Saturday, June 30, 2007

Evil Islamic Jihadist Mickey Mouse Ripoff Finally Dies!

Hamas TV on Friday broadcast what it said was the last episode of a weekly children's show featuring "Farfour," a Mickey Mouse look-alike who had made worldwide headlines for preaching Islamic domination and armed struggle to youngsters.

In the final skit, Farfour was beaten to death by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, Farfour called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.

The weekly show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high-pitched voice, had attracted worldwide attention because the character urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It was broadcast on Hamas-affiliated Al-Aksa TV.

Station officials said Friday that Farfour was taken off the air to make room for new programs.
Station manager Mohammed Bilal said he didn't know yet what would be shown instead.
Israeli officials have denounced the program, "Tomorrow's Pioneers," as incendiary and outrageous. The program was also opposed by the state-run Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, which is controlled by Fatah.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Muslim Militants Threaten Tennis Doubles Partners

Some people think neutral activities such as sports can bring political, cultural and religious enemies together. Sounds good, right?

If you've ever wondered, in the spirit of Rodney King - "why can't we all just get along?" the following story will answer that question.

LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) - India's Sania Mirza hopes her decision to renew her doubles partnership with Israel's Shahar Peer at Wimbledon does not stir up another religious storm.

"We're playing tennis, we're not making statements. We're just here to play tennis and we're here to perform and be the best we can be," the Indian number one said on Thursday.

"Me and Shahar are playing just like the way me and (Eva) Birnerova played the French Open, just like the way I played with anyone else the last six weeks. It doesn't make any statement."

The last time Mirza, a Muslim, joined forces with Peer at the 2005 Japan Open, their association was short-lived. Under pressure from militants furious over a Muslim and a Jew playing together, Mirza called for some time out.

She hopes their second stab at success will be remembered more for their on-court exploits.
"We've grown up together. We're great friends. So we said, why not?" said Mirza, who comes from the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

"We were both very lucky to find each other because it's someone who suits each other's game. I have a big forehand, she has a big backhand. We've done well in the past. We really don't care whether she's from Israel or I'm from Pakistan. At the end of the day it matters whether we win a match or not."

Doubles partnerships between Muslim and Jewish players have not gone down too well in the past. In 2002, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi was threatened with a suspension from Pakistan's tennis federation when he entered the Wimbledon men's doubles with Israel's Amir Hadad.

The partnership won the duo a humanitarian award from the organisers of men's tennis but Mirza does not want any similar recognition. "I'm here to play tennis and so is she. That's the end of that. It has nothing to do with anything else," she said.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Israel Beat

And the beat goes on, hot summer nights on the streets of Jerusalem, where every kind of music wafts from street to street.

From beat box to bossa nova, from klezmer to hassidish soul, music pours out to relieve our souls.

This week has been hot, hot, hot...a sense of waiting in still close heat for night to come colors each cruelly bright day in shades ranging from coffee to cream.

The heat began last Shabbat, whose Torah portion was Chukat. The Red Heifer, that most incomprehensible of any chok (Divine decree), kicked off the latest round of stifling hot weather, which every Israeli over a certain age assures me has not been seen at this time of year and in this manner of intensity for the last 30 years.

It is too hot to sleep. At 4am I move from bedroom to the front room, opening the big windows to the night air at the hour which temperatures have cooled down as far as they are willing to go. I lie upon the couch and gaze up beyond the silhouetted tree tops into the starry Jerusalem sky.

The street is quiet, the inaudible sounds of both prayer and private thoughts subsumed by this single silent hour, perhaps the only one where peace – “what Jerusalem is famous for” – might be found in unconsciousness, and blessedly uneventful dreams.

The Mishna (Sotah 9:15, II, W-LL) records the following about the coming of the Messiah:

Sotah 9:15, II
W. With the footprints of Messiah: presumption increases, and dearth increases.
X. The vine gives its fruit and wine at great cost.
Y. And the government turns to heresy.
Z. And there is no reproof.
AA. The gathering place will be for prostitution.
BB. And the Galilee will be laid waste.
CC. And the Gablan (the Golan) will be made desolate.
DD. And the men of the frontier will go about from town to town, and none will take pity on them.
EE. And the wisdom of the scribes will putrefy.
FF. And those who fear sin will be rejected.
GG. And the truth will be locked away.
HH. Children will shame elders, and elders will stand up before children
II. For the son dishonors the father and the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house (Micah 7:6).
JJ. The face of the generation is the face of a dog.
KK. A son is not ashamed before his father.
LL. Upon whom shall we depend? Upon our Father in Heaven.

