Thursday, August 31, 2006


I was planning to leave the bar after only one drink, so Archie could close early, but a couple came in, and almost immediately started providing entertainment.
A him and a dirty blondish her, both very khoosh, and not from liquor.

She asked Archie if he knew how to French braid, then asked me the same. And did anyone have any lipliner? She jerkily marched up and down the length of the bar, twitching. She wanted to sing karaoke. And recharge her cell phone. Why couldn't she recharge the phone, was there no recharger? Really? And how come neither of us knew how to French braid? For heavensakes!

With an air of authority she informed no-one in particular that California was like totally great! But it couldn't beat North Carolina! Where she came from! She was a stewardess! Her boy friend was from southern California! And didn't know how to French braid either! Everything she said was emphatic - even the questions.

Archie put another drink in front of her, and she asked him if she had already asked him about French braiding. Then she knocked her drink over and grabbed the karaoke catalogue.

Gonna sing now.

As she and her boyfriend sang, I ordered another whiskey and water. This was good. Better than TV.

Archie and I gave each other 'that' look, grinning, while those two slaughtered 'proud Mary' ("...Proud Mary um mumble mumble! Turning um eh ummm! Proud, um New Orleans, yeah? Keep it, keep uh...").

Proud Mary ain't never gonna 'roll' again after that rendition - even walking again might be outta the question.

Another customer wandered in after the song. The blonde asked him three separate times if he knew how to French braid.... he hurriedly finished his drink and left.

She went out to smoke - and we heard her hollering down the stairs at someone about lipliner. She came back in and asked me about French braiding, as if the question had only! just! then! popped into her head.

Then she had a brief, savage spat with her boyfriend over the song-catalogue.
She whopped him with it.

They began another song. With the first strains of 'these boots are made for walking', I finished my drink and headed out into the fog. As the music grew faint behind me, I distinctly heard the words 'lipliner' over her boyfriend's dull mumbling of the lyrics.

Karaoke is a marvelous invention. Totally.

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


A simple custard.

One of the dishes which the British took with them wherever they went, as the imperialist power of their age, was caramel custard - a simple, unassuming little sweet which they really thought that they, and they alone, had invented.

Which was certainly not the case. It seems rather Iberian, much like many other sweet dishes composed of eggs and sugar. And cane sugar was unknown to Europeans until the Arabs introduced it to them.
Prior to the colonial age, Europeans got their cane sugar from Sicily, Southern Spain, and the Arab traders in the Levant. So it is more than likely that caramel custard was made in Spain ages before the English even heard of it.

Europeans introduced caramel custard to Latin America and the Caribbean, India (where during the British Period it was often called 365 - because the khidmatkar would make it 365 days of the year), and the Philippines, where it has pretty much become the national dessert.

Now skip forward four centuries - The best Caramel Custard in the Bay Area can be found in Philippino eateries. But it tastes even better if you make it at home. Especially during winter.

[This recipe makes enough for one or two normal people, or four-plus cholesterol conscious health-nuts. Double it as appropriate. ]

One egg.
One egg yolk.
One cup heavy cream, heated to more than blood temperature.
Two TBS sugar.
Pinch salt.
Pinches cinnamon and nutmeg or mace.
Dash vanilla.
Dash Scotch whiskey.

For the caramel crust: more sugar.

In a metal or pyrex mixing bowl which is significantly larger than the volume of all the ingredients, mix the egg and egg yolk. Add sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, whiskey. Slowly add the warm cream, while stirring briskly. When the sugar is entirely dissolved, place the vessel containing the mixture inside a larger vessel with warm water to surround the custard bowl up to the level of the custard mixture (bain-Marie) and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 45 minutes.

Remove the custard from oven.

While it cools, heat four TBS sugar in the deep ladle from the wok-set your aunt Murgatroyd gave you ten years ago but which you haven't used in nine years and eleven months. The sugar will melt, turn transparent, and caramelize. Stir with a long cocktail spoon or icetea spoon to ensure an even melting. Be careful doing this - melted sugar is extremely hot and can cause some nasty burns. When it has reached the desired level of caramelization (dark red brown) , pour it quickly over the custard in a circular motion. Tilt the bowl to coat the entire surface. Let it cool completely before serving.

If you use heavy whipping cream to make the custard, it makes a marvelous topping for freshly baked pie.

Especially pecan pie, with a buttery, flaky crust.

Note that any partially burnt sugar deposits on the ladle will be difficult to remove - but traces of same promote caramelization the next time you use the ladle for that purpose.

Bon gusto y'all.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


[What follows are ten rules for argumentation with the Dutch. It is also in Dutch - a translation will be posted later. Abide for now.]

1. Vorm een mening op basis van veronderstelde feiten. Laat die mening een eigen leven leiden, en beinvloeden welke volgende veronderstelde feiten men aksepteren zal, welke men negeert. De gevormde mening word intussen als feitelijk aangezien. De veronderstelde feiten waar alles op rust worden nimmer onder de loep genomen, temeer daar zo een beschouwing de basis van de inmiddels gevarmde meningsstelsel teniet zou doen.

2. Aksepteer niet of nauwelijks kritiek, vooral als die kritiek de eigen veronderstellingen niet ondersteunt.

3. Aksepteer niet of nauwelijks tegenspraak of contra-argument, vooral als dat de eigen veronderstellingen niet ondersteunt.

4. Neem aan dat eigen mening immer verantwoord is, en dat andere meningen, in zoverre als die afwijken van het eigene, niet de moeite van het discussieren waard zijn (alhoewel deze wel degelijk tegengesproken moeten worden). De eigen mening is natuurlijk rationeel, tegenstellende mening is gebaseerd op foutieve feiten en emoties

5. Vorm mening op basis van emotie. Vorm emotie op basis van die mening. Houd aan dat men neutraal is, het zijn gewoon de feiten.

6. Vorm mening op basis van vooroordelen. Vorm emotie op basis van die mening. Houd aan dat men neutraal is, het zijn gewoon de feiten.

7. Verander of vervorm punt van discussie als men het niet eens is met een mening, zodanig dat men iemand kan uitsluiten of negeren. Een discussie is alleen de moeite waard met gelijkdenkenden - afwijkers hebben echt niets bij te dragen.

8. Leugens die de eigen mening ondersteunen zijn nauwelijks minder dan feiten. Zolang er een greintje waarheid in zit, is het veel beter dan de pure waarheid, want het past in de algevormde meningsstelsel, en kan rhetorisch van beter nut wezen dan ongelakte feiten.

9. Wie tegenspreekt moet kritiek aanvaarden; zulk kritiek geld als bewijs van het foutief denken van de tegenspreker, want ware er niets te kritizeren zou hij mischien toch gelijk kunnen hebben. Is er iets mis met iemand die een afwijkende mening heeft, dan is alles mis.

10. Handel, ten alle tijden, in de veronderstelling dat eigen mening het vooruitstrevende en geavanceerde vertegenwoordigen, en dat ieder weldenkend mens dat zowel herkent als nastreeft. Dienovereenkomstig mag men afwijkende meningen te spot zetten, daar deze slechts achterlijkheid, onduidelijkheid en ja zelfs euvel naar voren brengen.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


It's getting mighty close to New Year's......

Which can mean only one thing......


[Ooh... dancing rabbis! Dancing rabbis rule, dude! Righteous!]

The telethon, as everyone knows, benefits West-Coast Chabad's various programs, raising money for a lot of really worthwile things.

"Like what?" I hear you ask.

Well, how about non-denominational drug addiction treatment?
That alone ought to get your money flowing. When someone is trying to kick a destructive addiction, the absolute last thing they need is some self-righteous poohag lecturing them about Jayzits or Buddha, and trying to get them to convert to. the. one. true. religion. oh. joy. you-za. gonna. git. SAYYVED. now! boy. [This seems logical, but you'de be surprised how many do-gooders don't understand this.]

Chabad's other stuff is good too - even if you don't agree with them, and feel uncomfortable about the sometimes Artscrollish shmaltzy cottoncandy version of Judaism that they project.

Who else is gonna get kosher le Peysach matzes to groups of Yidden in the weirdest corners of golus?
Who else actively seeks to reintegrate third generation apikorsim from Russia back into the tribe?
Who else will help an elderly alcoholic clean up his life?

You know they do good stuff. And they do it because its the right thing to do. So why not dump some money on them? Like, right now. Klick here:

Go on, click.

You know you want to.

It's a mitzvah.

Why haven't you clicked there yet? What's stopping you? What are you waiting for? Yes, you - I'm talking to someone else perhaps? I mean you. Click now. Donate. Go on. Please.
You don't want to donate so much? Dude, even a couple of bucks is worthwhile. You say you already donate to many other worthwhile causes? That's great, beautiful, I am so proud of you, and one more ain't gonna hurt.

Go on, click on that link. Don't do it for me, do it for yourself. You'll be glad you did. It will make you feel all warm to donate. If you want to do it for me, that's fine too, really, I wouldn't object - I just want you to plonk some of your hard-earned money where it hurts. Click on that link. The need exists, the good causes won't go away, yes they will always be there to tempt you into another donation (click on that link already), but really, what's the harm in that? A few dollars gonna kill you?
Fer hevvins aches, donate. Now. Don't wait.

