Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Purim!

Wishing all our readers a very Happy Purim!


(and yes, this is an actual mishloach manot we gave out this year...)

Happy Purim all,

Jameel @ Co.


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Friday, February 26, 2010

Road 6 Carjackings

Rotter is reporting a series of carjackings on Road 6.

A team of Arabs stop cars on the highway, pull out guns and steal the cars.

They then drive off to a nearby Arab village. No suspects have been caught.

According to the article the police have been keeping this quiet to avoid a general panic.

Where's the Derech Eretz?

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Facebook Dubai Hit Squad Group


Feeling depressed that are aren't among the millions of people around the world who work for the Mossad? Upset that the Dubai Police Chief hasn't personally named you as a chief assasin yet? Now's your chance -- you too can join the "I was also in the Dubai hit-squad" Facebook group. Click here to join.


JoeSettler reports that someone (with way too much time on their hands) opened up facebook personality accounts for every single "assasin" listed by the Dubai police, complete with pictures, hobbies, etc.


The Irish Times reports:
Supporters of Mossad are showing their pride sales of T-shirts glorifying the spy agency have risen tenfold since it was linked to the murder of Mabhouh, a leading mail-order company of Israeli products told the Irish Times.









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Pre-Purim Stuff

This Meah Shearim guy probbaly had no clue what he was dressing his kids as...


Its not easy being gray in the Orthodox world. Another Eli Clark Classic.

After yesterday's breaking news that the Dubai police "identified" another FIFTEEN alleged Mossad agents / hit squad, today the Dubai police published yet another list and photos of the Dubai hit squad:


Jews still can't find J-Street in Washington DC.

Missing in action: There’s no J Street on pro-Israel map of D.C. Some say it’s on the far left side of town.

After almost two years of existence, J Street, a left-wing political peace movement, still cannot be found on any pro-Israel map of Washington, D.C. Google maps and GPS are equally unable to identify the controversial lobby. “I’m sorry I don’t think there is a J street in D.C.,” said a confused Zionist tourist checking his map again. “Did you say it was pro-Israel? Nope, I got nothing here.”Map officials say that J Street can be found on pro-Palestinian maps of Washington, though.“If you open a detailed map and look all the way to the left you’re sure to find it,” asserted Lawson Found, chair of Charting Your Course Maps of D.C. (more here).






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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Green Prince

Haaretz has the exclusive story about an "informant", Mosab Hassan Yousef -- the son of the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Hassan Yousef.(You can find more on Fox News).

Known as "The Green Prince," Mosab Yousef was perhaps the most valuable intelligence asset of Israel's "Shabak" security forces, as he infiltrated the upper echelons of Hamas and the Palestinian terrorist organizations -- he was responsible for literally savings the lives of countless Israelis.
And he didn't do it for money. He converted to Christianity, and out of a deep moral conviction, he believed that helping Israel was the correct thing to do. (He could probably teach Goldstone a thing or two).
Read the entire article -- just the paragraph alone will give you a feel for this guy:
"I wish I were in Gaza now," Yousef said by phone from California, "I would put on an army uniform and join Israel's special forces in order to liberate Gilad Shalit. If I were there, I could help. We wasted so many years with investigations and arrests to capture the very terrorists that they now want to release in return for Shalit. That must not be done."
Truly a Prince...acting with moral conviction amidst a sea of terrorist swine.
An interesting juxtaposition is that about 10 years ago Haaretz reporter Gidon Levy interviewed Ehud Barak:
Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy had asked him [Ehud Barak] then, as a candidate for prime minister, what he would do had he been born Palestinian and Barak replied frankly: "I would join a terror organization." (Haaretz)

Yossi Sarid's students said the same thing:
This week I spoke with my students about the Gaza war, in the context of a class on national security. One student, who had expressed rather conservative, accepted opinions - that is opinions tending slightly to the right - succeeded in surprising me. Without any provocation on my part, he opened his heart and confessed: "If I were a young Palestinian," he said, "I'd fight the Jews fiercely, even by means of terror. Anyone who says anything different is telling you lies." (Haaretz)
Makes you wonder how a Gazan-born Muslim, son of the founder and leader of a fundamentalist terror organization managed to orient his moral compass towards helping Israel, yet Ehud Barak and other Israelis are sure that in the same situation, they would have joined a terror organization.
I guess that explains how the Expulsion from Gush Katif happened. When one lacks a moral compass, everything can be rationalized for the sake of "security."


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Monday, February 22, 2010

BBC: 7-13% of World Jewry work for the Mossad

Gordon Thomas, author of Gideon’s Spies was a guest on a BBC Radio 4's PM program, and was discussing his understanding of he Mossad’s operating methods outside Israel.
Thomas told PM host Eddie Mair, “They have a whole backup system called ‘asylum.’ These are people, local residents, Jewish people, who help the Mossad. It is estimated to be in the world about half a million; some people say a million; I tend to say it’s about half a million, all of them Mossad people.” (JPost)
Should Israel challenge such a statement? Maybe its better to leave that impression...
The New York-based American Jewish Committee blasted the BBC on Sunday for airing an accusation that Jews around the world assist in supposed Mossad assassinations.

The AJC said in a statement that it was “dismayed that a guest on BBC Radio 4 was allowed to state unchallenged” that the Mossad relies on Jews for assassination plots.

“This baseless accusation crosses every red line between legitimate public discussion and bigoted fear-mongering,” said AJC executive director David Harris. “In less than a minute, the BBC has cast a shadow on the lives of Jews worldwide.” (JPost)
I did almost go to Dubai a few years back. Hmmm.


