disagree with both Mike and Meryl and their political beliefs and agendas, I respect that they expose their identity with their writing. I know who they are.

Shelley feels that she knows who Meryl and I are based on our views and feelings on anti-semitism, terrorism and the suicide bombings inflicted on Israeli men, women and children. That is of course far from the truth. What Shelley does know is how we feel on these issues, which is a factor in our identity, but does not define who we are, it just happens to be the topics we have chosen to focus our blogging on.

Mike and Jason are exactly right. To think that you know who I am because of a few thousand words that you've read over the last few months is an incredible presumption. To paraphrase Lewis Carroll: My words mean exactly what I want them to mean, no more, no less.

Readers of this weblog certainly have a piece of my character, and insight into what I am like. But you have only what I dole out to you. You don't have the knowledge that is gained from being a friend or relative of long standing. My brothers probably know me better than anyone else on the planet. When the three of us are together, we have our codewords and phrases that will set us all to laughing or remembering stories in an instant. Yet they don't know the parts of me that Heidi knows through my long and deep friendship with her. And Heidi doesn't know the parts of me that an ex-boyfriend knows. When you think about it, a human being is like a prism of people, with intricate facets and many levels. This weblog is but one of those facets.

Shelley wasn't the only one, nor was she the first to presume knowledge of me via my writing on this weblog. I'm quite sure she won't be the last. People commonly mistake writers' words for their thoughts. While my words here are definitely my thoughts, they are by no means all of my thoughts. Like Jason—like everyone—I hold things back.

And while I once titled a post "Cogito ergo blog," I am still not my blog. You may be very sure of that.



Why Mac Thomason is a must-read

Mac Thomason, the War Liberal, has a site that is generally links and brief commentary, with occasional more lengthy commentary. It's items like this that bring me back every day:

Ananova - Giant frogs force frightened residents indoors

As a rule, the phrase "Giant Frogs" usually gets my attention.

Thousands of giant frogs are plaguing residents and motorists in north Germany.

The giant bull frogs weigh up to two kilos each and were first spotted in Hanover.

That's about five pounds in non-made-up weights, I think. Still, that's pretty large for a frog. Apparently, they're American by origin and were introduced to Europe somehow; it's about time they got a taste of their own medicine over there. You have to admit the idea of Germans running away from a bunch of frogs is pretty funny; usually, it's more the reverse.

And now he's got comments, which his site was simply begging for, so you can add your own remarks. Just try not to be drinking anything while reading this site. You will be sorry. You have been warned.

Blogathon rumors

Leave it to Laurence Simon to start passing along rumors. Especially ones he's making up himself.

While it is true I will be about 350 miles closer to Texas when the Blogathon occurs, it is absolutely false that I'm moving so that I can be closer to Laurence. He is married. I am uninterested in married men. And no, there will be no streaming video sex, in spite of his pleading emails. I don't have a webcam, anyway. Damn. That last is going to land me in the search engine hall of shame, isn't it?

I'd like to thank those who have pledged already today. Somebody pledged $5 an hour for me. (I sure hope they didn't mean to pledge a flat $5 and just got confused.) Wow, I haven't earned that much since I was working for the Bergen Record as an Atex typesetter! (What a racket that job was. Sunday night, I'd come in around 6, wait until the races started at 7, reading the wires or doing homework, then every thirty minutes I'd type up the race results—which took all of five minutes—and read the wires or a book for another 25 minutes. Then I'd go home at 11:30 or 12. They paid me five bucks an hour to—hey! Write every thirty minutes!)

I'm trying to think of some kind of matching-fund pledge, as I intend to donate to the charity myself. Maybe a dollar for every pledge I receive, up to a certain amount? I'll have to think it over. In the meantime, click and pledge. For me and for Laurence.

Here's the Shaare Zedek Medical Center news page. Read up on why they deserve money for a new Emergency Room.

Blogathon 2002

I've just joined Laurence Simon in the 2002 Blogathon. He's going to stay up for 24 hours and fire off a post every half hour for Magen David Adom. I'm going to do the same for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. They're the trauma center to which Maden David Adom brings the victims of the suicide bombings. They need a new, upgraded emergency room, and that is the charity for which I intend to deprive myself of sleep long enough so that you may very well be able to see incomprehensible ramblings before the 24 hours are up.

Here's the way it works: Between now and July 27th, you can go here and sign up to become a sponsor. Please let me point out that you can sponsor both Lair and me; we're good blog pals and not jealous at all of each other, and we're blogging for two great causes. (Their database lists me via first name instead of last, so I'm in the M, not Y field. Duh.) The more, the merrier. You don't have to put your real name in the fields if you don't want to. You can donate anonymously if you wish. But the Blogathon folks won't use your information for anything other than "David Yourish contributed $50.00" (hint, hint, Dave!).

