24 April 2017

Saudi Arabia - now a champion of women's rights

This is no joke, as the headline here says:

Saudi Arabia, with its dismal record on women’s rights, has been elected to the Commission on the Status of Women, a United Nations (UN) agency that is “dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women”.
The august organization in question is the most humorless bunch of bureaucrats ever, so to suspect them of perpetrating a joke will be doing them a great injustice.

But the event itself is less interesting than the reaction to it in the media. Which is close to nothing. Not a single big media outfit (so far, at least) bothered to mention the travesty. Aside of the linked above Indian source and two Israeli newspapers.  Not.   A.    Single.    One.

Deal with it as you wish. Or don't deal at all.

02 April 2017

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, RIP

No, the power of his words didn't change history. Poetry and literature never do.
He lived a difficult life, he somewhat compromised with the regime, he too "stepped on the throat of his song" from time to time to sing paeans to the devil.

But he never betrayed his friends.
But he helped many in their hour of need, saving them from under the jackboot.
But he raised to greatness time and time again.

And there weren't many like him


01 April 2017

Jeremy Corbyn as a potential savior of the Dead Sea fishermen

I am pretty sure I don't have to add any comments to the story presented in this link. And whether the author of the petition, one Ian Brown, is a successful prankster or a dimbulb of the first degree, is quite immaterial, although quite interesting by itself. His petition (snapshot below) is being supported by a number of fiery anti-Zionists, like that one:

Oh well... whatever floats their (fishing) boat.

The petition snapshot (click on it to embiggen):

17 March 2017

Nike's Pro Hijab as a stepladder to XXI century

The new foray of Nike into the Islamic fashion would have passed unmentioned on these here pages. Whatever I am and whatever I do, fashion of any kind isn't of interest to me. Normally. So, if Nike people want to expand their market to the Islamic world, more power to them. Whatever.

However, this article on this same subject (some well meaning friend sent me) suffers from so many dumb superlatives that I couldn't resist. Starting with this headline:

'Pro Hijab'​ Nike's Latest Stroke of Marketing Genius

But wait, it is just an aperitive, so to say. Here comes a pearl:
No, the hijab and accompanying "What Will They Say About You?" ad campaign is far more about Nike marketing itself to the 1.6 BILLION Muslims across the world and winning their loyalty as the Islamic world rapidly modernizes in the 21st century.
"rapidly modernizes in the 21st century" - believe it or not. Seriously?

And if you want to know what is it Nike stands for and against, here is another good one:
We are seeing a wave of Islamophobia in the United States and across the world that is unprecedented in its scale and explicitness, as Donald Trump continues his attempt to institute a "Muslim ban" and French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen talks about outright banning the hijab and "burkini" swimsuit in public.

Well, Jim Weber is the Founder & CEO at Weber PPC - Marketing and Advertising, so he knows all about selling stuff, I guess. We better listen.

15 March 2017

Mobileye sale and knee biters, large and small

The media, of course, is full of praise for the successful exit of Mobileye, the Israeli maker of safety and self-driving car technology, sold to Intel for a serious amount of money ($15.3B, as the media says). I, like many other folks, applaud and congratulate the company owners and employees with their success and wealth. And, seeing how some of the proceeds of that sale will inevitably end up in our treasury's pockets, I too will expect to make a shekel or two out of it in various ways our inventive ministry of finance and others will undoubtedly devise.

So it was kinda strange to see a sour face on the general background of celebration and joy. The sour face belongs to no other than our progressive Haaretz, via its reporter, one Eliran Rubin. The article in question:

Mobileye Founder After $15.3 Billion Exit: 'It’s Not the Money. We Want to Change the World'

But it is not the headline, it is the lede that caught my attention:

Amnon Shashua defends the sale of the self-driving car technology firm to Intel as essential for the company’s growth.

