The Zionist Conspiracy
Friday, May 30, 2003
Today's New York Times hit the trifecta.
Least offensive, but still idiotic and somewhat offensive, was the front page story in the Metro section about "party motivators" who encourage kids at bar and bat mitzvahs to dance. The article claims that "whether you can have a successful bar mitzvah without at least a handful of motivators is debatable."
Second were two long front page profiles about suicide bombers. Nothing was stated about those who were murdered, except a matter-of-fact statement toward the end of the article that "he detonated his bomb, killing a Jewish settler and his pregnant wife." The "settler" was Gadi Levy; his pregnant wife was Dina Levy, a mother of two. The Times mentioned nothing about them, not even their names. The headline was "A Young Man Radicalized by His Months in Jail," implying that Israel's prior arrest of the suicide bomber played a role in his madness. The Times apparently does not view murdering Jews (especially "settlers") as showing that Israel might have had legitimate reasons to imprison this terrorist.
Finally, an editiorial (not an opinion column) by Ethan Bronner, a Times editorial page editor, falsely stated that "In the final years of the British mandate in Palestine, there was not one Jewish militia but several, just as there are competing Palestinian groups today. The main one, the Haganah, was led by Mr. Ben-Gurion. A more violent and radical one, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, often called simply the Irgun, was led by Menachem Begin. The Irgun, along with an even more radical group, the Stern Gang, was responsible for a massacre of more than 200 Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin in April 1948."
The notion that Deir Yassin was a "massacre" is a blood libel, similar to false claims of a "massacre" in Jenin last year. A detailed study shows the accusations regarding Deir Yassin to be absolutely false, yet this study would not support the Times' need to claim that the Haganah, Irgun and Lechi (the Times calls them "the Stern Gang") is no different from Fatah, Hamas and Hezballah.
Bronner's editorial also distorts the reality of the Altalena incident, fully ignoring the Irgun's position.
David Cone is about to announce his retirement. I'm sorry to see him go and he's still better than some of the Mets relievers, but it was time. After a very good career, it would have been beneath him to finish as a mediocre middle-inning reliever.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Settlements and Americans
Results of a poll of 1000 Americans regarding settlements shows that if articulated properly, settlements in Judea and Samaria could be supported (or at least not opposed) by most Americans.
The poll questions are admittedly phrased in a manner that would inevitably have a positive result for settlements. However, the notions that both Jews and Arabs should be allowed to live in Judea and Samaria, and that it is immoral to expel hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes, are ones that people of good will would agree with. Unfortunately, Israelis and their supporters react defensively when responding to questions about settlements, and fail to emphasize these crucial points.
Yesterday Jerusalem Day was marked in Israel (though the 28th of Iyar is actually tomorrow), in honor of the 36th anniversary of Israel's liberation of the Old City. It's therefore worthwhile to note a few words about Jerusalem by a former leader of Israel:
"Jerusalem combines the past, present, and future, from all the generations of the nation of Israel. Let us remove it from the points of contention that divide us, as it does not help our position in safeguarding the city. Jerusalem shall forever remain ours because it is in our souls. Never again will Jerusalem be under foreign sovereignty. Only someone who has no sense of reality, who does not understand anything about Israel's yearning and longing and the Jewish people's historical connection to Jerusalem for over 3,000 years would even consider any making concessions over the city."
Those words were spoken by Ehud Barak on June 1, 2000 at Ammunition Hill on Jerusalem Day 5760, very shortly before he terminated the consensus over Jerusalem when he made his infamous concessions at Camp David and Taba.
It was sad to see David Cone make his return from the DL as a middle-inning reliever with the Mets trailing 7-1. Cone did not look too good, but time will tell whether he has anything to contribute to the Mets.
Nice job by Pat Strange to close out the Phillies scoring by allowing 3 runs in the eighth, his only inning of work.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Ozzy Osbourne and Chabad
A few years ago Michael Jackson visited the Carlebach Shul on the Upper West Side. Now, the Manchester Jewish Telegraph has a photo showing Ozzy Osbourne donning a black hat and celebrating Purim with Lubavitch chasidim, along with a report that Sharon Osbourne's father donated $6000 to a shul in the UK.
Bush and Israel
A report in Middle East Newsline states that the Bush Administration has prepared a list of sanctions against Israel if it does not comply with the roadmap, including a review of sales of arms to Israel. Middle East Newsline is headed by Steve Rodan, formerly of The Jerusalem Post.
The list was presumably prepared by State Department staffers, and it's hard to believe that it would be supported by the Pentagon. Still, this report requires those who naively believe the Bush Administration to be pro-Israel to re-assess their views. In fact, while the administration has indeed been somewhat supportive of Israel's actions against terror, it has continued to lean in favor of the Palestinians with regard to the political process.
Newspapers are reporting on the firing of Jamal Khashoggi, editor of a Saudi newspaper, by the Saudi government, for expressing anti-extremist views.
In response to anti-Israel columns he's written, I've exchanged e-mails with Khashoggi over the last year, one of which appears below. His reply appears first, followed by my original e-mail.
