The Zionist Conspiracy

A clandestine undertaking on behalf of Israel, the Jets and the Jews.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Jets Update

Reports in today's newspapers indicate that the Jets are shopping John Abraham, that the Jets are continuing negotiations with Chad Pennington, and that they are talking with the Redskins about QB Patrick Ramsey.

The media seems to believe that the Jets will get at least a first round pick for Abraham. I don't buy it, unless the Jets also give up their fourth round pick. A second and fifth rounder sounds much more likely. Disgruntled players rarely bring back a first.

In any event, I am greatly looking forward to Abraham's departure.

There isn't much more to say about Pennington. We'll see how the negotiations end. If he returns to the Jets, minicamp in late March would be the first test of his shoulder strength.

I'm not a fan of Ramsey. Joe Gibbs knows a little about quarterbacks, and if he doesn't like Ramsey, that's a bad sign. Ramsey is sort of the anti-Chad Pennington. He has a very strong arm, but is inaccurate, makes poor decisions, and fails to quickly release the ball, resulting in too many interceptions. Perhaps Ramsey will prove to be another Vinny Testaverde, who improved enough to become a decent starting quarterback. Maybe the Jets think Ramsey's career could be turned around the way Drew Brees' was. I would hesitate to even give up a fifth round pick for him. My sense is that Ramsey would only be a slight upgrade over Brooks Bollinger, and would probably only be a one-year stopgap in case Pennington can't come back. If Pennington is healthy enough to start the 2006 season, head coach Eric Mangini will play him.

Monday, February 27, 2006
Jewish Approach to Abortion

In reaction to the South Dakota abortion ban bill, I've heard a number of frum people who otherwise support a ban on abortion express disagreement with the failure of South Dakota to provide an exception for victims of rape.

To the extent these people's support for an abortion ban is based upon halacha, I fail to understand why the lack of a rape exception is found to be particularly troubling.

While I don't claim to be an expert on the halachic issues, I'm quite certain that according to most halachic authorities, the fact that a woman has been raped does not necessarily allow her to terminate an ensuing pregnancy.

According to many (though not all) authorities, there are circumstances in which a rape victim would be allowed to abort the fetus, such as where she will suffer severe psychological trauma if she has to continue the pregnancy and give birth to the baby. It may well be that this circumstance would apply to most rape victims who wish to have an abortion, but it is still not automatically applied.

And this same halachic leniency could also apply to a woman who has not been raped but for whatever reason will suffer severe psychological trauma if she continues the pregnancy. An example might be a woman who becomes psychotic after giving birth. Ultimately, the matter is a very sensitive one that would be decided on a case-by-case basis.

I don't think observant Jews who generally support an abortion ban but object to the failure to make exceptions for rape are basing their views on halacha. If they were, there would be plenty of other situations in which halacha could potentially apply a more lenient standard than would a blanket ban.

More likely, these people's general approach to abortion is based on their moral values. The support for a rape exception is based upon the fear that something terrible of that sort could happen to a family member, and upon feelings of sympathy for rape victims. There is of course nothing wrong with that. But once sentiments are based on feelings of morality, fear and sympathy rather than halacha, they will inevitably shift based on life experiences, and the views expressed should be seen as those of individual observant Jews, but not ones mandated by halachic Judaism.

Today in Haaretz

Today's editorial in Haaretz offers a rationale for Palestinian terror attacks emanating from Gaza, explaining: "Those who thought that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza would end the violence from Gaza apparently failed to understand that Gaza and the West Bank are a single Palestinian entity that is fighting the occupation."

Haaretz also published today an op-ed by an Israeli (Esther Zandberg) stating that a boycott of Israeli companies "might not be too extreme a measure" and "could have a positive reverberating effect on all sides."

Not to be outdone, also in today's Haaretz appears an op-ed by Shulamit Aloni, who charges Israel with "a racist, colonialist and contemptible policy." Aloni writes that Israeli generals like Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya'alon "launch provocative acts of aggression on the lands of the West Bank, and continue assassinations while ruining or murdering innocent people."

Last but not least, Haaretz published a "report" critical of Israel's separation fence in the area of the southern Hebron Hills. While briefly noting at the end that the original route of the fence in that area has been significantly reduce after an Israeli Supreme Court ruling, leaving most of the settlements in the area outside the fence and unprotected, the "report" complains that the fence will still encompass three Hebron Hills settlements near the Green Line.

Attacking The Apprentice Contestants

It's unfortunate that even before the premiere episode has aired, some frum people are already expressing criticism of Apprentice contestants Dan Brody and Lee Bienstock.

Of course, it's reasonable to be concerned that Brody and Bienstock could have placed themselves in a situation in which halachic observance is especially challenging, and that they will be portrayed in a light that will not reflect positively on religiously observant Jews.

But concerns are one thing. Negative assumptions are another, and they are unfair. And self-righteous premature attacks are especially inappropriate. Perhaps people are forgetting that these guys are real people, and that they and their families live in frum communities in the New York area.

The negative sentiments that some have expressed about Brody and Bienstock remind me of a meanspirited article about Tamir Goodman that appeared years back in the YU Commentator.

Lawrence Frank

Now that Herm Edwards has left the Jets, it's time attention is paid to another local head coach who is lauded by the media despite his mediocre performance.

To be sure, Nets coach Lawrence Frank is not nearly in Edwards' league when it comes to ineptitude. Unlike Edwards, Frank prepares his team well, and is proficient in game strategy. He doesn't panic in the final minutes and consistently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The problem with Frank is that he gets almost nothing out of his bench, and overplays his starters. Prior to this season, the excuse was that the Nets had no talent on the bench. Last offseason, however, the Nets stocked up their bench, adding forwards Marc Jackson, Scott Padgett and Linton Johnson, and guards Jeff McInnis, Lamond Murray and first round pick Antoine Wright. Guard Zoran Planinic, a former first round pick, was also expected to contribute to what was seen as a very deep bench.

Almost immediately, Jackson, McInnis, Murray and Planinic found themselves in Frank's doghouse, a doghouse from which they have not been given a chance to dig their way out.

Johnson was never given a chance to play, logging a pathetic 35 minutes in the Nets first 52 games. He and Jackson were traded last week to the Hornets in a salary dump. In Johnson's first two games with New Orleans, he's played 36 minutes and scored 21 points while grabbing 16 rebounds. Sounds like just the guy the Nets desperately need.

Instead of playing his bench, Frank overuses his starting five. As a result, when a starter gets hurt (like Vince Carter did last night) or is in foul trouble (as Nenad Kristic was last night), the Nets have little chance to win.

Perhaps most egregious is Frank's failure to get Jason Kidd off the court. Last night, Kidd played 43 minutes. This is the same Jason Kidd who had major knee surgery last year and is not getting younger. How much will he have left in the playoffs if he plays 40 or more minutes each game during the long regular season?

It is interesting that Frank is given a free pass by the media, while ex-Nets coach Byron Scott was often criticized. Yet Scott twice led the Nets to the NBA Finals, whereas Frank has not gotten past the second round of the playoffs.

If the Nets exit early from the playoffs, they should seriously consider whether Lawrence Frank is the man best suited to lead them back to the Eastern Conference elite.

Friday, February 24, 2006
Jews On The Apprentice

Word is that two people with frum backgrounds are on the new season of The Apprentice. As Steven Weiss and others have written, one is a YU graduate, the other went to HAFTR.

