George’s gall

I saw this video – of a debate at Christ Church College, Oxford – first at Guy Fawkes‘ blog:

Quite something, isn’t it?

The Guardian coverage (here) contains the following interesting pieces:

The Oxford student newspaper Cherwell – which has video footage of Galloway’s exit – quoted Aslan-Levy as saying afterwards: “I am appalled that an MP would storm out of a debate with me for no reason other than my heritage. To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a member of parliament.”

The debate organiser, Mahmood Naji, told “At no point during my email exchange with Mr Galloway’s secretary was Eylon’s nationality ever brought up or mentioned.” He added: “Nor do I expect to have to tell the speaker what his opponent’s nationality is.”

As if to answer Mr Naji’s sensible observation, we get this back from Mr Galloway by way of a tweet:

“No recognition of Israel. No normalisation. Christ Church never informed us the debate would be with an Israeli. Simple.”

In other words, George never asked about the “nationality” of his opponent. Why not? Was he too ashamed to ask the question? Or did he – perhaps knowing or guessing his opponent was an Israeli Jew – always plan the walkout?

Meantime, this commentary from Adam Levick at CiFWatch struck a chord:

George Galloway, by, in effect, boycotting and refusing to recognize the moral legitimacy of Israelis (and not merely the state or its institutions), is attempting to consign six million Jewish men, women and children to pariah status, and social exclusion from the international community.

This is the hideously racist moral place the malign obsession with the Jewish state, which often is the sine qua non of the BDS movement, inevitably leads.

As Adam reminds us, we are referring to an individual who “has paid homage to Saddam Hussein, “glorified” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and even praised the Syrian butcher, Bashar al-Assad.

And those types of people, apparently, create a comfortable home for BDS.

I hope his constituents are proud of him. (Unfortunately, for some that is likely to be true.)

Hell on the roads

The Economist has an article in the current issue about a road being built through the village of Beit Safafa. The thrust of the article is that the road is going through an Arab village despite their protests, and it’s all about putting the interests of the “settlers” first.

The article, failing to meet any standard of impartiality or presentation of both sides of the case, has generated a fair amount of comments on the Economist online presence. This one caught my eye:



[Incidentally, it appears this is a classic “we don’t want a road in our back yard” protest, turned into something political for no good reason other than seeking the oxygen of anti-Israel publicity. The plans for the project are 20 plus years old. The plans were published and put out for public consultation (and objection). The residents lodged an objection… after the deadline for accepting objections.]

Freedom of speech – so to speak

Here’s the opening from a post by Calev Myers at the Times of Israel:

Anas Awwad, a 26 year old Palestinian Authority resident, was recently sentenced to one year in prison by a Palestinian court in Nablus. What was Awwad’s heinous crime? He dared to upload a post to his facebook page displaying a photo of Mahmoud Abbas kicking a soccer ball, with the caption, “Real Madrid’s New Striker”. The Palestinian court found Awwad guilty of breaking a Jordanian law, which forbids “cursing the king”.

The Palestinians aren’t the only ones who should be concerned about this denial of Awwad’s freedom of speech regarding “King Abbas”. We should all be alarmed. We should consider the fact that a serious punishment was just imposed upon an innocent man; a man who was born, educated, worked and lived within the borders of Israel, merely tens of kilometers from Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.

And I particularly liked this bit:

The deafening silence surrounding the sentencing of Awwad by MKs Ahmad Tibi and Hanin Zoabi, who failed to publicly condemn this action, was particularly interesting in light of their claim to be proponents of freedom of speech. In contrast, just five days after the pronouncement of his judgment, these same MKs vociferously attacked the State of Israel for placing a gag order on the Ben Zygier, regarding an Israeli who carried out serious crimes against the security of our nation.

Tibi, Zoabi and their cohorts never miss an opportunity to criticize Israel’s actions and challenge the legitimacy of the State. They did, however, miss an excellent opportunity to establish their own legitimacy as genuine defenders of the Palestinian people, by not issuing a stern condemnation of the infringement upon Awwad’s freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech. Important topic. Palestinians. Popular topic. This should be right up the Guardian’s street, shouldn’t it? Well, what do you know:

I see no evil...

I see no evil…

Yes. So far as the Guardian is concerned, Awwad does not exist. Now, why might that be?

Read the whole thing here.

[Thanks to Susan for the spot.]



This week’s group session started with Yehuda teaching the card game Hearts, but the partner version. It kept us occupied until newcomer Laura turned up, and we settled down for a session with Martin Wallace’s Age of Industry.

Yehuda, Laurie, and I had played this before. It was new to Laura and Rochelle, and so many of the earlier turns draaaaaagged while they tried to get their head round the mechanics. Then, many of the later turns were not much faster while they tried to work out their best scoring opportunities. But they plugged away and did commendably well – matching each other’s score.

Guess who has cornered the iron and coal market?

Guess who has cornered the iron and coal market?

I was pretty sure after the first couple of turns that Laurie was ahead; she bolstered her position by blocking me, and sidelining Yehuda. I was unable to break free until it was too late. (Part of the trick in this game is balancing the need to draw the right cards, with working on the cards you have. It’s not a balancing act I am any good at.) By the time I had my setup the way I wanted, the game was over.

Pretty purple pieces

Pretty purple pieces

Yehuda made a much better recovery, and came within two points of Laurie at the end. However, Laurie was not to be denied and so claimed (she said) her first win at this game. Well done, Laurie.

[Cross posted from the Ra’anana Boardgames Group site.]