From: Jamal Khashoggi [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, February 21, 2003 8:13 AM
To: Joseph Schick
Subject: RE: Condolences
Thanks Mr. Schick
Very promising for a Zionist to have good feeling for a Muslim. we are on the right track. maybe you should start sending condolences to Palestinians who can't be all terrorist and who are killed every day in what become a systematic manner by your fallow Zionist army.
For the sake of peace between us, please look inside, who is rejecting Palestinian's right to their homeland, we have accepted Israel as a Political reality but we can rewrite The History and land 'deeds to make you not feel guilty by living in someone else's home.
We the Arabs, particularly the Saudi are doing all the compromises , you (The Committed Zionist ) instead go to vote for Sharon and kill one ore two Palestinians in the way to polling station. Thanks again for the good word and pray that God will bring peace one day between us.
From: Joseph Schick
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2003 11:09 PM
Please accept my sincere condolences on the death of your father. I am a Zionist and a Jew, and hope that you will accept my thoughts.
Your claim that Jews do not have a legitimate historical link to Jerusalem and to Israel is a sad continuation of the continuing Arab rejectionism. When the Arabs recognize that Jews will stay in Israel and have a right to be there and that it is our homeland, a peaceful solution based upon territorial compromise will quickly
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Today's Times reports on Likud opposition to Prime Minister Sharon's acceptance of the road map.
According to the article, which was written by Greg Myre, "one Likud lawmaker, Yehiel Hazan, asked what the settlement freeze meant for Jewish families living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Mr. Sharon, a leading patron of the settlement movement, appeared to brush aside that stipulation in the road map. 'There is no restriction here, and you can build for your children and grandchildren, and I hope for your great-grandchildren as well,' he replied."
The Jerusalem Post reported the same exchange as follows: "in response to a question by MK Yehiel Hazan about whether his children could build in the settlement of Ariel where he lived, Sharon said, 'You, your children, and even your grandchildren can build there.'"
While the Times account is technically accurate, it failed to reveal that Hazan was specifically asking about his own settlement of Ariel, the largest settlement in Samaria, with approximately 20,000 permanent residents and thousands of students who study in the town's College of Judea and Samaria. Under the Clinton Plan, Ariel would have been annexed to Israel as part of the Western Samaria settlement bloc, and may therefore not be subject to any settlement freeze mandated by the roadmap.
Sharon On Language
Yesterday, Prime Minister Sharon referred to the West Bank as "occupied" territory. Today, he stated that it is actually "disputed" territory. Others rationalized that Sharon meant that Israel's presence in major Palestinian cities is occupation, but not Israel's presence in unpopulated areas.
Regardless, Sharon's comments have received worldwide attention and were very misguided. Referring to the areas captured in 1967 as occupied undermines any Israeli claims to even part of those territories, and implies that the settlement movement lacks a moral basis. Indeed, if the term "occupied territories" is accurate, then Israeli settlement in those areas is illegal, as Arabs have argued over the last three decades.
Sharon's point about it not being in Israel's interest to rule over 3 million Arabs is well taken, but, even in the context of calling for territorial compromise, he and other Israelis and supporters of Israel must be careful to express that point in a manner that does not waive the legitimate Jewish claim to Judea and Samaria.
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Another encouraging column by an Arab writer appears in Monday's edition of Arab News. While being careful to express the mandatory anti-Israel invective, the article concludes as follows:
"Palestinians must make up their minds. Their national liberation will come about through a political settlement or through armed struggle. The former may take years, but it will come with an understanding by Palestinian leaders of their movement’s place in the balance of power, which alone will define the rights they get — no more but no less either. With the latter, they have Buckley’s chance of going anywhere beyond sitting under that tree waiting for Godot, living a life of increasing destitution in their pauperized land with every suicide bombing they mount. They can’t have both."
Road Map and Israeli Independence
While I believe the road map to be very adverse to Israel's interests, I respect the fact that others disagree.
Israel's government, however, does not disagree with me. Almost of all of the ministers who voted in favor of the road map stated that they believe the plan to be very dangerous to Israel. Their vote to accept the document, it was explained, was solely to avoid a confrontation with the United States.
Israel desperately needs U.S. support and should indeed attempt to avoid confrontation with the U.S. However, the notion that any disagreement would have disastrous consequences is absurd. Instead, instinctively accepting everything proposed by the U.S. has and will continue to undermine Israel's ability to act in its own national interest.
With respect to the road map, the pressure from the U.S. was far from overwhelming. It's unlikely that the Bush Adminstration was looking for a fight with Israel's supporters in Congress, Christian groups and Jewish organizations. Last year, when Israel rebuffed Bush's demand to immediately withdraw from West Bank cities the IDF had entered, Bush was the one who backed down.
Amazingly, the cabinet's approval of the road map comes just a week after Prime Minister Sharon postponed his meeting with President Bush following a series of suicide bombings. It is now clear that Sharon badly miscalculated in deciding not to meet with Bush and try to persuade the White House to change the plan.
Would the current government have destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor, as the Begin government did in 1981? Would it have built a single settlement, or developed and annexed areas of Jerusalem that were captured in 1967? Would it have authorized Mossad agents to kill PLO leaders, as routinely occurred in the 1970's and 80's? Or would it have declined to take such actions, due to fear of offending its main ally?
