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Eat an Animal for PETA: This time, it's a Monday?

March 15th falls on a Monday this year. Good enough. Several of you have emailed me asking if we're going to have a second International Eat an Animal for PETA Day.

Why the hell not? Especially since Michele has pushed me into making up my mind.

Chicken, beef, fish, seafood—it's all good.

Nothing in particular this time. Just general "In-your-face-PETA!" animal-eating.

Perhaps I'll find a friend in the area and go to a local steakhouse. Mmm, steak.



I got nuthin'

I simply cannot think of a thing to write about right now. Perhaps it's because I've just done a boatload of bills and can't think of anything except numbers and dollars and balancing my checkbook (all I can say is, thank goodness for overdraft protection). Maybe it's because Richmond is having another gorgeous day. Mid-eighties yesterday, mid-seventies right now, windows open, patio door open, cats going in and out, a nice breeze flowing through the house... yeah, maybe that's it. I've got spring fever.

Plus, I'm so tired of writing about things that piss me off. Sometimes, I want to change this completely into a fluffy kitty blog.

Then again, it's Friday. My traffic tails off on Fridays as you all gear up for the weekend and get cracking on the work you were supposed to be doing all week long while you were reading this blog instead.

Maybe I'll just go outside and take some more shots of the cats in preparation for the changeover to



The cat came back

Jeff Goldstein is back. If you have no idea who Jeff is, that's because the bastard quit blogging over a year ago. He's back now, and is back on my must-read list. Hell, I even put him on my links page.

Say something intelligent, Jeff, or my new readers—the ones I've gotten since you left nineteen effing months ago—will all think I'm nuts.

And, like, I stopped swearing on my blog. Mostly. But I'm happy to do it on yours. Welcome back, Jeff. You were missed.

Ignorance is an excuse

Interesting. An Israeli bank created an ad campaign directed at Russian speakers, which unwittingly used a phrase made famous at Buchenwald.

In a colossal commercial blunder, Bank Hapoalim was forced to terminate an ad campaign directed at Russian speakers last week, after an unfortunate choice of words conjured up memories of a Nazi concentration camp.

Young ad agents from the Adler and Chomsky advertising firm, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, used the Russian translation of the German "Jedem das Seine" ("to each what he deserves"), which was written in the entrance to Buchenwald, to promote Bank Hapoalim among about 1.2 million Russian speakers.

Because of a generation gap, the ad men were not aware of the saying's infamous history. However, for the older generation of immigrants from the former Soviet Union the saying was a blasphemy.

I wouldn't label it blasphemy. But perhaps the Post translator didn't get the right word. So, how was it handled?

MK Roman Bronfman (Shinui), who revealed the bungled ad campaign to The Jerusalem Post, sent a letter to Bank Hapoalim CEO Tzvi Ziv warning him of the campaign's negative ramifications.

"In the past few days Bank Hapoalim has unveiled a campaign aimed at the Russian speaking population entitled 'to each what he deserves' (kazhdomo svoio, in Russian). This saying has tremendously problematic connotations and is connected in the minds of the veterans of the Second World War and Holocaust survivors with the Buchenwald concentration camp. This aphorism, posted on the entrance to the camp, welcomed prisoners.

"I am sure the campaign is an innocent mistake, but I ask you to halt it immediately. It is an affront to thousands of Holocaust survivors."

In response, Ziv wrote, "Thank you for bringing my attention to the problem created... I am sorry for the campaign's lack of sensitivity. The campaign was terminated on Thursday February 25.

That was easy. Gee. An admission of error, an apology, and a correction. That wasn't very hard, was it? Of course, the fact that all involved were Jews might have had something to do with it. None of that bullshit "I didn't think it would offend anyone" excuse going on. You know, that blaming-the-victim mentality so prevalent after an offensive remark is commented upon.

Whatever happened to actions like the above? Accept responsibility for the problem, fix it, move on. It's not a terribly difficult concept.

