Friday, April 30, 2010
A statement I made on rantrave.com about Jews converting to Christianity made quite a few people angry. There had been a number of articles that specifically targeted Jews for conversion to Christianity. I held my tongue over the months, as long as I was not asked my opinion. There is such a thing as free speech that applies to all. When asked my opinion, I stated as follows.
"I must be frank. The thought of Jews converting to Christianity is as repugnant to me as suicide bombers in Israel targeting Jews. One attacks the body. The other targets the soul'.
The comments were swift in coming. Huey Newton said ""Your religious tolerance is limited."That is a gross understatement. He sure fooled me."
I was not surprised that Huey and others were critical of my statement. For a believer, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, the soul and the next world are real Despite my heated differences with them, I at least share that with them.
My main interest with those who are not Jewish is to collaborate in creating a better world. When two armies combine forces, they agree to fight for a common cause. In practical terms, this means not attempting to undermine authority within the camp of one's ally. In practical terms this means that I focus on common interests with Christians and do not engage them in theological debate.
I have defended the rights of religious minorities through writing and the occasional donation. As a blogger I have a little bigger a voice than average. Whether it is Hindus in Pakistan, Christians in India or North Korea, I defend those who are persecuted for their religious beliefs.
It frustrates and saddens me that in the little over a year that I posted on rantrave.com, I wrote several articles on persecuted Christians, Mandaeans and even Muslims who suffered from discrimination without a single Christian writer joining the cause. Why is it that the subject of getting Jews to accept Jesus came up repeatedly, yet the kidnapping, rape and forced conversion to Islam of Coptic girls did not move my born again Christian fellow rantravers to raise their voices?
I hope this situation changes. I am very practically minded. Religious belief is best discussed in a house of worship. Practical work to make the world a better place is what rocks my world. You do a good deed and it lights up your score board. I do a good deed and it lights up my team's score board. Good natured competition and the world is improved. What's wrong with that?
I am regarded as intolerant for saying that it is a tragedy for Jews to leave their faith. To me, tolerance means being civil to those whose beliefs you may even find repulsive. It does not mean loving everyone. It does not mean accepting all faiths as equally valid. Everyone believes that their faith is the most complete and true. You need tolerance as a purely practical necessity so people won't slaughter each other to save each other's souls.
I hope that the born again Christians on rantrave.com will start caring more about their fellow Christians who suffer persecution. But I'm not holding my breath,
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I went to shul today. They were saying Hallel prayers to celebrate the founding of Israel. Here in Brooklyn, some people say it and some don't.
Despite being of the "no Hallel" persuasion, I view modern Israel as a miracle yet to be completed, a miracle unfolding. When I see video footage of the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967, I get goose pimples. The newness of that day will always be with me. Even though it happened 19 years after Israel was founded, the miracle was delivered to the Israeli Army of the young state. I feel unspeakable anger when I hear talk of G-d forbid partitioning the Holy City after it languished in dust and contempt under its foreign occupiers.
As besieged as Israel is, I long most for peace among Jews. When I hear of arguments between observant and non observant Jews, it saddens me. A vision is burned into my soul of Jews in Auschwitz, heads shaven bare, wearing striped uniforms. They could not see who was achossid and who was an atheist, who was orthodox and who was "neolog". These divisions could not be seen in Auschwitz, so I shall not see them either.
It is a joy to share the Holy Land with Jews from Arab countries who were expelled from the lands of their sojourning along with the Jews of Europe. We are truly one people. Every time that it is mentioned the price that European Jews paid to return to the Holy Land, let their story be told as well. It fills me with joy to see the children of Jewish refugees from Arab countries living in peace in the Holy Land. It angers me beyond words that anyone would even think of uprooting them or their Ashkenazi brothers and sisters yet again.
My family has a spectrum of religious observance from one end to the other. They are my family and will forever remain so. This is how I regard the people of the Holy Land as well as every Jew in the world. I thank G-d for the many miracles that have protected the Jewish people in the Holy Land, before and after the founding of the state. May the miracle continue to unfold and ascend.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Viruses aren’t just for crashing your computer anymore. They can actually be used to shake you down for money. There is a new virus that publishes your web browsing history on a publicly viewable web site and then charges you to have it removed. BBC News reports as follows.
