Monday, December 28, 2009


Ah hum, excuse me dear, but President Bush was president during 9-11 when our country suffered its worst terrorist attack:

Mary Matalin: Bush Administration Inherited.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The New Reformation?

In the 1500's Martin Luther started the the Reformation. At first, it seemed like a good deal for Jews.

"He wrote in his work entitled, That Jesus Christ Was A Jew:

"For they [Church clergy] have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs and not human beings. They have done nothing for them but curse them and seize their wealth ... I hope that if the Jews are treated friendly and instructed kindly enough through the Bible, many of them will become real Christians and come back to the ancestral faith of the prophets and patriarchs..."(3)
Naturally, the Jews didn't go for Protestantism either. Their allegiance to Judaism and the Torah had nothing to do with the Christians being nasty to them. To Jews, Christianity was a false religion from the start, and the behavior of the Christians over the years only proved it.

However, Jews did not abandon the Torah and Luther's stance changed dramatically:

Now Martin Luther would further add to that proof. As soon as the Jews rejected his overtures and didn't start converting en masse, Luther, who took this rejection personally, turned into one of the most virulent anti-Semites in history.
A few years later, he wrote in his Concerning The Jews And Their Lies:
"What shall we do with this damned rejected race of Jews since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing. We cannot tolerate them even if we do not wish to share their lives, curses and blasphemy. Perhaps we can spare a few of them from the fire and flames. Let me give you my honest advice..."(4)
Luther's "honest advice" outlined a plan for dealing with the Jews. It included:

burn all synagogues
destroy Jewish holy books
forbid rabbis to teach
destroy Jewish homes
ban Jews from roads and markets
forbid Jews to make loans
seize Jewish property
force Jews to do hard labor
expel Jews from Christian towns

Recently, some GOP had a prayer session to vote against providing health care to millions of Americans. The prayer was led by Lou Engle, founder of TheCall. Some background on Lou Engle:

In previous stories [1, 2] I've detailed Lou Engle's political extremity - video from a November 1, 2008 TheCall event shows Engle onstage at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium calling for acts of Christian martyrdom to stop legal abortion and gay marriage. Engle has forecast that legalized abortion will lead to a second American civil war and appeared, in the documentary "Jesus Camp," alongside Becky Fischer - who specializes in evangelizing children and has stated she would like Christian children to learn to be as dedicated as Hamas suicide bombers.

[Top, Left: Becky Fischer admires the dedication of Hamas' young suicide bombers. Top, Right: Lou Engle predicts legalized abortion will lead to a second American civil war, TheCall Kansas City, December 31, 2007. Bottom, Left: Lou Engle calls for martyrs, at TheCall San Diego, November 1, 2008. Bottom, Right: Lou Engle, at Jesus Camp, indoctrinates children as future antiabortion movement warriors.].


Engle's role as leader of TheCall has now received some mainstream media notice but the source of his influence is still largely unknown. Lou Engle serves, alongside Sarah Palin's prayer group leader Mary Glazier, on the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, one of the key leadership groups wielding influence over a sprawling, global new incarnation of the religious right known as the New Apostolic Reformation.

As detailed in a recent Talk To Action report, Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation has played a major role in inspiring and organizing Ugandan legislators behind the draconian "kill the gays" bill before Uganda's parliament.

A quick google search shows the extremism of the group Palin belongs to. Evangelicals have succeeded in making their extreme views mainstream.

Palin's groupd shares the following beliefs:

In September 2008, shortly after John McCain had picked Sarah Palin as a running mate, footage surfaced from an October 2005 ceremony, held at what many argue is by far Sarah Palin's most important church, the Wasilla Assembly of God. In the footage, saved by a blogger before the church partially scrubbed video and audio of past sermons and events from its website archive, Kenyan evangelist Thomas Muthee officiated over a strange ceremony in which Muthee and two other pastors blessed and anointed Sarah Palin and called upon God to protect her from "every spirit of witchcraft."

Before the ceremony Muthee gave a short speech, during which he advocated that the Christian church should "infiltrate" seven key sectors of society (including business, government, education, and media). During that speech, Muthee claimed that "Israelites" "run the economics" of America. But Bishop Muthee's apparently anti-Jewish attack was mild compared to those of some of his colleagues. Muthee is a prominent celebrity in the religious movement described below.

Sarah Palin's least scrutinized but arguably most significant religious influence, is Alaskan evangelist Mary Glazier, whose personal prayer group Palin joined in 1989 according to Glazier (linked Glazier talk from June 13, 2008 conference held near Seattle). Multiple sources including a January 2009 article in what has become the flagship magazine for American charismatic Christians, Charisma, have confirmed the Palin-Glazier relationship continued into 2008. Glazier's prayer warriors began praying for Sarah Palin's political success nearly two decades ago because, as Glazier was quoted in the Charisma article, "We felt then that she was the one God had selected."

As I've described in a recent Talk To Action story, late in September 2008 Mary Glazier sent out, through her personal prayer networks, a "prophetic warning" suggesting that a tragic act of terrorism might soon leave Sarah Palin alone with the American flag, "stepping into an office that she was mantled for." Glazier's warning appeared to suggest that John McCain would win the 2008 election but be killed in a terrorist attack, leaving Sarah Palin to become president.

Mary Glazier is no random evangelist - she is a high level leader and a prophet in the rapidly coalescing religious movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation. Glazier is also an "apostle" in its central leadership group, the International Coalition of Apostles, formed in 2001. In a January 7th, 2009 appearance at the Wasilla Assembly of God, Glazier's fellow ICA apostle Dutch Sheets credited Glazier with bringing the New Apostolic Reformation to Alaska. At least 5 leaders in the movement, including three ICA apostles, have appeared at the Wasilla Assembly of God. In June 2008, Sarah Palin spent Alaska State travel funds to fly from Juneau to the Mat-Su Valley, to attend two Wasilla Assembly of God related events.