Accentuate the positive

Last Sunday, our religious school held a program on immigration. The Education Director drafted all of us teachers to be in (sigh) a play. I was Venta, a Polish immigrant, who I thought was Russian. We have a Kiwi teaching sixth grade, and he went first, and he did a phenomenal yiddishke accent. Sounded like he came from the old country. So that encouraged the rest of us to try to sound like we were just off the boat.

After the program was over, one of my students from last year came up to me and said, "Ms. Yourish, what kind of accent was that supposed to be? You sounded like Apu." His sister, who is all of fourteen, also cracked wise on my inability to affect a perfect accent. Twice. Once then, and again at the schoolhouse when she saw me there. When I told Heidi about this traumatic event, instead of the full support your best and dearest friend is supposed to show, she howled with laughter. And she laughed again yesterday when I told her the following:

On Tuesday, at the beginning of class, I'm quite sure that two of my students were making the same statement when they read the word "America" in the same way I had pronounced it in the play. And the reason I am so positive is because they paused, looked at me, and snickered.

Yeah, I know. The message was clear: Don't give up your day job.



How stupid do they think I am?

Got a letter from "" in my mailbox today. Here's the text:

Dear user of "" mailing system,

Your e-mail account has been temporary disabled because of unauthorized access.

For details see the attached file.

The team

The attached file, of course, was a virus. Lair got one, too. Really, how stupid do they think I am? If my email account has been disabled, how did I get that email?

Anyway. Just added a new rule to my server rules: Any email message containing .exe, .scr, .pif, or .vbs will be shunted to the viruses folder for my perusal and eventual removal. Grrrr. Ah hates spam.

Reuters could turn finding a dollar on the street into stealing from the poor

I haven't visited my least-favorite news service in quite some time. Let's take a look at their latest anti-Israel piece:

Israel air strike kills three militants in Gaza
By Nidal al-Mughrabi

Yep, there's that unbiased source reporter, our buddy Nidal.

GAZA (Reuters) - Israel killed three Hamas militants in an air strike that tore apart their car in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Palestinian witnesses and medics said.

The Israeli military confirmed that operatives of the powerful Islamist faction had been targeted in a missile attack not far from the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in Gaza. Hamas leaders vowed revenge attacks.

"The Israeli air force attacked a vehicle transporting senior Hamas terrorists who were recently involved in numerous terrorist attacks on Israeli targets and were planning additional attacks," the army said in a statement.

So far, so good. Fairly unbiased, though "tore apart their car" is a little sensationalistic, don't you think? But just wait, the bias is coming.

Persistent violence has sidelined a U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans unilateral moves to evacuate most settlements in Gaza and retrench behind new "security lines" in what he calls a bid to defuse conflict.

Okay. Let's see if I get this straight. If Israel has settlements in Gaza, they're stealing the palestinians' land. If Israel removes these settlements without palestinian permission, then they're creating "security lines" (I could double quote, but that'd look stupid) in order to "defuse conflict," and this is a bad thing? What kind of morons write for Reuters, anyway? (Don't answer. Rhetorical question.)

Witnesses said at least two missiles shredded the car, which was hit on a dirt road in a desert tract.

"Shredded the car"—even more sensationalism. Dudes, you're a news organization, not Mel Gibson making a movie. And hey, they weren't targeted in the midst of a city—what, no points for not injuring bystanders?

Palestinian bystanders threw fistfuls of sand into the vehicle to douse the blaze.

Oh, bystanders! It was a valiant, but doomed, effort. The IAF blowed 'em up real good.

Medics pulled out three charred bodies, one headless. People were forced back as burning oil ignited smaller explosions.

There we go with the lurid details again. Then again, a thought just struck me: I wonder what happened to the guy's head?

Palestinian security sources said the three dead were operatives of Hamas, at the forefront of a suicide bombing campaign against Israelis.

Israel has killed a number of Muslim militants in lightning air strikes that it describes as self-defence but which Palestinians condemn as state-sponsored assassination.

This is why I hate them. In one paragraph, Reuters describes Hamas' terror goals, and in the next, ridicules Israel's response to that terrorism.


Israel says that the palestinian premier is counter-prouctive. The successful assassination of three mass murderers, however, is extremely productive: Those three will never kill again.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie condemned the attack.

