At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

HOW TO COOK A ZEBRA

Note: One of my long-time correspondents reminded me of the stuff I used to write on the Suriname mailing-list, in the days when ethnography, cuisine, and linguistics all combined into a heady stew - a stew flavoured with Dutch, Indonesian, English, Sranangtongo, and scraps of Sarnami Hindi. Surinamers represent some of the most broad-minded speakers of Dutch, with wide ranging interests, residing in a multitude of countries and climates. There are probably some living near you. Which is a blessing.

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Dennis wrote: "In de trant van' how to cook zebra' ;-)."

You flatter me, my dear man. But, purely coincidentally, I do have some expertise in that field (having several years ago been associated with a company that sold bush meats).
So, here goes.

Zebra tastes rather like horse, being quite lean, but it can have a slight gaminess – remember, this is a wild animal.

It can be tough, and will definitely benefit from braising or stewing, although Boers may think it suitable for grilling - Boers think everything is suitable for grilling. Everything. If they made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, they would grill them. Darned Braaivlees freaks.

You should be able to find zebra steaks and haunch cuts without too much trouble. All the recipes below can also be done with buffalo.




BRAISED ZEBRA

Two pounds of zebra, cut into chunks.
One pound tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped.
Two onions, chopped.
Two TBS flour.
One Tsp. paprika.
Pinches salt, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cayenne.
One cup browned bone stock.
Quarter cup olive oil.
Quarter cup heavy cream.
A good jigger of sherry.



Fry the onion golden in the oil and remove to a plate.
Dust the meat with flour, salt, and pepper, and brown in oil. Add tomatoes and onions, stir briefly to take up the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan, then add the sherry, stock, and spices. Simmer until tender, which may take a while if the beast was old. Before serving, whisk in the heavy cream.
---



MABOKAY

Two pounds of zebra, cut into chunks.
Two cups of crumbled roasted peanuts.
Two large onions, chopped.
Juice from one or two lemons.
Half a dozen chopped green chilies.
Plantain leaf – one or two whole leaves.



Cook the peanuts, meat, and onion with a little water for about twenty minutes. It should be a stiff glop.
Take a leaf and pull off the central rib (cut across the rib, flip the edge of the blade underneath the rib, and pull). Trim the leaf to a large rectangle. Sprinkle some salt on the leaf, and place the meat mixture on one side. Flavour it with the lemon juice and chilies.
Now fold over all ends to make a secure package within several layers of plantain leaf, and tie it up like a postage parcel. Place on a rack in a large pot and steam for over an hour.
Unwrap at the table and serve with corn mush.
---



ZEBRA STAMPOT

Two pounds of zebra, cut into chunks.
Two onions, chopped.
Two tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped.
Two green plantain, peeled and chunked.
Two sweet potatoes, chunked.
Two large regular potatoes, chunked.
Two or three chilies, minced.
One can (one and half cup) coconut milk (santen).
One or two cups browned bone stock.
Minced garlic, ginger.
Salt, pepper, plus pinches of ground clove and nutmeg.



Rub the garlic, ginger, chilies, salt, and pepper into the meat, and let it rest for one or two hours in the refrigerator.
Then brown it in a heavy casserole with a little oil. When it is well gilded, add the stock and spices, simmer for an hour.
Then add the vegetables and scant water to cover. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, then mash everything with a potato masher. If using meat on the bone from an odd cut, it would be a good idea to remove it from the bones before mashing. Mix in the coconut milk before serving.
---



ZEBRA MYEMBWE

Two pounds of zebra, cut into chunks.
Two onions, chopped.
Half a dozen tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped.
One pound of spinach or chard, washed and chopped.
One cup of Myembwe sauce (moambé sauce, nyembwe sauce, or canned palm soup base aka sauce graine).
Juice of one or two lemons.
Garlic, ginger, chilies – minced.
Olive oil.
Pinch of salt.



Mix lemon juice with garlic, salt, and chilies. Wet meat with this and allow to marinate for an hour.
Brown the onions in a large casserole, then add the meat and brown also.
Add the tomatoes and water to generously cover, simmer for about an hour (longer if it was a tough old beast). Then add the chopped greens and the myembwe sauce, and cook till the vegetables are mooshy.


Serve with fried plantains and fufu or rice.

-----------------------------------------------


Please note: all of the dishes above can well be served with sakasaka (manioc greens).

I have a posting about manioc greens here:
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2006/10/sakasaka-witiman-witiman.html


Feedback will be appreciated.




-----B.O.T.H.


PS. Will I be posting these recipes on my blog for future reference? You betcha!

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HORRIBLE PASSOVER PUN

Pre-ambular notations (read these first, before proceeding to the horrible pun):

Mechiras chometz = selling your chometz to a Gentile, in order to get rid of it without wasting it.
It is customary to sell all chometz one owns to a gentile before Peysach, in order to make certain that one has no chometzdikkes in one's possession for the duration of the festival. The sale has to be in all ways legitimate: the price has to be a fair one for the material being sold, the ownership of the material is with the gentile after the sale, and the gentile must have access to the material in order to use or enjoy it - you don't have to be Jewish to love Levi's rye bread. In apartment buildings one can claim that the basement, not being actually part of one's own dwelling, qualifies as a courtyard or common area, and thus that the storage of chometz is not on one's own premises.

Kinyan sudar = purchase by proxy (literally: acquisitition of a scarf); the legal acquisition, with documentation attesting thereto, of landed or moveable property, in which a scarf or other suitable object represents the object being sold. In relation to the selling of chometz, this is the method whereby stocks of chometz are transferred to a gentile owner for the duration, key element being that there must be believability to the transaction; the sale is honest, the gentile is the new owner, who may decide to sell the chometz back after peysach has passed, but is in no way obligated to do so.


Horrible pun:

"Did you hear about the sale of the brewery before passover?"
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
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"It was a beer mitzvah."
.
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Sorry. I won't do it again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

SMELLING LIKE A SOUTH EAST ASIAN SLUM: PETIS, TRASI, BULATJONG

I just realized that hardly any part of my life is compatible with kosher for Peysach.

I mean, I would have to get rid of almost my entire pantry.
A Dutch-American who cooks Asian food has nearly nothing which is not either chametz OR kitnios.

Soy sauce? Rice-wine? The weird Japanese pancake mix which Savage Kitten likes? Her huge bin of Texas double A, or my bin of Thai jasmine longrain? The regular glutinous, or the expensive pudding rice? Basmati?

Nix on all that.

My collection of hot sauces? Well, they weren't made with apple or grape vinegar..... and some of them wouldn't even be kosher le rest-of-the-year, let alone kosher le-Peysach. Reason being that they contain petis, trasi, or bulatjong.

If you have never even heard of petis, trasi, or bulatjong, trust me - there is no way that commercial versions can be considered kosher. Ever. No one has invented a vegetarian version either. There is no substitute.



GO FISH

But YOU could make them at home, using only fish that have snaper ve kaskeses.

[And by kaskeses are not meant kaskeses which are embedded like those of reptiles or small buggy things, but clearly visible kaskeses which can be easily scroped off with a knife, the test being that one can be pulled off without ripping or damaging the skin. This per both the Rambam and the Rema.]

[Note: If your fish vendor has skinned the fish, there is no way to ascertain that it was kosher. Just one more reason you shouldn't buy those factory processed fish-like products. Even if the sales person tells you what it was before it was rendered generic, is there a chezkas kashrus? Would someone who is not shomer mitzvos actually be knowledgeable enough, or vested enough, to be an accurate source of information in this matter? Fish nomenclature and fishwives are both notoriously haphazard. Salmon, however, has a unique appearance to the flesh, which according to some poskim is a siman muvhak, and hence a heter. ]




PETIS

Use only the very freshest of fish, and move to a warm climate. Use no more than three times the amount of fish by weight as sea salt, no less than twice the amount of fish to salt. In a clean vessel (a barrel or earthenware tun) strew salt, layer cleaned and gutted fish, strew more salt, and repeat till all the fish and salt is used up. Place a flat bamboo basket (a winnowing tray is perfect) or a pickle-board on top, and weigh this down with rocks like you would sauerkraut. This prevents the fish from floating when the liquid has been released by the salt. Cover with a cloth to keep out the flying shrotzim.

After the first week or two, uncover the container and expose to direct sunlight for several hours. This furthers the fermentation process, and will eventually yield a fish-sauce which is a lovely reddish amber, clear, and fragrant. It will take at least a year to produce a superior fish-sauce, but for best results, figure on nearly two years. Strain and bottle.
The sludgy refuse can be diluted with salt water for second round of fermenting, the result of which can be sold as inferior fish sauce.