There's a dangerous convergence of extreme beliefs and acceptance by mainstream leaders. This is the path that has led in the past to Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the Khmer Rouge, Idi Amin, etc. This new reformation that for now is primarily directed at gays and abortion clinics and doctors can lead to others being targeted. We've seen an abortion doctor murdered. We've seen a rise in Jews being targeted and murdered. We've seen a rise in synagogues being vandalized. And that is just in this country.

Gays are accused of being possessed. Right now, gays and abortion doctors and clinics are the most visible targets of groups like Engle's and Palin's.

Are we going to let this continued to be mainstreamed or we going to do something about it? Join your local Rainbow Alliance. Reach out to gay friends and relatives and let them know you support them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

A day of freedom he shall proclaim

For the son and the daughter

He shall protect them as his beloved

Your names are beautiful, they shall always endure

Sit and rest on the Sabbath day

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Does Palin Support Israel?

I don't think so.

More on the belief of evangelicals:

So what happens when we Jews continue to keep our faith? What happens when we don't all suddenly decide to flock to Israel in the coming months? What happens when the end times don't happen?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beck's Golden Advice

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More Beck and monetary musings.

Pretty nifty scheme Ingraham, Limbaugh, Beck and others have. Scare the heck out of you and then convince you to buy gold from the people who pay them as spokes persons. You might even say it's a gold mine!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shabbat Shalom and Sameach Chanukah!

May the lights of freedom shine for all!

Take a stand like this man did in Switzerland did after minarets were banned!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Teabagger Who Doesn't Understand the Constitution

Merry Hyatt has found allies in her quest to put an initiative on the ballot next year requiring public schools to play Christmas carols.

Hyatt, who moved to Redding four months ago, said she joined the Redding Tea Party Patriots and recruited several members to help her collect the 433,971 signatures needed by March 29.

"Bottom line is Christmas is about Christmas," said Erin Ryan, president of the Redding Tea Party Patriots. "That's why we have it. It's not about winter solstice or Kwanzaa. It's like, 'wow you guys, it's called Christmas for a reason.' "

"I have two words to say about Ms. Hyatt's proposal: blatantly unconstitutional," said Rob Boston, senior policy analyst for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is based in Washington, D.C., and has a local chapter in Sacramento.

These misguided idiots! Public schools are not religious schools. They are not there to promote one religion over another. They are there to teach our kids. It's time for responsible and sensible parents to stand up and say don't try to force stuff like this and Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design is nothing than an attempt to have religion taught under the guise of pseudo-science.

If these people really want to help kids who come from backgrounds in which violence, drugs, and alcoholism abounds, they need to go into those neighborhoods and be mentors to them.

There were two holidays Erin Ryan did not mention that occur during this time of year: the Islamic New Year and Chanukah. This is why so many businesses use the term Season's Greetings.

People really need to wake up and learn what the Tea Party really stand for. It is not a grass-roots organization that wants to uphold the Constitution. It is one that wants it distorted to meet their religious goals. It is an affront to our founding fathers who fought and struggled to make sure that those in the minority would not have their rights trampled upon.

Monday, December 7, 2009

LGF: Palin Palling Around With Anti-Semites

Little Green Footballs has an excerpt of Christopher Hitchens' Sarah Palin's Brand of Populism Dangerous and Deceptive.

Fred Malek was the guy in Nixon's administration who volunteered to purge the Jews from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Because the second thing to note about Malek is that he was the man who drew up a list of Jews to be fired from the civil service under the Nixon administration. I am surprised that so many people have allowed themselves to forget this—and that Palin has never been asked a single question about it. In the early 1970s, Nixon, whose White House tapes show consistent evidence of anti-Semitic paranoia, gave orders that the Bureau of Labor Statistics be purged of what he called a “Jewish cabal.” The job of drawing up the list was given to Malek, whose information led to what was called the “reassignment” of some officials within the Labor Department. Malek later tried to give a weaselly excuse for his conduct, but was caught by my Slate colleague Timothy Noah.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

It's Us Pesky Jews Again!!

I've never been a big fan of Glenn Beck. His hate-filled rhetoric is reminiscent of people such as Father Coughlin and the ramblings of Senator Joseph McCarthy

Now, Beck is claiming that it is the Anti-Defamation League is at fault for the rise in anti-Semitism.

Just listen:

Beck blames ADL

Just as Father Couglin spread lies and half-truths in the 1930's and Senator Mccarthy did in the 1950"s, so too is Fox News when it allows people like Glenn Beck to have air time.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Republican Purges

Would you consider this to be Stalinist, Maoist, or Nazism?

We're Not Fragile

For the past several months, I've been reluctant to click on some of the blogs I used to read on a daily basis. When Bush was president, many claimed there was a Bush derangement syndrome among centrists and leftists. This pales in comparison to the moronic derangement of some bloggers and a lot of others out there who seem to think that Obama is a Marxist, Socialist, Communist, and Fascist.

It's been quite a few months since I've clicked on Likelihood of Success. I'm glad that he sees the rampant stupidity as well.

A few months ago, I dared to click on Little Green Footballs site. I'm glad to see he isn't suffering from derangement either.

I've watched this video of Jon Stewart several times. I agree with him. This country is bigger than one president. It will be able to overcome and set right all the legislation passed by President Reagan and President Bush that infringes on our 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Amendments. I too believe this country is big enough to handle health care for all.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some Truths Are Self-Evident

The Onion does it again in it's Area Man Passionate Defender of What He Imagines Constitution to Be.

"Our very way of life is under siege," said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination. "It's time for true Americans to stand up and protect the values that make us who we are."

According to Mortensen—an otherwise mild-mannered husband, father, and small-business owner—the most serious threat to his fanciful version of the 222-year-old Constitution is the attempt by far-left "traitors" to strip it of its religious foundation.

"Right there in the preamble, the authors make their priorities clear: 'one nation under God,'" said Mortensen, attributing to the Constitution a line from the Pledge of Allegiance, which itself did not include any reference to a deity until 1954. "Well, there's a reason they put that right at the top."