It would be interesting to see whether they are observing kashrus and shabbos while on the show. Donald Trump has had frum employees, so he would surely be accommodating, but the other contestants might feel and act differently. Those of us who are frum and have worked in largely non-Jewish work environments are well aware that it's usually co-workers rather than the employer itself who cause the most complications and challenges.

Finally, let's hope that the conduct of these guys will portray Judaism in a positive light and not be a chilul hashem; alas, most reality show contestants don't come across all that well.

Henrik Goes For Gold

Congratulations to Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose Swedish team just defeated Jaromir Jagr's Czechs in the Olympic hockey semifinals. The Swedes won by a score of 7-3, and obviously got a huge break with the injury to Czech goalie Dominic Hasek. Sweden will play the winner of this afternoon's Russia vs. Finland game in Sunday's gold medal game.

Latest Israeli Polls

This week's Israeli polls are out and again they show little change from previous polls that have all indicated a comfortable Kadima victory. At most, polls show that Kadima has lost a couple of seats to Avigdor Lieberman's Yisroel Beiteinu party.

Nevertheless, the polls also show rather soft support for Ehud Olmert, and wonder whether the turnout of Kadima supporters will be as high as for supporters of right-wing or left-wing voters, who are more ideological.

For example, The Jerusalem Post's latest poll shows Kadima at 38-39 seats, with Labor and Likud both at a very distant 17 seats.

But the poll also shows that only 46 percent of Israelis believe Ehud Olmert to be suitable to be prime minister. While that number is higher than the number who view Likud's Netanyahu (36 percent) or Labor's Peretz (21 percent) as being suitable to lead Israel, it also suggests that some Israelis who would have voted for a Kadima party led by Ariel Sharon and will not support Likud or Labor, may still switch from Kadima to a smaller party, or not vote at all.

That likely won't be enough to stop Kadima from setting up a coalition with Olmert serving as prime minister, but it could significantly affect the composition of the Knesset, the next government's coalition, and the chances that Olmert can implement a significant unilateral withdrawal from communities in Judea and Samaria.

Jerusalem Post Letter

My letter to the editor appeared in yesterday's Jerusalem Post:

Michael Freund is absolutely correct that the portrayal of Jordan's King Abdullah as a moderate is the result of Abdullah's great acting performance when he appears before Western audiences ("And the Oscar goes to - Jordan's King Abdullah," February 22). As Freund notes, Abdullah's Jordan welcomes Hamas and bars Jews from holding any land.

One unfortunate event not mentioned by Freund was the presentation to Abdullah by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of its 2005 Tolerance Award. Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Wiesenthal Center, led a 38-member delegation to Abdullah's palace to personally present this dubious and undeserved honor.

New York

Autistic Teen Stars In Basketball Debut

Even readers who disdain this blog's occasional focus on sports will likely be interested in the report of a 17 year old autistic high school student who scored 20 points in his debut.

Jason McElwain served as the high school team's manager, keeping the stats, running the clock, and handing out water bottles.

On Wednesday night, the 5 foot 6 senior's coach allowed McElwain to suit up, and with four minutes left and his team holding a comfortable lead, McElwain entered the game.

His first shot was an airball, but he proceeded to hit six three pointers, scoring a total of 20 points.

Why The Jets Should Bring Chad Back

I know there's much skepticism among some Jets fans regarding the chances that Chad Pennington can recover from his injuries to be a starting caliber NFL quarterback. I'm among those who believe it's possible that he can - after all, major leagues pitchers who blow out their arms do at times return and star again, and New England Patriots linebacker Teddy Bruschi even returned from a stroke. I admittedly am concerned that Pennington may need more than just one year to recover from his latest injury, a second torn rotator cuff.

A report in today's Newsday illustrates one of the reason that I believe Pennington deserves the benefit of the doubt. According to Newsday, Pennington has instructed his hard-line agent to soften his stance and resolve his contractual situation.

While some might reasonably scoff that Pennington has little choice but to take this position, the reality is that in today's world of athletes with massively inflated egos, Pennington's reasonableness does stand out.

I would contrast Pennington with another Jet, John Abraham. Abraham is now in a fury that the Jets have had the gall to label him their franchise player, meaning that Abraham would only make $8.3 million in 2006, despite having basically underachieved and been injury-prone throughout his career. Abraham argues that since he finally actually played in all 16 games last season, he deserves a huge long-term contract.

This is the same John Abraham who refused to play late in the 2004 season when he had a sprained knee. He made clear then that he would not risk his financial future by taking a chance that his knee injury could worsen in a game.

While Abraham was in street clothes, Pennington was starting at quarterback for the Jets, helping them defeat San Diego in the wild card game. Pennington played with a torn rotator cuff, even though he indeed was risking his financial future.

When I think of the great players in sports, much of what distinguishes them is how hard they played even when seriously hurt. Kevin McHale of the Celtics played in the playoffs with a broken foot that as a result never really healed. Jason Kidd of the Nets kept going in the 2004 playoffs even when he could barely walk on his knee. There was Bill Walton, whose endless string of stress fractures couldn't take him away from the court. Cam Neely had all kinds of severe injuries, but stayed on the ice in a desperate effort to bring a Stanley Cup to the Bruins. Kirk Gibson had no business being anywhere near the field in the 1988 World Series. Sandy Koufax pitched one complete game after the other, even on two days rest, to lead the Dodgers to the World Series, even though it caused him to depart right in his prime. Lawrence Taylor appeared to have complete disregard for his body even as he dominated opposing offenses.

Maybe Chad Pennington will never be able to come back. But it's guys like him who deserve the benefit of the doubt, and prima donnas like Abraham who deserve to underachieve and be overpaid someplace else.

As Jets running back Curtis Martin told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN Radio when asked about other Jets who anonymously called for the team to release Pennington: "I will play with Chad any day, I don't care what anybody says."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
King Abdullah's Facade

Nice column in tomorrow's Jerusalem Post by Michael Freund. Freund explains that the portrayal of Jordan's King Abdullah as a moderate is the result of a great acting performance by Abdullah.

"Like a polished thespian he utters the sweet words Western audiences wish to hear, putting on a performance so persuasive and believable that it truly does merit an Oscar nomination," Freund writes of Abdullah.

Indeed, Freund notes that Jordan recently reaffirmed that Jews cannot acquire land, it indicted two newspaper editors for republishing the Danish cartoons, and welcomes Hamas terrorists and those who are attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.

Freund did not mention the most outrageous presentation by The Simon Wiesenthal Center of its 2005 Tolerance Award to King Abdullah. At that time, Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Wiesenthal Center, led a 38-member delegation to Abdullah's palace to personally present the dubious award. I posted about that award in June.

Chad Pennington's Future

Media reports indicate that Chad Pennington's representatives have rejected the Jets demand that he take a massive pay cut, and that as a result he will probably be released in the next week.

More likely, both the Jets and Pennington's agent are posturing, and the sides will enter into real negotiation as the March 3 date for Pennington's $3 million roster bonus comes very close. While it's possible that things could spin out of control and Pennington is cut, it remains in the common interests of both the Jets and Pennington to work out a compromise. Releasing Pennington will cause the Jets to incur a $12 million salary cap hit in 2006, all but making it impossible for them to be active in the free agent market.