On July 27th, you get to watch us post like crazy, starting at 9:00 EST. Then, on July 28th, you get to send in a check to the charities you pledged. No money crosses our hands or the Blogathon sponsors; it's all entirely up to you, and I don't even get your phone number so I can't call and make you feel guilty. This is the Shaare Zedek page with US addresses; you can also mail directly to the hospital. And here's the page for offices throughout the world.

Remember, I will have this weblog with which to make you feel extreme guilt if you don't pay up, and also know this: I come from a long line of Jewish mothers; trust me, I know how to lay on the guilt. I think it's safe to say I could guilt an atheist into going to Temple.

And let me add some incentive for you to contribute: The International Red Cross bars Mogen David Adom from entry and gives Israel almost no funds. Mogen David Adom ambulances are the first on the scene after a terrorist attack. The terrorists try to blow apart innocent Israelis; Shaare Zedek puts them back together.

Hundreds of people read this weblog every day. If you contribute only ten dollars each, that would be thousands of dollars we would send to a great cause. Please, be generous.

Choose life. The terrorists are worshipping a cult of death; Laurence Simon and I are blogging for the organizations that help save lives. Choose life, and spread the word.

Hulk smash bad news!

The Stan Lee Solution is in the June 28th edition of the Comic Buyer's Guide, available now. Peter David, who wrote The Hulk for twelve years (and whose every issue I own) asked for and received permission to reprint it in his column, "But I Digress." So welcome, CBG readers, and either scroll to the bottom of the screen for links to more humor pieces or click on some of the items in the left menu, like Iseema's Diary or the Arafat Transcripts. Come to think of it, I need to put the Fudd Doctrine in the left menu. Later.

Now I know why so many people have been searching Google for my name. Number one result for Yourish, number one for Meryl Yourish (I would hope!) and number three for Meryl. My name-twin is number one there, and the both of us beat out Meryl Streep. Way to go, other half of the Meryl Webring! (I love saying that.)

Israel's Indian friends

Larry G. pointed me towards this article by Keerthi Reddy on why India has much in common with and should come forward for Israel:

This is the time for India to step up to the plate and declare loud and clear its support for a nation which deserves appreciation from the entire world for its people's spirit of hard work and determination. India which has time and time again seen the proclivity of Islamic forces to usurp sovereign territories and justify it all in the cause of Islam should understand the condition of Israel better than any other nation. The same Islamic countries which are whipping up hysterical emotions for Jihad against Israel for Palestine are also inciting the same poisonous hatred against India for Kashmir. It is morally incumbent upon India as a nation that has always stood for truth and justice to voice its strong support for the Israelis at this juncture.

The rationale for this is based in the truth that Palestine never has been a real nation and nor has it ever been the birthright of Palestinians to possess Jerusalem. The first time the word Palestine was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine. The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier.

And there's Suman Palit, with his top twenty reasons why he supports Israel:

  1. In a little over fifty years, they transformed a bleak, mostly barren patch of land into an agricultural oasis.
  2. Israeli agro-technology is rapidly becoming critical to the success of farmers all over India, and even sub-Saharan Africa. I have more than just a passing interest in wishing that endeavor success..!
  3. Without the Israeli economy, all the blood money by the Saudis, the Saddams and the E.U. would not prevent the Palestinians from starving to death.

They're right. The Subcontinent and Israel have a lot in common. Suman gives us quite the history lesson regarding Jews in India. Thoughtful, well-researched, and a pleasure to read after all the hideous lies I've been reading on other sites. Thanks, folks, for the welcome breath of fresh air.



The Children's Crusade

My nephew Alex is eleven years old. He's growing into quite the character. He's handsome, he's funny, he's smart, and he's become old enough to be able to hold a decent conversation. Children take a while to grow into that; it's the nature of the beast. One day they're asking you, "What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence?" and the next day they're discussing the latest episode of Malcolm in the Middle and how they just died watching it. Or can they play Tempest on your laptop if you're not using it? Or agreeing with you that System of a Down is, indeed, an excellent group, and did you hear the latest by P.O.D.?

Alex is finishing the fifth grade. James, my neighbor's son for whom I babysit, is also finishing the fifth grade. There's a graduation ceremony on Friday, where all the children will get some kind of "diploma" upon finishing grammar school. They begin their lives as middle school students in September. We bought James a pair of khakis and a white shirt and clip-on tie last night before we went to dinner. His name starts with an "A"; he'll be first up, and his mother wants him to look good.

Both Alex and James get up early in the morning and are put on the schoolbus by one of their parents.

Galila Bugala is also eleven years old. She got up early yesterday morning and got on a bus, too. It was the bus that was blown up in Jerusalem.

She was a fifth grade pupil at the Paula Ben-Gurion school in Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood. Her parents immigrated from Ethiopia eleven years ago.

She's not even Jewish. They're Christian Ethiopians.

Shortly after Galila's birth, the family returned to Ethiopia, but four years ago, they moved back to Jerusalem, where her parents worked in the hotel industry. At school, Galila was busy planning her class's end-of-year party, of which she was in charge. This summer, her family was moving to New York, as the tourism slump had cost her parents their jobs.