As to the above, to some degree almost each and every one of the points have been in play, to some extent, throughout history and most assuredly as a woman in labor travails harder and faster towards the end of her ordeal, in an even more frequent and intense way in our recent times.

The exceptions are the Mishna's predictions about the Golan and the Galilee being destroyed – of course, with “The Second Lebanon War: Part Two” looming on the horizon this summer, anything can happen.

I feel like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind:
"War, war war! That's all anyone is talking about. Why, all this talk of war is spoiling every party this spring!"

And yet everybody is talking about war, war, war. And it's very, very hot.

“It’s going to be a long, hot summer."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

In recognition of what is sure to become an example of 1st Amendment history gone amuck, I share the following tragic story:

Student loses ruling over "Bong Hits 4 Jesus"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A high school student who was suspended for unfurling a banner saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" did not have his rights violated, a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday in its first major decision on student free-speech rights in nearly 20 years.
The high court's conservative majority ruled that a high school principal in Juneau, Alaska, did not violate the student's constitutional free-speech rights by confiscating the banner and then suspending him.
Student Joseph Frederick says the banner's language was meant to be nonsensical and funny, a prank to get on television as the Winter Olympic torch relay passed by the school in January 2002.
But school officials say the phrase "bong hits" refers to smoking marijuana. Principal Deborah Morse suspended Frederick for 10 days because she said the banner advocated or promoted illegal drug use in violation of school policy.
Frederick, 18, had been standing on a public sidewalk across the street from the school when Morse grabbed his banner and crumpled it. Students had been allowed out of class to watch the event.
The majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts said the court agreed with Morse that those who viewed the banner would interpret it as advocating or promoting illegal drug use, in violation of school policy.
Roberts, who was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush, said a principal may, consistent with the First Amendment, restrict student speech at a school event when it is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use.
Liberal Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented on the constitutional issue. Justice Breyer said he would have decided the case without reaching the constitutional issue by ruling the principal cannot be held liable for damages.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beit El Rocks - literally!

I went to Beit El today to visit the studios of Israel National Radio ("Arutz Sheva") and spent some quality time with Malkah and Yishai Fleisher. Not only are the Fleishers radio talk show hosts, producers, activists, pioneers and ardent Religious Zionists, they are also the founders of Kumah, the genesis of the Neo-Zionism movement today. If that wasn't enough, they also know how to throw an impromtu pizza party at their home on the edge of a beautiful hillside in the Judean Hills - Beit El, the place our Patriarch Jacob - Yaakov Avinu - dreamed a dream ...
"Jacob dreamed: There was a ladder with angels ascending and descending.... And Jacob awoke from his sleep and he said, Indeed The Lord is in this place and I did not know. And he was filled with awe, and he said: How awesome is this place, this is none other than the House of God and this is the gateway to Heaven" (Genesis 28 vv.11 & 16-17).
Listen to the show we taped on June 19th at under the Yishai and Friends show entitled "MIRVS Get On Nerves" with Malka Fleisher. Totally fun and inspiring to see what's going on in Beit El, where real people are leading real lives despite the reality that their own government would prefer to give their homes and land away to terrorists that want to kill them.

"I have become...uncomfortably Frum" (sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb")

When I moved to Jerusalem I knew I wanted to move seamlessly and invisibly between cultures, societies and lifestyles, in order to experience and learn as much as I possibly could absorb from anyone and everyone who would be willing to share.

Here, more than anywhere on Earth, if you don't "dress for success" you won't be allowed the All-Access VIP Backstage Pass into the hidden worlds-within-worlds that exist, layer upon layer, in the Holy City. Unlike Corporate America's dress code, in Jerusalem the best option for someone like myself is to observe the "Frum Fashion" dress code for women.

"Frum" means Religiously Observant. The Frum Fashion dress code for women is all about the concept of modesty - and living in a desert where temperatures soar into the 90's all during the summer months, dressing modestly and keeping cool can be a real challenge.

These are the basics of Frum Fashion for women: skirts well below the knee, sleeves that come below the elbow, necklines that reach the collarbone, and no bare feet. I've solved part of the problem with beach-style Crocs (covers my toes but has "ventilation" for comfort), long cool cotton skirts, gauzy and light-weight long-sleeved shirts and scarves, scarves, scarves.

In this style I can float between neighborhoods, cultures and friends without having to go home to change my clothes. I can go from the extreme secular streets of Emek Refriam in Jerusalem where I hunt for elusive American-style items such as Swiffers, Woolite and anti-allergenic fragrance-free laundry detergent, to the blackest of the black-hat Haredi neighborhoods of Mea Shearim and Geula, where I visit friends, shop for the cheapest and best electronics in the world, or drop in on Torah classes at a Women's Yeshiva.

