Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Eishes Chayil Haggadah

This new publication is chock full of useful info such as when you have to be at table and when it's OK to go back to the kitchen. Plus stories! And gilded page heads!

Something pretty for you gals to look at while we macho he-men are discussing the Exodus.

Legit dialect, or too soon?

At what point do we stop wincing and just say OK new dialect of English here? When does Jewish English become a thing in the way that Jewish German became a thing (viz. Yiddish)

Every local community has its own dialect. Teenage boys. Wall Street power barons. Inner City blacks. KJ Jews. 

Use of those dialects is appropriate within the community it's not broken English or evidence of weak brain power. It just means you were never taught SWE, the dialect Americans use for cross-community and public conversations
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jerusalem Municipality Approves 18 Jewish Homes in Heart of Arab Neighborhood

The Jerusalem municipality’s Local Committee for Planning and Construction on Wednesday approved unanimously a plan to build 18 housing units for Jewish families in the heart of Jabel Mukaber, a predominantly Arab neighborhood in south-eastern Jerusalem
On the face, this sounds like a good idea -- let people live wherever they wish, I always say -- but a few points of clarification please
  1. What is a Jewish home? I'm not being snide. I really have no idea how real estate works over there. Can you actually make it a rule that a certain house must always and forever belong to jews? (According to whose definition? )
  2. Do they ever allow Arab homes (assuming the concept exists) in Jewish neighborhoods? Why not?

The Jerusalem Municipality Master Plan conceived in 2000 does not distinguish between Arabs and Jews.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Donny Fuchs says "We are not indigenous to Israel" -- and I agree.

The anti Hasbarah article in the Jewish Press by Donny Fuchs is my new most-favorite thing ever. 
He's right on the facts, right on the sources, and right to say that Hasbarah types regularly twist both.

I hope to say many more words about this article over the next few days, but first let me add a few additional reasons why the "Jews are Indigenous to Israel" argument doesn't make it past first base:

(1) I will stipulate and agree that there is genetic and archaeological evidence that ancient Israelites (who, by the way,  looked nothing like us, and didn't practice their religion like we do and, likely, didn't even believe in the same God as we do) lived in the region 30,000 years ago. But....
  • What follows from that? There is also genetic and archaeological evidence that our distant ancestors lived in Africa. Does that mean I can go back to Nigeria, declare myself indigenous, and start bossing people around? 
  • Those ancient Israelites are ALSO the ancestors of the modern Palestinians. So any claim you might make to Israel on the grounds of genetics also applies ot the Palestinians
(2) You can't reconcile the facts of science with the claims of theology. Those who make theological claims on the land of Israel on behalf of the Jews don't respect science or archaeology, in general.

I reject flawed efforts to defend our right to our Promised Land, just because hasbara types mistakenly feel that it is a good secular argument to reach the world.

Because I expect someone will ask let me offer a preemptive disclaimer: I do not object to Jews living in Israel. I think all people of all races and all religions should be free to live anywhere they wish. At the same time I object to the idea that members of particular races or religions "belong" somewhere; also I object to jingoism (which I truly hate), and attempts to whitewash unacceptable ideas and behavior. It is for these reasons and these reasons alone that I sometimes clash with the Hasbarahniks. From now on I'll just cite this article as it makes many of the most important points for me.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Mainstream antisemitism

Here's a lovely bit of mainstream antisemitism from a popular journalist for you to enjoy on an Easter Monday. Author is Kevin Clancy of BarStool Sports.

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About the female birkas kohanim...

In a move bound to draw opposition from the Orthodox establishment, feminist activists are planning to hold a first-ever priestly blessing ceremony at the Wailing Wall for and by women. 
The event, scheduled to be held during the Passover holiday, is being organized by Women of the Wall, the multi-denominational prayer group that holds a monthly prayer service at the Jewish holy site. The blessing will be led by women who trace their lineage to the priestly class known as the “cohanim.”

I'll concur that this event has no status as an actual "Birkas Kohanim" but what possible harm will come from women joining together to offer a blessing? What is the religious rationale for objecting?

I guess I'm trying to understand what religious imperative prevents you from treating the female birkas kohanim in the same way that Litvaks treat a hasidic tish.

 We don't think there is any religious significance in receiving sharai'im so we stay home. Why can't female birkas kohanim be treated the same way?

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Purim miracles

So, you may have noticed that when we first meet the two men who plotted against King Achashverush their names are Bigsan and Theresh; later when the names are found in the King's Memory book they are given as Bigsana and Theresh.

What gives?