"Men like Madison and Jefferson were moved by the ideals of Christianity, and wanted the United States to reflect those values as a Christian nation," continued Mortensen, referring to the "Father of the Constitution," James Madison, considered by many historians to be an atheist, and Thomas Jefferson, an Enlightenment-era thinker who rejected the divinity of Christ and was in France at the time the document was written. "The words on the page speak for themselves."

According to sources who have read the nation's charter, the U.S. Constitution and its 27 amendments do not contain the word "God" or "Christ."

Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance "since the Ten Commandments."

As postscript about the Pledge of Allegiance: It was written by a socialist preacher in 1892.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Justice for All?

This family was lucky. They could afford to pay close to a million dollars to prove their innocence.

Why would police produce false reports when they know the entire incident was recorded? "I really don't know," Nick says. "I guess they figured they're cops, so what the hell is going to happen to them? And you know what? They're right. They've gotten away with it."

What happens to those who can't afford a good defense? Shouldn't police officers, prosecutors, and judges who manufacture evidence, cover-up evidence be prosecuted or punished in some way?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are Muslims the Problem?

I don't think so. Dov Bear has an astute post.

Pat Robertson claims Islam is not a relgion but a political and violent system.

Should we declare that all Christians are violent and extremist because some advocate and commit murder against abortion doctors?

Newscaster Bill O'Reilly states, "We can't kill all the Muslims". This is very dangerous and very close to advocating genocide.

What religion did/do Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber and abortion doctor murderers and abortion clinic bombers belong to? These people are also terrorists.

November 9 was the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht. The Germans rationalized and approved of the 91 murders of Jews, the destruction of 200 synagoges, the destruction of Jewish businesses. And all because one teenager angered over the deportation of his parents to Poland murdered a German official.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A New Ocean?

A 35-mile rift in the desert of Ethiopia will likely become a new ocean eventually, researchers now confirm.
The crack, 20 feet wide in spots, opened in 2005 and some geologists believed then that it would spawn a new ocean. But that view was controversial, and the rift had not been well studied.
A new study involving an international team of scientists and reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters finds the processes creating the rift are nearly identical to what goes on at the bottom of oceans, further indication a sea is in the region's future.

Further down in the article it states that the same rift is parting the Red Sea. Fascinating!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

L'Shanah Tovah and Shabbat Shalom!!

Send this eCard !

On October 29, 1944 a voice rose in Germany that attested Am Chai Israel!

“We bring you now a special broadcast of historic significance: The first Jewish religious service broadcast from Germany since the advent of Hitler.”

Cantor Max Fuchs

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Community Organizers

There’s been a great deal in the news about community organizers. Our country has a long history of community organizers. In fact, some of the most radical ones in our history were from the late 1700s. These radicals included John Hancock, John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many, many others.

These men were filled with radical ideas. They saw a vision of the colonies becoming united states with a common theme that all men were created equal with unalienable rights and that laws should not be unfair.

One of their biggest beefs was unjust taxes. Under President Bush the following occurred after President Bush cut taxes:

The poverty rate in 2008 rose to 13.2 percent, the highest in 11 years, while median household income fell to $50,303. Ten years earlier, adjusted for inflation, it was $51,295.
Of course this reflects the ravages of a horrid recession. But the decline started before the collapse in the housing and financial sectors — and it was calculated, in the eyes of some.
Harvard economist Lawrence Katz called it “a plutocratic boom.” If anything comes close to defining the era, that would be my nomination. President Bush cut $1.3 trillion in taxes — and the biggest beneficiaries by far were the top 1 percent of earners. At the same time, Wall Street was inflated by the helium of a regulation-free economy that eventually gave us Bernie Madoff and banks begging for bailouts.

One of the biggest arguments for cutting taxes is that it will help spur the economy. We did not see that happen. Instead, we saw a decline in income for the majority of Americans.

Now consider the people who showed up in a state of generalized rage in Washington over the weekend. They have no leaders, save a self-described rodeo clown — Glenn Beck of Fox News — and some well-funded Astroturf outfits from the permanent lobbying class inside the Beltway. They are loosely organized under a Tea Party movement, but these people are closer to British Tories than 18th century patriots with a love of equality.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


It had been 25 years since I last read 1984 by George Orwell. The first time I read it, I couldn't really visualize the description of the Two Minute Hate and people becoming riled up to the extent they were in the book. But now that I see the hour long hate-fest by Glenn Beck, the moronic writings of Pat Buchanan, and the hate Rush Limbaugh spews, I can understand a little better.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Katrina: Four Years

Looking at all the rebuilding and reconstruction that has happened since Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast four years, I can still recall the feeling of despondency at all the destruction Katrina caused. One of the hardest places to visit was the beach at Gulfport. This is where I spent a lot of my childhood and where I took my son when he was younger. These pictures are also from my brother's neighborhood.

Biloxi's beach was annihilated by Hurricane Katrina. Buildings over 150 years old were just gone. Below is the harbor master's building.

This a view from Water street in Biloxi looking toward some condominiums that have since been torn down.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed the place I work. We've since rebuilt but this is what it looked like.

The FEMA trailers helped give shelter to those who lost their homes. 65,000 homes were destroyed in Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina.

This is a photo of Bay St Louis. In front the house used to be a road. It was completely washed out by Hurricane Katrina. Bay St Louis was inundated by an estimated 24 foot storm surge. It is an estimate because many of the instruments used to determine storm surge were washed out to sea. Many feel that Katrina's storm surge was much higher.

Below are some posts I did 4 years ago:

This one was done while waiting for Katrina. It was 9 days before I could post again.

This was my first post after electricity had been restored.

This was my first trip to Biloxi after Katrina.

My first glance of where I work.

Thankful for all those who came and helped us

Sobering stats

My New World

We are still rebuilding. I made the following video last year. I hope we and those in New Orleans continue to dance and to rebuild stronger, together.

