Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Al-Aqsa Goes 360 Degrees

Did you know that

A Palestinian telecommunications company on Tuesday launched a video application of 360 degrees that allows the viewer to choose the angle at which he wants to be seen from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Telecommunications Company said in a statement that the video "enables the viewer to move inside the Al-Aqsa mosque and its courtyard 360 degrees by moving his smartphone in any direction to live the experience of movement inside this place and interact with him...

The company explained that this video as a contribution to "the definition of religious places and some neighborhoods in the city of Jerusalem."

Well, now you do know.

But why could I not find this at Reuters English when I found it at Reuters Arabic?

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Jordan: 'Hands Off the Wall Area'

As I foresaw, and which has happened previously:

The Minister of State for Media Affairs, Government Spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Momani, denounced Israel's persistent aggressions against the Umayyad palaces area located to the south and southwest of Al Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount and adjacent to the walls.

The occupation authorities have recently embarked on the settlement of internal disputes among the different Jewish sects at the expense of the Umayyad palaces owned by Islamic Waqf and so decided to expand the platform dedicated to the prayers of emancipated [Reform] Jews in that area.

...Jordanian government is demanding that Israel palm of her hand from the Umayyad palaces area and return it to the original owner, which the Islamic Waqf to manage and maintain them properly.

Can't wait for the response of the WOWers. 

And that of Prime Minister Netanyahu.



JTA report.

And a 1928 report (second item) of Arab leaders telling Jews they have no say at what goes on at the Kotel after complaints the Waqf was adding rows on top of the Kotel:


Shiloh Will Be in the Super Bowl

Shiloh Keo, that is.

In the regular season's final game on January 3 against the San Diego Chargers, Keo intercepted a tipped ball off Phillip Rivers which ultimately led to the game-winning touchdown drive.  During the AFC Championship game on January 24, 2016, between the Broncos and the New England Patriots, Keo recovered the Patriots' onside kick attempt with 12 seconds left in the 4th quarter, preserving a 20-18 win and sending the Broncos to Super Bowl 50.


Broncos’ Shiloh Keo could be an unlikely Super Bowl hero

I hope he doesn't get boycotted.



Three players from Idaho colleges saw action in Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers on Sunday night in Santa Clara, Calif. [including] Denver safety Shiloh Keo (No. 33, Idaho, Eagle resident) [who] saw action as a substitute

Read more here:


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Sarcasm as The Anti-Zionist's Weapon

Those who, on occasion, scan various comments' sections of sites where anti-Zionism is the rule, will smile at reading this, from 1920-:

PALESTINE (RESTORATION TO JEWS).HC Deb 27 April 1920 vol 128 cc1026-7 1026

§48. Mr. C. EDWARDS asked the Prime Minister whether the pledge given to the Jewish people by Great Britain, France, Italy, America, and the other Allied Powers to restore Palestine to the Jewish nation has been agreed upon by the Supreme Council; and whether Great Britain is to become the mandatory power under the League of Nations?

§Mr. BONAR LAW The pledges made by the Powers referred to have been adopted by the Supreme Council. The answer to the last part of the question is in the affirmative

§Colonel WEDGWOOD Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this decision will involve a change in the military governorship of Palestine, and when it is likely that civil administration will be instituted?

§Mr. BONAR LAW That does not arise out of the question.

§Mr. JAMESON In view of the fact that in much more recent times the national home of the Anglo-Saxon was Schleswig-Holstein, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the necessity of clearing the English out of England?

§Mr. SPEAKER The House has not sufficient time to make a historical research of that kind.

By the way, two days later, Loyd-George, the Prime Minister said this and little did he know:

I am exceedingly glad that it is now definitely and finally settled that the mandate of Palestine is to be given to this country. I say that not with any megalomania and not from any belief that it is going to be of great or any advantage, direct advantage, to this country. I believe it will be a burden and responsibility of a very serious kind. I believe that the mandatory of Palestine will have one of the most difficult tasks that could possibly be allotted to a nation. The mandatory will have exceedingly complex racial questions to settle and will have to deal with them with great tact and judgment, and in all probability without receiving any return for such exertion, except what he may hope for in the gratitude of those races who will benefit by those exertions.

