Dear Anti-Israel Activist

Some things deserve as wide an audience as possible. This, for example, as first seen at Anne’s Opinions:

I don’t know you personally, but I know what you do. You demonstrate on college campuses, in front of stores that sell Israeli products, at co-op grocery outlets, and in the town squares of liberal places like my community of Seattle. You wear a keffiyeh and carry signs that say “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall Be Free” and other slogans that deny Israel’s right to exist. I see your swastikas and other classic antisemitic images.

I see your placards with names of villages lost when Israel’s neighbors invaded in 1948. I see your props: child-size coffins, for a dramatic effect. Mock “eviction notices” and “apartheid walls.” Posters commemorating the “Nakba”—catastrophe—your term for the Arab failure to destroy Israel.

I hear your chants of “Intifada, Intifada” and “We are Hamas”—glorifying violence against Jews and celebrating their murder. I see you disrupt talks by Israeli scholars and experts—and even by Palestinians who support peace. I hear you call for boycotting hummus (made in Virginia!), and petition artists not to perform in Israel, and demand that pension funds divest from one of the world’s most vibrant economies. I hear you misappropriate terms like “justice” and “apartheid” and “genocide,” divorcing words so far from their true meaning that the language is no longer recognizable.

And I can’t help but wonder: How is all this vitriol, this hateful rhetoric, remotely helpful to the cause of the Palestinian people you claim to support?

If you truly cared about Palestinians…

Read the whole thing, here, because the message is well worth noting. Highly recommended.

The legal business

A cracking quote from Joshua Fireman, US law firm management consultant:

“We find ourselves using 19th century processes with 20th century technology to solve 21st century problems.”

Source: Legal IT Insider, September 2016. The website is here.

Based on what I have seen in local legal practices, the management processes may even be 18th century.

Peres

More loss, this time for the whole country, with the passing of Shimon Peres earlier this morning. I see the Guardian took the opportunity to mark the occasion by attacking the Israeli government.

As recently as last year Peres strongly criticised the direction of the government of Israel’s rightwing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, although he did not name Netanyahu directly.

Peres said he believed the values he and Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995, had inherited from Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, were in jeopardy as he defended a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Israel should implement the two-state solution for her own sake, because if we should lose our majority, and today we are almost equal, we cannot remain a Jewish state or a democratic state.

“That’s the main issue, and to my regret they [the government] do the opposite.”

For something that’s not trying to make a political point, and actually deliver a decent obituary, see the Times of Israel piece here.

Loss

My mum died twenty five years ago, though sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. But, despite the passage of time, I still feel the loss. The pain may not be as sharp, as deep, or as overwhelming as it once was, but it’s still there, not far below the surface. The loss endures.

My mum did not have an easy life. After she and my dad separated then divorced, she was a single parent bringing up two young boys. This was at a time when that status was far more unusual. It was hard, but she never complained. Instead, she went about her mission, which was to bring up her boys to the best of her ability. She sacrificed everything towards that end. Although I am biased, as far as I am concerned she did a great job.

When my brother Michael and I were on our feet financially, we tried to repay some of the debt. Mum wasn’t comfortable with taking from people, even from us, so we had to be forceful. That was a quirk of her character that both her sons have inherited, so we both understand what it must have been like for her. At least in those later times she enjoyed some happiness, with both her sons making their way in the world, and especially when her granddaughters appeared on the scene. How she loved the girls! And how they loved her.

Near the end, with mum’s body ravaged by the cancer that was to kill her – a cancer that her doctor misdiagnosed as nothing to worry about – she was confined to bed and a wheelchair. She was living in our house, with Susan doing her Florence Nightingale bit to her usual high standards, ensuring she had the best of care, and suffered as little as was possible. I remember the pharmacist being a big help, too.

Although mum was very weak, she had set her heart on being at her niece’s wedding.  For several days before the wedding, it seemed as if she did not want to go to sleep, sensing that she might never wake up. She was hanging on, just.

She made it.

When we took her to the simchah, it was as if she had been plugged in to an energy pack. She was still stuck in the chair, but she smiled, and laughed, and surrounded by close family and friends, she joined in the celebrations, and had a thoroughly good time. We took her home, and she died the next night. She was 59.

