A group of Jews endeavors towards total domination of the blogosphere.

Friday, May 16, 2003  

Way back in January, I noted an effort by Egypt to ban anti-Israel rhetoric in popular music. Reason has an article about the more contemporary issue of how Arab musicians are responding to the Iraq war. (via Head Heeb)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:53 PM |

Haggai's Place presents an interesting, sorta-contrarian argument: if the roadmap to peace and palestinian statehood, etc, was always all about just being the first step to PLO overrunning the entirety of Israel, then why didn't Arafat accept the Barak/Clinton Camp David deal? That would've been just as good a first step as any.
I guess the answer is that no first step was going to be made by Arafat, and we have yet to see whether one will be -- even if a serious effort is made by Palestinian leadership, it'd most likely be by Abu Mazen over Arafat's protests.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:36 PM |

A job for Sam? Underwear-clad singing cowboy makes $200G/year. (via Gawker) You might've always wondered how much those street performers make. Now you know.
Says Elder Sam: "I could be a naked surgeon."

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:17 PM |

From our hit counter: Someone was apparently looking through Jewschool's Google cache, presumably to look over the deleted posts; proof they should remain.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:56 PM |

Parshat Behar: I imagine the Rabbi's not going to use this in his sermon. Too bad, too.

Imagine the scene. The ancestral land is dominated by strangers. The people are toiling in (granted, self-imposed, but work with me here) servitude, driven by their human slavemasters. Others groan under the burden of long-overdue debts, suffering the ever-increasing pressure imposed by their merciless creditors. Suddendly, the clarion call of the shofar echoes across the Judean desert. At last, the deadline has come and liberty is proclaimed across the land. The pressure has been relieved, the suffering is over. The slaves go free, the debts are annuled, the ancestral home is restored. And the Texas Democrats can return to their House of Legistlature.

Couple this with some sefirat ha-omer/ wandering through the desert imagery, and this was practically foretold. Even better, Tom Delay could play the role of Pharoah if you take this option.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:57 PM |

Hilarious send-up of conspiracy theorists vs. LGF. (via Instapundit)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:35 PM |

"Ring, Ring"
"No, this isn't Zion"
"Then who is this?"
"This is Steven"
"Oh, Steven, this is Zion's abba"
"Hello, how are you?"
....moving on....
"I'm calling because I want to know what Zion thinks of the piece by HC Kolman on page A19 of the Boston Globe about the roadmap to peace."
....more talk, then end of conversation...
The piece is here.
Basically, it starts off saying how ending settlements is necessary, et cetera, et cetera. Then about halfway through he notices that the roadmap includes such requirements, et cetera, et cetera. But it'd be easier to expect Abu Mazen to be able to cut back on violence if the settlements are dismantled first, et cetera, et cetera. Quote Brit Tzedek V'Shalom, who want the US to pay settlers to move back to within pre-1967 borders as a way of achieving de facto dismantling of the settlements.
Cute idea. A big question on my mind always is: What the hell do these settlers think they're doing? Is it a need to assert dominance? Is it an NRA-like bluster to do whatever one has the right to do? Why sacrifice so much just to live in a different part of the Holy Land?
Of course, the answer might be: maybe they're not sacrificing all that much. Kohlman notes that: a recent poll of settlers, 80 percent said they moved to the territories to improve their quality of life, taking advantage of economic incentives offered by the Israeli government that enabled them to obtain better housing at a lower cost. The same poll revealed that 60 percent of the settlers were prepared to accept a withdrawal from the settlements in exchange for suitable financial compensation.
Seems simple enough. Should the US be footing the bill? Well, if it's covering defense funds for Israel, why not? Sounds reasonable.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:44 PM |

I just ran into a friend on the subway who's a music person and just got engaged to a person she met at KlezKamp. I guess it's only appropriate that I discover The Klezmer Shack, a blog based on...well, you can probably figure it out.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:38 AM |

My Sort of Issue: Interesting article in Ha'aretz about Rabbi Dr. Pinchas Hayman, a Professor of Talmud in Bar-Ilan University, and his controversial new program to bring academic Talmud to High School education. The thinking basically is to try and use the awareness of the historical layers in the Talmud as delineated by modern scholarship as a tool to help kids follow the convoluted halakhic discussions. Being able to actually follow the flow of the discussion makes it easier to understand the argumentation, and the result is having more kids who a) understand whats going on and b) might decide that its somewhat interesting and worth studying more of. Hayman's met with much opposition from the traditional yeshiva camp of the Modern Orthodox world, which remains somewhat suspicious of the academy.

For more detail, see LookJed (the Lookstein Institute's Jewish education mailing list) archives on the subject here and here.

