Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Poor, Starving Gazans

Once again, Israel is being being blamed for causing hardships to those in Gaza. There are claims of food shortages, blackouts due to Israel, and other hardships Israel is inflicting on Gaza.

Let's look at some of the hardships. Food first:

You don't need to be a math genius to figure out that if Gaza has a population of 1.5 million, as the authors also note, then 680,000 tons of flour a day come out to almost half a ton of flour per Gazan, per day.

Read more about at Solomonia's post, How Much Flour Can One Person Eat?

Let's move on to the blackouts in Gaza. Hamas chose to cut the power off and then had a field day as journalists were more than happy to spread the "hardships" of Israel reducing power and fuel to Gaza. Read more at Inept Palestinian Propaganda Fauxtography.

Palestinians facing riot police!!! Oops. False alarm. No reason to become outraged. It is just the Egyptians trying to protect their citizens, infrastructure, and sovereignty.

And Sandmonkey has further musings in his post Gaza Lessons and Facts.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

# 151

Jack is hosting Haveil Havalim - 151: The PSD Edition.

Letting Kids Explore

A typical ten year old may be disappointed at receiving an air compressor as a gift. Forrest Pearson used the one he received to build a snow machine.

With some research and time, you and your kids could build one as well.

Friday, January 25, 2008

How to Recycle Appliances

"Peace Partners"

Is peace possible when one side of the conflict keeps rejecting it? The Palestinian Authority has yet to meet any of its obligations under the various peace accords. And yet, it is Israel that receives the vitriol of world opinion and condemnation. Egypt fires on Palestinian women at a border crossing: Only the sound of crickets are heard. Israel, rightfully closes a border: The condemnation is heard from the mountain tops.

Lebanon cuts off power and bulldozes and destroys homes in a Palestinian refugee camp after terrorists in those camps attack Lebanese soldiers: No shouts of outrage. Israel cuts non-essential supplies and utilities to Gaza: Human rights violations are cried from the mountain tops.

Israel releases Palestinian prisoners in a confidence building measure for Fatah: Two attack a yeshiva.

And more signs of Israel's "peace partners" at work.

In 2005, Israel left Gaza. Since then, 4,200 Kassam rockets have been aimed at Sderot: Little condemnation at these terror attacks aimed at civilians.

Palestinian youths are fleeing and not all is due to Israel.

Crossing the Rubicon asks some good questions.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Mythbusters can be a very engaging show. It covers everything from myths about lead balloons to illegal immigrants from Mexico using slingshots to cross the Untied States border. Last night, I watched the one titled Border Slingshots. A myth is going around that illegal immigrants are being catapulted across the border in an effort to get across a fence.

This myth was busted! While the slingshot is actually capable of catapulting someone across a 200 ft high fence, the landing proved to be somewhat problematic. Part of the myth included the person landing on a mattress. Even if the person were to land on the mattress, the impact would disastrous. If the person survived, he would face serious injuries.

Another problem with the slingshots is the size. The tops of the slingshots would be clearly visible from the United States side of the border and Border Control officials could just wait until the hapless person was flung across.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Algorithm with Ninjas!

New Blood Libels

There has been a long history of blood libel against Jews. Absurd accusations, usually around the time of Passover, would be made that Jews had killed a Christian child and then used the blood in rituals. These blood libels have led to an untold number of Jews being murdered throughout history.

These blood libels became more even more absurd. Since industrialization and the modern era began, the new blood libel and one that still persists to this day, is that the there is a world-wide conspiracy by Jews to control the world. Jews have been blamed for everything from the plague to economic depressions. With the rise of Hitler and many who believed in the rhetoric of blood libels, 6 million Jews were exterminated. Today, the majority of people look back in horror at what was done during the Holocaust. 11 to 12 million people were murdered in those camps. But the Jews were selected for a Final Solution.

Today, a new and more horrible blood libel is emerging. It is directed at Israel, the Jewish state. German Catholic bishops have had the stupidity to compare Israel to Nazi Germany. And this comparison has also been made by British politician Labour councillor Ray Davies.

By doing a google search of Israel is Nazi Germany, there are 1,020,000 hits. This blood libel is catching on. And it is a dangerous one.

There can be no comparison of Israel to the atrocities the Germans committed. It has been over 60 years since the death camps were liberated. Memories tend to fade and Jews are now being accused of creating a "Holocaust Industry".