Friday, May 23, 2003
Although it is certainly not written from a pro-Israel prosepctive, an encouraging column appears in today's Beirut Daily Star. Its author, Massoud Derhally, a Palestinian-Jordanian journalist, argues that:
"it is unacceptable for the likes of Hamas or Islamic Jihad to continue to milk religion. They interpret Islam in a contorted way, capitalizing on the desperation of Palestinians and killing innocent people. Statehood or even life without occupation will not come from violence. Such organizations need to be marginalized. They need to be reigned in, because they are doing more harm than good. They have self-inflated egos, a warped understanding of politics, are self-centred and thrive amid chaos and anarchy."
If the likes of Massoud Derhally ever lead the Palestinians, peace based upon territorial compromise will be realistic.
Haaretz has an excellent yet extremely disturbing article about Russians who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return and have now formed anti-Semitic movements and neo-Nazi websites.
Regardless of Israel's demographic problems, It is time for the Law of Return to be amended. Requiring prospective olim to have at least one Jewish parent (rather than one Jewish grandparent, as under the current Law of Return) to be eligible for automatic citizenship would be a reasonable solution. Unfortunately, Jewish Agency workers in the former USSR continue to promote aliyah to anyone with even the most dubious relationship with Judaism and Zionism.
Chasidim and the NBA
Blog sensation Hasidic Rebel would have been in familiar company had he attended last night's Nets vs. Pistons playoff game. A large number of observant Jews were in attendance, including a group of chasidim, who were excitedly high-fiving fellow fans while exiting the arena following the Nets' victory.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
An article in Friday's Arab News, a Saudi newspaper, reports on very long delays on Saudi roads caused by new checkpoints that have been installed in light of the increased terror threats. According to one frustrated motorist, “When we left Dammam at 7 p.m. we saw a very long line of trucks queuing to enter the city from the highway. We never imagined what was waiting for us coming into Riyadh at 10:30. As we approached the area of the checkpoint outside Riyadh, I saw a long line of trucks. I reset my odometer at that time and found that when we reached the checkpoint we had traveled 5 kilometers.”
Perhaps Colin Powell will demand that the Saudis lift the checkpoints and stop humiliating and oppressing the population.
Jordan Times Editorial
More than eight years after Israel signed a peace treaty with Jordan, it is disappointing but not surprising to read a vitriolic anti-Israel editorial in the Jordan Times. Worse, the editorial relies on distorted claims by Israeli academics who stated that Israelis are anti-democratic. One example these academics offer as evidence is "the massive vote for the Likud party in the last Knesset elections." A Jerusalem Post editorial articulated a strong challenge to those claims, as did a Jerusalem Post column by Daniel Doron.
Today's Times, Haaretz and Jerusalem Post all have articles stating that the Bush Administration is demanding that Israel immediately accept the roadmap.
Perhaps it was a mistake for Prime Minister Sharon to postpone his trip, but in any event, it's quite discouraging that a few days after the latest series of suicide bombings, Israel's security concerns are again deemed secondary to Bush's desire to placate our Arab and European "allies."
While Israel must not competely ignore U.S. pressure, nothing catastrophic will occur if Israel rejects the roadmap, just as the world did not end when Israel declined Bush's demand to pull out of West Bank cities last April, or to stop building in Har Choma, as Bill Clinton demanded when Netanyahu was Prime Minister.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Whenever the Nets win the first of two road games, Byron Scott and some of the players have an annoying habit of proclaiming their mission accomplished, implying that they need not win the following game. This occurred again after Sunday's road victory against the Pistons. Yet to their credit the Nets won another close one last night. Perhaps Scott makes these statements to give opponents a false sense of confidence.
After two games in which the Mets' starters pitched until the ninth inning followed by a day off, how can Art Howe bring Pat Strange into a tie game? Strange has been terrible every time he's pitched and has an ERA of 23.62. Meanwhile, David Cone is languishing in the minors to build up his art strength. Even if Cone is just about finished, he'd be a much better option for middle relief than Strange is.
An editorial in today's Tehran Times on the possibility of Jews and other non-Moslems entering the Temple Mount - as was the case between 1967 and 2000 - shows the extent to which the Islamic press distorts reality to invent claims of a "Zionist conspiracy." For example, the Iranian paper states as fact that "the Zionists plan to come to the mosque with bottles of alcohol." Sadly, Iran does not have a free press and its citizens likely believe this nonsense.
European Anti-Semitic Cartoon
On January 27, 2003, The Independent, a British newspaper, published a cartoon of Prime Minister Sharon biting the head off a Palestinian baby and asking "What's wrong? Have you never seen a politician kissing a child before?" Today, Haaretz reports that Britain's Press Complaints Commission rejected Israel's complaint against this latest European blood libel against the Jewish people.
A front page article in today's New York Times states as follows:
"...administration officials said that to rekindle the prospects for peace, Mr. Sharon was being pressed to consider doing something dramatic that would not directly affect Israeli security, like dismantling a small number of Jewish settlements established in the last two years." This is in sharp contrast to Sharon's claim in his recent interview with The Jerusalem Post that the only pressure to dismantle settlement outposts "is pressure from Jews on themselves."