Sadly, the non-slump in Palestinian terror attacks cost Gila her life, and her parents their only daughter. Not that it matters to the terrorists. An excerpt from the warped, twisted thinking of the human bomb that killed Galila and 18 other innocents:

"How beautiful it is to make my bomb shrapnel kill the enemy. How beautiful it is to kill and to be killed not to love death, but to struggle for life, to kill and be killed for the lives of the coming generation."

In the twisted logic of the Arab terrorists, killing is a "struggle for life." Killing an eleven-year-old child, whose only crime was to be in Israel during the current wave of terror—this is beautiful to these perverts. For perverts they are; certainly they cannot be held to be normal human beings. They are making a cult of death, honoring those who load themselves down with jagged pieces of metal, nails, and ball bearings in order to kill as many innocents as possible while dying themselves.

"My brother is a hero. I'm not sad," Ghoul's sister Samar said.

Perhaps not. But that statement is a reflection on how sad the morals of the Palestinian people are. Your brother is a hero because he killed a little girl. He killed the daughter of immigrant workers who came to Israel looking for a better world for themselves and their children, and who intended to come to America when the jobs dried up in Israel due to the lack of tourism—which, of course, is directly due to the wave of bombings, shootings, and stabbings.

And as I write this, I read of yet another bombing, yet more deaths.

I was about to ask how many more bombings will it take before the rest of the world realizes they're supporting the wrong horse in this race, but then I realized how stupid that question is. Most of the nations of the world have shown that they are perfectly willing to fight to the last Israeli to prove themselves right about the Palestinian "cause."

May they rot in hell.

And then there's this guy

He's not funny all the time: Laurence Simon picks 19 random pictures from his high school yearbook and puts them in the place of the people killed by the bomb yesterday:

Well, what do you know. I've seen that face before. Shave it every few days, even.

Laurence Stuart Simon.

That's right. In this little experiment, I'm dead, too. All this, everything you're reading here, well, it never was.

Why bother flipping over the rest? I'm fucking dead, folks. Two mothers kissed their sons goodbye this morning, and one just killed the other.

One weeps, one cheers.

One ends up mourning, and one sees veneration of her son in collectible medallions and leaflets and videotapes.

One has neighbors and family gathering to grieve, and the other is probably celebrating and gathering up their things so that when the bulldozers come they'll be able to put them in the house that Saddam will build for them and they'll furnish it with the checks they'll get from Yasser and Saddam and all the others lining up to praise them.

One asks God for answers, and the other asks God for further bloodshed.

Think about that. Try to figure it out.

I sure can't, and not just because I'm dead.

Words fail me

My words aren't working. But theirs are. From Jeff Goldstein:

No, the culture of hatred -- fostered by leaders who use their own people as pawns in a game of territorial chest thumping -- is what lies at the root of this problem. And everyone knows it. "Martyr" medallions traded among school kids like Pokemon stickers. State-run Arab television preaching antisemitism and anti-Americanism. Blood libel stories printed by the "moderate" Arab press. Arab "Academics" and "scholars" and "Doctors" of all stripes preaching genocide and the bliss of suicidal immolation (provided the suicide results in lots of dead Jews).

The whole region needs to be de-Nazified. And the only way such a thing will happen is if the civilized world throws over the realpolitik goal of maintaining "stability" in the region and instead condemns this culture of undisguised hatred -- and in no uncertain terms. The US should insist the UN condemn, not justify, Palestinian suicide bombings, or it should withdraw its support. Statements from international "aid" agencies like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch should be ignored by the mainstream western media until the time when these highly politicized groups re-establish their credibility as objective observers of world conflict. University professors who exercise their free speech rights to support divestiture and preach the sobriety and righteousness of Palestinian "resistance" through the act of blowing up high school kids or shooting little girls in their beds should be challenged -- consistently and tenaciously. And so on.

From Tal G in Jerusalem:

The EU "condemns" the bombing, but urges "Palestinians and Israelis" to not let it "hinder attempts to bring peace to the region". Thank you, Chris Patten and Hubert Vedrine, for urging the Palestinians not let this bombing hamper their attempts to get a state without a peace agreement or any other committments.

I can only say that Patten and Vedrine are two of the foulest human beings that I can remember coming across - that's the only reaction that I can evoke. If Patten went ahead and restored funding to the PA tomorrow as promised, it would show the extent to which it bothers him not a wink that Arafat and co. are murdering innocents. He'll now delay the restoration of funding for a few days, but noone here is fooled.

From Charles Johnson:

Two things struck me as I read this account of the suicide note left by Mohammed al-Ghoul, the homicidal freak who perpetrated today’s atrocity in Jerusalem.

First: this was not someone without hope. He had both a mother and a father. He lived in a “tidy, relatively well-off home.” He was a 22-year old graduate student, not a desperate street urchin driven insane by hunger and poverty.