I feel so thankful. Even though it's been hard these past four years, I thank HaShem that no one in my family lost their homes, that no one I knew lost their lives, and that things have improved tremendously. I cannot describe the joy my congregation felt as we dedicated our new synagogue in May of this year and that we will be able to have our High Holy Day services in our synagogue and not at the Keesler Air Force Base chapel.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Saturday will mark the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I've been thinking about the things I was doing and the feelings I had while we watching the weather reports.

BK (before Katrina), hurricanes to me were a source of fascination and wonder. They still are but now it is tempered by the knowledge of the great destructive powers hurricanes can hold.

If I remember correctly, I had my son mow the grass and at work, I started planning the times I would begin making computer backups.

I remember going out to take photos after work and there was this sense of urgency to take photos of everything along the beach front. It was an urgency I didn't heed.

Who could imagine everything being wiped away?

I remember the dreams I had before Katrina hit. Nightmares really of a red sky and howling winds. Having been through Frederick, Georges, and other hurricanes that came at night, I knew the skies are usually very dark with an eery glow. The glow seems to speak of the awesome power of the hurricane.

Little did I know the awesome power Hurricane Katrina was set to unleash upon the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


One of the big talking points opponents of health care reform bring up is the fear of rationing. They claim health care rationing exists in Britain's and Canada's health care system. A British doctor speaks out:

Among the inflammatory charges, Sen. Edward Kennedy wouldn't have received state-of-the-art care for his brain tumor in a place like Great Britain because health overseers would have found extending the life of the 77-year-old unworthy of the expense.

"Well, I'm sorry to say that's the most ludicrous thing that I've heard," Ara Darzi, a surgeon and former minister of health, tells Steve Inskeep on Tuesday's Morning Edition. It's an example, Darzi says, of the "lies that have been used to set fear against reform."
"Americans fear that countries such as Britain and Canada ration care -- and that such rationing could and should never be tolerated in the United States," the Post editorial says. "Yet 47 million uninsured is quite an extreme form of rationing. So at this moment, the burden of proof falls upon those who oppose change -- for they stand in defense of fear.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

All the Rage

Our founders were not godlike men. They had their faults like everybody. Most of the Southerners who signed the Declaration of Independence were heavily in debt. Thomas Jefferson eventually lost his beloved Monticello because of his debt. Benjamin Franklin was the 1770's Bill Clinton.

When the American Revolution was fought, we were in heavy debt. It was to the point that many other countries thought for sure the new country would totter over the brink and exist no more. France was our China back then. We borrowed mostly from them in the 1770's just as we borrow heavily from China today.

Our Founders had a great deal of courage. Throughout our country's history, we've met hardships before. There have been wars, recessions, depressions, natural disasters, and other obstacles to struggle through.

And even as our country struggled through this, we still welcomed our doors to the poor wretched huddled masses yearning to be free. Today, we tend to try to slam the doors.

Are we to be frightened of helping our neighbors? In the video, Ms. Abram states their insurance deductible if $5,000. Her family is lucky to have any coverage at all. But like many Americans, their family is going to be struggling with mounting debt as her son goes through his surgeries. Health care reform is to help her and yet she fears it because of the bugaboo word socialism.

Her and so many others should be directing their rage at the real culprits in this mess: The insurance companies.

Health care reform is needed and badly. Premiums have gone up and along side those premium increases, deductibles have gone up as have co-pays. People are being dropped from insurance as soon as they become sick.

Insurance reform is not just needed in health care. It is also needed in property insurance. I'm hoping Congressman Gene Taylor supports health care reform. By doing so, he can garner interest in the insurance reforms he has been proposing since Hurricane Katrina.

We need debate on this issue not blind rage. Screaming at your Congressman and throwing a temper tantrum doesn't alleviate the problem.

Monday, August 3, 2009


There are some great leaders in our country's history. Thomas Jefferson had great vision when he made the Louisiana Purchase. Abraham Lincoln had the vision of keeping the country united as well as abolishing inhumane slavery. Theodore Roosevelt had the great vision of preserving wild and undeveloped areas for future generations and our national park system was created.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had the vision of helping those affected by the Great Depression and many social programs were put in place. These programs helped people from starving to death and helped create jobs. He served a record four terms of office and led our country out of the depression and through World War II.

Dwight Eisenhower saw the need for a road system in which our military could travel the vast distances of our country without being bogged down. Thus, the interstate systems was created.

John F. Kennedy had the vision of us going to the moon. He set our country on a path of technological discovery has not been reviled. Because of his vision, the US developed computers, cell phones, ceramics that are used in our vehicles, satellite phones, and so many other modern conveniences we take for granted today.

Even one of the presidents I despise most, Jimmy Carter was a visionary. He saw the need for us to develop forms of transportation and power needs that were not so dependent on foreign oil.

The Federal government had to borrow money for these visions of America's future to proceed. In fact, the American Revolution was fought on heavily borrowed money from France and other European countries. Some funds were borrowed from individuals.

Some of the Founders were dismayed about all the borrowing but it was a tradition most of the Founders from Southern states were used too. Jefferson and other Southern leaders had vast personal debts.

What these visionaries understood was that these plans for the future cost money. In many cases taxes were raised and our country was heavily in debt. At one point after the American Revolution, it seemed that our country would be swallowed up by the weight of the debt. But one thing these visionaries had in addition to the country's future growth was courage. As did the people they led.

Now, our country seems to be filled with those that are so fearful, they are willing to give up their rights and sadly, not have any visions for the growth of our country. We've seen what Reagan's trickle down economics have led to: More and more people having to use credit cards for basic needs such as food, jobs flying oversees, less deregulation leading to higher bills on electricity, telephones, etc. and most alarmingly, a shrinking middle class.

George W. Bush's economic policy exacerbated the problem. Further deregulation has led to massive bailouts on Wall Street and the current recession.