When I say I've solved "part of the problem," that implies that there is another part yet unsolved, which would be the attitude of "tznuit" (modesty of character) as the true motivation of the idea of physical modesty. One cannot have a brazen and impudent face and an ego-centric fashionista "look at me" attitude in Jerusalem without drawing extremely unwanted and inappropriate attention to one's self. Here, more than anywhere else, what is displayed for the world to see is a very deliberately concealed hidden treasure.

What a total opposite of the modern, Western, California lifestyle and culture upon which I was born and raised - and, as I continue my journey here, I paraphrase and sing to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" -

"There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you say....
and I, I have become
Uncomfortably Frum..."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gaza's Christians Under Attack

fear for
their lives
Khaled Abu Toameh,

Christians living in Gaza City on Monday appealed to the international community to protect them against increased attacks by Muslim extremists. Many Christians said they were prepared to leave the Gaza Strip as soon as the border crossings are reopened.
The appeal came following a series of attacks on a Christian school and church in Gaza City over the past few days.
Father Manuel Musalam, leader of the small Latin community in the Gaza Strip, said masked gunmen torched and looted the Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church.
"The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church," he said. "Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment."
Musalam expressed outrage over the burning of copies of the Bible, noting that the gunmen destroyed all the Crosses inside the church and school. "Those who did these awful things have no respect for Christian-Muslim relations," he said.
He estimated damages at more than $500,000. "Those who see the destruction will realize how bad this attack was," he said. "Christians have been living in peace and security with Muslims for many years, but those who attacked us are trying to sabotage this relationship."
He said Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas phoned him on Sunday night to express his strong condemnation for the attack. "President Abbas promised that he would do his utmost to prevent such attacks on Christians here," he said.
Fatah officials blamed Hamas militiamen for the attack on the church and school. However, Islam Shahwan, spokesman for Hamas's Executive Force in the Gaza Strip, denied responsibility.
He nevertheless admitted that a large group of Hamas militiamen had been near the area during the attack. "We have instructed all our men to withdraw from the area," he said. "We will punish anyone who targets churches and public institutions."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Desperate Housewives?


The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced Wednesday that it had arrested two Palestinian women who were planning a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in late May.
One of the women was a 39-year-old mother of eight in her ninth month of pregnancy, and the other was a 30-year-old mother of four. Both were arrested at Erez Crossing.
The suspects were apprehended following detailed intelligence pinpointing their location. During an interrogation following their arrest, the two women admitted that they were Islamic Jihad operatives, and said that they exploited Israel's humanitarian policy in order to gain false entrance papers on a medical pretext.
Fatma Yonas Hasan Zak, the older of the two, had been in charge of the women's Gaza labor office - representing Islamic Jihad - over the past four years. Part of her job was to remain in contact with armed members of the organization. In addition, she served as a go-between for women who expressed a desire to perpetrate suicide attacks.
Approximately three months ago, her niece, Roda Ibrahim Yonas Habib, asked Zak to help her commit a suicide attack. Zak, who decided to join her niece, turned to her contacts in the organization for backing.
According to their confessions, the two women were to detonate their bombs either in a restaurant, an event hall, or near a large group of soldiers.
The 19-year-old son of one of the women was present while the two were being filmed before leaving to perpetrate their attack.

Friday, June 8, 2007

12 for 12

This coming Shabbat, the Torah portion (Shelach) that recalls the sin of the spies, is read. These were the 12 men that Moshe sent to scout out the Land of Israel before entering.

When they returned, their reports were distorted and negative and caused a 40 year delay before the Children of Israel could enter the Promised Land.

Today despite the challenges that come with living in Israel, we New Olim are witness to all that is good and special about living here and it is in our ability to tell our family, friends and neighbors abroad what those things are.

In honor of Parshat Shelach, here are 12 things that are special about living in Israel.

1. Being part of and contributing to the Jewish nation "at such a time as this"
2. The feeling of Home and belonging, everywhere I go "to and fro throughout the land."
3. Old City - a 20-minute walk from my apartment. I can walk to the Kotel every day!
4. "The air of Jerusalem causes wisdom"
5. When I say "Shabbat Shalom" to people on the street, they say it back instead of looking at me like I'm crazy.
6. The lowest place on Earth (Dead Sea) and the Holiest place on Earth (Temple Mount) within an hour's drive of each other.
7. All Jewish holidays are national holidays AND we only have one day of Yom Tov.
8. Living in Israel is a mitzvah that ONLY can be performed in the Land of Israel, and there are many other mitzvot that can ONLY be performed in Israel itself and not "Chutz L'Aretz" ("Outside of The Land").
9. Get on any bus and eavesdrop on arguements about the fine points of halacha between Haredim, Chasadim, Religious Zionists and regular housewives - any time of the day!
10. Meeting Jews from Russia, Ethiopian, France, Iran, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, India, Texas and everywhere else...and we're all trying to learn to speak Hebrew together!
11. Incredible beauty and holiness of the Land itself
12. Every location and vista is connected to Jewish history and has a fascinating story to tell.