“The Japanese trojan virus installs itself on computers using a popular file-share service called Winni, used by up to 200m people.
It targets those downloading illegal copies of games in the Hentai genre, an explicit form of anime.
Website Yomiuri claims that 5500 people have so far admitted to being infected.
The virus, known as Kenzero, is being monitored by web security firm Trend Micro in Japan.
Masquerading as a game installation screen, it requests the PC owner’s personal details.
It then takes screengrabs of the user’s web history and publishes it online in their name, before sending an e-mail or pop-up screen demanding a credit card payment of 1500 yen (£10) to “settle your violation of copyright law” and remove the webpage.”
There are of course other forms of extortion by virus. There are viruses that will encrypt all of the files on your computer and make you pay a ransom to unlock your files.The most ambitious virus is one which puts popups on your screen telling you that you have been caught violating copyright laws. It offers a settlement, as well as the opportunity to pay on your credit card. Once they have your credit card info (Click here for the rest of my article on Indyposted.com)
President Barack Obama has declared his support for the US space program with all of the enthusiasm he normally reserves for the national anthem. The Orlando Sentinel reports as follows on Obama’s gung ho hum mixed message concerning space exploration.
“And in an implicit response to critics who have said Obama’s plan would end America’s human spaceflight program, the president declared,”The bottom line is that no one is more committed…to human spaceflight than I am.
“But,” he said as applause swelled, “we’ve got to do it different.”
Obama said he expects that manned capsules will be circling Mars by the mid-2030s, with landing soon after. Striving for Mars, he said, would require research and development of new technologies to dramatically extend U.S. reach into space.
By contrast, he said, he does not support a return to the moon: “We’ve been there before…there is a lot more of space to explore.”
So Obama wants America to go to Mars. And he doesn’t want us to go to the moon, “Because we’ve been there before.” This is like a spinoff on the old movie, “If Today is Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.”
How many people would say (click here to read the rest of my article on Indyposted.com.
King Boris III of Bulgaria has been posthumously honored in Israel for his refusal to hand over Bulgaria’s 50,000 Jews to the Nazis during World War II. Israel National News reports as follows.
“The award was given to his grandson, Toronto banker Hermann Leiningen, and Chabad organized the award ceremony. The award itself was presented by a group of Bulgarian Jews whose lives were saved when the king refused to deport them.
King Boris III previously has been honored by the Anti-Defamation League.”
Controversy about Bulgaria’s World War II Jewish history focuses on two topics. The first is the role of Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church, who some credit as being the driving force in the rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews.
The second controversy concerns Thrace and Macedonia. Click here to read the rest of my story on www.Indyposted.com
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
“I cannot jeopardize the security and safety of my country . . . [by giving up nuclear weapons] on a unilateral basis in a world as dangerous as the one in which we live today.”
Primark, a British clothing chain has responded to a firestorm of criticism. It has withdrawn a line of swimwear with padded tops aimed at girls as young as seven.
The BBC reports as follows:
The company apologised to customers for “causing offence” and said it would donate profits to a children’s charity.
The Children’s Society criticised Primark for “premature sexualisation and unprincipled advertising”.
Part of the campaign to withdraw the controversial clothing line came from the Children’s Aid Society in Britain, The Children’s Aid Society advocates for children’s rights and works to combat child abuse. Their spokesperson, Penny Nicholls, cited research proving that “commercial pressures towards premature sexualisation and unprincipled advertising are damaging children’s well-being.”
Sending the proper messages to children about their worth and self image is not only accomplished in the home and at school but through (Click here to read the rest of my article on Indyposted.com)
Most people hardly give it any thought, but there is a tiny piece of French territory off the coast of Newfoundland. Its 7000 people send 1 representative each to the French Senate and to the French National Assembly. Their currency is the Euro. They speak French as it is spoken in France and offer French cuisine as good as anything in France. Its most populated island, St Pierre is choked with French cars, most of which sport dents. You really feel like you are in France. Indeed, a letter to Paris goes at local rates.
The less populated Island is full of natural beauty. Seals and other wildlife can be seen in the Grand Barachois lagoon in Miquellon. Between the natural beauty, the colorful houses and the cool weather, St Pierre and Miquellon are a well kept travel secret. They can be reached by plane from Nova scotia, as well as by boat from Fortune in Newfoundland.