And yet, he does not condemn suicide attacks that kill innocents on buses. Or he qualifies them with "bad for the palestinian cause."

"The Israeli government's aim is to kill any attempt to restore quiet and revive the peace process," he told Reuters.

No, the aim is to restore quiet and revive the peace process by getting rid of the terrorists who keep on trying to sink that process. Hope your hands are clean, Qurie.

Israel blames the Palestinian leadership's failure to rein in militants hostile to peacemaking for the Middle East impasse.

The most recent previous missile attack killed three Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp on Saturday.

The latest spate of air strikes followed a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus on February 22 that killed eight people.

Those three grafs were almost balanced. What? What?

In Gaza, 1.3 million Palestinians are squeezed into teeming urban slums alongside 7,800 Jews in spacious fortified enclaves.

Oh, okay. There's the yellow journalism back. Hey, Gazans, here's a thought: Birth control.

Sharon wants to uproot most of the 21 exposed settlements and several more in the West Bank under his "disengagement" plan, which has inflamed Palestinians because it would strip them of land they seek for an independent state.

Wait. Explain to me how leaving Gaza strips the pals of their land.

But Israel's building in Jewish settlements rose 35 percent last year despite the peace plan's requirement for a freeze in construction on territory Israel seized in the 1967 war.

I notice how you don't mention the road map's requirement that palestinians cease terror operations. In fact, I never see that equated with the failure of the road map. Apparently, only Israel is to blame. Ever. Even when disengaging unilaterally.

That trend could complicate Sharon's efforts to win U.S. approval for unilateral "disengagement", given Washington's concern that it could dash the road map's vision of a viable Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel.

Now that the Kerry nomination is assured, I'm betting on W.'s re-election. I don't think Washington is overly concerned over the "rights" of terrorists.

Well, that was our latest Al-Reuters anti-Israel article, written, no surprise there, by an Arab reporter. Hands up, anyone who was surprised.

Yeah, I thought not.



The Dickens you say!

Alex Bensky, who has long been absent from these pages, has this to say about Charles Dickens:

It's worth noting that Dickens was upset at charges that portraying Fagin as Jewish was antisemitic. He said, if I recall correctly, that he hadn't meant a specific smearing of Jews but just wanted to give the character a nationality, make him less generic.

He tried to make amends, as you may know, by the character of Riah in "Our Mutual Friend," who is almost saintly. I find Fagin a much more interesting character.

I did not know that. Well. Thanks for that information, Alex.

Regarding Ian

Elizabeth D. from the UK says she thinks that McCartney was thoughtless and stupid, but not intentionally anti-Semitic in his remarks below:

Much as I hate Labour politicians (damn socialists!), I honestly think McCartney's comments weren't supposed to be anti-Semitic. Fagin is just a character in a story, who was well-known to be a thief. Very few people in this country are actually aware that Fagin was supposed to be Jewish (now if he'd called Letwin "Shylock" it would have been a different matter and I too would have been up in arms!). Dickens isn't studied much in schools and colleges: the only time people are really exposed to Fagin is if they see 'Oliver' in the theatre or on the TV.

McCartney is simply thoughtless and stupid, as are most politicians, Labour or not. (People like Jenny Tonge are in the minority in our Parliament, honest guvnor!) The "Slasher Letwin" remark was seemingly a reference to Oliver Letwin's proposition of tax cuts/Civil Service reductions if the Tories get in.

I'm glad to hear that. Well, actually, no—not the part about not studying Dickens. Granted, his portrayal of Jews was reprehensible, but he's actually one of my favorite authors, Oliver Twist aside. Or he was. Haven't read him in quite some time. Please don't tell me the U.K. has also succumbed to the "no dead white men" theory of teaching literature.

British anti-Semitism watch

Apparently, Tom Dalyell's ability to sling anti-Semitic remarks without any punishment has inspired other British politicians to follow in his footsteps.

Addressing delegates at the annual conference of the Scottish Labor Party, chairman Ian McCartney described the Conservative Party's economic spokesman, Oliver Letwin, as a "21st Century Fagin," a reference to the despised Jewish character in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist.