According to the old guy who sits behind me in shul, this discrepancy was caused by a miracle. The King's scribe was in cahoots with Haman. When he first wrote down the story of how Mordecai passed on the details of the B&T conspiracy to Esther, the scribe attempted to deny Mordecai some credit by writing בגתן או תרש (Bigsan OR Teresh). The way he wrote it Mordecai wasn't sure about the details:It could have been Bigsan; it could have been Teresh; and it was just dumb luck that it either of them -let alone both of them- were involved.

On the night the king's sleep was disturbed (continued the old man) what the scribe had done was miraculously altered. Where he had written בגתן או תרש it now read בגתנא ותרש (Bigthana AND Theresh) Wow! Tremendous! Unbelievable!

Though the old man attributed this foolishness to the Zohar, I am not convinced. In fact, I'm a little outraged and offended on the Zohar's behalf. I think its lousy that such stupid teachings are routinely attributed to it. The Zohar may be an 11th century forgery, but its author was no idiot. He was a Sage, and a full-fledged Rishon. If a moderately successful blogger with cruel yet handsome eyes like me can spot the giant gaping holes[*] in this story, couldn't he?

Giant Gaping Holes [*]1 - In Hebrew the word או can be split in the manner described here. Does that work in Persian, too? If not, why was the King of Persia's personal secretary writing in Hebrew?
2 - As miracles go, this one is pretty cheesy. Wouldn't it have been much more impressive if God had just made the word או disappear? Why did it need to be split in half? Or better yet why was the scribe's modification changed to בגתנא ותרש? If you're already going to mess with the official record via divine intervention, why not go whole hog and make it say something like "Mordecai is the greatest person ever and you should heap upon him large rewards!" That has a much higher degree of difficulty and therefore makes for a better miracle.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Here is WOPO video of Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld at the AIPAC party, on his feet, wearing a talis, saying about Trump: "This man is wicked. He inspires racists and bigots. He encourages violence. Do not listen to him."

Rabbi Herzfeld is an Open Orthodox Rabbi. I hope and pray that Gordimer, et. al., don't take the view that they have to knee-jerk support everything an OO Rabbi rejects.

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Using Groggers...

Check out this picture.

Does it show:

A) Modern Orthodox kids from Teaneck celebrating Purim outdoors for some reason using hysterically large groggers?

B) Haredi kids from Beitar Illit dressed for Purim like Czech Christians?

C) Actual Czech Christians celebrating a legit and very old Good Friday rite that calls for the kids to go running through town making noise with groggers for the purpose of blotting out the name of Judas Iscariot?

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Which party is Moshe's party?

Pleased to announce that we have a new Pruz!! This one is pure cheer-leading for Pruz's new best friend,  Donald Trump,  but is noteworthy for this classic Pruzism:

"Jews would vote against Moshe if he ran as a Republican, as of course he would."

The problem isn't the first clause, but the second.

Its absolutely true that some Jews would vote against Moshe; however there is zero chance Moshe would run for office as a Republican OR a Democrat.

As you know, I have gone through all 613 mitzvos and determined that the overwhelming majority of them would be rejected by both parties. Of the few that have some relevance to 21st century Americans, the majority happen to fit more closely with Democratic policies.  See it here

For Asher: Ira Stoll's very bad attempt to criticize a New York Times editorial

I've often said that the people who constantly criticize newspapers and magazines for their alleged offenses against Zionism are among the least reliable people in the world. As a rule they lie, omit salient facts, and mischaracterize the articles they are criticizing.

A wonderful example of all of the above can be found in Ira Stoll's truly awful attempt to correct a New York Times editorial that appeared on March 14.
Let's join Stoll in progress...

It’s one thing for the New York Times to use an impending visit to America by Prime Minister Netanyahu as an occasion to launch an editorial attack on him. This week, though, the Times outdid itself, managing to attack Mr. Netanyahu over a visit to Washington that isn’t even happening.

Mis-characterization #1. The Times did not attack Netanyahu "over a visit to Washington that isn’t even happening." The editorial attacks Netanyahu for (1) bungling the meeting (Bibi asked for a meeting, and after the request was accepted by the White House, Bibi canceled the meeting); and (2) for disrespecting the president and the United States by canceling the meeting via the media. These two attacks on Netanyahu appear in the first two paragraphs. The balance of the editorial is not an attack at all, but a perfectly fair, perfectly ordinary opinion piece.

Begin with the criticism “that Mr. Netanyahu’s government announced this decision in the media rather than to the White House.” Isn’t there something strange about an ewspaper attacking a government for talking to the press?