As usual, the media covering the Jets - still in denial that Herm Edwards who regularly leaked them sensitive information is finally gone - are complaining in their reports that the Jets are not giving substantive information about the status of Pennington's situation. I guess they expect the Jets to tell them something like: "Well, we're really bluffing quite a bit. The truth is that we have no other options with our terrible cap situation, so if Chad would just take a few million less, it would really help us out, and we'd be agreeable. Oh, and we absolutely must trade John Abraham, even if all we can get is another fourth round pick."

On a related topic, in a report in Friday's New York Post, two members of the Jets offense called on the team to release Pennington. According to one player, "He's like an egg back there. I mean, look at the ways he's gotten hurt. He hasn't even been hit that hard. The injuries have come from awkward hits and falls. I think we should just cut him."

If the Jets can figure out who that player is, he should be cut immediately. Scanning through the Jets offense, I can think of three potential candidates: Center Kevin Mawae, guard Pete Kendall, and tackle Jason Fabini. I can think of no other player who would have any reason to make a statement like this. If I had to guess, the players calling on the Jets to release Pennington were most likely Kendall and Fabini.

Natan Sharansky and the PA Elections

Natan Sharansky has long argued that the conditions for moderation in the Arab and Muslim world can be found only via democratic means, by giving the people a chance to choose their own leaders.

Many have ridiculed Sharansky, and at first glance, in light of the election results in Iran and in the Palestinian Authority, Sharansky's critics would appear to be right in arguing that democracy often makes things worse.

Perhaps Sharansky is indeed naive. Yet the criticism of Sharansky based on recent events is completely offbase, because his arguments have still not been tested at all.

As Sharansky has explained, particularly in his book, The Case For Democracy, merely holding elections in a purportedly democratic manner is insufficient. Instead, for democracy to take root, the society in question must first be free, where anyone can publicly express their views without fear of repercussions.

Clearly, these conditions do not exist in Iran - where the candidates for election did not include any real moderates - or in the PA, where the choice was between Fatah, Hamas and smaller terror groups like PFLP.

Similarly, in Egypt, moderate parties opposed to the Mubarak dictatorship were barred by Mubarak from running in the recent election, with some reformers sent to prison.

Under the circumstances in which the elections were held in Iran, Egypt and the PA, it is almost certainly true that the elections were a pointless exercise likely to make things worse. The Bush Administration's apparent notion that the mere holding of elections is progress toward democracy is amateurish and was sure to backfire in the manner that it did.

Jewish Education and Current Events

Over at Cross-Currents, Mark Bane wonders whether Orthodox Jewish children will be equipped to deal with the threats to Israel from an Iran with a nuclear bomb.

Bane notes that "for decades, American Jewish children have been raised in an environment of carefree security." He points out that even the Holocaust faded "into a study of history, rather than a contemporary Jewish experience." As a result, he writes, "the personality of the American Orthodox child reflects a secure, and almost brazen, attitude in confronting life in secular America."

Now, Bane writes, "every Jewish parent and teacher must consider whether today’s children will be entering a world that they have been ill prepared to encounter." He asks, "what educational devices need be introduced to prepare our children for this possible new (albeit ancient) world?"

The truth is that in many yeshivas - including those that I attended - the study of Jewish history and Jewish contemporary issues was almost completely ignored. At times rabbis and teachers would bring this issue up, but there were no formal courses on subjects like Jewish history, the Holocaust, Zionism, the State of Israel, anti-Semitism, or political and social issues facing Jews.

When I went to Brooklyn College, I was elated to learn that there actually were people who seriously thought about these issues. I learned more about the Holocaust in a short mandatory summer history course that dealt with the Holocaust for less than a week that I had in all of my years in yeshiva. I learned about pre-state Zionism and the formation of Israel, and a little about European anti-Semitism.

Ultimately, though I majored in Judaic Studies and have done some additional reading on related subjects since college, I would consider my knowledge of these issues to be modest at best. Alas, almost everyone else that I know has far less knowledge of these issues than me.

If yeshivas want to educate children about the challenges from Iran, they will have to start by accepting that spending a little less time on Talmud and devoting that time to study of Jewish history and contemporary Jewish issues and events would be worthwhile and not bittul Torah.

Sunday, February 19, 2006
Analyzing The Israeli Polls

The results of another slew of Friday polls have been published in Israel's newspapers, and yet again, they all indicate a Kadima rout, with Labor a very distant second and Likud third.

While it's too early to call the election for Kadima, it certainly looks likely that Ehud Olmert will soon be Israel's elected leader.

There has not been much serious analysis of the poll numbers. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Much of the cause for the very wide margin by which Kadima is in the lead is the implosion of the Shinui party. Shinui, which has 15 seats in the current Knesset, is projected to get no seats at all in the next election. Shinui's voters tend to be secular, Ashkenazi, with centrist or center-left political views. They won't vote for Likud, and certainly not for any of the religious parties. Many of these people voted for Labor when Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin led the party, but they won't vote for Amir Peretz's Labor, because they don't like his socialist economic views. As a result, most Shinui voters will move to Kadima.

2. Likud is doing terribly in the polls for a number of different reasons. The most obvious one is that many Likud supporters followed Ariel Sharon to Kadima, and are sticking with Kadima.

But there are other reasons. Many religiously observant Israelis who voted for Likud in the past will now vote for the National Union-National Religious Party bloc, which is slated to receive between 8 and 10 Knesset seats.

Furthermore, some Sephardim who voted Likud in the last election will move over to Shas, in retaliation for Binyamin Netanyahu's serious cuts in government welfare programs during his tenure as finance minister in Sharon's government.

Finally, Russians previously gave significant support to Likud, but they too are abandoning the party. This is in part because of loyalty to Sharon, in part because of Netanyahu's economic policies, and in part because of the ascendancy of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisroel Beiteinu party, which according to polls could win as many as eight Knesset seats.

The result is that Likud's support has shrunk to its very loyal core.

The potential good news for Likud is that some of these people may return in time for the election. With an effective campaign, Likud could finish in second place with around 25 seats.

3. While Kadima will almost surely have the most Knesset seats, there is still a chance that the right-wing and religious parties could gather 61 seats and form a narrow coalition. Currently, polls show the right and religious collecting approximately 45-49 seats, but polls usually underestimate support for these sectors.

Admittedly, this remains a longshot. More realistic would be a Kadima win, but Olmert having a weak government that would be unable to push through the kind of unilateral measures that he would like to implement. Such a government could fall mid-term, particularly if intra-party dissension occurs in Kadima.

Friday, February 17, 2006
Lost Post (Thanks, Blogger)

This morning I wrote a long and detailed post analyzing the Israeli election polls. Somehow, a few hours after it was posted, that post disappeared without a trace.

I'll try to redraft something next week.

If by some chance anyone has an RSS or similar feed to this site with that post still intact, I'd be very grateful if you could e-mail it to me at josephschick@hotmail.com

Anatomy Of An Aborted Column

Monday night, February 13: I receive a tip via e-mail about the planned assembly at The Fieldston School.

Tuesday afternoon, February 14: I obtain verification that the assembly would indeed be taking place.

Tuesday night, February 14: I post about the assembly on this site.

Wednesday, February 15: I begin drafting a column on the matter for publication in next week's Jewish Press.

Thursday morning, February 16: I exchange correspondence with a daily newspaper relating to the possibility of publication of the column in that newspaper too, and submit a column for consideration.

Thursday night, February 16: I confirm that nobody else has written about this assembly.