McCartney labelled Letwin, the descendant of Jewish refugees from Latvia and a former director of the London-based bank NM Rothschild, as "Slasher Letwin." And he asked delegates at his party conference: "What would life under 'Slasher' Letwin look like? No Oliver Twist this man, more of a Fagin.

"This 21st century Fagin will pick the pockets of Scotland's pensioners by abolishing the pension credit, and then plan for a new generation of poor pensioners by abolishing the second state pension."

But no, I exaggerate the rise modern of anti-Semitism. And how was this received?

Commenting on McCartney's remarks, a spokesman for Letwin said it is "sad that Labor have used this character in such a way and refuse to debate our policies in a more serious manner."

Lord Greville Janner, a veteran Labor Party legislator and chairman of the Holocaust Education Trust, said he was "amazed" by the remarks, adding that he is confident McCartney is not anti-Semitic, "but comments like this do sound anti-Semitic... I am astonished by the fact that he should make a comment like this."

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, the spokesman for the Reform movement in Britain, described the remarks as "highly offensive... It is a throwback to the worst kind of stereotype from a bygone age."

Ron Moody, who portrayed Fagin in the 1968 Oscar-winning musical, Oliver, was outraged by the remarks.

Ah... Ron Moody is irrelevant in this issue, frankly. What about the author of the remarks?

In a statement on the affair, McCartney said it is "absolute nonsense" to describe his remarks as racist. "I have spent all my life campaigning against racism and anti-Semitism," he said. "No one who reads the remarks in context could interpret them in that way.

It is simply a reference to the Tory policy on scrapping the pension credit. This was a comment about Oliver Letwin's politics and the Tory Party's policies."

Of course it wasn't anti-Semitic. It was simply misinterpreted. It was a comment about politics. The fact that he called a Jewish politician an example of a fictional Jewish stereotype has nothing to do with the fact that the politician was Jewish. I'm surprised McCartney didn't mention anything about a pound of flesh.

Happy birthday, Dave

My brother turns [cough] [cough] years old today. Here's a typical Dave story: Last week, I went to my favorite hairdresser during my quick trip to NJ. Dave met me over at Mom's, went with me while I restocked on kosher meat, and then we split up to run separate errands and meet at Rockaway Mall, where Rocco's salon is located. I got my hair done, and Dave showed up as I was paying the bill.

"I'd like a trim," he told the woman who was giving me my receipt. Dave's head is completely shaved.

That's my brother.

We got caught by the MPs at Fort Wadsworth one year, a very long time ago. Dad was running in the New York Marathon, and Dave and I wanted to watch the runners go over the Verrazano Bridge. That was the first year it got too big to let family members watch the start of the race. We saw a hole in a fence nearby, and had no idea we were trespassing on military property. We got picked up quickly. I was extremely worried, as I was over 18. Dave wasn't worried at all. While we were giving our names and addresses to the MPs, he told them we lived in Hillside, NJ, and added, "But we have a summer home in Newark." One of the MPs, obviously from the area, laughed his ass off. The other one, a young woman from the midwest, looked at us blankly. "David," I hissed, "shut up! We can get in real trouble here! We trespassed on government property!"

We didn't. The MPs drove us to the entrance and told us to stay out of the fort next time.

Anyway. Happy birthday, Dave, and stay off government property.


May I have your attention please, especially Angel fans

Mac Thomason posted the details of who to send postcards to if you want to try to save the series. Online petitions and email don't do squat. Here are some quick addresses. The rest are in Mac's post:

TNT is the best possibility to pick up Angel since they’ve gotten good ratings with the reruns and do some original programming.

Turner Network Television
Attn: Robert DeBitetto (pres, original programming)
1888 Century Park East, 14th Fl.
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Turner Network Television
Attn: Julie Wietz (exec vp. original programming)
1888 Century Park East, 14th Fl.
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Turner Network Television
Attn: Attn: Mr. Jamie Kellner, Chairman and CEO
1050 Techwood Dr. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

Turner Network Television
Attn: Garth Ancier, Executive Vice-President, Programming
1050 Techwood Dr. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

Read the rest of the post for tips on what to say (and not say) in your postcards. Here's a hint: Swear words would be a very bad thing.