A history lesson needs to be given to those who equate Israel to Nazi Germany and to those who say we have created a "Holocaust Industry". Perhaps it should start with a video of when Allied Troops liberated Bergen-Belsen:

There are more videos of the liberation of the death camps. These videos are difficult to watch. I found myself crying.

How can people who are honest with themselves even compare the horrors of Nazi Germany to Israel? It is a blood libel on a grander scale than even the Czarists fabrication: "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion". The blood libels of Nazi Germany in the 1930's led directly to the murder of 6 million Jews: half of the world's Jewish population at that time.

Today, the world population of Jews is around 12 million with half in the Jewish State of Israel. Where will the blood libels of today led?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Manufacturing Outrage

By now, you've probably seen the pictures of the newest plight of Palestinians in Gaza. Surgeries have been canceled. Pregnant women about to give birth will have to do so without the benefit of electricity. And the terrorist thugs of Hamas, the "moderate" thugs of Fatah, the Egyptians, and others loudly proclaim it is the fault of the Israelis. And the news media continues to spin that propaganda.

Israel continues to provide 2/3 thirds of electricity to Gaza. Egypt provides 5%. And yet the heart of Gaza is in the dark. Why? Could it be that Hamas chooses to cut the electricity and endanger the citizens of Gaza in order to have yet more propaganda material to bash Israel?

A Blog For All has a round-up of the latest manufactured outrage aimed at Israel.

I'm just curious as to where all those protesters were when Lebanon actually did cut off the electricity, gas, and other utilities at Palestinian refugee camps.

Where is the outrage against the Palestinians who keep trying to smuggle into Gaza weapons and explosives hidden in trucks marked as humanitarian aid?

Where's the outrage when the Israeli town of Sderot is bombarded daily by Kassam rockets fired by terrorists from Gaza?

Why all the outrage when Israel justifiably closes border crossings with Gaza? Why isn't it mentioned in those news reports that Egyptian border crossings have remained open?

Let Freedom Ring

Friday, January 18, 2008

Shabbat Shalom! 1/18/08

It's Shabbat Shira. This weeks reading is the parsha of Beshalach. A song of faith was sung by the Sea of Reeds:

The Enemy's Intentions and his Fate

"The enemy declared: 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide plunder; I will satisfy my lust with them; I will unsheathe my sword, my hand will utterly destroy them.'

You blew with Your Breath - the sea covered them; the mighty ones sank like lead in the waters.

Who is like You among the heavenly powers, HASHEM! Who is like You, mighty in holiness, too awesome for praise, doing wonders!

You stretched out Your Hand - the earth swallowed them.

You guided in Your kindness this People that You redeemed; You led them with Your might to Your holy abode.

Nations heard - they were agitated; convulsive terror gripped the inhabitants of Philistia.

Then the chieftains of Edom were confounded, the mighty ones of Moav were seized by trembling; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted like wax.

May fear and terror befall them, at the greatness of Your Arm may they be silent as a stone; until Your People passes, O G-d; until this nation passes, which You have acquired.

You shall bring them and implant them on the mountain of Your heritage, the foundation of Your dwelling-place, which You, Hashem, have made; the Sanctuary, my L-rd, that You have established.

Hashem shall reign for all Eternity!

Hashem shall reign for all Eternity!"


More archaeological findings supporting writings from the Tanekh.

After Annapolis, Israel's "peace partners" are becoming very restless, world yawns.

Olmert's government going after those on the right?. Now questioning bloggers.

A track-runner was denied being able to run in a meet because of her track suit. She wore a unitard that covers her from head to feet. Volokh makes some good points as to why she should be allowed to run:

Finally, I realize that some might specifically object to Muslim head covering claims, on the pragmatic grounds that such coverings tend to reinforce the subjugation of women, and are therefore potentially harmful to society. I don't think that's generally a good enough reason to reject an exemption request; but here it strikes me as particular counterproductive.

Here is a Muslim girl who is engaging in an activity that is far from stereotypically feminine or subjugated. If she succeeds, and other devout Muslims girls follow her example and become more involved in sports and in competition, I think this help those girls, and incidentally help them undermine whatever norms of female subservience might exist in their communities. Conversely, if devout Muslim girl are excluded from such activities, I doubt they're likely to just set aside their head coverings and become good gender-egalitarian secularists (or Muslim reformers); rather, most of them are likely to retreat into more traditional pursuits. Religious accommodation thus strikes me as the practically wise thing to do, as well as the kind thing for the girls who seek the accommodation.