Click the link.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


In a comment under a posting ( carved on the Goblin King's cavernwalls (, the Knitter of shiny things (blog: said:
Perhaps you should post a warning sign on the entrance to my neck of the woods: "Beware of kfira...and cats, if you're allergic. No swimming in the miqva'ot unless a lifeguard is on duty." :-p
Maybe we all should have warnings on our blogs. I see the making of an awesome meme. "


Proposed MEME:

1. What warning would you have on your blog for the unsuspecting?
If you stay here long enough you will gain weight.

2. Why do you think they need to be warned?
Food is a recurring theme.

3. What does that say about them?
Grazing here suggests that they're either omnivorous, or gluttons. And they probably like cheese doodles.

4. And who else should put up a warning?
Dovbear, GodolHador, Margabriel, Lipman, Misnaged..... Oh what the heck - pretty much everybody I read. Blogs piss people off. Not all the time, not everybody. But if you come through the bloggojungle unscathed you were probably dead to begin with.

I tag Steg, Knitter of Shiny things, CousinOliver, and the Godol Hador..... yes, I know, he had a warning on his erstwhile excellent blog - but he can post this on Dovbear's blog ( , seeing as he now posts there - it will kill two flies with one pie.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Jackie Mason is suing the Jay Fer Jays over a pamphlet.

Extract from the AP article:

Saying he's "as Jewish as a matzo ball or kosher salami," Jackie Mason filed a lawsuit against Jews for Jesus for using his name and likeness in a pamphlet.
The $2 million lawsuit seeks the immediate destruction of the pamphlet, which members of the missionary group have been handing out at various points around New York City.
"While I have the utmost respect for people who practice the Christian faith, the fact is, as everyone knows, I am as Jewish as a matzo ball or kosher salami," the 75-year-old comedian said in documents filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan

Of course this isn't the first time Jackie Mason has been involved in something faintly (hugely) putrid - he made some comments about Islam that can only be considered incendiary (contradicting our beloved leader, who called Islam a 'religion of peace'), and he's also made some remarks about blacks that were quite the opposite of complimentary.

There have been times when he has been wrong, yes.

But what has justifiably got his knickers in a twist is that his face is in a Jay Fer Jay pamphlet, next to the words "Jackie Mason ... A Jew for Jesus!?"

The suggestion that anyone is a Jew for Jayzits is vicious and slanderous...... ghastly barely describes it. Kinda like a mogen Dovid on one side of an equals sign, and Nazi emblem on the other side. It's like gossip that someone is related to Henry VIII.

No wonder he's angry. He should be. He should sue the pants offa those bozos. He should sue for damages and trauma. Take 'em to the cleaners.

Oh, you ask "what about peace and love, acceptance and tolerance, and all the rest of that stuff?"

Those are all good things, yes, and even here they apply.

As legal concepts.

I tolerate Jews for Jayzits, I do not advocate banning them.

I would refuse to sit at the same table with them, or any one who fell for their depraved and ridiculous cult (though I would pay good money for the entertainment of seeing them at the same table as ArtScroll), and I consider anyone who walks into their trap as being a soul lost forever.... poor little priceless Yiddishe neshamas be damned, if they got suckered into that demented cult they were hopeless little moronic nutzoids to begin with (though evenso, deprogramming is probably justified).

But I tolerate JayferJay. I am legally required to do so. Which is a good thing. The fact that so insane a bunch of crackpots can spew their nonsense protects the rest of us. I tolerate them.

That stops at slander.



Why do I consider Jews fer Jayzits crazier than any other creed, cult, or ideology?

Because if you believe in Jayzits, yer a Christian.
If you do not believe in Jayzits, you ain't.
The term 'Jews for Jezus' is a falsehood.

There ain't no such critter as a Jew who believes in Jayzits. Anybody who keeps all mitzvos except that one about "no other gods" is not a Jew, but someone with inexplicable personal habits.
Once you've accepted Jayzits as your close, personal, and totally imaginary friend, there is utterly no further reason for obeying the taryag mitzvos.

[At that point there are several very good reasons for seeking psychiatric help.... surely as an adult you know that imaginary friends are problematic? And that the big white bunny rabbit with the bowtie isn't really following you around? You do know you're stark raving bonkers, don't you? Haven't your few remaining friends already told you so?]

What I also find repulsive about the JayferJay crowd is that they are directed by and funded by missionary outreach organizations with scarcely anyone of any certifiable Jewish background. It's false advertising. It's like calling Hezbollah a social welfare organization. It hides the evil agenda within under a smiling veneer of chicken soup.

As a final note, suggesting that Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, father of Krusty the Clown, is not a mensh but a madman is hideously offensive.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Do I need to know that it has been pre-authed.?

I'm sorry, I cannot answer so existential a question this early - angst, angst, angst.

Despair. Gloom. A cold dark universe. Harsh reality. The jungle is cannibalistic.

This order, for this customer with a name based on bourgeois denial of the suffering of the proletariat in a post-modern construct, has been released. Its deeper enslavement however is not addressed by its utterly superficial and meaningless new freedom - Matt will "pick" it, and consign it to its fate. Oh inevitability, oh woe.

I wonder if there's any more cheese.


Everybody looks better with the right clothing.
See here:
And click on instructions.

Sægde se þe cuþe
frumsceaft fira feorran reccan,
cwæð þæt se Ælmihtiga eorðan worhte,
wlitebeorhtne wang, swa wæter bebugeð,
gesette sigehreþig sunnan ond monan
leoman to leohte landbuendum,
ond gefrætwade foldan sceatas
leomum ond leafum, lif eac gesceop
rynna gehwylcum þara ðe cwice hwyrfaþ.


Thursday, August 24, 2006


Llike a knight-errant of old, I was wandering through the dark and somber woods (here: when I ran into a fabulous beast (here: ).

O..... tay.

Steg ( asks "Does the Shulhhan ‘Arukh of Lyadi have lists of 10 in it? I have no idea. I do know, though, that it doesn't have instructions on how to shake a lulav... "

I am flabbergasted ("Baruch atta Adonoi Eloheinu, melech ha oilum, asher flabberei et-gasteinu...") that the RASMIB™ has a lulav-related question!

Especially after the kashei-lulav were hammered out in detail last year (at least, I seem to remember that happening - didn't feel like re-reading all relevant blogs during lunch, though - but you may do so, there's nothing stopping you).

So, because it is absolutely nowhere near Sukkos, I decided to refresh your collective memories (well...., also because I have nothing else to post about - zip ben diddly, Jack bar all).

On Sukkos, we wave shrubbery at the sky and live in a lean-to out in the open. After a week of doing this we have an all-night dance party with a bunch of bearded men.

This means something.

The shrubbery, however, is key.

It's a compound shrubbery. An "arba minim". Which is waved in a particular way. Most confusing.

The waving, per the Mechaber, the Rama, and the Taz, is east, south, west, north, up, down (clockwise: derech yemin, al pi Chazal).
Nusach Ashkenaz, nusach Sefarad, and nusach Mizrahi – all follow this order.

Chassidim usually follow the Ari (nusach Yerushalayim), as cited by the Magen Avraham, who paskenned south, north, east, up, down, west.

The Levush preferred east, south, north, up, down, west; the Tur – east, north, south, west, up, down; Rashi – north, south, east, west, up down.

[Kodos (the brother of Kang) put all of this odd gesticulation into perspective, when he paskenned "We must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling! Twirling! Twirling! Towards freedom!"
How wise is that vort. He draws a clear link between this, the autumn festival, and the chag ha heruteinu (Peysach). ]

The Rebbe of Prolicz said "I once heard a talmid ask our Master ‘Do you believe that one’s avodas Hashem will be enhanced by purchasing such odd fruit?’
The Rebbe answered ‘if you aver that this is a question of bechol levavcha, I would ask why it is not a question of bechol meodeicha. And if you say that it is indeed a question of bechol meodeicha, I happen to have some esrogim for sale’."

Which, of course, is firmly in line with the teaching of Rav Chai Gaon, Rav Sherira Gaon, the Rambam, Rav Hirsch, and others.

In mittn drinnen, tayere rabbosai, I heard what you were up to at the end of last Sukkos! Being besimches over ‘nosson lanu Toireh’ does NOT mean singing 'Mipi El' and 'Yankif Der Gonif ' at the top of your lungs under Jodi’s window at four o’clock in the morning!

Just because you decided to exchange simches b’ruach for shikker ad-reiyach, and spontaneously held a comparative tasting of single malts, is no excuse!

It’s a good thing she has no idea what y’all meant when you praised her 'etrogeyn m’tukeyn'!

Damn hippies.

The rest of this post is a pointless and interrelated explanation of relevant terminology, for reference purposes (taken from 'Likutei Ha Yeshiva Chippas Emess' - an unpublished seifer by the Rabam). You may find it usefull. Or not.

Al netilas lulav = The blessing upon taking up the lulav and the esrog: "Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha olam, asher kidshannu be mitzvosav ve tzivanu al netilas lulav". Blessed are you, our Lord our G-d, king of the universe, who sanctifies us with your commandments, and who commands us to take up the lulav.

Arava = Brook-willow is not associated with either taste or smell, and represents someone who has neither good deeds nor knowledge of Torah. As is written in Psalms 68:5 "shiru l'Elohim zamru shemo solu larochev ba aravot be ya shemo ve ilzu le fanav" (Chant unto God, sing praises to His name, extol Him who rides upon the clouds, whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him). And, like the clouds upon which He rides, the willows represent the lips that praise, the prayer that is His service – these being all that a person with neither deeds nor knowledge can offer. Note the similarity between ‘aravot’ (clouds) and ‘arava’ (brook-willow).

