Monday, September 29, 2008

Rosh Hashana Prayers and Greetings

There will be no posting to Magdeburgerjoe.com from tonight, Monday night through Wednesday night due to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the 5769th year of creation.

Rosh HaShanah is a day when the entire world is judged from the smallest forms of life to the fortunes of the most mighty nations. It is a time when we are reminded of the Hidden Hand and the Seeing Eye that are hidden yet omnipresent.

In the frenzy of daily existence, we focus on the use of our own strength and calculations to achieve our goals and desires. So much is out of our hands. The very strength with which we make our efforts comes from G-d.

Recent events on Wall Street have underscored the fragility of a prosperity we have taken for granted. All of our calculations and all of our efforts bring us to prayer for a good outcome in these times of turbulence.

There is a Jewish saying that the heart of a ruler is in the hands of G-d. In a very real sense, we are ruled by voters and by shareholders. May G-d guide their hearts to the right decisions, and may those decisions bear good fruit.

There is a Yiddish blessing in which you wish a person "GeFeN'. The word gefen translates as "gesund, parnosso and nachas", which means "health, wealth and joy from one's children".

I wish this to all of my readers in America, the Holy Land and the entire world as it says in the "alenu" prayer "

על כן נקוה לך ה' אלקינו,
לראות מהרה בתפארת עזך,
Eternal our God, we therefore hope
soon to see Your majestic glory;
להעביר גלולים מן הארץ
והאלילים כרות יכרתון.
To remove idols from the earth,
so that the false gods will be destroyed;
לתקן עולם במלכות שדי,
וכל בני בשר יקראו בשמך.
To perfect the world under the Almighty's kingdom,
so that all will call on Your name;
להפנות אליך כל רשעי ארץ.
יכירו וידעו כל יושבי תבל,
To turn all the wicked of the earth toward You
so that all the inhabitants of the world will realize and know
כי לך תכרע כל ברך
תשבע כל לשון.
That to You every knee must bow down,
every tongue swear allegiance.
לפניך ה' אלקינו יכרעו ויפלו.
ולכבוד שמך יקר יתנו.
Eternal our God, before You they will bow down and fall,
and honor Your glorious name.
ויקבלו כלם את עול מלכותך,
ותמלך עליהם מהרה לעולם ועד.
And they will all accept the yoke of Your kingdom,
that You might rule over them soon and forever,
כי המלכות שלך היא,
ולעולמי עד תמלוך בכבוד.
For the kingdom is Yours,
and to the ends of eternity You will rule in glory.
ככתוב בתורתך: ה' ימלך לעולם ועד. As it is written in Your Torah, "The Eternal will rule forever." (Exodus 15:18)
ונאמר: והיה ה' למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה ה' אחד, ושמו אחד. And it has been said, "The Eternal will become King over the entire earth. On that day, the Eternal shall be One and His Name shall be One." (Zechariah 14:9)


A blessed and sweet year to all.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

1)Bloomberg Assault on Salt (2) Barack Obama : Five Star Wuss

Mayor Mike Bloomberg has added another item to his health agenda. In addition to smoking and transfats, Bloomberg is now admonishing citizens to regulate their salt intake.

"People are eating too much salt, me included," Bloomberg told a crowd of health professionals gathered at the Pierre Hotel for an awards luncheon. In a disturbing note, the Vos Iz Neias website reports that Bloomberg considers his assault on salt to be part of a long campaign to make New Yorkers healthy. And he does not intend it to be the last step.

"After this, we can keep going," Bloomberg reportedly said. "People don't like to have somebody come in and tell them what to do, but afterward, if it turns out to be something that's in their interest, they sure as heck say thank you."

Bloomberg persists in maintaining the illusion that all of our city's more basic problems have been solved. Gunfire in the streets, drugs and gangs are raaising the blood pressure of millions of New Yorkers, adding to the direct fatalities that result from these problems. Many New Yorkers are enslaved like serfs to high rents and mortgages. To all of these problems, the mayor displays a breezy indifference.

I understand the mayor's real concerns. He could promote restaurants for dieters and health education through his already existing communications network. Rather than force feed good health, he could educate instead. His concerns are legitimate, but there are better ways to bring New Yorkers on board. Real change in the area of public health is slow. Less coercive measures than Mayor Bloomberg's have already yielded results in the war on smoking.

Bloomberg is a wealthy and a healthy man. When he finishes his term as mayor, I would applaud his efforts in the area of public health as a private citizen. Many middle aged men such as myself hope to reach his age in shape comparable to his. A tolerable mix of envy and admiration are a more powerful motive to listen to Mayor Bloomberg than the strong arm of government. Until he returns to private life, he should work on crime, drugs and skyrocketing housing costs. This is how he could bring down our blood pressure

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Barack Obama : Five Star Wuss

The Obama campaign has waged war on free speech in Missouri by getting sympathetic law enforcement officials to go after ads they deem to be inaccurate. The step is a willful disregard of the distinction between political and commercial speech.
Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri has rightfully blasted the Obama attack on free speech in the strongest terms, saying ““What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public …Click here for entire article

Friday, September 26, 2008

Best of National Anthems/Visit to Molossia a Great Microrepublic

I am a big fan of national anthems. The prize for nicest lyrics could definitely go to Swazi land in the middle of South Africa. Good lyrics often sound universal themes and ideals for a country to live up to The Swazi anthem does this very well.

Swaziland National Anthem Lyrics

Swaziland

Original Swazi Words

Nkulunkulu Mnikati wetibusiso teMaswati,

Siyatibonga tonkhe tinhlanhla,

Sibonga iNgwenyama yetfu,

Live netintsaba nemifula.