Personally, I think that his program might be a little ambitious for high school - it takes a certain famililarity with how Talmud works before a lot of the academic stuff makes much sense, and to teach that stuff first would produce the same confusion and frustration as anything Hayman's reacting to. Then again, the same could be true with hitting high schoolers with traditional lomdus (legalistic theorizing and didactic questions and answers and thumb waving). I do have a certain affinity for academic talmud - see my manifesto on the subject here - and I do think that some aspects of it - specifically, a focus on the flow of the text and how that text uses its own sources - can be very helpful in explaining things on a basic level to help kids attain the comfort level with Talmud that will ultimately help them succeed in either the academy or the beis midrash. I also think that the reaction from the Modern Orthodox traditionalist camp (this isn't even on the chareidi radar) shows how closeminded even smart, educated people can be sometimes, and that's really sad.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 11:21 AM |

AOL has this "Get Your Matrix Name" tool on it's welcome screen. Mine is "Spandam".
Some others:
Avraham Bronstein = "Aphrodite"
Richard Perl = "Rhylin"
William Kristol = "Wilco"
Leo Strauss = "Loki"
Lyndon Larouche = "Lothian"
Nathan Kamenetsky = "Niko"
Norman Lamm = "Niko" (Hmmmm...)
Richard Joel = "Rhylin" (Hmmmm...again)
Dov Zakheim = "Dram"
Talking Fish = "Drev"
Tam Dalyell = "Trev"
Pinchas Shapiro = "Pergoman"
James P. Moran = "Jord"
Sam Singer = "Sayre"
Reader Meredith = "Rhylin" (Trifecta!)
Yehuda Kraut = "Vee"
Special Olympics = "Spandam" (!!!!!!)
Forked Tongue = "Ford"
Joe Liberman = "Jord"
BlissfulKnowledge = "Boxer"
Mobius = "Morgan"
Yada = "Bacchus"
Judith Weiss = "Jord" (?)
Adi Neuman = "Aurora"
Josh Marshall = "Jord"
Mickey Kaus = "Morgan"
Josh Chafetz = "Jord"
David Adesnik = "Dauphin"
Gary Rosenblatt = "Grebel"
Eli Wohlgerlenter = "Erabel"
Matis Weinberg = "Munch"
Maimonides = "Mica"

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:15 AM |

Just remember, you saw it here first. Style Over Substance Redux. You would think his advisors have a complex about his image or something. Y'know, like maybe they are compensating for something....nah.

posted by Pinchas | 9:39 AM |

Thursday, May 15, 2003  

Hit & Run points to the Biblical prohibition that would seem to outlaw the apparently popular practice of tongue-splitting. Anybody want to look up etymology on "speaking with a forked tongue"?
"not that i'm the bible expert here, but i'm relatively certain that vayikra 21:5 is in reference to kohanim [priests] during morning, exclusively." She then quoteth:

21:1 God told Moses to declare the following to Aaron's descendants, the priests:
Let no [priest] defile himself [by contact with] the dead among his people,
21:2 except for such close blood relatives as his mother, father, son, daughter or brother.
21:3 He may also allow himself to become ritually unclean for his [deceased] virgin sister, who is [also] close to him as long as she is not married.
21:4 [However,] a husband may not defile himself for his [dead] wife if she is legally unfit for him.
21:5 Let no priest shave off patches of hair from his head. Let them not shave the edges of their beards and not make gouges in their skin.
She then adds:
also, parallel against vayikra 19:28, "do not make gashes in your skin for the dead"
the way it was explained to me, the only halakhic issues w/ body modification these days are 1) ensuring that it doesn't qualify as avodah zarah (these days, it doesn't), 2) not piercing the cartilege of your ear, and 3) making sure it's tzanua
you could make a pretty good arguement that tongue splitting is assur on the tzanua bit, i'd imagine
but not vayikra
Well, there you have it.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:32 PM |

Torah Will Not Be Forgotten: this is the headline from an editorial (via Dei'ah veDibur) reacting to the across-the-board budget cuts hitting Israel. The issue is that as the Chareidi community is bearing the good deal of the cuts, seeing as though they receive a good deal in terms of government benefits. Obviously, they see this as an attack on their community.

Overall, the changes are liable to bring about distress but unlikely to be so great as to bring about radical change.
This is what the people of Shinui really want: radical change in chareidi lifestyles. They want the economic pressures to be so strong that they will force us to make deep changes in our lives and our values. This they will not get.
The pressures are not so strong and our commitment is not so weak. Pharaoh tried to break us with toil, and tyrants through the ages tried to oppress us with taxation and restrictions. We persisted and, be'eizer Hashem, we will continue to persist. Even if we are weaker than our ancestors, the oppressors are also not as strong.

Lost is the fact that Likud's Bibi Netanyahu is the Finance Minister this time around, as well as the fact that not too many people seem very much in favor of the cuts either. I guess this is what happens when an entire community sees the entire universe through a single lens.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 7:10 PM |

Really long Tikkun article on anti-Semitism in the anti-war movement. (via (Eyeranian) Incredibly -- though perhaps not surprisingly -- it focuses primarily on the disinvitation (or whatever it was) of Michael Lerner, and doesn't even mention Tam Dalyell or James Moran. Crazy.
ALSO, while you're at Eyeranian, check out the picture of the kissing Ayatollah -- any thoughts?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:07 PM |

Instapundit has more on those Jewish NPR protests yesterday. I seem to recall some kind of article about anti-NPR sentiment in Boston before...might try to hunt it down.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:52 PM |

Style over Substance? A presidential picture is worth a thousand votes.... (via Drudge)

posted by Pinchas | 2:20 PM |

NYT: In Italian Dust, Signs of a Past Jewish Life

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:18 PM |

Tim Russert: "I believe very, very deeply that if the world interviewed Adolf Hitler more than they did, and exposed him for what he was and what his views were and what his writings were, we may have not encountered the situation we encountered at the end of World War II." (via Romenesko)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:04 PM |

Rushkoff discusses the potential for simulataneously effecting change and embracing continuity in religion.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:49 PM |

