How much is that iPad mini in your window?

Most technology commentators believe the newly launched iPad mini is a move against Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Judging by this extract from’s home page, Amazon are going to meet the challenge head on: advert

The leading quote is from the Gizmodo site (unavailable just now because of Hurricane Sandy…) and adds salt to the wound of the direct comparison.

As this is an Amazon advert, it’s not exactly balanced. However, it will be interesting to see if Apple fight back using the strengths of their product or the power of their brand. In other words, will Apple be saying “Buy this, it’s a better piece of kit” or “Buy this, it’s an Apple”? The competition should be good for us consumers.

[A tip of the hat to the Register.]


We were at home, just about to sit down for our evening meal, when the front door buzzer went. On opening it, I was confronted by two men wearing the uniform like attire of dark trousers, a white shirt, flailing tzitzit, and a dome of a kippah. One was average height and looked, at the risk of over generalization, as a normal, average, plain guy. His companion was shorter, rounder, and had certain obvious physical ailments which I will not go into. Suffice it to say, he looked a poor wee soul. Continue reading

Comment of the week

Another cracker from The Economist‘s web community (here, behind a paywall). This – by ‘fredigundis’ – was prompted by an October 20th article on “Assisted suicide: Over my dead body.”

“The controversy has long collapsed under the weight of its own hypocrisy. Let’s take the US, that beacon of self-righteousness:

Isn’t it ironic that vicious criminals are put to death in a painless and fairly dignified way, while decent people near the end of their life cycle are condemned to rot away in a hospital bed (if they are lucky) at great emotional and financial costs to their families?”

Thought provoking stuff.

Supermarket Conversations

Martin R

“Let me tell you a story…”

Susan’s brother Martin is in town, and the three of us marked the start of the weekend with a wee brunch at Borochov 88, one of our favorite local eateries. Martin has a good time when he is here, enjoying the theater that is day to day life for us in Israel. Over brunch, he and Susan reported on just a small sample of the fun stuff encountered so far: a couple of supermarket conversations: Continue reading

Right, left

Following the announcement of the merger of Likud and Yisrael Beytenu (see here) there has been an unsurprising storm of comment. I was especially drawn to the following by Mike Lumish at Israel Thrives:

Speaking strictly for myself, I feel no particular need to rush into judgment on this.

All that I know for certain is that the left refuses to recognize the failure of the Oslo peace process, blames their fellow Jews for Palestinian refusal to accept a state for themselves in peace next to Israel, and in the United States, supports a president who helped bring a genocidally anti-Semitic organization into power in the much larger neighboring state of Egypt.

So naturally the mainstream Israeli right is consolidating power and the Israeli left has gotten decimated.

The western left has killed the Israeli left.

Like Mike, I am in no hurry to decide if this is good or bad. But because I think his analysis of the left wing parties in Israel is accurate, I am expecting a response from that quarter. Will those left wing leaders be able to put their egos on hold long enough to form a single faction? Fascinating. Especially fascinating for me, as I play catchup in learning about Israeli politics.

It’s raining, men

I wish to report the first serious rain of the year in Ra’anana. Last night, while we were gathering for our bike ride, a small shower of rain fell. In the distance, thunder. But after we started the trip, the rain died away and we were not troubled again.

Overnight, there was a more serious rainfall. The ground was actually wet this morning. (The roads were greasy, and therefore more dangerous. The drivers did what they always do in such a  situation – ignored the danger.) There are some chunky rain clouds hovering around, threatening to unload. And the temperature has dropped to 24 degrees. (I see it’s 6 degrees in Glasgow and 17 degrees in Melbourne.) Although next weekend the temperature is forecast to climb back to 30 degrees, for now Israelis are able to complain that winter is here. Or, to put it another way, it’s raining…

Tainted view

What’s the collective name for several tainted views?

There’s been a war going on here the last few days. Israel has been under attack by mortar and missile. And when it responded, that provoked further assault by media. (We will pass over the attempted smuggling of eight pipe bombs by a Palestinian Authority terrorist, because that type of near miss won’t make mainstream media news.)

But if you rely on the mainstream media – like the BBC, for example – you are not getting the full picture. You are getting a tainted view. Want proof? Check out this report from BBC Watch.

And then, after you have read it, I ask you to note the damning, closing statement:

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have spent two nights and a day in air raid shelters (yet again) but the BBC apparently did not consider it necessary to include any footage of that.

And whenever you hear the BBC mentioned again, keep in mind the words: tainted view.

BDS Failure

Yesterday, there was a BDS protest at a Rami Levy supermarket in Shaar Binyamin, near Beit El.

From the Ynet report:

The protesters blocked the entrance to the store, waved Palestinian flags and carried signs calling for a boycott of settlement goods.

Some of the protesters entered the supermarket and chanted slogans against the purchase settlement goods. Large security forces that arrived at the scene tried to disperse the demonstrators using shock grenades.


Abir Kopti, an activist with the Palestinian popular committees, told Ynet that Wednesday’s protest was part of a line of steps recently taken. The first was last week’s blocking of route 443.

According to Kopti, the activists are planning additional protests in the future. “This time we chose the Rami Levy store because we want to send a message to boycott the occupation and its products. As long as the Palestinians get no justice, settlers and Israelis will not lead normal lives.”

She added that the protest was also meant to send a message to the Palestinian people not to shop in Rami Levy. It should be noted that the retail chain has two branches in the West Bank that also serve Palestinians.

The added emphasis is mine.

The problem – and it is a real problem for the BDS crew – is that Rami Levy’s supermarkets in the West Bank are places where Arabs and Jews work and shop together. As the Elder says:

“Rami Levy markets are islands of co-existence in the territories.”

And the Elder goes on to say:

“Arab bigots cannot stand the success of Rami Levy…

The “Popular Struggle Committee” is dedicated to pushing boycott of Israeli products and stores worldwide. But they cannot even get Arabs who live in the territories to boycott a Jewish-owned store!

Rami Levy, by continuing to attract ordinary Arabs, symbolizes the failure of BDS more effectively than anything else.”

And, as usual, the Elder is absolutely right.

BDS is not a pro Palestinian peace initiative; it is a rabid anti-Israel hate movement. Metaphorically, it acts to cut its nose off to spite its face – to protest forcibly to prevent any co-existence or normalization of activity with Israel. That is not a morally defensible position.

Dead end

This week was another first for us, but one we would happily have missed out on for a long, long time: our first Israeli funeral.

Differences? First, reflecting the relative size of the communities, there are a lot more  Jewish burials in Israel than in Glasgow. (Sharp, am I not?) So, maybe it should not have been a surprise – but it was – to see an electronic noticeboard announcing in a list, the name of each deceased due for burial that day, and their allotted time. Irreverently, it reminded me of a public transport announcement: “The next bus to Heaven will be the 9.45, carry the earthly remains of the late...”

Second, they do not use coffins; just a plain shroud. Thankfully, I had been warned about this, but it was still a little shock to the system to see a wrapped up body instead of a simple, unadorned, box.

Third, after the prayers and the eulogies, we went from the prayer hall at the front of the cemetery to the burial plot – by car. It was such a large cemetery, that walking was not a viable option.

As we made our way among the thousands – tens of thousands? – of plots, I thought about the advice a wise man once gave me: “It’s good to go to the cemetery; it’s more important to leave it.” I was glad to be able to leave.

May the Almighty comfort the mourners, and may they be spared sorrow for many years to come.