Decent fish-sauce will keep for a very long time. About six kilos of fish will give one litre of superior fish-sauce. Really excellent fish-sauce will look like single malt, Irish, or bourbon, and have a depth of flavour, whereas mediocre fish sauce wil be dark, salty, fishy, and Philippino.

[Many commercial fish sauces are mixtures of long fermented top level superior sauces and various shorter ferments and second-round ferments. With or without the further addition of extenders, odd grain products, and salt. ]


In addition to having moved to a warm climate, it will be helpful if you do not have picky neighbors living too close by.
I believe that most of New York and New Jersey do not qualify on either score.



TRASI

Use tiny fish, or mince larger fish to a uniform granular texture. Mix in one and a half cups of sea salt to each kilo of fish. Press this into a jar overnight. The next day, spread the fish thinly on a bamboo mat and dry in strong sunlight. Take it in at night and store it in the jar. Spread it out again the next day. Repeat the spreading and storing until the result is dense and purply and the fish material has broken down, which takes about five days or so, or keep repeating untill it has become stiff and clay-like. After the first three days or so, you may grind the fish for uniformity. This also speeds up the drying process, and will yield a superior paste. A well made stiff paste will be a deep brown, and be easily pressed into a brick shape. If dried until it is crumbly, it will keep a very long time. Indonesians call it trasi, Malaysians call it belachan. A wetter version is available in Philippino stores, know as bago'ong.



BULATJONG

This is made by mixing vegetable matter and fishy stuff together with enough salt to promote pickling. It is closely related to both petis and trasi, and also to a somewhat explosive mixture made by Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese. Think of it as a table-condiment. You can also simply use regular fish or shrimp paste as the basis, much like South-East Asian Portugese do - about two thirds fish paste, with tomatoes, fresh ginger, chilies, garlic, and vinegar added. For each cup of non-fish paste substances add a generous tablespoonfull of salt, and let it stand a few days before use.


Note that for all of the products described above, shrimp are considered the best fundament. And shrimp are not kosher. But I have been told that small firm fish that are not too high in fat can very well be used instead. I firmly encourage your experimentation.

Some of the cheaper commercial versions use flour and wheat products in addition to fish-ferments. And related thereto, please be aware that most soy sauces contain wheat (and are therefore also posul for Sfardim during Peysach, in addition to being off-limits to kitniophobics).

Petis is used condimentally as a table sauce, trasi is used for cooking (indispensable in South-East Asian and Southern Chinese food) or cooked into condiment mixtures, and bulatjong is eaten much like a table pickle or relish. You can also purchase pre-roasted trasi which can be ground into curry-pastes or crumbled into stews, if you do not wish your kitchen to reek like a low class flop house just off Mabini or Del Pilar.


All these products should be used sparingly. A tablespoon or two of petis with an equivalent amount of fresh lime juice or vinegar, with some sliced chili and garlic, makes a lovely dip.

---------------------------------------

Related hereto, a meise shehoyo:

Before he moved to Telegraph Hill, the bookseller and I would walk part-way home together late at night after leaving Mike's or Candy's. One night in 1993 I boasted about finding a bottle of chinchaloc (fish pickle). One thing lead to another, and we decided to open that bottle. Sniff and sample. Consider it the spirit of discovery if you will.
I had barely touched the bottle opener to the crown when the top blew off, and a geyser of putrid muck sprayed the kitchen counter, the window, and both of us.

Our spirit of discovery was satisfied, and neither of us even tasted the fish pickle. I have never bought another bottle.

Months later I was still finding little dried shrimp eyeballs stuck in the weirdest places.

I never found the top of the bottle - I think it went straight out the open window into the airwell, shot like a bottle rocket by the pressure that had built up.

Long warehoused chinchaloc is more unstable than even cheap Philippino fish-sauce. Those bottles are potential bombs. If you've ever wondered at the rich aroma in South-East Asian Chinese stores, wonder no more.

If you plan to make your own, get the bottles and crowns at a home-brew supply house.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A FORTY YEAR OLD FRAGRANCE

One of my aunties was Indonesian.

[More precisely, an Indo - a Dutch person whose past lies in the Dutch East Indies, and who may be of a mixed or creole ancestry.]


By saying that, I also betray the nature of the relationship, as any Indo will recognize. Terms such as auntie and uncle, used among Indos, do not actually mean blood relation, but indicate that the person so referenced is of one's parents' generation or older, and close to the family, or the parent of a friend, or even an adult friend of one's youth.

[I made mention of my auntie earlier, in this post: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2006/09/boterkoek-butter-cake.html
There's recipe there - you might like it.]



When I first knew her, Auntie Ietje (*) lived in Valkenswaard, in a cottage near meadows on the road to Geenhoven. The cottage no longer exists, having been replaced with row houses in the early seventies, after she had moved to The Hague. The trees along that road are also gone, and there are no more meadows.

When she still lived there I would often visit after school or chess club meetings.
Her house smelled.
Lavender and camphor, sandalwood and citrus.
Those being the fragrances of expensive hand soap, unvarnished wooden chests that keep away bugs, incense that drives out mosquitoes and makes the soul tranquil, plus lemons.


There were usually three or four large fruit-bowls with lemons - in the kitchen, in the living room, in the hallway to the back patio. I believe there may have also been a bowl in the bedroom.

She used lemons for a wealth of purposes, but probably mostly for the memories. Lemons are redolent of warmer climes, and when bruised release a wonderful aroma. A squeeze of lemon over food, or the zest in the dish, can make something pedestrian seem delightful. A twist of peel in the pot along with the leaves makes even grocery store tea taste good and fragrant.
In very many ways lemons are bright spots of sun in the gloom of a Northern European twilight, the fragrant fruits that chase away the wintry blahs, the gilded motes of tropical comfort in the cold. Lemons are warmth, youth, freshness, sparkle.
It is by such import-products that exiles in Holland bring back echoes of a sunnier life.
These are not unusual conceptions, and you likely already knew them. You too probably like lemons.


But what you might not know is that warm water with lemon juice softens hair after washing, and makes it shine.


Auntie Ietje's hair always smelled faintly of jasmine shampoo and lemon.
It was one of those things which took me a long time to realize.
I wasn't even aware of it until I was as tall as her.


As I was outside the building earlier today having a smoke, I smelled that exact same combination - jasmine shampoo and lemon.


I was ten years old again and the nose once more remembered lavender and camphor, sandalwood and citrus.
I do not know who carried that fragrance in her hair, I did not notice her pass by.
Which is probably just as well.
It is best not to deal with ghosts.




(*) Eee-chuh; Hokkien for one or first (Yih), with the Dutch diminutive postfix (-tje) added on. Little first child. The nickname stayed with her for life.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

ALAS! ALACK! OH WOE! AND SOMETHING CHEESY

On the way to the Indian restaurant yesterday evening we passed by the cheese shop. Savage Kitten snorted angrily, but did not say anything.

An hour later, as we waddled home replete, we passed the cheese shop again. And now she howled. A long kvetching ranting wail, though not so loud as to draw any attention from any passers-by, relating that she had gone there recently to buy some Schokinag, but all... they... had... was... Scharfenberger!
Which, apparently, is crap. Her opinion. Utter crap.
Despicable overpriced snob white twenty something yuppie ignoramous rotten garbage crap.


Can't say I particularly disagree.

Schokinag is good stuff.
[See here: http://www.worldpantry.com/schokinag/home.html]


Scharfenberger, while highly reputed among the snobnoscenti, just ain't right. Good chocolate is more than advanced chemistry and math. There is no inspiration in Scharfenberger.
Tain't bad, but it ain't exciting either.

[Unless your taste runs to overpriced snob white twenty something yuppie ignoramous chocolate.]



The cheese shop has recently changed hands, and the food maven wot run the place is no longer there. Now it is uninspired as far as anything which isn't cheese is concerned (the cheese selection is sterling - hence the nickname 'the cheese shop', it is actually called something else).


Good drinking chocolate is hard to find in San Francisco (Ghirardelli is not nearly as good as the tourist brochures claim). Schokinag drinking chocolate has fragments of ground chunk-chocolate in among the prepared cacao, which give the hot beverage made with their mixture a wonderfull mouth-feel and aroma. And a depth of flavour. Most hot chocolate mixes are little more than mediocre generic cacao with essences and stabilizers. But Schokinag is indeed special. Luscious.