Update: Media spins, doing contortions so people will feel outrage at Israel's justifiable attempts to defend her citizens against a barrage of Kassam rockets. I would like to see the media's outrage about Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev. I would like to see the media's outrage about Israeli school children being terrorized by so-called "harmless" Kassam rockets. I would like to see the media outrage against the terrorists in Gaza who have fired 3,000 rockets into the Israeli town of Sderot since Israel pulled out of Gaza. I would like to the media outrage against the terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian trucks to cart in tons of explosives. And when Egypt closes its border crossing with Gaza, why is there no media outrage? Why is it only when Israel closes its border crossing in Gaza that there is such so much vile denunciation against Israel?

It is almost as if the media, the International Red Cross, various so-called peace groups, and the United Nations are tyring to say Israel doesn't have a right to exist.

I guess they'll be going after India and Pakistan next. I mean millions more people were uprooted when Pakistan became a Muslim state. It too was created by the United Nations. Millions of Hindus and Muslims were uprooted from their ancestral homes. Terror attacks occur in India because some Muslim extremists want Kashmir back. I don't see people defending those terrorists. Nor have I seen many defending the terrorists that killed Bhutto. Why are people so extreme in defending the terrorists that attack Israel?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Community Needs

Though our shul in Biloxi did not receive any flood damage, there was extensive wind damage. These pictures from a volunteer group show the devastating damage. The decision was made to move the shul further inland. This decision was reached after figuring the costs of repairing the shul and the added insurance costs of being so close to the beach. Former shul president Steve Richer describes in detail the extant of the damage and future insurance costs:

Beth Israel is located just two blocks inland from what one year ago would have been a crowded beach.

Severe mold has left it smelling as if it hasn't been inhabited in decades. The backs of the kitchen cabinets are missing, thanks to wind-driven rains, and much of the ceiling in the entryway to the building lies in pieces on the floor. One of the few rooms to remain largely unharmed is the sanctuary, whose Torah scrolls were removed for safekeeping prior to the storm.

"We don't really care to fix up the moldy parts of the building," Richer said, noting the congregation is deciding whether to fix up the sanctuary, while demolishing and building anew the rest, or move to a new location. "The current location is very close to the beach and a casino bought land right across the street, so if we stay we'll be staring at it. Insurance paid us $130,000, but I'm sure we need a million either way ‹ to build it up or to move."

The Goldin family, active members of our congregation, generously donated land for our new shul. The new shul will be located 12 miles inland and will be in Gulfport. We have had some set-backs. Ground-breaking has been put off two times, largely due to the bids we have received. These bids came in double what was expected and budgeted. Brad Kessie, our new president, and the building community have scaled down the building and at the same time, incorporating into the plans, means of easy expansion. In our January newsletter, received via e-mail, President Brad Kessie gave the following report:

Just before our architect took off for the holidays, he sent the building committee the final plans for our reworked synagogue. This building is 4,182 square feet. It has another 847 square feet of expansion space. On Jan. 8, the building committee will meet at the Goldin office building. And if the plans get adopted, the congregation board will look at them the next night. So, if I understand the time deadlines properly, we should go out for bid in mid-January, and the bid process should be completed in mid-February. At our last board meeting of 2007, the trustees came up with a CBI wish list. Groups like USCJ and UJC have requested a list like this, so organizations know what we need in our recovery and rebuilding efforts. I want you to read the list, and if you see anything you’d like to add to it, simply call any board member.

Here’s our wish list:

funds for a Passover Seder in 2008
kitchen equipment,
four sets of plates, pots, pans,
comfortable/removable chairs,
tables/chairs for the social hall,
four memorial boards,
two new Torahs(or volunteers to repair our Torahs),
an ark/ner talmid,
stained glass,
materials for the rabbi’s study,
office equipment,
classroom equipment,
men’s/ladies room accessories,
outdoor benches,
outdoor playground,
landscaping/exterior lighting,
interior lighting,
audio/visual system,
conference room equipment,
new High Holidays machzors,
Torah study books
Purim funds.