Arba minim = The four species waved about on Sukkos (Esrog = Citron. Lulav = Palm frond. Hadassim = Myrtle branches. Aravos = Willow branches. Collectively, this is refered to as 'a shrubbery' (see Rav Monty Python's first Hagadah: Ha Kli Ha Kodosh.).

The complete arba minim (four species) go for as low as $20.00 on the Lower East Side (corner of Essex and Canal street), up to forty dollars in Boro Park. It is possible to get all four species, of a reasonably hiddur-mitzveyish quotient, for around $30 (with a little haggling – Main Street, Queens).

Or try the tables in the diamond district, 47th street near 7th avenue.

Ari = The Arizal, Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, born 1534 in Yerushalayim, nifter 1572 in Sfat (Safed).
A major Kabalist, whose thought dominates Jewish mysticism even today, except for that version of Kabala dabbled in by celebrities. The Arizal’s intellectual inheritance was collected and published by his pupil Rabbi Chayim Vital Calabrese (1543 – 1620) in an eight volume collection, the Shemoneh Shearim (Eight Sections), otherwise known as the Etz Chayim (which means ‘Tree of Life’, but also refers to both Rabbi Chayim and the diagram of the ten sefiros).

Bach = Rabbi Yoel Sirkes (1560?-1640), author of the Beis Chadash, which parallels the Beis Yosef as a commentary on the Tur.

Esrog = A citrus fruit grown on the margin of edibility, and quite lumpy. One can turn it into an aromatic preserve, but given the price we paid, better we should have it bronzed or sunk in clear plastic.

Esrog, or lump-lemon, has both taste and fragrance, and symbolizes the understanding and wisdom behind all of our actions. As it says in Psalms 104:1 "barachi nafshi et yehva Adonai Elohai gadalta meod, hod ve hadar lavashta" (Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my G-d, you are extremely great, clothed with glory and majesty).

A perfect esrog comes only to those who yearn for it and toil in study, "in accordance with the pain is the reward, in accordance with the knowledge is the love of Hashem".

The esrog is one of the four species (arba minim) required for the feast of tabernacles (Sukkos), as it says in Vayikra (Leviticus), Parshas Emor, psook 23:40 "...u lekachtem lachem ba yom ha rishon peri ets hadar kapot temarim va anaf ets avot ve arvei nachal u semachtem lifnei Adonai Eloheichem shivat yamim" (And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of splendid trees (esrog), fronds of palm trees (lulav), and twigs of thick trees (hadas: myrtle), and branches of brook willows, and you shall rejoice with them before the Lord, seven days).

This means that one needs to buy them BEFORE the first day - there is a parallel with Peysach, when the last of the chometz is destroyed before the first day.

As it says in Shmois (Exodus) 34:21 "sheshet yamim taavod u vayom ha sheviyi tishbot, be charish u va katsir tishbot" (Six days you shall labour but on the seventh day you shall rest; (even) at plowing and at harvest, rest.). Shmois (Exodus) 34:22 "ve chag shavuot taase lecha bikurei ketsir chitim, ve chag ha asif tekufat ha shana" (And the feast of weeks shall you observe, the first fruits of the wheat, and the feast of reaping at the turn of the year.).

Why are these juxtaposed?

To tell us that shabbes takes precedence, whatsoever feast or season it is. And, as in every seven days, one is shabbes, for a seven day feast, we need eight days. Rejoicing with them is taken to mean frantic gesticulating and shaking, in a specific manner, as if to say "see what I have!"

If a man waves his arba minim in the forest, and there are no witnesses to see him, has he really rejoiced?

The esrog is described as the most beautiful of the four minim - pri eitz hador. The greater the fruit, the greater the mitzvah. And, as there are esrogim which are not true esrogim (being the result of cross-breeding with other citrus fruits), only an esrog which is bulbuous, bumpy, veiny, can be assumed to be kosher le sukkois. And much to be admired, envied even.

Hadas = Myrtle, which smells lovely, symbolizes good deeds, but no knowledge of Torah. The hadassa represents straightforwardness and common sense, such as an uncomplicated person would have. It says in Zecharia 1:8 "raiti ha laila ve hine ish rochev al sus adom ve hu omed bein ha hadasim" (I looked in the night, and behold, a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees).

Levush = The Ba'al HaLevushim, Rav Mordechai Ben Avraham Yaffah (1535 - 1612), Talmudist and Kabalist, chief Rabbi of Grodne, who wrote a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch known by this name, short for Levush Malchus (Royal Vestment), and in reference to its ten divisions - the levushim (vestments).

Lulav =Palm frond has taste but no fragrance, and represents someone with knowledge of the Torah but no good deeds. But by a different interpretation, the lulav symbolizes upright conduct and character. As is written in Psalms 92:13 "tsadik ka tamar yifrach" (The righteous like the date palm shall bloom).

The lulav is waved when we recite the blessing ‘Al netilas lulav’, again during hallel, when we say ‘hodu l’Hashem’, and also at ‘yomar na’ (the reminder by the sheliach tzibbur to repeat ‘hodu l’Hashem’), but not at ‘yomru na’.

Hillel opines that we "wave at ‘Hodu l’Hashem’, beginning and end (twice), and at ‘Ana Hashem, Hoshiyana’", while Shammai adds "at ‘Ana Hashem, hatzlichah na’". Rabbi Akiva remarks, in reference thereto, that Rabban Gamaliel and Rav Yehoshua only waved their lulavim at ‘Ana Hashem, hoshiyana’.

"A lulav of three handbreadths in length (is) long enough to wave (and) is valid."

Magen Avraham = The Shield of Abraham – a commentary on Orach Chayim (the first section of the Shulchan Aruch by Yoisef Karo, which handles prayers, shuls, sabbaths, and holidays) by Rabbi Avraham Gumbiner of Kalitch, Poyland (1637 – 1683).

Mechaber = Author. The nickname of Yosef Karo (1488 – 1575), author of the Shulchan Aruch (Set Table), and the Beis Yosef (House of Joseph). Beis Yosef is a compilation of discussions on the laws (hilchois), often printed alongside the text of the Arba Turim (the Four Rows - a compilation in four sections of Halacha, by Rabbi Yakov Ben Asher (1270 - 1340), containing specifically those rules which are still applicable in golus).

Ramah = The Ramah (the ReMah); Rav Moishe Ben Yisroel Isserless (born 1525 or 1530 in Krakow, died 1572). Ashkenazic commentator, author of the Mappah (tablecloth), which is a supplement to Joseph Karo's Shulchan Aruch (the Set Table). The Shulchan Aruch is probably the most well known compendium of Jewish law, but is decidedly Sephardo-centric, which is why the Mappah is always printed alongside for the Ashkenazic bias.

Rashi = How, at this point, can you NOT know who Rashi is? You were chapping a shlof?

Taz = Turei Zahav (Rows of Gold), an explicatory commentary on the Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi David Ben Shmuel HaLevi (Krakow 1586 - Lvov 1667), one of the foremost rabbinical authorities in seventeenth-century Poland. The son in law of the Bach.

Tamar = Date-palm.

Tur = Both the Arba Turim (The Four Rows – in reference to the rows of semi-precious stones on the breastplate of the high priest, because the book consisted of four parts), a legal compendium by Yakov Ben Asher (1270 – 1343), and a short form of his book-name – Ba’al Ha Turim (the Master of the Rows). The Arba Turim much the model that Yoisef Karo followed when composing his Shulchan Aruch.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Food is a consuming passion.

Now put down those greasy beef ribs and pay attention!

I wish to explain how this posting came about.

Food one: My previous posting was about gefilte fish, in response to a posting by AddeRabbi (On The Contrary.........................(הפוך (ב, whose blog is here:

Food two: In a comment underneath a posting about books on TAFKA PP's blog (posting here: I mentioned five kinds of cocoa powder. Maturity means more chocolate. Who knew?

Food three: Underneath a posting by Lipman (see here: I made reference to Ischa Meijer (Israël Chaim Meijer, b. 1943 d. 1995), writing "Ischa was a playwright, theatre critic (totally vicious!), columnist and interviewer, and, ironically, as good a chronicler and word-portrettist of Amsterdam as his father (Jacob Meijer, b. 1912 d. 1993). He too was a depressed and angry man, and hard to get along with."

Ischa Meijer wrote a column for many years for Het Parool under the pen-name 'De Dikke Man' (the fat man), anecdoting fondly & wistfully about Amsterdam. He brought the city to life as no other, and I enjoy rereading his daily columns whenever I feel in an Amsterdammish mood.

Unfortunately for you, dear reader, he wrote in Dutch - language of Vondel (Joost van den Vondel, 1587 -1679), Brederode (Gerbrand Adriaenszoon Bredero, 1585 - 1618, and Willem Godschalck van Focquenbroch (pronounce it slowly, 1640 - 1670). A wonderfull lashoin in which you are not yet fully literate.

But despair not.

You too can davka recapture the taam of his writing.

In a few of his columns he fondly mentions a Jewish dish made in Amsterdam, and still served by a few of the local corner koffie huizen, often only to favoured customers (so, why not go to Mokum Alef, and live for a few months near a promising koffie huis - you won't regret it).

Perenkugel - pear kugel.

One of his characters pensively states that each family must have two recipes. The recipe that the husband got from his mother, and the recipe that the wife got from hers. And that it is wise to say that the wife's recipe is the better one.

Even though that isn't true.

Your mother's recipe is always better.

This is my recipe. No mothers or wives were directly involved.
It is an all-male recipe.

[Sufficient for three hungry folks, or maybe eight or nine wussies.]