If you've been wondering how you can show your appreciation for this weblog without hitting my tipjar or wishlist, send out one postcard. Just one. If just ten percent of my regular readers did that, that would be about 150 postcards. C'mon. One lousy postcard. And I'd concentrate on TNT. Because then I could watch Angel when everyone else in the country is watching it, instead of 2:30 a.m. on Fridays.

Israeli news roundup

This is why I like Israeli newspapers better than most U.S. papers. Get a load of this headline:

IAI tests new shell, in secret this time

It's a snarky comment on the fact that the last test of a secret new weapon was inadvertently broadcast to the entire world. And the article is so snarky, you'd think a blogger wrote it.

Without the glaring security breaches this time, Israel Aircraft Industries said Monday it successfully tested a special long-range artillery rocket from a navy vessel.

Known as LORA, the quiet test launch contrasted with last November's failed launch which had been inadvertently broadcast to the world, including Syria, Iran and Libya.

Then, technicians at Channel 10 picked up the transmissions of the launch control room showing foreign guests, secret codes and details of the system.

That incident severely embarrassed IAI as well as the army whose generals were seen chatting with the foreign guests during the failed launch.

"We learned our lessons from that event and this time there was no security breach, as far as we know," said Doron Suslik, deputy vice president of corporate communications at IAI.

Nope, just Arieh O'Sullivan. (Whose last name, come to think of it, has only just struck me. O'Sullivan? Now there's a nice Jewish name for you.)

Apparently, the EU is trying to make changes to the moribund Road Map in an effort to get it going. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't one of the biggest criticisms leveled against Israel that it refused to accept the Road Map "as is"? Eff off, EUnuch hypocrites.

The palestinian civil war seems to be a bigger and bigger possibility. There's a report in the Washington Post about how the PA is broke and in disarray. (Millions cheer.)

Three years and five months after Palestinians began their second uprising against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is broke, politically fractured, riddled with corruption, unable to provide security for its own people and seemingly unwilling to crack down on terrorist attacks against Israel, according to Palestinian, Israeli and international officials.

The turmoil within the Palestinian Authority is fueling concern that the agency -- created almost 10 years ago to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- is disintegrating and could collapse, leaving a political and security vacuum in one of the Middle East's most volatile regions, many of those officials said.

At a time when Israel is constructing a massive barrier complex through and around the West Bank and planning for the possible withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian leaders have offered no political strategy to prevent the authority from becoming marginalized or obsolete, officials and analysts said. Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's chief of staff, Hassan Abu Libdeh, said the collapse of the governing authority was "a real possibility" and could lead to "a lawless situation" that would play into the hands of radical Islamic groups already competing with the Palestinian Authority for power.

None of the analysts or officials interviewed said they believed a collapse was imminent, and many noted that the key players in the Middle East, including Israel, the United States, the European Union and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, have a strong interest in preventing the Palestinian Authority's demise. However, most agreed that the key issue affecting its survival is a lack of money, and they noted that even on the verge of bankruptcy, the authority has not imposed many of the reforms that frustrated donors are demanding.

At the same time, support for the authority among Palestinians has also plunged. In a recent poll by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Center, a Palestinian research organization, 54 percent of Palestinians surveyed said they believed the authority, commonly referred to as the PA, effectively no longer exists. More than 30 percent of respondents said it would be in the "national interest" to abolish it.

"I think the presence of the PA is not justified -- I think it should dissolve itself and leave us to confront the Israelis alone," said Ragdah Azzah, 24, a student at Bethlehem University who complained that elections for new Palestinian leaders were long overdue and corruption within the authority was rampant. "I would say the PA is not even legitimate," Azzah said.

What? Whatever happened to the PLO being the "sole, legitimate authority" of the palestinian people? How quickly they forget. But here's the cherry on top:

Edward G. Abington, a former State Department official who is now a Washington consultant to the Palestinian Authority, said he told Arafat during a meeting at the Palestinian leader's bombed-out compound here recently that the governing body was in danger of collapse.