Busisa tiphatsi mandla taka Ngwane

Nguwe wedvwa Somandla wetfu;

Sinike kuhlanipha lokungenabucili

Simise usicinise, Simakadze.



English:

O Lord our God, bestower of the blessings of the Swazi;

We give Thee thanks for all our good fortune;

We offer thanks and praise for our king;

And for our fair land, its hills and rivers;


The Blessings be on all rulers of our country;

Might and power are Thine alone;

We pray Thee to grant us wisdom without deceit or malice.

Establish and fortify us, Lord Eternal.



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Micronations are countries that either occupy tiny spaces such as a small island, an acre of land or even an apartment.Most have no legal standing at all. They are tolerated because they constitute no threat. One such "country " is Molossia, which is located in the middle of Nevada on an acre and a half of land. It has three citizens, one of whom is its bemedalled ruler. He is related by marriage or blood to the entire population of his country, all of whom work "abroad". The country is heavily dependent upon trade with the United States. Its border reflects its friendly relationship with its neighbours. There is no fence or visa requirements. So far, there has been no exchange of ambassadors. The language of the country is English. The following videos show the current state of affairs in that country. There are probably enough micronations to form a micro UN which would be a major improvement on the one currently in existence. There are other micronations I intend to feature in future articles. I hope you enjoy today's coverage of Molossia.


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State Visit to Molossia


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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sealand: A Great Micronation

My obsession for today is micronations. A micronation is a country on little or no land that has little or no recognition from any other country. They often have flags and passports. Less frequently will they issue stamps and currency.

Sealand is a naval platform in the North Sea that was set up by the British Navy, which abandoned it in the 1960's. On September 2,1967, Paddy Roy Bates, a former British Army major occupied the platform with his family. After consulting with lawyers, he declared the platform to be an independent country. The British government became aware of his secession about a year later and attempted to prosecute him for crimes against the Crown. Amazingly, a British court decided that they had no jurisdiction, since the platform is located in international waters. In the following paragraph from the Sealand official website, this remarkable turn of events is described.

By late 1968, the British navy had become aware of the new situation off the coast of England. They were interested in terminating the state of affairs brought about by an error committed by the most senior military authorities without causing too much uproar.

Units of the navy entered the territorial waters claimed by Roy of Sealand. As he was aware of his sovereignty, Roy of Sealand threatened the navy by undertaking defensive activity. Shots were fired from Sealand in warning.

Since Roy of Sealand was still an English citizen, he was thus accused of extensive crimes in Britain and was summoned to an English court. The result of this lawsuit in Chelmsford, Essex was a spectacular success for Sealand's claim to sovereignty. In its judgment of 25 November 1968, the court declared that it was not competent in Roy of Sealand's case as it could not exert any jurisdiction outside of British national territory. This is the first de facto recognition of the Principality of Sealand. English law had ruled that Sealand was not part of the United Kingdom, nor did any other nation claim it, hence Prince Roy's declaration of a new Sovereign State was de facto upheld. .

Sealand is probably the most spectacular success in the history of micronations, having succeeded in defeating the United Kingdom in its own courts. What is refreshing is the apparent disinterest on the part of its founders in any sort of sinister use for their declared independence such as drugs or money laundry. It is currently up for sale at an asking price of 750,000,000 Euros.

Principality of Sealand


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(1)Canadian Rock in French (2) Obama Writes off Four States, Losing Jewish Vote

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNcPTdCt4i8

The distinctive French spoken in Canada is a living reminder of the French role in colonising North America. Because it is descended from a dialect of French that did not achieve political dominance, it is not given the respect that it deserves. I feel a certain hemispheric solidarity with the languages and culture of the New World when they meet up with European feelings of cultural superiority.

One of my favourite Canadian rock groups that sings in French is Vilain Pingouin. I am presenting one of their videos here for your listening pleasure.

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Obama Writes off Four States, Losing Jewish Voters in New York


The movement for hope and change that lit up the world from the Eiffel tower to the Brandenburg gate has now given up hope of changing the minds of voters in four states.

North Dakota, Idaho, Alaska, have all been written off by the Obama campaign, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.(Click here)

In these states, campaign workers have been withdrawn and redeployed in states where the polls show a closer contest. The Obama campaign has also pulled television ads in Georgia.

The four states have a total of 22 electoral votes.

Although the LA Times is delivering encouraging news to the McCain campaign, it does so in a backhand and condescending manner. On their web site, the story is accompanied by a video that discusses white racism. The states from which Obama forces have withdrawn are described in the most pejorative terms.

“The Associated Press reported this evening and an Obama spokeswoman confirmed that the Chicago-based campaign is pulling its 50-some staffers out of the heavily Republican state full of embittered small towns and shipping the workers east to Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the Democrat’s prospects seem brighter and closer.” (LA Times)

Click here for the rest of the story

1)Jerk of the Year Award (2)Should America Outsource Some CEO Positions ?

I take the laws governing injurious speech very seriously, for this reason, when I bestow an award for outrageous misconduct, I leave the recipient anonymous. This way, if someone else has done the same thing, they might be moved to mend their ways.

Today's recipient of my "Jerk of the Year" award would not be hauled off in handcuffs, but he definitely deserves to be pilloried. He is a Rosh Yeshiva, and his offense involved tuition collection. My friend who told me of this incident sends his son to JOTY's Yeshiva. He was about a week late with his monthly tuition payment. His son, , an eleven year old with some learning problems was sitting in class. The rabbi called him out and told him to come to the office. Without a word of explanation, he handed the boy the telephone and told him to call his home. When the mother answered, he told her he was in the principal's office and didn't know why. She asked to speak to the principal.