And second: he was in a master’s degree program in Islamic studies. In a normal society, this would mean he was immersed in the subject of Islam on more than a superficial level, engaging in dialog with scholars, reading in great depth, writing essays. Working toward a degree.

Yet even though he was academically advanced in his Islamic studies, nothing he read, nothing he was taught, nothing he reasoned for himself led him to renounce violence.

And that is all I can bear to look at for the time being.



Yeah, I read the news today

Some days, you just can't handle it. Today was one of those days. I went out and bought the Buffy Season Two DVD and watched a couple of episodes, then I went out to dinner with my friends who took care of my cats for me, then we sat outside and lit some of the sparklers I bought for James on the drive home yesterday. Then I came inside and watched a couple more episodes, and finally, finally, I checked the news. My reaction is one of extremes--I just want to kill those responsible. N.Z. Bear has a reaction that is, in my opinion, more sensible. Except I would go farther than Da Bear. I would advocate that Israel declare to the world that the next terrorist attack by Hezbollah, Hamas, or any other terrorist organization with known ties to any other nation (can you say, "Iran and the Karinne A"? I knew you could.) would be considered an act of war, and dealt with accordingly.

It's time for Israel to bring the terror to its originators. Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria want to play with fire? Bring the fire down upon them.

Hey, if they're on the right, Allah will protect them, right? Right?


I understand Bush is thinking of sending Colin Powell back in again. You can count on the terrorists to show him his usual welcome. The IDF knows there are still bombers at large in Jerusalem. They infiltrated, and haven't been caught. They'll show themselves as soon as His Impotence lands. Count on it.


Murphy's Law

Everything that could go wrong yesterday—did. The first thing that happened is I got a phone call from the apartment complex I signed the lease with. The one that I really, really like. I can't be approved because I haven't got a job, an offer letter, or a tax statement showing that I've been a consultant for a year. This, in spite of the fact that the copy of my bank statement I brought with me showed that I have more than enough for an entire year's rent. The bank statement was good enough for some other complexes, but not this one. I argued. I suggested. I mentioned that there were some hundred or so other complexes in Richmond that I could rent from. Nothing worked. Finally, I asked the supervisor to call her supervisors and see if they couldn't find a way to let me rent, as I was in the exact same fix two and a half years ago when I rented my current apartment, and my bank statement was enough for my current landlord.

While I waited for the various callbacks from the complex I signed with, I started phoning other complexes on my list, thankful that I hadn't thrown out all the information, as I'd intended to do on Friday. I started my questions with, "Can I get an apartment in your complex if I don't have a job?" Thinned out the herd immediately. As I was writing down prospects and thinking wearily that I would have to put off going home for at least another day, and that I'd have to find another apartment, and that frankly, none of them seemed to be as much bang for the buck as the one I'd already signed for, I was trying to keep the dogs quiet and watching the clock spin out of the morning. My original intentions were to be on the road by nine or ten and home early enough to relax and miss the evening rush hour. By 11:30, I knew I was going to be spending rush hour either in traffic or at a rest stop, depending on which came first.

Finally, I have three or four apartments to look at, one seems the most like the apartment I'd wanted, and I decide to take a shower. I put my cell phone and Heidi's portable on the vanity. Thirty seconds after getting in the shower, my cell rings. The boss' boss said okay, but they want the first two months rent up front. Elated as I was, I couldn't help but wish that either they had called thirty seconds earlier, or I had delayed my shower thirty seconds longer, as I dripped on the mat and my cell phone.

And then a minute later, just to prove that God has a wicked sense of humor and I shouldn't get too full of myself for talking them into letting me have the apartment, I got a major dash of soap in my eye. The kind that makes you feel like your eye is literally on fire, or that you have a chunk of glass in it. Ow. Owowowowow. Hurts just remembering it today.

So I finally get going. G., who has gotten the flu over the weekend, came home from work early and is now asleep. I'll leave the garage door opener on his tool cabinet in the garage, as we'd arranged when we thought he'd be at work. I pack my car, followed by a very sad-eyed Worf, who knows what my green bag means and is already upset that Heidi is gone. He wants very much to get in my car. I refuse. Then he gets the devil in him, and decides to stay in the garage. I try to get him, and he runs around the car. He loves to be chased; it's a Ridgeback thing. It's a game that we normally play in the evening, but I want to go home, and I tire of the game quickly. I get him upstairs, take a last sweep around to see that I've forgotten nothing (and yes, my underwear was in my bag), and get to the garage without the dogs following. I open the door, back out the car, click the opener to shut the door, duck under it—and the door stops. I click the opener again, duck under it—and the door stops. After about three or four times, I realize the garage door has a safety mechanism. Apparently, you can no longer click on a garage door opener and race through the garage before it closes. We used to do that all the time as kids. I'm guessing one too many parents sued the makers of garage door openers because their kids were either too slow or too stupid and got hit on the head.