Four and a half pounds of pears; peeled, cored, thick cut.
Three and a half cups of flour; sifted.
Two cups of sugar, plus two TBS of sugar for the pear-poaching liquid.
One cup butter (2 sticks), or pareve margerine.
Half a cup ginger in syrup, chopped, with the syrup.
Half a cup raisins, rinsed.
One Tsp. cinnamon powder.
Pinches of ground cardamom, salt.
Zest of half a lemon, plus the juice.

Poach pears in water to cover, with the two TBS of sugar and the lemon juice, till semi tender.

Make a flexible though stiff dough of the other ingredients - add some of the pear poaching liquid if necessary, or more flour if it is too gloopy. Place the dough on top of the pears. Add more water to make the liquid come to just over the top of the dough. Place a heavy lid on the pot - use a kitchen towel to keep the steam in. Cook on low heat (use a heat absorber) for about six hours, adding more water if needed to keep the kugel from drying out. Let cool, and turn onto a platter.


NOTE I: The kugel can be set on the blech on Friday afternoon, and eaten the next day with lunch. After which you will probably want to sleep till Motzei Shabbes.

NOTE II: Like appeltaart (a thick apple tart, which is another typical Amsterdam, and hence Amsterdam Jewish, food item), peren kugel is the stuff of polite but very stubborn differences of opinion. Some people add almonds (beh!), others add more syrup-ginger and ginger powder (too much!), and of course some folks use vanilla.....(!!!).

Everybody has pretty much the same reaction when they eat some-one else's pear kugel: "this is good, yes, very good. It reminds me of... but there is just one tiny little thing, unimportant really, and I probably shouldn't mention it, but you know how it is, perhaps, just perhaps, and I hope you don't mind my saying this, next time you should......" and then follows some totally unimportant tiny little 'improvement' which you should just ignore.

I add a splash of strong coffee to the poaching liquid - it sparks up the flavour of the pears.

NOTE III: Mentioning food (1, 2, and 3 above) started a mental chain reaction and a process of association.

The process was helped along by fellow Californian blogger Chardal (blog here: waxing ecstatic: "Ah, the kishke - an indispensable staple of the Ashkenazi chulent. Well, there is real kishke and then there is what people today call kishke.
What people today call kishke is a type of well-spiced dough which is inserted into the chulent and slow-cooked until it absorbs all the flavors of the other foods in the cholent - quite delicious though it does not compare to the real variety. Most people do not make this dough at home but rather buy it at a store.

NOTE IV: Chulent / Cholent (pron: Tsholnt!!!) = a heavy casserole containing meat, vegs, lentils or beans, and fat or oil, which is cooked long and slow by putting it into the oven on Friday afternoon, before the start of the Sabbath, and leaving it to cook overnight for Saturday lunch (and so having a warm meal without breaking the injuction about labour on the Sabbath).
And of course you already know how to make Tsholnt, don't you?

Simmer two pounds of lamb with two chopped onions, two cups of garbanzos, two quartered potatoes, carrots, garlic, black pepper, paprika, a goodly dash of olive oil, and pinches saffron, cinnamon powder, and dry ginger, with water to well cover, in a heavy casserole with a tight fitting lid, at 200 degrees from Friday afternoon till mid-day Saturday. Then tell the shabbes-goy to 'remove it from the oven, place it on the table, and now please leave yes thank you very much goodbye see you next week'.

Eat smakelyk, y'all.

Monday, August 21, 2006


The AddeRabbi ( made aliyah last week.

And this week, he writes: "The first American product that I missed was, believe it or not, gefilte fish. The Israeli stuff more resembles kishke."

Co inky dink!

While we lived in Europe, my father would sometimes wistfully mention the American foods that he longed for.

One of those things was gefilte fish. Which, my mother being an uninspired cook, it was a blessing that we did not serve. And at that time I had not become the food-slut that I am now, and so had no interest in making gefilte fish or reading about it either.

In the mid-seventies my father and I went to Brussels and Paris several times - Brussels because of the fine restaurants and wonderful drinking establishments (Belgians have no religion except eating and drinking), and Paris for a variety of reasons. Including restaurants in Le Marais, such as Goldenbergs (on the Rue Vielle Du Temple), which had chocolate cake to commit mayhem for, and a number of dishes on the menu that were, to me, unidentifiable, such as 'poisson farci'.

Which my father joyfully recognized as gefilte fish.

For him, a taste of 'home'. For me, a taste of America.

When I came to Berkeley in 1978, the gefilte fish situation was as bad as it had been in the Netherlands. So I wrote a friend, and got a recipe. Which, with almost no modifications whatsoever, I post below.

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Benodigd, voor de visballen:
Required, for the fishballs:

Twee pond lichte vis, zowel zee als zoetwater vis.
Two pounds of white fish, both fresh and saltwater.

2 Kleine uien, versnipperd.
2 Small onions, minced very fine.

6 - 7 Eetlepels matzemeel.
6 to 7 Tbs. Matzameal.

4 Eieren.
4 Eggs.

1 Eetlepel suiker.
One Tbs. Sugar.

2 Theelepel zout.
2 Tsp. Salt.

2 Theelepel peper.
Two Tsp. pepper.

Voor de soep:
For the soup:

Vier pond vissenkoppen, graten, en vel.
4 Pounds fishheads, scraps, bones, skin.

1 grote peen, geschraapt en gehakt.
A large carrot, cleaned and chopped.

4 stengels selderij, gehakt.
Four stalks of celery, chopped.

2 Kleine uien, gepeld.
Two onions, peeled.


Hak de vis erg fijn. Meng er doorheen: ui, matzemeel, eieren, suiker, zout en peper.
Chop the fish finely. Mix with the minced onion, matzameal, eggs, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Plaats de vismengsel in een kom en laat in de koelkast 1 uur rusten.
Place the fishmixture in a bowl, and let it rest one hour in the fridge.

Doe alle visresten, met peen, selderij, en ui in een kastrol, giet er genoeg water bij dat alles ruwweg 5 cm onder staat. Breng aan de kook en laat 15 minuten zachtjes (niet borrelend) koken.
Place all fishscrap materials, carrot, celery and the two peeled onions in a cauldron, add enough liguid that it stand under by roughly two inches. Raise to boil and simmer (do not allow to roil) for fifteen minutes.

Met vochtige handen ovalen ballen van het vismengsel vormen.
With damp hands form oval balls of the fishmixture.

Plaats de visballen voorzichtig in de hete vloeistof, bedeksel de pan, en laat de visballen 1 uur of ietwat langer sudderen. Lang garen heeft voordelen voor zowel de smaak als de structuur van de visballen. Let op dat de visbalen helemaal bedekt blijven met vloeistof, daar ze veel vocht opnemen. Voeg indien nodig wat (heet) water toe.
Place the fishballs carefully in the hot liquid, cover with the lid, and simmer for an hour or more. Long poaching improves both the taste and the structure of the fishballs. Check to make sure the balls remain inundated - they take up rather much moisture. If necessary add some (hot) water.

Neem de visballen met een spaan uit de pan en leg ze in een soep schaal.
Remove the fishballs with a slotted spoon from the pan, and place in a tureen.

Zeef het kookvocht, en schenk het over de visballen.
Strain the kooking liquid, and pour over the fishballs.

De gefilte fish is, mits bewaard in het kookvocht, ten minste 3 dagen in de koelkast houdbaar.
Gefilte fish, submerged in cooking liquid, can be kept for at least three days in the refrigerator.

Geef er mierikswortel (chrein) bij.
Serve with horseradish.

Het gerecht mag met de gekookte peen (gesneden of gesnipperd) gegarneerd worden.
The dish may be garnished with the cooked carrot (sliced or minced).

Alzook peterselie.
As well as parsley.

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Note 1.: I first posted this recipe January 25th. on .

Note 2.: I confess to a major perversion (and now would be the right time to run outside screaming "La la la la la la la la la la la la la la I can't HEAR you!") when it comes to this dish. Specifically, I like adding coconut milk, lemon grass, galangal, and curry paste to the soup, plus rice-stick noodles (also called river noodles).

This approach treats it like a complex Indonesian soup -- think of saoto manok (soto ayam - a chicken soup with potatoes, vegetables, herbs, flavoured with turmeric and ground coriander), sop buntot ("arse" soup - oxtail stew with tomatoes, soy sauce, and star anise - served with crusty bread), saoto kambing (soto kambing - lamb or goat bone soup with tons of parsley and coriander, with fried potato nuggets). In any case, rather than chrein, a nice hot sambal is a good idea.
And chopped cucumber to cool a blistered palate.

Note 3.: Kishke is not my cup of tea. Is it yours? Feel free to wax poetic about kishke in the comments - no really, I insist.

Salamat makan and baruch Hashem.

Friday, August 18, 2006


[An obscure poem, translated and annotated, more or less.]

A talentless poet from Putten,
Could never find suitable rhymes;
Metre proved problematic,
Caesuras? Purely hypthetic
al; And the last line seldom made sense.

Commentaryof the Ba'al HaTuretz:

Putten (wells, sources of water) can be explained as a reference to Beersheba, as it says in Bereishis, Parshas Vayetzei, psookim 29:1 and 2: "Vayisa Yakov raglav va yelech artza veney-kedem" (Then Yakov proceeded with his journey, and came to the land of the Easterners).

[29:2]"Vayar ve hine ve'er basade ve hine-sham shelosha edrey-tson rovtzim aleyha ki min ha be'er hahiv yashku ha adarim ve ha even gedola al-pi ha be'er" (And he gazed, and behold! a well in the field, and behold! three flocks of sheep lying near it, for out of that well they watered the flocks. And the stone was great that lay over the mouth of the well).