Have you notice that word that somehow jumped out at me when I've read this sentence? The "defends", I mean? Apparently the sale itself isn't as obviously desired step in a high tech Israeli start-up career as one might consider. Somebody had even asked Amnon Shashua why has he done it, judging by the following response:
Asked why he consented to selling Mobileye when it was riding the crest of the autonomous-car wave, with a market cap of $10 billion and alliances with some of the world’s top auto makers, Shashua said he saw it as the only way for the company to keep growing.
I can only guess who was asking and so can you.

The motive of the sale to Intel needing defence appears once again in the article:
Yesterday Netanyahu and Economy and Industry Minster Eli Cohen defended the move, saying it boosted economic growth and helped lure multinational companies to Israel.
I happened to hear part of that on radio, and the last thing that would have come to mind of the listener was that the speeches were defensive in any conceivable way. You can take it to the bank.

But nothing to do about it, I guess. Knee biters will be knee biters, no matter what. And, since small knee biters were mentioned, here is an example of one:

13 March 2017

Some women...

haven't yet got fully immersed in their newly acquired womanhood, I would guess. Witness this tweet that might cause a serious case of cognitive dissonance to a person not familiar with modern identity politics:

Danielle Muscato, a self-identified lady, looks like this:

(and no, before you ask - it is not a joke). Danielle Muscato has her site:
Danielle Muscato, formerly Dave Muscato, is an atheist activist, writer, debater, pundit, musician, and transgender woman from the United States.
So everything is legit and serious. Only, I guess, our fair Danielle still slips back into a male chauvinist role from time to time, what with the references to dick sucking and all.


12 March 2017

Taking Purim to Moscow - really, Bibi?

Purim, between other things, is for practical jokes. So, probably, one should consider the latest Bibi's shenanigan being a part of that tradition.
In a meeting with Putin in Moscow, Netanyahu said Persia had made “an attempt to destroy the Jewish people that did not succeed” some 2,500 years ago, an event commemorated through the Jewish holiday of Purim, which Israel will celebrate starting Saturday night and lasting in some places until Monday.

“Today there is an attempt by Persia’s heir, Iran, to destroy the state of the Jews,” Netanyahu said. “They say this as clearly as possible and inscribe it on their ballistic missiles.”
Putin, somewhat uncharacteristically, found a soft way to respond to this amazing hysterical historical lesson:
Adopting a conciliatory tone, Putin said that the events described by Netanyahu had taken place “in the fifth century B.C.”

“We now live in a different world. Let us talk about that now,” Putin said.
Calling for a doctor and a padded cell would have been a breach of diplomatic protocol, surely. Oh well... and of course, Putin's way out of the issue, the "We now live in a different world." was readily provided to Putin by Bibi himself.

But no doubt, this visit will be touted by Bibi's office as another brilliant victory by Bibi over... whatever.

Happy Purim, anyway, people!

09 March 2017

Border control and Israeli democracy

A disclaimer: the author of this post doesn't support* the new law that denies entry to BDS supporters and similar.

And no, I don't feel any sympathy to the BDS crowd who, by and large, diligently work to achieve one goal - so called "decolonization of Palestine". Unlike the fiery and dontcha-dare-argue-with-me Allison Kaplan Sommer, I don't believe that a visit to our place will possibly make a friend out of a BDS-nik enemy.

Saying this, I would like to address the concerns (or glee) of some of my friends and others who decry (or gloat upon) the supposed destructive impact this law has on Israeli democracy, imperfect as it is anyhow. Some of them even consider the law to be an abuse of human rights - no more and no less.

To consider the link between democracy and the right to visit (or emigrate to) a sovereign state, I would like to use a few recent examples from US of A.

Deportation of 35 Russian diplomats from the country by Barack Obama. Not only was it a rather sweeping measure (only a part of these 35 were involved in shady activities, most probably), there was also an issue of their families - all in all rather a nasty deal.

Obama putting an end to the 20-year-old "wet foot, dry foot" policy that allowed most Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil to stay and become legal permanent residents after one year. No need to explain the meaning of this one, is there?

Trump's immigration ban(s).