Twenty-five years on, I still miss you mum. And I always will.

Back to Waterloo

Thus begins the French assault...

Thus begins the French assault…

The game that has been on the table over the last few weeks is Fallen Eagles, a game on the battle of Waterloo designed by Walter Vejdovsky, and published by Hexasim. It uses hexes representing 200 meters, turns of one hour, and strength points equating to 100 infantry or cavalry or a couple of artillery pieces.

The physical production standards are excellent, being two standard sized maps, a color rulebook, color playbook, 400+ nicely done, oversized counters, 16 thin cards for tactical and strategic variations, and various play aids.

Before playing the game, I thoroughly recommend reading David Hughes‘ article on the game published in Battles magazine, issue 11. David’s analysis helped me understand more quickly what was going on in the game. Overall he liked the system but wondered if the combat results were too bloody. I have played all the scenarios other than the full battle all the way through to completion. I only managed to get half way through the full battle (twice) but definitely had fun, and reservations. In the full battle, the French seem to have the tougher task. Perhaps that is as it should be.

On the plus side, I like the design intent to cut out unnecessary detail, so that the rules are easy to assimilate, and the game can be quick to play – unless you let analysis paralysis take over. There is a neat command system which is simple to implement, and adds just the right level of control without too much rules overhead.

On the down side, I wasn’t that taken with the combat system, especially the regular occurrence of units routing before closing with the enemy. That’s not my recollection of the history. I fixed that by applying a house rule so that routs only happened when adjacent to an enemy unit, and tried that out in the second go at the full battle. That seemed to feel better.

Also on the down side, I am not convinced that the paper-scissors-rock interaction of infantry, cavalry, and artillery comes across strongly enough. You will appreciate that on the one hand I compliment the designer for cutting out detail, and now I complain about missing detail! It depends on the detail, of course.

The cards are available to inject some chaos, but are not especially solitaire friendly. I tried them once, didn’t feel it was worth the effort, and put them away. In a face to face encounter, however, they will undoubtedly spice things up, and I would recommend their use.

While I am not convinced this is the perfect Napoleonic game at this scale, it is a damn fine try. There are supposed to be other battles coming along using the same system, and I may well be tempted. For now, there’s going to be one last attempt to see if I can do better for the French…

On being the father of the bride

Photo from the excellent Ori Chayun Wedding Photography Service - See here:

Photo from the excellent Ori Chayun Wedding Photography Service – See here.

Our daughter Sarah-Lee got married last week to Tomer. Susan and I (and her sister, Lori) could not have been happier. It was one of the best days of our life. All the planning, the discussions, the waiting, the anticipation – just everything – faded away as the simchah started. From the arrival of the first guests until the 2.00 AM wind down, it was non-stop enjoyment.

At any simchah, the guests make the difference. The Simpson family and the Bakshi family were favored with guests from near and far, all of whom came to enjoy themselves, and seemed to have a blast. The mix of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Scottish, Israeli, Americans, Australians, Brits, and Canadians got on like the proverbial house on fire. You could feel the joy. Led by the happy couple, people bopped, boogied, and bounced around the fantastic venue – well done to The Avenue. The food was good, the drink was good, the staff were good – it was all so good. Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth delivered an outstanding experience under the chupah, enjoyed by people from across the religious spectrum. Brilliant.

From a personal perspective, there were three threads to my experience.

First, I had been warned the event would pass quickly, and it did. Faster than the proverbial speeding bullet.

Second, the wedding was a true crossing of several paths; we had guests there from several different backgrounds, all brought together to share the joy of the simchah, and that felt wonderful. It was heightened by the large number of family and friends who attended from abroad.

Third, at times the whole thing felt unreal, like a dream. It was as if I could not quite believe it was happening. I think it finally sank in when I got to bed; after all this was the first bedtime when the wedding was not some potential event in the future. It had happened!

I felt so proud to be the father of that beautiful bride, and so happy to be welcoming Tomer into the family, in the same way that the Bakshi family have done to Sarah-Lee. Susan was equally proud and happy. We are grateful beyond words.