Mis-characterization #2. The Times did not attack Netanyahu for talking to the press. It attacked Netanyahu for discourteously canceling a meeting, a meeting he had earlier requested, via the press.

The strong suggestion is that the editors at the Times would prefer that journalists, and the news-consuming public, would have had to wait longer before learning newsworthy information. That the Times here is editorializing in favor of keeping journalists in the dark is evidence of the contorted logic that afflicts the rest of the editorial as well.

Mis-characterization #3 Here are the exact words the Times used. "That Mr. Netanyahu’s government announced this decision in the media rather than to the White House is not a surprise, considering the disrespect the prime minister has shown Mr. Obama in the past. It’s hard to understand how that serves Israel’s interests."

I don't know how this can be honestly construed as an argument against speaking to the press, or an argument in favor of keeping journalists in the dark, but, to be fair, I never said Stoll was honest. Clearly he isn't. 

The next paragraph describes Israel as “the top recipient of American aid.” That is not factually accurate.

Lie #1. Israel is the top recipient of American foreign military aid. In fact Israel and Egypt received roughly 75% of all foreign military aid money handed out by the U.S. last year

It is 100 percent clear from the context that foreign military aid is the sort of aid the New York Times had in mind. Here is the quote (with my emphasis added) : "One involves the new 10-year defense agreement the two governments are negotiating, an anchor of their alliance. The existing agreement, which expires in 2018, provides $3.1 billion a year to Israel, making it the top recipient of American aid"

Stoll continues:

In recent years, America has poured far more money into attempts to secure and rebuild Iraq ($2 trillion) and Afghanistan ($1 trillion). Military assistance to Israel runs about $30 billion over ten years, a bargain by comparison. Adjusted for inflation, America’s post-World War II assistance to rebuild Europe, about $103 billion in today’s dollars, also is more than what America has spent on Israel over any comparable time span.

Fabulous. Only the Times was discussing a particular category of spending: foreign military aid. The $3 trillion we've spent on Afghanistan and Iraq was almost entirely money we spent on our own soldiers and our own equipment. That's not foreign military aid. That's defense spending - an entirely different category. Attacking the New York Times for telling the truth (Israel DOES receive more foreign aid then anyone else) and then using a distortion to defend that attack (the money we've spent on Afghanistan and Iraq is NOT foreign military aid) is unfortunately the sort of dirty trick you see too often from phony media critics like Stoll.

The Times says that Mr. Netanyahu “has reportedly asked for a big increase in American aid to more than $4 billion per year, which seems unreasonable.” The Times doesn’t explain or argue why it is unreasonable; it just asserts it. The real unreasonable party here is the Times editorial writer, who ignores the effect of inflation....

Mis-characterization #4 Here Stoll wants you to believe that Netanyahu wants an innocent little increase so he can keep up with inflation, and that the mean old New York Times are trying to deny him even that. But (a) Bibi is not asking for a simple COLI increase. He wants an increase of 60 percent(!) and (2) even Netanyahu isn't saying that he wants the money because of inflation. In countless press reports he's quoted saying that he wants the money to counter threats that will arise as a result of the Iran nuclear agreement! But as we've seen, Stoll has no use for the truth. Bashing the Times is more important.

Next, the Times claims that Mr. Netanyahu “has never shown a serious willingness” when it comes to “progress toward a Middle East peace deal.” “Never”? It’s as if the Times editorial writers don’t read their own newspaper

Here I am willing to cut Stoll some slack (see, unlike him, I value the truth.)

Is it true, as the Times says, that Netanyahu “has never shown a serious willingness" to make peace? Depends what we mean by "serious" I don't think Bib was ever serious, but its fair to disagree.

The editorial concludes with a call to involve “the United Nations Security Council” in a deal to determine “the future of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, security and land swaps

Lie #2. That is not how the editorial concludes at all. Here's the real ending (my emphasis added) "There are several options, but the best may be a resolution that puts the United Nations Security Council on record supporting the basic principles of a deal covering borders, the future of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, security and land swaps, but not imposing anything on the two parties."

Israel should put its security and capital city in the hands of that body?

Agreed, Stoll. Israel should not do that. And the Times does not say it should. The Times says only that the UN should go on the record supporting basic outlines, without attempting to force anyone to do anything. [Exact words: "but not imposing anything on the two parties."That's pointless, to be sure, but its also harmless, and its a far cry from saying that Israel should let the UN take care of its security.