[Mind you, I am not going to tell her that because of me her supply of Schokinag diminished quite a bit more rapidly than it should have. There are some things one's significant other does NOT need to know. Like about the afternoon that I had a furious argument about wild clover honey with her teddy bear. She does not need to know that either. I do not wish to pay with my life for speaking firmly to the Ms. Bruin about honey, nor for stealing Schokinag.]


We still have Cadbury's. And Droste in a pinch. One can always melt some fine bar chocolate and whip it into the scalded milk. Add a pinch of freshly grated cinnamon (not cassia but real Ceylon canela).

Some vaunted Mexican cacao mix is also available at the cheese shop. It costs nearly twenty dollars for a tin. What kind of price is that? Does anybody really think very many Mexicans will fork over twenty bucks for cacao? Any Mexicans? Any at all? Hmmmph!

----------------------------------------

For more on chocolate, and the important soul-soothing qualities of a good cacao fix, please visit this site: http://goingslightlymad.blogspot.com/
Browse until you stumble over Maltesers.
There's chocolate in them there hills.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

TOBACCO HAMSTERS AND TOADS

Note: Hamster is a verb in Dutch. It means to hoard or stockpile. As hamsters do.


Loyal readers of this blog will remember that, disturbed from my complacent slumber by the threatened tobacco tax measure last year, I started stockpiling pipe-tobacco.


Brands I have 'piled' are Dunhill, Samuel Gawith, Dan Tobacco (both Bill Bailey's and Gordon Pym), plus GL Pease and McClellands (and I still have about a dozen tins of Balkan Sobranie from 1982). And several miscellaneous oddments.
But mostly Dunhill.

At present I have what is probably the biggest Dunhill pipe-tobacco stockpile in the city.


Can you say 'neurotic'?

Then now would be the appropriate time to say it.



When my stockpile runs out (more than ten years hence), I am running away to some state where they have no civilization, no laws, low taxes, too many slope-browed rednecks in trailer parks, blasted hinterlands and a surfeit of guns. California lost it's mind long ago.

Eventually it will lose it's homicidal serfs too. By that time 'they' will probably arrest people who smoke in public.

I understand Europe is getting to be as nuts as California on a whole lot of issues like smoking..... Holland, which made its fortune on tobacco, coffee, tea, and slaves, now disallows smoking in many places. By doing so, they are encouraging pneumonia and arthritis.


THE STOCKPILE
Aperitif: 17 tins.
Elizabethan: 10 tins.
EMP: 70 tins.
Durbar: 75 tins.
London Mixture: 88 tins.
Mixture 965: 33 tins.
Nightcap: 6 tins.
Standard Mixture Medium: 75 tins.
Standard Mixture Mild: 13 tins.
Three Year Matured: 11 tins.

[Note: Aperitif, Elizabethan, Durbar, and Three Year Matured have all been discontinued.]


There is a great (and greatly neurotic) pleasure to be had from having so much of the tobacco which thirty years ago I could scarcely afford, and certainly could not afford a surplus of (teenagers in those days not having huge amounts of money).

I look at my tins, and it gives me a comfortable feeling.

Life is good.

Cough, cough. Hack.

------------------------------------------

Further thereto, I should also mention that I had E. at the local tobacconists mix up an experimental blend of my own devising the other day. While he was measuring out the tobacco, I would remark "that seems like a HUGE amount of Latakia, are you sure that's right?" or "that seems like a LOT of Toasted Cavendish...". And every time he assured me that the quantities were correct. It wasn't until we got to the Turkish that we realized something was wrong. Horribly wrong.
They did not stock Turkish, so I planned to use McClelland's Blending Oriental Tobacco (Turkish by another name). I had calculated the precise amount I would need. I ended up having to buy a huge amount more. While measuring out the tobaccos, E. had used whole ounces instead of fractions.
I now have a THREE MONTH supply of an experimental blend. THREE MONTHS! Sweet cream cheeses with a crotch, THREE MONTHS! Shee.
THREE MONTHS.
Good thing I know what I'm doing. It's actually very nice. I don't think I'll need to make any modifications at all. It is precisely what I wanted.

[Now, please imagine a small toad with a pipe in its mouth, hopping up and down, happily boasting "I'm a genius! I'm a genius", while looking very pleased with itself. You didn't know toads were neurotic about tobacco, did you?]




TOBACCO INDEX


==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

PROTESTS: SUNDAY, MONDAY

SUNDAY
International Answer Anti-War Protest.


When I arrived shortly after eleven, one of our people was standing with an Israeli flag blocking a pro-Palestinian banner. Confronting her with an angry stare was a person with spiky punked hair and wearing a studded leather jacket. I thought the stud-jacket person was female, one of our other members, however, remains equally convinced that it was male.


We shall never know, for I have no intention of finding out.

Let us call it a troll, and move on.


The very first speech, in almost the very first sentence, made reference to Palestine. Which was perhaps inappropriate for a protest against the Irak war. A number of the other speakers also brought up Palestine. In addition to the third-world working classes, political murders in the Philippines, Native Americans, Hugo Chavez, Haiti......
California political hack Carole Migden, sounding shrill and evincing scant control of logic or eloquence, yelled and woofed her way through a pandering to the rads speech.


I noticed a slow trickle of people leaving the Justin Herman area - perhaps the agenda items and angry lectures about matters which had no connection to the actual war told them that there were strings attached to the event. The stridently extremist presence may also have disquieted some.
Too many sellers of revolutionary newspapers. The sneer about Barak Obama went over like a wet firecracker.


The response of the crowd to non-war related harangues was anaemic at best.
The slogan about 'occupation' got a half-hearted response.


It is likely that many of the people there did not listen to the speakers with any great interest - tolerated the preaching only because of their opposition to the war.
Did not see more than a dozen actual anti-Israel or anti-Semitic signs, though one middle-aged couple made a crack about AIPAC as they walked past. There were one or two vitriolic confrontations, but nowhere near the level of previous International Answer rallies.
The young doofus republican near me tried to get into a debate with some people about the human rights situation in Cuba - they changed the discussion to East Palo Alto and the disproportionate representation of blacks among the incarcerated.

Some attendees may have been revisiting their youth - Jerry Garcia, tie-dye, and bongo drums.
We didn't have a presence down at Civic Center, towards which the marchers eventually headed. But the most revolutionary rhetoric was evidently saved for the end. On the way home I passed by - it resembled an outdoor party, most people paying as little attention to the speakers as they had at Justin Herman. Party on, stop the war, and pass the spliff.

The news media did not mention any of the rhetoric, or our little group, but merely reported that about three thousand people demonstrated for peace on a sunny day.

If the anti-war protests can only bring three thousand people out, then their message is neither straightforward enough nor focused.



MONDAY
Die-ins on Market Street.


Montgomery and Market after twelve: speechifying, people lying down and pulling bed sheets over themselves. Cops calm. No anti-Israel signs in evidence. Participants consisted of the youthful and the elderly.

Powell and Market at 3:15: "This crosswalk is closed until further notice!" - this from a police bullhorn. Mass of youngsters in various stages of highly individualistic clothing choices. Man ranting into a speaker, not particularly intelligibly. Some chanting, and the sounds of a tuba. Cops looking bored, irritated, tense. Onlookers gawking.

There had been arrests earlier. About fifty people.

On the way back to the office saw Shawkat and a friend of his on the other side of the street. Shawkat is the young Arab rabble-rouser who screamed himself hoarse last summer at Justin Herman, one of the ringleaders of the intifadistas in the Bay Area. I'm sure y'all remember him from all the confrontations in front of the consulate. What was he doing in this area? He was only three blocks away from the consulate.........

He was pointing something out on Market Street to a fellow Edomite. He looked angry - I decided not to yell "Ya Shawki, keyf-ak hal?" He seemed preoccupied. It might not have been the right moment.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

REMINDER: COUNTER DEMO THIS SUNDAY

=====================================================
PROTEST AGAINST INTERNATIONAL ANSWER'S ANTI-SEMITISM
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When: Sunday March 18, 2007
Where: Justin Herman Plaza (Embarcadero at Market Street)


Sunday March 18th International ANSWER will gather at Justin Herman Plaza at 11:30, then march down Market Street to Civic Center for speeches till 1:00 PM.