The well represents the Torah, giver of life and wisdom, as it says in Midrash Rabbah: "The shepherds of Abraham argued with those of Abimelech, and each shouted, 'The well is ours!' Then Abraham's shepherds said, 'It belongs to them for whom the water will rise when their sheep approach to drink.' On seeing the flocks of Abraham, the water immediately rose."

But what about the stone upon the mouth of the well? This is alluded to by the difficulty mentioned in the second line of the poem. For an explanation we must again look to Parshas Vayetzei.

From psookim 29:8 through 11 we can infer that the well belonged to Abraham: "Vayomru lo nuchal ad asher yeasfu kol ha adarim vegalalu et ha even me al pi ha be'er ve hishkinu ha tzon" (And they said: 'We cannot (water the sheep), till all the flocks are gathered together and they (the flocks) roll the stone from the well's mouth - and then we water the sheep').

[29:9]"Odenu medaber imam ve Rachel ba'a im ha tzon asher le aviha ki roa hiv" (While he spoke with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she tended them).

[29:10]"Vayehi ka'asher ra'a Yakov et Rachel bat Lavan achi imo ve et tzon Lavan achi imo vayigash Yakov va yagel et ha even me al pi ha be'er va yashke et tzon Lavan achi imo" (And it came to pass, when Yakov saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Yakov went up, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother).

[29:11]"Va yishak Yakov le Rachel, va yisa et kolo, va yevke!" (And Yakov kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept).

In short, the problem is solved, a suitable match (a rhyme) is found, and Yakov (the poet) expresses joy and relief.

The presence of both Jacob and Rachel at the well shows the significance of both to the tradition - only through the agency of both do the sheep get water from the well, and from the symbolic significance of the acts of both (like so many other pairs in the tradition), their descendents draw strength and hope.

The suitability of Yakov and Rachel, is, alas, not mirrored in the rhymes of our hapless poet - manifestly not a Yudah Halevi or Dovid Kimchi. Indeed, even the lashon of the original poem (the version above is a translation) represents a questionable choice.

Clearly it is not in any form of Biblical or Mishnaic Hebrew (although arguably it shows some resemblance to Modern Israeli). Nor is this poetry in the tradition of the psalms, or of the mediaeval Spanish poets - Nahum and his gardens, Ibn Gabirol and the seasons, or Yudah Halevi spiritedly writing of spring and love.
No, this verse exemplifies a harsher reality, one of despair and angst. Our poet has thrown classical allusions and style to the wind. There is no pretense at traditional format, nor even any parallelism of line. Ideas, once expressed, are not echoed - each line stands frighteningly on its own, recalling the loneliness of the man of faith in an environment not of his making.
The brutal abruptness of the final line seems to say "do not try to make any sense of it, the workings of the master of the universe are beyond our human understanding". You must have faith.

---Baal HaTuretz


For the truly curious, here is the original poem:

Een zwak begaafd dichter uit Putten,
Kon nooit de passende rijmwoorden vinden.
Ook het metrum hield hij,
Nimmer vol tot het eind;
Zodat de laatste regel meestal niet zo geweldig liep.



NOTE: There is much disagreement among scholars about the textual accuracy of both the original and the translation. The RASMIB (Rabbi Steg mi Boropark) writes "the differences between the versions strongly suggest that the translator was working from a second century Alexandrian manuscript rather than the original. Additionally, the mismatching of the lines in both the original and the translation indicate that this is not the original text, but lulei demistifina a redacted version, possibly from the hand of R, but equally possibly the work of P. Such texts, with their internal inconsistencies and stumbling narrative flow, add to the body of evidence for the documentary hypothesis. Like so many other passages from scripture. Really, the evidence is overwhelming, I can't understand why anybody would believe otherwise. For crap's sake, read Graff Wellhausen!"

Disturbing, if true.

Tzarich iyun.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The following is a guest-post by Rabbi Jeremy Rosen (his message for this week to the JROD list, pasted below with his permission - to see more of his articles, please go here: ).

It provides an encouraging perspective on the recent Lebanon situation which is not unreasonably optimistic. I would describe it as brutally positive.

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By Rabbi Jeremy Rosen

Oh the Grand Old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again
And when they were up they were up
And when they were down they were down
And when they were only half way up
They were neither up nor down.

Now, I know I am no military expert. I know I don’t have the full picture, and I know I am a total armchair critic. But from where I am sitting, Israel’s campaign against Hezbollah looks just like the Duke of York’s, Go, Stop, Go, Stop, Up, Down, Up and back Down again. If Israel was given a carte blanche by the USA to go get Hezbollah, they failed and have proved a weak ally for America in the war against terror. We saw poor leadership, indecisive command, no plan, and a final capitulation to a settlement that cannot and will not, in a million years, work.

The UN motion 1701 is a pathetic joke and already a dead letter. As dead as all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004), 1655 (2006), 1680 (2006) and 1697 (2006), none of which was ever adhered to. It has never ever, ever succeeded in any peacekeeping mission, in any disarmament, in any role it has been given. Its motion has already proved to be dishonest and fake. As for the French, big on talk, weak on action, remember they ran out of Lebanon when Hezbollah last said ‘boo’ to them. And no doubt you know the shortest book in the world is the Italian Army Book of War Heroes. Anyway, they are not even empowered to disarm Hezbollah.
Who will? The Lebanese Army, that ‘Dad’s Army’ of incompetents who dared not confront Hezbollah up till now, and whose only fighting men actually happen to be members of Hezbollah, themselves? Indeed the Prime Minister (who looks permanently terrified) declared that Hezbollah IS Lebanon. And it has only given significantly added status, authority, and influence to Iran and Syria in the Arab world.

The kidnapped soldiers have not been returned. Hezbollah’s pretext of Israeli occupation of the Sheba Farms was rejected by the United Nations itself, time after time, on the grounds that they belong to Syria. Just watch, now how they will do a volte-face and declare they are Lebanese. I wrote a month ago that whatever the outcome is the UN must not be left in place. And lo and behold there they and Annan are, back in, licking the backsides of the Iranians, the Syrians, and Hezbollah.

Israel has descended into materialist corruption. We knew Olmert was just a manipulative and manipulated politician (and now apparently financially suspect too), but we prayed he’d grow into the job. We believed the Israeli Army was super efficient and well informed. Now we realize it is not. Its generals are more interested in their stocks and shares. Stores were stripped and apparently robbed. Soldiers were not properly trained or briefed. Equipment was ancient compared to Hezbollah’s. Olmert and Peretz have both been reminiscent of Levi Eshkol, the non-military ditherer who followed Ben Gurion and couldn’t decide if he wanted tea or coffee so used to ask for ‘half and half.’ Israel has had it too good, firing at stone throwers, and has taken its eye off the ball the way it did before the Yom Kippur war, except this time there was no Sharon to salvage some pride. Many of the soldiers didn’t have the f ight in them and some were happy to declare to the worlds press that they just wanted to get back to the night clubs of Tel Aviv.

This is no longer a struggle with the Palestinians. It is a battle for survival with a much larger and more powerful and more fanatical foe. Perhaps the religious black hats are right that prayer and study can achieve what arms cannot. Meanwhile, there had better be a really thorough postmortem. At least an intelligent army learns from its mistakes and will be better prepared next time.

OK, that’s one way of looking at it.

The other way goes like this. Most nations agreed Israel was provoked and had a right to respond. But no one wanted to get bogged down in alien territory again. In fact OImert wisely avoided committing too many men and thus avoided too many unnecessary casualties. The losses were in the main a painful necessity that revealed a great deal about the enemy’s tactics, strongholds, and behind-the-scenes support.

Thomas L. Friedman, who knows Lebanon extremely well, argues that after the dust and the chauvinism have settled, people will ask what Hezbollah’s fanaticism has actually achieved. They may even come to realize the despicable immorality of using women and children as cover for the storage and firing of missiles (though I wouldn’t bet on it).

Israel has shown that although it suffered significantly it can still bomb its enemy states to smithereens. Only by living in underground bunkers and coming up occasionally for a hit-and-run or by using remote controlled rockets could Hezbollah put up any kind of fight. Israel’s integrity as a state has not been undermined one iota. It has lost no territory. Hezbollah has not helped the Palestinian cause. It has not helped the Lebanese and it has shown to everyone that Iran is a real and present danger that must be confronted one way or another.

Olmert indeed was a canny politician. The Duke of York was not such a fool after all. It’s better to march up and march safely back down than do a Charge of the Light Brigade. He feinted and calculated to ensure that others get involved in Lebanon more seriously and obviously than up to now. Israel can still go back in if necessary, but at least it has cleared away a significant part of the Maginot line that the Lebanese clearly encouraged Hezbollah to build.

Frankly, if this is what the world calls defeat, I’ll take it any day. The Arab leadership have always been big loudmouths pretending everything is one glorious victory for Allah after another. Meanwhile, their countries slide farther and farther back into medieval barbarism. Israel still has its lands and army intact and fewer casualties than its annual roster of traffic deaths.

And as for world opinion, or the laughable UN Human Rights hypocrites, we have known all along where we stand. We have seen the dishonest biases and faked photographs and Der Sturmer caricatures and the craven politicians before. Israel itself was founded precisely because we knew we were the only ones who would fight for our own survival, and we have. We are commanded to remember Amalek in each generation and we know as soon as one threat is over another is spawned. It has always been thus. And our enemies are both hidden and revealed, overt and covert, throughout the world.

