The Zionist Conspiracy

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

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Sunday, August 19, 2007
Summer 2007 In Jerusalem

1. Last night I attended a large festival outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. It was a great event and the type that rarely if ever occurs in the U.S. Certainly no such event is filled with kosher food from around 15 different shops, restaurants and cafes.

Shabbos ended at 8 last night. We arrived at the festival just before 9. At first the festival looked like an event solely for the remaining secular residents of Jerusalem. By 10, however, plenty at dati (national religious) Israelis were there, and by 11, lots of charedim were there too, many with strollers.

The festival included a concert at the Sultan's Pool stadium by Arkadi Duchin, an Israeli singer. Some of the charedim attended this concert. That there are even some charedim attending a concert by a secular singer, a concert performed at a venue facing the Old City walls, says everything necessary about the absurdity of banning concerts by religious singers at which men and women are seated separately.

2. On the subject of these bans, I have been thinking about what the reaction should be by those of us who reject these bans but at the same time take our obligations as halachic Jews seriously. Is it enough to just ignore the bans? Should they be challenged outright? Should alternative perspectives be articulated?

3. Generally there have been a massive number of events in Jerusalem this month, all part of a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem. There are events for children in Liberty Bell Park, there was an Italian festival on Hillel Street last week, plenty of street performances on Ben Yehuda, and this week more events - including a jazz concert tonight - at the new Mamilla outdoor shopping area.

Of course, that aspect of Israel is never portrayed in the media. At the same time, one wonders why Israelis require so many festivals. Perhaps it's necessary to take their minds away from all of the threats their country faces, and the fact that they are stuck with the horrible government they foolishly elected 17 months ago.

4. The current government is not only incompetent but entirely cynical, its main purpose staying in power.

The media here love to bash Binyamin Netanyahu, very rarely for any reason of substance. God willing Netanyahu will be Israel's next prime minister before Kadima and Labor formally bring in Mahmoud Abbas as a senior member of the governing coalition.

5. Why are the pro-Bush American Jews not objecting to the love affair between Condi Rice and all things Fatah?

6. It is normal to have some hesitation before visiting Yad Vashem, but the experience of a visit remains extraordinarily powerful. I was there for nearly 5 hours and did not finish the museum.

7. I had not planned to attend an Israel Baseball League game, but when the OU's Israel Center arranged for two buses to go to the Petach Tikva Pioneers vs. Modiin Miracle game last Tuesday, I could not resist going. For my 2 1/2 year old son it was his second baseball game.

It was a fun atmosphere, but closer to a low-level college game than anything resembling pro sports. If the IBL is to succeed, it will have to build new fields in the home teams' cities (particularly Ra'anana, Modiin and Beit Shemesh), add or move a team to Jerusalem, and find some way to get native Israelis interested. As it now stands, around 300 people attend the average IBL game, most of whom are former Americans or American tourists. That's not terrible, but the IBL will need average attendance of closer to 1000 to succeed and that will require at least a core base of native Israelis to become interested.

Tonight Modiin and Beit Shemesh play in the IBL's first championship game.

8. Congrats to the 3500 North Americans who have made or are making aliyah this summer, and to Nefesh B'Nefesh for its monumental role in making aliyah mainstream again.

9. The Jets seem to have handled the Darrelle Revis negotiations horribly. After wasting weeks that Revis could have and should have been in camp by demanding that Revis sign a 6 year deal instead of the 5 years almost everyone else signed, the Jets grossly overpaid Revis and will have to pay an absurd amount to keep him for that sixth year.

10. As usual, the Mets have proven correct my dire pre-season warnings about the state of their bullpen. Omar Minaya's trading of Heath Bell and his refusal to resign Chad Bradford were particularly egregious, and his free agent signings of Scott Schoeneweis and Guillermo Mota were no better. Were Minaya not so stubborn, he would reacquire Bradford, who is reportedly available for a reasonable price and would be a major asset in September and October, as he was last season.

11. If the contract price is right and they are satisfied that he is healthy, the Rangers should sign Michael Peca and slot him in as their third-line center in replacement of Matt Cullen.

12. The Zionist Conspiracy's fantasy football league is slated to return for a second season, during which I will be hard-pressed to defend my championship during the league's inaugural season. If it works for the other participants, draft night will be next Monday, August 27.