Important: Read this before sending email

My Amazon Wish List
(Buy me presents)




Indexed Archives

Portal (links)

Contact me

Who am I?


The diary of
Iseema bin Laden

Secret Arafat
Phone Transcripts

Greatest Hits


Letters from
Captain Steve




Gone drivin'

It's in the seventies again. Sarah and the two oldest boys will be here in an hour, and we're taking down the top of the Jeep and going to the Richmond Museum of Science for the Grossology exhibit. There will be much "ew"ing.



Just a snipe before I go

"Jerusalem Day" is a day observed throughout the Muslim world, a day in which they do the things that peaceful Muslims do: Call for the deaths of Israel and the U.S., their people, and their leaders.

Protesters in the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain set fire to U.S. and Israeli flags on Friday in a 10,000-strong anti-Israeli demonstration. ''Death to Bush, Death to Sharon,'' they chanted.

[...] Iran's former president said Friday that America was mistaken for supporting Israel rather than winning the hearts of people in the Middle East by helping develop their countries.

Hashemi Rafsanjani told worshippers at a Tehran mosque that the United States has "spent hundreds of billions of dollars for Israel in the past half century ... (but) if it had spent that money in Africa, Latin America and Asia building hospitals, schools and roads, the U.S. would have been very popular."

"But now the United States is hated in the world, especially in Muslim countries," added Rafsanjani, who served as Iran's president from 1989-97.

Two words for you, Sweetums: Oil money. Gee, if only your corrupt leaders had been donating their excess profits to the poor and needy Muslims of the world, instead of to the fat, bloated oil ticks like the Saudi "royal" family, Saddam Hussein's golden palaces, and the rulers of the other corrupt kleptocracies. Then again, what do you expect from the man who is waiting for Iran to get nuclear weapons so they can blow up Israel with them? Can you say "lying, stinking hypocrite"? I knew you could.

Syria on peace with Israel and fighting terror: What's in it for us?

How serious are the Arabs about making peace with Israel? Well, how's this for their true feelings?

WASHINGTON – Syria believes it would be a waste of time and energy to try to negotiate peace with Israel, since it thinks Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would only make minor territorial concessions on the Golan Heights, the former US ambassador to Syria told The Jerusalem Post.

[...] "The strong impression of Sharon in Syria is that he is not interested in a Golan deal except on a peace-for-peace basis or minimum further withdrawals. And therefore it's not worth Syria wasting time or energy or rhetoric on it," Kattouf said.

Here's the Syrian opinion on fighting terrorism:

Kattouf said that shutting down the offices of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas and expelling those groups' leaders would not end terrorism against Israelis.

"The bottom line is that it's naive to believe that terrorist attacks against Israelis... will end if Damascus only closes these offices, closes the training camps, expels the leadership," he said.

[...] Kattouf said that the US is not offering enough incentives for Syria to stop sheltering Palestinian terrorist groups or to cooperate in Iraq.

"I would say when you are asking a country – even one whose policies might be quite misguided and inimical to your interests and those of your allies – you need to at least try to understand the perspective of the other side's leadership and try to figure out what it is that they need and want. To some degree, try to put an offer on the table that is enticing to them within your limits. I'm not sure we've done as well as we could have in that regard," he said.

Kattouf recommends that the US cooperate with Syria on policing the border with Iraq, and in return offer expanded opportunities for Syrian firms to bid on projects in the reconstruction of Iraq.

In other words: Pay us, or we'll let the terrorists continue plotting to kill you, the British, and, of course, Jews all around the world. You know, the "What's in it for us?" method. Or the "Why should we care, you're the ones who are dying" method.

Buzz his palace again, Arik. Only this time, leave him a present. Maybe a half-ton present. Oh, what the hell. Leave him the full ton. Send a real message about states that support terrorists.



Your moment of Kitty Zen

I am extremely busy today, so this will have to do. And don't worry, Gracie fans, she'll catch up with Tig soon. (Some might say she's way ahead of him, since he's sound asleep upstairs and she's been outside all afternoon.)

Tig displaying his tail-washing abilities


Sometimes I feel like a linking post is just a placeholder until I can get my mind going again. Like this morning.

Carnival of the Vanities is at Peaktalk this week. I haven't heard about anyone being censored from the list. I suspect we're done with that now.

This guy's getting higher and higher on my radar screen. But why do I constantly want to pronounce his blog name "Quando?" I mean, that sounds like a real word, doesn't it? Anyway, yeah, I knew all about Palestinian textbooks teaching hate. They're not fooling anyone by telling us how the Israeli commission that examined the textbooks "exaggerated" the content of the, ah, textbook example palestinian hatred towards Jews. No, wait, they're fooling the Indymidiots, but that's quite a low bar.

