Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Neighborhood Bully

In times like these, I enjoy listening to this song by Bob Dylan (lyrics below):

Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man,
His enemies say he's on their land.
They got him outnumbered about a million to one,
He got no place to escape to, no place to run.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He's criticized and condemned for being alive.
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He's wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He's always on trial for just being born.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He's the neighborhood bully.

He got no allies to really speak of.
What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love.
He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Every empire that's enslaved him is gone,
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon.
He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,
In bed with nobody, under no one's command.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon,
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on.
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth,
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin', they say.
He just likes to cause war.
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill,
Running out the clock, time standing still,
Neighborhood bully.


$2.50 - large blank poster
$0.99 - one black marker
priceless - realizing your hatred has cost you your education

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Burmwelos ... The Tradition Continues

During Hanukkah, Jews will traditionally eat heavily fried foods - be it latkes or donuts (sufganiyot). The reason given for this is to commemorate the miracle of the oil burning for eight days after the successful revolt of the Maccabees (another interesting explanation is that oil is likened to the study of Torah - for more on this, click here). The food that the Jews of Spanish origin ate was burmwelos - fried dough with syrup and cinnamon. Here are the pics of my cooking adventure:

Hanukkah Sameach ... חנוכה שמח

The Recipe:

Making the Syrup (left) while Heating up the Oil (right):

Frying the Burmwelos:

The Finished Product:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

If not I, then who?

On the way home from arvit (evening prayers), I had a short, yet interesting, discussion with Yossi. Yossi was born in Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) and moved here as a kid with his family. As we discussed our lunch menus, he declared, "The whole world is now a global village. You can eat humus & falafel in Thailand. It's one culture." So I responded, "But then how do you ensure that your traditions and values are passed forward?" ... "Ahhh," he smiled, "Now that's the question of all questions."

The answer?

I think it depends solely on how important it is for a person to ensure his family's traditions outlive his stay on earth. It obviously doesn't all rest on the person's shoulders but his actions will likely dictate if these traditions to live on.

On a personal level, I hope I can pass on the traditions to Nissim that were passed on to me by my parents. Be it the Ladino songs, the food, or the customs during shabbat & festivals, I hope Nissim has the privilege of teaching his kids what I, one day, will be teaching him ... traditions & customs that have been with my family for centuries, and I do hope continue well after I'm gone.

On that note, 'Buenas semanas, salud i vida' (Ladino for "Have a good week, (good) health & (good) life")

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More lies, but where's the coverage?

For anyone interested, below are two stories that again highlight to what length two prominent left wing organizations in Israel will go to 'to state their case':

B'Tselem has pulled it off again, duping the mainstream media into believing it has tallied civilian Palestinian casualties when it has done no such thing. The oft-cited organization bills itself as a human rights group devoted to rigorous documentation of Israeli conduct in the West Bank and Gaza aimed at educating the public and encouraging political action. Yet the so-called documentation continues to be marred by serious flaws that journalists routinely ignore while reporting the group's charges at face value.

B'Tselem, it should be noted, is heavily funded by European entities, including German, British, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Swiss groups, as well as the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund.

Among the most deceptive claims by the group are those embedded in its yearly statistical summary of Palestinian fatalities. B'Tselem reported in a Dec. 31, 2007 press release that in 2007 Israeli security forced killed 373 Palestinians and that “about 35 percent of those killed were civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities when killed.” These claims were reported without caveat in the New York Times, Voice of America, the Guardian, and the New York Jewish Week, among others.

Despite the press release's statement about the percentage of those killed who were civilians, B'Tselem's data do not actually break down Palestinian casualties according to civilians or combatants. In most but not all cases, the organization's detailed list of Palestinian casualties classifies each person as “Killed when participating in hostilities” or “Did not participate in hostilities when killed.” Clearly, those in the latter category are not necessarily civilians, as a terrorist could be killed while, for instance, not directly in the process of planting a bomb or shooting a soldier. Moreover, B'Tselem almost never includes any reference to terrorist affiliations of Palestinian casualties, making it impossible for readers to know who was genuinely a civilian and who was not.

For the full report, click here

The Peace Now organization and activists Hagit Ofran and Dror Atkis must pay residents of Judea and Samaria and issue a public apology, Jerusalem Magistrates Court judge Yechezkel Barclay ruled Thursday. The group was punished for a false report involving the town of Revava.

