Showing posts from December, 2009

Rosenblum's Smoke-Screen

Jonathan Rosenblum’s latest article about Tiger Wood’s indiscretions is a clever analysis of how heroes can tragically fall.

However, Rosenblum waffles his way into the trap of finishing his piece by disingenuously bringing the orthodox Jews into the picture, as a ‘neat’ contrast, wrapping up his article:

I wish I could say that self-destructive behavior, like that of Tiger Woods, is unknown among Orthodox Jews, or at least among Orthodox rabbis. But I have no particular desire to make a fool of myself.

Rosenblum would have wished to say that orthodox Jews don’t succumb to weaknesses of the flesh – in contrast to Tiger Woods. But, in view of this week’s scandal of Rabbi Tropper – such a claim would indeed “make a fool” of Rosenblum.

So he goes for next best:

I am not aware, however, of any figure revered by a large cross-section of Torah Jewry whose private behavior ever stood revealed to be wildly dissonant from his public image.

Rosenblum’s argument is that some orthodox leaders (those …

Who Needs A Bigger Coalition?

Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has this week offered Tzippi Livni’s Kadima Party a share in his coalition government.

Many Israeli Governments over the history of the State have fallen due to coalition parties breaking ranks and undermining the ruling majority. Therefore, every Prime Minister works to keep his parliamentary majority as large and stable as he can.

However, with Netanyahu's healthy majority in his coalition, being 78 of the 120 MK’s, it’s hard to see the urgency.

In the current case, if Kadima, who have 28 members of Kenesset, were to agree to join the Netanyahu Government, the prime minister would head a coalition of 102 MKs out of 120 MK’s in the Kenesset. This would leave a jumble of small parties in opposition, being Hadash, Ichud HaLeumi (National Union), Ra’am Tal, Meretz and National Democratic Assembly – just 18 MKs.Probably the smallest opposition in the history of the State.

So stability would be ensured, as much as anything can be considered ‘certa…

Tropper-Gate and Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Blog?

A group of leading Chareidi Rabbonim have recently specifically banned Chareidi blogs and forums. (see above notice). It seemed odd when this poster went up around town, because these rabbonim had already banned the use of the internet itself. So what's this with the chareidi blogs?

Sure enough, under pressure from this latest sub-ban, several erstwhile chareidi internet sites have apparently now closed down. Although the majority have simply ignored it.

For those who like to link the dots (such as Frum Follies), in order to see a more complete picture, you can note that the Rabbi Leib Tropper conversion-for-sex scandal was breaking simultaneously to the issuing of this rabbinical decree against chareidi internet sites.

The Rabbi Tropper tapes of sexually intimate discussions were initially sent, presumably by Shannon Orand, the blonde in-process-convert, to these self-same chareidi blogs, for onward distribution.

Shutting up the blogs may have been a ruse to shut up the Tropper…

Rav Melamed vs. Ehud Barak: Conscientious Objection or Insubordination?

In the current dispute between Ehud Barak, Minister of Defence, and Rav Eliezer Melamed the Head of Har Bracha Hesder Yeshiva, it is very unclear in the press reports what either Ehud Barak or Rav Melamed’s objectives are.

It does seem that Ehud Barak’s insistence that there be "no insubordination" in the Israeli army is eminently reasonable. No other army in the world permits insubordination – the refusal to obey a lawful order from a superior.

Nor can Rav Melamed reasonably expect a Minister of Defence to permit insubordination, which could undermine the effectiveness of the IDF in implementing its critical missions. An army doesn’t work by asking the regular soldier which combat missions he will or will not choose to carry out.

On the other hand,. Ehus Barak surely recognizes and appreciates the important, indeed critical, role of National Religious soldiers in the armed forces (some 25% of Israel’s crack combat troops) – and of the highly motivated Hesder Yeshivot in part…

Barak vs R.Melamed

Does the Army Need the Dati Leumi – or the Dati Leumi Need the Army?

Over 25% of combat troops in the Israel Defence Forces are now National Religious (Dati Leumi).

Many of these participate in the Hesder Yeshiva program, which was established in 1953 by the Keren BeYavne Yeshiva. The Hesder program typically last five years, of which some 16 months is army training and active service, while the remainder is spent in religious studies in over 40 yeshivot around the country.

On the one hand, this program is the flag-ship of the National Religious camp – combining torah studies with fulfilling the practical mitzva of defending the Jewish people and the Jewish State – paid for by the Ministry of Defence.