"Let it collapse," Arafat said, according to Abington. "It will be the fault of Israel and the Americans."

No, you're going to blame the Israelis and the Americans. You shouldn't telegraph your PR campaign, it might come back to bite you in the ass.

The good news in all of this is that Arafat if feeling quite beleaguered. And those around him wanting him to share power are feeling stronger. Now, if only Sharon doesn't do anything stupid, like declaring that Arafat is a target again, the old bastard might really lose his power.

An interesting comparison: Ha'aretz on the Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting:

By the end of the meeting it was clear Arafat had managed to preserve the ambiguity that cloaks the Al-Aqsa Brigades and also managed to protect the Fatah military wing's freedom to act as it sees fit.

"Speeches but no discussions" was how one senior Fatah figure described the revolutionary council meeting at Arafat's "muqata" compound in Ramallah. Most participants at the meeting chose not to confront Arafat openly.

The Jerusalem Post on that same meeting:

The 126-member revolutionary council and the Fatah central committee – another key decision-making body – are largely dominated by veteran Fatah officials who returned with Arafat to the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Tunisia in 1994.

The young Fatah activists are demanding 60 seats in the revolutionary council. Arafat has agreed to 25.

The three-day meeting was marred by a number of heated exchanges and bad-mouthing between Arafat and some senior officials. During one of the altercations, Arafat tossed a microphone at former security minister Nasser Yousef when the latter accused him of blocking reforms in the PA security forces.

Arafat then stormed out of the meeting, hurling abuse at Yousef and accusing him of collaboration with the enemies of the Palestinians. In return, Yousef threw a pen at Arafat, but missed him.

That's not the full text, either. Here we have another, more colorful description of the fight.

At a meeting late Thursday, Arafat was angered when Nasser Yousef - a veteran Fatah member - questioned the unification and efficiency of Palestinian security bodies, an official, who attended the meeting, said, according to The AP.

"You traitor, spy, shut your mouth, you have no right to talk," Arafat was quoted as shouting to Yousef before hurling a microphone at him.

Yousef chucked a pen at the veteran Palestinian leader before other members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council intervened and calmed down the two.

And that last paragraph is missing a word or three. From yet another source:

Yousef chucked a pen at the veteran Palestinian leader before other members of the Revolutionary Council intervened and calmed down the two septuagenarians, the official said.

This is why I read so many news sources. Besides finding the full story, sometimes, the full story is an absolute hoot. Too bad they didn't have guns instead of microphones and pens.

By the way, the council is supposed to meet monthly. This was its first meeting in three years. But it's Israelis who are stepping on palestinian civil rights, not Arafat. Right? Uh-huh.

Monday's moment of kitty zen

Per April's request, and hot off the presses: This photo is a mere two hours old.

I SAID no pictures!

The wary look is for the Australian cattle dog two apartments over. Not for me.

Once more, the Passion

The news media have been busy writing news and analysis on the Passion. There are a few articles I've found that resound with many of the same thoughts I've been having. Here's an example of one that doesn't in, of all places, the SF Chronicle:

Another attack on "The Passion" is that it will fuel anti-Semitic attitudes. Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League have led this front of criticism, although they have recently stopped calling Gibson anti-Semitic and have said they are merely fearful the movie will whip up such sentiment.

But Gibson agues that anti-Semitic attitudes run counter to Jesus' teachings.

"For me, it goes against the tenets of my faith to be racist in any form," he said on "Primetime Live." "To be anti-Semitic is a sin. It's been condemned by one papal council after another."

There is no doubt that in the film, the Jewish high priests come off as pushing the crucifixion. But there are many sympathetic Jewish figures. My personal reaction was that the film showed that the religious leaders of the time were threatened by Jesus. It would be only a little different today if someone claimed to be the Son of God. Instead of calling for a crucifixion, some religious leaders would launch a campaign of personal destruction, buying television ads and writing opinion articles for The New York Times.

I don't remember critics arguing that Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" would stir up racist attitudes toward Germans when it was released. While that powerful film was not as graphically violent as "The Passion," it was painful to watch the cruel and inhumane behavior of the Nazis. But Spielberg had an important story to tell and knew that audiences could differentiate between the Nazis and modern-day Germans.