Contact information for Beth Israel is as follows:
Congregation Beth Israel
PO Box 4868,
Biloxi, MS 39531


Our shul and many of its members are struggling after Hurricane Katrina. It is a small congregation. Before Hurricane Katrina, it had membership of 60 families. A third of those families had to move after Hurricane Katrina either because their homes were destroyed or because their places of employment were destroyed. Some have been able to move back and rebuild. Since Hurricane Katrina, our shul has gained new members. Some of these new members are military. Some are here to help the Mississippi Gulf Coast rebuild.

There have been so many changes to the lives of those who live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina made a direct hit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. There have been so many volunteers and other generous out-pourings of help. In a way, Hurricane Katrina, despite all the destruction and massive rebuilding that has been done and yet to be done, serves as a reminder of the willingness of ordinary people to help. The indomitable will of the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast to rebuild has been and will continue to be strengthened by those who have lent their hands and their money to help us.

The rivers may rise and rage.
the waters may pound and roar,
the floods may spread and storm:

above the crash of the sea and its breakers,
awesome is the Lord our G-d.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hurricane Katrina's Storm Surge

Recently, it was reported that those affected by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana have filed a $ 3 quadrillion lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers. After a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, it is natural to lash at out. To me, this lawsuit is outrageous. It seeks to blame the Army Corps of Engineers solely for the flooding the New Orleans suffered. Most tend to ignore the impact of Hurricane Katrina's storm surge. The photo below was taken at Entergy's Michoud plant. It clearly shows the storm surge over topping the levee. Michoud is in St. Bernard Parish and is New Orleans East, close to the Intracoastal Canal.

Little has been reported about the storm surge that occurred in the Mississippi River.

The simulation also indicates Katrina pushed a substantial storm surge up the Mississippi River, rising close to the top of river levees in the New Orleans area and even overtopping them at one point in Algiers.

To the east, as the storm itself moves closer to New Orleans, the model shows northeasterly winds pushing a wall of water directly against one hurricane levee and over the top, flooding St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. Photographs and surveys show that levee took heavy damage in the storm.

New Orleans was virtually surrounded by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge. From the south, it came from the Mississippi River. From the east it came from Lake Borgne and the marshlands, and from the north, Lake Pontchartrain.

New Orleans did suffer from the affects of Katrina's storm surge:

The figure to the left(above, ed) is the most accurate model available of the storm surge. It missed New Orleans and the maximum impact was along the Mississippi Coast. Note the submergence of the entire outer delta except the levees and jetty, especially along the west side of the Mississippi River. Note also how the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway intensified the surge at New Orleans.

This computer model at the Advanced Circulation Development Group shows the storm surge as Katrina came ashore. It also shows how the wind pushed the storm surge to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain and then south toward New Orleans.

Not only was New Orleans threatened by Katrina's storm surge but rainfall was a factor. Since the majority of New Orleans is below sea level, pumps are used extensively during rain fall. Because of power failures, these pumps were inoperative. These pumps usually direct the water into Lake Pontchartrain.

The force of a storm surge cannot be discounted. From my understanding, the levees along the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain began to fail about the time the winds from Hurricane Katrina started coming from the north. All the water built up in the lake from Katrina's storm surge was heading south east toward New Orleans.

Mississippi received the burnt of Katrina's storm surge. Two and half years later, I still see the affects everyday. A massive wall of water extending from the Mississippi River to the Florida panhandle inundated coastal Mississippi and the New Orleans area.

The inland penetration of Katrina's storm surge was truly remarkable. The Mississippi River levee system held and confined most of the surge east of the river except for the landfall region of Buras, LA. Regions west of the Mississippi River experienced little surge, suggesting that the river levee system may have augmented Katrina's surge on the east side. Most of Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and eastern Orleans Parishes were inundated with surge which overflowed levees and destroyed them with scouring action. Buildings outside the levee system became cement slabs. Tide gauges also show the surge traveled up the Mississippi River, with elevation spikes reaching 14 feet at the Bonnet Carre Spillway 10 miles west of New Orleans. Levees along some canals south of Lake Pontchartrain were not overtopped but experienced failures that are still under investigation, causing well-publicized flooding of New Orleans. The surge also penetrated through inoperative flood pumps which, when combined with the inability to remove rainwater, caused moderate flooding in the suburban region west of New Orleans. The eastern end of St. Tammany Parish suffered an extreme surge which came from Lake Borgne as well as up the Pearl and Bonfouca river systems, traveling miles inland in Slidell. St. Tammany's surge was associated with the wind shift as Katrina moved inland, sloshing piled-up water in Lake Pontchartrain northeastward.

