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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Taliban Assasins Murder Ranking Afghan Policewoman

Just in case you forgot yet one more important reason we hate the Taliban -The Associated Press reports the following:

Two Taliban assassins on a motorbike shot and killed a senior policewoman as she left for work in Afghanistan's largest southern city Sunday and gravely wounded her son.
Malalai Kakar, 41, who led Kandahar city's department of crimes against women, was leaving home Sunday when she was killed, said Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor. Her 18-year-old son was wounded, he said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility.
Militants frequently attack projects, schools and businesses run by women.
The hard-line Taliban regime, which was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, did not allow women outside the home without a male escort.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the assassination, as did the European Union, which said it was "appalled by the brutal targeting" of Kakar.
"Any murder of a police officer is to be condemned, but the killing of a female officer whose service was not only to her country, but to Afghan women, to whom Ms. Kakar served as an example, is particularly abhorrent," the EU said in a statement.

May I just remind y'all that Islamic Fundamentalists - exemplified by the Taliban - have one and only one goal - ISLAMIC WORLD DOMINATION. Which means cliterectomies, burkas and not stepping outside one's home without a male relative escort/driver for all women. So, why exactly would you want to vote in the next American Presidental election for anyone who isn't willing to drive these animals back into the holes from which they crawled when we weren't looking?

You Say Goodbye, I Say...Hello!

I was lucky enough to get to see a once-in-a-lifetime event - Paul McCartney in Tel Aviv - with my (originally) British friend YERUSHALIMEY. As I have NO WORDS, his will more than suffice...Yerushalimey's review of the concert is, as follows....