Friday morning, February 17:

1. I read the New York Times report on The Fieldston School assembly, including that it has been cancelled.

2. I e-mail the original tipster asking why I was not informed of the cancellation. I have not yet heard back.

3. I e-mail the contact at the daily newspaper, withdrawing my column for consideration on its op-ed page.

4. After briefly considering revising the column to reflect the new circumstances, I e-mail the Jewish Press that it would be best not to publish the piece.

Fieldston School Cancels Palestinian Propaganda Assembly

Earlier this week, The Zionist Conspiracy broke the story of the Fieldston School's scheduling of an "assembly" at which two pro-Palestinian professors would speak next Thursday.

After finishing a column about the subject, this morning I read the long article in today's New York Times reporting that after much protest from parents and others, the assembly had been canceled.

The assembly was such a terrible idea in the first place that Fieldston's corrective step does not fully vindicate the school.

In a way, more important than Fieldston's cancellation is the fact that many students and parents of students at Fieldston were outraged at the inclusion of Mazin Qumsiyeh, a hateful fanatic who advocates the destruction of Israel and compares Zionism to Nazism.

Thursday, February 16, 2006
My Unfortunate Situation

David Weiss Halivni famously once quipped, "It is my unfortunate situation that the people I daven with I can not talk to and the people I talk to I can not daven with."

More and more, I am feeling this way when it comes to Israel. By most standards, I have fairly right-wing views. But those views come from a rational and pragmatic approach to the situation. In that sense, my worldview is closer to most of those with centrist or even moderately leftist political stances. On the other hand, my political views are often so far from those on the left that I have little politically in common with them either.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Ger Tzadik

One of the welcome additions to the Jblogosphere is Ger Tzadik, an interesting chronicle of a prospective convert to our people.

Ger Tzadik relates that growing up as a fan of the New Jersey Devils, he always had many friends and acquaintances who are Rangers fans, and felt comfortable amongst them.

Yet it was only after meeting his current girlfriend that Ger Tzadik really gained an understanding that being a fan of the New York Rangers requires much more than knowing how to pronounce "Rod Gilbert" or to spell "John Vanbiesbrouck."

While he welcomes many of the traditions of Rangers fans, Ger Tzadik does find some of our rituals to be absurd. I can't really argue with him there - after all, in 2006, chants of "Potvin sucks" are kinda silly.

In a poignant post, Ger Tzadik tells his readers how difficult it has been to put away his Scott Stevens jersey, or to feel the mandatory joy upon watching highlights of Stephan Matteau's goal in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals.

Moves The Jets Should Make

Over the last few days, there have been various newspaper reports that the Jets are seeking to force QB Chad Pennington to accept a massive pay cut to his non-guaranteed contract.

While restructuring Pennington's contract is a no-brainer, the Jets have less leverage than one might assume. That's because in the NFL, players typically receive all of their guaranteed money in the form of a signing bonus. For salary cap purposes, that signing bonus is pro-rated for the length of the contract. However, if a player is released, the entire amount left on the pro-rated portion of the bonus becomes due the following season. So for example, though he's retiring, Wayne Chrebet will have a cap number of $1 million for 2006, the amount remaining from his signing bonus.

As a result, if the Jets release Pennington, they would take a massive $12 million salary cap hit in 2006. In contrast, if Pennington is on the roster, under his current contract, there would be a $15 million salary cap allocation.

For this reason, a number of players on the Jets who are overpaid are not serious candidates for release. For example, wide receiver Justin McCareins will make $3.2 million in 2006, but if the Jets were to release him, the cap hit would be even bigger.

So what moves can the Jets make to alleviate their cap situation? For one, in addition to restructuring Pennington's contract, the Jets need to do the same with running back Curtis Martin, slated to take up more than $8 million in cap space.

Several players are good candidates for release, unless they agree to massive pay cuts. Ty Law is surely a goner, though releasing him will still require the Jets to have him on their books - for cap purposes - for $2.4 million. Offensive tackle Jason Fabini has a $4.5 million cap number, but releasing him will knock that down to $1.3 million. Guard Pete Kendall is past his prime, but still productive at a position where the Jets are very thin, but his cap number of $4.5 million is too high, especially since he'd only take up $900,000 in cap space if released.

At two positions, I think the Jets should make moves that go against conventional wisdom. First, I would let John Abraham leave as a free agent and be a malcontent someplace else. Abraham is simply not a winner, has low pain tolerance, and doesn't want to play for the Jets. If the Jets can find a way to get a draft pick for him, then great, but it's going to be quite complicated in light of the cap. Last off-season, I called on ex-Jets GM Terry Bradway to let Abraham go, and use the money on Lamont Jordan instead. I was ridiculed in the comments; today, I think most would trade Abraham for Jordan in a heartbeat.

Second, I'm not so sure that the Jets should release QB Jay Fiedler. Obviously, having a small QB who is injury-prone is not ideal, especially in light of the Pennington situation. But unless someone else become available - such as Kerry Collins, perhaps - Fiedler may simply be better than anyone available on the market. With a reasonable $1.2 million cap number, I wouldn't be so quick to let the Jewish QB from Long Island leave just yet.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Fieldston Teaches Hatred For Israel

Much has been written about the situation on college campuses, where Israel is routinely bashed and portrayed as a racist, apartheid state. The situation is quite troubling, and one wonders how America's future leaders will view Israel.

At least one major New York City high school is making sure that kids need not wait for college to learn all about the evils of Israel.

The Fieldston School, a private school located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx with 1600 students - many of them Jewish - will be holding an "assembly" next Thursday at which all of its high school students and faculty will have the benefit of lectures from two Palestinian professors.

One of the Palestinian professors, Muhammad Muslih of Long Island University, will speak in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The other, Mazin Qumsiyeh of Yale University, will call for a one-state solution, i.e. the destruction of Israel.

Lest one think that Professor Muslih is a moderate who is ready for peace so long as Israel withdraws from Judea and Samaria, think again. In a January 4, 2001 column in the International Herald Tribune, Muslih expressly rejected President Clinton's proposal for a peace agreement, because it would require the Palestinians to agree that refugees of the 1948 War could not "return" to Israel. While Muslih vaguely hinted that Palestinians would have to show flexibility on the number of refugees who could live in Israel, he insisted that Israel accept "moral and legal responsibility for the problem of the Palestinian refugees."

In a 2003 interview with CNN's Jim Clancy, Muslih said that Israel's security barrier "is very similar to the Berlin wall," that "the Israeli government is not interested in a peace process," and that "Sharon and Hamas belong to each other. They have the same agenda. Both of them are interested in aborting the chances for peace, but the party that really has the balance of the violence, the balance of terror decisively in its favor is the Sharon government."

Again, keep in mind that Muslih is going to be playing the role of the "moderate" at Fieldston's "assembly."

As for Yale's Qumsiyeh, he recently published an article in Global Agenda Magazine called 'Boycott Israel' in which he called Zionism "one of the worst colonialist and racist movements ever," said that "Zionists are pulling the strings and setting the policy of the U.S. government," compared Israel unfavorably to apartheid South Africa, and demanded a world boycott of, and divestment from, Israel. (There was much controversy relating to the article's publication because it was distributed at the recent World Economic Forum; the magainze ultimately apologized for the article and deleted it from its website.) He also recently called Israel "the only remaining colonial state with an exclusivist/supremacist ideology."

Qumsiyeh shrewdly rejects the notion that he seeks "the annihilation of Israel." Instead, he argues, he merely wants all Palestinians in the world to be made citizens of Israel and to be given the right to Israeli land.