International ANSWER says that this is an anti-war march. But there will be anti-Israel statements and signs, and as usual they will accuse Israel and Jews of causing the war. They call Israel 'occupied Palestine', and consider the existence of Israel a crime against humanity. They demand an end to international support for Israel.

Last year International ANSWER organized a huge anti-Israel demonstration in Washington D.C. and held anti-Israel protests in cities all across the US, including San Francisco.

In their so-called anti-war demonstrations they have attacked Israel and promoted hate.
Anti-Semites and Israel-haters have always marched with International ANSWER, no matter what the cause.

It is essential to speak out against them - International ANSWER and similar groups are poisoning the discourse in the media and on college campuses - now is the time to let your voice be heard for Israel.



Protest against hatred of Israel and Jews.
Show the Bay Area that International ANSWER's hatred of Israel and Jews is not acceptable.
Join us 11;30 AM on Sunday 03/18/07 at Justin Herman Plaza.



Chazak, chazak, ve nitchazak.




San Francisco Voice for Israel
www.SFVoiceForIsrael.org
Please contact us if you want to be involved in other pro-Israel actions. We would love to hear from you!
info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org
Join our discussion list by sending an e-mail to:
sfproisrael-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

=====================================================


This time we will be in the same place where the sonei-yisroel stood on July 23rd, 2006.

Perhaps you remember that day?
That's when they were behind a barricade, trying to drown out the speeches from our side - a pathetic attempt, as we had a soundsystem for our rally. That's when Shawkat's friend, the shave-headed goober, did an entire act with screamed invective in Arabic, punctuated by Nazi salutes. That's when many of them yelled so much and so loudly that they developed hoarseness and the shivers.

It would be worthwhile to bring throat-lozenges. And bottled water. Cool, bottled, water.

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TIME FOR HERRING!

Trust me.
.
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2006/06/fat-green-virgins.html
.
There. Wasn't that nice?
.
.
.
Now, imagine that in your tea-room....
http://extremegh.blogspot.com/2007/03/we-are-jews-who-will-be-replenishing.html
.
Aren't you feeling plenished now?
.
.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

HIRAM SPINK (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) READ THE XGH!

Hiram, when you get back to SF from New York, and are safely re-ensconced among the dusty tomes, click on this link:
http://extremegh.blogspot.com/2007/03/we-are-jews-who-say-meh.html

Most especially, read the comments.

Kindred spirits, dude. Kindred spirits.

AND NOW, THE RAMBAM!

Not that there is any connection or comparison in content between this post and the previous one, but I now wish to mention the reaction to the books of the Rambam (aka Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon - in Arabic: Musa Bin Maimun Ibn Abdullah el Kurtubi, 1135 – 1204).

[Mi Moishe ad Moishe, lo kam ki Moishe – From Moses (our teacher) to Moses (Ben Maimon) there was none like Moses.]


In 1232 the Dominicans (an xtian monkish brood) offended everybody by seizing all copies of The Guide For The Perplexed (Moreh Nevuchim) that they could lay their hands on and burning them.

Ten years later (1242) the French civil authorities upped the ante, as their contribution to civilized discourse, by burning twenty four cartloads of Jewish books (in an age when all books were copied by hand!) on the same spot where The Guide For The Perplexed had been immolated by the monks. Including, predictably, all of Rabbi Moshe's writings that they could lay their hands on.

But the Christians weren't the only ones peeved at Rabbi Moshe - many of the Talmudists of France and Germany loathed his books as being insulting to Torah, and speculative heresy besides.
The burnings kind of calmed things for a while, though most literate people were shocked by such barbarism.

At the end of the thirteenth century disputes regarding the Rambam's writings flared up again, with the main focus of argument now being opposition to scientific study by the Northern European Talmud scholars, who considered the southern rationalists to be heretics and despoilers of Talmud-Torah. Bekitsur, Torah as revelation versus Torah as philosophical metaphor.

Shlomo Ben Avraham Aderet (the Rashba, 1235 – 1311), and Asher ben Yechiel (the Rosh, 1250 – 1328, whose transcendent commentary is found in many copies of the Bavli, a student of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg (the Maharam, 1215 – 1293), and father of the Tur) eventually worked out a compromise for all sides, which boiled down to a ban on anyone under the age of twenty-five studying secular science, in which the Northerners included The Guide For The Perplexed, and metaphysics - medicine and philosophy were, however, finally permitted.


If you think about this too hard, your head will hurt.

And you will realize that the stupid have a way of controlling the discourse, today as they did centuries ago.

As a species we've not progressed nearly as much as we like to think we have.


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Now, does any of this have anything at all to do with the preceding rant (post below), in which I make unpleasant remarks about the Dutch?

Well, yes. Sort of.

In slangy metropolitan Netherlandish, one might hear someone curse another person by saying "kryg de rambam" (get the Rambam). It is a very strange phrase, only partially made clear by the similarity to other curses like 'kryg de kleere' (get cholera) and 'kryg de pest' (get the plague).

Perhaps the phrase came about when a well-read collegian tongue-in-cheekily wished a surfeit of heavy reading material on an associate. But to the average person, who knows not what a rambam is, it sounds appropriately unpleasant. Perhaps it is a tropical disease.

I sincerely wish that some of my fellow Dutch-speakers should get the Rambam.

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CHEROKEES REVOKE BLACK CITIZENSHIP

["There's nothing there but MacDonalds, Elvis, and plastic. "]


Dear readers from the Netherlands,


I have as yet not seen any mention of the Cherokee Nation's decision to expell black members of the tribe in any Dutch news-sources.

This is likely due to the fact that mentioning such things would require demolishing several holy cows of Dutch journalism, among others: the idea that only white-Americans can be bigots (unlike minorities and Europeans), the idea that American Indians have been entirely impoverished and marginalized if not exterminated by white violence, and the idea that the US is in no way a complex multi-ethnic patchwork (but is instead a simple society of undifferentiated consumers). Let's face it, the ANP and the media-whores who dominate your newspapers and tv are little more than yellow-journalism hacks with their own agenda - sort of a slimy Euro-intellectual version of Fox news or CNN.



Anyhow, here's a link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/08/opinion/08thu4.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

I include part of the article below. Please feel free to render comments, even if the subject is too impossibly dense or complex for the average barefoot Dutch speaker to understand.

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An Unjust Expulsion
Published: March 8, 2007



The Cherokee Nation’s decision to revoke the tribal citizenship of about 2,800 descendants of slaves once owned by the tribe is a moral low point in modern Cherokee history and places the tribe in violation of a 140-year-old federal treaty and several court decisions. The federal government must now step in to protect the rights of the freedmen, who could lose their tribal identities as well as access to medical, housing and other tribal benefits.

This bitter dispute dates to the treaties of 1866, when the Cherokee, Seminole and Creek agreed to admit their former slaves as tribal members in return for recognition as sovereign nations. The tribes fought black membership from the start — even though many of the former slaves were products of mixed black and Indian marriages.

The federal courts repeatedly upheld the treaties. But the federal government fanned the flames when a government commission set out in the 1890s to create an authoritative roll of tribal membership. Instead of placing everyone on a single roll, it made two lists. The so-called blood list contained nonblack Cherokees, listed with their percentage of Indian ancestry. The freedmen’s list included the names of any black members, even those with significant Cherokee ancestry.

The issue exploded in the 1980s when tribal authorities excluded the freedmen from voting on the grounds that they weren’t Cherokee by blood. The Cherokee version of the Supreme Court ruled last year that the law was unconstitutional.

[CUT]

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As I indicated earlier, this subject might just be too un-simple for the average cheese-snarfing bogweasel to bend their brain about. So your comments, if you leave any, should be mighty interesting.

Feel free to deny any and all parts of the complex reality that is the United States, and spout the usual simplistic predigestions about America and trailerparks.
Go on, wax lyrical. Nay, go ape, even.

Lots of love, dudes, lots of love.


---B.O.T.H.

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Note: for readers who are wondering what the heck I'm talking about and what bee is in my bonnet, I should mention that I correspond in Dutch with several people, and belong to a few mailing lists. Many Dutch speakers have completely goofy ideas about the United States, and more than a few have alternative realities that are very strange indeed.
Part of much Dutch reality is that America is smaller, simpler, and meaner than it actually is. Nothing in the world can shake their faith in that 'fact'.

It is a very irritating thing.

I am irritated.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

COUNTER-RALLY SUNDAY MARCH 18

[For a report on a previous protest, scroll down to the bottom of this post.]