Bigwig, just be a decent role model. You show your daughter that you respect strong, independent women, and she will grow up to become one. I had no idea what a profound influence I was having on my younger brother as we were growing up, but he told me a few years ago that my mother and I completely shaped his attitudes toward women. His wife is a strong, independent woman (with whom I do not discuss politics, as she's a hard-right conservative and damn, can she argue). All the movies in the world can't compare to the opinion your daughter is shaping about you and her mother. (And he's separated the Ngnat stories from the beer posts again, thankfully. Sure, I'll read beer posts, if you'll read posts about the time, length, duration, and level of abdominal cramps I go through every 28 days.)

I wouldn't even know about Equatorial Guinea if I hadn't watched Sixty Minutes last week, too. Good thing I did, now I know why Bigwig is angry about it.

Woundwort gets a word in edgewise about gay marriage, and wonders if President Bush is going to send the 101st Airborne to Massachusetts.

Wow. Noah Shachtman writes about the Pentagon's plan to create missiles that could outrun the Concorde. Er, I don't intend to reserve a seat on one, though.

Angie Schultz is all over Reuters' anti-American ass. Hey, someone has to take the other anti- beat. I've got the Reuters anti-Semitism angle all covered. (By the way, if you click on "Are you afraid of the dark?" in the left menu, it turns her page into readable colors. Ignore the "weenie" remark after having protected your eyesight.) Scroll on down, Angie is always worth reading.

Okay. Enough placeholders for now. I'm tired and hungry.



An Egyptian asks: Why am I a Zionist?

I received a letter from an Egyptian named Heba yesterday. I'm afraid I don't know gender of Egyptian names.

Hi Meryl, hope this email makes it past the trash can. I have a few questions here to ask, which are sent in good will and not meant to be offensive, so I hope they don't come out that way. First, I would really like to know why you defend Zionism so much? I know the history of the Holocaust and other acts of persecution of Jews all over the world, but if you conceive that Jews have a right to create an independent state, don't you think the Palestinians should have that right too? I fail to see how a people who have been subjected to so much torture and prejudice over the years can allow themselves to subject others to it.

In your critique of the Guardian's article on the Turkey bombings you made fun of the author because she wrote of how the Jews there felt and what they thought, while the actual Jews who lived there obviously felt otherwise. So, my point is, what's happening to the Palestinians and what's reported is not a bunch of lies, I am Egyptian, living here in the Middle East, and I have met and known too many Palestinian refugees to know for fact that it isn't so. For heaven's sake, I had a classmate with a scarred arm because of a bullet shot at her when she was 3 years old by an Israeli soldier- that was of course right before her parents moved here to Egypt.

So, what I'm saying is that I would really like to understand Zionism and Zionists. For instance, you're American, so your country and state is the U.S. so why do you need another country to call your own? Judaism is a religion like any other religion and can be practiced any where like any other religion, and if Jews aren't allowed to do that then they should fight for their right to do so and not move somewhere and start a state. So what I want to understand, from a seemingly intelligent and well read person, is why you support Zionism, because I have met Jews who don't.

This has been a bit too long, I apologize. Hope I don't get some sarcastic thrashing on your website.

Let's take the points one at a time, and Heba, I'm not sarcastic to people who are looking for straightforward answers.

First, I would really like to know why you defend Zionism so much? I know the history of the Holocaust and other acts of persecution of Jews all over the world, but if you conceive that Jews have a right to create an independent state, don't you think the Palestinians should have that right too?

Zionism originally was the movement for the establishment of a Jewish state. It is now the movement in support of the continued existence of the State of Israel. I defend Zionism because I believe that Israel has the right to exist. My belief in and support of Zionism has nothing to do with the palestinian state. They are two separate issues. My belief is that when the terrorists stop murdering Israeli children in their beds and stop blowing up innocent Israelis in restaurants, then I might turn my discussion toward a palestinian state. Not before. Not until. However, let's not forget that when the United Nations partitioned the old British mandate of Palestine, the Jews said, "Well, that's less than we wanted, but we'll take it." The Arab nations, including Egypt, declared war on the Jews. And many Arabs and Muslims insist today that Israel does not have the right to exist.

... what's happening to the Palestinians and what's reported is not a bunch of lies, I am Egyptian, living here in the Middle East, and I have met and known too many Palestinian refugees to know for fact that it isn't so. For heaven's sake, I had a classmate with a scarred arm because of a bullet shot at her when she was 3 years old by an Israeli soldier- that was of course right before her parents moved here to Egypt.

