01 July 2015

Rule 5 out! FEMEN: Sextremism in Canada

This in-depth study of one of my favorite groups of people will not leave you indifferent, and it is a promise.

Go, Canada!

30 June 2015

Recep Tayyip Erdogan to send 18,000 troops to Syria

While the Western world is watching from the sidelines the Kurds fighting Daesh practically alone, and applauding limp-wristedly, as usual, one man in the whole world intends to do something about it. The Turkish Caliph wannabe, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, really intends to send his soldiers to Syria - to fight... the Kurds.

The bravery and the self-sacrifice of this long oppressed by all the Middle Eastern countries minority doesn't leave Mr Erdogan apathetic. Far from it: he hates the Kurds even a bit more than he hates the Zionists. So much so that, after years of impotently threatening the murderous Baby Assad regime and doing zilch to help the rebels, he is finally ready to send his troops in the harm way. But not to end the bloodshed, just the opposite.
On Friday, the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused Syrian Kurds of ethnic cleansing. He said: “I am saying this to the whole world: We will never allow the establishment of a state on our southern border in the north of Syria.

“We will continue our fight in that respect whatever the cost may be.”
Yeah. This is the leader of one of the members of NATO, a good buddy of the current POTUS and his diplomatic sidekick.

For shame.

29 June 2015

Yes, really, what exactly did Bibi have in mind?

To quote myself, from a recent post:

But to assign a politician, who publicly and proudly declares her anti-judiciary stance for a long time, to serve as minister of justice - what exactly did Bibi have in mind?
Well, call me a misogynist or male chauvinist pig or whatever (just don't forget to call me to dinner) - but in fact it is only one question of the three I would like to ask Bibi. If an opportunity presents itself.

So this was a question re Eng. Ayelet Shaked.

Eng. Ayelet Shaked
To the next question:
To assign an ex-IDF censor and a failure of an IDF spokesperson to serve as minister of culture and to call the artists “tight-assed, hypocritical and ungrateful” - what exactly did Bibi have in mind?

Brigadier-General Miri Regev
And the last - but far from the least:
To assign a deeply religious (nothing wrong with that) and extremist (lots of wrong with that) person to serve as Deputy Foreign Minister and advise the embassies abroad to reference the Torah in response to criticism - what exactly did Bibi have in mind?

Att. at Law Tzipi Hotoveli
Now, all of you males out there: you better refrain from sexist remarks. Think about Bibi, our poor Bibi instead.

Che - simply revolting

This version of Che (#24) might require the viewer to take a dose of antiemetic:

You have been warned!

28 June 2015

Why Doesn't Israel Just Withdraw to the 1948 Borders?

A great visualization of the military challenges facing Israel by The Jewish Standard.

26 June 2015

The Knesset vs High Court of Justice: the danger within

This post is not a simple matter. To explain to an English speaking reader why the recent attack on the High Court of Justice is more than an act of political petulance by this or another politician might take some doing. After all, the English speaking world is organized upon various constitutions written lots of years ago and, aside of law experts, the principle of three separate branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) may seem trivial and is rarely, if at all, challenged. Western democracies, by and large, live by this principle and it seems to be working quite well, if not perfectly. The balance between the three branches is a delicate interplay of many factors, created during hundreds of years and its fragility precludes any careless change, which might destroy the whole edifice.

It is important (to me) to address one point before I proceed. Based on the current affairs, criticism of the attack on the High Court of Justice may be interpreted as coming from the left. It isn't so. Just a reminder: this country is managed most of the time since 1977 by right wing governments*. It naturally follows that, if any of the political wings in this country has reasons to be unhappy with the judicial branch, it is the ruling one. It is chiefly the ruling wing's legislation and executive activities that come under the scrutiny of our courts, for a good reason. Enough said.

It will be somewhat (not significantly, but still) easier to accept the claim that there needs to be a review of the judiciary branch's powers, having a goal of curtailing some of them, if our country could be called an accomplished and stable democracy. A democracy ruled by enlightened politicians and a wise legislative forum, whose only concerns are to keep the lights of democracy burning and to improve our common lot.

Unfortunately, the situation in Israel is far from being as wished. A brief look at the list, helpfully prepared by some Wiki dweller, shows the extent of corruption in our executive and legislative branches:
  • One imprisoned president (another one resigned to avoid in depth investigation of his deeds).
  • One imprisoned Prime Minister.
  • About ten ministers.
  • Approximately the same number of Knesset members
  • An uncounted number of police officials punished for bribery, sexual harassment, dereliction of duty etc.
To make the matters even worse - one of the previously convicted and imprisoned (for bribery) ministers is now a minister - of economy, no less - in the current government!

As for our ability to choose our new solons wisely: here comes the case of the latest addition to the Knesset for Likud, one Oren Hazan. These days he is a member of five Knesset committees and a deputy Knesset speaker - who used to run a casino in Bulgaria, hired prostitutes for his friends and used hard drugs.