Did I miss any of Stoll's mistakes? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Times disappoints its critic again

Here's a new reason to laugh at your friends, neighbors and pulpit Rabbis who insist that the New York Times dislikes Jews.

You know they exist. They are the people who are certain the paper has an anti semitic agenda. They claim that the paper never misses a chance to bash Jews.

Well, next time they are spouting off about how the paper will say and do anything to make Jews look bad you can bring up this incident:

Yesterday over 200 FBI agents conducted dozens of simultaneous raids on upstate NY yeshivas and Jewish owned businesses. According to my twitter feed a Justice Department plane was in the air over Rockland County for most of the day and hundreds of kids were sent home from school. I saw reports on the television news and CBS radio had it, too. But unless I've gone completely blind I don't see anything about it in today's Times.

Where is the "gleeful" (to use a favorite frum word) article about the "massive" (another one) raids? Shouldn't the big anti semites at the Times be having a field day (two more)?

And since they haven't done any of that perhaps its time for the Times haters to adjust their own biases? The omission, of course, tells us nothing about how the Times actually views Jews but it certainly confounds that claim often heard in shul about how the Times hates Jews and will do anything it can to make Jews look bad.

(If I missed a Times article on this subject this post will be updated and I will wear egg on my face for the day. Apologies in advance.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


I wish there was some kind of passive aggressive note I could leave for the guy who:

-Loudly blows his nose in shul

-Holds up the line at the bris buffet because he needs to construct his elaborate sandwich right then and there

- carries his coffee cup into the sanctuary so he has something to drink during davening

- starts a song from his seat when such song-starting is actually the chazon's traditional perogative

- puts on his tie during Shemona Esray at Friday mincha

- gets all cross-eyed when you call a chumash a book

- expects me to get excited when he says he's serving "cholent"
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Obama, Bibi and the feet on the desk

Remember when Obama spoke on the phone with Bibi Netanyahu while his feet were up on his desk? The same lovelies who later tried to convince us that Obama had sinned by wearing a tan suit went around telling everyone that the Prime Minister of Israel had been grievously insulted because feet mean something mean in the Middle East. Hysterically, the lovelies failed to notice or care that feet have no such significance in Israeli or Jewish culture; also Obama puts his feet on the furniture literally all the time. He doesn't reserve the gesture for Bibi.

Lots of shots of Obama with his feet on the desk - and some of Bush and Carter, too!

Anyway I bring this up because a new version of the old lie surfaced on my blog last week. 

According to reality Bibi was 6000 miles away when all this occurred. He was on the phone, in Israel, entirely unaware that the president was stretching his legs during their conversation.

But according to the updated version Bibi was actually in the Oval Office and the president deliberately pointed the soles of his feet at him. 

Clearly the update was needed, as the original complaint was petty and absurd and clearly the work of people determined to treat the president with the same fairness as the UN treats Israel. In the updated version an actual insult is committed. 

Unfortunately the update is false. Bibi was not in the room.

A White House photograph of U.S. President Barack Obama with his feet on his desk while speaking on the phone with Binyamin Netanyahu has turned into a news story in own right,

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Its not because he's black, right?

On countless occasions Trump has proclaimed himself neutral on Israel.

Meanwhile Obama has always called himself strongly pro-Israel; moreover Netanyahu has called Obama a true friend of Israel on many, many occasions, and he has thanked Obama publicly for standing with Israel.

Moreover, while he was running for president back in 2007, Obama made it abundantly clear that he was 100 percent pro-Israel. In fact *Obama set out detailed positions in speeches before AIPAC in March 2007 and June 2008 (the following points are drawn directly from these speeches except where otherwise indicated). Key elements are that Obama:

  • Supported the Israeli bombing of Lebanon in July-August 2006 and repeatedly in the Gaza Strip as exercises of Israel’s right to “legitimate self-defense;”
  • Supported Israel’s 6 September 2007 air attack on Syria which unsubstantiated reports claimed targeted a weapons of mass destruction related site;
  • Opposed the holding of Palestinian elections including Hamas in January 2006;
  • Opposed the February 2007 Mecca Agreement establishing a national unity government between Hamas and Fatah peacefully resolving internal Palestinian differences;
  • Supports continued “isolation” of Hamas until it meets political conditions imposed by Israel and the Quartet;
  • Stated that “I will always stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself in the United Nations and around the world,” suggesting continued use of US veto to block UN action on the conflict;
  • Promised at least $30 billion of military aid to Israel over the next decade and pledged to push for Israel to gain access to armaments reserved for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) members;
  • Pledged that the US “should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests” and “No Israeli prime minister should ever feel dragged to or blocked from the negotiating table by the United States;”
  • Stated “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided;”
  • Opposes Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return (“The right of return [to Israel] is something that is not an option in a literal sense”); (Hilary Leila Krieger and Tovah Lazaroff, “Obama: Palestinian refugees can’t return,” The Jerusalem Post, 29 January 2008)
  • Stated “Any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state;”
  • Supported the Bush administration’s approach of forming an alliance of “moderates,” including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt on one side arrayed against Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas;
  • Considers Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons “unacceptable,” supports strong sanctions and divestment and has refused to rule out the use of military force.
  • Obama has expressed no support for Palestinian “rights” and has never publicly used the type of effusive emotional language identifying with Palestinians’ aspirations as he does regarding the Israelis. While repeatedly castigating Palestinians, he has been uncritical of Israel.