Wedding Break

There are a couple of family weddings this week and next, so it’s unlikely I will have time for blogging until much later in the month.  But, since I am here, check out the following picture, and see if you can identify one of the stops on the Simpson Simchah Tour that Susan organized for our out of town visitors.

ttiillttaa-tiyul

If that one is too hard, this should be much easier:

yyrreenniiww-tiyul

Be well everyone.

Brian Eno and BDS (Updated)

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

In June of this year, at an anti-BDS meeting (“Ambassadors Against BDS”), Danny Danon was quoted as follows:

“BDS is modern anti-Semitism, and we must unite as one body in order to expose its true face and put an end to it.”

Fast forward to this week, and the public announcement of Brian Eno. He told the Batsheva Dance Company to stop using one of his pieces of music after he found out its Italy tour was sponsored by the Israeli embassy in Rome.

I know what my conclusion about Mr Eno is.

UPDATE

I just came across this up to date piece at the Jerusalem Post:

Eminent Hebrew University historian Prof. Yehuda Bauer slammed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement on Tuesday night, at a speaking event in London at London’s Jewish community center, the JW3.

The Jewish Chronicle quoted Bauer, 90, as saying the BDS Movement does not want “a better Israel, they want no Israel at all.” He made the remark during an interview conducted by Labour MP Tulip Siddiq.

“Now of course, they love Jews. Especially dead Jews. The ones who died in the Holocaust, they’re marvelous, they were terrific. Live Jews is something else,” he was quoted as saying.

Bauer unequivocally equated anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, describing the former as an empty slogan. “They want to destroy the Jewish state; they want to destroy it because it’s a Jewish state. That means you are an anti-Semite.”

Read it all here.

Shock! Horror! Probe! Apple tries to stifle criticism

It’s not only taxes that Apple tries to avoid; they are not keen on criticism of their products either. One weapon in their corporate arsenal is controlling access to their launch events. Write something less than stellar, and you – and your organization – are unlikely to be invited back. That’s the conclusion of this Register piece by Kieren McCarthyInside our three-month effort to attend Apple’s iPhone 7 launch party – which shows you some of the shenanigans Apple got up to, instead of coming out and plainly admitting there is a media blacklist. Shame on Apple. However, if you don’t think it affects you, perhaps as an Apple consumer, think again. As the Register piece notes:

“Unsurprisingly, The Register is not all that flexible when it comes to tech companies trying to intimidate us into writing nothing but positive press coverage. The question you should be asking yourself is: does that mean that everyone who is invited to Apple’s events can be relied upon to self-censor any negative comments? (Quick clue: the answer’s yes.)

You have been warned.

Scarred – Thomas Enger

scarred

First there was Burned, then there was Pierced, and now Scarred: three novels set in Oslo featuring Henning Juul (a journalist with a tragic past), and his contemporary, Detective Inspector Bjarne Brogeland.

This time around, an elderly resident of a care home is brutally murdered, and the police are puzzled. Juul is trying to investigate the killing too, but at the same time his sister, Trine Juul-Osmundsen,- from whom he is estranged – is facing a media storm after an anonymous complaint against her of sexual harassment. She is the Justice Secretary (Minister?), and somewhat in the public eye. What is worse, is that to rebut the allegation she would need to reveal a dark secret (the scandal mentioned on the cover)  that could destroy her marriage.

The two separate plot lines are diverse in their path and their atmosphere. In one, you have the police investigation, with journalists sniffing around in the background. In the other, the journalists are front and center, making the running by publishing the allegations and stirring the pot of trouble, with the poor Justice Minister on her own, in hiding, and trying to work things out.

Slowly, deftly, and cleverly, the layers of the plot are unpeeled, and we see a mystery solved, and a secret disclosed.

This is a fine example of contemporary crime fiction. It not only entertains, but offers some observations on the world we live in, especially the power and potential abuse of the media. At the same time, it highlights one of the darker possibilities of human nature, and the damage that can be done when relationships break down.

Well written, with interesting characters, a well constructed story, good tension, and a surprisingly enduring plot line that continues through all the books in the series so far, I highly recommend this to you. If you haven’t ready any of the series, you will definitely get more out of them by reading them in order.