If you think that I brought up these examples to attempt some "whataboutery", perish the thought. It is just that when Israel is being discussed, many people tend to lose their ability to think logically. So here we have three decisions related to states' borders and people rights. Some of these are less draconian, some totally amoral (guess which). All of these are relevant to citizens of other states.

Now, how do these decisions impact the state of American democracy? Well, not at all. The point is... I have already made my point: these three decisions are relevant to citizens of other states only. Democracy, by definition, is not about its treatment of foreign citizens. Moreover, democracies are known to treat other states (democracies included) quite shabbily. Democracies cheat one another at finances, spy one on another and sometimes even go to war one with another - all this while remaining democracies.

And there is no deity given right of a foreign citizen to cross the border of a democratic state. As everyone who ever stood in the line before border control and experienced the unwelcoming scowl of the border policeman/policewoman knows only too well.

So there.

(*) The new law is, first of all unnecessary: the border control has always had the authority to turn back unwanted visitors, which authority was exercised from time to time. The worrying tradition of our illustrious MKs to pile one unnecessary law upon another continues. After all, the competition of showing off his/her patriotism never ends with our solons.

28 February 2017

No, Jonathan Freedland, anti-Zionism is not perfectly fine with us

It is, probably, a sad necessity, to repeat from time to time the old position statements. Not that the positions change too much, but people sometimes do veer from a position to position, tending to forget the last held one. As it usually goes.

This post is inspired by a stumble upon discussion between a staunchly anti-Zionist lady, Noura Erakat*, a vaguely pro-Israeli Jonathan Freedland and other minor characters. The discussion was staged by Al Jazeera. Jonathan Freedland has already appeared on these pages, the other protagonist is more of interest. Ms Erakat is a lawyer, so one should be careful describing her... er... anything, but at least she doesn't hide her anti-Zionism and her desire to see the proverbial Palestine "from the river to the sea", if you understand what it means. If not, check out this short paragraph.

So why do I consider Jonathan Freedland to be vaguely pro-Israeli? If you scroll the recording below to about 9:55, you shall hear a response by Mr Freedland to the proud self-declaration by Ms Erakat as an anti-Zionist:

I think it is absolutely fine, and more than fine, of course it's completely legitimate to hold the position she has...
Fine and legitimate? Maybe from the Guardian offices in London it is. Not from where I bother my keyboard. Because, and apologies for repeating the obvious:
Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel.
While the mission of Zionism in this definition is by and large completed, the anti-Zionism comes as a simple negation of Zionism and has a quite busy program in mind:
The term is broadly defined in the modern era as the opposition to the ethnonationalist and political movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the establishment of a Jewish state as a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel.
In other, simpler words, Jonathan (are you listening? I guess not) the so called "anti-Zionists", whose legitimacy you so warmly confirm, are these same guys we all used to call "Jew-haters" or "anti-Semites", to be historically authentic. These guys who desire to disperse and/or kill us all here again.

Still fine and legitimate, Jonathan?

While I hate to repeat position statements, from where I am, the so called "anti-Zionism" is the same old murderous and hateful beast, albeit with a new PC name.

So there.

(*) As a sample of Ms Erakat's professional creativity, here is her article:

No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory

It was published in 2014, 9 years(!) after disengagement from Gaza strip, which is meant as "Occupied Palestinian Territory" in that headline. While the headline offers enough information as it is, there are some fine examples of word juggling that show a fine, albeit totally unsuccessful legal mind behind the article.

22 February 2017

Professor Robert Reich and dream-lining

In this case I am reprocessing my own Facebook post, since the subject is quite important. It shows how our brains are being washed by people of influence who don't care for hard facts that might stand in the way. Slight changes in and additions to the text were made.

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I have read a post* by professor Robert Reich** on the benefits of the international manufacturing, in which Mr Reich disputes the "America first" buzzword: "In other words, contrary to Trump, the Boeing Dreamliner is made all over the world and will be sold all over the world. His "America First" economics is total demagoguery."