Our country is at a crossroads now. Millions of jobs lost have to be replaced. Our country needs to face a new way of getting from here to there as the price of fuel goes. And as President Obama has proposed, we can create jobs in an effort to make our country less dependent on foreign oil. We can overhaul our medical system ins which premiums continue to rise while at the same time, we have less coverage.

Is this going to take money and debt? Yes. I believe in our country and I believe that working together toward our future can help everyone. We just have to have the same courage shown during other great times of vision.

Weekly Dose!

It's time for your weekly dose of Haveil Havalim:228.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Yesterday was one of those hectic days at work. I decided to go to the D'Iberville Marina with the intention of taking a 30 minute photo break and then coming back and eat the lunch I brought. Instead, I spent nearly 45 minutes trying to entice a beautiful little calico kitten. The kitten ate some chips I had brought with me but still would not let me get closer than 3 feet. I made a cat toy from discarded fish line and pipe cleaners and tried to edge closer but as soon as I moved closer than 3 feet, back it went under the pier.

I was relieved to learn that the kitten was feed every day. I was also told the kitten would maintained the 3 foot barrier even with the kind person who has been feeding it every day for the past month. I had planned to take it some food later. We have a bag of cat food at work that we used for a momma cat and two little kittens. She left with her babies after a few days. I guess all the people going into and out of the offices spooked her.

Like I said, my intention was to take the kitten some food after I got off work. It was a very hectic day and I didn't leave work until after 6 and I decided I would until today to go. Someone else was feeding it.

On my way home, I saw a homeless man walking down the road. He looked like he was about to pass out from the heat. I swung back around and went back to the office and grabbed a coke, two bottles of water, and the lunch I didn't get to eat. I normally don't do this but the man looked so pitiful. I parked my car and walked up to him and asked if he needed any water. He said yes. I took the water to him and then asked if he would like some food. He said it had been a few days since he had anything to eat. He had a medical bracelet on. I gave him the food and the coke and then left.

On the way home, I cried most of the way because I realized I had just feed a human being like I would have a stray cat or dog. It made me somewhat ashamed that there are fellow Americans who have no homes, no food, and cannot find a job.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hidden Jews

Throughout history, Jews were forced to convert. The ones in Spain called the Marranos, are a famous group who forced to convert to Christianity and yet many kept up their Jewish customs and traditions and then faced the murderous Spanish Inquisition.

Nissim Mossek has a very interesting video about Palestinians of Jewish origin. These Jews also remained hidden throughout the centuries after being forced to convert to Islam.

H/t: Israellycool

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In Defense of the 6th Amendment

Thank you Justice Scalia!

Legal experts and prosecutors are concerned about the results of last month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires lab analysts to be in court to testify about their tests. Lab sheets that identify a substance as a narcotic or breath-test printouts describing a suspect's blood-alcohol level are no longer sufficient evidence, the court ruled. A person must be in court to talk about the test results.

The opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, has prosecutors and judges shaking their heads in disgust and defense lawyers nodding with satisfaction at the notion that the Constitution's Sixth Amendment guarantee that defendants "shall enjoy the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him" is not satisfied by a sheet of paper.

"This is the biggest case for the defense since Miranda," said Fairfax defense lawyer Paul L. McGlone, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that required police to inform defendants of their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He said judges "are no longer going to assume certain facts are true without requiring the prosecution to actually put on their evidence."

Now do something about those laws which violate our 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendment rights.

Whose Sexist?

From Jew in the City

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I have two bird feeders at my home. It's fun to watch the birds. I have cardinals, blue jays, mourning doves, ringed necked doves, chirping sparrows, red-headed woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, Eastern bluebirds, and occasionally gold finches. There's a pair of cardinals that have been nesting in one of my oaks the over 10 years.

Another pair have been nesting for a couple of years. It's been fun to watch them with their fledglings. For a few days, the parent birds will continue to feed them. But after awhile, they stop. The fledglings flap their wings, open their beaks and chase their parents around. The parents tolerate this behavior for a few days and will feed the youngsters every once in a while. But then the parents start chasing the fledglings away. They've taught their babies what's good to eat, to be aware of predators, and how to fly. They've given them the skills necessary to survive on their own.

The sparrows are much the same way. Except when their fledglings first jump out of the nest, their parents so them places to hide. They do this until the fledgling sparrows have more experience to fly. One fledgling had some sort of accident. He is without one leg. It is very difficult for him to hop across the ground in search of seed. But he manages.

The woodpeckers are fun to watch. The downey woodpeckers will climb down a tree while the red-headed ones climb up. The northern flickers root for bugs on the ground and generally ignore the bird seed and sunflower seeds provided.

There are two major flocks. There are about 30 mourning doves and about the same number of sparrows. The ring-necked doves usually do not flock but one Saturday, there were about 8 of them.

The cardinals have been prolific this year. At any given time, I can count up to eight cardinals at one feeder and another 4-5 at the other.

I started the bird feeders because I was concerned about the amount of land that was cleared close to my home. The developers promised they would keep the oak trees but sadly, a lot were torn down. The birds lost feeding grounds. The developer bull dozed the area and put in paved roads on what were dirt tracks. It has been over 6 months since the developer has done any work. The ground is slowly recovering. Perhaps the developer is a victim of the current financial crisis. I suspect it is because of the large number of apartments built in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. There are so many now that rent prices have dropped.

Perhaps the cleared area will once again grow into a nesting area and refuge for other animals. There's a turtle my son calls Bob that lives in the shed and a possum that lives there as well. A coyote has been spotted by others in the neighborhood. I haven't seen any sign of the deer that used to come to my yard in the winter looking for acorns.

I wished I had started the bird feeders sooner. The antics of the birds can bring a smile. The squirrels do as well. There's one that is super hyper and vigilant. He spends more time scampering up and down the trees more than he does eating. There are about ten squirrels. For winter, I'll add another feeder and another bird bath.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Socialism in Action!