Actually, much of what is reported from the ground in the West Bank are lies. I can send you a link to a film of a palestinian "funeral" where the "mourners" dropped the body and the body jumped up and ran off. The lies of the "Jenin massacre" have been exposed time and again. The biggest lie of all is that Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount—which Muslims call Al-Aqsa—started the latest Intifada. I'm not saying your classmate wasn't shot. But I suspect that Israeli soldiers weren't targeting her, and in fact, many palestinians turn out to have been shot by their own people—not by Israeli soldiers. Of course, Israeli government sites and Israel press sources are regularly ignored and demonized by the Arab press. I don't know how you feel about them as sources, but an independent press—one that is not subject to government restrictions—is far more worthy of trust in my mind.

Note that I am not saying that life isn't awful for the palestinians. But they're the ones who harbor the terrorists among them, who honor the murderers of babies, who name soccer stadiums and streets after mass murderers, and who, when polled by their own pollsters, overwhelmingly approve of suicide bombs as a legitimate weapon against Israelis. We have a saying here: You reap what you sow. Bullets don't fly for no reason. And far fewer innocent Palestinians have been killed than have been reported.

For instance, you're American, so your country and state is the U.S. so why do you need another country to call your own? Judaism is a religion like any other religion and can be practiced any where like any other religion, and if Jews aren't allowed to do that then they should fight for their right to do so and not move somewhere and start a state.

I don't need another country to call my own. I'm an American and quite happy to remain one. That doesn't mean I can't support Israel in fact and in principle. But there are also more than five million Israeli Jews who do have Israel as a country to call their own. Many of them are descended from Jews who were forced out of the Arab nations after the establishment of the State of Israel. It's not so easy to practice Judaism wherever we want to, and fighting for our rights is what we're doing in Israel. Because the world hasn't had a sterling record to date in protecting Jews' right to worship as we please.

Your point here is a bit disingenuous. Judaism is a religion, yes. But Jews are also a people, a culture. It's the most difficult part of trying to get others to understand what being Jewish entails. I can be an atheist and still be Jewish. Some people say I can convert to Christianity and still be Jewish. (At the very least, I was still born a Jew.) Perhaps if we never called ourselves Jews to begin with, if we had called ourselves Israeli for the past several thousand years, or perhaps if we called Israel "Jewland" or "Jewsylvania" or something like that, people would get that you can be a Jew and not be religious. Egyptians are mostly Muslim, but many are Christian, too. And while we're on that topic: How many practicing Jews do you know of in Egypt? Did you know that it is illegal to practice anything but Islam in Saudi Arabia? When was the last new church built in Egypt? Did you know the laws there forbid a church to be built within a certain distance of a mosque, or if the locals object to it, or if the government decides that there aren't enough Christians to support the building of a new church? Go ahead, try to get a new church built in Cairo.

Not so easy to practice a minority religion even in your own country, is it? Are you beginning to understand why Jews finally decided we needed a place to call our own? Judaism is not a religion like any other religion, because no other religion has been so victimized by so many different nations over so many thousands of years. And it still goes on today. Did you watch those Ramadan miniseries based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? More lies about the Jews, created by your country's television studios.

[...] if Jews aren't allowed to do that then they should fight for their right to do so and not move somewhere and start a state.

We didn't move "somewhere." We moved to the land of Israel, the land that had a continuous Jewish presence for three millennia. It was our homeland. Jews began to immigrate back in the 19th century, buying the land from local Arabs, who sold it willingly. But the Arabs decided at some point that they didn't want to live in peace with the Jews anymore, and it was long before the Holocaust occurred. Did you know that the Jews of Hebron were massacred in 1929? I'm sure you've heard all about Deir Yassin, but not a word about Hebron except for what you hear today about the "settlers" in that town. Even the name, "Hebron," is Jewish. Where do you think it came from? It's a Biblical town, and until 1929, had a significant Jewish population.

So what I want to understand, from a seemingly intelligent and well read person, is why you support Zionism, because I have met Jews who don't.

I see no conflict between being intelligent, well-read, and supporting Zionism, but I suspect again that your definition of the word does not match mine. Once more, a Zionist is one who supports the State of Israel as a homeland for Jews.

As for Jews who are not Zionists, I find them to be idiots. The echoes of the 1930s are being heard in the Europe of the 21st century and throughout the Muslim world.

I am pleased no end that I received a letter from an Egyptian who does not seem to hate me because I am Jewish, and who is interested in hearing a different viewpoint. But most of your countrymen don't seem to think like you do, and if you're a Muslim, most of your coreligionists don't seem to have anything but hatred for me and my people. I read the English-language Arab press. The libels about "Zionists" are the same filth that was being spewed by Goebbels' propaganda machine 70 years ago, only they simply called us Jews back then.