Remember, God was really having some laughs at me yesterday. Musta got a big kick out of the expression on my face as I figured this out. So I closed the door, drove around to the front of the house, entered the dog yard, reached through the dog door to open the lock (why G. locks a door that a human can fit through is beyond me, as is the fact that he thinks anyone is going to get into the house while Worf is around), dropped the opener off on the kitchen table with a brief note, went out the dog door (the human way) without locking it, and got in my car to head for home. It's now nearly 1:30, and I'm trying to decide whether or not to chance 95 through Washington or take the back way. I took the back way.

Nothing much else happened, except for traffic, trying a new route, stopping to look at a map to make sure I was going the right way, deciding I was and getting back en route only to find—sigh—that had I driven another block, I would have recognized the highway that intersected the street I was on and proceeded north. Big-time laughing at me, I say. On the floor holding His ribs, I think.

That's okay. I can take it. I'm home now, and I got the apartment I wanted, and in three or four weeks I will be a Richmond resident, which is something that I have been striving toward for the past two or three years. I am excited and thrilled and terrified all at once. But I think I'm going to do just fine, because when I came home, I had an email from a reader who lives in the Richmond area, and who invited me to a barbecue at his place when I'm settled in. New friends, kids, dogs, and steaks in the backyard—it doesn't get much better than that.




I was having trouble writing tonight. Everything came out wrong, or boring, or inane. So I went back to look at some old posts to see if they'd perhaps inspire me. And what they did was make me realize that there are many of you who have never seen this essay, "Yes, I am a Jew," written shortly after Danny Pearl's death. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's "Learn to write weblogs in three easy lessons!"—another humor piece.

But take a look at this entire page. It's near the end of my association with a group of webloggers whom I had read, and cross-posted with, and enjoyed for some months. One of them sent me several angry letters about how he was ending his relationship with me because I was going down the road to "hatred." This was as I watched Jew after Jew get blown up in Israel day after day after blood-soaked day, and posted my anguish and my anger and my sorrow.

Something happened to me on the day he sent me email that contained the following:

"It's been tragic watching one of my first and favorite Weblogs change to a daily scream of anguish, then anguish and hate, then just hate and demands for bloodshed."

His letter followed a conversation with Heidi that had bothered me. After a long period of thought, I wrote this and pulled the post that offended him so.

But then the terrorists kept on killing Jews, and my anger returned and would not level off. Apparently I went right back on my correspondent's shitlist and stayed there. He stopped writing to me, and ultimately removed my weblog from his blogroll. We didn't know each other, but we had enough in common, and he lived close enough that I would have liked to meet him. But apparently my politics couldn't pass his muster, and so we simply—stopped.

I didn't stop checking his weblog from time to time, though I was never really sure why I did. But I've finally realized what's been bothering me about the judgment he laid on me: My words are not, have not, and will never be daily doses of "hate and demands for bloodshed." That is a calumny. Although I was far too concerned with trying to keep his friendship back then to notice it, I see it now.

Hatred? Because I demand that the killing of innocents be stopped?

Hatred? Because I insist the terrorists answer for their crimes?

Hatred? Because I refuse to yield to the theorists of moral equivalency that Israel is bringing this terrorism on herself?

I think not.

And so I am republishing the post below, unedited—which brings you the rage that I felt on April 2, 2002, shortly after the Netanya massacre that slaughtered dozens of Jews—including even some Holocaust survivors—and wounded hundreds whose only crimes were to be Jews in Israel, sitting down to eat their Passover meal. I don't see hatred. I see anger. I see sorrow. I see fear.

And I will not apologize for those emotions.

It's not funny

See, here's the problem. When I started this weblog, it was an experiment in writing, mostly for myself. I love to write. I've been writing fiction since I was 13; I wrote my first poem at age 11 ("Ode to a Hummingbird", and that's all that I will EVER reveal about my poetry other than it sucks and I stopped in my teens when I realized no matter how hard I try, my poetry sucks. Learning your limitations is a good thing, sometimes.), I wrote throughout high school and college and beyond. So last year, when I was laid off from my job and found myself with a lot of time on my hands, I decided to take my then-unused domain and finally create a website that I would like. Weblogs were starting to get popular, I liked the style, I have HTML skills, ergo, And it was fun. It was fun to sit outside on a beautiful summer day and write about, well, sitting outside on a beautiful summer day. It was good to get back to writing humorous essays, which I haven't done regularly since I was in college, but which I loved to do. And it got to be more fun, as I started getting a following of people who weren't related to me (or friends of mine) to read this thing that I write. Watching the visitor and hit statistics grow is a satisfying thing: I write, therefore they read. I must be doing something right.

