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Theory vs. the Jews: Michael Weingrad on Bruno Chaouat.
My friend Michael Weingrad reviews Bruno Chaouat’s book on postmodern, academic anti-Semitism.
'The answer to the book’s title is straightforward: No, Theory is not good for the Jews (or, for that matter, anyone who cares about intellectual and moral clarity). And, yes, there are probably better ways to spend one’s life than marinating in postmodernism’s silly conceits and tin-eared jargon. And yet, if Chaouat hesitates to draw such un-ambiguous conclusions he has nevertheless performed a service here by chronicling a range of Theory’s recent intellectual and moral failures and how they continue to revolve around Jews, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel. This is worth knowing about since, to adapt Trotsky’s warning, Jews may not be interested in Theory, but Theory is very interested in Jews. ...'

Africa / India / Israel: Devsena Mishra in JPost.
'... Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Africa has 60% of the world’s arable land reserves. The combination of Israeli innovation/conceptual abilities and India’s “collective effort, inclusive growth” approach can provide the right direction to sustainable development efforts in Africa. Clean and renewable energy, healthcare, agriculture and rural development, vocational/technical education, and entrepreneurship promotion are some of the key areas where India and Israel need to collaborate for a better future for Africa.'

Masoud Barzani on Kurdish Independence Referendum: Rudaw
'Amid numerous calls to postpone next week’s independence referendum and focus on discussions with Baghdad, President Masoud Barzani told a visiting British minister that they will not postpone the referendum without commitment from Baghdad to begin independence negotiations, with international guarantees that agreements will be enforced. ... “[T]he referendum will not be delayed only for the sake of holding talks with Baghdad without knowing the content of these talks or knowing what international guarantees they will have,” the Kurdish statement read.'
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'The Israel angle on McMaster’s purge of Trump loyalists from the National Security Council is that all of these people are pro-Israel and oppose the Iran nuclear deal, positions that Trump holds.

McMaster in contrast is deeply hostile to Israel and to Trump. According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews.

Many of you will remember that a few days before Trump’s visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו and his advisers were blindsided when the Americans suddenly told them that no Israeli official was allowed to accompany Trump to the Western Wall.

What hasn’t been reported is that it was McMaster who pressured Trump to agree not to let Netanyahu accompany him to the Western Wall. At the time, I and other reporters were led to believe that this was the decision of rogue anti-Israel officers at the US consulate in Jerusalem. But it wasn’t. It was McMaster. ...'


2016-12-18 10:19
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I watched the first few episodes of 'Fauda' last week. One thing I noticed almost immediately was the same thing that had struck me about 'Hatufim': all of the Israeli characters were secular, while the folks on the other side were for the most part devoutly religious. Depictions of Jewish religious practice were almost entirely absent, while mosques and imams and Koranic quotes were everywhere.

In a blog post a couple of years ago, I wrote:
The Israeli television series 'Hatufim' - adapted for American TV as 'Homeland' - tells the story of two Israeli POWs who return home after 17 years in captivity at the hands of a terrorist group. Throughout the series, Nimrod and Uri struggle with questions of loyalty and identity; over and over, both of them tell the women in their lives "I'm not the same man I was before." ...

Religion - Jewish religion, that is - is notably absent from 'Hatufim'. The Jews of 'Hatufim' are secular Israelis who go to the synagogue only for bar mitzvahs. It's unlikely that they are fastidious about observing the Sabbath or the kosher laws (although it's hard to tell on this latter point, as all the characters are vegetarian). The Bible is quoted only once - in a reference to the Mossad's motto, Proverbs 24:6.

Contrast this with the devotion to purpose the Children of Jihad (the fictional terrorist group), whose members pray regularly, listen to Koranic sermons, and are often found at the mosque. In a battle of wills - if we accept Sharansky's premise - which side is better armed?