This weekend, instead of having a tea bag protest, really help your community:

Alternative Protest: Million Can

HOW: Act locally. Here are some examples:
• Take a bag of food to a local pantry
• Organize a food drive where you work or play, your church or motorcycle club, etc.
• Organize some friendly competition amongst a group of blogs
• Challenge your Facebook & Myspace friends and your twitter followers
• There's no one right way to get involved. Look around you, see the need and do something about it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

American Justice?

I used to feel good about our justice system. It seemed it used to be the best in the world as far as having a level playing field for those who have been charged with a crime. But since Reagan's War on Drugs and Bush's War on Terror, more and more laws are being passed that give almost unlimited power to prosecutors. Laws have been passed out of fear. Some of these laws encroach too heavily on our 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendment rights.

Too often, I hear people say that as long as you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from these laws. The thing is that far too many people are being caught up in these laws. The three strikes and you're out laws now give the same level of punishment to those who pass bad checks to those who murder.

A law passed two years ago, the Adam Walsh Act, was meant to protect society from sexual predators. It was meant so that no other parents had to go through what Adam Walsh's parents had to go through. The sad thing is because of all the new rules implemented with the Adam Walsh Act, the system is becoming so overloaded that the police can no longer keep track of the true sexual predators.

We see teenagers being charged for child pornography when they take a picture of themselves and email and send it via cell phone to their boyfriend/girlfriend. These kids, if convicted, will have to register as sex offenders for at least ten years.

We see ten year olds having to register as sex offenders for playing doctor with an eight year old.

We see young adults younger than 21 who inadvertently download child pornography, having to register as sex offenders for 10 years or more. Is it justice when 9 child porn photos are found out of hundreds of thousands of files on a person's computer and that person is charged with a felony and will have to register as a sex offender if convicted?

We see 17 year olds having to register as sex offenders after being charged for statutory rape for having sex with their year old boyfriend/girlfriends. Is this justice? Does it really keep us safe? Does it really keep our children safe?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

I'm posting this earlier than usual. Instead of hoping for our President to fail like Limbaugh, or even praying for his death like this 'pastor', why not hope and pray that our country will succeed and the safety of our leaders. There are so much hateful words being spoken, let's tone it down. Hatefulness and anger, we are taught, pushes us away from G-d. If our words are full of hate, how can be thankful for the blessings we have?

There's a lot of craziness going on now and there's a wonderful prayer that is said during Sacharet services:

A Prayer for Our Country

Our G-d and G-d of our ancestors: In this time of national tragedy and sadness, we ask your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them the insights of Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may once again abide in our midst.

Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony to banish all hatred and bigotry and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions which are the pride and glory of our country.

May this land under Your providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom and helping them to fulfill the vision of your prophet: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more."

--Based upon "Siddur Sim Shalom"

Shabbat shalom, y'all!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Being Prepared

Today is the start of hurricane season. It will end in November. Mississippi Emergency Management has numerous lists on preparing your home in the event of a hurricane, what to do if you are ordered to evacuate, etc, etc. The CTA will provide transportation for those who need it.

There are so many things that need to be done well before a hurricane or tropical storm threatens. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best is all anyone can do when a hurricane threatens your home.

I've been through Frederick, Elena, and others. Nothing prepared me for the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused. It wiped out sights I've seen most of my life. Being prepared for the nine days without electricity, the month of boiling water, and the problems with phone lines was the easy part.

I and so many others along the Mississippi Gulf Coast were not prepared for the emotional devastation. Even through our tears, we vowed to rebuild better and stronger. In many ways our community is so much stronger. Our communities are adopting SmartCodes so that homes can withstand hurricane force winds. Many are having to elevate their homes 20 feet above ground to meet the new flood elevation requirements.

I made the following video almost a year after Hurricane Katrina hit:

The port containers are long gone from my brother's neighborhood. The place I work has rebuilt with the exception of new offices(I'm sorta of tired of these trailers we've been renting!). The miles upon miles of debris are long gone. There are still many empty spaces. It's take awhile to rebuild 65,000 homes but we're getting the job done.

Thursday, Congregation Beth Israel moved into our new home in Gulfport. For 3 1/2 years, we've been using the meeting hall at Beauvior Methodist Church for our services. Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged our shul in Biloxi.

We danced our Torahs in on Thursday. All of us, were home at last!

Our new shul is capable of withstanding 155 mph winds. It is 12 miles inland. Our plans called for being prepared for the worst. Our hope is for the best.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

We'll Be Dancing!

Tonight Congregation Beth Israel will be in our new synagogue! We will dance our Torahs in and our first services will be for Shavout. Shavuot is one of my favorite festivals because it has such special meaning for me. I've chronicled my journey into rejoining my tribe.

The Megillah of Ruth will be read. Like her, I and thousands of others have said, "Your people will be my people, and your G-d my G-d". She, I, and thousands of others have stood at Sinai and said "We will do and we will obey".

It has been at times, a struggle for our congregation. Since Hurricane Katrina, some of families have had to move away because they lost jobs, homes, or both. Through it all, we have remained a strong community committed to supporting one another and celebrating bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, and the festivals together . We have persevered. We now will celebrate as a community the completion of our new home.

Chazak, Chazak, V'nitchazeik !!!

I know these are the words said at the completion of reading each of the Torah. It seems appropriate to say them today.

Trickle Down Economics

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No Justice

The Supreme Court has made another infamous ruling. It further erodes the protections against excesses and abuses of our rights. Each one of us, those who have never committed a crime and those who have, need to be worried.

The new ruling affects our 6th Amendment rights:

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

At stake is the right to the accused to be represented by counsel. The case involves a man who was appointed a public defender:

At a preliminary hearing, a judge ordered that a public defender be appointed. The timing is in dispute, but at some point Mr. Montejo was read his Miranda rights again and agreed to accompany detectives to locate the murder weapon, which he had indicated that he had thrown into a lake.

During the trip, he wrote a letter of apology to the victim’s widow, using paper and pen provided by the detectives. Only upon his return did Mr. Montejo meet with his lawyer, who was furious that his client had been questioned in his absence, and was further incensed when the letter was admitted as evidence at trial.