It's difficult to decide where - or when - to begin an account of Sir Paul McCartney's "Friendship First" concert last night in Tel Aviv. I could describe the closest train station, a couple of hours before the event where, besides the steady flow of people of all ages wearing Beatles T-shirts there were about 20 women standing in line outside the shirutim (public toilets), presumably because they didn't expect to be able to relieve themselves comfortably at the Hayarkon Park venue. (There were, in turned out, rows of Portapotties lined up near the park's shirutim.) Or I could review the death threats from Muslim clerics; or the comments in The Guardian arguing that it is not hypocritical for someone to demand that McCartney boycott Israel yet, at the same time, enjoy Israeli cell phone and computer technology... Although I saw a security guard single out a lone male for what seemed to be careful questioning, for the most part the people at the gates seemed to be at least as intent on preventing large bottles of water from being brought in as detecting weapons. (The most lax security I've ever seen in Israel was at a reggae concert: at music events I suppose the people who don't belong are easily spotted.) I saw no weapons within the fabric wall. That's understandable, but noteworthy because so many people routinely carry guns in public in Israel.
Two hours before the show was scheduled to start, the area in front of the stage was filled. We spread our blanket a couple of hundred yards back and waited. There was a gigantic vertical screen on either side of the stage and the crowd became a little more energized when pictures form Paul's history rolled down them. No Israeli songs came over the sound system, just British and American music (and one Jimmy Cliff).
Ten minutes after the eight o'clock scheduled start, Paul began with a rousing "Hello Goodbye." Obvious opening choice, but especially canny because the audience couldn't resist joining in with the Hey La, Hey Hey Lo Ah.... Then came "Jet." This pair of songs was a taste of what was to come: 32 songs (if I counted correctly), the vast majority of which were Beatle songs, and only a handful from after 1975...
"Shalom, Tel Aviv!" Paul greeted the audience, who seemed delighted when he added, "Shana Tova!" It was the week before Rosh Hashana: maybe that was why there were so few men with yarmulkes visible - with the notable exception of the Chabad people outside, encouraging concert-goers to don tefilin...
"Baby You Can Drive My Car" was next, with an automobile sequence rolling behind him on the stage's rear wall.I confess I don't know what the next song was: I could blame the poor scrawl in my notebook, but truthfully I didn't recognize it...Next Paul addressed the audience in Hebrew again: "Zeh echad hayashanim." ("This is one of the oldies.) And it was! "All My Loving." The crowd loved it.
Next was "Flaming Pie," followed by "Let Me Roll It." This was, therefore, the second of four tracks - including the title song - from Band on the Run. Later, when he sang "Mrs Vanderbilt" the audience sang along, "Ho, hey ho!" as though we were in a jungle....
The audience listened attentively to his next number, especially since he introduced it, in Hebrew, dedicating it "L'Linda." It was a very moving "My Love." He followed it with another from his post-Beatle songbook ("Someone's knocking at the door"); then came "Long and Winding Road." He played "Dance Tonight" (from 2007's Memory Almost Full), which, apart from "Flaming Pie," I think were the only songs from after 1975! (But you can check the internet...)
Paul then talked briefly about how he and George - this was before they were Beatles - used to sit sometimes and play classical pieces on guitar. He demonstrated a piece of Bach's they used to play, and then showed how he stole a phrase and turned it into...."Blackbird"!
During one of his anecdotal reminiscences, one of Paul's spontaneous asides probably baffled the native Israelis in the audience. "A long time ago," he began, and then interrupted himself with "- this wasn't in Bethlehem." I figure he wasn't referring to his trip to the Church of the Nativity; instead he was alluding to the '50s song that began "Long time ago in Bethlehem" about Mary's Boy Child... This seemed to be the only Christian reference in the evening. (He has stated that the mother Mary in "Let It Be" was actually his own mother, Mary.) But he did make a point of saying "Ramadan Karim" twice during the evening, the second time almost asking us to be fair. (Sorry, I didn't catch his exact words.)
I watched virtually all of the concert on one of the screens. I think it was during "Let It Be" that I turned around to see the lights of a thousand cellphones held up instead of candles. At one point I went forward and stood on my toes and craned my neck and peeked and finally caught a glimpse of the tiny figure in a pink shirt, so I can say I actually saw Paul with my naked eye, albeit from a couple hundred yards away. During the show he addressed the people he could see outside in the park proper. I turned to see what he saw: thousands of people who didn't pay and who, sitting or standing on a hill, probably had a less obstructed view of the stage than many of the paying audience. He had nothing to gain by greeting them. Paul was playing for the people - not simply for the money."I'll Follow the Sun," "Mrs Vanderbilt," "Here, There and Everywhere." After "Eleanor Rigby" (with keyboard synthesized violins), Paul addressed us in Hebrew again" "Hashir hazeh l'George." And he played "Something" - on the ukelele! The band joined in after the middle eight, so it ended up sounding quite like the album version, with thousands of people singing along....Next he announced, "This is for John." I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the audience surprised - and delighted - to hear "A Day in the Life." It's just not something you'd expect at a concert (unless Phish decided to perform "Sgt. Pepper!). It was amusing to watch one of the band members on the big screen panting just before the "Woke up, fell out of bed" segment. Without the London Symphony Orchestra present, there needed to be a new ending - it was Paul singing "Give Peace a Chance." Clearly, Paul's tribute to John was, as Lennon himself would probably have wanted, a powerful political and very human declaration. Before the show I'd lamented that it's too bad that no one but Lennon could really sing the lead vocal. So I was happily impressed that Paul led about fifty-thousand Israelis in an indisputably sincere rendition of the plea for peace. I confess I felt smug, convinced that nowhere else in the Middle East could this anthem be sung by so many people. (Oddly, for me, this was not the most moving experience of the melody: the first time I heard "Oseh Shalom bimromav, etc." sung to "Give Peace a Chance," [at Kol Rina, in Jerusalem] tears came to my eyes: All we are saying...O-oseh shalom...)
"Band on the Run," "Back in the USSR" (with amusing old films of Soviet dancing in the background). Then "I Got a Feeling" with an extra hard biting extra ending...There were fireworks for "Live and Let Die." Rockets shooting up, mostly white, with some glowing red balls. Not the most expensive or elaborate pyrotechnics, but especially effective because they were unanticipated and because they emphasized the sudden violence of the title. I took it as a kind of affirmation. "Live! and (if those crazies want to go around killing each other) Let Die...""Let it Be" - more inspiration, instruction for the weary - but not, like Olmert and his gang, hopeless - Israeli. And "Hey, Jude!" Paul playfully acknowledged different sections of the audience, singing "Na, Na, Na, Nanananah". "Rak Hanashim!" (Only the women!) he called, hand on hip, mincing across the stage...He'd performed for two hours.
Now the end of the show approached. The first, faux end. Stage empty, screens blank for a minute, while they took a quick break. First encore? What would it be?"Lady Madonna." Then "Get Back." he chatted with the audience again, asked if they weren't real old rock and rollers, before he slammed into "I Saw Her Standing There." What was left? Of course: "Yesterday."He bid the audience goodbye again. Introrduced the musicians. Thanked everyone. Declared that the crew was the best in the world. (Maybe they were; but someone I was with said that the sound was off. I didn't know. I couldn't tell. I didn't care.)"Shana Tova! Ramadan Karim!"The final encore: "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (Reprise: "We're sorry but it's time to go...") And finally, "The End."Wow! From "Hello, Goodbye" to "The End." Great set. Great show.
Paul McCartney is an amazingly talented composer and performer. It was a privilege to see him live in concert. He clearly is genuinely devoted to peace and love. His tribute to Linda was an act of personal courage, exposing himself as a vulnerable human. His tributes to George and John were similarly mentschlich. The fact that he ignored threats and criticism from the Blue Meanies, exposing himself to the possibility of physical danger and censure from some of the media, show him to be a seeker of justice.Thank you, Paul.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forget Bomb Shelters, Pass the Bottle Please!