I was reminded of this by a recent post at Jonathan Spyer's Facebook page, where he remarked on the confidence and assertiveness of the islamist side in Israel's muezzin controversy:
An interesting development regarding the ‘muezzin law’. The most instructive comments here are from MK Hanin Zouabi who says ‘It isn’t the noise that is harmful, but the outspoken presence of the Arabic language that emphasizes the place’s identity, along with a certain level of controlling the space. It is a fight over it and control of it. If the will pass, we won’t respect it. We won’t lower our voice in our own space.” This comment is instructive when one bears in mind that the complaints relate to the fact that the muezzin calls in many parts of Israel are set at a volume that requires Jews and other non-Muslims to listen to Muslim scriptural recitations in the middle of the night. That is, for Hanin Zouabi, control of ‘her’ space means imposition of control on yours too, with an absolute lack of concern regarding any rights and desires you might have. The overly loud muezzin calls are a feature of the Israeli landscape. I never heard anything like them in Aleppo, Idleb, Ankara, Baghdad etc. They relate precisely to the thing that Zouabi is talking about, and to the recognition of involvement in a totalistic national and religious contest. This is a manifestation of the Arab-Islamic nationalism which sees the entire region as ‘its’ space. Regional minorities who don’t want to end up in exile or on Sinjar Mountain would do well to listen carefully to her words. They relate to a relatively minor issue, but they are deeply instructive regarding the core dynamics of the region. I would add that while Zouabi’s words are primitive and in a way repulsive, they are also quite impressive. They are testimony to the ability that the Arab-Islamic nationalist outlook has of investing even the smallest things with national and religious significance. This is evidence, in my view, of a certain civilizational strength which should not be dismissed

Jonathan later commented on 'Fauda':

 the Arab Muslims appear in this series to be a far more rooted and dignified bunch than the Israeli Jews. But I think that this doesnt reflect the reality of the people who serve in Israel's security forces/services, but rather the prejudices of the authors of this show, and of the people who tend to write tv screenplays in Israel. They tend to be part of the old, shrinking secular-leftist elite, so they portray the Israelis as they wish they were, not as they actually are today (ie everyone in the show is basically native born, secular, and left of center.)

And I think this is right.  The image that's portrayed is a projection of the liberal media's world-view - although I think 'Hatufim' was a very, very good series, and much better written than 'Fauda'.
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Shimon Peres has left us.

Shimon Peres, former president, former prime minister, former defense minister, former foreign minister, former minister of eight other ministries, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, and winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize died Wednesday after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He was 93.

asher553: (asher63)
OK, I have to get this off my chest. What ever possessed the Israelis to call their operation "Pillar of Defense" in English? The Hebrew name is "Pillar of Smoke", which is dramatic, concrete, and Biblical. But what in the world does a "pillar of defense" look like? It's a mangled metaphor. Just plain bad writing. Grrrrr.
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After my last trip to Israel, I promised myself that I wouldn't let more than a year go by before doing it again. That was last November, this is October, and here I am.

I'm staying at a decent, budget hotel on Allenby Street in southern Tel Aviv, and I'm upstairs from a bar and two pizza shops. I get a kick out of this area because it's so much the opposite from the pictures of Israel that you see in tourist guides. Anyway, I'm not far from the bus station, and I expect I'll catch the 405 to Jerusalem in the next couple of days.

I've been sleeping intermittently since about 6pm. They had some loud music downstairs around 1 or 2am, I think the cops made them turn it down.

I'm feeling a LOT more comfortable getting around in Hebrew, this time around. Ate breakfast at the Bialik Cafe, on the hotel's voucher, then went back there for dinner. The waitress handed me an all-Hebrew menu so I really felt like a native. It's not a kosher place and I'm pretty sure Heh-Aleph-Mem spells "ham" (which figured prominently on most of the items), so I ended up getting a green salad, and that was pretty good.

It's probably safe to say there's not much that goes on in this neighborhood that's kosher, but if I can find a place that's K, or vegetarian, it'll make my life easier. Burger Ranch isn't vegetarian but it is K, and I'm thinking of checking it out. I'm going into carnivore mode for this trip.

But, no ham. Even if the menu is in Hebrew.
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Also posted at Dreams Into Lightning 2.

Yitzhak Shamir dies. MEI: 'Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has died at age 96.' Read the post to find out what happened to a certain Yitzhak Yzernitzky. Netanyahu recalled a controversial statement of Shamir's and observed, "more people today realize that the man saw fundamental truths and did not sway with the changing trends." Peres said, "He had courage, and he lived as a patriot, weather you agreed with him or not." The BBC has more - but curiously makes no mention of the mysterious Mr. Yzernitzky.

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