And this was said by Edward Turnour, Earl Winterton

There is only one other point that I will put to the Prime Minister, and that relates to the boundary between Palestine and Arabia. So long ago as 1918 there was a conference as to boundaries between the Emir Feisul and a representative of the Zionists. I am talking of the boundaries on the South. It is of the utmost importance, if the Zionists are to enjoy a peaceful life in Palestine, that the River Jordan should be the boundary between them and the Arabs. I understand that it is not agreed that the River Jordan should be the boundary, but it is desired that the land on the other side of Jordan should be adopted as the boundary. In my opinion that country could never be occupied by the present cultivators, who form the great bulk of those who get their living on the land in that district. It will be impossible for us to protect any Zionist colony there without a large force of cavalry and aeroplanes. For these reasons I hope that the River Jordan will be made the boundary between the Zionists and the Arabs.


Friday, February 05, 2016

Egalitarian Jews and Islamist Fanaticsm

The Director of the WAQF endowments board at Al-Aqsa  Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib 

sent a letter of protest to Jerusalem's Police chief (which in and of itself is good as he recognizes their jurisdiction, something one cannot take for granted in this matter as he is an "occupier").

It was a 'denouncement' letter.

He wanted a cessation of archaelogicial work (that doesn't take place) and the "removal of the Arab and Islamic heritage and its transfer from the site.  He demanded the removal of "the metal and wooden platforms which facilitated video recording" as well as the removal constructions that had been introduced on the site.

Continuing, he sought to stop the prayers and parties (?) that religious Jews introduced recently at the site (that do not exist).

Most importantly, 

"the abolition of the implementation of the decision of the government of Israel last week to extend the platforms of Jewish prayer for liberal Jews that takes up space at the expense of the heritage of the Arab and Islamic wall of the mosque..."

So, egalitarian Jews are now pitted against Islamist Temple Mount fanaticism.

Closest they egalitarians get to Jewish Orthodoxy.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

What Obama Wasn't Familiar With

In his speech at the Maryland mosque, President Obama uttered these words:

And like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.  Whoever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad taught, “let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.” (Applause.)  For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar. (Laughter.)

Well, those words sound quite familiar to Jews, too.

Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."  - Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Too bad the original source was not familiar to the President.



Obama said: “The Qur’an says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.”
This is what the Qur’an really says:
Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption in the land — it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one — it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, after that, throughout the land, were transgressors. (5:32)
First, note that this is not a general moral principle applying to everyone, as Obama implied, but one only for the Children of Israel. Nor is it is not a general prohibition of killing: there are big exceptions for those who kill “for a soul or for corruption in the land.” And it concludes that even after this command was given, “many of them, after that … were transgressors” — so all it is really saying is that Allah gave a command to the Children of Israel and they transgressed against it. It isn’t anything more than yet another Qur’anic castigation of the Jews.
Also, it is followed in the Qur’an by 5:33, which specifies the punishment for the corruption and transgressions of the Children of Israel: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.”
Thus this passage is explaining what must be done with Jews who reject Muhammad, not dictating lofty moral principles. 


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Poll Data

Some recent poll data from the Peace Index:

Has the time come to annex?:
...We asked: “Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. Some claim that the time has come for Israel to formally annex all the territories conquered in the war that it still holds. Do you support or oppose this?” In the Jewish public we found 45% favoring annexation and exactly the same rate opposing it.

Continuing the occupation:
A considerable majority of the Jewish public (61%) opposes the view that: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is perhaps not ideal but can continue for many more years without posing a threat to Israel’s security and existence.”

Occupation and democracy:
A clear majority of the Jews (66%) disagree with the claim that the ongoing control of the territories prevents Israel from being a real democracy. 


Southern Western Wall Separation Oddity

Besides the opposition of archaelogists and the Muslim Waqf, the setting aside of the southern section of the Western Wall perplexes me as per point 2 of the agreement:

In the southern section, prayers will be conducted in accordance with the pluralistic and egalitarian custom in a manner that will provide a satisfactory solution for worshippers from the various non-Orthodox denominations, first and foremost the Reform and Conservative movements. In general, it is in this plaza that men and women will pray without separation. At the same time, and taking into account the pluralistic character of this section, Women of the Wall, whose unwavering struggle to pray in accordance with their beliefs in the Western Wall Plaza has lasted more than 25 years*, will have the option to hold separate prayers for women in the section every Rosh Hodesh and on Ta'anit Esther, and at other times for which the supervisor of the southern section will provide specific permission, in accordance with the opinion of the Southern Section Council. 

So, if I understand this correctly, not only have the WOWers beaten the Chief Rabbinate Orthodoxy but they get another advantage in that they can also tell off the supervisory Council of the Southern Section and conduct prayers however they like - specifically what they consider "Orthodox" -  even if different than those regularly conducted there.