There were many factors at play when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. The surge in the Mississippi River, the surge on the eastern side of New Orleans, and the surge that impacted the levees New Orleans north. Also, the pumps were not working and could not deal with the rain water that fell in the city.

The failures of the levees are still being investigated. There is one thing that is not in doubt: Katrina's storm surge was massive and unprecedented. Water is a force. And due to the topography of New Orleans, that water had no place to go. Maybe when future studies come at, the physical force of all that water will have been measured.

It is the nature of water to flow to the lowest level. Most of New Orleans and the surrounding area is below sea level. Something had to give and just perhaps that is what caused the levee failures. It is interesting to note that the levees along the Mississippi River seemingly trapped the storm surge and did not allow that water to naturally flow back into the Gulf of Mexico.

Because of the possible role of the Mississippi River levee system trapping the surge, simulations are underway to examine the surge evolution if there was no levee. In addition, Louisiana has experienced extreme wetland erosion in the last 50 years. ADCIRC simulations of Katrina with Louisiana's wetland topography from 1920 and 1970 are in development. These sensitivity experiments will be shown at the conference.

It will interesting to see those results. Unlike the Mississippi Gulf Coast, when Hurricane Katrina passed on, the storm surge had no place to go except into the city of New Orleans itself.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Teaching Kids

I saw this video at Fark and thought I would pass it on:

It makes sense what he is saying. Kids need to have the opportunity to explore and to learn responsibility. I allowed my son to do all but play with fire. But he learned about that while in Cub Scouts.

It was a lot of fun deconstructing old VCRs and microwaves with him. Like the video said, the parts might be unknown but it was fun to guess how the parts worked in the appliances.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

# 149

Life in Israel is hosting this weeks Haveil Havalim. It is the Vengenance Upon the Nations edition.

Louisiana Woes Continue

While Katrina Cottages dot the Mississippi landscape, Louisiana has yet to build any.

BATON ROUGE -- Despite her demands for immediate action, Gov. Kathleen Blanco will leave office Monday without seeing construction begin on the first of 534 planned alternative housing units for hurricane victims.

Mississippi, which was one of three other states to receive a slice of a $388 million federal Alternative Housing Pilot Program, has placed occupants in 1,223 housing units in that state's three coastal counties. That's at least a quarter of the units Mississippi is planning as part of its two-year program.

In a Nov. 3 letter to Louisiana Housing Finance Agency President Milton Bailey, Blanco ordered construction to begin by the end of that month and forbade any ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The state officials and private contractors who spent much of last year bickering about the "Louisiana Cottage" project still refuse to commit to a construction start date, but all parties said this week that groundbreaking at Jackson Barracks, the first location for the project, is imminent.

A spokesman for the project manager, the Cypress Group of Baton Rouge, said the next step is for his consortium to finish devising its construction schedule and solicit proposals from the remaining subcontractors.

"We've got a substantial amount of planning and engineering work that will occur," Ben Dupuy said Friday. "The good news is that everything is moving forward with all deliberate speed."

Several other long-lingering hurdles have finally been toppled.

Everyday, I see more and more Mississippi Katrina Cottages on I-10. They are on the way to home sites. They are cute but very small. But they fit in better than the FEMA trailers and do not have the issues of FEMA trailers. The Mississippi Katrina Cottages are built to with-stand 155mph winds. People do have the option of buying. I saw this one in D'Iberville. It wasn't there in November.

These cottages are very small. There are two sizes under the Mississippi Katrina Cottage Program. One is around 700 square feet and the other is around 800 square feet. They aren't bigger than FEMA trailers. They do have better advantages. The most important one being they actually look like homes.

This must make a big impact on families who have been crammed into FEMA trailers. Plus, the design helps them fit in with existing homes. The FEMA trailers are an eyesore. The cottages are a vast improvement.

I hope Louisiana will have its act together.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Addition

Presenting Buddha:

Wednesday, while taking a photo break at work, this dog followed me back to work. He stayed there. He probably was dumped. He is a bit thin but other than that, he is very healthy. I think he is about 9-10 months old and appears to be a Labrador/boxer mix. He is very laid back, hence the name Buddha.