At least Israel and by implication the Jews, are empowered. Ben Gurion was right to insist on a nuclear deterrent. If people like Vanunu had their way, we’d be defenceless in the face of Iranian nuclear power. One must not take a short-term view. The full impact of this campaign will not be realized for some time yet. We must not give in to jingoism and the natural desire to have our enemies bloodied for all to see. God and History work according to their timetables, not ours. Mistakes ? A Jewish religious response is to ask where we could have done, should have done better in the military, in social attitudes and values and to try to put things right.

Often what looks like victory turns into a defeat and vice versa. What if this campaign leads improbably towards a genuine peaceful settlement? What if the realization that rockets and missiles can fly over the securest of borders, leads to a final agreement on national integrities? What if this is the moment when everyone finally agrees that force is not the answer for ever? What if it brings an end to occupation, assassinations, checkpoints, fences and homicide bombs? Some people on both sides have tried before and failed. But as our prophets (‘May they praised’… and why can’t we say it too?!!) tell us, ‘Out of agony springs hope.’ Out of the rubble a flower may grow. Can’t we dream?

And if not, at least we live to fight ( and hope) another day.

Shabbat Shalom


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More of Jeremy's writings and other information can be found at his website:
Feedback, comments, questions, and discussion are welcome!

Also read his latest blogpost:

The JROD mailing list is hosted by Shamash: The Jewish Network (, a service of Hebrew College ( , which offers online courses and
an online MA in Jewish Studies (

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A good place to start reading is here:

His books are listed here:

His take on Mel Gibson's horrid snuff-film is here:

[It's the most recent blogpost as of this date.]

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My own assesment of this war is that it will turn out to be a prelude to another clash. I believe that Syria (ruled by Hafez Assad's inexperienced pup) will manoevre itself into the Arab limelight, and by backing Hezbollah precipitate open conflict (and the word that comes to mind is 'hubris').
If I am correct, I am sure that I am not the only one to see it coming.
If it happens, Syria will have miscalculated - the Syrian Army is not capable of fighting a guerilla war like Hezbollah, and has not had an active role other than repression in a generation. And whereas Hezbollah had everything to gain merely by not being utterly destroyed, the Syrian regime has much to lose - not being utterly destroyed, in their case, will nevertheless most likely mean major changes in the current leadership, and a loss of prestige and power in the region. In addition to a significant degradation of their offensive capabilities.
[I also want to stress, that like so much that passes for either political rhetoric or anti-Israel action in the Arab world, neither the conflict which just ended nor a possible resumption of same (with or without the meddling of Syria), can in any way bring benefits or advantages to the Palestinians. As is sadly customary, their leaders will mis-guide them, and the cheap bombast from their cousins will give them a false sense of achievement and satisfaction. Though heady and intoxicating, these are no substitutes for actual progress towards nationhood.]
But in the meantime, let us hope that things will be well.
A gitn und gebentshte shabbes, y'all.


"Anyone not commanded to do something, yet does it, is called an idiot"
--Yerushalmi Shabbat 2:1

No, I am not marvelously well-read in Talmud.

I found this splendid quote in an old posting by ADDERabbi (blog here: ; see the posting entitled 'ON CHUMRA' dated 02/08/05 here:

He writes: "If one assumes that the content of a mitzvah is determined exclusively by God's commandment, then the act is rendered meaningless in the absence of command."

Which, of course, reminds me that a goy who keeps shabbes is according to some of Chazal, chayav misah.

Apropos thereto, a meise:

...Rav Yitzhok ben Shloime had an old friend with whom he would go out drinking during the week. One year he asked his friend to join him for Peysach, but his friend declined, saying that he could not come as he was not Jewish.

"You’re not Jewish? We’ve been studying Toireh together for years – vos meinstu, you’re not Jewish?!?!"

"Azoy", sogt der Goy, "who else should I discuss tiefe sheyles with in this farkakte village filled with ignorant mediaeval peasants, prior to the invention of printing, widespread literacy, and the internet?"

"But you’re shomer shabbes! A goy who keeps shabbes is chayav misah!"

"Actually, I never kept shabbes – I always put my keys in my pocket when I went out."

"Ober, ober.., mir hobn an eruv!"

"Myeh…., I don’t hold from that eruv".


Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I've been very firmly informed that my last two protest signs were racist and Nazi in nature. One showed a generic mullah image intended to be fright-inspiring, in half-shadow, using the Palestinian and Hezbollah flag colours, over the text "no peace with extremism", the other showed a fanged skull wearing a keffiyeh with the text "60 years of threats, lies, and hubris".

I wanted to express with these signs that extremist Shia Islam was what motivated Hezbollah, and that six decades of the Arab states denying the existence of Israel and swearing to destroy her and sweep her people into the sea was not conducive to peace, stability, and civilized discourse in the middle-east.

It turns out I am not an effective communicator.


Our side is supposed to radiate peaceloving victimhood, rather than any belligerence or objection to Islam, Arab politics, mob mentality, 'valid popular forms of resistance', etcetera.

Before you know it, the Israeli flag will be banned at these counter-demos also. It's far too provocative, too Zionist. The peaceful tree-hugging Palestinian butterflies and wildflowers might spontaneously burst in to tears on seeing it. And that would not be good in the Bay Area, a bastion of peace, love, and gentleness.

Me, bitter and pissed off? Nooooooo.....

Let me quote from the latest circular from SF4Israel:

We also want to take a moment address a problem which, although isolated, reflects badly both on our group and on the pro-Israel message which we are trying to project.

There were a very few signs that were displayed that were completely unacceptable...... Thank goodness none of these signs made it onto TV or into the Chronicle.

The media has enough trouble understanding the story (one of the TV reports Saturday evening ended with "after all, both sides just want peace"-- I don't know what rally THAT reporter was attending, but it sure wasn't ANSWER's!); we certainly don't want to make it seem like "it's just extremists on both sides." Of course, these signs are being prominently featured on IndyBay (an "independent" media site that functions as ANSWER's own propaganda machine) under the headline "SF Voice for Israel Sounds Like Old Fashioned Racism and Bigotry".

SF Voice for Israel leadership condemns those messages; those of you who brought them should not do so again.

Translation: Zeyt azoy git und lek tuches.

Please imagine this dialogue:
PROTESTOR: "Terrorism is paid for by money from the Europeans!"
ORGANIZER: "No, we can't say that; we need the Europeans."
PROTESTOR: "Terrorism is paid for by money from the Arabs!"
ORGANIZER: "No, we can't say that; we need our SUVs."
PROTESTOR: "Terrorism is paid for by money from the Russians and the Chinese!"
ORGANIZER: "No, we can't say that; we need the co-operation of the foreign powers."
PROTESTOR: "Terrorism is paid for by money from Humanitarian assistance groups!"
ORGANIZER: "No, we can't say that; we need them to keep aid flowing."
PROTESTOR: "Terrorism is paid for by money from Muslim Charitable Organizations!"
ORGANIZER: "No, we can't say that; we don't want to cause anymore offense in the Muslim world. Look, just try not to offend ANYBODY, okay?"
PROTESTOR: "Terrorism is paid for by the Jews!"
ORGANIZER: "Perfect!"
PROTESTOR: "And the Palestinians are a bunch of peaceful sensitive tree-hugging dolphin-loving butterflies!!!"
ORGANIZER: "Now you're being sarcastic!"
PROTESTOR: "I wouldn't dare."

Okay, I can understand their point.

They don't want any controversial or potentially offensive signs on our side, because we're fighting an uphill battle, and the public has already sided with the Palestinians.
Israel, because it's an organized state and has a trained army with modern weapons, is considered the aggressor, irrespective of justification or provocation, irregardless of threats to the safety of her citizens or violence by the Arabs.
In the public mind, the Palestinians and the Lebanese are victims of circumstances beyond their control.

We have to appeal to the public, and try to sway them back towards a more rational point of view. So even though the counter-demos are confrontations with hate-filled Islamo-jugend, middle-class radicals, and terrorist-sympathizers, we should present a positive face to the public, passersby, and press.

You know and I know, that the Palestinians massively elected Hamas, and that the rest of the Arab world solidly supports them. We both know that there is much joy in Arab cities when Hamas commits another outrage and kills Israelis.

You and I know that Hezbollah murdered hundreds of Americans and thousands of Lebanese, and that Hezbollah is the proxy of Syria - who also murdered thousands of Lebanese, assassinated several Lebanese political leaders, and ruled Lebanon brutally for two decades. There are still Lebanese in Syria's jails, and there are Lebanese who were arrested by Syrians, whose families still do not know what happened to them. We both know that Hezbollah rules southern Lebanon as a Jihad-fiefdom, supported by and allied with Syria.

You know and I know, that the public has little clue and less interest in the issues, and prefers to stay with the comfortable assumption that because the Palestinians keep losing and the Israelis keep winning, the Palestinians are the underdog and the Israelis are somehow wrong. And we both know that when Jews win, they must have done so by dirty tricks and knavery, or whatever else Jews are always accused of.

We all know that the world prefers Jews to be victims - Europeans and their fellow-travellers in the US are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of aggressive Jews who stand up for themselves and kick their oppressors in the nuts. That just ain't right..... two thousand years of western civilization PROVE that that just ain't right. It goes against established custom.

But I want my side to win. So I'll try to be as nurturing and loving and all-round politically correct as they want me to be. I'll be soft and gentle.