From the "Better Living Through Science" Department - at last, one of my many (unfairly categorized as "wacko") theories has been scientifically proven. I've been saying for years that red wine has magical properties, and now science has proven that red wine protects humans from the effect of radiation!
So go ahead Iran, keep developing the bomb. I'm just going to sit here on my porch in Jerusalem sipping (kosher) red wine and sticking my tongue out at you in your general direction (hey, what direction is Iran from here?)

Reuters reports:
A natural antioxidant commonly found in red wine and fruit may protect against radiation exposure, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.
Tests in mice showed that resveratrol, when altered using a compound called acetyl, could prevent some of the damage caused by radiation, the researchers told the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in Boston.
Drugs made that way might be used in a large-scale radiological or nuclear emergency, said Dr. Joel Greenberger, a radiation oncologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
"Currently there are no drugs on the market that protect against or counteract radiation exposure," he added. "Our goal is to develop treatments for the general population that are effective and non-toxic," Greenberger said in a statement.
"Small molecules which can be easily stored, transported and administered are optimal for this, and so far acetylated resveratrol fits these requirements well."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

She's Got A Ticket To Ride...


I wouldn't say that spending 490 NIS on a standing room only ticket (no actual seat) to see Paul McCartney in Tel Aviv is a waste of money. I'd say that the fact that Isra-Card graciously divides the amount into 3 equal payments over 3 months is what turns a waste of money into a cultural and karmic necessity. Even if this is my entire entertainment budget for the next year - (comes to about $140-ish total or 3 easy payments of $46) - it's PAUL MCCARTNEY, for the love of G_d, in the Holy Land, for the first time ever (and probably the last time ever too, all things considered). I actually can't afford NOT to go. If I ever merit the great good fortune to have grandchildren and one of them asks me: "Safta, did you see Paul McCartney when he came to play in Tel Aviv in 2008?" and I said, "No, I couldn't bring myself to spend $140," I just couldn't live with myself.

Friday, September 19, 2008

And The Little Children Will Lead Them...


Ultra-kudos to my Facebook Friend Yosef Rabin, who organized the successful "Orange Day" protest by American school children this past Thursday.
Arutz Sheva reports:
(IsraelNN.com) Students at Jewish schools across America wore orange clothing on Thursday and handed out informational materials to fellow students, teachers and staff members to protest Israel’s plan to expel Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria and its negotiations over Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority.
The event, organized by the United Jewish Student Council (UJSC), was originally planned as a one-period demonstration that would have been held during the first class of the school day, but was scaled back due to heavy pressure from school administrators.
The orange clothing was intended to spark memories of the days of fighting the 2005 Disengagement, when 25 Jewish communities were destroyed and more than 8,000 Jews were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif and northern Samaria.

According to organizer Yosef Rabin, the day’s events were a moderate success. In addition to students, some parents got involved with the project as well -- even parents whose children were in public schools, or whose children were too young to go to yeshiva, as in the case of the Packer family in North Carolina.