Yet you Jews always, always get this backwards.  Why?

While Trump says he's neutral, no Jew seems to mind. There is no panic.

But back in 2007 Obama said and demonstrated that he was NOT neutral. He said and demonstrated that he was PRO ISRAEL. Yet, no one cared, and all Jews decided from day 1 that he was the enemy. Why?

[Eveything after the * comes from a frantic Electronic Intafada post dated November 17, 2008. The Palestenian author clearly expected Obama to title towards Israel (which is of course what happened)]

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

What in hell has happened to the GOP?

The current Friedman gives the best explanation of the Trump phenomenon and the complete moral breakdown of the Republican party that I have seen so far. Here's a rather long excerpt. The most important parts are highlighted in yellow for the Republican primary voters in the audience, as well as anyone else who might have a below average IQ:
Many have come to Trump out of a gut feeling that this is a guy who knows their pain, even if he really doesn’t. Many of his supporters are from the #middleagewhitemalesmatter movement, for whom the current age of acceleration has not been kind and for whom Trump’s rallies are their way of saying “Can you hear me now?” and of sticking it to all the people who exploited their pain but left them behind, particularly traditional Republican elites. They are not interested in Trump’s details. 
They like his gut. 
And no wonder. Those G.O.P. elites sold their own souls and their party so many times to charlatans and plutocrats that you wonder when it’s going to show up on closeout on eBay: “For sale: The G.O.P. soul. Almost empty. This soul was previously sold to Sarah Palin, the Tea Party anarchists, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist, the gun lobby, the oil industry, the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Fox News. Will bargain. No offer too low.” 
Normally smart people, like Mitt Romney, discarded all their best instincts to suck up to this ragtag assortment of self-appointed G.O.P. commissars, each representing a different slice of what came to be Republican orthodoxy — climate change is a hoax; abortion, even in the case of rape or incest, is impermissible; even common-sense gun laws must be opposed, no matter how many kids get murdered; taxes must always be cut and safety nets shrunk, no matter what the economic context; Obamacare must be destroyed, even though it was based on a Republican idea; and Iraq was a success even though it was a mess. 
The G.O.P. became an accretion of ideas that ossified over the years without the party ever stopping to ask afresh: What world are we living in now? What are the dominant trends? And how does America best exploit them by applying conservative values and market-based solutions? 
The cynicism of today’s G.O.P. could not have been more vividly displayed than when Marco Rubio, John Kasich (a decent guy) and Ted Cruz all declared that they would support the party’s nominee, even if it was Trump, right after telling voters he was a con man. No wonder so many Republicans are voting for Trump on the basis of what they think is in his guts. All the other G.O.P. candidates have none.

Once upon a time, this blog was infested by GOP fanboys. I'd love it if one of them would come back and respond to the allegations recorded above.

Only Trump Can Trump Trump

Donald Trump’s opponents foolishly think they can break his bond with voters by giving them facts, but his supporters are following their gut.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Steve Pruzansky supports Trump. Sort of.

Who made Steve Pruzansky so stupid? Did he grow up drinking Flint water? In his latest article, America's Worst Rabbi (TM) argues that Trump is superior to Clinton. His argument can be summed up as follows: Clinton is a crook and a racist and the monster under Rush Limbaugh's bed while Good Old Donald Trump may have a few tiny flaws, but Party First!

Here are his exact words with my interpolations (As usual, the least of Pruz's crimes is his imposition on the attention span of the reader. His self-indulgent, 50,000 word posts can't be fisked in their entirety so please suffice with these excerpted lowlights.)

[Bernie Sanders] is the living embodiment of Gordon Liddy’s definition of a liberal: “someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.”