And then came September 11. The world did change; it's no cliché. And in the last couple of months, Israel was inundated with a wave of violence and bloodshed unlike any she's ever known, building to a horrifying crescendo with the Passover Massacre. And now my rage grows and grows and grows to the point where it is practically choking the sense out of me. I watch Fox News regularly. Fox News! I hated the Fox News Channel a few months ago. I thought Bill O'Reilly was the biggest moron this side of Chris Matthews, and Sean Hannity even more obnoxious on TV than he is on radio. Now I watch their shows, because they and I are on the same side of these issues, and I can't stand to watch MSNBC and ABC and NBC and CNN and Christiane Amanpour justify the violence and accuse every Israeli they interview of crushing and humiliating the poor, downtrodden freedom fighters of the Palestinians. I can't stand seeing the moral equivocators give the terrorists a bye about suicide bombers killing old men and women on Passover Eve. Suddenly, what was a cacophony of the right has become a chorus of reason, while the left leads with moral equivocators and sends in peace protesters (with seemingly no critical thinking skills) that seem surprised and upset when soldiers shoot at them as they enter a war zone--turning into a cacophony of the left.

And I find myself snarling with contempt here, and on the comments sections in other weblogs, and sometimes I wonder if I'll even be able to recognize myself when this is done--because I don't like what I have become. And yet I will not accede to moral equivalence. I will never allow the terrorists to claim a scrap of the moral high ground; there is never an "understandable" reason to deliberately target civilians. Never. I will never agree with the phrase, "I can understand why they are resorting to suicide bombers." If you can understand that, then you are morally corrupt, and we have no common ground.

September 11 and the Passover Massacre have absolutely changed me. Peace is an admirable goal--but it can only be achieved through strength. And here's the supreme irony: Years ago, when I was on the BBSes, a user calling himself Swamp Fox was one of my favorite nemeses on the discussion topics. He was hard right, I was hard left, we butted heads constantly and with great glee and abandon. His signoff was: "Peace through superior firepower."

He was right. He is right. When one side sues for peace, and the other side responds with bombs, the side that wins the peace is the side that has the bigger and better bombs.

And that's the problem right now. I am overwhelmed by the ongoing war against the Jews--and it is a war against the Jews, make no mistake about it, as Arabs torch synagogues and beat Jews throughout Europe. The survival of my people is at stake once again.

Because I am so overwhelmed with this war, I find it difficult to get back to business-as-usual on this weblog. I can't write humor when my heart is cracking. I keep trying, and then the war keeps getting in the way.

So forgive me for changing the direction of this weblog, but I don't seem to be in control of my emotions at the moment. I'm hearing signs of hope in the background, though. I would dearly love to go back to normal. Every day I am hoping for a solution. But in the meantime, I guess the weather report will be rants, rage, and intermittent showers of humor for the foreseeable future.



Lies, damned lies, and fact-checking

Michael Kielsky, who writes the Uncommon Sense blog, has an interesting post regarding a teenaged Palestinian boy who was brought to American for humanitarian treatment after having been shot in the chest. He says it was by a female IDF soldier wielding an M-16. But Michael shows convincing photographic and other evidence that the boy was shot with a type of .22 Long Rifle weapon. Who's telling the truth? We report. You decide.

Michael's already updated his information, thanks to the ubiquitous Lynn B., of whom I might ask someday: Do you ever sleep?

Vegard Valberg, our inestimable Norwegian Blogger, has a takedown of a really stupid email sent by a really stupid person about why airplanes were flown into the WTC. Really stupid people shouldn't be allowed near a computer terminal, if you ask me.

Gary Farber was hurt that I forgot to include him in the list of Buffybloggers. I think he deliberately put a Xander reference in his Scooby-Doo post to yank my chain.

I'm not sure, but I may have irreparably damaged my relationship with him. Oh, wait--we don't have a relationship. Never mind.

I have a reader who hates it when I use the short rules (see above) irregularly. He thinks if I'm separating pieces, they should each have permalinks. I think that I need to separate my thoughts when I, uh, write separate thoughts. So far, I'm winning the argument. That's because he can't edit my pages. I'm tempted to say, "Nyah, nyah!", but that would be really childish.

Last night all three of the dogs slept in my bed. In retrospect, I think that was a mistake. Worf is 100 lbs. and about three feet long. Willow is close to 100 lbs. and about three feet long. This does not count their tails, the way they stick their (long!) legs out when they lie extended, or the fact that when one of them decides to rest part of said body on me, it's, well, heavy, even if it's just a head. And even though Sparty is only 10 lbs. and a foot long, he's insistent on his comfort and generally has to roll around in circles on his back before he can go to sleep, and ultimately wound up sleeping against my side. I won't even mention the snoring.

About eight o'clock this morning, I woke up and took the gang out for a potty break, we all went back to bed, Worf tried to push me out of it, and I realized, "Hey, it's light out, the house is no longer spooky" and threw them all out. And went back to bed and stretched out, blissfully, for the first time since the night before last.

Arafat's illegitimacy

Isaac Meyers sent me a link to this lengthy essay about Arafat's evolution from terrorist leader to "president" of the Palestinian Authority, and his long-standing practice of using thuggery and intimidation to effectively ensure his position as the "sole legitimate spokesman" for the Palestinian people--and steal the election from any other prospective candidate. The essay takes us back to the year after Oslo, and is written by Daniel Polisar, Editor-in-Chief of Azure, the magazine in which the article appears. During the January 1996 Palestinian elections, Polisar led the observer team of Peace Watch, a non-partisan Israeli organization accredited by the Palestinian Authority as an official elections observer.