This descision also infringes upon our 5th Amendment rights. There are numerous laws, such as the PATRIOT Act, certain laws passed during the war on drugs, and another passed a couple of years ago which infringe upon our 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendment rights. These are not rights that are there just to protect those who have been accused of crimes. They are there to protect everyone's rights. They were framed into our Constitution because of the excesses of British colonial rule. Are we willing to give up those precious rights which protected us from the excesses of a power-hungry government?

Justice Stevens sums it up best:

Mr. Montejo’s Sixth Amendment right to legal representation, as well as his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, were damaged by the ruling, Justice Stevens said.

“Such a decision can only diminish the public’s confidence in the reliability and fairness of our system of justice,” he said.

I disagree with Justice Scalia:

That 1986 ruling has not only proved “unworkable,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, but its “marginal benefits are dwarfed by its substantial costs” in that some guilty defendants go free.

I tend to think like John Adams:

"The reason is because it's of more importance to the community, that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt should be punished".

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

This week's Torah portion is B'midbar. B'midbar is the wilderness. Since Hurricane Katrina, Congregation Beth Israel has been in the wilderness. We've been wandering for only close to 4 years but we are so close to being home. Tonight is the last night we'll have Kabbalat Shabbat services in the hall at Beauvior Methodist Church.

Next Thursday, we dance our Torahs into our new home. Friday, especially appropriate since it is Shavuout, we will hold our first Kabbalat Shabbat services in our new synagogue. We will no longer be in the wilderness.

Don't Panic!!

Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we are closely monitoring a low which is slowly becoming better organized.

A lot of us feel some apprehension, me included. The scars of Hurricane Katrina go deep. But for now:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mazel Tov Angie and Steve!

My nephew was married this weekend. Angie gave me the honor of taking their wedding photos. Both of them were so nervous before the ceremony. Her is one I took of Angie going toward her future:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last Line of Defense

The last of defense for protection of our rights: The ACLU and Criminal Defense Attorneys. Congress has been extremely busy passing laws during Bush's presidency which infringe upon our 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendment rights. The Supreme Court, in the past few years, made decisions which further eroded our protections from the government.

Does anyone care?


A link to the missing link.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A week or so ago, I published a post called For the Common Good. It didn't generate any comments here but at Weather Underground received over 200. One of those comments was the adage of give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he can eat every day. There's a lot of truth in that adage. It does ignore the components that need to be in place before one can teach another to fish. The person being taught needs to have a place to cook, in reasonable health, the tools necessary to catch a fish, a place to keep the fish, clean and unpolluted waterways were fish can thrive, and a way to get to the fishing spot.

In 2006 when budget hearings were being held, Congressman David Price made the following plea:

Mr. Speaker, colleagues will remember the biblical story of the prophet Nathan coming to the might King David. Nathan told David a story about a rich man who had many sheep but who took the one little ewe of a poor man to feed a visiting friend. David flew into a rage at the rich man and proclaimed that anyone who would do such a thing deserved to be put to death for abusing his power and showing so little compassion. And Nathan said to David, "You are that man". This story should lead us to look into the mirror: Are we in danger of becoming "that man"? The Republican budget removes support four housing, education, Medicaid, community development, and small business lending. It raises taxes on the poor. And it does all this so the Republicans can afford new tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. If there was ever a moral issue before this Congress, it is that one.

When my son was younger, I taught him to fish. He learned well and was soon catching more and bigger fish than I.

The thing is, I, and many like me, who come from backgrounds were opportunities were limited have benefited from programs that have taught us to fish. Funding for public education, programs such as Section 8, food stamps, public transportation and other similar programs have given many the option of learning to fish. Once basic needs were taken care of, programs such as Pell Grants enabled us to learn to fish. Many, like me, now pay taxes so that others can learn to fish.

To be able to learn to fish in order to support oneself is the basic premise of so-called entitlement programs. They are an investment in our country's future. These programs make it possible for many to pass on newly learned skills and thereby lend a helping hand to others.

It takes more than a pole to teach a person to fish. It takes roads, clean water, shelter, transportation, teachers, clothing, etc.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Good to Be Last

Mississippi ranks last in about everything from education to health. For once, I'm glad to see Mississippi at the bottom. As of today, there are only four states that do not have any confirmed cases of swine flu, Mississippi is one of them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Belated...

Happy Birthday to this week's host Haveil Havalim 216: 40th Birthday. Just think Jack, in just 10 years, you too can receive ads from AARP!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

Congregation Beth Israel will have a simcha tomorrow! Another bat mitzvah!

Caught My Eye

I've never thought about the required for Star Trek.

Also, some of misgivings I share.

Baruch Dyan Emet

Jackson Mississippi Mayor Melton died a couple of days ago. He had a heart attack shortly after losing his bid for re-election. He's had heart problems. Once again, Marshall Ramsey of the Clarion-Ledger is poetic:

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I was going to call this post "Death in the Neighborhood" but that might be a tad melodramatic. One of the best things about working where I do is that I have 3 windows. During the day, I can glance up and see what's going on the 'hood. I get great enjoyment from watching the birds. On day, there be a great flock of grackles. Another day, a beautiful white egret against a deep blue sky.

There are a lot of birds that nest close by. The osprey are less than a quarter of a mile away. There's a pair of little birds that nest in a camellia bush. Mockingbirds, grackles, woodpeckers, and other birds nest in the pecan and live trees close by. Marsh wrens, red wings, great blue herons, sea gulls, and pelicans are close by as well.

The other day I watched as a brave mockingbird defended his nest against not one, not two, but three crows. It was a dogfight extraordinaire. He was successful.

Today, I happened to glance up and saw one of the ospreys. It was being chased and harried by one of the grackles. Grackles are not known for being aggressive and are usually gregarious and social. As the osprey, came closer, I realized why the grackle was so desperate. Clutched in the osprey's talons was a very tiny shape and I realized it was a hatchling.