Yes, Pruz, by all means, let's ask for an expert opinion on liberalism from a convicted felon, known thug, and organizer of the Watergate break-in. Good choice! Who will you call as your next witness? Attila the Hun? Surely his view of liberalism merits our notice as well.

Or, assuming that Hillary Clinton is not indicted (as she clearly should be)

Yes! Clearly! Because the FBI doesn't know what its doing. Obviously! Commie traitors! Why won't they just ask Pruz to take over?

or is indicted and then is pardoned by President Obama (think Friday night, midnight, story buried, and by Sunday all sides claiming it is old news and time for the country to move on)?

Two words. Scooter Libby. For those of you to young to remember, Scooter Libby is a convicted felon who went to jail for some dirty work he did on behalf of Dick Cheney, before eventually having his sentence commuted by George Bush. In other words, the imaginary Democrat scandal Pruz begs us to consider as make-believe evidence of liberal chicanery has actually happened, only it was perpetrated by his heroes, the sainted Republicans.

Everyone is against Trump – I am not too keen on him myself – except the people.

Well, no, not exactly. The only "people" who have shown themselves to be keen on Trump are Republican primary voters. Technically, I suppose they are people, but as a group Republican primary voters are entirely out of step with mainstream America. This is why their nominees have lost five out of the last six presidential elections.

If not for Trump’s personality, temperament, character traits and shallow command of the issues, his string of victories would have sealed the process if another candidate had won those same victories, and the media would have been trumpeting those successes as evidence of “Game Over.”

Odd complaint. You're agreeing that Trump sucks, but you want the responsible adults, ie, those of us who are not Republican primary voters to get out of the way and let someone with a bad "personality, temperament, character traits and [a] shallow command of the issues" coast into the White House? What kind of mad populism is this, and why is it being articulated by a Conservative Constitution-worshiper like Pruz? Do I need to remind you how terrified the founders were of the prospect of a Trump-like candidacy? Do I need to remind you that the implemented the electoral college system specifically to prevent it?

There is a growing sentiment among many Republicans that they would rather have Hillary Clinton win than Donald Trump win

Hurray! Sensible behavior from Republicans! Of course, their sensible behavior is the product of self-interest, but I'm happy to see it anyway. (Yes, Democrats also act sensibly from self-interest)

But it really comes down to a simple calculation that Republicans should start making now, if they didn’t do it yesterday: by what measure would Hillary Clinton be a better president in anything that Republicans, Conservatives and/or Jews hold dear than any of the current Republican candidates including Donald Trump? I cannot think of one.

Come on, Pruz! You just aren't trying. Here, let me help.


  • Not making the US an international laughingstock
  • Not lowering the dignity of the presidency.
  • Not promoting bad family values (Three Trump marriages vs one strained, but still standing Clinton marriage. Also, let's be quite clear: I will bet you any amount of money Donald has both committed adultery and involved himself in escapades that make that Monica Lewinsky thing look like junior high school)
  • Not insulting fine Republican women like Megyn
  • Not being blasphemous or insulting to people of faith
For good measure let's throw in this great suggestion from the comments:

"You forgot "promoting and protecting Wall Street interests at the expense of the middle class and the working poor." And "gleefully accepting donations and favors from overseas theocratic oil-ocracies."

Too true! These are also cherished Republican values that Hillary is far more likely to support!
Clinton would continue and escalate the class and racial warfare in America. (Is there a more racist slogan today than “Black Lives Matter”?)

Meanwhile, Pruz's man has promised to deport 20 million people on the basis of their ethnicity. Won't that "continue and escalate the class and racial warfare in America" And yes, Pruz "Let's Toss Out All The Spics!" is a more racist slogan than "Black lives matter"

Clinton would accelerate the distribution of free stuff and the redistribution of wealth that has crippled the American economy and stifled the income potential of the middle class. 

And according to leading economists, Mister Four Bankruptcies' brilliant plan to raise tariffs and deport the people who do low-income jobs will drive up prices and cause a recession. Also, Pruz neglects to mention that the Republicans are also in favor of income redistribution, only they'd rather see the money go from the middle class to the wealthy. Corporate welfare yes! Regular welfare? Not so much.