As far as our international standing on the corruption scale is concerned:
The results, published by Transparency International, did however say that Israel dropped a spot from 36 to 37 out of 175 places in the rankings since last year and is 24th out of 34 OECD countries.
Emphasis mine. I have chosen on purpose to quote the blindly patriotic and provincial Jerusalem Post, whose headline for this article is seriously pathetic: "Index: Israel one of least corrupt states in region". Yeah, compared to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon Jordan etc... for shame... You can easily imagine that other newspapers have presented the situation differently, and you would be right at that.

This is, using a very broad brush, the background of the current events, by current events I mean the elevation of one Ayelet Shaked, a BSc in electrical engineering and computer science, to the post of minister of justice. Of course, political appointees don't have to have any relevant qualifications for their assigned ministries, this situation isn't a specifically Israeli shtick. But to assign a politician, who publicly and proudly declares her anti-judiciary stance for a long time, to serve as minister of justice - what exactly did Bibi have in mind? It is your guess.

So far Ms Shaked fulfilled the expectations:
In her first public speech since being named justice minister, Ayelet Shaked underscored her criticism of the Supreme Court and made clear that curtailing the power of the judiciary branch would be a top priority.

Speaking before the annual Israeli Bar Association Conference in Eilat on Monday, the Jewish Home MK said decisions relating to governance have been wrongly placed in the hands of the justice system, rather than the people and their elected representatives in the Knesset.
Yeah, indeed - our selfless, patriotic and arrow-straight elected representatives. As you can see.

No thanks, Ms Shaked, I would vastly prefer a powerful and watchful High Court of Justice looking over your shoulders and the shoulders of all of your colleagues in the government and the Knesset day and night, if you don't mind.

And if you do too... because having a BSc in electrical engineering and computer science tinkering with our judicial system is akin to letting the proverbial bull into the proverbial china shop. And it is quite the time for the powers that be to wake up** and to prevent this potential disaster for our fledgling democracy.

Before it is too late.

(*) And the first Likud PM, Menachem Begin, was a staunch protector of the judicial branch, its powers and its independence, it is necessary to add.

(**) Some of the people are already awakening, fortunately. Will it be enough? The time will show.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein bemoaned Sunday a series of reforms proposed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that may shake up the powers of Israel’s judicial authority, dubbing the motions “simplistic and baseless.”

25 June 2015


As I woke up from unsettling dreams this morning, I've found myself transformed in my bed into Rachel Dolezal.

Nothing more to report so far, aside of needing an urgent advice on combing my hair. 

24 June 2015

Marilyn Monroe and Ya'akov Hodorov: fame and infamy

The history of football in Israel is rather a lesson in more or less uninterrupted failure and humiliation at the hands (feet) of even the least able of the world teams, national and otherwise. One would suggest it's time to quit this business altogether and direct the means into some more satisfying endeavor. Like bridge or bingo or something. Well, anyway, this post is about a rare heartwarming moment in this miserable history.

This picture, which I picked up thanks to Fred Lapides, depicts such a moment. The picture, according to the photographer Bob Henriques, shows Marilyn Monroe opening the USA-Israel Football International at Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1959.

The picture caused me to do some googling. The player on the left appears to be no one else but Ya'akov Hodorov, the goalkeeper of the Israeli team. Wiki knows some things about him:
Ya'akov Hodorov (Hebrew: יעקב חודורוב) (born 16 June 1927; died 31 December 2006) was an Israeli football goalkeeper in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. He was considered by many to be Israel's best goalkeeper in history, and among the best goalkeepers of his generation.
There are more facts about one of the very few really good Israeli footballers in this link.

As for the occasion where this picture was taken: I have dug up a 2003 Haaretz article that tells the story of the Israeli team visit to US and the round of games it played there. The tour started with the game in New York, at Ebbets Field, as is correctly stated in the Bob Henriques' entry. The date, however, is wrong - the game was played on May 15, 1957.

According to the article, Ya'akov Hodorov succeeded to "monopolize" Marilyn's attention, keeping her near himself all the time during an unprecedentedly warm and festive reception organized by New Yorkers for the Israeli team. A lot of pictures are said to be shot of the pair.

As for the game itself, played against the New York all stars team - the Israeli team won 6-4, while Hodorov, as the article remarks, was in a somewhat dreamy state. Probably influenced by his beautiful host...

Well, back to infamy. The Israeli team played another two games during the visit: one in Philly against a local team, another in Washington - against Scots of Glasgow's Celtic. Lost both. So much for the customary infamy.

Here is another picture of Marilyn Monroe and Ya'akov Hodorov:

Which is surely better than just Israeli football.

23 June 2015

Just Another Jersey Guy by Matti Friedman: a must read

I have just put this quote and the link to the article on FB, but then decided it must be recorded here too.

I found the account to be a useful recap of the journey I and other admirers of America in the region have traveled—from optimism about a fresh approach on the part of a new kind of president, to concern that the Americans are misplaying their cards, to a suspicion that the Americans don’t know what the cards are, to the realization that they are playing Go Fish at the poker table.
Yes indeed. So read the article, it is short and to the point.

22 June 2015

UNHRC report: catering to the dictators' club tastes

When a supposedly objective report is 'citing a press release from Hamas' military spokesperson Abu Obeida, saying that, "In some instances, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza reportedly attempted to warn civilians in Israel of imminent attacks"', you must smell something rotten.