Ultimately, Fieldston's inviting of Muslih and Qumsiyeh to speak at an "assembly" before its students and faculty is a disgrace. When extremists like Qumsiyeh speak on college campuses, they tend to be invited by pro-Arab student groups, and there is no requirement that students attend. In contrast, under the banner of "diversity," Fieldston is not only inviting Muslih and Qumsiyeh to present Palestinian propaganda to all its students, it is doing so in the context of an "assembly" at which attendance is mandatory.

Monday, February 13, 2006
Cognitive Dissonance About Amona

The first sentence of a recent post on Cross-Currents by Toby Katz demonstrates what is wrong with the right-wing reaction to Amona.

Mrs. Katz wrote: "In a recent post of mine, titled "Disclaimer" I wrote about the violence of Jewish police against peaceful Jewish protesters in Amona."

Peaceful Jewish protesters?

While some of the protesters may have been peaceful, most were not. It was quite a violent demonstration. Indeed, Rabbi Avi Gisser, head of Ofra, Amona's mother settlement, condemned the many who were rioting at Amona, noting that they even attacked Yesha Council leader Pinchas Wallerstein.

Any serious analysis about Amona requires understanding that contrary to what occurred last summer at Gush Katif, most of those protecting Amona were anything but "peaceful Jewish protesters."

That is not to excuse police brutality, but to acknowledge reality.

First Things On Charedi Demographics

The December 2005 issue of First Things had an interesting article (only recently posted in its web site) on the affect of the charedi birthrate on Jewish demographic trends.

The article is a very worthwhile read, but it has a major shortcoming of placing all Jews into one of only two categories: Charedi or non-charedi. As the article tells it, the charedim are having at least six children, while non-charedim are having less than two children.

If someone knows little or nothing about the Jewish world - and presumably that includes many readers of First Things, whose readership is largely Catholic - they would think that Jews are either charedi or secular. There is no recognition that non-charedi observant Jews (whether one calls them modern, centrist, or anything else) also have very high fertility and very low intermarriage rates when compared with non-Orthodox Jews.

King Henrik and the Winter Olympics

When I was in second grade in 1980, I was home sick for nearly three weeks with an as of yet undiagnosed virus. That period coincided with the Winter Olympics, and as a result I watched almost all of the 1980 Winter Olympics, including the USA hockey team's improbable victory (but not the game vs. the USSR, which was played on Friday night), as well as Eric Heiden's five gold medals in speed skating.

The day I went back to school was the Sunday of the gold medal hockey game against Finland. I got home after the second period, with the US down 2-1. Three third period goals clinched the gold medal.

Since then, I have watched less and less of the Winter Olympics, which seem to be presented quite sloppily. I still have some interest in speed skating, but not enough to make an effort to watch.

With so many Rangers playing in the Olympics for European teams, including four for the Czech Republic (a fifth, Peter Prucha, was selected to play for the Czechs but injured his knee), the New York Times speculated that many Rangers fans will be rooting for the Czechs.

I doubt too many Rangers fans will root for the Czechs. Sure they have Jaromir Jagr, but they also have Dominik Hasek in goal.

If anything, I'd like to see the Swedes do well when they're not playing the US. Sweden's star is Rangers rookie goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who I think Rangers fans are most emotionally connected to.

The other day I was thinking about whether Lundqvist can be compared to any other New York rookie. Derek Jeter came to mind, but the Yankees were already a serious contender before he arrived. In contrast, the Rangers have been awful for years.

The player whose impact as a rookie most closely resembles Lundqvist is Dwight Gooden of the 1984 Mets. All of the sudden, Gooden, like Lundqvist, arrived on the scene and immediately dominated his sport and lifted his team into contention after years of ineptitude.

But Lundqvist is arguably even more valuable to the Rangers than Gooden was to the Mets. After all, he has played most of the Rangers' games, while Gooden only started 31 times in 1984.

The rest of the world is apparently oblivious to this, still debating whether Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby or Washington's Alexander Ovechkin should be rookie of the year. Last I checked, those players have put up impressive individual stats but done little or nothing to significantly improve their team's performance in the standings.

The Settlers East Of The Fence

Probably the most inaccurate myth about the security fence Israel has been (very slowly) constructing is that it covers most of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, with only "isolated settlements" on the east of the fence.

This is simply not the case. The reality is that most of the settlements are not slated to be within the fence, and many of these communities are quite large. Beit El, Ofra, Kiryat Arba and Tekoa are four of the many notable settlements outside the fence.

In an interesting feature in Haaretz's Weekend Magazine, an interview of former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon by Ari Shavit, the following revealing exchange occurred:

I say that we must come and tell the truth to these settlers. We must accelerate the construction of the fence, in accordance with the High Court's directives, and we must tell the settlers that the State of Israel will not be on the eastern side of the separation fence. We must apply the Evacuation Compensation Law immediately to all the settlers to the east of the fence.

You're essentially talking about the evacuation of about 100,000 people from their homes within a few years.

I'm not talking about 100,000. It's more like 50,000 or 60,000. And I say that by the end of the decade, within about five years, we will evacuate them. By the end of the decade, we'll create a reality of two states.

Shavit did not challenge Ayalon's assertion that "only" 50,000 or 60,000 people will live east of the fence. But in fact, Shavit was right. If everyone east of the fence is to be evacuated, around 100,000 residents of Judea and Samaria will be evicted from their homes.

This would be far more draconian than what was proposed under the Clinton Plan, which called for Israel and the Palestinians to "develop a map consistent with ... 80 percent of settlers" remaining under Israeli sovereignty.

In other words, Clinton was calling for approximately 50,000 residents of Judea and Samaria to be evicted in the context of a permanent and final peace agreement, while many Israelis are now ready to evict double that number in a unilateral move.

More Media Exaggeration

I don't have time right now to post about the substantive matters on my mind, but have to post to question the reports that yesterday was the worst snow storm in New York City history.

Anyone who was outside yesterday knows that while it was indeed a major snow storm, we've been through worse ones, particularly the January 1996 storm.

There was no 27 inches of snow.

Friday, February 10, 2006
Chabad and Anna (and Kris) Benson

Someone sent me this picture of model Anna Benson (and her husband, ex-Mets pitcher Kris Benson) at a function for Chabad's Children of Chernobyl.

If you want to see the picture, scroll down just a bit. But be warned that Anna is not quite dressed in accordance with the Jewish laws of tznius.

Don't Call The Jets A Joke

Over at Elster, the latest post includes Elster's lament that "the Jets organization is an absolute joke right now." Elster writes: "I blame this on owner Woody Johnson, fired GM Terry Bradway and [ex-Jets head coach Herm] Edwards as well."

It should be noted that Elster was a staunch defender of Bradway - and Herm too to a lesser extent - in comments on this site.

Elster was apparently annoyed because Al Michaels poked fun at the fact that to get out of his contract with ABC and move to NBC, the compensation received by NBC was worth more than the fourth round pick the Jets received for Edwards. (Elster's version of the story, that Dick Ebersol "stated that Michaels was more valuable as a broadcaster than Herman Edwards is as a coach" is, I'm quite sure, inaccurate.)

What I find interesting is that the mainstream media - who are apparently influencing Elster and so many other observers - now portray the Jets as "an absolute joke." Just a couple of months ago, the same media assured us that the Jets were in great shape, that the terrible 2005 season was an aberration due to the injuries to quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler. There was no criticism of Edwards, and very little, if any, of Bradway.