This is a long and thoroughly-researched and documented essay that is extremely valuable for its first-hand knowledge of Arafat's corruption. There seems to have been wilful blindness by officials in Israel, the United States, and the European Union to the growth of the Arafat dictatorship that rules today. I think the article deserves to be linked throughout the blogosphere. Some excerpts:

A real look at the question of Arafat's legitimacy, therefore, has to involve a more serious examination of the origins of his rule in the wake of the 1993 Oslo accords-and particularly the crucial two-year period in which he established the Palestinian Authority and paved the way for himself and his loyalists to win a landslide victory at the polls. Such an accounting reveals a disturbing picture, of a PLO leadership that-after having been brought in from Tunis amid widespread jubilation-used every means at its disposal to ensure that the Palestinian voter would have only one viable option as to which political party would represent him, and only one real candidate to vote for as president. Under these conditions, Arafat's landslide victory was not an expression of democratic will, but rather a testament to the success of the measures he employed.

The story of how this came to pass is the subject of this essay. In it, I will document-in large part using original source material not previously published in the West-the rise of a regime characterized by a massive police force whose specialty was intimidation of political opponents; an executive branch in which Arafat alone made all major decisions and in which the civil service was reduced to a corrupt patronage machine; the institutionalized absence of the rule of law, and a judiciary that lacked any independence; and the intimidation of the media and human rights organizations, to the point that it became virtually impossible to transmit any message other than one personally approved by Arafat.

This last point is particularly chilling, because the West Bank and Gaza boasted no small number of independent newspapers and human rights groups when Arafat replaced the Israeli government as the ruler of these areas. In describing what happened to them, I will rely heavily on material my staff and I collected when I was the head of Peace Watch, an independent monitoring organization that was the only Israeli group officially accredited by the Palestinian Authority as an observer of its January 1996 elections. This position permitted me to see firsthand how these once-democratic institutions-which represented the best hope for creating true pluralism within Palestinian society-were beaten into submission. It also permitted me to witness certain rare cases of true heroism, in which these institutions and the individuals committed to them attempted to swim against the rising tide of dictatorship.
To make matters more difficult, the Palestinians in the territories had, over more than a generation of Israeli rule, become intimately familiar with the workings of Israeli democracy and had benefited from an occupation that was more liberal in many respects than any Arab government.17 They enjoyed the freest press in the Arab world, based in eastern Jerusalem, and they sported a host of human rights organizations, scattered throughout Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem, which had become internationally known for reporting on the practices of Israeli troops. Moreover, exposure to the chaotic workings of Israel's Knesset and to the trial and appeal processes in Israel's courts led Palestinian residents in the territories to develop views on power-sharing, pluralism, and the rule of law that were sharply at odds with those that Arafat and his colleagues were perfecting in Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunis.18

From the moment he received authority over Gaza-Jericho, Arafat therefore faced a series of challenges, which could not easily be overcome in the time available before elections were slated to take place. Consequently, he worked to expand this window of opportunity, and ultimately succeeded in pushing off elections until January 1996-thereby making what was to be a two-month transition into no less than twenty months, and giving him ten times as long to "election-proof" his regime by shoring up his position and undermining that of potential rivals.19

During this twenty-month period, Arafat worked feverishly to build his dictatorship on all fronts. Like all authoritarian rulers, he knew that everything depended on his ability to create a vast system of security services capable of crushing any opposition. In keeping with this understanding, the regime Arafat built in Gaza-Jericho was first and foremost a police state-and in fact, the size of Arafat's police force may well have been its most impressive feature.
In sum, Arafat alone possessed all the governmental powers that in a democracy would be distributed among a number of bodies and shared by numerous individuals: The authority to legislate, to make and promulgate administrative decisions in all fields, to allocate the budget, to regulate businesses, to make governmental appointments, and to control projects down to the municipal level. During the twenty months before elections were held, Arafat was able to use these resources to increase support for himself and his loyalists. By giving prominent posts to his backers, and especially to senior officials of the PLO-Tunis, Arafat gave them a leg up in contesting seats in the Council elections; by denying such positions to independent-minded local leaders, he was able to undercut their public support. Moreover, control of the resources at the PA's disposal enabled Arafat to do favors for tens of thousands of people during the year and a half before election day, with the clear expectation that these debts would be repaid at the ballot box. The civil service, which made up a substantial percentage of the work force in the territories, was especially critical in this regard, as employees and their family members were given a powerful incentive to advance candidates backed by the government that was providing their livelihood.

Part VI is a don't-miss: It details how Hanan Ashrawi conspired with Arafat to cover up human rights abuses and lie to the media on a regular basis, which I'm sure gave her the training she needed to jump from network to network today decrying Israeli tactics.