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Mazal Tov! 3 Baby lions born in Ramat Gan Safari Zoo

The Safari Zoo in Ramat-Gan proudly announced the birth of 3 lioness cubs (triplets) -- after 5 years in which only male lion cubs were born.

IDF Radio / Galezi Tzahal reports the mother is named "Sironi" but the zoo isn't sure of the father. Regardless - Mazal Tov to the zoo's new addition! If you know what type of Lion this is -- I'd appreciate if you would drop a note in the comment section...




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Exclusive Muqata Photos: The "Personal" Mechitza"

The Jerusalem Post broke the story yesterday that Ultra-Orthodox chareidi passengers are being advised by the Rabbinical Council for Public Transportation to adopt a new type of mehtiza when flying.
"The Rabbinical Council for Public Transportation, which is also representing the haredi community on the issue of gender-segregated “mehadrin” buses, is now placing advertisements in haredi newspapers encouraging the community to purchase the traveler mehitzas.

The new mehitzas, made of white nylon, stick onto the fabric of the airplane chair using Velcro and can be arranged to make a protective “shield.” The mehitza goes around the head and is mostly in front of the passenger’s face, protruding only a little to the sides. Its designer, who asked that his name not be published, declined to share pictures and his design details, but said the mehitzas were “airy” and did not bother anybody.

“They’re very nice,” said Rabbi Shimon Stern, spokesman for the Rabbinic Council for Public Transportation. “Very cute. It’s very practical.”

The mehitzas are designed to be portable and fit into a small box, which passengers can bring on the plane.

The airplane mehitzas come in the wake of other recent steps by the haredi community to avoid immodesty, such as the mehadrin bus lines and separate-sex sidewalks in Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood.

Stern said the main reason for the latest recommendation was to enable haredi passengers to block out in-flight movies. Television sets are banned in haredi communities, and movies are forbidden. In aircraft with large movie screens, it is difficult to avoid watching the films."
Instead of publicizing the story right away, the Muqata blog seriously investigated this issue and is the first blog to have an actual picture of these new personal mechitzas!

Smuggled out of ELAL's PR offices, we have obtained an unauthorized copy of the soon to be released ELAL PR campaign:

Personal Mechitza

(This guy is wearing jeans...obviously this campaign flyer is directed at
MTA students who wear tefillin while flying)
Personal Mechitza
Despite the monopoly on the personal mechitza, Global Superstore IKEA has decided to drop their prices and are marketing their version of the personal mechitza all over the world.

IKEA's collapsible and portable (yet stylish) "Fyllen" (Swedish for Personal Mechitza?) is now being marketed everywhere.
Personal MechitzaPassengers flying on Purim will be able to try out these personal mechitzas, and decide for themselves if they are truly revolutionary.

The following options were rejected and deemed "inappropriate" by the Rabbinic Council for Public Transportation for a variety of reasons.

Personal Mechitza

Personal Mechitza
Personal Mechitza
Personal Mechitzahat-tip: Everyone who sent in the JPost article...

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

NIF sponsored organization disrupts Israel Ballet

Update: Many have been claiming that the YNET story is factually incorrect in the Israel Ballet performance was disrupted by "Adalah-NY" and not by "Adalah" in Israel which is NIF funded. YNET has not changed or updated their story. Despite the YNET report, the Muqata blog notes this, and states that we don't know of a connection between the anti-Israel Adalah-NY organization and the NIF-funded Adalah organization in Israel.

According to Ynet, the New Israel Fund-sponsored organization, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, disrupted a performance of the Israel Ballet in Burlington, Vermont, this past Friday.

Pushing and shoving security guards, the NIF-sponsored radical anti-Israel organization's demonstrators forced their way into the theater.
Pro-Palestinian groups headed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, [JR: YNET is apparently incorrect, this is Adalah-NY] staged a protest rally outside an Israeli Ballet performance in the Flynn Theater in Burlington, Vermont, on Friday.

According to an Israel Radio report, four demonstrators eventually forced their way into the theater, waving signs saying that anyone who watched the performance was "supporting Israel's apartheid policy."

Company director Dan Rudolf alerted the theater's security personnel, as well as the local police, who promptly arrived at the scene and escorted the demonstrators outside.

The show resumed after a short intermission.

The Israel Ballet Company is currently touring the US as part of an official state campaign, and is scheduled to perform in Buffalo, Brookline and Washington.
[Source: Ynet]
Naomi Chazan must be extremely proud that her organization is funding those who actively encourage boycotts of Israel and Israel's National Ballet.

Meanwhile, the NIF-sponsored anti-Israel Adalah activists are hard at work. The NYTimes reports today:
Advocates for Palestinian rights have called for a boycott of the Israel Ballet, which is performing Sunday at Brooklyn College. The advocates said that there would be protests at the college’s Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts to denounce what they call Israel’s “apartheid and colonial policies,” part of a broader call by some critics of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians for a boycott of Israel in cultural and academic circles. The protest was announced on Friday by the group Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East. Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company faced similar protests during an American tour last year.
Of course, the NIF CEO would rather you didn't know that NIF donations are going to this organization. the organizations which provided 92% of the slander used by the Goldstone report.