Now, you might say that those of the original WOW group, who were Orthodox, who had their struggle 'stolen' from them by Anat Hoffman and cohorts, still have a claim to be able to conduct an Orthodox service in the Northen Section women's area.  That may well be. 

But the compromise reached leaves the Chief Rabbinate in charge of the Northern Section, on the one hand, and leaves WOW in charge of a certain form of a women's service in the Southern Section even if, theoretically, the Council of the Southern Section would oppose it, like, immodest dress (not that I could see that happening) or very loud singing and dervish-like dancing (which I could see).

Is the the egalitarian way?




Twenty-five years versus five centuries of custom:

While the Wailing Wall today is universally acclaimed as Judaism’s most sacredmonument, its centrality to the religion is not as ancient as is commonly thought.We know from pilgrims and travellers in the fifteenth century that it was not theWailing Wall, but the Mount of Olives outside the Old City that was dedicated oncea year to the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple.3

The Wailing Wall area - a narrow courtyard (120 square meters) in front of the Wall enclaved within the fourteenth century Muslim Moroccan Quarter - was defined and set apart only during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the sixteenth century.

F.E. Peters, in his comprehensive collection of travellers’ and pilgrims’ documentsconcerning Jerusalem, observes that only from the early years of that century didJewish visitors describe the Wailing Wall and connect it with the earlier tradition ofthe ‘Presence of God.’4

Even the ‘official’ history of the Wall published by the Israeli defence ministry in the early 1980s, while noting that “literary reports of travellers and pilgrims, particularly in the last centuries, are full of descriptions of the Western Wall,” added that “it should, however, be pointed out that for hundreds of years, during nearly the whole of the Middle Ages, there is hardly any reference to the Wall.”5
Cf. Rabbi Meshulam Da Volterra, 1481, letter of the Italian Jewish pilgrim, in J. Nom de Deu, Relatos de Viajes y Epistolas de Peregrinos Judíos a Jerusalén (USA, Madrid, 1987), 82: 
“And all the community of Jews, every year, goes up to Mount Zion on the day of Tisha Be-’Av to fast and mourn, and from there they move down along Yoshafat Valley and up to Mount of Olives. From there they see the whole Temple (the Temple Mount) and there they weep and lament the destruction of this house.” (My translation - emphasis added).
 F. E. Peters, Jerusalem (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1985), 528.
 M. Ben Dov and Z. Aner, The Western Wall (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defence Publishing House, 1983), 65

and this from "When Did Jews Begin to Pray at the Western Wall?" Dan Bahat, Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies /ארץ-ישראל: מחקרים בידיעת הארץ ועתיקותיה

AbstractThe study of new documents from the Cairo Geniza, the exposure of the entire length of the Western Wall by tunneling, and the study of the prayer section of the Wall, provides us with information for the study of Jewish prayer rituals at the walls of the Temple Mount. Until the Crusader period, we know that Jews prayed around the four walls of the Temple Mount. After the recovery of the Jewish community in Jerusalem following Crusader rule over the city, the Western Wall was covered by Muslim buildings, and most of it remains so to this day. Prayer was therefore not possible there until 1546, when the buildings covering the section known today as the Western Wall Prayer Plaza were destroyed by an earthquake. Thus, only in the sixteenth century did people begin to arrive at the area of the present-day Western Wall Prayer Plaza for individual prayer. There is, however, no evidence for communal prayer becoming common there until the beginning of the seventeenth century, at the earliest.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Circumcision As A Reading of the 'Pound of Flesh'

Howard Jacobson has published a new novel, Shylock is My Name, Hogarth Shakespeare £16.99

From a review:

...Simon Strulovitch [Srul is diminutive for Yisroel, as I know well], a Jewish self-made millionaire art collector, visits a cemetery where he meets Shylock, the villain or victim, depending on how you look at it...Jacobson’s description of Shylock’s eyes – “deep ponds of pitted umber” – evokes Shylock’s famous speech (“Hath not a Jew eyes?”) and Strulovitch feels an affinity with him because both men have lost their wives and both have torrid relationships with their daughters. So, Strulovitch invites Shylock back to his and Shylock stays for the rest of the novel.

Jacobson satirises 21st-century Britain’s shallowness via the chat-show host Plurry and her clique, which includes D’Anton, Strulovitch’s anti-Semitic art dealer nemesis. Via a series of connections and coincidences, it’s D’Anton who introduces Strulovitch’s teenaged daughter, Beatrice, to Gratan Howsome, a footballer who’s notorious for his Nazi salute goal celebration and penchant for Jewish women.