Students in eight states across the United States and Canada had originally planned to organize events at their schools, but at the last minute, the group from Canada pulled out, “because the school administration announced that all activity was strictly forbidden because of fear that the ‘tzniut [modesty –ed.] dress code would be infringed.’ This was of course ridiculous,” said Rabin, “but it put enough fear in the students.” (MY PERSONAL NOTE HERE: FURTHER EVIDENCE OF THE INSANITY OF SOME - not all but some - HAREDIM WHO HOLD SO-CALLED"MODESTY" AS A HIGHER VALUE THAN THE LAND OF ISRAEL ITSELF. WHAT IS INHERITLY IMMODEST ABOUT THE COLOR ORANGE????)

There were plenty of students who stepped forward, however, and even some schools that supported the process, itself a statement Rabin noted with deep appreciation.

For the budding young activists, Rabin had nothing but praise. “The schools did not drag the students to a protest; they got up and understood that something had to be done,” he said with great satisfaction. “This may spark something larger, and we will work to make that happen.”
Rabin was particularly impressed with the Jewish students in the public sector. “What I found very encouraging is that Jews in secular US public schools came forward and were eager to help. You could feel this love of the Jewish People and G-d,” he said.

Noting that a light rain had fallen for the first time this season in Israel the following morning, Rabin wondered if perhaps the Land had not been blessed “after this small tikun (correction) that occurred in Jewish schools in the US – you know that chazal [our Sages –ed.] teach us that Hashem listens especially to the tefilot [prayers –ed.] of children,” he added.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chillul HaShem - Islam Online Exposes Our Shame

G_d forbid I should say anything bad about Jerusalem, the Jewish People, or the Land of Israel in any way. Which is why I hesitated before publishing the following article from IslamOnline.net's web site regarding the recent rise in violence against Jewish women by gangs of young haredi (ultra-Orthodox) vigalantees dubbed "The Morality Squad." However, the tipping point for me is the fact that our Rabbis, our esteemed living Torah Sages have NOT come out with a ringing condemnation of violence against women. Now the press of our enemies, which is one of their most powerful weapons, reports this chillul HaShem - desecration of G_d's Name - for all the pan-Islamic World to see.
RABBIS OF ERETZ YISRAEL - It is incumbent upon you to protect Jewish women - ALL Jewish women, the entire spectrum from haredi to hiloni and everything in-between - from violence by the hands of G_d forbid their fellow Jews, and forbid any Torah-observant man from laying hands upon a woman to harm, or to enforce a standard of "modesty," whether that be in behavior, dress or lifestyle. I'm calling on YOU, our leaders, sages and Talmideem Chochamim, to issue a public decree and a private dictate within your own communities forbidding such actions.

This is the article from IslamOnline.net -

Jewish Morality Squads
IslamOnline.net & News Agencies
OCCUUPIED JERUSALEM — Wearing black coats and wide-brimmed hats, Israel's ultra-orthodox vigilantes roam the streets, harass women dressed in "immoral" clothing and attack music shops.
"I don't know why I was treated this way. What has my life got to do with those guys,"
M., who just two weeks ago became the latest victim of the Jewish morality squads, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Monday, September 15.
The 28-year-old woman, who refused to tell her name for fear of reprisal, was brutally gagged and beaten at the hands of two members of a Jewish modesty patrol.
"They beat me up, tied me up and threatened to kill me," M. said, holding back her tears.
They threatened to kill her if she did not move out of the ultra-Orthodox Maalot Dafna neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Shaking as she recalled the beating, M. says she will move out because she fears for her life.
"Who will prevent them from killing me?"
M. is not the only victim of the Jewish self-styled modesty squads.
In June, a 14-year-old resident of Mea Sharim neighborhood was taken to hospital with burns after an attacker hurled acid at her.
Israeli media said that at the time of the attack the girl had been wearing loose-fitting trousers and a short-sleeved shirt, enough to provoke the ire of modesty patrols.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews, also known as Haredim, follow strict interpretations of Jewish religious laws. Their life revolves around a strict dress code that has men sporting black coats, hats and long beards and women covering their heads, arms and legs.
Haredim Jews, who make up 8 to 10 percent of Israel's population, have been active in Israel for the past decade.
Terrorizing
The Jewish morality squads have become increasingly visible in Jerusalem recently.
"For some weeks we've been seeing excesses," asserted Meny Schwartz, who heads the religious Kol Haredi radio station.
In the neighborhoods dominated by the Haredim, streets are sealed off for the Jewish day of rest and satellite dishes are considered a sign of heresy.
The ultra-Orthodox Jews have also led violent protests against swimming pools, cinemas and other establishments they consider immoral.
Failing to segregate the sexes is also unacceptable according to the Haredi rules.
They operate scores of gender-segregated bus routes whose buses move the ultra-Orthodox between Jerusalem neighborhoods.
In 2006, a 50-year-old American tourist on holiday was attacked because she refused to go to the back of a bus along with other women.
Police have recently detained a man accused of torching a store for selling what some residents considered "immoral" clothing.
David, a salesman at a store that sells MP4 players, says they have been targeted by the morality squads who have picketed outside the shop for weeks.
"They burned down our stocks," he said, declining to give his family name for fear of being singled out for attack.
"[They] are spreading terror in the neighborhood. Nothing will stop them."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Malkah's in 7th Heaven, how about YOU?