Harry announces that MTV Europe just got an Israeli VJ, and that he's not it -- apparently he looked "too Jewish." It's not so clear from the article he cites whether they were explicitly looking for an Israeli. Auditions were held in London, but the other finalists were named "Orly Vinerman, Lior Rosenberg, Omer Barnea and Meital Dahan," proof that the long-living conspiracy theory about Jews controlling music television in the Eastern Hemisphere is undeniably true.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:26 PM |

Yada seems to be finishing up its redesign, with some sort of late-'50s/pseudo-Bradys kinda feel going on. It's nifty.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:21 PM |

Just got off the 6 Train at Astor Place, and there was a Lyndon Larouche crew parked outside selling books & papers, and wearing posterboards promoting Larouche's 2004 candidacy. Of particular note as I quickly passed by was one large poster on the side of the table that said "Don't be a Straussian," with the "ss" drawn as the logo for Hitler's SS was.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:19 PM |

I might be the only person in the world still following this, but may that as it be:
Remember that Jewish Press controversy described here last week swirling around one letter-writing Yaakov Stern who insisted that:

While I would agree that Modern Orthodoxy has its fair share of adherents, I believe that it is for the most part spiritually bankrupt and essentially irrelevant...
Would a Modern Orthodox Jew ever ask his friend how his religious studies are progressing — and if so, would he be troubled if they surpassed his own? Not likely, because the group members define themselves by their material possessions.
Well, you'll be happy to hear that he's responded to his critics, who rightly objected vigorously, in this week's letters section. His response:
If we hearken back to the letter which created this firestorm, I defined Modern Orthodoxy as a spiritually challenged movement. Under this rubric, those in the yeshivish-chassidic community whose lives revolve around material accumulation would be deemed Modern Orthodox, while a Long Island Y.U. boy who learns diligently and faithfully deserves the highest encomiums.
What a stupid argument, for more reasons that I can get to right now (I have class soon), but basically, what I can't think of a more self-serving, non-productive way for him to define his terms. I can make a similar argument, calling "Yaakov Stern" an uneducated buffoon and when he responds by pointing to the "Dr." that preceeds his name, I can respond by saying that when I referred to "Yaakov Stern" I referred to any person who happens to be uneducated and stupid, and not him at all. He just misunderstood my terms.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:30 PM |

Vodka turns 500 this year. In the words of Homer Simpson: "To alcohol - the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:46 AM |

Wednesday, May 14, 2003  

Assuming that The Matrix really does, as previously discussed, contain some sort of Zionist or neo-conservative symbolism, the following story, via NCBuy, takes on an entirely new significance.

a philosophy professor who teaches at Oxford says there's roughly a 20 percent chance that most humans today really are software-generated beings living in a virtual reality.
Dr. Nick Bostrom says there's a good chance technology can mature to the point where life-like simulation programs are regularly run. If that's the case, there's no way of knowing whether right now you're currently living in real history or a simulation of the year 2003.

This really is just the old holodeck argument (and I really regret not having a really good link to put here), but do you think that we're all living in a Zionist or neo-con simulation of 2003? If so, then how should we interpret the existence of a movie like the Matrix, that contains Zionist or neo-con references, in our "real" simulation? I wouldn't think too hard about this, though...

However, he says its equally likely that humans will become extinct before they can develop such advanced computer simulations or lose their interest in simulations entirely.

Phew. I think. At least it means we won't get rebooted. Then again, if there's nobody's interested anymore, who's going to remember to run the global anti-virus once a week?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:02 PM |

Glenn notes: "I DON'T KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE, but they're mad at NPR's mideast coverage, and they're protesting it in quite a few cities today."
He's referring to theCoast-to-Coast NPR Protest being organized by The Jewish Action Taskforce, a project of the Boston Israel Action Committee.
Thus far, there's not a whole lot of info about these folks, or how they managed to organize nationwide protests. Send more links & info my way.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:06 PM |

Jewish Krishnas

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:07 PM |

Mobius has responded to my recent post by e-mail; he's removed all his posts about our discussion, and asked me to post his response. I have posted it here. Suffice it to say that I was not asking for him to express regret -- quite the contrary, part of the whole idea of debating in this format is to see just how deep the rabbit-hole of argument can go: what places can it take you and what new discoveries you can make.
I think it's a shame that Mobius has decided to take this route, and hope he reconsiders.
Lastly, I don't, and never did, consider what we were doing a "useless argument" -- a lot hangs in the balance when determining what is and is not anti-Semitism, and I don't think I'll ever let that go very easily.
There's still a lot of apology for anti-Semitism in what Mobius wrote in this post. But you can read my previous posts on the topic to understand what it is and why it's wrong.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:37 PM |

Daniel Drezner is all over the neo-Con conspiracy theories with a gazillion-link post. I'll try to get to most of it when I can.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:07 PM |

Interesting interview with David Klinghoffer, author of The Discovery of God (which I do want to read now, or after finals, anyway), the second recent book to be written about Abraham and how he has been interpreted through the millenia. Its obvious that these sorts of things would be popular nowadays, since, as Klinghoffer says:

The struggle between radical Islam on one hand and Christian America and Jewish Israel on the other is a contest for the heritage of Abraham. In our time we have witnessed an amazing historical realignment, with the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the children of Jesus (whom Christian tradition regards as the preeminent seed of Abraham) joined as brothers in a mutual act of cooperative defense against a people who trace their spiritual ancestry to Abraham and his son Ishmael...