The grackle continued to chase the osprey and he was joined by his mate. There was nothing they could do. For the next 10-15 minutes, when I would look up, I would see the two grackles aimlessly flying and trying to do something.

The osprey has a mate and hatchlings of his own to protect. But it was like seeing friend hurt friend. The neighborhood has calmed down for now. The grackles have returned to their nest and the osprey is off to find more prey.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

For the Common Good

This past week, the Torah portion was Acharei Mot-Kedoshim. There are so many things in this parasha that promote the common good and general welfare of all. In it are various mitzvah such as:

Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

Hillel, a very famous Sage, addressed it this way:

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it."

I sort of gave the punch line to this parasha, for if we are to love our neighbor as our self, how do we go about it?

One of the most striking instructions for me is this:

And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest.

And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your G-d.

Not only are we to help provide for the stranger and the poor, but the above implies that we must do it in such a way as not to cause embarrassment to those in need. This brought to mind the EBT cards that have now replaced food stamps. Not only are we in the United States, through our government leaving the corners of the field for the stranger, we are also doing in it a way that will not cause embarrassment. Some may argue that it shouldn't the function of the government to provide such things as food stamps, housing, and medical care to those who can't afford it. I feel that in addition to our various donations to various charities and causes, taxes can and should be used for social programs tho help those in need. I've written before that the label given to these programs of Entitlements should be changed to Investments.

Thou shalt not oppress thy neighbour, nor rob him; the wages of a hired servant shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

This verse reminds of two things: The Civil Rights Movement and the rise of labor unions. Even after the Civil War, blacks were still oppressed. It took the bravery of blacks in places like Selma Alabama who were joined hand-in-hand with a few whites to break the injustice and cruelty of the inherent racism so prevalent in the South.

At the turn of the last century, the conditions American in which workers lived and worked were atrocious. The labor unions helped to rectify this injustice.

Blacks and workers both faced, beatings, false imprisonment, and death by those who wished to keep their neighbors oppressed. It took a strong central government and justice system to lift the oppression.

There is one other section from this parasha:

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor favour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

In short, justice should be blind. Justice should not favor the poor and it should not show deference to the rich. It should be an equal playing field for the lowest beggar to the richest person. The United States provides an attorney to those who cannot afford it. It tries its best to ensure that justice is blind.

A lot of the programs that the United States has in place is for the common good of the nation as well as the general welfare. For a long time, some of these programs have been considered Socialistic and/or Communistic. Some feel that the Civil Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act are in violation of our Constitution. I feel their are an affirmation of the notion that "all men are created equal".

Some argue that it isn't the place of our government to provide these social programs and that those in need should rely on themselves, family, churches, etc. Again, I feel that all of the social programs provide for the common good and general welfare of all Americans.

Monday, May 4, 2009


The flower looks innocuous enough, doesn't it? However, it is my nemesis. Each spring I go through turmoil and all caused by those flowers. Some years the allergy symptoms are so bad, I lose my hearing. I did this year. I'm rejoicing today because I could hear well enough that I didn't have to ask others to repeat themselves 5 gizillion times. It was so bad Friday, some had taken to writing what they were trying to tell me.

Enough about me. If you are suffering from allergies, the regular flu, or other maladies, here's a remedy: Haveil Havalim 215-One Topic Edition.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

Anne Frank Banned!

This year, UNESCO is holding its "World Book Capitol Day" in Beirut Lebanon. The Dairy of Anne Frank has been banned. Others banned include:

Even a partial list of books banned in Lebanon gives pause: William Styron's "Sophie's Choice"; Thomas Keneally's "Schindler's List"; Thomas Friedman's "From Beirut to Jerusalem"; books by Philip Roth, Saul Bellow and Isaac Bashevis Singer. In fact, all books that portray Jews, Israel or Zionism favorably are banned.

Writers in Arabic are not exempt. Abdo Wazen's "The Garden of the Senses" and Layla Baalbaki's "Hana's Voyage to the Moon" were taken to court. Syria's Sadiq Jalal al-Azm was prosecuted for his "Critique of Religious Thinking."

Censorship is carried out by the Sûreté General, which combines the functions of the FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security. It does not post a list of banned works, much less answer questions. However a major book importer, in an email, provided a list of banned films and the reasons given by the Sûreté. Here are some: "A Voice From Heaven" (verses of Koran recited during dance scenes); "Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" (homosexuality); "Barfly" ( blacklisted company Canon); and "Daniel Deronda" (shot in Israel).

All of Jane Fonda's films are banned, since she visited Israel in 1982 to court votes for Tom Hayden's Senate run. "Torn Curtain" is banned: Paul Newman starred in "Exodus." And the television series "The Nanny" is banned because of Fran Drescher.

According to Beirut newspaper L'Orient, any one of the recognized religions (a system known as "confessionalism") can ask the Sûreté to ban any book unilaterally. The Muslim Dar al-Fatwa and the Catholic Information Center are the most active and effective. (The latter got Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" banned.) Even works by self-proclaimed Islamists such as Assadeq al-Nayhoum's "Islam Held Hostage," have been banned, and issued only when re-edited in sympathetic editions (in Syria).

Censorship is a problem throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Though a signatory of the Florence Agreement, the Academy of Islamic Research in Egypt, through its censorship board al-Azhar, decides what may not be printed: Nobel Prize winner Naghib Mahfouz's "Awlad Haratina" (The Sons of the Medina) was found sacrilegious and only printed in bowdlerized form in Egypt in 2006. Saudi Arabia sponsors international book fairs in Riyadh, but Katia Ghosn reported in L'Orient that it sends undercover agents into book stores regularly.

It is troubling that many books and movies that have are about Jews and the Shoah are banned. It is troubling that shows and movies that have Jews in them are banned. It is troubling that any books are banned at an event sponsored by the United Nations, especially and event that is supposed to celebrate freedom of expression. Jews have cooties?

H/t: Soccer Dad