If you'd like to know more about the viability of living in Israel, and how Nefesh b'Nefesh can help you make the dream of Aliyah a reality, visit

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Golan Heights!

Our Tyule ("field trip") took us to Tzfat in northern Israel to visit our friends Moshe Tov and Gavi ("The Center for Healthy Living"), who took us to a great spot in the Golan Heights known as "The Officers Pool", part of the Banyas, a beautiful, lush archeological site at the foot of Mount Hermon. The river Hermon, the eastern tributary of the Jordan River, is born here and spills out into luscious waterfalls, delicious grottos and refreshing pools.
The Officers Pools is where the Syrian Officers used to bathe when the Golan was possessed by the Syrians from 1948-1967. The pool was built on ancient foundations, and the hot springs of Ein Khilo bubble up inside the pool.
After what can only be described as a journey akin to "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" (as we were detained en route by an Israeli Police Officer for something having to do with the difference between a dashed white line and a solid white line and the protocol for passing lanes), we were VERY grateful and happy to arrive at the Officers Pool and enjoy a time of cool refreshing water and the incredible beauty of the Golan.

The Salty Truth

The Dead Sea - the "Lowest Point on Earth," a place where truth must be told even if reluctantly - the elements demand it, the mineral-rich atmosphere pulls it from the inchoate depths of feelings without words.

Most often the sounds are of "ahh," and "ow" - especially when the saltiest water on Earth from the Sea of Salt itself comes into contact with bites, scratches, wounds, cuts, or any other opening of the skin. Tyule ("Field Trip") to the Dead Sea was taken this week, Amy and I pictured here in the parking lot of the Mineral Beach by Ein Gedi, where soon she, Cameron and I would be slathered in the blackest of mud and losing ourselves in the honest truth, both body and soul.

Warning to Moslem Women: Dress for Success or Die!

women to be killed
By Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST
June. 2, 2007

A radical Islamic group in the Gaza Strip issued over the weekend a death threat against Palestinian women working for the official Palestinian Authority television station, accusing them of dressing immodestly and behaving in a way that violates the teachings of Islam.

The threat, the first of its kind against female employees of Palestine TV, was made by the Righteous Swords of Islam, a relatively new group that is believed to have links with al-Qaida.

The group has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Internet cafes and restaurants in the Gaza Strip over the past year.

Members of the group are also responsible for splashing acid in the face of a number of young women who had been accused of "immoral behavior."

The Righteous Swords of Islam is one of three al-Qaida-affiliated groups that have popped up in the Gaza Strip over the past two years.

PA officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that the presence of the extremist groups in the Gaza Strip would "eventually lead to the transformation of the Palestinian territories into a Taliban-style entity." According to one official, "The day will come when we will miss Hamas. These are extremely dangerous groups that are trying to take Palestinian society back to the Dark Ages."

A leaflet distributed by the Righteous Swords of Islam specifically referred to the women who appear on Palestine TV. "The saying these days is that the enemy has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and so have our morals," it read. "It's indeed disgraceful that the women working for the official Palestinian media are competing between each other to display their charms."

Referring to the fact that most of the female presenters do not wear the niqab - a veil covering the face of Muslim women as a part of sartorial hijab - the leaflet asked: "Where are the decision-makers in this regard? Have we lost our conscience? Have the brothers, fathers and husbands stopped caring about their women?"

The group warned that its members would strike with an "iron fist and swords" against the women who are refusing to cover their faces. "We will destroy their homes," it announced. "We will blow up their work places. We have a lot of information about their addresses and we are following their movements."

The leaflet concluded by threatening to "slaughter" the women for allegedly spreading corruption in Palestinian society by appearing on the screen with their faces uncovered. "The administration and workers at Palestine TV should know that we are much closer to them than they think," it added. "If necessary, we will behead and slaughter to preserve the spirit and morals of our people."

Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, strongly condemned the threats against the women and pledged to protect them.

"We reject the lies made by the so-called Righteous Swords of Islam," said a statement issued by the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Gaza City. The threats against the female journalists and employees are very serious and we will notallow anyone to harm our national institutions."