He whines about how unfairly the NIF is criticized in this week's Jewish Week.
In recent weeks, some very angry — and wildly inaccurate — accusations have been leveled against the New Israel Fund, the philanthropic partnership largely responsible for the establishment of Israel’s progressive civil society. Not only have we been accused of enabling the hated Goldstone report, but the NIF’s president, former Knesset Deputy Speaker Naomi Chazan, has been grossly defamed and publicly caricatured in an incendiary and disgusting publicity campaign.

False arguments and dangerous demonization must not be allowed to stand, and the NIF has already acted to refute both. Israelis and the Jewish community worldwide remember how easily delegitimization led to political violence when Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated, and it must be rejected quickly, in all its forms.
Remember -- if you're part of the Israel’s progressive civil society, you DON'T want Israel's Batsheva Ballet to perform... you want to support those who trash the IDF.

After all - The Ballet's political violence led to the Rabin assassination, right?



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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Avrum Burg and A7 slam Takana

Who would have thought that Avrum Burg and Arutz Sheva would be on the same side of any issue?

Apparently, they're in agreement when it comes to TAKANA, and it's publiciation of public warnings against R' Motti Elon.

Avrum Burg writes in YNET:

My inner feeling is that Rabbi Elon is a positive man, and that whatever happened or did not happen between him and that other person, we should be listening to Elon’s explanations and in my view giving him the benefit of the doubt unless proven otherwise.

The Elon story implies that the state of Judea is not merely a vision simmering on the radical and Messianic margins of the settlers; rather, it is found at the very heart of the religious Zionist consensus and functions as a cultural and normative autonomy in every respect.

And Arutz Sheva writes:

The Takanah Forum’s abrupt announcement was greeted in the religious-Zionist public with a large measure of criticism. Charges were raised that the rabbis should have found another way to deal with the unproven suspicions against Rabbi Elon other than by “ruining his life” and “causing a desecration of G-d’s Name.” The theoretical fear that students might be harmed by him, despite the many thousands of students he counseled constructively over the years without incident and who continue to love and venerate him, was said to be outweighed by the clearly predictable negative results that in fact occurred as a result of the publication.

While Lurker may be upset that TAKANA didn't publicize their findings immediately, his criticism has nothing to do with the existance of the Forum.

My personal opinion is that TAKANA is extremely important, and I find it disturbing that Arutz Sheva is mirroring the same criticism from Avrum Burg. They seem to believe that R' Elon is the victim and not those who were really victimized.



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Cellphone Technology Breakthrough: Smeller ID

Though this sounds like a Purim joke, someone apparently invested huge amounts of money in this idea.

Globes and A7 have the stink:
Israeli computer and telecommunications giant Comverse has unveiled a multi-sensual feature for cellphones.

Presented on February 16 at 2010 Mobile World Congress, Comverse's new feature will enable callers to send smells. Comverse hopes to convince mobile operators to purchase the application, which will absorb and transmit the scent of the caller's environment or cologne to the person he or she is calling, according to Globes online business magazine. The scent may also be used as identification of the caller. [a7]

Multi-sensual communications enables the caller to add the aroma of his or her environment or a personal scent to an SMS. The recipient will be able to identify the sender by his or her scent, or perhaps realize that the sender is in a cafe.

Comverse Chief Innovation Officer Daphna Steinmetz said, "This is technology that in future will transmit molecules via the telephone. We can currently provide this as a pilot on just one Nokia handset." [globes]

Tell me, do you really want to know what the person on the other end of of your call smells like?

I'm sure this technology will get integrated quickly into SKYPE...and then its only a matter of time before this becomes a Facebook App as well - Rate your friend's smell!

Ungh.

PS: There used to be a parody called "Smell U - Smell Me" technology. I guess yesterday's parody is tomorrow's technological reality. Heh -- Lurker found it for me.


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Good deed of the day; helping out the Keystone Kops

The other night on my way home, I was driving on a major road in Israel...highway 443. I had already passed Modi'in and the Shilat junction, and was driving around 80 km/h (about 55 mph) in the right-hand lane when I noticed that at the (green lighted) intersection ahead, there seemed to be a car going slower than it should have.

I slowed down, and noticed it's lights were off. Getting closer, I veered out of the way, realizing it was so slow moving, that it was being pushed by 2 people.

Only when I passed the car did I realize it was a police car being pushed by 2 policemen.

I quickly pulled over to the side of the road at the bus stop past the intersection, put on my red Magen David Adom strobe light, put on my 4-way flashers, grabbed my MDA/United Hatzala reflective vest and ran out to help them.

"You guys are going to get yourselves killed," I yelled at them. "Its dark out, you're pushing a car with no lights on, and neither of you are wearing reflective vests. They aren't just a good idea, it's the law!" I admonished them.

Another car honked and veered around as he narrowly missed hitting them as well.

Helping them push their car to the side of the road, they sheepishly said their police car had died while driving, and since they were in a rush to get it out of the way they forgot to put on reflective vests.

"Er, do you happen to have any booster cables?" They asked...

I replied, "sure I do, but can you please put on reflective vests and a red warning triangle behind your car?"

Again, their answer blew me away, "Sorry, we don't have a red reflective warning triangle...and looking here in the trunk, we only have 1 reflective vest."

No triangle...one vest in a police car?

Now that they realized I was serious about road safety, they asked; "How are you going to turn your car around, so you can give us a boost/charge? Maybe we should put flares on the road?"

"Actually, you guys are policemen. Put on a reflective vest, and use your flashlight to slow down traffic."

Deciding not to put my faith in their safety abilities, I backup up in reverse onto the sidewalk, so that I could turn around without needing to rely on the police effectively stopping traffic.