Rabbi JOTY got on the line and said gruffly, "You owe me six hundred and fifty dollars for this month."

The mother was stunned and replied that she would have her husband call within the hour. The psychological impact was as though her son were being held hostage. The boy was allowed to return to class. The father made good on his wife's promise and the boy enjoyed the comfort of a desk and a hot lunch for yet another month in Rabbi JOTY's yeshiva. Unfortunately the scene repeated itself yet again with the same boy. As before, payment was quick and complete.

What should the rabbi have done? Yeshivas do struggle. He has to pay his teachers and the building maintenance expenses. I would have told him to give the family a warning and after a week, seven days notice, after which they would be told to keep their son home until payment was made. Rabbi JOTY should NOT have called the boy in or put him on the phone in connection with financial matters.

I am sharing this story because it was not unique. There are other stories as well. It is a measure not only of insensitivity by Rabbi JOTY but also the desperation and sacrifices that even well to do Jewish families endure in providing a Torah education for their children. I hope this article will stimulate needed discussion about aid to both Yeshivas and families. The struggles of harried families should not involve their children. I hope Rabbi JOTY and others like him will take this lesson to heart and use a small measure of tact and compassion in the collection of tuition in the future.

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One of the factors in the fall of communism was the complete disconnect between productivity and rewards. There was complete security for failing employees and failing businesses. An old Soviet era gag line was “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.”

In most cases, heavy government subsidies were coupled with a kleptocratic ethic and under the table set of connections to get scarce goods and services.

Workers in the free world are bound by considerations of productivity. Under-productive workers will quickly find themselves unemployed.

Corporate executives on the other hand earn obscenely high salaries that they collect even when they are laying off employees. The gross disparity between the wages of an average worker and of a corporate executive set Americans apart from their Japanese counterparts. An article in today’s New York Times reports as follows.

Click here for entire article

Monday, September 22, 2008

How Hope and Change Look in Iran

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What do you get when you vote for slogans? What do you get when you vote for image over substance? Hope and change, no more business as usual are all very good, but what are the specifics? Papa Doc, Adolf Hitler and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were all freely elected. Both Ahmadinejad and Hitler won with less than a third of the vote In both their respective elections, parliamentary horse trading could have resulted in a less injurious alternative.

It is interesting to watch the struggle for the human heart and mind on a mass level. Candidates are marketed in the same way clothing and cosmetics are marketed, complete with identifying the various markets and attempting to achieve market saturation.

I am showing with this posting a commercial done by a man who won his election struggle. He followed up his attractive sloganeering with union busting, pandering to corrupt clergy and brutal suppression of ethnic minorities. His commercials, so full of populist pandering evoke a world that is a stark contrast to life in his country after several years under his rule.

The video with this posting is an actual Ahmadinejad campaign commercial with English subtitles. Let it be a warning to turn down the volume on the loud music, slogans and fancy packaging. Let it be a warning to look instead at the fine print. Ahmadinejad fooled enough people long enough to win his election. Are we any smarter?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

1)Dialogue With A Reader (Not a Retraction) about Palin and Buchanan (2) Random thoughts on Election 2008 and the "Duty to Die"

Sarah Palin has been the focus of misinformation, slander and harassment that is more intense than any in recent memory. The story that she was a fund raiser for Patrick Buchanan was even given air by Patrick Buchanan himself. Further investigation turned up the fact that no records existed of Palin raising funds for Buchanan, that she had in fact endorsed Malcolm Forbes Jr. She stated that she wore a Buchanan button out of politeness. I accept that explanation, given her known support of Malcolm Forbes. I received the following e-mail response, somewhat belatedly to my article. I am reprinting it here in its entirety.

Bruce has left a new comment on your post "Patrick Buchanan and Sarah Palin: One Jew's Opinio...":

Your article is seriously flawed and boarders on a smear..in all due respect

factcheck.org says this about Palin's supposed support of Buchanan

Palin never endorsed or supported Pat Buchanan for president. She once wore a Buchanan button as a "courtesy" when he visited Wasilla, but shortly afterward she was appointed to co-chair of the campaign of Steve Forbes in the state.

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/sliming_palin.html

I don't have the link, but Palin insists that she wrote to the local paper to state that she wore the button a a courtesy and didn't want anyone to think otherwise..I'd hope that if that letter to the editor exists you'll post a retraction..and even if it doesn't , that you see there's another side to this story . "

Bruce accuses me of mounting a "smear". I infer from that that he shares my strong political support for Palin and McCain.

Most of the article I wrote was spent detailing how Buchanan mixes some very good ideas with some absolutely toxic beliefs. The logical step for someone like myself who can not in good conscience support Buchanan is to look for a public figure who provides a "detoxified" alternative to Buchanan. Ms. Palin drives her political conservatism form her religious beliefs. She is unapologetic about her opinions and positions. Unlike Buchanan, she does not espouse holocaust revisionism or flirt with admiration for Hitler. I do not feel that I am betraying Judaism and Jews by supporting Palin. I do feel that way about Buchanan.

I would never wear a Pat Buchanan for President button. Sarah Palin did. Many people consider wearing a campaign button to be a statement of support for the candidate named on the button. I share this opinion. It is sensible and plausible.

Palin does not share my style of expression when it comes to campaign buttons. It is a minor question of style that does not diminish my respect for her at all. To the contrary, it shows a desire to maintain civility in political discourse. I share this concern. I could wear a Hillary Clinton Button for this reason. I could not bring myself to wear an Obama button, a David Duke or a Pat Buchanan button. That is my threshold of political tolerance. I'll bet that there are buttons Palin would not wear either.