The reality is that the Jets are not an absolute joke right now. From what I can tell, they have a new head coach and a new GM who mean business, who will stop the laid-back attitude that permeated the organization during Herm's era, especially in 2005. I have serious concerns about the lack of experience of coach Eric Mangini and GM Mike Tannenbaum, but I also believe that both are an upgrade over the men they replaced, especially Mangini. It may take them a while to improve the mess they've been left with, but in today's NFL, with some breaks improvements can come quickly.

Getting back to Herm and the compensation the Jets received for him: Why should the Jets have received more than a 4th rounder for a mediocre coach? The compensation for Al Michaels was more generous because Michaels is a valuable asset (not quite my cup of tea, but excellent for the casual football fan), who all of the networks coveted. In contrast, the Jets wanted to dump Herm, and did well to get what they did.

Elster mentioned this morning's Mike & Mike show on ESPN radio. I tuned in to the show for a few minutes, and heard Mike Golic mention that Herm would be telling Chiefs QB to go back to pass on 1st down. To which Mike Greenberg retorted (I'm paraphrasing): "No, Trent Green won't be passing on first down. We all know how it's going to go. First down, run. Second down, run. 3rd and 8, six yard pass. 4th down, punt. 'Hey guys,' Herm will say, 'great drive! We punted, we didn't turn the ball over, great drive!'"

And the Jets are an absolute joke because they not only got rid of this guy, but received compensation for him? I don't think so. Time will tell.

Gretzky's Gambling

Am I the only person who finds all the reports about the gambling on football by Janet Jones Gretzky, and all the speculation about Wayne Gretzky's involvement to be extremely sensationalized?

Chabad, Putin and Hamas

Two months ago, The Jewish Week published a very positive piece on Chabad.

In the last day, I couldn't help but thinking of the following portion of that piece, an anecdote told by Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chabad's head in Russia.

Rabbi Lazar recalled that in a Kremlin conversation, Putin told him about how he grew up terribly poor, with neighbors who were chasidim. "They always made sure to invite him over. They served him supper. They helped him with his homework. Friday night they gave him gefilte fish and knaidlach," said the rabbi.

"He remembered," said Rabbi Lazar, "watching this Yid learning the Talmud and keeping Shabbos. He realized, not only were they kind to a child who wasn't theirs, kind to a child who wasn't Jewish, but they were kind to a child in a time and place when it was dangerous for Jews to do all that."

Thirty years later, said Rabbi Lazar, first as Leningrad's deputy mayor and now as Russian president, Putin has been "more than encouraging to Jewish rebirth in Russia."
(emphasis added)

Well, I guess it's good that Putin is encouraging the "Jewish rebirth in Russia," now that he's also encouraging the murder of Jews in Israel, not to mention supporting Iran's nuclear bomb program.

I guess gefilte fish and knaidlach only go so far.

Thursday, February 09, 2006
Muslim Fanatics

Here's a very non-politically correct and insightful video commentary on fundamentalist Islam.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Orthodox Blog Takes No Awards

Perpetuating various stereotypes, Orthodox writer fails to nab any honors in the newest of new media.

NEW YORK – February 9, 2006 – The Zionist Conspiracy, a "blog" written by a traditional Orthodox sports fan, today failed to take honors in the Second Annual Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards, sponsored by the IsraellyCool blog and the Jerusalem Post. Assuring continuing portrayals of the Orthodox as technological Luddites who have banned the Internet, The Zionist Conspiracy finished in sixth place in the Best Series category and in eighth place for Best Politics and Current Affairs blog.

A blog, or weblog, is a web site built as an ongoing journal, enabling writers to communicate with web readers around the globe. It encourages informal communication rather than the carefully-edited articles published in mainstream media. The blogger at The Zionist Conspiracy, found at http://www.jschick.blogspot.com, posts his thoughts and insights on an ongoing basis, sharing his reflections on the Jets, current events, Israel, Jewish issues and the Jets with an audience reaching into the tens of thousands each year.

The Zionist Conspiracy was founded by Joe Schick, season ticket holder of the New York Jets and the New Jersey Nets. In Schick's words, "For decades, Jets fans were at the mercy of editors who were at best benignly tolerant of our team and our views. The world of the blog has changed all that." Joe Schick also noted, "the blog offers me the opportunity to communicate directly with the readers, unfiltered by an often hostile and usually uninformed media."

While the blog awards were a very informal measure of popularity, the margin of the loss still came as a negative surprise—and failed to provide The Zionist Conspiracy was much additional exposure.

Those who comment on The Zionist Conspiracy represent a broad diversity of views, dismantling the stereotype of the Orthodox Jets fan as single-minded without any internal debate. This is but one misconception that the blog rebuts; others are faced more directly.


I have a lot of thoughts about the ugly mess that occurred during the evacuation of Amona last week, but am not sure how to coherently express them.

I don't doubt the claims that some police officers engaged in brutality, and certainly don't condone such brutality.

However, many of the protesters engaged in violent acts too. When you thrown rocks at police officers, the cops usually won't react well.

Ultimately, the residents of Judea and Samaria are the losers here. Instead of trying to convince mainstream Israelis of the justness of the settlement movement by joining and trying to win the battle of ideas, they continue to do everything possible to alienate many Israelis - and not just the stereotypical ultra-secular ones.

As an ideological supporter of the settlement movement, the truly self-destructive (and often immoral) tactics of that movement are particularly disappointing for me to watch unfold.

Rabbi Feivel Wagner, z'l

I was shocked and saddened to learn last night of the sudden tragic and untimely passing of Rabbi Feivel Wagner, longtime leader of Young Israel of Forest Hills, following injuries he sustained in an accident. A funeral was held for Rabbi Wagner yesterday, with the burial today in Israel.

In addition to the loss to Rabbi Wagner's family, Rabbi Wagner's passing is a very serious blow to the Forest Hills community, which suffers from a severe lack of spiritual leadership in its Ashkenazi shuls (aside from Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt of Queens Jewish Center, I'm not sure of any other active Ashkenazi pulpit rabbi in the entire neighborhood).

Somewhat paradoxically, despite being relatively close to the city, and despite the boom in nearby Kew Gardens Hills (a longer distance from the city), Forest Hills' frum community has been on a spiraling decline. The dearth of available houses is often attributed as the main factor for this, but doesn't completely explain why young people are willing to live in apartments in Manhattan, Riverdale and even Kew Gardens Hills, but not in Forest Hills.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Super Bowl XL: Did Herm Lose It For Seattle?

Remember the delightful late 70's movie called 'Heaven Can Wait'? It starred Warren Beatty as a Los Angeles Rams quarterback who is leading his team to the Super Bowl, only to die in an accident. Given a second chance at life, Beatty's character is given a new body, that of a wealthy team owner, who then steps in at QB to win the Super Bowl for the Rams.

I couldn't help but think of 'Heaven Can Wait' while watching Sunday's Super Bowl. Was it me, or did the ghost of ex-Jets coach Herm Edwards (oops, Herm is still alive!) step into the body of Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren late in both the first and second half? Holmgren is usually an elite coach, so how else to explain his shockingly awful clock management? At the end of the first half, the Seahawks had time to run a few more plays, but bizarrely let the clock run down to settle for a very long field goal attempt, which was missed. Then, down 21-10 late in the 4th quarter in the final two minutes, they again took their time, constantly throwing short passes over the middle, not hurrying to get plays off even as the clock wound down, and ultimately letting their final drive stall with just three seconds left.