On the other hand, he's not being at all ambiguous about where he stands on this clash of cultures:
Americans, however, will learn something really surprising. I argue that while America's religious heritage is apparently Christian; at a deeper level it is not Christian, not Jewish, but Abrahamic...Catholic scholar Michael Novak has written powerfully about what he calls the "Hebrew metaphysics" that underlay the American Founding. The founders were Christians -- sort of -- but they bequeathed to America a Christianity different from the European varieties, uniquely imbued with reverence specifically for the Hebrew part of their Bible...To understand Abraham is thus, in a way, to understand America.

This is reflected in the way that Klinghoffer is not apologetic about only using primarily traditional Jewish sources in his analysis. I'm not going to analyze his claims, since, as stated, I haven't read the book yet. But my interest is piqued, so there'll probably be a follow-up post at some point.

Contrast this, by the way, with Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler. Feiler talks to leaders from, and uses the sources of all three Abrahamic religions, because he was trying to understand the Middle East, where all three versions of religion and Abraham have been interacting with each other for a good 1200 years now (obviously the first two go back further than that). I liked his analysis, because rather than arrive at a specific Abraham-type than he can then turn and apply to, say, modern-day America, Feiler is trying to understand where each religion is coming from in its own reading of the story, comparing, contrasting, and looking for places to build common ground.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:01 PM |

A little late, but I'm now ready to follow up on my earlier promises. In the meantime, though, Mobius has posted again. I'll go in order of the posts, so the first one first.
He starts off with the headline "I Didn't Expect This Sort of Spanish Inquisition," which is overwhelming hyperbole -- usually, you'd say this is simple and standard exaggeration, but as you read on in this post and the subsequent one, you get the idea that Mobius really does feel he's being persecuted by what we're writing here. More on that later.
He writes:

I'm not going to argue the historical points of this debate because, honestly, these guys do know better than me—I'm a college dropout and not much of a history buff. And of course, the more they explain, the more I learn, and the more I appreciate and welcome their perspectives. The points about AIPAC, Buchanan, and Dalyell, I will concede: You guys are right, I don't know shit. This Jew's been schooled.
My only comment to this is that it's not "historical points" that were in question -- we were dealing with the here & now of anti-Semitism from people like James Moran and Tam Dalyell. So long as he says he's ceding the argument, I guess he agrees that we're right on all these points, too.
Mobius then quoted the conclusion to my most recent post, which said:
Apologizing for the non-violent kind [of antisemitism] (if it can be said to exist) simply because one cannot come to agree with a country's policies is precisely that: apologizing for anti-Semitism. Mobius should be have no misapprehension that this is what he is doing. [Emphasis Mobius']
He also quotes a Brad Pilcher graf, then responds:
Is it all that audacious for a Jewish person to believe that the behavior of some Jewish people could have a negative impact on others' view of Jewish people as a whole? How am I apologizing for antisemitism by postulating what it is that makes antisemitic ideology palatable to radicals? Or by saying, "Considering the way many Jews with power and influence act, I can see where people get their impressions?" I don't believe that's an apology as so much as an adomonition of Jews who abuse their influence and therefore only further perpetuate these myths about Jewish conspiracies.
In response to his questions: 1) No, and I don't think any of us ever said it would be -- so long as the behavior in question was actually negative behavior, and this is something Mobius still fails to understand, despite our long, repeated, and coherent explanation (in my recent post, plus here and here, and more before that). The presumption that Mobius is making is that behavior that disagrees with his politics (promoting the war on Iraq seems to be the primary example) falls into this negative behavior category -- it's this inability to digest opposing views that lets him apologize for anti-Semitism by Tam Dalyell. His apologies were explicit -- he can choose to stick by them or not, I don't really care. But if he's going to pretend it wasn't apologizing, the text pretty clearly proves him wrong. 2) I answered this largely with #1, but I'll add here that there certainly is behavior is patently wrong that can lead to anti-Semitism. Take anti-Mugabe-goon sentiment or anti-Saddam's-Ba'athists sentiment today; all are rational dislikes based upon the behavior of the group as a whole. If Jews were doing that, I could dig people not liking us too much. But we're dealing with an entirely different kind of charge from Dalyell, Moran and others -- Mobius doesn't realize that, but it doesn't make their statements any less anti-Semitic. But I think this all comes to a head with the concluding sentence of Mobius' paragraph: if some Jews in Bush's cabinet argument for war against Iraq -- something that Bush himself had been arguing for since his first weeks in office -- can be characterized by Mobius as "abusing their influence," then he really just doesn't know what he is talking about -- in regards to issues very much in the present day, that you don't need a "history buff" to dissect.
The rest of his post is mostly more of the same. Some poignant parts:
And beyond that, they should keep from provoking any bigotry and intolerance at all, particularly in the form of Zionism. Creating such divisions between people is counterintuitive to tikkun olam, which I believe is the greatest mitzvah we can aspire to.
So he's essentially arguing against Zionism, saying it's "counterintuitive to tikkun olam." He's certainly entitled to his opinion on this point -- I've often been known to agree with a variant of the same argument -- but he makes clear that he has no desire to find the rationality of the other side of the argument. Many Zionists would argue that Israel is an explicitly pro-harmony-in-the-world project, since it basically says that if Jews are going to face persecution in foreign lands throughout their history -- even in a modern democracy like pre-WWII Germany -- then they need a place of their own, where there's no one to persecute them. As I said, I would generally agree with the anti-Zionist camp, but I understand where Zionists are coming from, and Mobius should, too. But most importantly, Mobius should detach himself from the myth that Zionism motivated this war, that Jews motivated this war, and that there is any rational, non-anti-Semitic basis upon which to make that argument.
As Mobius concludes his post, he makes it unambiguously clear that he still doesn't understand why so many people disagree with what he's been saying:
And can I just say, DUDE, that write-up on Yada is sooooo unfair. I said Dalyell was "sort of right" only because there are a fair number of pro-Israel Jews in Bush's adminstration. I didn't say they run America! And as far as Buchanan's remarks—tell me the ADL doesn't blacklist anyone who looks at Abe Foxman funny! He's like the Al Sharpton of Jewish reactionaries! Thus, the only point of Buchanan's I was agreeing with was that Jews use the label of antisemitism to silence critics, even when those critics aren't really antisemites and that that is unjust. Cut me some freakin' slack here!
I think the part about Foxman is pure hyperbole. More importantly, what Dalyell said wasn't "sort of right" -- something he conceded at the beginning of the post, but is now clinging to at the end. Mobius doesn't know how to admit when he's wrong -- or at least to counter an assertion that he's wrong with a serious response. I get the feeling with each successive Mobius response that he doesn't even read what I'm writing -- he certainly doesn't incorporate what I'm saying into his argument; heck, given the discrepancy between top and bottom of his post, he doesn't even incorporate what he's saying into his argument.
On to his second post:
Steven I. at Protocols writes,
It's been light blogging (in fact, no blogging) for me today, but I'm catching up this evening, and I'm going to try to get posts in that:

1) Show Mobius a -- hopefully -- final smackdown in response to his latest post. He's becoming kind of like that persistent palooka who just won't give up ("stay down!").


3) Have some words on the Bronfman Eminem marketing gimmick, responding to some degree to posts at InstaConfused and Jewschool.
See, to me, this isn't an intellectual battle I'm out to win. This is about open discourse. If you disagree with my views, if you feel I'm ill-informed, or if you think I'm just plain wrong, that's fine—please, speak what's on your mind. Share with me your feelings, your thoughts. I'm eager to learn. But don't clobber me over the head. Don't make it your personal mission to make me out to be an asshole. You're not going to win anyone over that way, and in fact, you're just breeding that same sort of Jew-on-Jew antisemitism that Hasidic Rebel's talking 'bout.
I guess Mobius didn't understand that I was joking. It really just seemed so comical to me how he kept coming back with his same arguments (which he's still doing) when they'd been so thoroughly discredited. He really is the persistent palooka. But I mean no offense by my argumentation, which is something I'm never aiming for. I am sorry that Mobius feels offended, and I would really hate it if he stopped posting -- it's an enjoyable blog.
But the whole point of engaging in a publishing endeavor is to put your thoughts and writing out there -- and if someone thinks there's a problem with what you've written, either respond in kind or admit that you were wrong. I don't think the posting we've been doing that argued with Mobius was even something that really required a thick skin -- it just meant he had to justify what he'd said, which he didn't. Which I'm cool with, but if he re-posts the same -- or negligibly different -- argument, that should entitle him to a new critique; otherwise people would think we agree with him.
There was a recent episode wherein Megan McArdle went offline for a bit because she'd been receiving hatemail. That's right, hatemail. That kind of stuff is obviously unwarranted, but if Mobius is going to respond to arguments he doesn't like by claiming offense and threatening to go offline, well, I think he's just going to have to learn to deal with it, because it's part of what everybody is doing here on the blogosphere -- that's what it's all about.
Now, I went into all of this because it's the first time this really happened between Jewish bloggers, but I won't do it again. I hold the Jewish blogosphere up to the same standards as the rest of the blogosphere, and if that means that some out there can't deal with responses to their writing (which, if that had gotten posted on Instapundit, would've been thoroughly less sensitive than the Protocols response), they should begin to learn to be able to.
One last note about the Jewish blogosphere while we're on topic: We've been noticing that a lot of the Jewish bloggers we've been watching aren't using proper citation methods. At points, we'll get e-mails from bloggers about their posts that have information posted without any attribution. We've seen some bloggers ripping off the links or even entire posts from other blogs without attribution. This is making us very hesitant to link to these blogs. All of you should read up on what happened to the Agonist, and note the standard attribution format. Every time you find a link through another blog, attribute it by writing (via BlogX). And if you're going to use more than just the link, noting some of the information in the post, just quote the other blogger. Failing to properly attribute sources is plagiarism. Let's keep that out of the Jewish blogosphere.
UPDATE: It appears that Mobius has taken down his second post. I don't really know what this means -- maybe he'll enlighten us.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:31 PM |

It's been light blogging (in fact, no blogging) for me today, but I'm catching up this evening, and I'm going to try to get posts in that:
1) Show Mobius a -- hopefully -- final smackdown in response to his latest post. He's becoming kind of like that persistent palooka who just won't give up ("stay down!").
2) Remark upon Friend of the Elders Yishai's recent Op-Ed.
3) Have some words on the Bronfman Eminem marketing gimmick, responding to some degree to posts at InstaConfused and Jewschool.
4) Introduce a spat between Elder Pinky and his elder brother...
Keep comments coming.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:38 AM |