With a loveable smile and child-like eyes.

Even though I really believe that Hamas and Hezbollah are murders and psychopaths, and the pro-Palestinian crowd is rabid with anti-Semitism and hatred for everything worthwhile.

Buncha dumbass!! stinkin'!! rabid!! murderous!! poison-fanged!! daemonic!! poxy!! butterflies......

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


How else would he know that I do not own an SUV?

I can't recall mentioning driving, vehicles, means of locomotion, or stubborn attitudes towards wheelie things......

Yet in a recent posting (here: ) he correctly states that I do not own a SUV.

Bloggers who certainly don't own SUVs:
Ren Reb

There is no other possible explanation.
Dovbear is the head of the Egyptian / Saudi / Jordanian / Syrian / Iraqi secret service.

I actually don't even own a car. Of any type.

I used to own a car.

I no longer own a car.

Back in 1982, after a long lunch at a soul-food restaurant in West-Oakland with several friends (I can still remember that scrumptious corn-bread and collards with pot-liquor), I took a wrong turn on the way back to Berkeley. Somehow I ended up in Moraga - in a desolate area on a sand-road to nowhere. So I turned around and headed out, back to the noise of the freeway and the populated world.

At ninety miles an hour.

1. It is not advisable to drive ninety miles an hour on a dirt-road in the middle of nowhere at twilight.

2. It IS advisable to slow down when coming to a sharp bend in the road.

3. When you do not slow down, your car may turn over several times.

4. And come to a stop upside down.

5. Before slowly starting to slide down the slope.

6. And finally coming to a complete stop in a gravel pit fifty yards down-hill.

7. Where you have to wrestle yourself out of the passenger-side window.

At this point you may discover several things.

1) You. Are. In. Moraga.
2) Your car used to have corners.
3) Your car now has NO uncracked or shattered glass.
4) The car-frame is bent.
5) The doors are hosed - one can't open, the other won't close.
6) Your pipe (a black sandblast panel with a taper-stem) is still in your mouth, the tobacco is still lit, and has reached perfect cruising temperature - the Turkish leaf is coming into its own.
7) Baruch Hashem!

A marvelous voyage of discovery.

I learned several things I did not know.

Never stop learning.

Eventually, with the help of some passers by, the car was turned right-side up. It still worked, so I did drive back to Berkeley that evening - pulling to the left the whole time, because due to the frame being severely bent the vehicle veered to the right. The driver-side door would not open, the passenger-side door could not close completely - in consequence the alarm went off for the entire drive back. Which is irritating.

The car was considered a total wreck by the insurance company.

I haven't driven since.

There's a connection there. A link, if you will. Perhaps causal.

A meise she-personal-hoyo:
A few years before that, for a family event, my father and his wife, and my uncle and his family, had all come to Berkeley. Where both my father and my uncle had lived before going off to war in the forties - my father to the Royal Canadian Air Force and three years of flying a bomber over Germany, my uncle to the US Navy, and three years of toodling around Hawaii.

So I drove 'em around.

My uncle and my aunt got out white as sheets, and did not ride with me again.

One of my cousins, who had been warned by my uncle and aunt, nearly had hysterics after her turn. And needed help getting out.

I shan't mention the reaction of the other cousin. That would be mean. I am not mean.

My father, when I drove him around, just had this big grin all over his puss. He rode with me several more times after that.

I think he approved of my no-nonsense style of manoevering.

Oh, I probably should mention that until he married the woman who a few years later was to become my mother, he had owned several small Italian sportscars and an aeroplane (she made him get rid of the dangerous things).

So anyhow, if I had my life to live all over again, I would do exactly the same thing.
Ninety miles an hour.
I just wish I still had that pipe (a black sandblast panel with a taper-stem) .
And a double (!) helping of collard greens with pot-liquor.


Oh, you also had questions about the asteriskoth next to some of the shmei bloggim?

I'll let Dovbear explain.....

"It's long been my opinion that a man who lives on a cul-de-sac only purchases a giant car for ego and image purposes. In the suburbs they serve no other purpose. I feel the same way about tables in shuls - because when you are sitting at one, surrounded by stacks of books, it's easy to deceive yourself into thinking that you're a scholar.

In a shul full of tables a yeshiva alum who hasn't read a word of Aramaic in 20 years can pretend that he's unmarried, unruined and immersed in the study of torah; behind the wheel of an SUV, its owner can pretend that he's something other than overweight, middle-aged and far less virile then he once was."

*Probably has tables in his shul.

Please note, there is NO asterisk following my name.
My table has no shul.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Saturday was a beautiful sunny day. And how would anyone rather spend it than face-to-face with vicious beasts?


I discovered within minutes of leaving the house that my two protest signs would not fit in a taxi. Shoot. Too big.

According to the Indymedia site my signs are also racist.

Quote: "Kinda looks like 1930s charactures of Jews -- You see a lot of racist charactures of Arabs at pro-Israel protests but these just look a little too close to the antiSemitic cartoons the Nazis put out in the 1930s".
[See here, tenth photo down:]

Well DUH!

Perhaps that was the point, moron!

I thought the irony and sarcastic 'in-yer-face' idea was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I was aiming for a 'right back at ya' message.

The kefiyeh-wearing daemon (text: '60 YEARS OF THREATS, LIES, AND HUBRIS') was an answer to the standard illustration of Sharon and others as baby-eating vampires. The generic mad mullah (text: 'NO PEACE WITH EXTREMISM') was supposed to look Iranian - sort of Kho- and Khameini mixed with a little Nasrallah laqnat-ullah-anhu (and notice particularly the colour-scheme). Because it deserves to be stressed that Hezbollah are proxies of the nutjobs in Tehran.

Apparently the photographer did not get it. Maybe no sense of humour.


The speechifying on the other side illustrated how pitifully ignorant most of the crowd on that side were - simplistic history lessons based on half-truths and ideological interpretation. Lots of both suppressio veri et suggestio falsi. It reminded me of the Marxist cant I used to be forced to listen to in Holland, and had the same strident hatred of America, Western World Humanism, and Israel, coupled with anti-colonialist sentiment and white-guilt over the "horrible condition of the world it's all the fault of American pigs except us 'cause were actually fighting it what a pity those third-worlders don't grasp the correct political point of view bla bla bla".

Five hours of it. Inconsequential ranting, and venomous hatred.
[Except for the revolutionairy march through down-town, to yell anti-imperialist slogans at the tourists and shopkeepers. One and a half hours of relative quiet for our side. But by that time there were less of us, our point having been made.]

Rude gestures by a bunch of teenage brats on the other side of the street. La adab!

Praise for Sheikh Sayid Hassan Nasrallah (laqnat-ullah-anhu!) as a guerilla leader in a righteous war of liberation against the forces of transnational fascism, defending the poor upright oppressed peasants of Lebanon as they struggle to restore the beauty and grandeur of Arab civilization!

A call to arms! Destroy all borders, down with America, Palestine from the river to the sea!

Plus a flag-burning.

The truly great thing about such demonstrations is that their slogans and revolutionary agenda serve to turn people away from their message. I'm sure that there are many people on the fence, who have not given the matter anymore thought than 'war bad, poor dead civilians good', but decide against joining a demo once they hear 'America must be destroyed, and those who kill Americans are heroes'. So from my point of view, I sincerely hope the other side never comes down to earth. Their rhetoric will only serve to discredit their side, and highlight how dangerous they and their followers truly are.


But the group of Levantine maidens performing a heroic Irish-Palestinian jig a la riverdance, to a stirring hero-of-soviet-labour tune, made the price of admission ($0.00) worthwhile.
Strapping lasses, definitely worth a second glance.
Up on stage, with half-length skirts, and flashing calves.

Hippity, hippity. Hop, hop, hop!



I should also mention the bunch in front of the consulate Friday around tea-time. Probably well over a hundred people, ninety percent of them post-friday services Islamites in a rabid frenzy. Fiery speeches in Arabic by true-believers, with a distinct tone of anti-Semitism.
Who made clear that they despise el yahud w'el amriki. My Arabic is bad, but their blistering hatred was unmistakable.

Of course some of the usual pro-Palestinian idiot fellow travellers were part of the crowd, cheering along whenever the rest of them roared responses to the preacher. They probably didn't have a clue what they were chanting. Which was a call to liberate all of Filistin from the heathens by means of jihad and hatred of el yahud.

I confess I did something utterly stupid. I went and stood on the opposite side of the street from them with my 'DESTROY HEZBOLLAH - NIX TO FILISTINIST ENTITIES' EXTREMISM' sign.
I guess I was just pissed as all git-out, but in retrospect being the only counter-protestor to a mob of Islamists isn't a rational thing to do (even with the riot squad out keeping an eye on things). Once they saw the lone representative of the "worldwide zionist plot to enslave the entire universe" across the street, their screaming reached fever-pitch. They quivered, they shook, they stomped their angry little muslim feet.

So I took off a shoe and waved it in their direction.

In my defense I would offer that these are not rational times.

I have promised Savage Kitten that I will be more sensible next time.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


One of the things which distinguishes the terminology regarding headhunting is the depth of metaphor and the poetic description of the process. Heads harvested from rival tribes are described as bright red flowers, potent batteries, powerful totems, beloved friends, after death companions, and guardians against evil. They are considered to bring fertility to both fields and women; great power to both clans and houses; prosperity, happiness, and the absence of disease.
When the raiding party returns the heads are made welcome, chickens are slaughtered, the longhouse feasts, young maidens dance with the bloody heads and sing to them, and much rice wine is drunk from heirloom vats. Tomorrow the trophies will be prepared for long storage - cleansed of flesh, dried, polished, and woven into a wickerwork basket, for hanging in the rafters, where they will join the heads gathered in generations past, amid the boar-tusks and poison-bundles.
And next year, we will do it again.