Meanwhile, the police woman behind the wheel of the squad car kept turning the starter. "Halo!" I yelled. "Wait till I connect the cables -- you're going to flood our engine AND ruin your car's starter!"

I connected the car batteries together, and then she again started pushing the starter as hard as she could. "WAIT, WAIT! I need to start my car's engine first..."

After starting my engine, the police car's engine roared to life.

I then needed to turn my car around to continue on my way home. "

Listen, what you need to do is turn on your blue flashers, and stop traffic so I can turn around again. Let's wait till the traffic light is red, to minimize the traffic..."

"Great idea!" They replied...and they couldn't stop thanking me for bailing them out.

I only wish there was some way to have gotten a "Get out of jail free" proteczia card from them...or that they remember this incident and go easier on civilians who may need a break.




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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Death Threats Against R' Aharon Lichtenstein

Update: Entire Hebrew transcript of R' Aharon's lecture: here Having read through it, I highly suggest you take the time to read it as well (if your Hebrew is up to par). R' Aharon painfully recounts the details of this breaking story, and how we arrived at the current situation. Worth reading. --Jameel

YNET (translated from the Hebrew), rotter and ynetnews report:

In an emotional lecture to his students, often breaking into tears, R' Aharon Lichtenstein announced that he has received death threats by a student of R' Motti Elon in retaliation for his participating in the Takana forum which labeled R' Motti as a "dangerous person."

"This is the reward we received after hours of meetings with important people," he lamented. "This isn't one individual case [of abuse], I wish it were only one individual case. Sometimes, one needs to close the gemara and deal with this important issue."

In response to allegations of of the harsh treatment towards R' Motti, R' Lichtenstein said: "[R' Motti was Blackmailed?] Blackmail? What Blackmail? Who received any benefit from this [Takana report]? [It only caused us] only severe pain and suffering"

"The incidents accumulated, but the outcry isn't over that. We would not have gone with that to the media. The issue was to the point -- and people were being hurt. There were people whose families were seriously hurt. People were suffering mental anguish. The dam started to leak in terms of the confidentiality surrounding the issue -- when information started leaking to the media. There was a sword hanging over our heads, when would the news leak out."

We made the decision to publicize the events a week ago. The Takana forum warned R' Elon, and then another abuse was brought to the attention of the Takana forum, which was defined as "extremely serious."

"Everything was done with a heavy heart, believe me, I know what a blow this is to him and his family; his wife is broken and exhausted, yet we had to do it [publicize the warning"].

In related news -- the JPost covers more of this agonizing story:

Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, head of the Petah Tikva Hesder Yeshiva and a member of the rabbinical forum that works to prevent sexual harassment in the national-religious sector, said on Wednesday that Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon's actions were "far worse than sexual harassment."

Elon admitted to the acts in a meeting with Takana Forum members, Sherlo told Army Radio, adding that the rabbi's confession is documented in the forum's protocol.

Sherlo went on to stress that even if what happened between the rabbi and his students was consensual, it was wrong for Elon to exploit his "spiritual authority" for this purpose.

Since the accusations against Rabbi Elon were made public, Sherlo said, 10 other students of the rabbi had filed complaints against him to the forum.

Elon has denied all of the allegations against him and said they derived from one “seriously disturbed” student, adding that the charges constituted “a blood libel, but I am happy that the truth is beginning to emerge."

However, Takana Chairman Yehudit Shilat told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that reports claiming the allegations against Elon were solely the result of a single disgruntled student or someone with a personal vendetta against the rabbi were “absolutely false.”

Shilat, who said she hadn’t slept over the past 55 hours, would not comment on the number of complaints and the severity of them, saying the organization still needed more time to determine how many of them have any basis.

According to a statement posted on Takana’s Web site Wednesday, the group was reluctant to publicize the matter in order to “protect the complainants.”



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Was it really a Mossad hit squad?

As some British Olim from Beit Shemesh are finding themselves on Interpol watch lists for having allegedly participated in a hit squad (and reporters are camping out in front of their homes...though if they really were professional assassins, I don't think the best thing would be to hang out in front of their homes), the following was sent to me, describing the covert actions of the Mossad.

It reads like a blue and white Robert Ludlum spy novel.

Fantasy, fiction, hyperbolated or maybe understated?

Here's a sample. Read it all here. Decide for yourself.

"The plan to assassinate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had been finalised in a small conference room next to the office of Meir Dagan, who has run Mossad for the past eight years. The 10th director-general, Dagan has a reputation as a man who would not hesitate to walk into a nameless Arab alley with no more than a handgun in his pocket.

Only he knows how many times he has asked a prime minister for legal permission to kill a terrorist who could not be brought to trial in an Israeli court, along with the kidon to whom he shows the legally stamped document, the licence to kill.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's name had been on such a document, which would have been signed by Benyamin Netanyahu. That, like every aspect of a kidon operation, would be firmly denied by a government spokesman, were he to be asked. This has not stopped Dubai's police chief, Lt-General Tamin, from fulminating against the Israeli prime minister.

Two years ago this week, Dagan sent a team of kidon to Damascus to assassinate Imad Mughniyeh. His Mossad file included details of organising the kidnapping of Terry Waite and the bombing of the US Marine base near Beirut airport, killing 241 people. The United States had placed a £12.5 million bounty on his head. Dagan just wanted him dead.

Mossad psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioural scientists, psychoanalysts and profilers – collectively known as the "specialists" – were told to decide the best way to kill Mughniyeh.