An article in the latest issue of The New Republic covers anti-Semitism at San Francisco's universities, including the SFSU riot. (Via Mac Thomason)

The rash of incidents culminated on May 7 when approximately 30 Jewish students at SFSU, cleaning up after a peaceful, university-authorized, pro-Israel demonstration, were surrounded by at least twice as many pro-Palestinian students who screamed, "Hitler didn't finish the job," "Fuck the Jews," and "Die, racist pigs." (At least one person was caught on videotape hurling anti-Palestinian epithets back.) University and city police formed a barrier, and the Jewish students were trapped for more than 20 minutes before police funneled them out of the plaza. "I felt very threatened," recalls Yitzhak Santis, director of Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council in San Francisco, who attended the rally and was present when the counterdemonstrators closed in. "I'm convinced that if the police had not been present there would have been violence."
The hard left has given pro-Palestinian groups in the Bay Area an unusual capacity to turn out large crowds. "At every one of our pro-Palestinian rallies we outnumber the other side, sometimes by as much as six or seven to one," says Snehal Shingavi, a UC Berkeley graduate-student instructor who gained notoriety earlier this year for offering a class entitled "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance," warning in the course catalogue, "Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections." (The line was later removed.) "Many people [at the rallies]," Shingavi goes on, "tell me they knew nothing about Israel before the last year." And along with the increased numbers has come increased stridency. "When people are taking to the streets, it tends to attract people from the fringes and makes it a little hard to control," says Jonathan Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League's San Francisco regional director. "People latch on with their own issues, and I don't think there's been much effort to put parameters around [the movement]." Indeed, California has become something of a magnet for anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic figures from across the country. In recent months supporters of David Duke have distributed flyers railing against "Israeli genocide" on the University of California, San Diego, campus; at Stanford, Lyndon LaRouche adherents have handed out literature condemning Israeli oppression; and Holocaust denier Bradley R. Smith recently ran an op-ed in the UC Berkeley student newspaper condemning the "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians.

Look at that, Shelley. A big-J (as you call it) journalist wrote an article that, well, effectively backs up everything that Laurie Zoloth wrote in her letter. Laurie has some new quotes in the article. A person heretofore not heard from regarding the riot is quoted as well. In fact, the author quotes people from both sides--and the Palestinian students and their supporters still look like anti-Semitic thugs. And she even--horrors!--quoted the same people that have been quoted here, and on the SFSU Blog Burst.

In the face of such overwhelming evidence--discovered by a Big-J journalist, the kind you keep on saying bloggers are not--that the people involved were neither exaggerating the situation nor making things up, I believe we can consider that particular topic closed.

Vonnegut on writing

I picked up a Vonnegut book I hadn't read before. It's Palm Sunday, an Autobiographical Collage. I love writers' autobiographical work, particularly writers I greatly admire. In one of his essays, Vonnegut has a great quote on being a writer:

That is how you get to be a writer, incidentally: you feel somehow marginal, somehow slightly off-balance all the time.

That would explain the thousands of strange looks I get when I notice things like, say, a huge (live) termite on the sidewalk in Manhattan while Diane E. strolled obliviously over it.

In a different essay, he writes of how the anthropology department at the University of Chicago practiced triage on its students. One-third, he said, were students with both the talent and aptitude to become anthropologists. The next third were students who

might just become so-so anthropologists, but more probably, would use what they had learned about Homo sapiens to good advantage in some other field, such as medicine or law, say.

The third group, of which I was a member, might as well have been dead--or studying chemistry.

But what is most interesting to me, and rather significant to the entire blogosphere is this:

And I myself have since practiced triage in university settings--in writing classes at the University of Iowa, at Harvard, at City College.

One third of every class was corpses as far as I was concerned. What's more, I was right.

It is a devastating fact, and quite true. When I think of the amateur and professional writers I've known, that model works. I'm betting Jeff Goldstein could bear out Vonnegut's statistics as well. In fact, if I were in a masochistic mood, I could go to my links page and rank weblogs by which third I thought they were in. Well, no, come to think of it, I don't link to weblogs that Vonnegut would consider to be corpses. (Which is not to say that if you're not there, you're necessarily in the bottom third. It is nearly impossible to keep up with all of the good weblogs; keeping my links page up to date is impossible. Save the wounded-ego mail, please.)

I suppose what struck me the most when I read that is that there are a great many weblogs that people read on a regular basis, and that many praise on a regular basis, that are, essentially, corpses. The wheat does eventually get separated from the chaff, but the chaff never seems to go away altogether. But I learned that a long time ago. No matter how bad you think something is, or how bad that thing truly is, there's always someone around who thinks that it is good. This is why we have television shows like "Three's Company" and "Fear Factor." And weblogs like--no, I won't go there.

New York to Oz: Drop dead

Diane E. has a scathing response to an Australian Muslim weblogger who tried to take her down. She rips him a new one. Actually, she rips him several new ones. Nobody disses like a New Yorker. Hey. Whachoo lookin' at?

Last week's blogs are archived. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.