Here is some antidote against the UN-issued poison, by Maurice Ostroff.

Although the Israel government refused to cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza War, a number of concerned citizens and NGO’s presented cogent well researched submissions to the Commission whose report is due to be released in advance of the scheduled June 29 debate before the Human Rights Council.

Unfortunately the commission’s refusal to open the evidence it has examined to public scrutiny will make it difficult for fair minded people to attempt to evaluate the report when it is published. However, a substantial listing on the internet, of some of the above mentioned informative documents that were submitted to the commission, will enable members of the public as well as journalists and politicians to make informed evaluations.
Both the listing in the link above and the rest of the Maurice Ostroff's post are informative and will help an unprejudiced person to understand the subject matter.

21 June 2015

Simply Che - in Italian

Sometimes - frequently, in fact - I envy the ability of Italian folks to take the life easy. As this Che (#23 in the collection) will surely prove.

Parco di Pinocchio, Collodi, Italy.

With thanks to T.

The archeological illogic

That archeology has developed its own tools and research methods is laudable. Frequently, though, their conclusions based on field work sound somewhat flimsy. like in this case.
Researchers found four teeth in the Qesem Cave near Rosh Ha'ayin (not far from Tel Aviv), and they were astonished at test results that conclude the fossils to be some 400,000-years-old. The significance of this is that it's possible that the origin of prehistoric man is in Israel, and not in East Africa. And an additional surprise is that prehistoric man was mainly vegetarian and not carnivorous.
Every clearly thinking person who visited his dentist office will confirm that virtually the same picture, calling for regular flossing or other kind of dental self-care, graces her/his dentist's waiting room.

So, first of all, we can be fairly sure that the dating (400,000 years) should refer to the first known dental office in history. Knowing how reluctant normal people are regarding visiting their dentist, we could safely call 500,000 years as a base date.

As for that nonsense re prehistoric man being "mainly vegetarian", the learned professors were trying to pull a fast one, but here it comes:
[Professor] Gopher explains his vegetarianism by the disappearance of elephants in our region about 400,000 years ago, which forced the species, who ate them, to find an alternative source of food. In addition, roasting meat in caves caused constant smoke which bothered them and probably hurt their health.
Surely professor Gopher will be first to admit that in a situation where it is too late to go shopping and there is nothing in your fridge but a few cucumbers, bell peppers etc., this is what you have to gnaw on, don't you?

So there...

18 June 2015

Israelis sell snow to Russia. No wonder these Jews are not liked!

The headline of this post is created out of two headlines of two different articles. I shall start from the second, since it is the one that lead me to the first. The short piece by Tatyana Razumovskaya was translated by Google with a few nudges from yours truly.
I knew for a long time the fact that Israel supplies tulips to Holland and roses to the whole of Europe: my friend owned one of these greenhouses.

A couple of years ago I was shocked to learn that a number of potatoes growing kibbutzim send all of their produce to... Ukraine and Belarus. I have asked the guide several times, because I couldn't get my head around this absurdity.

And yesterday I learned that Israel became one of the three leading suppliers of black caviar in the world! And this Israeli caviar - grainy, with a bronze tint - is one of the best on the planet.

Not only that, but once a machine for artificial snow became required for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia purchased it in Israel. Now what is going on here, huh?!! What remains for Israel is to export samovars to Tula* and beer - to Bavaria.
(*) Tula - a Russian city famous for its samovars' manufacture - at least in the past.

Now, when the text above is clear to you, I have to add that almost all of that info was known to me already. Aside of the snow machine story that, frankly, boggled my mind. But it is obviously true, if Google is to be my witness. There are several articles on the subject. Being lazy, I have chosen one in English (the first part of the headline comes from there). There was another reason to chose it, as will become apparent when you read the following quote:
The article with this title was reposted this week by dozens of Russian websites. The sentence sounds especially funny in Russian, because every Russian knows a joke about a Jew who would sell snow to “Chookchas” (a tribe that lives in polar regions of Russia). A Russian journalist Natalia Radulova made a comment: “I feel like I was waiting my entire life to be able to use this title”.
I guess you have gathered that "selling snow to Chookchas" is the Russian equivalent of "selling snow to Eskimos [Inuits, to be PC]". The Chookchas (Chukchi) people being close to the Inuits, it is practically the same joke anyhow...

Indeed, what remains now is to fix the issue of samovars. And, of course, the beer.

So there.

Useless indeed

I don't know whether the online editor in CNN has a well developed sense of humor or just a grudge against Iraqi Sunnis, but the way he/she has chosen to illustrate an article on the subject is somewhat unique.

One doesn't have to be a general to see why...

17 June 2015

Akaky Akakievich and excuses for slow blogging

Nah, I don't mean myself this time. My personal light blogging issues are of a pedestrian kind. Like a long delayed mission of recovering my digital photography archives, making sense of my overgrown collection of bookmarks etc. Boring and not of any interest to anyone.

So here comes Akaky Akakievich, with a brilliant version of an excuse.