I was pleased to see that a band from St. Pierre is gaining popularity in French speaking Canada. CanadaEast.com reports as follows on “Dode” a band that performs proudly and well in French as it is spoken in their native St. Pierre. (Click here to read the rest of my article on Indyposted and to listen to "Dode)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Somalian Islamic radicals have ordered radio stations in Somalia to stop playing music. Almost all radio stations have complied. The prohibition even extends to playing advertising jingles. In a country with no government, it is an assortment of militias, answerable to no one, who call the tune in Somalia. The BBC describes the exciting sounds of the new Somali hit parade as follows.
“Residents can now only hear music from the government-controlled radio station and another Kenya-based UN-funded radio station, which has a FM transmitter in Mogadishu, he says.
The ban has not been particularly popular with Somalis. Al Shahab, one of the radical groups operating in Somalia has (Click here to read the rest of the article on www.indyposted.com)
“We are using other sounds such as gunfire, the noise of the vehicles and birds to link up our programmes and news,” said Abdulahi Yasin Jama, Tusmo radio’s head of the programmes”.
Albert Snyder is still haunted by the taunts of demonstrators at his son’s funeral. He has been on an emotional roller coaster. Though at first he won, the Phelps Family appealed the verdict. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not only reversed the verdict, but ordered him to pay the court costs of the chromosomal humans who picketed his funeral.
Now the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. Fox News reports as follows.
It is telling that the Westboro Baptist Church is composed almost entirely of members of the Phelps family. But some of the most staunch opponents of the Phelps family are two sons, Nate and Mark Phelps, who have not only repudiated their hateful father but exposed the violence in the Phelps home. You can rad their stories...... (Read the rest on Inndyposted.com)
“Most mourners try to ignore the taunts. But Snyder couldn’t let it go. He became the first to sue the church to halt the demonstrations, and he’s pursued the group farther than anyone else.
Now, more than four years after his son died in a Humvee accident in Iraq, Snyder’s legal battle is headed to the Supreme Court. And his tireless efforts have drawn support from across the country, including a wave of donations after he was ordered to pay the church’s court costs — a $16,500 judgment that the congregation plans to use for more protests.”
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Those who are regular readers may notice that I have been posting less frequently on rudistettner.com and magdeburgerjoe.com. I am every bit as active in writing as ever before. I am however writing for a site known as Indyposted.com On that site, I write shorter articles more frequently.( about 5 a day) The articles are about current news and events. I have written 43 articles so far for Indyposted.com. It seems to have promise for advancing my goal of writing professionally full time. I have been writing for Indyposted since late March. I am pleased with the arrangement.
I hope my readers will check out my articles regularly on Indyposted.com. I will continue to maintain my personal sites. My goal will be to post thrice weekly on each site
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Tonight at sunset marks Yom HaShoah, which is an Israeli national commemoration of the Holocaust. some people prefer Tisha B'Av or the 10th of Tevet, days which are historically tied to the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash, the Temple. There is much merit to this. It ties the travail of our times to a greater historical perspective, and joins Jewish martyrs of our times to those of previous generations. There is a general idea of connecting Yom HaShoah, which falls out on the 27th of Nissan, to Jewish resistance to tyranny.
The death anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was on Friday, April 9. At a time when the Nazis had taken over the churches in Germany, Bonhoeffer staked out a moral stand that was independent of state power. He opposed Nazism on religious, moral and political grounds. He was not a pacifist. He was arrested in 1943 for his part in a plot to assassinate Hitler. He was executed on April 9, 1945, a month before the German surrender to the allies.
Nazi Germany was not the last place where believers had to make a stand separating themselves from a wicked government. In Rwanda, many Christian churches failed the test, taking part in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. There were rare individuals who followed their conscience rather than follow the dictates of the mob. Rwandan Muslims were perhaps the most honourable faith commmunity in Rwanda during the genocide. They took in numerous Christian Tutsi and allowed no betrayals within their community. The New York Times reported as follows on the behavior of Muslims in Rwanda.
"Muslim leaders credit the gains to their ability during the 1994 massacres to shield most Muslims, and many other Rwandans, from certain death. "The Muslims handled themselves well in '94, and I wanted to be like them," said Alex Rutiririza, explaining why he converted to Islam last year.