That last paragraph is the one that floors me. It's an argument I've heard from more than one corner. It's not even comparing apples and oranges, it is a completely false analogy. At its very root, it's a disgusting transposition of the Jews of Jesus' time to the Nazis of our time. Jews have been persecuted as "Christ-killers" for two millennia. The reason critics never argued that Schindler's List would stir up anti-German attitudes is because the Germans are not minorities in every nation of the world in which they live (but one). The Germans were not persecuted for their beliefs. The Germans were not innocent bystanders in, gee, let's take WWII for an example, rounded up and sent to concentration camps, where they were then murdered for being German. Perhaps that might be a few of the reasons why there was no outbreak of anti-German violence.

Or perhaps it was because the Germans were guilty of the atrocities of the Nazis, and that some of them who committed those atrocities still live today, and still spread their hate. Or perhaps it was because we know that the heirs of the Nazis are not the ones who murdered the Jews in the 1930s and 40s.

Do you see how ridiculous, and how loathesome, and ultimately, how anti-Semitic this comparison is? "Well, this big important Hollywood Jew made a movie about the Nazis, and nobody complained he was being anti-German! So shut up, Jews!"

That's what I'm hearing every time I read that reprehensible Schindler's List comparison.

No one can seriously believe mainstream Christians hold modern-day Jews responsible for Christ's death. In truth, most Christians are taught that Jesus himself was responsible for his death. He did nothing to prevent it. He knew he was a threat to the political and religious leaders of his time, but he did not change his behavior or try to escape.

Of course not. We can't seriously believe that. Why, it's not like a church in America today would put up a sign saying exactly that, or anything.

Another historian has been interviewed (but the interviewer is Jewish, so it probably doesn't count as the interviewer is obviously biased) and proclaimed the Gibson film to be disturbing.

Pagels explained that the four gospel writers of the New Testament probably wrote between 70 and 100 A.D. These were the years following the Roman defeat of the Jews, which left the Temple and the center of Jerusalem in ruins. Acts of sedition by the Jews against their conquerors were met with swift execution. As a result, Pagels said, the Gospels, which were intended not as history but as preaching, as religious propaganda to win followers for the teachings of Christ, portrayed the conflict of the Passion as one between Jesus and the Jewish people, led by Caiaphas. And, though it was the Roman occupiers, under Pontius Pilate, who possessed ultimate political and judicial power in Judea, they are described in the Gospels—and, more starkly, in Gibson’s film--as relatively benign.

[...] “Mel Gibson denies any anti-Semitism, and I can’t speak to his motives,” Pagels went on, “but there are narrative devices that are clear. The more benign Pilate appears in the movie, the more malignant the Jews are. To deflect responsibility from the Romans for arresting and executing Christ, which Gibson takes from the Gospels and makes even more extreme, is contrary to everything we understand about history. It is implausible that the Jews could be responsible and Pilate a benign governor. There are many examples in the film of a preposterous dialectic: the bad Jews and the good Romans. When the Temple police arrest Jesus, Mary Magdalene turns to the Romans as if they were the policemen on the block, benign protectors of the public order. But the very idea of a Jewish woman turning to Roman soldiers for help is ridiculous.”

That one gets a "read-the-rest" review.

The Christian Science Monitor article reports this:

Mr. Gibson has touted his film as presenting Jesus' last hours before death as the Gospels depict them. Yet it goes well outside the Gospel presentations (drawing heavily on the visions of a 19th-century Catholic nun), including its depiction of the role of Jewish leaders. For instance, none of the Gospels says Jesus was harmed by the guards who brought him from Gethsemane to the Jewish high priests. Yet in the movie, he is so severely beaten that one eye is closed by the time they question him.

Annie Modesitt, a Christian from South Orange, N.J., whose husband is Jewish, found the movie "very troubling, because unless they were Jews supporting Jesus or helping further his mission, it was like they were right out of central casting from some 1930s movie about Jews. The movie has a lot of passion," she says in a phone interview, "but it doesn't have a lot of love."