On Israel? It is true that Trump is an unknown – “unpredictable” is his term, not to mention “neutral.” But how can that be compared to Hillary Clinton’s overt hostility to Israel

You're on drugs. No honest observer thinks she's ever been hostile to Israel. Also this

from her disdain for Israel’s PM (haranguing Netanyahu with 40 minutes of relentless invective for bidding out apartment construction in the northern part of Yerushalayim, which, of course, hasn’t even happened in reality)

She yelled at Netanyahu for embarrassing the United States, which is exactly what he did. Can you Republicans please make up your mind? I thought you wanted a strong leader who wouldn't let anyone push America around? Well, that's exactly the temperament Hillary demonstrated when she stood up for American pride and dignity. Also this was six years ago. Also, it doesn't take too much effort to find examples of Condi Rice yelling at Bibi in protest of an Israeli building project. As the Jerusalem Post said it on January 8, 2008, Rice: US entirely opposed to Har Homa

and her discomfort with Israel’s right of self-defense to pressuring Israel to make even more suicidal concessions to the Arabs to create another “Palestinian” state in the quixotic hope that such will satisfy the Arabs’ lust for Israel’s demise

Again Pruz is demonstraing his gift for amnesia. The pressure on Israel to create a Palestenian state became part of US policy thanks George W. Bush. He's the one who gave us the Road Map. He was the first president to call for a two state solution. The pressure he put on Israel to comply with his two-state vision, a vision that called on Israel to give back territory and dismantle settlements was legendary. In fact here's a headline from April 17, 2003 Israel faces US pressure over plan for 'road-map' If George Bush remained a saint after doing that, how can you tarnish Hillary for doing the exact same thing without opening yourself to charges of dishonesty and bias?

Can anyone imagine Donald Trump embracing and praising Suha Arafat

Yes, I can imagine it easily. I can also imagine him climbing into bed with David Duke, because I watched him do it with my own two eyes.

After this, the piece deteriorates into the usual Pruz mishmah of bad history as he ranks on Jewish Democrats. Most of what he sayswas dealt with successfully in my famous serious of posts, entitled Additional Pabulum from America's Worst Rabbi

As @efrex told us on Twitter, when it comes to Pruz "It's almost self-parody at this point."


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Monday, March 07, 2016

The attack on the new collection of Western European piyuttim.

Let's talk about the vapid attack launched from the pulpit last shabbos against a new collection of Western European piyuttim.

[See it here: See it here:

The author of the attack avers that treating piyuttim as poetry is an insult. See, the authors of the piyuttim were too holy to bother with things like style, form, and structure. Magically, they were able to convey their brilliant ideas without debasing themselves through the use of literary techniques or tools. One wonders why they even bothered to use words, and if its a sin to think about their word choices.

Along with some other familiar gripes, our complainer also announces it suspicious that the editors of the new book saw fit to capitalize the word Christian, Their meticulousness is evidence of their corruption. Their work may be "beautiful", he protests, but it lacks "fire". Fire, I suppose, is only found among the sloppy and disheveled.

While this line of thinking may explain the appeal of shtiebles and justify the sad decline of Jewish aesthetics and the impoverished language many Orthodox Jews use, its quite an odd thing to hear it from a defender of the Western European traditions. Their champion, R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, taught "that “Japheth (Greece) has ennobled the world aesthetically; Shem has enlightened it spiritually and morally”.  As Hirsch perceived, there is no inherent conflict between the two. Fire and beauty can coexist, which is something the authors of our powerfully beautiful piyyutim surely understood.


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Bernie admits he's Jewish

ICYMI here is Bernie's very brief but somewhat powerful answer to the Jewish question. I think he said the right thing but would have liked to have heard more.

Also, when I was a little kid, the people who looked and sounded like Bernie were all survivors themselves.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

How to talk about Trump

In talking about Donald Trump I think we must be careful. Only eight years ago, many of our RW friends tried hard to convince us that Barak Obama was the second coming of Adolph Hitler. They circulated collections of "spooky" coincidences, eg both Hitler and Obama posses charisma! They spoke of camps and deportations. They imagined Israel would be fed to the wolves. Of course, none of that has come to pass. Eight years later the very worst thing you can say about Obama is that he was a Centrist Democrat with a moderately successful Centrist Democratic agenda. To RW loons that's still a capital offense, I know, but it still falls well short of the crimes they imagined he would commit.

Which brings us to Trump. Like anyone with eyes, I see the parallels between the Rise of Trump and the Rise of Hitler. Angry racists are voting with their hearts, not their brains, and the responsible insiders who could have easily snuffed this out last summer, acted too slowly. (Cruz, in particular, thought he could "use" Trump.); as a result, a demagogue who seems unconcerned with legalities, niceties, precedent, or tradition is ascendant.

Again, haters said the exact same thing about Obama in 2008.

So I'm going to be careful.