WRONG ANSWER COUNTER RALLY

Demonstrate with us against the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agenda of International Answer.
Sunday, March 18th
11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Justin Herman Plaza (foot of Market St. at the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco)


BACKGROUND
Once again, A.N.S.W.E.R. will be using opposition to the war in Iraq to attempt to galvanize support for destruction of Israel. Once again, they will try to demonize Israel for defending herself and once again, they will try to link Israel to the Iraq conflict.
Additionally, they demand support for the "Palestinian Right to Return," unsubtle code for the demographic destruction of the world's only Jewish state by flooding it with descendants, no matter how remote, of those that left the area during the Arab instigated war in 1948.

Previous A.N.S.W.E.R. rallies have included calls to support Al-Qaeda affiliates, nuclear arms for Iran, and Palestinian terror groups. They have openly declared their support for "the victory of the resistance", meaning violent terrorist groups. They have also included overt anti-Semitism in their propaganda.
We expect this rally to be no different.


EVENT DETAILS:
StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel will be standing up for Israel and reminding people not only that the Iraq War is NOT about Israel, but also that Israel has a right to exist and to live free from terror attacks and threats of destruction. We will be educating people about A.N.S.W.E.R.¹s agenda and we will be providing an alternate, pro-Israel voice for both the media and the community at large.


Please remember that StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel takes no position on the war in Iraq.


Please be prepared to hold signs and/or flags and distribute flyers. Help is needed in crowd control and security. Please contact us at info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org if you are able to help with any of these tasks.


As always, feel free to make your own signs but please no signs or graphics offensive to any racial or ethnic group including but not limited to Arabs, Islam, or Palestinians. Signs in violation of our policies will not be allowed.



StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel
www.SFVoiceForIsrael.org http://www.standwithus.com/


---------------------------------------------------

Upcoming Events


1.
Please join StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel to hear Israeli Arab Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh!
Sonoma State University Cooperage 2
Monday Afternoon March 22, 2007 4:00 PM

Khaled Abu Toameh, is an award-winning journalist and television news producer. He has reported from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than twenty years for both Palestinian and Israeli print publications, and acts as producer for television news programs in the US and Europe. Having built a reputation for unique and brave reporting on Palestinian affairs, he now produces for NBC and other major TV networks. He is also the Senior Palestinian Affairs writer for the Jerusalem Post.

"One year after Hamas' victory, where are the Palestinians headed?"

Sponsored by
StandWithUS
SFVoiceforIsrael
Sonoma State University Hillel
Sonoma County Israel Action Committee

Here is Khaled's article in the Jerusalem Post: 3/9/07 <> http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c=JPArticle&cid=1173173957174&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

By the time Khaled speaks, the unity government will be formed, so he'll have much insight on that and the Mecca agreement. He'll also speak about the Israeli Arabs living in Israel such as himself; the feasibility of a two-state solution (or not,) the inner politics of Hamas/Fatah and whether the in-fighting will end, how the foreign press reports on "news" in the West Bank and Gaza (bias and otherwise) and the prospects for peace.


2.
Sunday, June 3rd, 2007 Israel in the Garden.
Expect to counter-protest anti-Israel activists who come every year.


---------------------------------------------------


Do you want to become more involved with organizing our activities? Send a message to
info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org


If you are interested in participating in our campaign to counter anti-Israel speakers, please send an e-mail to
info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org


Join the discussion! Do you have ideas? Classes to announce? Events to announce or discuss? Join our discussion list by sending an e-mail to sfproisrael-subscribe@yahoogroups.com .


San Francisco Voice for Israel is a non-partisan coalition that takes no position on the war in Iraq, the settlements, or Israel's final borders. Our members span the political spectrum and are united only by our commitment to preserving the State of Israel as a Jewish State within secure, defensible borders.


Please send your tax deductible donation to Stand With Us P.O. Box 341069 Los Angeles, CA 90034-1069 Write SFV4I in the memo line.

---------------------------------------------------


WHAT ANTI-WAR PROTESTS LOOK LIKE


Just so you know what to expect, here's what happened at a previous rally:


About 75 of us set up in front of city hall with our Israeli and American flags and enjoyed a brief calm. Then the march arrived.

It did not much look like a march against the Iraq war.

The front of the crowd was mostly Palestinian flags, and signs demanding the "Right of Return" for the descendants of Arabs who obligingly fled in 1948 so that the Arab armies could exterminate the Jews.

From the ranks of ANSWER came the chant "Hitler, Sharon, just the same, the only difference is the name!"

As the police held them back, they screamed at us to go back to Poland or Russia and repeatedly called us Nazis.

Disturbingly, parallel to the angry threats of Jihad from the militant Islamists among them, many on their side insisted upon calling the war a Christian Crusade.


Personal highlights:

1. Being yelled at that we should "go back to Germany so that they can finish the job".
2. Being told that if it weren't for the obedience of the cops to rich Jews, people would "deal" with us, and that we should be very careful going home at night.
3. That we were descended from monkeys and pigs.
4. Being told that we had murdered Christ.


All in all it was disquieting and unreal, and left me feeling both drained and exhilarated.
But I am looking forward to this Sunday.

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EUROPEANEN OVER AMERIKANEN

Europeanen hebben veel kritiek op de Verenigde Staten, en het lijkt er op dat men in Europa tegenwoordig niets goeds over ons zeggen kan.


Ietwat begrijpelijk, maar zeer zeker ook onjuist. Europeanen hebben immers altijd kritiek over de VS, veelal misplaatst, vaak volslagen idioot.
De doorsnee Europeaan weet in feite niets of nauwelijks iets over de VS en over Amerikanen, en spuwt louter gal.
Het zou beter zijn als Europeanen zwegen - de doorsnee Euro-stommeling struikelt teveel over zijn eigen onredelijke opvattingen om ook maar iets bij te kunnen dragen.

[Er zijn natuurlijk uitzonderingen - ik denk hier vooral aan een pijprokende (EMP) filoloog in Zwitserland, en een voormalige student (rechten) aan de Universiteit van Ghent - maar voor de rest..........]


Van Amerikanen duld ik zeker kritiek over ons en ons land. Dat is intramuurs, zogezegd. Een gesprek tussen gelijken.
Maar van een Europeaan? Iemand die het louter als azijnzeikerij doet?
Wier kritiek gebaseerd is op het overweldigend overeen zijn met andere Europeanen en hun vooroordelen en algemene onwetendheid over ons? Iemand die een sociale en culturele motivatie heeft om Amerika af te kraken?

Die gifspuw tendence kan me gestolen worden.

Mijn tolerantie van Europeesche zelfingenomenheid en verwaandheid was al op een minpunt toen ik terug naar de VS kwam - jaren lang gezeur dat Amerika een klote land, en Amerikanen een klote volk waren, en de absolute ontkenning van eigen wandaden in de voormalige Koloniale gewesten (of 'slands falingen tijdens de bezetting)....
Tsja, zo iets kan beslist een averrechts effect hebben op de plaatselijke vertegenwoordiger van Amerikaans Imperialisme, begrijpte gij wel, en om dan ook elken dag voor minderwaardig, onwetend, en onbeschaafd aangezien te worden door 't merendeel van klasgenoten en kenniskring (of uitzonderlijk, als een zeldzame uitzondering op precies die algemeen bekende eigenschappen) - ach, neem het mij niet kwalijk, maar als ze allen krepeerden zou het mij niet eens vreugde kunnen geven, zo weinig betekenen die lui voor mij nu.

Dat die zelfde hatelijkheid nu weer hoogtij geniet in Europa devalueert het merendeel van de Europeesche kritiek op Amerika - zo ge alleen venijn spuugt kunt ge beter zwijgen, als gij allen in koor toetert is het niet anders dan logisch dat wij ulieden niet horen willen en niet serieus kunnen nemen. De konstante herhaling dat wij analfabeten, moordenaars, misdadigers, godsdientsgekken, en dergelijks zijn, encourageren ons niet naar u te luisteren, in tegendeel het blijft een chotspe waarop de enige bevredigende reactie de spreker met een honkbal knuppel toetakelen blijft (goh, typische stom Amerikaans, altijd denken met geweld iets te kunnen oplossen).

Men kan hier zeker stommelingen vinden, dat ontken ik niet - maar om te zeggen dat men zulke stomheden nergens anders vind is niet anders dan een bigote rot-opmerking, en getuigt van een disconnect met de algemene Europeesche maatschappij, waar ook analfabeten, moordenaars, misdadigers, godsdientsgekken, en dergelijken rondzwalken.