I would like nothing more than for Jews and Arabs to live in peace and prosperity. But there seems to be a problem on the Arab end with accepting the existence of a Jewish state in the neighborhood. As Imshin (an Israeli Jew) said some time ago, the Israelis aren't going anywhere.

Time to get over it, accept it, and work out a peaceful solution.

Hope that helped, Heba, and thank you for your letter.

The victims of terror

Turkish officials say they know who committed the atrocities. These are some of the victims of those atrocities.

Throughout the services, Anet's fourth-grade classmates stood at the foot of her tiny coffin, clutching a poster-sized photograph of their friend framed in white carnations. Anet's broad smile and sparkling brown eyes peered from beneath a thick fringe of black bangs, contrasting sharply with the tear-streaked faces and trembling lips of the small mourners.

Her teacher, Necla Ozturk, stood above her young charges, her face grim, her head covered in a long black shawl. "She was the smallest child in the class," Ozturk told reporters who visited her primary school classroom on Monday. "Because of that, we always tried to protect her. But we couldn't protect her from the terrorists."

Her parents' only child, Anet delighted in school theater productions and played the organ, according to her friends.

The coffin of Berta Ozdogan, who was five months pregnant, was lowered into the grave next to Anet's. Her husband, Ahmet, a Muslim, was buried the day before in a Muslim cemetery. The couple had been married six years and acquaintances said that although members of the two families originally opposed the marriage, they had grown to understand and respect the couple's love for each other.

To show his support for his wife, Ahmet often accompanied her to Jewish services. The couple had just entered the Neve Shalom synagogue complex to attend the bar mitzvah of Berta's 13-year-old cousin when the second truck bomb exploded, according to family members.

Anet's grandmother was killed in the blast as well.

Frank J: The J stands for Joooooooo

Since Frank has been the victim of anti-Semitism, and since Frank is Catholic, and especially since he created this absolutely hilarious t-shirt, using the power vested in me by, uh, myself, I am appointing Frank an honorary Jew.

There, Frank, now people can hate you for a semi-real reason. Via Judith Weiss, who emailed me about the t-shirt (which you can purchase here).



In today's Guardian: Like I said below....

A quick look at Israel articles in today's Guardian brings us several examples of the "liberal left" refusing to "rediscover its old values":

The European Union is to formally condemn Israel's controversial "security fence" in the occupied West Bank.

With relations strained anew by alleged anti-semitism in Europe, the Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, yesterday demanded a "more balanced" EU stance on the Middle East conflict. Meeting EU foreign ministers in Brussels, he insisted the fence was intended to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers and would be dismantled in the event of a peace settlement.

The "alleged anti-Semitism" to which the article refers?

The Israeli government also said Saturday's suicide bomb attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul had to be seen "in the context of anti-Israel and anti-semitic remarks in Europe".

In Brussels, Mr Shalom raised the issue of a poll that showed 59% of EU citizens saw Israel as "a threat to peace in the world".

In France, meanwhile, the government said it would crack down on hate crimes after an arson attack on a Jewish school in a Paris suburb.

And on the side of every article detailing Israel, you get these headlines (among others):

In this section
EU hits out at Israeli fence
Israel on road to ruin, warn former Shin Bet chiefs
Bitter harvest in West Bank's olive groves
Sharon broke vow to Bush
Facility 1391: Israel's secret prison
Comment: Israeli barrier's effect on Palestinian life
Syria dusts off maps of Golan Heights battlefields

Nope. No anti-Israel slant here. None at all. But here's my favorite part of the entire Guardian website: Their special report: Israel and the Middle East, where you can find their repetition of the lies about Jenin, in Flash format. They don't call it a massacre. They merely hint about it by using the phrase "scores of bodies" over and over again.

Then there's this incredibly biased "history" of Israel (also Flash, whee!). And yet, they have the nerve to ask this question in today's editorial:

Could not the liberal left, which in an earlier era vigilantly sought to protect Jews from prejudice and bigotry, rediscover its old values?

Guardian, heal thyself.

The Guardian and anti-Semitism

Combustible Boy sent me the URL to today's Guardian editorial, which decries anti-Semitism. Perhaps, he wrote, it's not a bad sign. This is because he knows that I think the Guardian is one of Britain's leading contributors to the current wave of anti-Semitism sweeping the nation. Why? Because of constant biased anti-Israel reporting, and because of editorials like this one, written in the aftermath of the deadly synagogue bombings in Turkey:

The 17,000 or so remaining Jews of Istanbul are living proof that Jews and Muslims can coexist in harmony. It is a bond that has endured more than 1,300 years of trials and tribulations and held fast every time. Theirs is one of the great anomalies of Jewish history - a happy story. The work of more than a millennium of patience and restraint, this truer picture of what Jewish-Muslim relations can be has been obscured and all but erased in the handful of decades since the creation of Israel.