They concluded that he would be among the guests of honour at the Iranian Cultural Centre celebrations in 2008 for the celebration of the Khomeini Revolution. The team rigged a car-bomb in the headrest of the Mitsubishi Pajero they discovered Mughniyeh had rented, to be detonated by a mobile phone. As Mughniyeh arrived outside the Culture Centre at precisely 7pm on February 12, the blast blew his head off.

At Mughniyeh's funeral in Beirut, his mother, Um-Imad, sat among a sea of black chadors, a sombre old woman, who wailed that her son had planned to visit her on the day after he died. She cried out she had no photograph to remember him by. Two days later she received a packet. Inside was his photograph.

It had been posted in Haifa
."

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On the Third Time, I Scream.

The title of this post doesn't really make that much sense, does it?

Well, there's an Israeli Urban legend going around that tries to explain the popular Hebrew expression, פעם שלישית, גלידה -- "Third Time [I see you, you owe me an] Ice Cream".

What this means is that if you see the same person twice in a day (someone you usually don't see), then you throw this expression at them, that the next the 2 of you meet, the "ice cream is on them."

Curiously, on my way to work the other day, one of my trempistim (hitchhikers) informed me that the origin of this odd expression is based on an English expression, "First time I say, Second time I yell, On the Third Time I Scream." (get it? I scream...ice cream...)

That was way too odd -- since I've never heard that expression in English. The closest I ever heard wasת "Third time's a charm" -- yet my hitchhiker is convinced this is fact. Checking my newly purchased Hebrew slang dictionary at home, it provided the exact same reason. Yet I'm convinced it's an urban legend, because the only place on the entire internet that I've seen this phrase in English -- is on Hebrew websites that advocate this etymology.

Our Hebrew Language Detective Blogger friend, "Balashon" is equally perplexed as to the origin of the expression.

Regardless, you too can now use the expression proudly...and I wish you luck in extorting ice-cream out of your friends.

hat-tip: The Shabster

Inspiration: The "Our Shiputzim" blog which also discusses Israeli slang (examples here, here, here, etc...) -- though less academically than Balashon. Both are mandatory reading!


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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nothing changes

by Lurker

If Motti Elon's claims are to be believed, then they directly imply the following:
  1. The members of the Takana committee that has been handling his case -- which include such diverse and distinguished individuals as R. Yaakov Ariel, R. Aharon Lichtenstein, R. Avi Gisser, Rabbanit Yehudit Shilat, R. Elyakim Levanon, R. Yuval Cherlow, and Prof. Yedidya Stern -- are all involved in a giant malicious conspiracy to "blackmail" Elon (his words).

  2. Because of nothing more than a lone, unsubstantiated allegation from one single "seriously disturbed" individual, Elon agreed to resign as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel, abandon all rabbinic duties, withdraw from public life, move out of Jerusalem, and go went into self-imposed "exile" in a yishuv up north.
Both of these propositions are stupendously preposterous beyond belief. Only a very naive fool could possibly take either one seriously.

The great irony here is that while Elon would have us believe that the members of Takana are engaged in a giant conspiracy to destroy him, the truth seems to be the exact opposite: The members of Takana engaged in a giant conspiracy to protect him. Rather than go public with the information they had four years ago, Takana foolishly opted to keep the truth a secret, so as not to air the dati leumi community's dirty laundry in public. To that end, they made a "deal" with Elon, in which they promised to keep things under wraps, in exchange for Elon moving to some outlying yishuv, and promising to "be good" from now on. In making this reprehensible "deal", Takana became guilty of criminal negligence. Why are Elon's new victims up north less worthy of protection than the ones in the Jerusalem area?! Because they are less likely to be heard or noticed? Why were they willing to take the risk of assuming that Elon -- whom they already recognized as a repeat sex offender and a liar -- would keep his word, instead of continuing to abuse people? In the privacy of the outlying yishuv that Elon fled to, far away from from the intense spotlight of Takana in the center of the country, it was certainly much easier for Elon to continue his predatory behavior. And now we know that he did exactly that.

By engaging in this sort of "not in my backyard" cover-up, the members of Takana showed that they have learned nothing whatsoever from the many similar cases of rabbinic sexual abuse that have preceeded this one. Habitual sexual predators always repeat their pathological behavior. The people who bear the brunt of the responsibility for Elon's victims over the last four years are the committee members themselves.

Not at all surprsingly, other victims are now starting to come out with their stories:

New harassment claims against Rabbi Elon

As someone who closely followed the Baruch Lanner scandal for two decades, I find this entire scandal nauseatingly familiar:
  • The shameful cover-up to protect the sexual predator and the community.

  • The inevitable recidivism of the predator.

  • The publicization of the facts only after the cancer has metasasized into something too outrageous to ignore.

  • The victims who finally find the courage to speak up only after (and because) the scandal has become public knowledge.

  • The cruel demonization of the predator's hapless victims.

  • The crowds of blind groupies living in group denial, ready to defend the predator regardless of the facts or the cost for future victims.
It's the same story every single time -- Lanner, Kolko, Weinberg, Gafni, et al. -- and now Elon.

The members of Takana thought that if they tried to handle the problem "quietly", then it would just "go away". This, in spite of the fact that this irresponsible approach has never worked, and has proven itself a tragic failure repeatedly. The end is always the same. The Takana members bear no less guilt than Elon himself.

It's like reliving the same awful horror movie over and over again.