While headhunting was most avidly practiced by upland tribes, even the civilized lowland polities had memories of headhunting, which under certain circumstances would either experience a sudden (joyfully) bloody resurgence, or be celebrated in song.

Here's a section from a Tamarao poem:

Jale sapuwang, kulo sametek,
Banta masurak, bala maketek;
Prawo sapasig, nente nagara,
Taralangtuwa Radja Bahara.
Takot ki banye, karana amok,
Ratos tan ribo, salaksa rampok;
Pangkod maadja, parong malisek,
Lalang taura, daga tapitek.
Li-ig na li-ig, terem takaga,
Tanggat pusaka, karga haraga;
Mayat ri hamog, lalo tararok,
Banye kapala, gantong marantok.

"Flowing like cloud drifts (the mass of warriors) altogether
Battled with war cries, conflicted monkey-like;
The boats along the river-bank sands, (arrayed) against the state,
Under the leadership of prince Bahara.
Fearful was the multitude, because of the blood-fury,
One hundred, one thousand, ten thousand in berserk rage.
The battle-standards erect, the war-swords sharp-gleaming,
The long grass crimson splattered, blood gushing,
Neck upon neck (till at last) sharpness became dull,
Seizing magically potent ritual heirlooms, and precious items;
Corpses in the battle-fog, recently swirled in motion,
A multitude of skulls, suspended and knocking together."

Now doesn't that just about get your juices flowing?

Friday, August 11, 2006


In today's Ha'aretz mention is made of an opinion piece by the author of Sophie's World which is causing quite a stench (see:

The article compares Israel's government, the Afghan Taliban regime and South African apartheid, and states, "We no longer recognize the State of Israel" and "the State of Israel in its current form is history."

So I looked it up. The opinion piece. And translated it. I post the translation below. Please bear in mind that Norwegian is not a language that I am fluent in, wherefore my translation might be flawed. I have tried to represent the author's ideas accurately, but because I find his spew repellent I may have been handicapped.
[The original ('Guds Utvalgte Folk') may be found here:
For those who read Norwegian. And I would appreciate your letting me know of any mistakes I made in the translation. Thanks in advance.]



By Jostein Gaarder

ISRAEL IS HISTORY. We no longer acknowledge the State of Israel. There is no way back. The State of Israel has violated the recognition of the world, and will get no peace until it lays down its weapons. The State of Israel in its current form is history, writes Jostein Gaarder.

It is time to learn a new slogan: We no longer recognize the State of Israel. We can't recognize the apartheid regime in South Africa, we didn't recognize the Afghani Taliban-regime. There were many who didn't recognize Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or the Serb ethnic cleansing. So now we must get used to the thought: the State of Israel, in its current form is history.

We do not believe in the pretensions of God's chosen people. We laugh at this people's misapprehensions and cry over its misdeeds. To pretend to be God's chosen people is not only stupid and arrogant, but an offense against all humanity; we call it racism.


Patience has limits, and so does our tolerance. We don't believe in divine promises as a basis for occupation or apartheid. We have left the Middle Ages behind us. We are farklempt by those who believe that the god of plants, animals and galaxies had could make one people his favourite, and given them silly stone tablets, burning bushes, and a license to kill.

We call child-murders child-murderers, and shall not accept that such a people have a god-given or historical mandate that can excuse their reprehensible acts. We say: shame on all apartheid, shame on ethnic cleansing, shame on all terrorist strikes against a civilian population whether committed by Hamas, Hezbollah, or the State of Israel!


We recognize and accept Europe's deep responsibility for the Jewish fate, for the scandalous mobbings (?), pogroms, and the Holocaust. It was historically and morally imperative that the Jews got their own home. However the State of Israel has, with its unscrupulous art of war and horrific weaponry, massacred its own legitimacy. It has systematically violated international laws, international conventions, and several UN resolutions, and can no longer expect amnesty from any responsibility. It has carpet bombed the world's recognition. But fear not - the perilous time is nearly over. Israel has seen its own Soweto.

We are at the brink, there is no retreat. The State of Israel has violated the world's recognition and will not have peace until it lays down its arms.


Let both wills and words blow Israel's apartheid walls over. The State of Israel does not exist. It is without forbearing now, without skin. May the world show mercy on the civilian population Our doomsaying is not directed at civilians.

We wish the people in Israel well, everything well, but with our reservation that we will not eat Jaffa oranges as long as they taste vile and poisonous. It was also easy to manage without the blue grapes of apartheid.


We don't believe that Israel has greater sorrow for more than forty Lebanese children than f the three thousand years of lamenting over 40 years in the wasteland. We note that many Israelis celebrate such triumphs as once they celebrated the plagues, as appropriate punishment for the Egyptian people. (In this tale the Lord of Israel acts as an immeasurable sadist). We ask if for Israelis one Israeli life is worth more than that of forty Palestinians or Lebanese.

Because we have seen the pictures of Israeli girls who wrote spiteful messages on the bombs that were to be released over the civilian population of Lebanon and Palestine. Israeli girls are not charming when they rejoice in death and suffering on the other side.


We reject the rhetoric of the State of Israel. We reject the blood-drenched spiral of vengeance of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". We reject the principle of thousands of Arab eyes for a few Israeli eye. We reject collective punishment or population purges as a political weapon. Two thousand years have gone by since a Jewish rabbi criticized the knackered doctrine of an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".

He said: "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." We reject a state that is built on anti-humanitarian principles and the ruins of an archaic nationalist religion and warlike faith. As Albert Schweitzer explained, "humanity is to never sacrifice a human for a cause."


We do not recognize the old kingdom of David as being normative for the 21st century's map of the Middle-East. That Jewish rabbi asserted two thousand years ago that the kingdom of God is not a rebirth of the kingdom of David, but that the kingdom of God is within us and among us. God's kingdom is charity and mercy.

Two thousand years it has been since the Jewish rabbi unweaponed and humanized the knackered rhetoric of war, yet already in his time there the first Zionist terrorists operated.


For two thousand years we have stressed the concept of humanity, yet Israel does not listen. It was not the Pharisees who helped the man who lay on the side of the road because he had been attacked by robbers. It was a Samaritan, what today we would call a Palestinian. Because before everything else, we are human - whether Christian, Muslim, or Jew. Or as that Jewish rabbi said: "And if regard only your own, how are you different from others?" We reject the kidnapping for ransom of soldiers. But we also reject the deportation of entire groups of people and the abduction of lawfully elected parliamentarians or government functionaries also.

We recognize the State of Israel of 1948, but not of 1967. That is the State of Israel which doesn't recognize, respect, or yield to the legitimate state of 1948. Israel wants to have more - more water and more settlements. To achieve that some wish a final solution to the Palestinian problem, with god's help. "Palestinians have so many other countries", some Israeli politicians assert, "while we have just one".


Or as the state of Israel's greatest protector puts it: "May God continue to bless America." A little child noticed this and turned to his mother, and asked: "Why does the president always end his speeches with 'God bless America'? Why does he not say 'God bless the world?'"

A Norwegian poet exclaimed the following childlike heart-sigh: "Whence mankind's slow progress?" He was the one who wrote so strikingly about "the Jew" and "the Jewess". But he rejected the the fantasy of a chosen people. He called himself a Mohammedan.


We do not accept the State of Israel. Not today, not in this hour of writing, not in sorrow and wrath. If the nation of Israel should fall because of its own actions, and parts of its population must flee the occupied area and into another diaspora, then we say: May their hosts show them mercy and toleration. It is eternally an unjustifiable crime to lay a hand on refugees and the stateless.

Peace and the right of passage for an evacuating civilian populace that have no state shall protect them! Do not shoot at refugees! Do not target them! They are as vulnerable as snails without their shells now, vulnerable like the slow-moving columns of Palestinian and Lebanese refugees, defenseless as women, children, and old folks, in Qana, Gaza, Sabra and Shatila. Give the Israeli refugees shelter, give them milk and honey!

Don't let a single Israeli child die. Too many children and civilians have been murdered already.

Først publisert: 05.08.06 Oppdatert: 11.08.06 kl. 18:14


I'm not quite sure what he's getting at. But I will say that rather than exploring the causes of Middle-East strife in any depth, and examining the issues in detail, he shows the usual superficial judgementalism.

The inclusion of that reference to Jesus (whom he erroneously calls a rabbi) is disturbing, along with the accusations that immediately follow. Either one must assume a remarkably dense and blithering ignorance, OR, as is much more likely, he deliberately parrots the standard slanders of the church regarding Jews.

The mention of the Norwegian poet is baffling. Or a misapplied show of literacy.

The final part of his disquisition is vile. Utterly.

I do not think Jostein Gaarder ignorant. I cannot forgive him because he might not know what he is saying. This is an educated man, who is more than capable of becoming informed and doing the necessary reading. Yet he deliberately chooses to write such a hateful, shallow, and glibly moralistic condemnation, playing on well-known imagery and canards, with an unmistakable bias.

Some have defended this man as merely trying to discuss the policies of the state of Israel.


He is an anti-Semite.

He's something rotten in the state of Norway.

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For some reason which I cannot explain I thought about the Shanghainese girl this morning. I knew her years ago, we drifted apart, and lost ...