Peace Now, Ofran and Etkes were sued for damages caused by a report published two years ago. In the report, titled “A sin leads to another sin,” (Aveira goreret aveira in Hebrew), Peace Now argued that most Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria were built on land stolen from local Arabs. Among other things, the report said 71.15 percent of the land on which Revava was built was stolen from Arabs.

"The Fund for Redeeming the Land,” which legally owns 100 percent of the territory on which Revava is built, demanded that Peace Now correct its false report regarding Revava and issue an apology. The group refused to apologize, as did the authors of the report. The authors agreed to only partially correct the mistaken claim regarding Revava, changing the report to say 22 percent of the land was stolen, not 71 percent.

When Peace Now refused to apologize, the Fund sued the organization with the help of Attorney Doron Nir Tzvi. The group charged Peace Now and authors Ofran and Etkes with slander.

The court found the three defendants guilty. Besides ordering them to apologize, Justice Barclay ruled that they must pay the Fund for Redeeming the Land 20,000 shekels plus tax. The group's apology must be public, and must be published in both Maariv and Haaretz.

"The time has come to end the serial lies issued by various leftist groups,” Attorney Nir Tzvi said following the court's decision. “The public should doubt any report they write.” Nir Tzvi called on Jews living in Judea and Samaria to “stand up for their good name” when facing false accusations from groups like Peace Now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The once a year, or maybe more, friend

In Israel, a small percentage of the population have a friend we fondly call the "Once a Year friend." We meet this friend, if we're lucky, twice a year for about 25-30 days a year. Besides those days, we often times don't have any contact whatsoever with this friend. Despite the long periods with no communication, the friendship remains warm and close.

What kind of 'friend' is this?

It's the miluimnik (reservist) friend ... You fight, joke and discuss life with him for those brief 30 days, and then put the friendship on ice until you 'catch up' during the next reserve stint.

Today, I met one of my miluimnik friends on the walk to the Sollys for Shabbat lunch. Daniel, a 37 year old Italian who made aliyah some 19 years ago from Roma, was happy and warm when I recognized him. We chatted briefly, introduced the kids to one another & quickly joked about the 'next' war. Then we were off ... Until the next miluim stint or random meeting on the streets of Jersualem, the new news will just have to wait.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to raise worldwide awareness for Sderot

... but at least they'll know there's a serious problem there ...

Why are you disappointed?

The Likud primaries were yesterday and despite Bibi's best attempts to bring in 'central' rightists, the Likud's list is a fairly strong right wing one - MKs who opposed Ariel Sharon's disengagement, returning hawks & some newbie hawks, with Moshe Feiglin getting the most press for his rather extreme views. Despite Bibi calling the list "the best possible", one can't help but get the sense he's disappointed by the 'Right Wing' Likud.

Uh, the Likud has never been a 'centrist' party - it was always a right wing party.


The comments this morning from Kadima and Labor officials were exactly as anticipated, with most of them worryingly proclaiming the Likud as an 'extreme' right wing party. Although the Likud does potentially have some very hawkish MKs (like the aforementioned Feiglin), the majority of the party will stand by the same principals the party has stood by for decades.

I find it rather disturbing that our great leaders from Kadima & Labor have times to preach concern and fear of the 'new' Likud. Perhaps Ehud Olmert & Tzippi Livni should find ways to undo the damage of the disengagement, the move they pushed and backed unconditionally? Perhaps Ehud Barak should find a way to protect the residents of Sderot & the Western Negev (if they are important obviously)? Maybe if they weren't so inept at their jobs, and weren't representing corrupt or struggling parties, the latest poll wouldn't be showing the Likud winning 36 seats if the elections were held today.


Uzi Dayan, a politician I've always respected, only finished 42nd on the Likud's list. He'll most likely not be in the Knesset come February '09 but I really liked his statement after the disappointing personal results:

Yesterday the Likud chose a good line-up, which will rule Israel, and I congratulate it. I'm not a conditional Israeli, and not a conditional Likudnik, and I will continue to contribute to the state of Israel and to Israeli society to the best of my ability

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Forgotten Refugees

A must watch documentary (sorry about quality) about the 850,000 Arab Jewish refugees ...

In 1945 there were up to one million Jews living in the Middle East and North Africa outside the British Mandate of Palestine - many living in communities dating back more than three millennia. Today, there are several thousand. Who are these Jews? What precipitated their mass-exodus in the 20th century? Where did they go? And why don't we know their stories?