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Don't these people look like Facebook friends?

Facebook friends? Or an alleged Mossad hit squad that took out Senior Hamas Terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel in the Gulf emirate last month?

The guy at the bottom left looks like MK Uri Orbach, and the second row guy in the middle could be Tipex singer Kobi Oz (or CK from Jewlicious?).

That woman is familiar too. "
Gail Folliard" from Ireland?

YNET reports:
A man in Israel with the same name as an alleged member of a hit squad that assassinated a top Hamas militant in Dubai said on Tuesday he was "angry, upset and scared" over what he called a misidentification.
Meanwhile Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said three alleged Irish citizens that Dubai authorities claim helped with the assassination do not exist.
Dubai police listed "Melvyn Adam Mildiner", a British national, as one of 11 Europeans suspected of killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel in the Gulf emirate last month.
Speaking in British-accented English, Melvyn Adam Mildiner, resident of a town near Jerusalem, told Reuters he had nothing to do with the assassination and had never been to Dubai.
"I woke up this morning to a world of fun," he said in a sarcastic tone, after Israeli newspapers splashed names and photos of the suspects distributed by Dubai.
"I am obviously angry, upset and scared - any number of things. And I'm looking into what I can do to try to sort things out and clear my name," he said in a telephone interview.
"I don't know how this happened or who chose my name or why, but hopefully we'll find out soon."
A photo of "Melvyn Adam Mildiner" released by police in Dubai did not match a picture of the Israel-based Mildiner on his Twitter social networking page, though it had some similar features.
"It's not me. Which is one silver lining on this entire story because at least I can point to it and say, 'Look, that's not me. It's not the picture that I have in my passport, and it's not the picture that I have on my face that I walk around with every day', Mildiner said.
"I have my passport. It is in my house, along with the passports of everybody else in my family, and there's no Dubai stamps in it because I've never been to Dubai," he said.
Acknowledging that his name was uncommon, Mildiner said: "There's probably not many of us."
Meanwhile Ireland announced that the trio of alleged Irish passport-holders identified Monday in Dubai as Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron do not appear in Ireland's records of legitimate passport-holders.
"We are unable to identify any of those three individuals as being genuine Irish citizens. Ireland has issued no passports in those names," the department said in a statement to The Associated Press.
The government says the Irish passport numbers publicized by Dubai authorities also are counterfeits, because they have the wrong number of digits and contain no letters.


See the whole squad in action here:



Whoever they are...kudos on a successful take down of a Hamas terrorist.

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Allegations rock Religious National / Modern Orthodox

What is the difference between the "Chareidi" (Ultra-Orthodox) world and the "Dati" (Religious nationalist and/or Modern Orthodox and/or centrist religious) world?

Strangely, due to this blog, many people have been approaching me lately and discussing it; very passionately.

One said; The Chareidi world has "Kavod HaTorah" (respect for the Torah). No self respecting Chariedi would ever write on a blog post or Chareidi newspaper, an article questioning the Torah leaders of the generation, such as R' Elyashiv. Despite mass non-adherence to some of the halachik rulings of these leaders, such as having internet at home, using a Shabbat elevator, "Chareidim" would never openly criticize them, as you do on your blog... (he was referring to my comments on R' Aviner and Srugim).

Of course, this applies to criticizing their own leaders; there are currently dozens of inter-sect fights going on within the Chareidi world; from Ger to Chabad to Satmar to Shas. If human leaders are above reproach due to "Kavod HaTorah" then I guess I'm not Chareidi.

The reason I bring this background item up, is that yesterday at 8 PM, Israel's Channel 2 TV news dropped a bombshell on the religious community in Israel. One of the religious nationalist leaders, R' Mordechai "Motti" Elon was accused of "implicit sexual misconduct" by an organization called "Takana."

I was driving home when I heard the news via a simultaneous TV broadcast, on IDF radio and many questions came to mind.

Who is the Takana organization? Was this a smear campaign? Is there any truth to this? Overall, the news was very depressing.

The story evolved as follows (its reported the same way on all the news sites...here's the JPost's rendition:
A rabbinical forum dedicated to preventing sexual harassment within the national-religious sector issued an announcement Monday warning the public of prominent national-religious Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon, who allegedly committed “acts in contradiction to the values of sanctity and morals.”

According to Takana, after receiving complaints about Elon’s implicit sexual misconduct, the forum demanded of Elon to end all public activity, step down from any educational and managerial positions and cease conducting one-on-one counseling. The forum, composed of prominent national-religious rabbis and legal experts, refrained from making the affair pubic till this point in time in order to preserve the dignity of the complainants and the alleged perpetrator, the announcement said.

The rabbi had relocated from Jerusalem to the northern Moshava Migdal some four years ago, citing health reasons as the reason for the unexpected move.

However, the forum recently learned that Elon didn’t uphold all of the terms he committed to, the announcement said, and therefore was forced to air the story in order to “safeguard the public and prevent transgression.”
The public statement from Takana is here, on their website. Within an hour, R' Motti Elon issued a statement that this was a case of "extortion"...and a press conference would be forthcoming. On the radio this morning, R' Motti's sister in law, Emuna Elon defended him on the radio:

"Since when does someone go to this forum, whoever they are. Who appointed them, and made them judges over the public? This is a modern country -- and we have respectable police and courts to handle allegations"

I'm sorry, but I find this statement rather cynical and populistic for many reasons.