I am willing to satisfy Bruce by disavowing any implication that Palin is a Buchanan supporter. It is however reasonable for me to have supposed that she did support Buchanan with the limited evidence I had at my disposal. Had Palin never worn a Buchanan button, I would have issued an unqualified retraction with an apology.

It offends my sense of moral symetry to apologise on page fifty seven for a page one transgression. I thought about Bruce's letter all day. I do not like to mislead readers. I am laying out my reasoning as well as a link to the original article. Given the unprincipled cruelty to Palin and her family on the part of the Democrats, I respect Bruce for his zeal in Palin's defense. I hope this article will lay matters to rest.

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Notes on Election 2008, Nasty Rumours and the “Duty to Die”


The bumbling disinvitation of Sarah Palin was a big topic of conversation after shul this Shabbos. Someone asked a really sensible question. Why didn’t the sponsors of the rally invite Biden and Palin and then Clinton and Schumer ? Protocol would place Biden and Palin on an equal level. Clinton and Schumer are both Senators from New York. Had protocol been followed, the burden of responsibility would have been upon anyone who refused to attend whatever their reasons might have been.The whole affair makes one wonder how much more common sense our “community leaders” have than the man on the street.

The National Enquirer ran a headline that made it sound like they had dirt on Sarah Palin. The article inside actually debunked a lot of nasty rumours about Palin and her family. It published pictures of Palin that it identified as fakes, including the one that supposedly showed Palin in a black leather miniskirt. The headlines on the front page were extremely misleading. The article had no “shocking stories”. The only shocking thing in the article was the depth to which Democrats would stoop to defame Palin. The article was actually quite fair. Only the headline was misleading. O.K. so I wasted my money. I’m a chump. But I can write this article and save you money.

Click here for rest of article

Friday, September 19, 2008

Regarding Euthanasia/McCain Palin and the Jewish Vote

The cancer of so called "mercy killings that started in Nazi Germany metastasized to Holland years after World War Two. The list of allowable excuses for this barbaric practice has lengthened to the point that anyone willing to get signatures from two doctors can legally kill themselves.

This evil practice has found an advocate in Great Britain. Baroness Warnock, who is ludicrously referrd to as an ethicist has taken the next logical step and turned suicide into a duty for the terminally ill according to the USA Today. Baroness Warnock, at age 84 has succeeded in her own unique way in giving longevity a bad name. She is also a poster girl for turning the United Kingdom into a Republic. Her arguments are chilling , her premises reduce the value of human life to a profit loss statement.

"If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives — your family's lives — and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service," Baroness Warnock, 84, said in an interview with Life and Work, the magazine of the Church of Scotland. (quoted in USA Today.

Mrs. Warnock's views have sent shockwaves throughout Britain Neil Hunt, CEO of the Alzheimer's Society is quoted as follows in USA Today.

"I am shocked and amazed that Baroness Warnock could disregard the value of the lives of people with dementia so callously," said Neil Hunt, CEO of the Alzheimer's Society. "With the right care, a person can have good quality of life very late in to dementia. To suggest that people with dementia shouldn't be entitled to that quality of life or that they should feel that they have some sort of duty to kill themselves is nothing short of barbaric."

The implications of Warnock's depraved views extend far beyond those with disabilities. They are an attack on the Judaeo Christion view of humans as trustees of a life ggiven them by G-d. Euthanasia is a slippery slope that ends in involuntary murder of the infirm. The only hope is that Baroness Warnock's brutal frankness will awaken us to where we are headed as a society.

It is a sick joke that Baroness Warnock is described as an ethicist. Her views evoke memories of Nazi ideology. Her ideas should be fought and repudiated wherever they see the light of day.

USA Today article

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McCain-Palin and the Jewish Vote: Some Facts to Consider


Barack Obama and Joe Biden have geared up to bid for the Jewish vote. For decades this prize was considered the lawful entitlement of every Democratic candidate. Orthodox Jews and those who value Israeli and American national security are starting to question this sacred canon of political thought.

You can buy an Obama yarmulka and an Obama button with Hebrew lettering, but is B.O. really good for the Jews? J and B may be a popular drink after shul on Shabbos, but whatabout J.B.?

Any good accountant would get at the truth by following the paper trail. If you look at the Obama ticket and its protestations of love for Israel, do you ever wonder if they might be cooking the books ? As agent Mulder says on X Files, “The truth is out there”.

Though widely reputed to be long on faith and short on skepticism, it is Orthodox Jews who have been the most probing and thorough in their questioning of Democratic Party dogma.

click her for entire article

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New York Jewish Leadership Ignores Grass Roots and Snubs Sarah Palin / Who Should Investigate Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy?

For decades there has been a disconnect between Orthodox Jews and the Democratic Party. Polls which show a lopsided knee jerk support for the Democratic Party seem to ignore deep seated differences between Orthodox Jewish voting patterns and concerns that separate us from what seems to be a liberal majority.

There is going to be a rally Monday to oppose Ahmadinejad. Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was invited to attend, as was Hillary Clinton. Excitement was high at the prospect of bipartisan opposition to Ahamadinejad.

The latest news of Sarah Palin being disinvited is deeply embarrassing. Clinton was reportedly offended at being "blindsided" and refused to attend because of the Palin invitation. After disinviting Palin, the organisers pledged that no politicians would attend. This will undoubtedly turn the rally into a low profile event.

I think that another rally should be organised by New Yorkers who are not intimidated by the New York City Democratic machine. Both Republicans and Democrats should be invited. Whoever objects to the other should be told that they are free to stay home. A nuclear Iran should not face petty partisan politics among its opposition. Anyone who is a statesman and not a politician should jump at the opportunity to demonstrate to our nation's enemies a unity that transcends partisan politics.