You see, it's the Jews' fault. If only they hadn't insisted upon creating a state on the heels of the Holocaust, they'd be living in perfect harmony in the midst of the Muslim world. Say, why is it there are Jews in Turkey again?

[...] Istanbul's Sephardic Jews were refugees too, refugees from the religious fundamentalism of the west. They are the last survivors of the great Islamic-Judeo civilisation of al-Andalus, and they carried its language and cultural achievements with them to Turkey when Sultan Beyazit II sent "mercy ships" to rescue them from the Spanish inquisition in 1492.

Right. Fleeing from the anti-Semitism of the western nations. Those poor, poor, pitiful Jews. They were victims. In her mind, they still are, and so, deserving of pity—because they're minorities, and live at the sufferance of their neighbors, just like the Jews used to. But just let her get to the topic of Israel:

Turkey is also, of course, Israel's almost lone ally in the Muslim world. Both countries have disputed borders with Arab neighbours, both rely heavily on US aid, both have poor human rights records, and both have powerful generals pulling strings or setting agendas behind the scenes.

Bash, bash, bash. Bad Jews! How dare you not be subservient anymore?

Despite all this, Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom's immediate identification of Jews with Israel when he visited the bombed synagogues yesterday is not something most Istanbul Jews will be thankful for. They walk a very treacherous line in a country where Ataturk's secular religion of Turkishness is still gospel. Of all the trials that have befallen them over the last 500 years, none has brought more threat than the existence of Israel. It has drained away more than half of their numbers and brought Palestinian gunmen to the door of the Neve Shalom synagogue 17 years ago, at the cost of 22 lives.

You see? The existence of the state of Israel is the greatest threat to the Jews of Turkey than anything in the last five centuries. It's Israel's fault that Palestinian terrorists attacked the largest synagogue in Turkey and murdered 22 Jews at worship. Not the terrorists. And this asshole presumes to speak for the Turkish Jewish community. Why? because she is writing a book about minorities in Turkey. It's the Little Brown People Syndrome. The Brits know better than the natives, of course, what's good for them.

She should read Little Green Footballs, where a reader has been printing emails of a relative of his from Turkey:

I really can not find any words to express my hate and anger. those people who died did not have any fault and they were there only to attend the ceremony.... the son of the rabbi injured too....I do not know what will happen next. I do not also trust Turkish polices... we are not really safe. they say that these attacks will increase. but life is going on here. we are all fine. some relatives who are not close injured but not so serious. thank you for asking..... but I do not know how the psychological damage of these attacks will end....

[...] Maybe I was so upset that I could not really express what I was feeling. first of all; Jews here have good relations with the rest of the Turkish people. we ( Jewish community ) do not blame Turks and we do not want to move of course. most of the Muslims died too. what I meant in that mail was, we really felt the terror inside our hearts and it was done because of our religion or Judaism. but I did not mean that we will not have good relations with the Non-jews. we accept each other, we are proud to live together and we respect each other. you felt this when you came here. and you can understand what I mean because you are married to a Turkish girl. most of the muslim police died when they were trying to protect the synogogues and we are getting sorry for them too... ( of course... ) most of our non-jew friends called us to ask how we were that is why we can not blame non-jews.

I said we do not feel safe because they can do it in every where. It is the fact about our situation. I mean that I do not trust to our government or country. Turkey does not have enough power to protect us ( not only Jews but all of us). this is my thought that I do not trust Turkey to protect its people. we felt it when the earthquake happened... ( sorry for my English again ). I do not trust to our security or hospitals. when something unusual happens, we are all in a panic and the government stays inadequate for the unusual event.

our rabbi said that if the security on that time was worse ; - both Jews and non jews were protecting the synogogues- there would be 800 deaths. none of the people who were inside the synogogue died. he says that the synogogues were really well protected. they died because of the crash, glass parts or if they were trying to enter the synogogue. mostly people who were walking on the street of the synogogue, or who was outside the synogogue for the security died. my friend died because he tried to stop the truck that had the bombs inside and then it exploded.

lastly; i should say we have hate for the international terror, and EL-Kaide of course. and I mean everyone is dying around the world and we are unsafe in everywhere. but we are united right now with both jews and non-jews in Turkey. also Jews inside themselves become more united too.