Tuesday, May 13, 2003  

Much thanks to Blissful Knowledge for his ringing endorsement of what we're doing here. Blissful Knowledge, by the way, is a very cool blog that everyone should visit.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:23 PM |

All this talk about The Matrix and Zionism sort of brought back a conversation I had with Rabbi Klapper of the Summer Beit Midrash about X-Men and Zionism. Fortunately, I found a link to an Avi Green column that I can work with. Green writes:

And then, there’s professor Charles Francis Xavier himself. Him I can see as being inspired by two templates in one: Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, and probably more the former than the latter. What do Jabotinsky and Xavier have in common? Jabotinsky wanted to live in friendship with the Arab and the non-Jewish world, but did not want to give up parts of the land of Israel, which would mean endangering national security and committing national suicide. Xavier wanted to live in friendship with the non-mutant, non-powered humans of this world, but did not want to have to give up his freedom by registering with the government, as envisioned by the X-Men’s late political nemesis, senator Frank Kelly, which could very easily end up enabling the government to exploit him for their own evil purposes.
A most amazing thing about Xavier is that Lee and Kirby, you could say, came up with this bald superhero mentor several years before Menachem Begin himself went that way! The prophecies can be most astonishing, when you look at them more closely.
And the X-Men and their academy itself, the Xavier Institute, was inspired by the Irgun/Lehi/Etzel movements, since they too had to work in all but secrecy. And the Sentinels, you could say, take the place of the British mandate soldiers occupying this country who constantly sought to destroy them for daring to be Zionist/Patriotic and loyal to their country. And, for the record, the Etzel's headquarters, located on the coast of Tel Aviv, now a museum, is in some ways similar to the Xavier institute, since it's also a base from which the courageous crimefighters would go out to fight the evil British imperialists occupying their country.

Rabbi Klapper thought (rightly, I think) that, given the range of early Zionist ideologies to choose from, Prof. X is a much better fit to Ahad Ha'am. Like Ha'am, X only wants mutants to be able to maintain and promote their own culture while living peacefully with their neighbors (regular humans/ Palestinian Arabs). Neither had any real political aspirations of their own (Ha'am wasn't working towards a Jewish State). On the other hand, Magneto is the real Jabotinsky. Both were concerned with generating real political strength, with a strong emphasis on military power. The fact that Magneto's distrust of regular humans seems to stem from his expereinces in the Holocaust in the first movie seems to underscore that point. They'll always hate Us, so We have to be stronger than Them.

Also see this TNR article that analyzes the comic books from a Martin Luther King/ Malcom X perspective, and this VJ interview with the director, who talks about the Holocaust in his movies, and this article that details some of that imagery in X2.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 4:18 PM |

Monday, May 12, 2003  

Hasidic Rebel suggests that the relationship between Jews and anti-semities (see the extended, multi-blog discussion we've all been having - most recent post here, from Elder I) is similar to that between anti-religious and ultra-religious Jews. To whit:

There is an often-cited verse in the Talmud saying that an Am-Ha'aretz (unlearned person) wishes to tear up a Talmud Chochom like a fish. According to Charedim, this Gemoro clearly substantiates the claim that the non-religious bear an irrational hatred for the religious. Of course, most secular Jews would vehemently object. They would say that if only the religious Jews wouldn't be so self-righteous, and if they'd only show some respect for other denominations like Refom and Conservative, and if only they'd not be so loud, and pushy, and not suck so much money out of the government, and and stop wearing those riciulous looking clothes, etc, etc.... ...then they would be loved and respected.
I can't help but see a striking parallel to the Jews and the antisemites. Just a thought to munch on...

Interesting. One one hand, the tension between secular and ultra-religious Jews has a lot to do with the fact that both sides actively try to delegitimize the Other's self-definition as "Jewish" (possibly in an effort to assert their own self-definitions). Similarly, maybe, Buchanan is reacting against the Other wing of the conservative movement (paleo-con v. neo-con - who's the real conservative?). On the other hand, while the issue between ultra-religious and secular Jews is indeed a "Jewish" issue, Buchanan is fighting over a political label, yet he still uses ethnic-centered rhetoric. So its not really the same.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:47 PM |

What they wouldn’t teach you in Day School….

Disclaimer: Sophisticated text searches on the internet enable nerdy researchers and policy wonk types to gain almost unlimited access to a wealth of published information. The search employed by this user is not graphic or image based.

We now take a moment to turn to the inner folds of that venerable and world-renowned publication, Playboy for an inside glimpse into what “Judaism” has to say about, as the editor’s put it so eloquently, “Sex.”

Now you can truly assert, “really baby, I just read it for the articles, honest, just the articles baby.”

For the sake of brevity that I failed to exhibit in my last post, I have chopped up the accompanying article from what I believe to be the most recent issue of Playboy, June 1, 2003, No. 6, Vol. 50; Pg. 50 (because elder Steve scolded me just moments ago, our reading audience will deprived of Islam’s, Buddhism’s, Christianity’s, Hedonism’s and Hinduism’s views of this titillating topic):

In God we lust: the prevailing beliefs about sex from the world's major religions; Forum.

Thomas, John D.


MASTURBATION: Some rabbis condemn masturbation as wasteful of the seed (see Contraception, below). For the most part, there is little embarrassment attached to sex. One scholar points out that Leviticus, which is filled with instructions about prohibited sexual activities, is the book traditionally chosen to begin teaching biblical Hebrew to children.

