Jerusalem Marathon

Tomorrow (Friday 1 March 2013) is the date of the Jerusalem Marathon. There’s a nice post about it from the Times of Israel, here.


We will have a family representative at the race. You will notice I did not say “in the race.”  (Sarah-Lee is working there.)

Good luck, Sarah-Lee! Here’s hoping the race, and all the associated events, go well for all concerned.

Red Lights

In short: it’s a film about a couple of university teachers and scientists (played by Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy) who spend their time investigating and exposing fake paranormal activity. Robert De Niro is the Uri Geller type psychic and cutlery bender; he’s been in retirement for years, but resurfaces. Their paths will cross with unpleasant consequences. Meantime, Toby Jones is the scientist who is looking to test De Niro and prove, once and for all, whether such paranormal activity exists. And finally, Joely Richardson is Murphy’s love interest.

Good Stuff: up until De Niro’s first return show, the film flows well and engages the viewer. But after that, it wobbles. The pacing is good – at least till then – the characters interesting, and the story is enticing. The final twist is a good idea, though the execution could have been a bit better.

The Not So Good Stuff: as hinted above, the film loses its way near the end, and the final twist is fumbled. I suspect this lack of cohesion may be something to do with the fact that much of the film’s second half seems to be a reworking – and not a good one – of some of the key scenes from Christopher Brookmyre‘s Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not top notch. Passable entertainment.

Advice: skip the film, and read Brookmyre’s book instead.

He just doesn’t get it, does he?

The Times of Israel is exposing the apparent pain of Eli Yishai and Shas at the possibility of being left out of the ruling coalition:


You can read the whole piece here. My interest was first sparked by this:

The likely outgoing interior minister also launched a blistering attack on Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, saying the alliance between the respective leaders of the Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties was forged solely with an eye toward “harming the world of Torah.”

I don’t believe that anything in the Yesh Atid or Jewish Home approach is about harming the world of Torah. It may harm the self-interested world of Shas, but that – despite whatever they bleat – is something completely separate.

If there’s a connection between Yesh Atid and Jewish Home, it is a connection about wanting to do their best for the Jewish People. All the Jewish People; not just the ultra orthodox, or the orthodox, or the conservative, or the traditional, or the reform, or the secular, or the rich, or the poor. All the Jewish People.

Anyone with a bit of common sense and objectivity, seeing the policies of the parties, the pronouncements of their leaders, and the (frankly) stunning speeches by Yair Lapid and Ruth Calderon, is probably going to come to the conclusion that Eli Yishai has lost the plot. He comes across as a kid who has thrown his rattle out the pram.

Then there’s this:

Yishai said that the insistence on conscripting the ultra-Orthodox reflected the fact that Bennett and Lapid “don’t understand that change must be effected with respect… not by exclusion, polarization and blacklisting.” Yesh Atid and Jewish Home would turn Israeli society “from a society in disagreement into a divided society,” he lamented, calling it “odd” that they were seeking to “impose” rather than cooperate on “momentous changes” for the ultra-Orthodox community.

Eli Yishai doesn’t get it.

I would like to know the last time Shas had respect for anyone but themselves.

I would like to know how a haredi draft is about “exclusion, polarization and blacklisting” because it is, of course, the exact opposite.

I also dare to suggest that the vast majority of Israelis do not see it as “odd” that the Yesh Atid and Jewish Home want to impose a solution about conscripting the ultra-Orthodox. Instead, they see it as a necessity to share the burden. And if, in sharing the burden, Shas and company find themselves divided from society, hell mend them. And it is a dreadful indictment on Shas and those of a similar no-haredi-draft position, that there may be a necessity for “momentous changes” to achieve something approaching equality!

I recommend that Eli Yishai and Shas have a good long, hard look at themselves in the mirror. They are, after all, the party whose former leader Aryeh Deri – now number two – was convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as Interior Minister, and given a three-year jail sentence in 2000. What moral fiber do you think Shas has, having let Deri back in? What respect is due to the party that welcomes back – and at such high office – a convicted bribe taker? What kind of example have Shas set?  If they wanted to do the right thing, they should get rid of Deri, and demand there be a haredi draft. After all, they do want to share the burden, don’t they?

My criticism is not directed at all Shas supporters, nor all haredim, nor all ultra-Orthodox. It’s directed at those who – for whatever excuse is given – do not want the burden of national service to be shared. For example, the Arab citizens of Israel should serve – if not in the army, in one of the many civil support programs.  We all take; we all should give.

Marmite technology

I saw this expression and wanted to share.

What the hell is Marmite technology, I hear you asking. It’s technology that some people love, and some people hate. For example: voice recognition technology software… I cannot wait to throw this into a conversation with the tech guys at work!

[If you haven’t got a clue what Marmite is, go here.]

Never mind the headline…

This is the headline from a New York Times piece on the clashes that took place at Rachel’s Tomb, outside Bethlehem:


The headline suggests Israeli troops fired on protesting demonstrators. No context and no explanation up front. It’s a way of reinforcing the nonsense about disproportionate use of force.