Uw recente geschiedenis is het overduidelijke bewijs daarvan.

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A FAMILIAR STENCH

Great comment from a Ha'aretz editorial:

The statements heard in Europe, stemming from the academia and extreme left there, are not legitimate criticisms of Israel's policies, but efforts to undermine, on principle, its right to exist as a Jewish state. Behind the simple question, "Does Israel have a right to exist" (as a Guardian editorial read three years ago), hides a definitive stance, which regards Israel as a passing colonial phenomenon and the Jewish people as an ethnic-religious group different from any other people and all other nation-states. However peripheral and radical this tendency may be, it has successfully influenced many people. A familiar stench, hundreds of years old, rises from it, even when it is framed in contemporary terminology.


Read the full editorial here: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/836478.html


You might also want to read the commentary underneath it on the Ha'aretz site, but I doubt it - there are already over three hundred and fifty comments, and as you undoubtedly realize, an entirely predictable spit-fest is going on.

INTERFAITH COALITION CONDEMNS EGYPTIAN COURT FOR DENYING ARRESTED BLOGGER'S APPEAL

[This is a public service message on behalf of a jailed fellow blogger - if you aren't disturbed by the conviction of Kareem Amer, you should be. If you did not already know about it, please click here: www.FreeKareem.org ]


Press Release: Interfaith Coalition Condemns Egyptian Court for Denying Arrested Blogger's Appeal

Press Release


Interfaith Coalition Condemns Egyptian Court for Denying Arrested Blogger's Appeal
Calls on President Hosni Mubarak to Pardon Kareem Amer

MARCH 12, 2007

NEW YORK–The Free Kareem Coalition is saddened by the Egyptian appeals court's decision to uphold the four-year sentence handed to Abdul Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known as Kareem Amer, in February for criticizing the Egyptian government and condemning radical Islam. The interfaith coalition has issued an urgent request to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to pardon Kareem as soon as possible.

According to the Coalition's New York coordinator, Constantino Diaz-Duran, "Kareem's continued imprisonment will only serve to draw further negative attention to Egypt's human rights record, which has been criticized recently by the U.S. State Department; Reporters without Borders; Amnesty International; and Human Rights Watch, among other organizations." The government of Egypt has offered to host the United Nations Internet Governance Forum in 2009. "Immediately releasing Kareem would show the international community that Egypt is ready to respect freedom of expression and that it can be trusted with a role in shaping the Internet's future," said Mohammed Shouman, the Coalition's Editor and Administrator.

Kareem has been jailed in Alexandria, Egypt, since November 2006. He has been denied access to visitors and his own legal defense team, and his family has publicly denounced him. Because Egyptian prisoners rely on family members to provide clothing and food, Kareem faces a harsh existence without their support. The Free Kareem Coalition is spearheading an effort to deliver food and clothing to Kareem while he awaits release. Donations to the prison aid fund can be made via PayPal at the Coalition's Web site, www.FreeKareem.org.

Kareem's supporters can express solidarity in his cause by purchasing "Free Kareem" hats, shirts, and buttons at www.FreeKareem.org <http://www.freekareem.org/> . A portion of each sale will go to Kareem's prison aid fund.

Coalition member Chris Kilmer added that, "While today's news is undoubtedly frustrating, we believe the continued efforts of well wishers and supporters from around the world can make a difference for Kareem."


Media Contacts, Free Kareem Coalition:

Mohammed Shouman, Editor and Administrator
editor@freekareem.org <mailto:editor@freekareem.org>

Constantino Diaz-Duran, New York Coordinator
constantino@freekareem.org <mailto:constantino@freekareem.org>
+1.202.288.3328

Andrew Perraut, London Coordinator
andrew.perraut@freekareem.org <mailto:andrew.perraut@freekareem.org>

The Free Kareem Coalition is an interfaith alliance of young bloggers and college students committed to the principles of freedom of thought and freedom of speech.



M. Shouman
--
Editor & Administrator
Free Kareem Coalition
editor@freekareem.org
http://www.FreeKareem.org/


NEW! Here's what you can do to help Kareem!
http://www.freekareem.org/what-you-can-do/


"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."
- Edward Everett Hale

RECENT POSTINGS ON BLUETRUTH BLOG

Yesterday evening I posted two pieces on BlueTruth.



First post:

BEWARE OF FALSE PEACE MOVEMENTS

International Answer is organizing another anti-war protest.

Oh boy.


What is fascinating about International Answer is how they have hijacked the peace movement to rope more people into their world and propagandize for a number of causes which have no link to the Iraq war.

Read more here:
http://www.bluetruth.net/2007/03/beware-of-false-peace-movements.html

[And if you ever wondered about the leaders of the peace-movement, this post is for you.]



Second post:

CARDINAL APOLOGIZES FOR WARSAW GHETTO SNEER

Lo telech rachil b'ameicha... ('do not go as a talebearer among your companions' - Vayikra (Leviticus), Parshas Kedoshim, Possuk (verse) 19:16).
---------------------------------

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of the German Bishops Conference, grudgingly conceded that some remarks made by German churchmen visiting the holy land were inappropriate.


Read more here:
http://www.bluetruth.net/2007/03/cardinal-apologizes-for-warsaw-ghetto.html

[There is a note of bile on this post. But just a slight one - trust me.]


----------------------------------------------


BlueTruth is devoted to refuting the accusations and exposing the lies that are being told on the streets and in cyberspace about Israel, Jews and pro-Israel organizations.

Please visit the blog at:
http://www.blue-truth.blogspot.com/

About half-a-dozen pro-Israel writers, very recent vintage.
And yes, this is an absolutely shameless attempt to boost readership.


PS. Only one non-mot writer at present..... Unfortunately most non-mots I know in this region favour the sitra-achra. The exceptions are not mis-guided, just plumb crazy.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

HATS OR ANGULAR EARS

From little pastry-thingies to ikkarim and other stuff.
And.... tefillin!



Dovbear (http://dovbear.blogspot.com/) asks, regarding the midrash that Rivka was three years old when she married Yitzhok: "How can it be kefirah when the ibnezra says it b'pherush?"

Chaim G. retorts: "
Proves absolutely nothing. I would not dare to do anything but heap praise and adulation on the Ibn Ezra. But there is a long history of "the big boys" not only considering one another dead wrong (the basic definition of every machlokes = argument) but of flinging K bombs at one another.

Maharal vs. Ralbag, Rabenu Yonah vs. Rambam and Satmar Rebbe vs. Rav Kook to name just a few.

I for one am considering stopping T'filin. Rashi and Rabenu Tam are having a quarrel and you expect me to take sides?
"
----------------------------

I thought this was amusing - so, totally ignoring the actual discussion (which started with Haman's ears and poppy seed pouches and then dived into the deepspace of mesora), I pasted it here.

----------------------------

NOTES:

Rivka = Per Rashi, Sarah Imeinu was 90 when Yitzhak was born, 127 years old at the time of the Akeida, at which time Yitzhak was 37. Sarah dies in Chevron, and Avraham hears of the birth of Rivka, whom his son will marry in three years. Kler, voss?

On the other hand, Ibn Ezra explains that Rivka’s birth is mentioned before Sarah’s death, even though Avraham only hears about it afterwards, and further, the return to Be'er Sheva and Sarah's death in Chevron take up a dozen years (which means that if Rivka was born in the year of the binding, then she is an adolescent when Eliezer sees her at the well.
A three year old is scarcely capable of drawing buckets of water for the household, giving an elderly traveler (Eliezer) a drink of water, and watering his beasts, as the text informs us Rivka did.

But why does anyone believe that Rivka was three years old at the time of her shidduch?

Bereishis Raba 58:2 says ‘Ere Hashem allows the sun of one righteous person to set, He causes the sun of the next righteous person to rise’, which is taken to mean that G-d balanced out the death of Sarah with the birth of Rivka.

However in Bereishis 24:16, Rivka is referred to as a na’arah, which means a girl who has reached the age of sexuality – bat mitzvah age, or even older.

The Vilna Gaon cites Bereishis Raba 56:11 which says that Yitzhak was 26 years old at the time of the Akeida, and that Sarah Imaeinu did not die at that time, as it was at the end of the time when Avraham and his family lived in the land of the Pelishtim, and after that they lived in Chevron for another twelve years. So, if Avraham heard of Rivka’s birth after the death of Sarah, then Rivka would have indeed been a na’arah.