You see, that is from a Jew on the scene. Fiachra Gibbons isn't there. But she knows what the Jewish community in Turkey is thinking. Well, except she doesn't. And neither is she finished whipping Israel yet.

Yesterday Israel blamed hatred whipped up in Turkey against it for the attacks and pressed for stronger security measures. It is from such mixed blessings as protectors who may unwittingly provoke attack that the famously acid Ladino wits of Istanbul have coined their epigrams. One pungent favourite of the tea houses seems particularly apt now: " Aharva kulo ke no pedo " - It's the backside that didn't make the stink that always gets hit.

It's all Israel's fault, you see, that the Jews in Turkey were killed. If only Israel didn't exist, Jews everywhere would be safe as children—as long as they keep their heads down and make sure they get along with the majority citizens in their adopted homeland. Sure. Any student of Jewish history would agree with her. Just take a look at the Europeans in the 1930s and 40s. Or the Russians in the late nineteenth century. Or the Arab nations before, during, and after the establishment of the state of Israel. The Nazis did their work well there.

By the way, compare Gibbons' nifty-keen saying with the emotions of a Jew in Turkey who was on the scene of the disaster:

we really felt the terror inside our hearts and it was done because of our religion or Judaism.

Yes. But not according to Fiachra Gibbons. And she knows best, doesn't she? She's studied the minorities in Turkey.

So the Guardian sheds its crocodile tears today, and publishes this:

A new anti-semitism is on the march across the globe. It is no wonder that the Jewish community in the UK feels unsettled, uncomfortable and fearful. If the random attacks here have not been as ugly as in Turkey, they have nevertheless included schools, synagogues and cemeteries. The community is well aware of widespread violence in France, home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, along with rising attacks in Belgium and Germany. Then there has been the deliberate targeting of Jewish civilians in Moroccan and Tunisian attacks, in which, like Turkey's car bombs, the al-Qaida network is believed to have been involved.

Look to your own backyard, hypocrites. And folks, if you can stomach the Guardian's conclusion without wanting to throw up, you've got stronger stomachs than I.

The challenge which the Chief Rabbi issued last year, remains as relevant today: why is the liberal left not sufficiently concerned about the growth of anti-semitism? On this year's anti-war march in Paris, Jewish peace activists were beaten up by other demonstrators. There were less dramatic confrontations on London's million-strong march. It did not matter to the attackers that Jewish writers and activists have been vocal against the Iraq war. Nor did the attackers care that many criticise the current Israeli government's policies towards the Palestinians. Their victims were targets just because they are Jews.

Even the police are now being more proactive in pursuing people spreading virulent anti-semitic literature or inciting religious hatred. Could not the liberal left, which in an earlier era vigilantly sought to protect Jews from prejudice and bigotry, rediscover its old values?

Hold an effing mirror up to yourselves, and your question is answered. The media is the message.



Fighting acrophobia, part II

I went back to Peak Experiences today. First I checked out Galyan's, a sporting goods store in a new mall around here, because I was told that they have a free climbing wall for preferred customers. It's free, but it's only open after 5 p.m. on weekdays, and it was midafternoon when I went. So back to the Peak. See, I had this thought, actually, a series of thoughts. I have a certain personality trait that can only be called obsessive. I go through phases where I really, really, really like something, and do it a lot. These phases sometimes last for years, so I don't know if they actually come under the heading of obsessive. But I haven't been this excited about something since I discovered Photon (the original Laser Tag) shortly after I graduated college. Come to think of it, that was a pretty physical game, too. Lots of running and ducking and hiding.

So anyway, I went back to Peak Experiences and picked up a job application. And, well, climbed three more rock walls while I was there. Two different 25-foot courses and the same 50-foot course as I did Saturday, which took even longer, because although my muscles have recovered somewhat, I'm still not in shape. And damn, those staffers are evil. I was really, really tired, rested several times, and finally called down to Matt "You know, I don't have three children cheering me on this time. The only one who will care if I don't make it is me."

"That's right," he said, "you're the only one who's going to care if you can't do it. And you're almost there.


Anyway. They're hiring. They want people who like children and can work with them. I want to climb rock walls without having to pay for them, and I want to get into shape. I think I feel an obsession coming on. I think we can help each other out, Peak Experiences and me.

If you find extremely light blogging on weekends soon, you'll know why.

Hulk SMASH Tigger! Hulk SMASH!

So I have this constant problem known as Tigger. He wants to be constantly paid attention to; I want to do many other things while I am home; this causes a number of disagreements. Tig's favorite attention-getting ploy is to leap onto the sofa and try to push what is on the sofa, off. Of course, there are those who suggest I not leave anything on my sofa, to which I reply: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You don't really know me very well, do you?