Ken Jacobsen of the Anti-Defamation League in New York - the Jewish group that most actively sought changes in the film - says, "What struck me was that the Romans were basically seen as stupid and the Jews as evil, and there is a big difference because, as you saw in the end, the Romans began to wake up to Jesus. The only good Jews were those that were about to become Christians."

And finally, this one is funny:

I do not know whether Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite or not. All I know is that The Passion of the Christ brings up many important religious and historic questions for individuals to consider.

Most importantly, I was shocked that Mel Gibson had Jews in a movie set in a period two thousand years ago. Why, for at least one hundred years, the Arabs and Moslems have been telling the world that the Jews don't come from Israel and have never lived there. They have been telling everyone who will listen that the so-called "Palestinians", or Arab inhabitants of the Land of Israel, are the genuine inhabitants of Israel and that the Jews are nothing more than foreign invaders, or as they like to call them, "colonialists."

Furthermore, the movie is completely bereft of any Arabs, who, after all, have been the real inhabitants of the Land of Israel since time immemorial. How could this be? Strangely, there is not one shot of the Al-Aqsa mosque or discussion of it in the entire film. This must be an oversight, as it has always been there and the Temple Mount is a Jewish fabrication. The absence of Arabs in the story of Jesus is an important omission that must be questioned. After all, why would the Arabs want to be omitted from such an important part of their history?

Well, it's funny to me, anyway. (I think one of my readers sent me that link last week. If so, email me and you'll get the hat tip.)

Lord of the Oscars

Peter Jackson and crew must have one hell of a hangover today. They won all eleven awards that Return of the King was nominated for. And as a Tolkien geek, I must say, I'm quite happy. Plus, the DVD is due out May 25th.

A quick perusal of the Google News article collection show a lot of reviewers who think—hold onto your hats here, folks—that the Oscars show was overlong and boring. Many of them thought Crystal wasn't as good as he used to be. Maybe not, but he's not the one who, year after year, insists on including all the nominated songs (most of which are rather pedestrian), the short films, documentary films (like anyone outside the industry or some poor high school class is ever going to see them?), and other minor awards that no one outside Hollywood really cares about. And a Canadian film won for foreign language? What, they used "beauty, eh?" and "you hoser!" a lot? (Although the director immediately won my forgiveness by thanking LOTR for not being nominated in that category.) ((Yeah, I know some Canadians speak French, and the film was probably in French. Spare me the email. It's a humor bit. Go with it.)) (((Look, nested parenthetical statements! Haven't done that in ages!)))

I swear, someday we're going to have "news" articles proclaiming that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

One last note: When they showed the clip from Return of the King, where King Elessar stops the hobbits from bowing to him and says, "No! You bow to no one!", I remember thinking "That's it? That's so lame, it does nothing to show how great the movie reall was." Little did I know that the Academy itself was foreshadowing the victory. Heh.



Palestinian child abuse

As Charles calls it.

Three Palestinian teens caught on terror mission
Three Palestinian teenagers dispatched by Islamic Jihad and Fatah's al-Aksa Brigades to shoot Israelis in Afula were arrested by security forces at Jalame near Jenin last Thursday.

They were identified as Tarek Abu Mahsen and Yaffer Hussein, both 14, and Ibrahim Suafta, 16. Judea and Samaria police said the youths are all residents of Tubas, northeast of Nablus. The two younger boys were sent by Islamic Jihad and Suafta by Fatah.

The three told investigators they were willing to be killed for the sake of the cause. They were armed with homemade rifles they were to use in the attacks when they were apprehended.

Sure. The wall is what's causing the problem. Not the sickness of the palestinian society that allows these monsters to take boys and turn them into murderers.

Brookstone rules

We had a program dealing with immigration in religious school today. The upshot of the program is that I spent most of the morning on my feet. Then we had a staff meeting at 12:15. At 12:45, I left the unfinished staff meeting to go to my job at the climbing gym. Where I spent the next five hours on my feet.

I am currently sitting down with my feet on the Brookstone foot massager that I bought with income tax refund money several years ago. Then there's going to be dinner.

Posting will be delayed.


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.