Meanwhile, Strulovitch and Shylock argue about fatherhood, loss and Jewishness in the kind of thought-provoking, irreverent exchanges at which Jacobson excels. One minute they’re discussing “how vilification works”, the next Shylock is admitting to being a George Formby fan.

Strulovitch says his wife, whose terminal illness is one of the novel’s missteps, accused him of “Judaeolunacy” for keeping Beatrice away from gentile boys at the same time as he slams fellow Jews for observing religious rituals. Shylock, who’s accustomed to more overt religious conflict, observes: “The times have grown nice.” Strulovitch replies: “Appearances can be deceptive.”

Strulovitch is furious about Beatrice’s involvement with Howsome and says he’ll grant them his blessing only if Howsome converts to Judaism and undergoes circumcision. Horrified, the couple flee to Venice while Strulovitch threatens to report D’Anton to the police for procurement. D’Anton makes Strulovitch an offer: if he can’t persuade the couple to return, he’s prepared to be circumcised in Howsome’s place. Strulovitch and Shylock discuss circumcision, but ultimately Strulovitch must decide whether to take D’Anton’s “pound of flesh” or show mercy.

After the novel’s denouement, which leaves Strulovitch looking defeated, Jacobson describes “the greatest illusion of all – that time would labour and bring forth beneficent change”. This encapsulates Jacobson’s warning that anti-Semitism lurks beneath the surface of every society.

Sometimes, Strulovitch simply sounds like Jacobson in his columns for The Independent. For example, Strulovitch’s caricature of a nightmare boyfriend for Beatrice (“over-principled, money-hating, Isis-backing Judaeophobe with an MA in fine art”) might have hit home in a few hundred words of erudite Corbynista-baiting but, in an ethically complex novel, its silliness is beneath Jacobson...

From another:

The winner of the Man Booker prize for The Finkler Question pulls off a neat trick in this almost perversely serious comic novel, creating a parallel world to Shakespeare’s Venice in the wealthy, cultured Golden Triangle of Cheshire, and peopling it with parallel-ish characters. He matches the bereaved Shylock with the second-generation wealthy philanthropist Simon Strulovitch, the daughter Jessica with ‘Strulo’s’ wannabe performance artist child, Beatrice. He pairs Portia with ‘Plury’ — in full, Anna Livia Plurabelle Cleopatra A Thing of Beauty Is A Joy Forever Christine — and Belmont with her Old Belfry...

...The subject of circumcision seems to allow Jacobson to answer the question of what binds Strulovitch and other godless Jews (the vast majority of us Jew-ish today): the Covenant somehow continues, though there is no divine party to it. Is this cheating? Probably. As is giving Portia’s speech to Shylock, because Jews formed the concepts of mercy and compassion millennia before Christianity appeared...imon Strulovitch, stalking his underage daughter, drags her away from a raucous party in Moss Side, where she’s been snogging a boy. He demands of his beautiful child, encouraged to listen to Mozart and Schubert: ‘Have I brought you up to value noise as an entity — just noise for the sake of it, Beatrice —while some chthonic arsehole fondles your breasts?’ Having made the reader either reach for the dictionary or stop and think, there’s a whole disquisition, with Beatrice saying she’s proud to have a father who can turn a phrase like that, but nailing his true import: ‘What you really mean is a goy boy.’

One more:

As Strulovitch admits to himself, he needs his new, “black-hearted friend”: “Jews had grown so careful now. If you wrong us, shall we not revenge? No, we shall not. We shall take it on the chin and be grateful.”

...The plot is, frankly, ludicrous, and creaks and groans for a good deal of the book. The tone, too, slides queasily between moral seriousness and farce. Whereas the jarring elements in the play discomfit the audience, here the discordance serves little purpose. Plurabelle is an anaemic reincarnation of the spirited Portia. The relentlessly inquisitorial Shylock is a bit of a bore, obsessively probing the polarities of “us” and “them”, Jews and Gentiles...

...Jacobson, with glorious chutzpah, gives Shylock his Act V, and the end when it comes is extremely satisfying. In translating The Merchant of Venice from stage to page, Jacobson’s gift for anatomising self-doubt has found its true north. Provocative, caustic and bold, his version won’t please everyone, but it will certainly make them think.


BPO asked me "but where is your critique?" and since I have not yet read it (anyone coming back from the UK?), all I can write now, after reading "The Finkler Question" in connection with the above is that

Jacobson is a mohel but with words as an instrument