While I hate Cruz more, you can include me with the Trump Haters. I don't want to see him win because I don't to see America damaged, but I wont make the same stupid predictions the Obama haters made. He's a vulgarian and a con-man with no understanding of foreign affairs, who enjoys loving support from the lowest dregs of society, but he isn't Hitler. (Not yet anyway).

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Friday, March 04, 2016

This is the GOP

Trump isn't a break with previous GOP behaviors. He's the next logical step. Here is Cassidy in the New Yorker:

In the past, Republicans cleverly obfuscated the regressive nature of their economic platform by appealing to social issues, and quietly playing the racism/xenophobia card. Trump, however, is beating his rivals at this game, too. On social issues, he has demonstrated that you don’t have to be a Bible-thumping pro-lifer to attract the vote of evangelicals. On immigration, by promising to round up and send home eleven million undocumented workers, he has trumped even the Cruz wing of the G.O.P. And in playing to white hate groups and other racists he is doing what other Republicans, particularly in the Deep South, have been doing for generations. But, while many of these Party regulars used a dog whistle, Trump is using a foghorn.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Knife fight between Agudah and Hamodia we hope

Fun! Agudah and Hamodia are presenting radically different accounts of what happened at the big Agudah Leadership Mission to Washington.

As reported here yesterday, Agudah permitted three women to participate in the event. Their pernicious participation was documented in an official photograph, a photograph posted on Twitter by Agudah's Communications Director.

The picture also appears on the Agudah website

However, as first noted on my FB page and subsequently picked up by Rafi @ LifeInIsrael, who used to be a correspondent here, the pious people at Hamodia are telling a different story.

Their report uses the same photograph, with one crucial difference: The women have been erased! 

What happens next? Will Agudah risk alienating their right wing by setting the historical  record straight and affirming that woman were in attendance? Will they complain about the blatant lie being spread by this allegedly frum newspaper? Will the utter a word of protest on behalf of the dignity of their female members?

I'm guessing not, but Agudah may yet surprise us.

UPDATE #1: Some have suggested that these are two different photos, which hardly changes anything. Why are we concealing the fact that women participated in the event? Why doesn't the article say that three women were there but are absent from the photo? More updates as warranted.

UPDATE #2: Yup, two different pictures, which means Agudah was a partner in the deception and the effort to discredit the women who participated. Imagine if your company asked all the black people to step out of the publicity photos on the grounds that some might be distributed to racist magazines. That's what this is.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Thank God they're in the back row, at least

Well, THIS is deeply disturbing. THREE women in an official Agudah photo? Don't they care about our souls at all?

Also, how did three women get in the picture? This was taken outside the US capital at an Agudah Leadership Mission. Agudah says women are innately unqualified for leadership. Do Gordimer and Cross Currents know about this? Stay tuned for their fulminations, I'm sure.

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One, maybe two tiny, tiny cheers for Trump

Much as I dislike the role Trump played to manipulate moron Republican primary voters, I might be able to live with him as our president. He's a personal horror show, to be sure, but he's also a deal maker and a pragmatist. Principles don't weigh him down. All he wants to do is win and so long as he and I are using the same definition of winning I want him on my team.

The fact that he's already softening his rhetoric and pivoting away from the outrageous things he said to win the attention of those moron Republican primary voters is a good sign. It confirms that he knows he's been clowning around because to win a Republican primary clowning around is required. When he starts talking to people who are not gun loving pickup-truck driving rubes he'll sound different. And while he is not my first choice I can live with a president who will negotiate and make deals rather than doubling down on a silly principle.

A president Cruz, on the other hand, is a non starter. A firm no. Unlike Trump, Cruz actually believes in things and I find all of those things reprehensible.Additionally, I find it terrifying that he's shown himself willing to shut down the government and undermine the credibility of the United States in defense of those reprehensible principles.

Give me a pragmatist over a Jesus loving True Believer every time.

*Everything said here rests on the assumption that what he have seen so far was a performance for the befit of moron Republican primary voters. If that turns out not to be the case I retract all.

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I don't support Hillary Clinton but I'd sure love to live in a neighborhood where Hillary Clinton supporters are considered  higher status than white collar felons.

Hey, you defrauded the government and went to jail? Hoho. Have a drink!

But what? You support Hillary? Get out of here you pinko traitor.

I suppose in New Square you get the best of both worlds. The whole town voted for Hillary, and we know they are soft on fraud. 

And speaking of status, can you explain Mrs Cruz to me? She's a super well educated banker. And she is in love with that damp, preachy, two-bit ideologue?  What do they talk about?