With killing all around, he said, the safest place to be back then was in a Muslim neighborhood. Then as now, many of Rwanda's Muslims lived crowded together in the Biryogo neighborhood of Kigali."
It is essential even in peace time for believers to stand apart from the herd and to be willing to stand aloof from the powerful. It is a weighty decision to violate the laws of the land in the name of faith. But there have been critical times when such choices were necessary.
Yom HaShoah was originally going to be on the 14th of Nissan, which is the day before Passover. This was when the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising started. The uprising lasted an entire month. Those who were fighting were slated for extermination. The government and the surrounding population had turned against them. It was resistance for survival. When survival ceased to be an option, it was resistance to raise the cost of shedding Jewish blood. It shocked the Germans, who thought resistance would be crushed in a day.
There are times when revenge is beautiful, when it affirms the sanctity of human life. and there are times when resistance affirms higher values, that even the state must answer to the Creator.
This weekend, starting Friday with the death anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and culminating in Yom HaShoah tomorrow has been a time for me to reflect on remembrance, resistance and retribution. In a turbulent world, it is a theme that has its time and purpose. Conscience must always be ready to stand alone. That is the message of this day.
The picture at the top of this article is of children in Jasenovac, the infamous Croatian concentration camp
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Cuba's communist government has found a new and disgraceful way to buy time for itself. It pushes its dissidents into exile and then refuses to let them return.
The death of a Cuban patriot has been confirmed. Adrian Leiva drowned while attempting to reenter Cuba, his own homeland after being denied entry by Cuba's communist government in 2009. He joins Jose Marti, one of Cuba's founding fathers in losing his life in returning to his homeland.
The Cuban communist regime is fond of sneering at its exile community, referring to those driven into exile as "gusanos" (worms) Under Spanish rule as well as under dictatorial regimes prior to that of Fidel Castro, the political freedom available abroad has been a crucial component of Cuba's political life. Jose Marti spent a good part of his life in exile in New York City. Would the Castro regime refer to him as a "gusano"?
Mr. Leiva tried very hard to remain in Cuba. The Miami Herald reports as follows.
"Leiva left Cuba for Miami in 2005, but wanted to return. He tried to re-enter Cuba legally but was denied by the government. After a three-month stay in 2008, he was forced to return to America. An attempt to return legally last year was also thwarted. Wishing to continue his political activism in the country and to be closer to his mother, Leiva took off for the island on March 22, but his boat capsized. His body was identified by his sister at a Havana morgue."
I feel a sense of personal sadness in reading of Mr. Leiva's death. My great uncle went into exile when the Nazis took over in 1933. It was his desire to see his country close up, as well as the desire to be closer to my grandmother that drew him back to Germany and to his death.
The Cuban communists rely on the shark infested waters off Cuba to do the job that the Gestapo did in murdering my great uncle. But the ruthlessness to political opponents is the same.
Adrian Leiva will at least be buried in Cuba. May it be G-d's will that the land in which he is buried soon be free of its godless masters.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Passover is always a time of gratitude on the Jewish calendar. Zman kherutenu, (season of our freedom). Being here on the planet as a viable entity with a strong presence in the Holy Land is certainly something for which we should be grateful.
Some passages of the Haggadah are in Aramaic, which Jews know as the language of the Talmud and which Christians know as the language of Jesus. Its adoption by Jews is a legacy of the Babylonian exile. Additionally, the names by which we call the Jewish months are Babylonian in origin. The Babylonian exile was indeed an important influence on Judaism as we now know it.
It is fortuitous that the Assyrian New Year of 6760 is being celebrated on the third day of Passover this year. At a time when Jews are reflecting upon our birth as a nation, it is fitting to remember the people with whom our lot was once so closely entwined. Assyrian and Hebrew are fellow Semitic languages, along of course with Amharic and most famously, Arabic. Maltese, which is spoken on the Island of Malta is the only Semitic language written in the Latin alphabet.
May it be G-d's will that peace take root among the speakers of the world's Semitic languages. May the Assyrian people , wherever they may be in exile or their traditional homeland enjoy peace and prosperity. I wish Assyrians everywhere a joyous and peaceful Kha b' Nissan.