Ibn Ezra = Abraham Ben Meir Ibn Ezra, born between 1089 and 1093 (probably the latter), died 1167. Native of Tudela in the emirate of Sarragosa. One of the greatest Torah commentators and a forerunner of modern criticism. Much admired by Spinoza, he was one of the first to translate writings of Muslims and Arabic-speaking Jews into Hebrew. A rationalistic and scientific minded interpreter of Talmud-Torah, a grammarian, and a mystic. A scholar whose profound influence on later scholars continues even today.



The Maharal = Moreinu Ha Rav Loew (our teacher Rabbi Loew); Judah Ben Betzalel Loew of Prague (1525 – 1609), a Mishnaic commentator, scholar, and leader of Central European Jewry, whose family originally came from Worms in Germany. He is, according to several genealogies, a descendant of King David.



Ralbag = Rabbi Levi Ben Gershon (1288 – 1344), in whose lifetime rampaging crusaders and German peasants destroyed several of the flourishing Jewish communities in the Holy Roman Empire – about which there was scarcely anything Roman, and naught holy.



Rabbeinu Yonah = A relative of the Ramban, Rabbeinu Yonah Ben Avraham Gerondi (d. 1263), notorious anti-Maimonidist who later repented of his agitation against the Rambam's work. On his penitential journey to Rabbi Moishe Ben Maimon's kever in the Holy Land he was detained in Toledo, where he remained for the rest of his life, gaining further fame as a Talmudist and champion of the Rambam. He is the author, of among other works, the Iggeres Tshuva, Shaarei Tshuva, and the Sefer Ha Yira. He also wrote many commentaries.



Rambam = Rabbi Moishe Ben Maimon (1135 - 1204), a great Talmudic scholar of the post-Amoraic era. He left Cordoba to get away from the harshness then prevalent in Moorish Spain, finally settling in Cairo. He wrote about everything under the sun and is the author of one of the most authoritative listings of commandments and the explanations for same: the ‘Sefer HaMitzvos’, but is probably most famous for his Halachic works, of which the Mishneh Torah (the Restatement of the Law) is perhaps the best known.

But this reminds me that R'fael Moshe and Avi both mentioned the Rambam's ikkarim a few days ago, and questions arose. So permit me to sidetrack briefly.

The Rambam lists thirteen ikkarim in his introduction of his commentary to masechte Sanhedrin, Perek Chelek:


Ikkar 1. - Belief in the existence of the Creator.
Ikkar 2. - Belief in G-d's absolute and unique unity.
Ikkar 3. - Belief in G-d's noncorporeality.
Ikkar 4. - Belief in G-d's eternity.
Ikkar 5. - Adherence to the commandment to worship Him exclusively.
Ikkar 6. - Belief that G-d communicates with through prophecy.
Ikkar 7. - Belief that the prophecy of Moses takes precedence over other prophecies.
Ikkar 8. - Belief in the divine origin of Torah.
Ikkar 9. - Belief in the unchangeability of Torah.
Ikkar 10. - Belief in divine omniscience and providence.
Ikkar 11. - Belief in divine reward and retribution.
Ikkar 12. - Belief in the coming of the Messiah and the messianic era.
Ikkar 13. - Belief in the resurrection of the dead.


Customarily many synagogues recite the ikkarim in a slightly different form, preceding with "ani maamin" (I believe) after morning prayer.



Satmar Rebbe = The Krulyer rov, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum (1887 – 1979), a descendant of the Yismach Moshe (Rav Moishe Teitelbaum, 1759 – 1841), who became Rebbe of Satmar in Hungary in 1929, and after the war rebuilt Satmar Chasidus in the United States. Most known outside Satmar for his opposition to Zionism and the Medina (both causes which were close to the heart of some other Chasidic leaders).

[Note also: there are very many branches of Chasidus. Amongst many others, in no particular order, Breslover, Bobover, Gerrer, Lubavitcher, Satmarrer, Skverrer. The differences among them are not necessarily minor, and it would be wise not to assume that they associate with each other in perfect amity.]



Rav Kook = If you do not know who rav Kook is, you may not have been awake for a long time. Tsssk, tsssk.



What's that, you say, I'm passing on a marvelous opportunity to go into detail about Rabbeinu Tam and Rashi and the tefillin machlokes?

Not so!

Go here: http://vesomsechel.blogspot.com/2007/01/tefillin-of-rashi-and-rabbenu-tam.html
and read Rabbi Joshua Maroof's excellent excursus.
You'll find it fascinating. It is a very good article.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

MARCH 18TH - ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH, TAYERE CHAVERIM, ONCE MORE...

-----Shakespeare, Henry V



ACTION ALERT – FORWARD WIDELY

Wrong, A.N.S.W.E.R. Counter Rally
Sunday, March 18th
11:30AM to 1PM
Justin Herman Plaza (foot of Market St. at the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco)


BACKGROUND

Once again, A.N.S.W.E.R. will be using opposition to the war in Iraq to attempt to galvanize support for destruction of Israel. Once again, they will try to demonize Israel for defending herself and once again, they will try to link Israel to the Iraq conflict.
Additionally, they demand support for the "Palestinian Right to Return," unsubtle code for the demographic destruction of the world's only Jewish state by flooding it with descendants, no matter how remote, of those that left the area during the Arab instigated war in 1948.

Previous A.N.S.W.E.R. rallies have included calls to support Al-Queda affiliates, nuclear arms for Iran, and Palestinian terror groups. They have openly declared their support for "the victory of the resistance" meaning violent terrorist groups. They have also included overt anti-Semitism in their propaganda. We expect this rally to be no different.



EVENT DETAILS:

StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel will be standing up for Israel and reminding people not only that the Iraq War is not about Israel but also that Israel has a right to exist and to live free from terror attacks and threats of destruction. We will be educating people about A.N.S.W.E.R.’s agenda and we will be providing an alternate, pro-Israel voice for both the media and the community at large.


Please remember that StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel takes no position on the war in Iraq.


Please be prepared to hold signs and/or flags and distribute flyers. Help is needed in crowd control and security. Please contact us at info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org <
mailto:info%40SFVoiceForIsrael.org> if you are able to help with any of these tasks.


As always, feel free to make your own signs but please no signs or graphics offensive to any racial or ethnic group including but not limited to Arabs, Islam, or Palestinians. Signs in violation of our policies will not be allowed.


StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel
www.SFVoiceForIsrael.org
www.StandWithUs.com

------------------------------------------------------

Upcoming Events

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007 – Israel in the Garden.
Expect to counter-protest anti-Israel activists who come every year.

July 16th-25th – Stand With Us Mission to Israel
------------------------------------------------

Do you want to become more involved with organizing our activities? Send a message to
info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org <mailto:info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org>

If you are interested in participating in our campaign to counter anti-Israel speakers, please send an e-mail to info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org <mailto:info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org>

Join the discussion! Do you have ideas? Classes to announce? Events to announce or discuss? Join our discussion list by sending an e-mail to
sfproisrael-subscribe@yahoogroups.com <mailto:sfproisrael-subscribe@yahoogroups.com> .

San Francisco Voice for Israel is a non-partisan coalition that takes no position on the war in Iraq, the settlements, or Israel's final borders. Our members span the political spectrum and are united only by our commitment to preserving the State of Israel as a Jewish State within secure, defensible borders.

Please send your tax deductible donation to
Stand With Us
P.O. Box 341069
Los Angeles, CA 90034-1069
Write SFV4I in the memo line.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

SEASONS GREETINGS

Recently discovered call-transcripts and e-mails from Beirut.
I'm not sure what to make of them.
You tell me.


==========================================


Hello? Can I speak to reb Hamaninejad,? Just tell him that it’s Nazzy – Sheikh Nasrallah.
Hi, Manny? Nazzy here. Yeah fine, fine, they’re fine too. Look, I was just calling to mention that I’m going on vacation in a few weeks. Yeah, I’m trying to book a better hotel than last time, you wouldn’t believe the horrid tea-room, and the crappy milchiks they served. And that last day was a disaster! They advertised a Grand Finale Dinner, and then went ahead and served some freakin’ pareve crap and a plate of cheese! Yeah, I know, shouldha gotten the reservations earlier. Okay, I’ll let you know the exact dates. Oh, and by the way, thanks for the summer sausage from Danish Village, that was so thoughtful of you!