Many Jews are embarrassed by the bumbling of our so called leadership. Many New Yorkers are disgusted with the strong arm tactics of a Democratic Party political machine that rivals the corruption and stagnation of Obama's Chicago. This sorry episode is a wakeup call yet again to New Yorkers to build a meaningful political opposition in New York. The stench of intimidation , stale ideas and cliches emanating from our city is overpowering New Yorkers deserve better.


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Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy: Who Should Investigate?


Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi called for a Congressional investigation into the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and its resulting fallout. There is no doubt that it should be investigated. Nancy Pelosi herself showed how imprudent it would be for Congress to conduct the investigation when she disavowed any responsibility on the part of Democrats in Congress or prior administrations.

Too much is at stake for a partisan investigation. Jobs are at stake pensions and family savings are endangered by financial turbulence. A Congressional investigation during an election year will turn into a festival of finger pointing and grand standing. The country does not need such a waste of money and time.



Click here for entire article

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Farewell Espana/ Democrats Play 52 Pickup With the Race Card

A good book for me is a lot like a relationship. If I am not under the spell of a good book, I feel sad and restless. Although taxi drivers and foreign visitors have provided me interesting glimpses into far away places, a well written book is a far deeper and more focused look at places and topics of interest.

My latest book of interest is "Farewell Espana" by Howard Sachar. The book is an overview of the history of Spanish Jewry from its arrival in Spain until the expulsion in 1492. It focuses intensely on the zenith of Jewish prosperity under Muslim and Christian governments as well as localised persecutions and forced conversions that preceded the final expulsion in 1492.

Each chapter treats different places and facets of the Sephardic diaspora with depth and thoroughness. From Italy to Greece to the Balkans, the book provides readers to understand in depth many events that are viewed by the layman in isolation. Particularly interesting was the portrayal of Italian Jewry during the Renaissance and in following periods. Its portrayal of the grim life of Jews under papal rule in the 18th and 19th centuries sheds a lot of light on the historical backdrop of the Edgardo Mortara affair, in which a six year old boy was kidnapped by the papal police and forcibly converted to Catholicism. The book goes on to detail the story of Jews in World War Two, 80% of whom survived the war due to the goodness of Italians of all ideological persuasions.

I bought this book to read about the entire spectrum of Islamic governments in power, from the most enlightened and generous to the most barbaric and intolerant. I was not disappointed. The book provided enough information to see and appreciate the social and economic factors that can turn latent tendencies in Islam into dominant characteristics. Although a look at Islamic texts and theology can explain much about Islam in our time, much is unexplained through this approach. Reading "Farewell Espana" is good training for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding Islamic societies.

Descent from Spanish Jews is a historical fact that was passed down in my father's family for generations. This book provides a vivid and wide ranging insight into the whole range of the Sephardic Jewish history and experience. In our troubled times, this book is a great help in placing modern events in a historic context. I am pleased to recommend it to my readers.

Farewell Espana by Howard Sachar 464 pp by Vintage Books






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Democrats Play Race Card Ignore Facts

The list is growing of media and government figures who are attempting to deflect criticism of Barak Obama and the Democrats with cries of racism. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius has openly said that race might be a factor in the electorate’s lingering misgivings about Obama

Click here to read the rest of the story


CNN reporter Jack Cafferty has also weighed in saying that “Race is arguably the biggest issue in this election, and it’s one that nobody’s talking about.” He cites Time magazine reporter Michael Grunwald as saying that race is the “elephant in the room that no one talks about.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thank You Paul McCartney/ Is Obama Shouting Fire in A Crowded Theatre?

Paul McCartney has had a long and productive career both as one of the Beatles and performing on his own. He carried on the Beatles practice of not shying from controversy throughout his career. Back in the 1960's, the Beatles returned medals they had received from Queen Elizabeth the Second to protest British support for the Nigerians in their opposition to Biafran independence.

Later, in the early seventies, McCartney recorded a song on his own titled "Give Ireland Back To The Irish", which dealt with Northern Ireland. The song was banned by the BBC from the British airwaves. It was , however very popular in Boston with its large Irish American population.

Paul McCartney has decided recently to give a concert in Israel in Tel Aviv. Despite a warning from a Hezbollah leader in Lebanon that he would be marked for death, McCartney has remained firm in his decision to perform in Israel.

The United Kingdom is nor like the United States. Its Jewish community is small and timid. Its Muslims are numerous and vocal. Unfair and disproportionate condemnation of Israel is the norm in Britain especially on university campuses. McCartney actually stands to lose support by treating Israel as anything other than a pariah state.

I am grateful to McCartney for staying firm in his resolve to perform in Israel. Even those who have legitimate and reasoned differences with McCartney have every reason to respect him for following his conscience wherever it might take him. Those who stand by us at a time when kneejerk condemnation is the norm deserve our thanks.

Thank you Paul McCartney

Give Ireland Back To The Irish by Paul McCartney


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Obama’s Campaign: Shouting Fire in a Crowded Theater?


The bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers has sent shock waves through the financial world. Of necessity, this setback will be studied not only to remedy the current situation at Lehman Brothers but to insulate the market against such turbulence in the future.

The response of the McCain campaign has been sober and measured. McCain has proposed reform of trading regulations. Such legislation takes time and careful study to draft and to pass.