I looked at the "Takana" organization -- it is perhaps one of the most wide reaching groups that span the spectrum of the religious-nationalist/modern orthodox community in Israel. Its forum is comprised of the following:

R' Yaakov Ariel, R' Aharon Lichtenstein, R' Eitzan Eisman, R' Shlomo ben Eliyahu, R' Baruch Gigi, R' Avi Gisser, R' Tzefanya Drori, Dr. Aviad Cohen, Dr. Yaakov Chaba, R' Elyakim Livanon, R' Benny Lehman, R' David Stav, R' Gabi Kadosh, R' Elyashiv Knohal, R' Zev Karov, R' Shlomo Riskin, Professor Yedidya Stern, R' Yuval Sherlo, R' Yehoshua Shapira.

Mrs. Efrat Brom, Rabbanit Yaffa Gisser, Mrs. Debby Gross, Rabbanit Chana Henkin, Eilat Weider Cohen,Dr. Shulamit Lehman, Mrs. Tami Samet, Rabbanit Malka Petrokovsky, Rabbanit Gila Rosen, Attorney Dorit Rosenfeld, Rabbanit Yehudit Shilat, Attorney Riki Shapira.

This forum is far from being monolithic in outlook and hashkafa; they are so varied that to get them all to agree on a single issue would imply lack of a personal or political vendetta against anyone.

Does Emuna Elon really think that her brother in law would be best served by the accusers going straight to the police (and the media)? This forum seems to have tried to settle the matter as quietly as possible, yet when the agreement was not upheld, the Takana forum issued their statement.

Do Benny and Emuna Elon really have full faith in Israel's legal system? Their niece, Margalit Har-Shefi was tormented by Israel's legal system, charged with failure to report the intentions of Yigal Amir's plot to kill PM Yitzchak Rabin. She was tried, found guilty, served 6 months of jail time, is not allowed to practice law due to the crime she was accused of, and she has been maligned and outcast by Israel's society. All of this, despite the head of the Shin Bet admitting years later, "Har-Shefi did not know that Yigal Amir wanted to murder the Prime Minister," MK Ayalon said. "I know this from intelligence and was head of the intelligence agency." I don't think that Emuna and Benny honestly put their full faith in the system.

So what's the bottom line?

I don't put my trust in the police, or Israel's judiciary. I don't put my trust is a Bet Din either.

Maybe the best we can hope for is a large pluralistic group of respected rabbanim, lawyers, professional and Jewish leaders.

There are no guarantees, but everything else has failed so far. Maybe this Takana organization is a good first step...and as they indicated, they went public when there was no alternative.

This is far better than the Chareidi world which hushes things up, or the Lanner bet-din which also refused to act.

In both of these cases, only going to the police helped. I wonder if the same should have been the case here.

Updates as this story unfolds...


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Monday, February 15, 2010

Daring to Criticize

This pathetic "story" broke last Friday, but its amazing what repercussions have followed.

Deputy Jerusalem District Prosecutor Uri Corb teaches in the "Sha'arei Mishpat" law school in Israel. Last semester he taught a course on Israel's legal system and the judiciary.

The big "story" is that close to 3 months ago, in one of his lectures, he said that, "Some of the Judges [in Israel] are donkeys".

Then, this past Friday, close to 3 months since Corb made the "damning" statement, the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published transcripts of the statements, as headline news.

Question One: Why was this "sensationalist" story "sat on" for close to 3 months before it was publicized?

Question Two: Who stood to gain from this story being published in the first place?

Let's dig a bit deeper. Who was Corb prosecuting?

Haaretz adds some detail:
The hearing of testimonies in [ex-prime minister and on trial for major corruption and fraud] Ehud Olmert's trial on the Talansky, Rishon Tours and the Investment Center affairs, are scheduled to begin next Monday. Corb had been assigned to conduct the trial in court, and is the one who knows the prosecution's case best.
Knowing full well how Israel completely and utterly prostates itself before the Judiciary, this was bound the generate the usual "don't you dare criticize Israel's judiciary" (with Nahum Barnea even comparing Corb's statement, to that of someone who threw their shoe at Chief Israeli Justice, Dorit Beinish.)

Yet the results have been far more sinister.

1. Corb has been forced to "take a leave of absence" for daring to criticize Israel's judiciary.
In a statement issued by the ministry, Corb said that "following the many reports in recent days, including many distortions targeting me, I am asking at this stage to take a short leave. I have already expressed to you [referring to Jerusalem Chief District Attorney Moshe Lador] and the media great sorrow at the damage I have caused by making use of a style that was out of place. I intend to find a way to clarify things in the coming days, and will do my best to correct the bad impression." (Haaretz)
2. There are calls for Corb to be fired.
While on leave, Corb's case will be examined by the disciplinary department at the Civil Service Commission. If he is found to have committed serious violations, a complaint will be filed against him at the commission's disciplinary court. At the end of such a process, the court may opt to sanction Corb - which could range anywhere from a reprimand to dismissal. (Haaretz)
3. And for the kicker...Olmert who has been desperately trying to get a delay for his trial, and his defense counsel's previous requests were already rejected by the court...has "magically" managed to get the State Prosecutor to request a 3 month delay for Olmert's trial!
The State Prosecutor's Office has requested a three-month delay in hearing evidence in the corruption trial of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday, following Sunday's meeting between State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and Deputy Jerusalem District Prosecutor Uri Corb. (Haaretz)
Olmert's legal team are probably slapping themselves on the back over this perfectly executed "leak"...