Not in my name, said the Rambam

In a lengthy, informative, and refreshingly honest interview at the Times of Israel (read it all here), Dov Lipman provides, among other things, a stunning expose of the hypocrisy and bare faced cheek of some of the political haredi establishment.


INTERVIEWER: How did we get into this situation of mass full-time Torah study, and vast numbers of Haredi males not working? This is anti-rabbinical, this is not authentic Orthodox Judaism.

LIPMAN: Right. I’ll give you one line that happened during the campaign and then I’ll answer your question. I was on Haredi radio and I quoted the Rambam [medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides]. This is the same Maimonides that we’re sitting there [in yeshiva] and analyzing every little nuance of what he says about marriage. The Rambam says: “A person who decides to study Torah and not work and force other people to support him, that person disgraces Torah, disgraces God’s name and has no portion in the world to come.” This is coming full circle to Rav Ovadia and the elections. That’s what Maimonides says. If somebody is rich and wants to sit and learn Torah, fine. So what does the guy [interviewing me] say to me? He says to me: “You want to tell me that you’re relying on the Rambam?” That’s a quote. He says, “That was hundreds of years ago.”

INTERVIEWER: Unbelievable.

LIPMAN: I said: “That says it all.” If you have an answer for me, okay. But you have no answer, and your answer is, how can you rely on the Rambam from hundreds of years ago? I told my wife later: we are not a hundred percent right. We are a thousand percent right. That was the moment where it just all came together for me.

How did we get here? The rest of Israel is to blame. Because both right-wing and left-wing governments throughout have given the ultra-Orthodox parties whatever they wanted because they needed to form a coalition to advance their own [interests] — that’s how we got here.

In other words, some of the same people who want to reserve the right to study Torah texts and commentaries, don’t accept criticism of their selfish approach based on the sayings of the Rambam (a giant among the commentators). Now why might that be?

The bottom line is that the burden of state service should be shared, and those who use the Torah to escape their obligations are cheating the rest of us.

Five Broken Cameras

The film appears to be a fairy tale:

Once upon a time, a poor Palestinian farmer lived in a West Bank village called Bil’in. He had four sons, a doting wife, and many friends. A few of the men worked, while the women spent their days cooking, cleaning, raising children and otherwise being invisible. The men smoked, danced, watched soccer games and occasionally picked olives. Life seemed perfect. One day, big bad Israelis erected a “barrier” through Bil’in, seemingly for the sole purpose of irritating the villagers. For the next five years, chronicled through the life of the farmer’s youngest son, the farmer and his friends nonviolently protested this fence. Some got hurt and some even died because of Israeli soldiers’ unprovoked and excessive use of force. Then, because of the villagers of Bil’in, the fence came down. Moral of the fairy tale: Israelis are bad; Palestinians are good; the farmer’s son is very cute and has tragically suffered his loss of innocence because of Israel.

Yeah. Right.

Get your essential dose of context and reality from the Algemeiner, here*. It may come in handy when the topic of the film comes up for discussion in the pre or post Oscar media buzz. This excerpt is worth remembering:

This film is not about the fence. It is actually part of an ongoing effort to deny Israel’s right to defend its citizens with non-violent security measures like the fence. The film also underscores the difficulty Israel has in finding a true partner for peace. If Israel cannot find peace seekers among those who profess to be the ordinary people of Palestine, like Emad, then who will meet Israel at a negotiating table already forsaken by Palestinian terrorists ruling Gaza and the self-proclaimed “moderates” ruling the West Bank?

[*When I read the article, the headline was “Fairy Tails Won’t Bring Peace: Five Broken Cameras and the Palestinian Farce.” That’s surely right, because fairy tails will certainly not bring peace. But neither will fairy tales…]

Quote of the day

From this piece at the Times of Israel:


Here’s the setup line:

Lapid went on to joke about what has become the major stumbling block for Likud-Beytenu in closing a coalition deal — that Yesh Atid and Jewish Home insist on sticking to their pre-election platforms.

And the quote of the day follows:

“I understand that they say about us now — that we have no experience and we don’t understand politics,” Lapid said. “I just want to say that it is quite true: We don’t have any experience and we don’t understand politics and that’s the reason that we have no choice but to stick to our values and principles.”

The more I hear, the more I like Mr Lapid.

The start of something special?

The following video is the inaugural Knesset speech by Ruth Calderon. I had never heard of this lady before I received the video. Now? I think I’ll be following her progress very keenly.

It appears that Yair Lapid has some stunning people in his party, and we truly could be on the verge of something special. (Yes, I know; I’m an optimist.)

Like waiting for a bus

But you can ignore those already on the road...

But you can ignore those already on the road…

Susan and I had a weekend break in Eilat. It was a very restful Shabbat, with a nice twist.

Picture the scene: you are in a hotel, in Eilat, in mid February. How many fellow Scots do you expect to meet? Answer: none. But we did meet one! One of the management team at the hotel, it turns out, is also a former Glaswegian and pupil of Calderwood Lodge Primary School. What a small world.

How can I top that? We met two! On Shabbat we met a young family coming up the stairs, led by their toddler son, showing off his stair climbing prowess. As he made it to the summit, Susan congratulated him enthusiastically. At this point the father, picking up Susan’s accent, said: “Are you from Glasgow?” Actually, I think he was a bit shocked. Yes, he was a Glaswegian, too, and his wife the daughter of Glaswegians so she gets to count as well.

Those Glasgow encounters put a little of something special into the weekend mix. Hope you had a good one.

Shavuah Tov!