The Times article also states that "two top White House aides — Stephen J. Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, and Elliott Abrams, director of Middle East affairs on the national security staff — took a helicopter trip across Israel with Mr. Sharon. Administration officials said at the time that the trip was an attempt by Mr. Sharon to show them the precariousness of Israel's security situation, as he had done with other visitors, including Mr. Bush before he was president. In fact, the officials said, the helicopter trip was partly intended for them to get a bird's eye view of Jewish settlements to see which ones would eventually be frozen or even dismantled as part of the peace negotiations."
If true - and I believe it is - this would be a grave error by Sharon. While Sharon trusts the Bush Administration, ultimately, by specifying prior to negotiations - even privately - the territorial concessions he will make, Sharon is inevitably creating pressure on Israel to give up more than that amount of territory. Furthermore, whatever Sharon conveyed to Abrams and Hadley wil be leaked, with the PA then insisting that negotiaions start from those concessions.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Barak On Arafat
Interesting comments by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who stated that any peace process will fail if Arafat has any power, and that "the European version of the road map is very dangerous to Israel. We must insist that what is implemented be as close as possible to the Bush vision."
During its coverage of Sunday's suicide bombing in French Hill, a Fox News anchor referred to that area as "located in east Jerusalem and claimed by the Palestinians."
Actually, French Hill is located in northern Jerusalem. It was captured on the second day of the Six Day War along with Ramot, Ramat Eshkol and Mount Scopus, where the main campus of Hebrew University stands. While the PA may claim these areas to be Arab, nobody - not even the EU - takes those claims seriously.
This shows that Israel's borders will ultimately be based not on the 1967 lines, but on the current demographic realities of each of the areas captured. Areas containing large settlements therefore have a good chance of being annexed to Israel, but those chances will be reduced if an imposed freeze ends Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria.
As a result of the latest series of mass murders of Israelis, the question of whether Yasser Arafat should be deported is again being debated. At the very least, Israel should continue to publicly raise the possibility of expelling Arafat. That way Israel would deflect pressure to withdraw from parts of the West Bank, as called for by the roadmap, as security operations against terrorists in formerly PA territory would be recognized as a moderate alternative to more severe measures considered by Israel.
Today's Times reports on a group of wealthy elitist Jews who are insisting that Democratic candidates support the "roadmap," despite the Israeli government's misgivings.
In the article, one member of the group states that "it's important that our candidates recognize that the overwhelming majority of the American-Jewish community supports the road map." In fact, I am certain that the overwhelming majority of American Jews have little or no idea of the substantive requirements of the roadmap.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Report, Joshua Malina of the West Wing chastises his fellow Jews in Hollywood for failing to express support for Israel.
Of course, Malina's criticism is applicable not only to Jews in the entertainment industry, but to a majority of American Jews, as well as some Jewish organizations.
Monday, May 19, 2003
An op-ed in the Jordan Times insists that Palestinian refugees must be allowed to "return" to Israel before there can be peace, as does a column in Arab News, which states that "not a single Palestinian Authority figure can ever" concede on the refugee issue. As this indeed is the position of the Palestinian Authority (including Abu Mazen), there is clearly no possibility of a negotiated solution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.
Nets fan could not be optimisitc about Jason Kidd's future after seeing ABC's interview with him, broadcast during halftime of yesterday's game. Kidd stated that he would consider leaving the Nets if he could go to a team with which he could have the chance to win enough titles to be remembered with the likes of Bird, Magic, and Jordan.
San Antonio sounds very much like that team.
Speaking of the Nets, Dikembe Mutombo once again did not play yesterday. Perhaps Mutombo is out of shape and looks bad in practice. I think it's more likely, however, that Byron Scott is trying to prove a point by not playing Mutombo, that playing time is to be earned, not given to anybody. If so, Scott has made his point, and should give Mutombo some minutes. The Nets could use him against the Pistons.
Devils Deserve Recognition
It's unfortunate that despite being on the verge of playing in their fourth Stanley Cup since 1995, the Devils are receiving so little attention from the New York sports media. I'm a Rangers fan, and the Devils deserve much credit for putting together a consistent winner on a reasonable budget.
Fox and Israel
Fox News has generally been fair toward Israel, so it was disappointing to see E.D. Hill of Fox's morning show come close this morning to equating suicide bombings with accidental killings of Palestinian civilians by the IDF. Hill wondered whether "frustrated" soldiers sometimes kill Palestinian civilians intentionally. When co-host Brian Kilmeade challenged Hill, she backed off a bit, but questioned Israel's sincerity about peace in light of its refusal to destroy what she called "illegal settlements."
Sunday, May 18, 2003
Hillel of Berkeley is financially supporting an extreme left-wing organization called Tzedek, which demands an Israeli withdrawal for all land captured in 1967, including the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Tzedek's anti-Israel sentiments were made clear in this flyer, which it distributed at Berkeley Hillel. Berkeley Hillel would not, however, allow a representative of the Zionist Organization of America to distribute material expressing support for the government and land of Israel, ideas that apparently are too radical for Berkeley, whose students blocked a speech by former Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Friday, May 16, 2003
This week's Sports Illustrated features the Nets (with Jason Kidd pictured) on the cover.