Here's another example of preventing someone from expressing his views, by screaming and interrupting over and over again.




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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Na'alin Palestinians Celebrate Adar!

Commemorating the festivity of the Jewish holiday of Purim and the merry month of Adar when the wicked Haman conspired to kill all the Jews thousands of years ago, the Palestinians of Na'alin decided to dress up in Avatar blue Nav'i costumes in solidarity with the Jewish people.


The Palestinians were slightly out of character, as the Nav'i are portrayed in the Avatar film as a peaceful people, at harmony with nature...as opposed to this costumed joker.

(source, AP)

Wishing all those blue creatures in Na'alin a very Happy Adar!



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Only in Israel, Rosh Chodesh Adar edition

Only in Israel, Rosh Chodesh Adar edition

3 very cool stories from Israel that transpired over the past week...

1. Friends of our in Maaleh Adumim were supposed to host 2 yeshiva guys for Shabbat lunch in the framework of a "shabbaton" a local yeshiva was hosting. Lunchtime arrived and the guests didn't show up...

Apparently, the guests used a different entrance to the apartment building and found a family with the same family name...and assumed THEY were their hosts for Shabbat lunch.

The other family happily invited them in, not even realizing that the 2 guys were supposed to eat at the other family!

No one even felt out of place...

hat-tip: Devra

2. Called in for a meeting at Israel mas-hachnasa (IRS), this person was rather apprehensive, and had his own prejudices about what to expect. After getting the run-around from clerk to clerk, he found an available desk:

When I noticed an opening at a table I lunged ahead and gave my best Israeli greeting to catch the attention of the seated clerk.

No answer.

I 'ahem'ed and said hello. Silence. I used the opportunity to look around his office to hopefully find something that would be an icebreaker for our conversation. What would I have in common with this middle-aged, secular Israeli from a Kibbutz in the south who had a sign of his membership to the Israeli Art and Theater Association?

I gave up and cleared my throat again hoping to get his attention once more.

He looked up and said, "one moment more, I am just finishing up with something." I noticed he was binding some papers together and was very involved in this process. "I am just finishing binding my book", he stated.

His book? What would a clerk in the tax department write a book about? Tax law? How to penalize evaders of tax? Or perhaps a script in some drama he was writing in his spare time.
"What's your book about?", I ask.

"It is a commentary on Torah. I just finished the book of Bereishit (Genesis) and have begun Shemot. I bind it together and present it in my Torah discussion group on my kibbutz."

!!!

...

I collect myself and say to this man that I too am writing a book on Tanach.

"Really", his eyes light up. "What about?"

Tehillim, I respond. And then he proceeds to do something which amazed me until this very day. He pulls his hand back on the table and reaches for his trusty Tanach and says to me the following: "Funny you should say Tehillim, I was having difficulty with today's Mizmor, perhaps you could explain it to me?"

Read it all here
hat-tip: CG

3. Avital Revital (yes, that is her real name) is a teacher at the "Re'ali" school in Hafia, where she has been teaching for years. Unfortunately, Avital was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening kidney ailment for which there is no treatment in Israel. The only treatment available is outside of Israel, and costs NIS 550,000 ($147,000).

Her students decided to take the matter into their own hands, and orchestrated a fund-raising evening last week, including top Israeli performers such as Rami Kleinstein and Pablo Rosenberg. Kleinstein performed for free, as her girlfriend was a former student of Avital. Rosenberg also performed for free, as his wife is also an alumnae of the Re'ali school.

The students have raised 350,000 NIS so far, and are confident they will raise the other NIS 200,000 to pay for their teacher's operation. (source, mynet in Hebrew)

Happy Adar People!

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Zevulun Orlev: Fighting for us where it counts

by Lurker

MK Zevulun Orlev is a senior member of HaBayit HaYehudi, which is the latest incarnation of the party once known as Mizrahi, and later Mafdal (National Religious Party). The party is currently a partner in PM Netanyahu's government coalition.

For months now, close to nothing has been heard from Orlev or his party regarding controversial government policies like the building freeze, or the removal of roadblocks that help protect Jewish drivers from terrorists. Because of this silence, there have been some who have questioned Orlev's commitment to the interests of a major part of his own constituency.

I am posting this today to prove those people wrong: I am very heartened to see that MK Zevulun Orlev is in fact valiantly struggling to protect the vital interests of the dati leumi public:
Orlev: Religious public shouldn't pay for 'Eretz Nehederet'

Education committee chairman outraged about fee for watching popular comedy show after Shabbat.

Knesset Education and Culture Committee chairman Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) intends to send a letter to the Second Television Authority on Sunday protesting Keshet's decision to charge for watching the popular show Eretz Nehederet on Saturday nights.
...
Sabbath-observant viewers, who do not watch television on Friday nights, were able to watch the show online for free on Saturday nights after Shabbat ended. But religious viewers who went to Channel 2's site to watch the show this Saturday night found a disclaimer informing them that there was a charge to watch the show until Monday.

"I was very surprised by this improper decision," Orlev said.

"There is no reason why the religious public that doesn’t watch TV on Shabbat should have to pay a fine for their observance. I will work to get this scandalous decision canceled."
Kudos to MK Orlev for expressing his outrage over the kind of scandalous injustice that truly matters.

This ought to finally silence Orlev's critics, who for some reason like to claim that his priorities are skewed.

(For a very good illustration of the critical value underlying this cultural mainstay that prompted Orlev to champion the rights of religious people to watch it, see this recent news item.)


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