So I've tried various things. Over the course of my last two cats, I discovered that sneakers and shoes are a good disciplinary tool. You launch them in the general direction of the cat that is annoying you, and the annoying behavior stops. After a while, they learn to stop the annoying behavior when they see you leaning down to grab a shoe. This, of course, only works if you have a pair of shoes within reach.

The other disciplinary tool is the spray bottle, which requires that you keep a bottle filled with water within reach, remember that you have a bottle of water within reach, and then pick up said bottle, go to where the cat is, and spray it. This works, too, mostly, and also has the added advantage of the cat ceasing its behavior when you pick up the bottle. However, I have found the ultimate cat disciplinary tool: Hulk Hands.

A generous reader (thanks again, Daniel!) sent me them as a gift earlier this year. The cats are terrified of the noises the hands make. About two weeks ago, I was exasperated at Tig's unruly behavior, and remembering that he was afraid of the Hulk Hands, I pounded one of them, which proceeded to yell "HULK SMASH!" and let out that weird crunching noise that goes with the yell. Tig ceased his annoying behavior immediately. I have been using the Hulk hands to great effect ever since, often merely having to brandish one (I keep it on the table next to the computer). And just now, before I wrote this post, Tig was on the sofa knocking down the unsorted mail (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I have to sort the mail), and I pounded the Hulk Hand, and the Hulk Hand yelled "HULK SMASH!", and Tig quickly leaped off the sofa and, well, I don't know where he went. But he's not bothering me anymore, so that counts as a win.

Hulk smash Tigger. Meryl happy.

The long, deep roots of anti-Semitism

If you haven't read this essay in its entirety, you're missing one of the best essays on anti-Semitism I have ever read. It's a better-written, far less emotional version of many of the things I've written in the past two years. The author is Natan Sharansky, former Soviet refusenik, current Israeli minister. Some excerpts:

Another shattered illusion is even more pertinent to our search. Shocked by the visceral anti-Semitism he witnessed at the Dreyfus trial in supposedly enlightened France, Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, became convinced that the primary cause of anti-Semitism was the anomalous condition of the Jews: a people without a polity of its own. In his seminal work, "The Jewish State" (1896), published two years after the trial, Herzl envisioned the creation of such a Jewish polity and predicted that a mass emigration to it of European Jews would spell the end of anti-Semitism.

Although his seemingly utopian political treatise would turn out to be one of the 20th century's most prescient books, on this point history has not been kind to Herzl; no one would seriously argue today that anti-Semitism came to a halt with the founding of the state of Israel. To the contrary, this particular illusion has come full circle: while Herzl and most Zionists after him believed that the emergence of a Jewish state would end anti-Semitism, an increasing number of people today, including some Jews, are convinced that anti-Semitism will end only with the disappearance of the Jewish state.

I first encountered this idea quite a long time ago, in the Soviet Union. In the period before, during, and after the Six Day War of June 1967--a time when I and many others were experiencing a heady reawakening of our Jewish identity--the Soviet press was filled with scathing attacks on Israel and Zionism, and a wave of official anti-Semitism was unleashed to accompany them. To quite a few Soviet Jews who had been trying their best to melt into Soviet life, Israel suddenly became a jarring reminder of their true status in the "workers' paradise": trapped in a world where they were free neither to live openly as Jews nor to escape the stigma of their Jewishness. To these Jews, Israel came to seem part of the problem, not (as it was for me and others) part of the solution. Expressing what was no doubt a shared sentiment, a distant relative of mine quipped: "If only Israel didn't exist, everything would be all right."

In the decades since, and especially over the past three years, the notion that Israel is one of the primary causes of anti-Semitism, if not the primary cause, has gained much wider currency. The world, we are told by friend and foe alike, increasingly hates Jews because it increasingly hates Israel. Surely this is what the Belgian ambassador had in mind when he informed me during his visit that anti-Semitism in his country would cease once Belgians no longer had to watch pictures on television of Israeli Jews oppressing Palestinian Arabs.

[...] What makes the Soviet case instructive is, in no small measure, the fact that the professed purpose of communism was to abolish all nations, peoples and religions--those great engines of exclusion--on the road to the creation of a new world and a new man. As is well known, quite a few Jews, hoping to emancipate humanity and to "normalize" their own condition in the process, hitched their fates to this ideology and to the movements associated with it. After the Bolshevik revolution, these Jews proved to be among the most devoted servants of the Soviet regime.