And the article starts by reinforcing that nonsense:

“Two Palestinian teenagers were seriously injured Monday when Israeli soldiers used live ammunition to disperse a demonstration at a holy site outside Bethlehem, as clashes in the West Bank continued for a fifth day and thousands attended the burial of a 30-year-old Palestinian who died in an Israeli jail over the weekend.”

It appears the NYT shares much of the Guardian and BBC’s practices. If you read all the way down the article – to paragraph 11 out of 13 – you finally get the context and explanation:


So the hints about disproportionate use of force were bollocks. The “protesters” were throwing “improvised grenades” at “worshipers”. To put it another way, they were trying to kill Jews who were praying at a holy site.

So, the NYT headline could have been:

Palestinian rioters shot while trying to kill worshipers

But no such headline appeared. Instead, more slander and bias. Only belatedly, when most readers have long since moved on, is there any attempt at balance. And a half hearted one at that.

This story is a fine example of why you should rarely believe a Mainstream media headline. In fact, let me rephrase that: this story is a fine example of why you should rarely believe the Mainstream media.

[A tip of the hat to Love of the Land.]

What does truce mean?

Not good news as reported this morning by Ynet:

Rocket hits outskirts of Ahskelon; none injured

Grad rocket hits road in southern city’s industrial zone for first time since Operation Pillar of Defense

A Grad rocket fired from Gaza landed on the outskirts of Ahskelon. No injuries were reported.

The rocket landed on a road in the city’s industrial zone, causing some damage. Security forces are at the scene. The area’s residents reported hearing echoes of an explosion.

Hamas have broken the truce. Surprise, surprise. Here’s hoping it really is an isolated incident. But do take some time to consider how you would feel about this news if you lived anywhere near Gaza… My thoughts are with the residents of the south of Israel. I hope they do not have to endure more terror.

(Memo to the BBC and Guardian: terror. That’s how you spell it. Now use it.)

George generates much heat, little light

Inevitably, the Elder of Ziyon skewers Mr Galloway after his recent debate debacle:

Galloway cannot even put forth a consistent, cohesive position in a simple Facebook post. The reason is clear: when it comes to Israel, he is not liberal nor conservative. The only real consistency he has vis a vis the Middle East is that he hates Israel, Israeli Jews and Jewish nationalism. Everything that can help bring about the destruction of a liberal democracy in a region of misogyny, bigotry, anti-Westernism and religious fundamentalism – anything that opposes Israel – is considered inherently moral by this hypocritical blowhard.

Read it all here.

Shabi’s shabby work

Playing catchup, I read this Guardian piece with no great expectations:


And indeed, it follows the Guardian party line about the situation. Any sliver of objective analysis has been removed. And then there’s this interesting paragraph (with my added emphasis):

When westerners use the anti-normalisation card, it just seems like bad politics by proxy. How could the occupation be entrenched by a British person meeting with an individual Israeli? Is it that this meeting, by taking place at all, will cause the Israeli to think that the occupation is OK? What if you meet the Israeli and tell them that the occupation is in fact illegal and must end? And if Galloway’s guiding principle is that he doesn’t recognise Israel, this makes him more inflexible than Hamas, which has implicitly recognised Israel. Again, not helpful.

The online version of this article links the phrase which has implicitly recognised Israel to this:


So, I looked at the article for evidence of Hamas recognizing Israel.

Does “Weighs Options For Recognizing Israel” sound to you like Hamas has recognized Israel?

The best the article does in coming close to backing up Rachel Shabi’s throwaway line is this:

It appears that Hamas is still vacillating between explicitly and implicitly recognizing Israel. Hamas realizes that recognizing Israel would open up the world’s doors to the movement.

First, that is not any form of recognition. Second, the other contents of the article make it clear there is no recognition:

At the same time, Hamas knows that such a move would be seen as a betrayal by the movement’s supporters, both inside and outside Palestine.

If they were to do it, such a move would be, er, betrayal. In other words, if at some time in the future, Hamas recognized Israel…How much does that help?

Or consider this from the same linked article:

As Hamas well knows, its legitimacy derives from its vocal support for armed struggle within the complicated Palestinian reality. Hamas also knows that it will pay a heavy price if it is seen to be agreeing to international conditions. The cost will not only be political, but also ideological.

Or this:

Since Hamas was founded in late 1987, it has been conducting an ideological and political campaign for its members and supporters against recognizing Israel. Hamas’ constitution says that Israel is a “cancer that must be eradicated,” and that “its demise is a Quranic inevitability.” Those and other slogans have been a key component of Hamas’s political discourse. It is therefore not easy for Hamas to change overnight due to political realism and suddenly tell its supporters: We shall recognize Israel, but it’s under duress!

In a nutshell, there is no recognition. Nor is there likely to be any. Rachel Shabi is either wrong or deliberately misleading her readership. To put it another way, she is either engaging in sloppy journalism or lying. You decide.

Purim sameach!


Too busy with Purim and stuff to blog much. So here’s something to get you in the mood:

Incidentally, instead of distributing mishloach manot locally, as is now our custom, we gave to the IDF. Here’s hoping the guys and girls there all have a happy and safe Purim.