Obama wasted no time in thundering against the policies of the Republicans in Washington. He had almost nothing specific and constructive to say. Financial regulations are not only the product of successive Republican and Democratic administrations. They are also the end product of Congress and the President working together Click Here For Entire Story

Monday, September 15, 2008

Iranian Jewish Life today: A Brief Glimpse/ Shocking Revelations About Obama in Iraq

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Jewish Life In Iran Today

The video with this posting portrays the life of Jews in Iran today. Along with Christians and Zoroastrians, their life in Iran is limited by pervasive discrimination and a curtailment of personal liberty even beyond that of the Muslim majority. But Because these groups are "people of the book" they enjoy limited freedom of religion and communal life.

One interesting part of this video was an interview with Maurice Motamed, the lone Jewish representative in the Iranian Majlis or Parliament. He was able to describe the life of the Jewish community and comment on its future prospects. The describes a community that has become more religious and socially vibrant. One of the most interesting parts of the video was a visit to his father's antique shop. The elderly shopkeeper proudly poured vodka for his guests which though forbidden to Muslims is permitted to its Jewish minority.

It is difficult to speculate what aspects of Jewish life did not make it on camera. The show trial of thirteen Jews in Shiraz on charges of spying for Israel was mentioned in passing during the video segment. It is well known the difficulties even of Muslims under Iran's judicial system. Iran's minorities probably have the additional problem of in many cases having family in Israel and America, which are routinely vilified as "the Little Satan and the Great Satan", respectively.

It was heartening to see the surprisingly good condition of Iran's remaining 25,000 Jews, who constitute about 25% of the prerevolutionary Jewish population. Expecting people to speak candidly in front of a live camera is not however a very likely prospect. Accounts of those who left a prosperous life to leave Iran illegally as well as off camera interviews have to be taken into account in forming a picture of Jewish life in Iran. This documentary is an important part of the picture of Iranian Jewish life . But it is not the whole picture. It is difficult to tale the pulse of a country so large and diverse as Iran, even if it is an open society. The fear and instability in that country make taking its pulse far more difficult. This video does a good job of taking some, but not all of its vital signs.


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Shocking Revelations About Obama’s Iraq Trip : True To Form

One of the most disappointing moments in the life of a soldier has to be that of finding that his tour of duty has been extended. Before the success of the troop surge in Iraq, many soldiers had to share such sad news with their loved ones in America.
Obama has conducted his run for office [...]Click here for complete story

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Note To Readers About The Presidential candidates and Israel /My Comments on Election 2008

Since starting to write for The American Sentinel a short while ago, I have mentioned Israel's security very little, although it is of paramount concern to me. This was not an oversight, but a careful decision.

I have been outspoken in opposing Barack Obama. I feel he has a stealth agenda in foreign policy similar to and perhaps worse than that of Jimmy Carter. His policies of appeasement put millions of people in nations all around the globe in danger. If history reverberates through time to our present day, it is the voice of Churchill that should be heard and not the craven appeasement of Neville Chamberlain.

I feel that Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach, (the Seven Noahide Laws) have a place in the political arena. Abortion, euthanasia and the sanctity of marriage are among many issues critical to America's spiritual and physical well being. Although Israel should be a light to the nations, at this time Israel looks more to America. Until Israel regains its spiritual sense of direction and even afterward, I have an obligation as an American to set an example that will be beneficial for Israel to emulate.

Israel is a small country that daily makes big sacrifices to physically survive. These sacrifices have been of both money and blood. Most Americans have an appreciation of this. Israel's Prime Minister does not. Ehud Olmert is attempting to give away land that has been paid for in blood, despite the universally visible uselessness of territorial concessions. His decisions in office would only be plausible if considered in the light of a numbered and anonymous bank account. The corruption while mayor of Jerusalem for which he may well stand trial points to the distinct possibility that his avarice has tainted the Prime Minister's office.

Olmert was supposed to resign. There is serious doubt in my mind that his suicidal orientation would cease with the ascent of a successor. Is Olmert alone in his guilt for endangering lives and land? I do not believe so. The political parties that joined and remain in his coalition are equally to blame. They could walk out. Unfortunately, the money and jobs doled out to political supporters puts many a conscience to sleep. Those who sit in Olmert's coalition resemble nothing so much as a crowd chasing a bank robber that dives for bills tossed into the air. It would be wrong to blame Olmert alone. We the people tolerate him.

When Condoleeza Rice or some other figure speaks against Israel, I will speak up, but the damage we do to ourselves by perpetuating Olmert's suicidal policies can not be blamed on our allies or even our opponents. I do not only look forward to Olmert's resignation. I look forward to a collective change of heart in which the sacrifices of millions of Israelis will finally get the respect from Israel's leaders that is so richly deserved.

When we pray for delivery from Israel's enemies, we should look not only over mountains, deserts and water. We should not only look across borders. We should look in the mirror. One of the greatest miracles of our history is how time and time again G-d rescues us from our selves.



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Obama to Congressional Democrats : Look ! No Coattails

In the past couple of weeks, John McCain has been building his lead over Barack Obama. His choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate accomplished two goals. First, it struck a resonant note with Hillary Clinton supporters in the Democratic Party. Secondly, it called into question the general perception that feminism is inseparably connected to the political left. Read More..

Friday, September 12, 2008

Jewish Education: Speaking to a Child in His Language / Thoughts of My Ancestors in An Election Season

A friend of mine transferred his son to a new Yeshiva. Why did he do it? His son had been there since preschool. Mysterious headaches and a manifest dread of going to school troubles were obvious to my friend. Troubleshooting was going nowhere.

Last year, his son was studying for a long final. He brought home a list of biblical passages that he had to translate from Hebrew to Yiddish. Other passages had to be translated from Yiddish to Hebrew. My friend helped as best as he could. When he translated a passage to English his son said,"They're not testing us on that."