PREMARITAL SEX: Most Jews view sex as an act reserved for a husband and wife. However, one liberal rabbi says she believes that "mutually respectful relationships for the purpose of intimacy and pleasure are within the Jewish tradition."

INFIDELITY: The bonds of marriage are sacred, so adultery is out.

CONTRACEPTION: Some conservative rabbis advise against the use of condoms because it is forbidden to spill one's seed (hashchatat zera). But more-liberal teachers believe that if a couple cannot afford to have children, contraceptives are acceptable. Forms of contraception that do not involve spilling semen, such as the pill or diaphragm, are not a problem. The consensus on condoms is changing because of their effectiveness in preventing STDs.

ABORTION: Most Jews believe that life begins at birth. However, most condemn abortion as a casual method of birth control.

HOMOSEXUALITY: This is one of the more controversial issues in Judaism. Most orthodox Jews condemn homosexual acts and reject the idea of gay rabbis, based on the admonition in Leviticus that "you should not lie with a man as with a woman." But like liberal Christians, a good number of Jews argue that if homosexuality can be shown by science to be a natural state, then it must have been created by God and cannot be considered wrong.

CLERGY: The Torah instructs all Jews, including rabbis, to "be fruitful and multiply."

posted by Pinchas | 6:31 PM |

I missed this one in YU Today. I wonder what Yeshiva's problem was with Planned Parenthood. I further wonder which Yeshiva building currently houses Planned Parenthood....

Most commercial leases contain restrictions on a tenant's ability to assign the lease or sublet the space. A typical restriction permits the tenant to assign or sublet subject to the landlord's consent, provided such consent is not "unreasonably withheld." Tenants often ask the landlord for "consent," and when the landlord, refuses the question is often litigated as to whether the landlord unreasonably withheld its consent to an assignment or sublease.
Under New York law, in order for a landlord's refusal to consent to an assignment or sublease to withstand judicial scrutiny and be deemed "reasonable," it must be based on "objective criteria", i.e., readily measurable criteria of a proposed assignee's or subtenant's acceptability from the view point of any landlord. According to New York courts, such objective criteria consist of the financial responsibility of the proposed assignee/subtenant, the identity or business character of the proposed assignee/subtenant, i.e., its suitability for the particular building, the legality of the proposed use, or the nature of the proposed use.
If a refusal is based on "subjective criteria," i.e., criteria based on the peculiar needs or dislikes of the landlord, it is likely to be deemed unreasonable by the courts. For example, American Book Company v. Yeshiva University Development Foundation, Inc., the Yeshiva University Development Foundation was the landlord of a commercial building. It rejected a proposed subtenant for the building. Planned Parenthood, because the Foundation found Planned Parenthood's activities to be "'inconsistent with the present use of the premises and with the education activities of [Yeshiva] University.'" The rejection was challenged in the courts and the tenant prevailed.
The court found that the grounds asserted for the rejection were based on ideological differences between the Foundation and Planned Parenthood and therefore were were subjective and thus unreasonable. The court went on to hold that "when a religious or religiously affiliated or educational institution...owns commercial property, it is to be held to the established standards of commercial responsibility, its acts and conduct being vested with no greater and no lesser sanctity than those of any other owner."

Real Estate Weekly
April 23, 2003

posted by Pinchas | 5:35 PM |

Courtesy of April 24th's New York Post’s “Page Six"

ALAN Wilzig, the conservative Wilzig brother who runs Trust Company Bank, is getting married to his longtime girlfriend, Belgian beauty Karin Koenig, who just finished a year at Yeshiva University and has converted to Judaism. Alan, 38, sold his share of the notorious Castle in Water Mill for $1.7 million to his brother Ivan, 46, who is pursuing a music career. Alan is settling down with Karin in a $4.7 million TriBeCa townhouse with a garage for his 14 Ducati motorcycles. The Wharton grad inherited the bank from his father Siggi, a Holocaust survivor. The groom is flying 50 guests to Caesarea, Israel, to see him swap vows with Karin on Aug. 14 and then party in an ancient Roman amphitheater.

posted by Pinchas | 5:28 PM |

Pop Quiz: You've got a choice of commencement speakers, between Presidential Bioethicist Leon Kass and Middle East Gossip Academic Daniel Pipes -- who do you choose? Apparently, if you're Yeshiva University, you choose the latter. YU announced Pipes as the speaker some time ago, but the link didn't work -- now it does, and apparently Kass will be there, but not invited to speak; peculiar and stupid.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:51 PM |

Light blogging today...on deadline for a project with Powerhouse Books and an article on Nick Denton. Meantime, Yada is looking pretty with a new redesign, and Jeff Jarvis has a lot of required reading on Iranian bloggers.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:32 PM |

Thomas Friedman gets back to writing about Israel (yesterday, actually, but better late than never), now that the Iraq situation's moved into something of a holding pattern. In particular:

This is a critical moment. For the first time, the Palestinians have produced a prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas; a finance minister, Salam Fayyad; and a security chief, Muhammad Dahlan, who understand how badly the Palestinian Authority lacked proper institutions and how disastrous for the Palestinian people was the Arafat strategy of suicide terrorism and double talk with Israel.
Friedman's point is that Bush has to act more like his father and force Israel into making compromises on settlements, but, for the most part, Sharon is already using the rhetoric of "painful concessions". On the other hand, Abu Mazen's opening bargining position, from his induction speech:
In order for our discourse to be clear, our Palestinian people will not accept anything less than practicing their right to self-determination and establishing their independent sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital that is free of settlements in all territories occupied in 1967
is a nonstarter. What ultimately brought down Arafat, as Friedman himself has stated many times, and I'll try to find the links a bit later, was his inability to make any compromises at all in response to Israeli negotiations. We won't know whether Abu Mazen will be any different until he gets to the table, but opening rhetoric like that is worrisome.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:31 PM |

Matrix/Zionism keeps on moving. Found an interesting link in the comments to Mike Silverman's post (it calls for a boycott of Matrix: Reloaded).