- - -

Bash-Bash old boy,
A note to say we’re thinking of you this festive season, and to tell you to expect a giftbasket by courier – just some summer sausage (from Danish Village!), plus Scotch, herring, and a poundcake. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get things in Beirut since the war! Also, the old gal and I will be out of town from the first of April till the eleventh, with the kids. Thanks for that hotel recommendation, anything will be better than last year’s crappy trip – I should know better than to trust Manny.
Your friend and chavrusa,
---Nazzy.

- - -

Hi, Bashir? This is Manny. Listen, I wanna talk about Nazzy. He’s going on vacation during our lead-up to this year’s incident. Yeah, with the wife and kinderlech, I don’t know, probably Miami. That’s the problem. After Eilat last year he was hopping mad all through summer. What a gekvetsh! There was that 15 minute slog in 80 degree heat from their room to the dining hall, and he only had brought along the cheapo Target travel strollers, not the all terrain Bugaboo Baby Urban Jogger thingy, man, he’s never gonna let me forget that hotel recommendation. Anyhoo, I need you to keep him in Beirut this time. I don’t know, whatever, just kidnap one his boys and tell him the Jews did it. Something. Okay, toodles.

- - -

Hi JeanPierre, this is Bashums, how’s the mishpoche? Oh, we’re fine. Look, we need you to tell Nazzy that our agreement requires him to stay put, or the convoys will stop. Yeah, that means your retainer too, sorry, you know how it is. You’ll do it? Good! Good man, I knew we could count on the French!
Oh, and I'm sending you some summer sausage from Danish Village, you meaty boy. When are you coming to Damascus again? You know we always have room for you!

- - -

Salaam aleikum, ya Abu Qaboum, this is Jean Pierre, can I speak to the boss, sweetie? What do you mean ‘no’? Is he still asleep? Oh, at the club…… Well, what’s the club’s number? Waddya mean they don’t answer the phone on Saturday! Okay okay okay, I’ll call tomorrow instead!

- - -

Bonjour, Kehal Rodef Yisroel? Bon, bon, I wish to speak with one of your members, monsieur Nasrallah, tell him it’s urgent. He’s incommoded? What? A tradition, you say? Please explain. Okay, I will call Abu Qaboum! Imbecile!

- - -

Listen, tayere Jean-Pierre, es iz a sach, a gefahl. Each year we celebrate this famous anniversary, veistu, by recounting the tale with much drinking and noise. Nazzy loves the tradition and always has a good time – a VERY good time. No, he doesn’t have a drinking problem, Saturdays he just comes by the club with his fringy beach-blanket and has one little kiddush with the guys. Just one! But today, alas, he’s totally blotto. So I’m sorry, but you really can’t speak to him today. Emmes!
Yeah, and a freilichah purim to you too!

- - -

Dear Mr. Assad,
Pursuant our recent conversation, I regret to inform you that I have as yet not been able to contact Mr. Nasrallah, despite several attempts. According to his secretary, he has been unavailable and "under the weather" due to recent festivities celebrating the battle of Shushan.
There have been other such incidents involving Mr. Nasrallah, and I feel I must also mention that his Saturday morning benders make him seem less than reliable; we French are a businesslike people, as you know, and my superiors appreciate efficiency and predictability.
Sincerely,
---Jean-Pierre

- - -

Choshever Jean-Pierre,
Please don’t call me "Mr. Assad" – we’re friends! And I already told you to call me Bashums, that’s what everybody at the baths call me. Besides, you’ve seen me naked. Remember the summer sausage from Danish Village?

In any case, you’ll just have to live with Nazzy’s odd habits. Yes, he drinks when he’s at the club - he jolly well has to. Have you seen that wife of his? Spitting image of his shvigger, I think they even buy the same size bras and burqas. And hey, it WAS purim – everyone gets shikker on purim.

Let me tell you what purim is about.
On purim we celebrate the loss of Esther Hamalka’s bisulta before the battle of Shushan. And anything like a chasoonah, of course, means lots of bronfen. According to Rava, one is obligated to get so utterly stinko that one can not tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai the man of dubious concern for his niece. Which takes some doing, let me tell you – Haman’s name gets mentioned so often you just want to scream and yell and bang stuff. And have more whiskey. Rava himself once got that sodding blotto on purim that he didn't remember what he did to his chavrusa Rav Zaira, but Rav Zaira could recall it in painful detail a year later, and refused to accept drinks from Rava ever again.
But, as you know, some people will overdo it.

Sheikh Musa Ibn Maimun al Qartubbi, in discussing what happened, advises you to merely have a few quick ones before going to bed, to avoid such incidents, and wrote: "you weren't thinking of drinking that alone, were you? It’s cold tonight, come here big boy".

Sayid Ibn Yusuf al-Fayumi, in his 'Kitab Al Amamat Wa'l Ittikadat', wrote that one should only accept drinks from family men, because they have more reason to be discreet, and will not boast about it the next morning.

The Ayatullah Khomeini, z"l, said that women are not obligated to get drunk, and advises not even inviting them to the party at all, for two very good reasons: fruity cocktails, and wet burqa contests.

Instead, if you really cannot control yourself when drinking it is better to be mezaneh with your chavrusa, if he isn’t throwing up. As is written in the Surat as-Sakran, "when both have achieved that level of intoxication that neither can distinguish between Mordechai and Haman, they can no longer tell the difference between the genders". And it is for this reason that women wear shapeless sacks, whereas men show off hairy chests and gold chains.

Anyway, Purim goes back to the days of Ahashveerus, king in Persia. Mordechai, Esther's "uncle", who had taken her in after her parents died, entered her in a beauty pageant which the king arranged to select a replacement for his wife Vashti the bitch. Esther got selected by the king, not a surprise, as all the other entrants were tzniusdik and, well, you’ve seen their women, you know – exactly like Nazzy’s eishes chayil. And the maiden pleased him (yeah, right), and she obtained his favour; and he soon gave her ointments. More than that, the king loved Esther more than all the women... so that he set a crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti the bitch.

As it turns out, Haman had been the dealer for Vashti the bitch, and was infuriated that Esther had wrecked his influence at court, that pupke, a shande fir di you-know-whatsim, so he planned a drive-by. But Mordechai uncovered the plot just in time when he found the cell-phone Haman left in the bath-house, and so saved the life of the king. Ahashveerus had Haman and his kids strung up and his homies whacked.

Ever since, we celebrate on that day by drinking heavily, exchanging gifts of food, and replacing our wives with younger women.

Hope this makes things clear.
Hugs.
---Bashums

- - -

Dear, dear, Bashums,
Really, I wish you wouldn’t remind me of that incident with the summer sausage from Danish Village, I don’t like American meat, even when it is nice and firm. And what happens in the baths, stays in the baths (you shameless trollop).
Now, that zerdraite meise in you last letter doesn’t at all explain Nazzy’s recent behaviour. Do you know what he was doing this Sunday evening? He was standing outside my window at three in the morning singing! Lecha Dodi at the top of his lungs! Es past nit, b’emmes! I like him, he’s a delicious boy, but the neighbors do NOT need to be know everything about peacekeeping – tell him to back off!
Meanwhile, did you get the gift basket I sent you? Some chocolates, truffles, presidors, wafer rolls… I also made a donation to Hamas in your name, did they send you the thank-you note yet? Write soon,
Your pooki,
---J.P (Jean Pierre).

- - -

Yo, Manny baby, whazzup!
We don’t have to do anything at all to keep Nazzy in Beirut – JayPee tells me he’s checked into the Betty Ford clinic in Ashrafiya (the one with that totally buff pool boy who can get you anything you want, for a price). He’ll be there for a while.
However, there is one tiny little problem….. JayPee is becoming a liability. He’s pretty near to blowing our cover, and that ain’t gonna please your ayatollahs or my Saudis. I told you before that Frenchmen are drama-queens, and this one is head over heels, and drunk every night. Should we take the bitch out before he hits the frontpage? Please advise.
Your homeboy,
---Bashums.
Ps. Did you get that summer sausage from Danish Village I sent you? I can’t wait to tell you the story that goes with it!

- - -

Bashums, ya habibi!
So glad to hear that things in B-town are fine, and yes, I got the summer sausage from Danish Village. Dee-lish! I’ve sent you some bottles of Shiraz and a lovely Virginia ham in return - after all, what is a holiday if one doesn’t share the joy?
Now, regarding JayPee. The ayatollahs agree – whack him, and do it quickly. There’s plenty more fab Europeans where that one came from, ha ha ha, and they only have those rosy cheeks when they’re young.
Love and kisses, my little pleasure piggy, love and kisses.
Your chaveir,
---Manny
 
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