My friend started testing his son on the English translation. The boy was clueless. He was exchanging one set of foreign syllables for another and only had a vague idea of the topic.

Rabbi Hillel said "What is hateful to you, Do not do to your neighbour." How would you feel translating between two languages and understanding neither? I would be bored out of my mind.What does it do to a child when no connection is made to his reason and understanding? What torture for a young mind!

My friend came to the same conclusion. His son now translates between Hebrew and English. Instead of exchanging one set of foreign sounds for another, there is an attempt made to connect to the heart and the intellect.

Many children come from homes in which Hebrew , Yiddish or both Hebrew and Yiddish are spoken. Such children could do very well with no problems in a school such as the one attended by my friend's son.

My friend feels some guilt for the suffering he subjected his son to. An honest look enabled him to take the needed steps. The boy seems much happier now. His English is a help in learning Torah instead of a useless sideshow.

This problem is not a rare one. Jewish language demographics are changing. The schools are adjusting. But parents need to be aware. Speak to a child in a way and a language he or she can understand. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. One soul lost to our faith is a terrible price to pay


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Thoughts of My Ancestors in an Election Season

My grandfather kept two portraits in his living room. One was or Emperor Franz Josef, in whose navy he served. The other was of Franklin Roosevelt. When he was in Croatia, he supported the monarchy. In America he supported the Republic. Continue Reading »

Thursday, September 11, 2008

BenTzion Twerski Resigns From Hikind's Task Force on Child Abuse: My Thoughts/ Comments on Obama Campaign Meltdown

Victims of molestation in yeshivas saw a bit of hope when Assemblyman Dov Hikind started airing the problem and working on possible solutions.

BenTzion Twerski, aside from being a respected rabbi has a doctorate in Psychology and a long resume helping youth at risk. When Dov Hikind hired him to work on helping victims of molestation and persuing the perpetrators, it was greeted with acclaim as a shred oh hope that something effective might be done.

The latest news in the war on child molestation in our communities is grim indeed. Rabbi Twerski has resigned, citing threats to his family including a so called rabbi who informed Twerski that he would refuse to teach his child if his child were placed in the so called rabbi's class. Other individuals who are human only in the chromosomal sense informed Rabbi Twerski that they would cross the street if they met him while walking with their children.

What finally put it over the top for Rabbi Twerski was the threat that his children would find it difficult to get shidduchim if he persisted in his work.

I'm not a rabbi. My ignorance of matters Jewish is encyclopedic. But these people who threatened Rabbi Twerski are beneath contempt. I would call them gangsters, but that would be an insult to some hard working people who bootleg cigarettes and provide DVDs at affordable prices. These people are willing to put my children and everyone elses in danger.

Who are they protecting? Why are they doing this? I have no answers . Are we supposed to take a child molester to a rabbinic court? Can the court break the guy's legs? Can they dump him in the East River in six different garbage bags? Then don't waste my time.

I hope never to have to deal with such a crime against one of my children. Any perp would be lucky if I turned him over to the cops. Any normal father would dismantle a guy like that. Don't waste time with a beis din. We can't try murderers in beis din, and child molestors are as bad as murderers. If they dress up as a rabbi, it makes them worse and not better.

It is clear that our chaotic rabbinic courts can not deal with this problem. Common sense has gone out the window, along with compassion.

Any community that would blackball or threaten Rabbi Twerski is not worth belonging to. I would rather pray at home than in their shuls. If one of these low lifes looked at my wine I would pour it down the sink.

I hope that responsible rabbinic figures will sense the depth of feeling surrounding this issue and deal with it effectively. There are thousands of struggling , simple Jews who will do anything to protect their children

The inactivity and ineffectiveness of our leadership is bring dishonour to the Torah and costing us Jewish souls. In this month of Elul, it is way past the time to correct this injustice and to eliminate this abomination.

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Letter From BenZion Twerski that appeared on the Vos iz Neias Website
http://www.vosizneias.com/20213/2008/09/10/borough-park-ny-exclusive-to-vin-news-dr-benzion-twerski-in-his-own-words-address-his-departure-from-askunas/


Borough Park, NY - I am taking a few minutes to make some statements in response to the article about my departure from Dov Hikind’s project and the events that triggered this.

Firstly, I have extreme respect for Dov Hikind, and I share in his mission to make a difference in this painful and destructive issue. I was eager to join with him to create a Task Force that would actually lead to reduction of this terrible problem while doing everything from within the community. It is with sadness that I left the position, and I will always to continue to consider Dov a good colleague and friend. I know he feels the same.

For quite some years, I had invested time and effort, without compensation, for various projects that were being done for the Klal. Even at times when my own financial situation was difficult, I extended myself at great cost for the hatzolas nefashos of youth at risk, addictions, etc. I am not interested in writing my own hesped, but there is much that has never been publicized and won’t be. My expectations were that the mission that I was entering would be understood as something that will be done properly and sensitively. It seems that some understood this quite erroneously.

For several days, I was approached by individuals, some stating that they would cross the street if they were to meet me while walking with their children. Others told me that they would not accept my child into their class if assigned. Others used euphemisms that I refuse to repeat. Family members were likewise confronted by all sorts of comments and phone calls. My married children had been told to fear ever getting shidduchim for their children. Basically, I was left to choose between abandoning my family for this mission, or to take the painful step that I did.