Once again, however, the perception of ineradicable Jewish otherness proved as lethal as any reality. In the eyes of Stalin and his henchmen, the Jews, starting with the loyal communists among them, were always suspect--"ideological immigrants," in the telling phrase. But the animosity went beyond Jewish communists. The Soviet regime declared war on the over 100 nationalities and religions under its boot; whole peoples were deported, entire classes destroyed, millions starved to death, and tens of millions killed. Everybody suffered, not only Jews. But, decades later, long after Stalin's repression had given way to Khrushchev's "thaw," only one national language, Hebrew, was still banned in the Soviet Union; only one group, the Jews, was not permitted to establish schools for its children; only in the case of one group, the Jews, did the term "fifth line," referring to the space reserved for nationality on a Soviet citizen's identification papers, become a code for licensed discrimination.

[..] Despite the differences between them, however, anti-Americanism in the Islamic world and anti-Americanism in Europe are in fact linked, and both bear an uncanny resemblance to anti-Semitism. It is, after all, with some reason that the United States is loathed and feared by the despots and fundamentalists of the Islamic world as well as by many Europeans. Like Israel, but in a much more powerful way, America embodies a different--a nonconforming--idea of the good, and refuses to abandon its moral clarity about the objective worth of that idea or of the free habits and institutions to which it has given birth. To the contrary, in undertaking their war against the evil of terrorism, the American people have demonstrated their determination not only to fight to preserve the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity, but to carry them to regions of the world that have proved most resistant to their benign influence.

Read the entirety. I'd read some of it before, but not the whole thing. I'm going to buy the Commentary magazine in which this essay appears. This one's a keeper. problems

For those of you with no background in programming who are jumping all over poor Laura, here's a tip: It's a programming error. Laura had nothing to do with it. Spread the word and tell people to leave the poor kid alone. She's having a baby.

Update: Jason says he was hacked. But it still wasn't Laura, people. A programmer she ain't.



Email problems, again

So as near as I can figure out, if you're using Hosting Matters and routing your email through them, I can receive your email, but not respond to it with my weblog acount. That's anything that goes through the mail servers. So if you have a Hosting Matters email account, don't expect me to be answering your email anytime soon. Sorry. My people say it's HM, and HM says it's "Not a standard blacklisting problem" and they'll get back to me. However, I'm not a "standard HM paying customer." I'm not holding my breath.

More links

John Kusch is someone I've seen many times in comment threads on feminist issues. I've loved what I've read there. Well, he fisked the Kim Du Toit essay. Yes, all of it. Here's a sample:

I'm going to illustrate this by talking about TV, because TV is a reliable barometer of our culture.

Ooh, this is kind of like when a CEO explains why they're laying off employees by using football metaphors, right?

There's more, and much of it is R-rated. Verbal only, but your work filters may not like it. On the other hand, it's hilarious.

What's this? A new post from N.Z. Bear? Yes, it is! And he says that Paris Hilton is acting like a blogger.

She almost acts like a blogger.

How different, really, is the desire of Ms. Hilton to be noticed --- to see her name in the tabloids, to have her visage streaming into our living rooms --- from the desire of a blogger to be heard? To get that big link from Glenn or Andrew; to see their blog sit atop the Ecosystem?

Not very, I submit. Any blogger who tells you they don't care at all about links, or stats, or being read by others --- well, that blogger is either lying or wasting their time. Because they have a name for weblogs written by people who don't want other people to ever read them. They call them diaries, and they don't go on the Internet.

Ilyka Damen should have been on my portal page ages ago. She is now.

Kesher Talk's read-worthy posts are too numerous to list. Just go check out the site and start reading. Guaranteed you'll get lost in the links and commentary.

Kate keeps on libeling me that way, I'm gonna have to sic a lawyer on her or something. Oh, wait. She's a lawyer. Maybe I can hire her and save myself the trouble.

Can I link to Kate without linking to Kelley? No, not really. Not since that Hawaii trip. I think that in spite of being separated by six thousand miles, they're joined at the hip.

Catching up

If you weren't here yesterday, you missed my birthday post, which includes a picture of my butt. (And let me tell you, those harnesses make everyone's butt look too big.) ((And by the way, yes, I'm moving slowly today, and yes, I'm stiff and tired, but no, I have not taken any aspirin or Ibuprofen or any other painkiller. I'm not that old.)

Israelly Cool has moved off Blogspot. Mazal tov!

The Weekly Standard has the smoking-gun memo that proves Al Qaeda and Iraq had close ties in The Saddam-Osama Connection.

A reader who is one-quarter Greek objected to my posts making fun of Yanni as part of my response to anti-Semitic composer whatshisname. If you were offended by my posts, I strongly recommend that you do not read Lair Simon's response to the "apology."


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. 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.