I took the above photo on Wednesday. After a bath yesterday afternoon, he cleaned up well and his coat is glossy. He is a little afraid of my cats. He is settling in and this morning became very playful.

He wants to be friends with my son, so that is good. I'll try to post another picture on Sunday.

He looks a lot like my dog Dodger he died last year at this time. But the personalities are very different. Dodger was super-hyper. All in all, it is good to hear the sound of a tail whacking on tables, couches, chairs, etc.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crying Game

I've done it. Lot's of women do it. But should a woman running for president do it? It's the crying game! The emotions are very real and perhaps to call it the crying game is inappropriate. The thing is, when Hillary Clinton cried the other day, it made me less inclined to vote for her.

She is on the campaign trail. She lost unexpectedly in Iowa. Then she breaks down. If her emotions are so uncontrolled while campaigning, how will they be if she is elected president? If she is in tense negotiations where millions of lives are at stake, will she let her emotions rule?

I cannot help but compare her to Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: the Iron Lady. I could never imagine the Iron Lady breaking down in public when the going was tough. In private yes, but not in public.

I'm also reminded of what happened to former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When it mattered most, Blanco appeared "dazed and confused," says Bernie Pinsonat, a bipartisan political consultant in Baton Rouge, La. When NBC's Matt Lauer asked her whether it was hard to find words to reassure the public, she tried to muster optimism, then circled back to despair. "You know, our people out here are so fearful. They're so worried ... It's a nightmare."

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, by contrast, never veered from his message of hope and optimism.

Hillary Clinton lost control the other day. Many people do. Howard Dean made his infamous yearrrgghh of victory after winning after running a strong grass-roots campaign and winning third in the Iowa caucus in 2004. He was excited. Too excited. And it cost him.

Why should Hillary Clinton be any different? She is running to become president of the United States. If she can't hack the campaign trail, how will she ever be able to cope with the stress of leading the United States?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Family Tradition

PBS is to air tonight the first of the three part series The Jewish Americans. In today's Washington Post, there are responses of panelists. One of the panelists is Arun Ghandi.

Arun Ghandi offers the same advice his grandfather offered when Jews faced an enemy that was bound to annihilate them: go meekly and submit yourselves.

In Tel Aviv in 2004 I had the opportunity to speak to some Members of Parliament and Peace activists all of whom argued that the wall and the military build-up was necessary to protect the nation and the people. In other words, I asked, you believe that you can create a snake pit -- with many deadly snakes in it -- and expect to live in the pit secure and alive? What do you mean? they countered. Well, with your superior weapons and armaments and your attitude towards your neighbors would it not be right to say that you are creating a snake pit? How can anyone live peacefully in such an atmosphere? Would it not be better to befriend those who hate you? Can you not reach out and share your technological advancement with your neighbors and build a relationship?

Apparently, in the modern world, so determined to live by the bomb, this is an alien concept. You don't befriend anyone, you dominate them. We have created a culture of violence -- Israel and the Jews are the biggest players -- and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity.

Arun Ghandi's words echo that of his grandfather Mahatma Ghandi:

Having rejected both the plea that Palestine should be offered as a place of refuge for the Jews and the idea that the Western democracies should launch a war to overthrow Hitler, Gandhi offered only one avenue for the Jews to resist their persecution while preserving their “self-respect.” Were he a German Jew, Gandhi pronounced, he would challenge the Germans to shoot or imprison him rather than “submit to discriminating treatment.” Such “voluntary” suffering, practiced by all the Jews of Germany, would bring them, he promised, immeasurable “inner strength and joy.” Indeed, “if the Jewish mind could be prepared” for such suffering, even a massacre of all German Jews “could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy,” since “to the God-fearing, death has no terror.”

According to Gandhi, it would (for unexplained reasons) be “easier for the Jews than for the Czechs” (then facing German occupation) to follow his prescription. As inspiration, he offered “an exact parallel” in the campaign for Indian civil rights in South Africa that he had led decades earlier. Through their strength of suffering, he promised, “the German Jews will score a lasting victory over the German Gentiles in the sense that they will have converted [them] to an appreciation of human dignity.” And the same policy ought to be followed by Jews already in Palestine enduring Arab pogroms launched against them: if only they would “discard the help of the British bayonet” for their defense, and instead “offer themselves [to the Arabs] to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger,” the Jews would win a favorable “world opinion” regarding their “religious aspiration.”