My friend Malkah Fleisher (pictured here with husband Yishai and daughter Leah Bat Zion), writes the following at
www.kumah.org:


So we recently had this very interesting guest over, who was trying to get away from some issues in the US by finding himself in Israel for a week. When our guest arrived, fresh from the Crowne Plaza in Tel Aviv courtesy of an old school Israeli cab driver, we pulled a few chairs out of the house, plopped them down in the road, served up some steaming joe, and gave our guests a few minutes to soak up the oxygen-rich, vanilla puddingy delicious air that we so habitually breathe up on our mountaintop every day. They checked out the view, eyed a few twitting sparrows, and sipped their piping hot Turkish coffee, with a few fresh figs our friend picked for us from her tree the night before (incidentally, she said I could pick as many as I want for myself - yesh!).After a few minutes and some enthusiasting licking from Pilpel, our driver drove away, Yishai put the baby in a backpack, unleashed the dog, and took our guest on a hike all over our mountain while I recorded the Eyshet Chayil Show, assuredly showing him the Jewish burial sites, pointing out some frolicking gazelles, and telling the story of Jacob's dream, which happened here in holy Beit El. That night, we fed him meat and vegetables from a cauldron we and our friends/neighbors boiled around a campfire (say it with me: Poika!), as we talked about issues surrounding the Holy Temple, Jewish interrelations, and building on the mountain.The next day, after a big breakfast of organic eggs that are free-range raised by Avri Ran near Itamar and a big glass of fresh, 7th year-fallow-grapes grape juice squeezed by Hillel Mann from the vineyards of the Beit El Winery, we took our increasingly spiritually-inspired guest to buy brand new Tefillin from the world-famous Beit El Tefillin factory. After an hour tour (FASCINATING!), our guest was fitted for his tefillin, bought a mezuzah, was blessed by a Tefillin-making Cohen, and sent on his merry way.We dropped him off in next-door Ofra, where he rented a car to continue his adventures in the north.
Now I pose a question: was our guest on the best vacation ever.... or am I?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

If I Had A Hammer....

video

Yeah, it's a song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this HOLY LAND OF ISRAEL, you better believe it! :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rav Kook's Yartzeit

In honor of the Yartzeit (anniversary of his passing, which is today, 3 Elul) of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook (may his holy remembrance be for a blessing), here is a very special Elul-themed poem he wrote.

THE WHISPERS OF EXISTENCE
By Rav Avraham Yitzchok Kook
(may his holy remembrance be for a blessing)
(as translated by R. Ben Zion Bokser, published in Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook , The Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press)

All existence whispers to me a secret:
I have life to offer, take it, take it -
If you have a heart and in the heart red blood courses,
Which despair has not soiled.
But if your heart is dulled
And beauty holds no spell to you - existence whispers - Leave me, leave,
I am forbidden to you.
If every gentle sound,
Every living beauty,
Stir you not to a holy song,
But to some alien thought,
Then leave me, leave, I am forbidden to you.
And a generation will yet arise
And sing to beauty and the life
And draw delight unending
From the dew of heaven.
And people returned to life will hear
The wealth of life's secrets
From the vistas of the Carmel and the Sharon,
And from the delight of song and life's beauty
A holy light will abound.
All of existence will whisper,"My beloved, I am permitted to you."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hey Now!

I couldn't sleep again last night - Virgo / Virgo New Moon, Rosh Chodesh Elul...Mercury kept me awake, so I made this video.