On the other hand, many of the Army's finest and most motivated troops are from the Dati Leumi camp in general, and from the Hesder Yeshivot in particular. Israel's military cemeteries attest to the awesome heroism of so many of of these young men in the battlefield. And the most as…

A Yorkshireman's Advice to Netanyahu

"Owt for Now't"

There is an old Yorkshire expression (where I was born)  "if ever tha does owt for now't, allus do it for thisen" – which for those with limited knowledge of the Yorkshire dialect means "if you ever do something for nothing, always do it for yourself."

Yorkshiremen are a pretty dour and ungiving lot – but many of us can associate with the feeling that giving away an asset, for nothing, and with no apparent side-benefits to us, is a bad deal.

Israel made this fundemental error in the Oslo Peace Negotiations – where Israel handed over substantive assets (land, weapons, autonomy) to the PLO, in exchange for nothing (a piece of paper with some promises which the PLO had already broken by the time the signatures were written and the peace prizes distributed) – and to no apparent benefit for Israel (over a thousand victims of terror,a shot prime minister, internal political upheaval).

The same deal was hoisted upon Israel by Ariel Sharon. S…

Is Turkey Kosher?

Is Turkey Kosher?

There is well known dispute about the fact that Jews eat Turkey, although there is no “masorah” (ancient tradition) that it is a kosher bird.

I am currently in Ankara, Turkey.

As I arrived at the gates of a major manufacturer here, I was told by the security guard that I would have to remove my kippa (skull-cap) before I would be permitted to enter the premises.

I had also been told to remove my kippa when I visited the Mausoleum of Ataturk in Ankara.

There has been a recent spate of extremely anti-Israeli, and even anti-Semitic rhetoric by Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which included the public verbal abuse of Israel’s President Shimon Peres at the Davos World Economic Summit, and by Turkish TV, which screened a series about Israel/Palestine, which included gross scenes of Israeli soldiers murdering cute children in cold blood. Meanwhile, the Turkish Government has embraced Iran, Syria, Kurds and the Armenians – while canceling a joint army …

“When we were slaves in Israel….”

Slavery is alive and flourishing right here in Israel....

You thought that slavery was abolished. Right?

US educated readers will recall that the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution reads: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

My History teacher in England told us about William Wilberforce and the Slave Act of 1807, which outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire.

In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensured many freedoms, and it outlaws slavery explicitly: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms”.

Yet, today slavery is common throughout the world, and expresses itself in the human trafficking and trading of women for sex, men for manual labour and children for both.

The main categories of the estimated 30 million slav…

Israel Protects Kids Better – A Breakthrough in Haifa Court

A woman aged over thirty, recalled for the first time during therapy that she was sexually abused as a child by her father, and a Haifa court has now found the father guilty of child sex crimes, all these years later.

Expert witnesses explained to the court that ‘forgetting’ a trauma is a common self-protection response in abuse victims a condition called dissociative amnesia. This is symptomatic in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Our brains apparently have an ‘erase’ button, which can delete painful memories, as a means of preserving functionality. I suppose it’s a bit like a doctor’s decision to sever a gangrenous limb, to save a patient’s life. As a post-traumatic response, the brain shuts down some memory, and otherwise continues functioning normally.

The reason this case is an important precedent is:

1. The long time (20 years) between the abuse events and the court case;
2. The long period during which the events were forgotten by the victim;
3. The reliance on one witness’s testimo…

Jewish Dog Story

[This is lifted from UOJ comments section, by Dr Bungalow Hundt; I have a Jewish dog called Sheleg].

Morty visits Dr. Saul, the veterinarian, and says, "My dog has a problem."

Dr. Saul says, "So, tell me about the dog and the problem."

"It's a Jewish dog. His name is Irving and he can talk" says Morty.

"He can talk?" the doubting doctor asks.

"Watch this! Morty points to the dog and commands: " Irving, Fetch!"

Irving , the dog, begins to walk toward the door, then turns around and says: "So why are you talking to me like that? You always order me around like I'm nothing. And you only call me when you want something. And then you make me sleep on the floor, with my arthritis. You give me this fahkahkta food with all the salt and fat, and you tell me it's a special diet. It tastes like dreck! YOU should eat it yourself! And do you ever take me for a decent walk? NO, it's out of the house, a short pish, and right…