In a thoughtful personal response dated February 24, 1939, the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber — who had himself emigrated to Israel from Germany a short time earlier and combined his Zionism with earnest efforts to peacefully reconcile Jewish and Arab claims in the Holy Land — chided Gandhi for offering advice to the Jews without any recognition of their real situation. The individual acts of persecution that Indians had suffered in South Africa in the 1890’s hardly compared, Buber noted, to the synagogue burnings and concentration camps instituted by Hitler’s regime. Nor was there any evidence that the many instances in which German Jews peacefully displayed strength of spirit in response to their persecutors had exercised any influence on the latter. While Gandhi exhorted them to bear “testimony” to the world by their conduct, the fate of the Jews in Germany was to experience only an “unobserved martyrdom” without effect.

Both Ghandi's have basically exhorted Jews to submit to those who would slash their throats, be it Germans or Arabs. Israel does have a mighty arsenal and it is justified in having one. I doubt very much if Jews were to “offer themselves [to the Arabs] to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger,” the Jews would win a favorable “world opinion” regarding their “religious aspiration.”

Arun Ghandi and Mahatma Ghandi echo the words of terrorists groups. And yet, I see very little criticism from Arun Ghandi on the deadly tactics used by terrorists such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, and so many others. Why no calls from the Ghandis of the world for Arabs to lay down their arms? Why is there the implication that Jews and Israelis should not be allowed to defend themselves? Why do their words imply it is okay to have an open season on Jews? Mahatma Ghandi stated it would be easier for Jews to offer themselves up than it would be for Czechs to do the same. Does that even make sense?

Arun Ghandi is channeling his grandfather when he states Israel armaments are the cause of the violence in the Middle East. No where does he state that the terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens are an impediment. Nor does he say anything about Hezbollahs continued build-up of arms. Nor does he say anything about terrorists groups like Hamas and Fatah using foreign aid to purchase the armaments those groups employ in terrorist attacks.

Arun Ghandi states: We have created a culture of violence -- Israel and the Jews are the biggest players -- and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity. He claims Israel and Jews are the biggest players while ignoring the terrorist attacks in India. Why those terror attacks there? Or why the terrorist attacks in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and other places across the world? Does he really mean to say Jews and Israel are the cause? In India, Muslim extremists employ terrorism in an effort to regain Kashmir. Can that really be blamed on Israel and Jews?

To go further, are Jews and Israel to blamed for the ongoing genocide in Darfur committed by Muslim extremists? Israel was not the only country created by the United Nations in the 1940s. Syria, Jordan, and Pakistan are a few. Pakistan is now going through upheavals after Bhutto was assassinated. Pakistan has nuclear weapons as does India. Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. North Korea has nuclear weapons. And yet it is a country of around 7 million that is the instigator of a "Culture of Violence".

To me, the enablers of the "Culture of Violence" are those who hold up signs saying "We are Hezbollah". This is the true detriment to peace: justifying acts of terror. It is those protesters and groups like Peace Now, ISM, and so many others who fail to acknowledge that if Palestinians were to employ the peaceful tactics used by Mahatma Ghandi, there would be a Palestinian state existing side-by-side with the Jewish State of Israel. Why aren't the Ghandis of the world asking the Palestinians to employ peaceful demonstrations? Why aren't the Ghandis of the world asking Palestinians to lay down their arms? Why should Jews be asked to willingly submit to slaughter?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow, President Bush will be leaving for an 8 day trip through the Middle East. He plans on visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority controlled areas of the West Bank, including Ramallah.

I'm very worried for President Bush's safety on this trip. Fatah has been labeled as "moderate". Labels can be very deceiving. If you mean moderate in the sense that Fatah no longer calls for Israel's destruction in English, than I guess you could say Fatah is moderate. My concerns are very real.

Last week, two Israelis who were hiking were shot in the back by employees of the Palestinian Authority, one who just happened to be in the security force.

Also, Israel has conducted raids across the West Bank. In Shchem(Nablus), another area controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the IDF found suicide vests and arms of all sorts.