Conventional wisdom is that the mythical SI jinx will cause the Nets to lose in the Eastern Conference finals, with Jason Kidd bolting for San Antonio a few weeks later. Such was the case with the 1998 Jets, who had won 7 in a row before Keyshawn Johnson appeared for them on an SI cover and they promptly lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship. That very well might happen again, but in fairness, the SI myth does not always hold true. After all, in 1994, the Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup, ending 54 years of futility despite Mark Messier's appearance on SI's cover during the playoffs.
Phillip Weiss has a column in the New York Observer in which he expresses his excitement that 16 wealthy Jewish Democrats have written a letter to President Bush in favor of the "roadmap." Weiss indicates that there would be political benefit for Bush to pressure Sharon into accepting the concessions required by the roadmap, as he could pick up votes from dovish Jews.
The problem with Weiss' argument is that these Jews would never vote for Bush, even if, as did his predecessor, he were to befriend Yassir Arafat. I doubt any Jews will vote for Bush because he pressures Israel, while some moderates in Florida may vote for Bush if he allows Sharon to decide for himself what's best for Israel.
Finally, Weiss refers to the leftist Israel Policy Forum as "centrist." Come on, Phillip. IPF is no more centrist than is the Zionist Organziation of America. While I don't agree with them on everything, I'm a member of the ZOA, but wouldn't pretend it's "centrist", so why the need for Weiss to distort the reality about IPF?
Today's New York Sun (registration required for access) has a front page story about the 66th Precinct police station, in Boro Park.
The article matter-of-factly states that "the 70,000-person-strong chasidic Jewish community constitutes the area's largest population." If 70,000 chasidim live in Boro Park, surveys which show only 300,000 or 400,000 Orthodox Jews in the U.S. must be way off-base, as I believe them to be. For one thing, there are non-chasidic Orthodox in Boro Park. There also are large Orthodox populations in Midwood, Williamsburg and Crown Heights. Many more live outside of Brooklyn, in places such as the Lower East Side, the Upper West Side, Lakewood, the Five Towns, Riverdale, Far Rockaway, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Kew Gardens, Engelwood, Fair Lawn, Teaneck, Elizabeth, Passaic, New Brunswick, Highland Park, East Brunswick, West Orange, Cherry Hill, West Hempstead, Boston are the surrounding area, Silver Spring, Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Miami, Boca Raton, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Phoenix, Philadelphia.
I'm sure I've left some places out.
Haaretz has a long feature about Laura Gordon, a 20 year old American Jew who came to Israel on a Birthright Israel program, only to stay around at the conclusion to assist Palestinian terrorists by joining the International Solidarity Movement.
I wonder how long it will be before a "Jewish organization" honors Gordon.
Daily Star Editorial
Nice editorial in today's Lebanon Daily Star, strongly criticizing the Arab regimes for long ignoring the suffering of Iraqis and citizens of other Arab countries.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Who Killed Muhammad al-Dura?
Atlantic Monthly has an excellent article with strong evidence that Israel did not shoot Muhammad al-Dura, the 12 year old boy believed to have been killed in Gaza in the beginning of the war waged by Arafat. In fact, it is questionable that al-Dura was killed at all, with some charging that his "death" was a staged farce. In that regard, Amnon Lord wrote an excellent piece last year.
Making Of A Gadol
Excerpts of some "controversial" portions of Making of a Gadol (a/k/a/ Making of a Godol) can found by clicking here. A few disclosures are that R. Yaacov, zt'l was in favor of American yeshiva students finishing secular studies in high school and felt that English Lit was a good thing to study.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Howe and Torborg
Mets lost again today, 6-5.
It's beginning to feel alot like the early 90's. Art Howe, who had a mediocre managerial record before coming to Oakland, is increasingly reminding me of Jeff Torborg, who had a similar record before coming to the White Sox in the late 80's and was unimpressive with the Mets and Marlins, who just fired him. Hopefully the Mets will turn it around before Howe's fourth year here. That's how long it took for the A's to have a winning record under Howe.
The Lemrick Nelson verdict appears to have been a compromise among the jurors, in which Nelson was found guilty of stabbing Yankel Rosenbaum, but not of causing Rosenbaum's death. Makes no sense. As a result, Nelson can only get 10 years in jail, including the years in jail he's served, rather than a life sentence. He'll likely be out of prison within a year or two. Check out the story as reported by the Times.
Triple A Mets
The Mets hit a new low last night by blowing a 7-0 7th inning lead and losing 9-8. The bullpen assembled by Steve Phillips is an abysmal mix of overpaid, over-the-hill veterans and inexperienced pitchers shullting between Triple A and the majors (yes, the Mets are still in the majors).
Settlers as Pawns
In today's Times, a "Sharon aide" is quoted as advising people not to take seriously Sharon's statements to the Jerusalem Post indicating that Beit El and Shilo will not be dismantled, dismissing such statements as "domestic politics."
There are more than 200,000 Jewish residents as Judea and Samaria, many of whom live in settlements that would not exist if not for Ariel Sharon. It is sad to see these people used as political pawns. Sharon should not be making false promises to these people merely to deflate potential right-wing opposition to his government.