Let's just hope that starting next season, Herm reserves his services for the Kansas City Chiefs, and doesn't step into the body of new Jets coach Eric Mangini.

Democracy in America: Where's The Jewish Outrage?

In 1999, there was worldwide Jewish outrage over the arrest on fabricated charges by Iranian authorities of 13 Iranian Jews.

In 2005, the FBI filed fabricated criminal charges against two American Jews who were working for AIPAC.

Where is the Jewish outrage? Malcolm Hoenlein is one of the only Jewish "leaders" willing to attack the FBI on the record, recently saying: "The very fact that this kind of climate can exist in the capital of the United States is unacceptable." Former AIPAC executive director Neal Sher criticized the lack of protest from our leaders: "The very last thing the community needs are leaders acting as though they are guests in their own country," Sher said.

Monday, February 06, 2006
'The Real Super Bowl'

Writing from Israel on The American Spectator, Judd Magilnick writes about the American Football in Israel league playoffs. Judd's son plays for one of the AFI teams.

Last year, I posted about AFI, its president, Steve Leibowitz, and its primary benefactor, New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft.

Rabbi Mayer Schiller on Neturei Karta and Zionism

The following was originally posted by Joe Schick on April 22, 2004.

Rabbi Mayer Schiller has agreed to my posting of my e-mail exchanges with him over the last few days. Following is the large majority of the exchange. Since this is rather long, I omitted a couple of small nonmaterial and/or redundant lines of discussion.

JS: In 2002, you wrote the following:

As one who has personal knowledge of NK activities I can testify that many NKites have, as I put it, stumbled into humanism. In other words, their work with pro peace and Palestinian groups has led them to see and embrace the humanity of all. This is not true of all of them but it is a trend and of some importance for the ACJ perspective.

I would like to inquire about your position stated above, and appreciate amplification and clarification of the same.

RMS: I stand by this statement today only as regards a handful of NK. They have come to see the humanity of all men, something Orthodox Jews sometimes struggle with, however understandable post WW II. However, I reject, utterly, the moral double standard of some in NK, ever ready to condemn Israeli misdeeds but mum on Palestinian evil. Morality is not tribal in my view and we should as the am segulah be ready to condemn evil everywhere. And, of course, praise the good.

JS: what is your view of the hesped for Sheikh Yassin given by Yisroel Weiss in Sunset Park, Brooklyn?

RMS: I find it appalling, way off base morally and to the little extent that I could, I tried, but failed to stop it. However, I will add that those NKers that I have some influence on, opposed the talk.

JS: It seems to me that NK has gone from an ideological opposition to Zionism that, pre-state, was part of the mainstream, to a lunatic fringe whose ideological views cause it to support the murderers of Jewish men, women and children.

RMS: No, that's not how they see it. It is probably best you speak to them personally. They see themselves as protecting Jews and saving Jewish lives. Indeed, this is their primary motivation. They think that humbling ourselves before our enemies is the way Jews should approach non Jews in golus.--- My own perspective is that our calling as an am Hashem obligates us to criticize evil wherever it may be. Palestinian civilian bombers are evil, as are all those who wage war against civilians. Thus, I reject the NK position on this but understand that their motivation may be misguided but it is for the good of our people as they see it.

JS: did you support the pro-Israel rally in DC April 2002, or the pro-Palestinian one days later attended, on shabbos, by NK leaders?

RMS: Actually neither. I support all efforts at reconciliation between all men and, hence, locate myself, roughly, with sympathy for the Israeli peace camp (preferably Orthodox as in Oz Veshalom, Meimad etc.), with many further thoughts that I could spell out, if relevant. This view was not represented at either rally.

JS: NK has never (to my knowledge) attempted to explain itself to mainstream orthodox Jews, and while I am admittedly disgusted by its antics, I am open to understanding why you speak positively about it.

RMS: No not of "it" only of a few of them. I am very concerned with how modern man can live with the Other whether it be Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, Serbs and Croats or Jews and Palestinians. In other words, can we fiercely love and cherish our own group identities and yet find a way to resolve conflicts when our view of reality conflicts with that of others. I have seem glimmers of this reconciliation being achieved by some (few) NKers for the right reasons. By right reasons I mean due to common humanity -- not because we should "kiss up" to non Jewish evil. Unfortunately, few NKers have this motivation.

JS: You identify yourself as being in sympathy with groups such as Meimad, etc. I assume that relates to politics, not to Zionism. In another words, with respect to Zionism (and certainly "religious Zionism"), I'd assume your position is contrary to Meimad, which, arguably, is representative of the national religious camp in Israel's approach prior to 1967.

RMS: Oh boy, this would take a long time to flesh out clearly. In brief, I am more concerned with, what I call "essences" or "meta politics" than with ideology. In other words, to me the core value is that Klal Yisrael be loyal to its calling to be a "light unto the nations." The particular political form this takes is vastly secondary to me. Therefore, if a Zionist is moral and menschlich towards other peoples (like Oz Veshalom or even secular leftists) or he is a mensch because he is a Hirschian anti Zionist or a Satmar anti Zionist or an NK anti Zionist is not the most important question for me. In fact, if a right wing religious Zionist is sincerely pained by the Palestinian plight but feels that the risk is too great to grant them statehood than he is closer to my core sentiment than a Satmerer or NK anti Zionist who hates goyim.

I understand the Satmar, Bdatz, TA, NK and, incidentally Hirschian anti Zionist position, that it violates the terms of golus etc., but I know that the other side has its share of ma-amorie Chazal and pesukim as well. I don't know, here or elsewhere in internal Orthodox disputes how one can know the truth. I think all one can do is guess. Skver/rachmistrivka don't have a coherent position on any of it so I remain, safely, agnostic.

JS: If the pro-Israel rally in 2002 had - in your view - sufficiently included dovish elements, could you then have supported it? (Rabbi Melchior, Meimad's leader, actually was a speaker of that rally).

RMS: I wasn't aware of that fact. Maybe if the "doves" were vocal. I respect Rabbi Melchior, he is bit too political for my taste, though) but if you told me that Uriel Simon or the Bereaved Parents Group was there I'd be even happier.

JS: You speak of the 2 state solution in positive terms, but isn't NK's view that there must be a 1 state solution?

RMS: Yes, absolutely.

JS: Where are the more moderate NK members/supporters?

RMS: the Jerusalem leadership that opposes Palestinian contacts has no window to the outside world.. Ditto the Monsey dissident faction.

JS: Is it fair to say that the leadership is extreme?

RMS: In NK there are several streams. There is 1) Jerusalem based NKers who oppose the state but will never speak about Palestinian rule or what should follow on the state's dissolution. (Like mainstream Satmar they have block in their ideology, that is, no Israel but no alternative!) they would never appear with Palestinians and the like. 2) Rabbi Hirsch who believes that Palestinian rule is inevitable and it is best to be nice today for who knows what will happen later. These people also based in Jerusalem in Torah V'yirah will march with Palestinians. 3) Rabbi Domb in London, very against any involvement with Palestinians although fervently anti state. 4) Rabbi Becher in London. Has his own theory on what Satmar Rov and Reb Amram really wanted. You'd have to ask him. 5) Rabbi Beck and followers. 6) Rabbi Beck's dissidents.

JS: Why do you think the vast majority of Orthodox Jews - including those who identify as charedi and don't consider themselves Zionist - object to NK?