Molestation is underestimated in our community. I never proclaimed it an epidemic. I have not found any reliable statistics. But each victim is a precious neshomoh, an “olam molei” that is totally destroyed. Some victims leave the derech, others struggle with post traumatic stress disorder, some have major hurdles in establishing their own married lives, and still others become molesters themselves. There are frequent comments such as “It does not happen in my yeshiva” which constitutes denial. Perhaps there are no incidents, but one never knows. We’re talking about things that occur in secrecy. I never looked at this problem as one of quantity. I am concerned with the severity. Even the minutest percentage of foreign objects in food will prompt a recall. Our children deserve a zero tolerance for violations of their safety. And for those who insinuated that I was going to go after yeshivos and mosdos hachinuch, I will add that the abuse that occurs in these holy settings is a small percentage of what occurs in various other locations. To combat the problem, we need to begin somewhere.

The intent of the Task Force was to devise systems that would be implemented by the yeshivos themselves to accept complaints, evaluate them, and move the cases onto the next level, whatever was determined by a body of individuals that would include poskim. No fox guarding the henhouse either, as the system would comprise individuals from outside the yeshiva as well to prevent denial and bias from interfering with the process. Part of this process would help filter out complaints that are baseless, either by exaggeration, inaccuracy, or pure fabrication. To consider this project a new “abuse clinic”, or a molestation police brigade is completely groundless.

So I spent several days watching these gross misperceptions feed the mouths of “holchei rochil”. Not one person called me to inquire about the mission, and there was never a chance to explain any of this to anyone before the hatchet began swinging.

Most bothersome to me is that this occurred during Chodesh Elul, when we all need to be doing some self-exploration – cheshbon hanefesh and teshuvah. We will need to face the upcoming yemai hadin, where we will each stand in our individual judgments. I will face Avinu Malkeinu with the position that “I tried to help Your children but they refused to let me.” What will the “holchei rochil” offer in their defense? “Hashem, we just shot down an “osek betzorchei tzibbur be’emunoh”. You shot the wrong person.

I am not personally offended. I have learned to tolerate being called names. I’ve been around a little. I grieve for the work that could have been done, and my tefiloh is that someone capable is found who can see this mission through to success. I grieve for the pain and anger that this whole situation caused for myself, my family, for Dov Hikind, and for all others who recognize the seriousness of the mission. I grieve for the pain and suffering that innocent neshamos will experience in the absence of a system that could stop it. The flak will eventually fade, but the damage has been done. If nothing else, it is a really serious lesson in hilchos lashon horah.

In reality, every frum Yid benefits from the things that askanim do. From intervening with governmental matters, legal issues, dealing with yeshivos, getting streets blocked for various events, and others too numerous to mention, we all derive much benefit from what they do. Nearly all, or perhaps absolutely all, function selflessly. Hatzoloh, Shomrim, and Chaverim are totally volunteer staffed. Since when do we carelessly and viciously attack an askan? Was there any posek asked about doing this? Was this a campaign by a group or individual, or was this just the street gossip fueling itself? I may never know. But I have been sensitized away from participating in askonus.

I already contacted others whose projects are precious and worthy, and withdrew from taking any askonus role. Without any hesitation, I will share my thoughts and opinions with any of them, including Dov. But no one will be able to hold me responsible for something I did not do.

To all the voices in the street that made this happen, my conscience is clear entering the days of selichos and yemai hadin. Are yours?








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Back in 1998, incumbent Republican Senator Senator Al D’Amato was in a tough reelection battle against Charles Schumer. Various transgressions against ethics guidelines, while not criminal provided Schumer with a lot of talking points. D’Amato had however amassed a long list of favours to constituents. In a previous election, he had been derisively given the Continue Reading »

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Congressional Polls: Republicans Still Lag, But Gap Narrows / A Murder In Crown Heights

Since the Republican convention, the gap between the Democrats and the Republicans has narrowed considerably. The USA Gallup poll actually places the Republicans ahead by five points in a generic congressional race. Real Clear Politics, which averages all of the polls together has the Republicans behind by 5.4% Continue Reading »



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An unidentified Black man believed to be in his mid fifties was beaten to death in the lobby of a Crown Heights apartment building. The man was attacked by a group of about five young assailants who appeared to be African American who apparently used their hands and feet as deadly weapons.

Both CrownHeights.ch and Crownheights.info (click links for their stories) reported an immediate and sweeping police response to the murder. Crownheights.ch was unequivocal in its approval of the police response to the murder . The scene was cordoned off with crime scene tape and combed for evidence. Residents in the area near the corner of Kingston Avenue and Empire Boulevard were badly shaken by the incident and reportedly sharing information with police.

Crownheights.info was more critical of the police response. They noted the visible and vocal anger of the new police chief Peter Simonetti at difficulties in securing the crime scene, including that of onlookers snapping pictures with their cell phones . Such displeasure is hardly surprising. Contamination of a crime scene is a major obstacle to apprehending and convicting a criminal. The less a crime scene is disturbed in a search for evidence, the easier it is to recover forensic evidence. Crownheights.info should educate the public in this matter.

Crownheights.info raised another serious issue. They say that in the last month, the 71st Precinct under Simonetti has seen a steep rise in major felonies. Without citing specific figures, they allege that murder, rape and grand larceny have doubled in the past month.

One of the major issues that has plagued the 71st precinct is the feeling among residents that crime data is teased to paint a rosy picture. If the 71st precinct under Simonetti is willing to publish such alarming statistics, it is a testimony to his honesty. Honest and accurate data is the first step in a law enforcement. Police are a part of the solution but not the entire solution. Simonetti should be rewarded and not punished or criticised for collecting and publicising accurate data.

Crown Heights residents have for years noted a rise in crime. Concerns about this cut across all ethnic boundaries. Blacks and whites here all support the men in blue during these difficult times. Inspector Simonetti and the police in the 71st deserve our unqualified support during these difficult times. Much of police success depends upon community support. It is time to do our part