On a positive note, it is encouraging to learn that the communities of Ariel and Emanuel will be placed inside Israel's West Bank security fence, as Haaretz reports. At the very least, this means that these towns are more likely to be retained in the event of an agreed or a unilateral withdrawal from other parts of the West Bank.
Drudge reports that in addition to Jayson Blair, other New York Times reporters may be guilty of similar misconduct.
I wonder if one of them is James Bennett. Today, Bennett falsely writes that Prime Minster Sharon has ruled out dismantling settlements. In fact, Sharon stated that dismantling settlements is currently "not on the horizon." Worse, Bennett claims that Sharon is only willing to offer the Palestinians less than half of the West Bank, but offers no basis for that claim. To the contrary, Sharon strongly implied to Times columnist William Safire in a recent interview that he would dismantle settlements and give up a majority of Judea and Samaria.
What's Wrong With Maiming Kids?
In late 2000, Muhammed Dahlan, Abu Mazen's security chief, ordered the bombing of a school bus in Gaza. Two teachers were killed, and three siblings in the Cohen family all had limbs amputated, including a six-year old girl who lost both of her legs.
Apparently this does not prevent Dahlan from being hailed as a moderate who opposes terrorism. In response to complaints by some Israelis that Dahlan is a terrorist murderer, The Jerusalem Report quotes a "Western diplomat" complaining that Israel has got to stop labeling people like Dahlan as terrorists.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
I just saw Geraldo Rivera walking with his girlfriend on 37th and Madison, so be skeptical if Geraldo claims to be covering the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. During the war in Afghanistan, Geraldo claimed to be standing at the site at which several Americans were killed, when he actually was hundreds of miles away.
Met Discards Excel
The Mets visited Colorado last night, and while they won 9-6, it was frustrating to watch two more Mets discards, Preston Wilson and Jay Payton, who are starring with the Rockies.
Wilson was the key Met in the trade that brought Mike Piazza, so it's hard to criticize that trade. However, it is almost certain that Florida would have traded Piazza for less than they got from the Mets.
There certainly was no excuse for trading Payton last season, when he finally started to hit to his potential. The Mets got John Thompson, a terrible pitcher in Colorado who then pitched terribly for the Mets and was released after the season. Thompson had previously stated that no amount of money would convince him to pitch in New York. Sounds like a Steve Phillips kind of guy.
Murder of Olim
Netty Gross has a sad and poignant article in the latest Jerusalem Report.
She recalls interviewing, in 1993, children and teens whose parents had recently made aliyah from the United States. After the interview, a photo was taken of about a dozen or so smiling teens. One of them was Ari Weiss (son of Ra'anana rabbi and Jerusalem Post columnist Stewart Weiss), who was killed last year, another was the sister of Daniel Mandel, who was killed last month. Both were soldiers martyred while operating against Palestinian terror cells.
Reinman and Zionism
One interesting but rarely discussed aspect of One People/Two Worlds, the controversial Reinman/Hirsch book:
While Hirsch takes a pro-Zionist stance, with political views akin to Labor or Meretz, Reinman wonders whether the Jews would have been better off with a bi-national state rather than the State of Israel.
While Reinman's views may represent dogma of charedi groups such as Agudah, they do not represent the vast majority of the Orthodox, including the charedim, almost all of whom recognize that the situation of Jews in Eretz Israel is far superior today that it was under the British or the Ottoman Empire, and is certainly preferable to living under Arab sovereignty, as would have occurred under an ostensibly bi-national state which would have had no right of return for Jews, and therefore no mass influx of Sephardim in the 1950's, resulting in a much smaller Jewish population than there now is.
Monday, May 12, 2003
G-d and Israel
This past shabbos, I was arguing about Israel with someone outside of a shul in the Upper West Side. I became a relative left-winger, because I argued that Israel must be open to territorial compromise for real peace, and cannot ignore the diplomatic and demographic realities it faces.
When I mentioned these realities, the other fellow asked me whether "God has anything to do with" the choices Israel should make. I replied that He does not.
I explained that all of us must make what we believe to be the correct choices. While faith in God is important, we cannot rely on God to avoid making rational, difficult decisions. A person who is ill must not rely on God to cure him, though of course prayer is appropriate and important. Similarly, 1900 years ago, it was a mistake to rely on God to defeat the Roman Empire and end the brutal Roman occupation of Israel. Today, divisiveness among Jews is not all that different from those times, and it would be a mistake to rely on God to save Israel from its challenges.
That does not mean we should not thank God for the miracle of the State of Israel, and pray that Israel and its people are secure. But it does mean that political and military decisions must be made based upon rational considerations, not on an assumption (as distinguished from the hope) of divine intervention.
The Road Map
In Tuesday's Haaretz, Amnon Rubinstein writes that "Israel must accept the road map to guarantee itself American support, because only it has the strength to possibly avoid the greater danger. There is a good chance that if Israel accepts the road map, which George Bush supports, it will be possible to create a Pax Americana in the Muslim world, so no Islamic bomb can threaten the Jewish state."
Essentially, Rubinstein's point is that the nuclear threat to Israel from terror groups is growing, and that Israel needs U.S. support to try to alleviate that danger, so Israel must accept the roadmap.