RMS: Charedi non Zionists, that is the Agudah, want the state for its money and protection but refuse to serve in the army or participate in its patriotic rituals. They certainly fear any serious discussion of first principles since to them being non Zionist means being anti Zionist. And they want to leave matters at that.

JS: Let's say NK is right about Zionism being the root of all of our problems in Israel/Palestine. Why do they still blame "Zionists?" Isn't the "fault" that of the Jews of Israel and the world, nearly all of whom support Israel's right to exist despite Zionism's purported illegality and immorality?

RMS: They would say that the Zionists have brainwashed the masses of Jewry.

JS: Why is it specifically important to care about the Palestinians?

RMS: Well, because it seems that the Hashgocha has placed them and their hopes for self determination in our path. It's not a chiyuv on every yochid but it does seem that our destinies have become linked.

JS: Why assume that a secular leftist cares about Palestinians? Aren't there other likely motivations for left-wing stances?

RMS: Yes, self loathing. You'll never find a leftist who cares about suffering white or Christian peoples. Examples Afrikaner in the "new South Africa," whites under Mugabe, Loyalist victims of IRA terror, Sudetan Germans the list is endless. I agree that a lot of leftist agitation is due to hatred of the West, the white race and any non Third World political aspiration. However, not all.

JS: Your point about Agudah is certainly on target. The absurdity of their (non)position was illustrated at the time of the 2002 rally. Most of their "constituents" are Zionists, though they don't think of themselves as such.

RMS: It is an immoral position that wants the good of the state but shuns obligations. The Satmar, TA, NK position is far more morally consistent.

Sunday, February 05, 2006
And The Winner Is...

The trash talking has reached a crescendo.

After 21 weeks of fierce competition, it's come down to the wire.

But enough about Cross-Currents vs. Hirhurim.

At least for tonight, let's move on from the JIB Awards.

My prediction for Super Bowl XL:

Seattle Seahawks 24
Pittsburgh Steelers 20.

Friday, February 03, 2006
Letter to the Editor

The Zionist Conspiracy recently received the following letter to the editor concerning postings by Joe Schick, its former blogger. We apologize to all those who Mr. Schick has offended:

Joe Schick's father is a wonderful man who sat Joe on his lap to watch the Jets back when Charley Winner coached the team and who taught Joe how to scream at the TV during the early Walt Michaels years, but Joe didn't learn anything from him about the Jewish prohibition against lashon hara. Everything he says about me in his "privately sponsored" blog is totally wrong.

If I had said that "any drive that ends in a kick is good," I don't think the Kansas City Chiefs would have hired me as their head coach. Nor would the New York Post, New York Times, and New York Daily News all agreed that I am a great football coach.

I will contribute $1,000 to Joe Schick's favorite charity if he can provide any documentation that I have "exalted playing to lose the game." Schick just made it up as he has the rest of his attack on me. It is precisely this kind of internecine personal attack that weakens the New York Jets at a time when it is under so much external assault.

Joe, learn from your father. He is a tolerant and wonderful man who would never accept your kind of intra-Jets sinat chinam.

Herm Edwards
Kansas City, MO

Major Shakeup At Zionist Conspiracy: Era Ends As Brizel Replaces Schick

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 3 - In a stunning development, The Zionist Conspiracy this morning announced the firing of Joe Schick, who had posted for the blog since its inception nearly three years ago.

Schick will be replaced by Steve Brizel.

The announcement by The Zionist Conspiracy GM Terry Blogway came only hours after the conclusion of the final round of the Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards, where under Schick's leadership, The Zionist Conspiracy finished in eighth place for best politics and current affairs blog, and a yet to be displayed (but believed to be below the top five) place for best series.

"This was a tough decision, but one that we feel is in our best long-term interests," Blogway said in making the announcement. "Unfortunately, while some progress has been made recently, those results have not met our expectations. We have plans in place that we believe will enable us to compete for a JIB medal in 2007."

While Brizel has not managed his own blog, according to Blogway, "Steve's comments on Hirhurim, Godol Hador, Protocols and other Jblogs speak for themselves. We believe that Steve Brizel has the skill set to take The Zionist Conspiracy to the next level."

Brizel, on assignment in Detroit for Sunday's Super Bowl, could not be reached for comment.

Blogway acknowledged that Schick's "eclectic mix" of sports, politics and controversial Jewish issues was "interesting to some" but was "ultimately a tough sell in the highly specialized blogosphere of 2006."

While Brizel is most known for his thoughts about Jewish issues, he has recently demonstrated a surprisingly impressive sports acumen along with keen insights about football.

In a move to alleviate the concerns of sports fans, Brizel has reportedly informed jetsphan of his intention to retain jetsphan's services. However, jetsphan, who was signed prior to the 2005 NFL season to provide NFL opinion and commentary on The Zionist Conspiracy, expressed dismay over the decision to keep him on, saying, "I'm upset because I came to work with Joe Schick and I'm having to stay and work with someone not named Joe Schick. Steve Brizel is a Giants phan and I just don't like Giants phans."

Orthomom, the agent for jetsphan, added that her client "is grossly unhappy with the situation."

"We expect jetsphan to fulfill the terms of his contract," Blogway maintained.

During Schick's tenure, which began on May 8, 2003, 901 posts appeared on The Zionist Conspiracy. It is not yet known whether he will pursue other blogging opportunities.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Why Is Gil Student Marginalizing Me?

Last Tuesday morning, I voted for this blog in the two JIB Award categories (best series and best politics and current affairs) in which it is a finalist. I was pleased to see that with about 28 votes counted, this blog had 22 percent of the vote in the best series group and 18 percent for best politics and current affairs, placing it in the top three in each.

When I next checked last Friday, I was stunned to learn that this blog was only garnering 4-5 percent of the vote. Worse, many hundreds of people had voted in the intervening three days, almost all against this blog.

Now, things are completely out of hand, with the tallying for best series appearing to be defective, and nobody knowing who has how many votes.

You may not think there's any importance to it. But someone does.

And that someone is none other than Gil Student.

Was Gil behind it? Absolutely not, in my opinion. First of all because he denied any knowledge of it, and also because if it involved any sort of ballot stuffing or other shtick, Gil would have no part of it. But it is unusual, at least, to have so many people vote for other people's blogs. Only an extraordinarily concerted campaign, one way or the other, could produce so many votes for blogs other than The Zionist Conspiracy.

So who is behind it? Likely some of Gil's overzealous students - members of the extended Student family, if you will. Apparently for close to a week they all have been at a computer lab late and have simply got everyone there to vote.

Why would Gil want to marginalize me? Well, it's no secret that Gil does not like sports. He rebuffed my generous offer to take him to a New York Rangers hockey game. He even dislikes football, especially the Jets.

Paranoid, you say? Well, then what to make of Gil's statement a few months ago about me, that, "I love his blog when he's not talking about sports." Imagine the uproar if I'd say that I love Gil's blog when he's not talking about Torah.

Since then, I've blogged quite a bit about Jewish issues and Israeli politics and current affairs. But I haven't stopped posting about the Jets.

One way or the other, I suddenly need your help to retake the lead that was mine last Tuesday morning. Please vote for The Zionist Conspiracy at the following links:

-Best Series (for Orthodoxy's Cultural Divide); and
-Best Politics and Current Affairs Blog

The Wisdom Of Our Rabbis

Could this be the reason why some charedi rabbis are supporting a ban on the Internet?

Mark another victory for da'as Torah!