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:14 AM |

Sunday, May 11, 2003  

More on the Matrix/Zionism front: Reader Duvie notes, "Neo is obviously a neo-con." Cute.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:32 PM |

You know those scenes in the psycho/serial-killer movies where the detective or friend or family member or whomever finally walks into the killer's room and realizes something very abnormal is afoot. The background music suddendly turns omnious as the good guy steps into the room and turns on the light, noticing the walls covered with pictures and news clippings of the murders, maps, and other assorted inidications of pathological know what I mean, right?
That's almost how I felt when I saw this post on FR. Someone needs to stop listening to Rush.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:51 PM |

Vanity Post: Rabbi Wieder's shiur final is tomorrow, wish me luck. For a bit of shameless self-promotion, click here for the review sheets that Friend of The Elders David and I wrote and mass-distributed. For more on Rabbi Wieder himself, click here and then on his picture

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:00 PM |

For More of The Same on Leo Strauss and his connection to today's conservatives, see this NYT article. For a hard-core conspiratorial spin, see Jusin Raimondo (who else?).

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:55 PM |

The first entry in the Matrix/Zionism contest, from Adi Neuman; though it appears he found it elsewhere (but hasn't said where). I'm waiting for word back from him.
UPDATE: Reader Yitzchak has been fact-checking Neuman's post, and finds a problem with the graf:

CAIR representatives furthermore point to the resemblence of Matrix bad-guy Agent Smith (a brilliant Hugo Weaving) to Muslim intellectual Edward Said.
Yitz notes: "Edward Said is a Christian Palestinian."

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:41 PM |

Mike Silverman writes:

If the capital of the free humans in The Matrix is Zion, does that mean that Neo and friends are Zionists? And will CAIR put out a statement denouncing the movie for being anti-Islamic because of this?
There's a great fake press release waiting to be written by a talented satirist out there...
(via InstaPundit)
There's gotta be some good ideas we can come up with: pro-Zionist, anti-Zionist, Michael Lerner, Neturei Karta, etc. Send your ideas! We could do this all week, just like real nerds.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:10 PM |

Boston Globe's "Ideas" Section:Profile of Leo Strauss and small piece on Straussians Abroad.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:41 PM |

In what is definitely the best line yet about the Israeli stripper cop, Grant Stoddard writes: "Reportedly, the policeman was able to extricate himself when his partner called for reinforcements, and the revelers were fined for trying to induce the Gaza strip."

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:25 PM |

Is there any specific relevance to the fact that Powell visited Jerusalem, as opposed to, say, Tel Aviv? He didn't meet with Arafat, btw.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:27 PM |

Readers take note: it's now 12:06 EST -- if you haven't called your mother, do so now.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:10 PM |

Just how disproportionate are Jews in the halls of American power? It seems a reasonable question given what we've been discussing. According to Jews comprise 11% of the Senate, and almost exactly 6% of the House. According to this, 11% is a record number first achieved in '98, which saw a dropoff to 10 in the 107th Congress (and Paul Wellstone's death made it 9 for awhile).
What is the proportion of Jews in the Bush administration? I've got no clue, but there's a list of them at that link. We know there's no Cabinet-level Jew for the first time in a long time, so there's disproportionately less influence in that area. Anybody with ideas about how to figure out the proportions with that list should write in.
An interesting question: How did Jews in Congress vote on the war with Iraq?
House 19/27 Yeas = 70.3%, versus the House in general at 68.5%.
Senate 5/10 Yeas = 50%, versus the Senate in general at 77%.
The thing is, party affiliation is generally a factor: more Dems voted against the war than Republicans, and Jews in Congress are overwhelmingly Democrats:
In the House, where only 2 Jews are Republicans, Jewish Democrats voted at 70.8% for the war, where Democrats voted in favor by only 39.1%, a very significant difference.
In the Senate, where 9 of the 10 Jews are Democrats, they voted 44.4% in favor, versus 58% for Senate Democrats in general, also a significant difference.
One note: in going through the list of members of Congress, there seemed an awfully large amount I hadn't heard were Jewish -- if anyone has some fact-checking on that and wants to ge back to me, please do.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:55 AM |

Well, now that we've hit valedictorian season, its also time for the annual game of valedictorian-related lawsuits. Here's a classic one (via CNN), about a NJ girl who sued (and won) a case to be named the sole validectorian of her high school as opposed to sharing it with two other girls with lower GPAs. The case now moves into the damages phase, with the lawsuit asking for $500,000 in compensatory and $2 million in punitive damages, as well as legal fees and costs. Obviously enough, she wants to be a lawyer when she grows up.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 11:36 AM |
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