I agree with Rubinstein that Israel faces threats that require it to ensure that it does not alienate its greatest ally, which also is the current world superpower, and to make concessions which it might not make if those threats did not exist. However, Rubinstein does not show that U.S. support for Israel will disppear if Israel refuses to return to the 1967 borders and demands changes to the roadmap. If Israel has a disagreement with the U.S., would the latter decline to protect Israel, if it could, from threat of nuclear attack? I don't think so, as Israel and the U.S. have disagreed for decades about settlements, yet the relationship has remained strong.
In any event, what if Israel agrees to the world's demands and withdraws to the 1967 borders, would that really end the threat? There still would be no peace as long as Palestinian refugees were not allowed into Israel. That demand is stated in the Saudi "peace" plan and was the basis for the failure of the Clinton Plan. Abu Mazen, supposedly a moderate, insists on a "right of return." Rubinstein does not support giving in to those demands, even if it means that Islamic fanatics' hatred for Israel still resonates among the masses, but believes that Israel must insist that the Palestinians abandon their dreams of refugees returning to Israel. Similarly, contrary to Rubinstein's views, it is absolutely legitimate for Israel to insist on living in secure borders, including a portion of Judea and Samaria.
Beit El's Future
According to excerpts of an interview to appear in Friday's Jeusalem Post, PM Sharon stated that "If you ask me whether in Beit El there will not be Jews," Sharon said, "no, Jews will live there." Asked if they will continue to live in Beit El and Shilo under Israeli sovereignty, he replied, "Do you see a possibility of Jews living under Arab sovereignty, I'm asking you, do you see that possibility?" Sharon claimed that Beit El and Shilo are not candidates for dismantling.
Of course, former PM Barak once promised that Beit El and Ofra would never be given up, and then proceeded to offer a withdrawal that included those areas. Still, Sharon's latest interview must be taken - very cautiously of course - as a positive development.
Murder of Rabin
Unfortunately, the necessary lessons from the murder of Prime Minister Rabin have still not been grasped by some (not all) people opposed to his political decisions.
Rabin was Chief of Staff of the Six Day Year and devoted his entire adult life to Israel. His murder was comparable to, and probably worse then, the murder of Gedaliah, for which observant Jews still fast the day after Rosh Hashanah. While criticism of his political decisions and statements are absolutely legitimate, expressions of personal disdain toward Rabin because of the failed Oslo process are a continuation of the self-inflicted wounds suffered by Jews since the sale of Yosef by his brothers.
These wounds would be damaging enough if Israel was secure. With Israel forced to fight for its existence, the polarization that they cause is a major asset for Israel's enemies.
According to Israel TV, Ariel Sharon told Colin Powell yesterday in response to a demand that Israel cease all settlement activity, including natural growth, that Israel would not force women living in communities in post-1967 Israel to have abortions. Sharon insisted that those who were born in such communities must have the right to stay there and build their own families there.
Sharon's response is not necessarily encouraging for those who support the right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, as it can easily be interpreted as agreeing that people from inside the Green Line will no longer be allowed to move to Judea/Samaria. Absurdly, therefore, someone in Jerusalem might be forbidden from moving a couple of miles to Maaleh Adumim.
Friday, May 09, 2003
Many supporters of the Likud and other nationalist parties are gloating as the Labor party continues its demise, following the election debacle and the resignation of Amram Mitzna after just 6 months.
They should not be.
If anything, Labor should be the ones gloating, as its positions on the issues that deadlocked Israel for decades are prevailing. Even PM Sharon supports a Palestinian state and the destruction of communities in Judea/Samaria, a radical change from his positions in his autobiography "Warrior."
Labor's problem is that instead of recognizing the victory of the pragmatic left, it continues to move farther to the extreme left, naively believing that Israel has a peace partner and/or calling for unilateral withdrawal even without peace, an act that would assure that Israel would have no chips with which to bargain if a viable peace partner ever arises.
The current differences between Likud and Labor are thus not on the issue of territorial compromise (though Likud might still be a tougher negotiator in this regard) but on what Israel should give up even without real peace.
I realize that the Mets are having a tough time, but it is really cruel that Rey Ordonez is hitting .316 for Tampa Bay, with 3 homers, 11 doubles and 22 RBI. With those numbers, he'd be hitting cleanup for the Mets. What is it that makes Met rejects become stars with other teams?
Excellent piece in this week's Sports Illustrated about how the Oakland A's keep finding great talent. Billy Beane, their GM (and once the top pick in the draft by the Mets - and one of the biggest busts in Mets history) ignores the dogmatic nonsense of many scouts and looks for players who can hit.
As an example, last year an obscure college catcher caught Beane's eye, but the scouts insisted the guy shouldn't even be drafted, as he was too fat and didn't have the body for a catcher. The catcher was not even rated among the top 25 catchers in the draft and was not among the top 500 prospects of the A's scouts. Beane was ridiculed and challenged within the organization and stunned the player himself when he picked him in the first-round of the 2002 draft. The catcher then dominated pitchers in A ball and suddenly is recognized as one of the top hitters in minor league baseball.
Of course, if the Mets had a guy like this, Steve Phillips would trade him for Shawn Estes or Kenny Rogers.