The Palestinian Authority insists it has little control of terrorists who target Israeli citizens. It seems to me President Bush and his Secret Service detail should place little credence in the Palestinian Authority to protect him. And President Bush should address the following impediments to peace: the daily Kassam attacks against the Israelis town of Sderot, the hate of Israel being taught in Palestinian Authority schools, the hate of Israel being blared from Palestinian Authority TV and radio stations, the aparthied being practiced by the Palestinian Authority against Christians, and the unwillingness of the Palestinian Authority to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish State and its right to live in peace.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

It's Cute!

And it runs on compressed air! For $3.00, you can travel 125 miles. It also only costs $7,000.00. It is to go onsale in Europe and India.

Maybe we will see it in US markets. Oh, it needs a cup of vegetable oil that needs to be changed every 50,000 miles.

# 148

Yid With a Lid is hosting Haveil Havalim - 148. I've only scanned some of the titles and will have to go and read some later. I'm meeting with our rabbi to start a Torah study group when he isn't here. If any of you have had experience with leading such a group, any and all suggestions will be appreciated.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Shabbat Shalom! 01/04/08

Yeaaaaarrrrrgghhh! Iowa! Phbbt!

Looking at the results in Iowa, all I can say is what is wrong with the Republicans? First of all, Huckabee? He is clueless on domestic and international topics. I hope the good people of New Hampshire have the good sense not to select the Huckster. But what is most troubling to me about the results in Iowa is 10% of the Iowan Republican caucus selected Ron Paul. He received more than Giuliani.

I'm impressed at the Democrats in Iowa. They selected Obama and left Clinton gasping. No matter how you look at it, those 10% points Obama had over Clinton are significant.

I'm not a member of either party. But have voted more Republican than Democrat. The Republican party seems to be moribund. If the next Republican caucuses show the same trends and the Huckster is selected as the Republican nominee for president, I will voting Democrat, even if Clinton is selected.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Attention Spans

It has been 30 months since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The numbers are still mind-boggling. Mississippi towns like Waveland were wiped off the map. Katrina's winds and storm surge annihilated 65,000 homes. Nothing but slabs were left. Another 30,000 had to be demolished because of the storm damage. To put it in perspective, before Hurricane Katrina, the population in the 6 coastal counties was around 400,000. There were only around 3,000 homeowners who did not have to file any insurance claims because of Katrina. I count myself fortunate to be one of the lucky 3,000. But that wasn't due to not having any storm damage. It is just that the storm damage from the wind my home sustained equaled my insurance deductible.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast has made remarkable progress. But we are facing another problem. Along with the homes destroyed, the Mississippi Gulf Coast lost 25% of its rentals. The majority of people who are still in FEMA trailers used to be renters. And rents have skyrocketed. An apartment that rented for $400/month before Katrina, was $1,200/month after Katrina. The rent prices are starting to stabilize a bit because there has been new construction. But it is still out of reach for many.

A new problem is facing us along the Mississippi Gulf Coast: homeless people. The FEMA trailer parks are being shut down. Yes, some are probably drug addicts and/or alcoholics, but the majority are the working poor.

Some of these homeless have tents that offer scant protection. But it beats living under what's left of the beach boardwalks like some are doing.

Part of the problem is local resistance to building more low-income apartments and houses. And I'm ashamed to say that my hometown of Gulfport is one of the worst cities. It is always a case of NIMBY at city council meetings. In an effort to rebuild better and stronger, the poor are being left behind.

Developers are encouraged to make 25% of proposed homes low-income housing. Tax breaks are some of the incentives. It is a good idea but again NIMBY rears its ugly head. People fear their property values will drop and crime will increase. These are understandable fears. But something needs to be done.

Before Hurricane Katrina, there were pan-handlers. But the majority of those were the ones with "will work for food" signs. Today, I see more and more young people on the streets. Some who ask for money tell of being kicked out their homes. Some are with still with their families living on the streets or in the woods, or under overpasses, or under boardwalks or in cars.

While I rejoice at the rebuilding of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I'm deeply saddened by the increased number of homeless. After Hurricane Katrina, together, we faced the 66 miles of debris along the Mississippi Coast. Together, we faced the destroyed homes along rivers, creeks, and bayous. Together, we faced the rebuilding of electrical, water/sewerage, and telecommunications infrastructure. Together, we faced the rebuilding of roads and bridges. And we vowed we will rebuild, together. And after 30 months, maybe our attention has moved on to other things, but together, we must rebuild housing for our working poor.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008