I think the only players left from the NL Champion 2000 Mets are Piazza, Armando Benitez, Al Leiter, Timo Perez and Joe McEwing. Amazingly, the Yankees currently have three players from that team, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile and Bubba Trammell. Bubba's better than any of the Mets outfielders.
Obviously, the Mets did not handle the Piazza situation well by first telling the media about their plans and then telling him, and at this point in the season it's best to just keep him at catcher full-time through the end of the season. Let him work out at first base during spring training 2004. The real mistake was trading for Mo Vaughn instead of keeping Todd Zeile for 2002 and then moving Piazza this season, which had been the original plan.
Making Of A Gadol
I don't know enough about the specifics of 'Making of a Gadol' to have a detailed opinion, but offer two thoughts:
First, the whole idea of banning books is pathetic and has not and will not do anything other than create cynicism toward the authorites who ban them.
Second, on Amazon's zshops, Making of a Gadol is selling for $650! Obviously people now very much want to read the book now that it's been banned, whereas otherwise it probably wouldn't have received much attention. So the ultimate effect of the ban is to ensure that only the rich get to read about how R. Yaakov Kaminetzky became a gadol, while the rest of us remained mired in financial and spiritual mediocrity.
International Solidarity Movement
Israel today raided the Bethlehem offices of the International Solidarity Movement, which claims to oppose any violence, despite the fact that on its website, the group explicitly states that it supports the Palestinian "armed struggle" and that its co-founder, Adam Shapiro, has written in support of the use of both violent and nonviolent tactics, arguing that both are needed. More absurd, the group last week claimed that it is neutral and neither pro-Palestinian nor pro-Israeli, despite the fact that its website is called palsolidarity.org
Thursday, May 08, 2003
Abe Polin is foolish for getting rid of a valuable asset such as Michael Jordan, but Jordan deserves what he got after creating so much acrimony on the team and trading talented players such as Richard Hamilton for having the guts to stand up to him.
While they may not say hallel on Yom Haatzmaut, the charedim are becoming increasingly Zionist. A great example is that Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, head of Zaka (the charedi group that picks up body parts after terrorist bombings) lit a candle at the national Yom Haatzmaut ceremony and proclaimed Zaka to be doing its work "for the honor of the State of Israel." This is particularly significant because Meshi-Zahav is involved with the Eda Haredit and just a few years ago led demonstrations against the State of Israel.
Along these lines is a great column by Rabbi Berel Wein in Friday's Jerusalem Post, expressing gratitude for the State of Israel, and especially recognizing that more yeshivas exist in Israel today than since Talmudic times. He aptly stated that while the State is not perfect, it's an excellent work in progress.
Lo Taamod and Israel
Last shabbos I gave the rotating dvar torah in Dov Revel Synagogue. I spoke about one of the mitzvos in Parshas Kedoshim - lo saamod al dam reiech - don't stand idly over your friend's blood. In light of Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) and Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day), I suggested that people take time to think about our lo taamod obligations vis a vis Israel.
A chasidic guy has a site at http://hasidicrebel.blogspot.com. He does some relatively mild complaining about his fellow chasidim and has gotten positive attention from less right-wing Jews who presumably like the idea of a rebellious chasid.
While hasidicrebel makes important points relating to respect for those of all religions, races, etc., he isn't going to accomplish much by remaining anonymous. While it's not easy, the Orthodox world - and this includes the chasidim, the centrists, the modern and the yeshivish - need people to publicly speak their mind with regard to the issues that surround them and their communities.
Piazza at First
Mike Piazza should not be a catcher anymore, but is he really suitable to be a first-baseman? My guess is that he'd be even worse than Mo Vaughn at first. I hope I'm wrong, but think that Piazza is now best suited to be a DH. Fortunately he'll have the chance when the Mets play at AL teams.
It's interesting to see the Lakers struggle now that their bench is depleted with the losses of Rick Fox and Deavon George.
Interesting series of columns in Friday's Jerusalem Post on what kinds of "painful concessions" Israel would have to make, whether for peace or to alleviate its difficult demographic situation.
It seems clear to me that the trends currently are very unfavorable toward the Jewish communities ("settlements") in Judea and Samaria. PM Sharon strongly implied he'd dismantle large communities like Beit El, where people have lived for more than 25 years. As Yossi Klein Halevi pointed out in The Jerusalem Post, the religious community in Israel will be devastated by the destruction of towns in Judea and Samaria.
Unfortunately, nobody is doing anything to stop this trend. I'm not necessarily referring to stopping the trend by trying to stop the entire process toward a Palestinian state and a withdrawal from territory. Rather, there needs to be a pragmatic recognition that Israel is not forever going to retain all of the West Bank land it currently holds, with some of that land going to a Palestinian state. Once this is recognized, the key will be to try to retain as many communities as possible (i.e. Ariel, as much as possible of Gush Etzion, the Binyamin region, including Beit El; and strategic areas such as the Jordan Valley). Every "settlement" that is eventually annexed to Israel will cease to be a settlement and will thrive and grow by leaps and bounds. Gush Etzion has the potential to become a key region within Israel over the next decades. But this will only happen if people recognize and soberly accept the threat to the Jewish enterprise in Judea and Samaria, and act not to completely eliminate that threat, but to limit its results by fighting to save as much as possible.