I shall not argue with the conclusion, just wanted to make a purely technical point here. Being a fan of Boeing and preferring to travel in its planes over other means of transportation, I was kinda keeping an eye on the Dreamliner project. I find it strange that Prof Reich is unaware of the problems that plagued the project, causing a timetable and a financial overruns and lots of technical issues that were discovered during the first years of the plane's construction and use.

Well, one of the main problems with that project was exactly the unfortunate decision by the Boeing management to outsource a lot of work on different parts of the plane abroad, as anyone who followed the project will be ready to tell. Here is (one of too many) quotes:

A global network of suppliers would develop, and then build, most of the parts in locations as far away as Germany, Japan and Sweden. Boeing's own employees would manufacture just 35 percent of the plane before assembling the final aircraft at its plant outside Seattle.

The decision haunts Boeing to this day.
Poor show, prof. Reich.

P.S. Another strange point in the post: Prof Reich relates to the Dreamliner as something that "will be sold", when it flies for quite a few years already and is being sold, obviously. New model, possibly? Or lack of attention?

But read the whole article, if you please. And there are a lot more where this one came from.

(*) A snapshot of the original post by prof Reich, just in case:

(**) Prof Robert Reich's bio (Facebook):
ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.

20 February 2017

Mahmoud Al-Zahar: If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore...

Mahmoud Al-Zahar
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, our defense chief, Avigdor Liberman, offered* Gaza some significant and hitherto denied perks, such as an airport and a seaport, possibilities of employment in Israel etc. - all that in exchange for cessation of terror attacks of all kinds.
“The second that Hamas gives up on the [terror] tunnels and rockets, we will be the first to invest and build for them both a seaport and airport, as well as an industrial zone – both in Kerem Shalom and in Erez,” referring to border areas near crossing points into Israel.

“We could immediately create 40,000 jobs for Gaza residents, assuming Hamas gives up its [charter] article [calling for “the destruction of the State of Israel”, gives up on the tunnels, gives up on the rockets, and, of course – and this is the first and most important thing – returns the bodies of our soldiers and returns our civilians being held captive.”
Israeli help in possible turning Gaza into a local version of Singapore was mentioned.

The response* from Gaza came quite quickly.
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar on Friday rejected Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s offer for an international airport, seaport, and industrial zone in Gaza if Hamas stops building terror tunnels into Israeli territory, stops firing rockets on southern Israel and returns the Israelis it is holding in Gaza.

He also rejected the idea of the return of the Israelis as a condition for the establishment of a seaport and airport. “This is a prisoner exchange. If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore, we would have done it ourselves. We do not need favors from anyone,” declared Zahar...
The most poignant part of the Hamas' bozo for me was, of course, "If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore, we would have done it ourselves." Indeed, hard to argue with it. Whatever Hams wants Hamas does. Instead of Mediterranean Singapore they have turned the Gaza strip in a militant hellhole with ruined infrastructure that gets flooded every single rainy day. Mentioning that for a small percentage of the money and effort that went into the network of tunnels Gaza could have had all the infrastructure they ever needed, will be useless. And that rebuilding the housing knocked off during the last war would have taken another small percentage... but they plan another war, so why bother indeed?

Of course, the non-existent infrastructure and destroyed houses could be used to Hamas' benefit and satisfaction. The former to support the water libel and the latter to impress the soft hearted (and soft brained) foreign donors by the Zionist inhumanity. And the donors' money goes into the tunnels and into the ammunition again, so no loss. And who is better as willing martyrdom recruiting material than the young unemployed Gazan males?

So why bother with building things when it is much easier to destroy, all in the name of killing these pesky Jews?

And this is the way it rolls.

P.S. Mahmoud Al-Zahar - the Godfather, so to say, of our ensign.

(*) Both Arutz 7 articles linked above checked: the Liberman's proposal against Hebrew Walla article and Mahmoud Al-Zahar's response against Arabic PalToday one.

17 February 2017

My unsolicited advice for Jen Psaki

I was somewhat surprised (not really) to see Jen Psaki, who used to be White House communications director and State Department spokesperson during the Obama's years in the White House, issue what the headline calls:

My unsolicited advice for Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and the team

In the article Ms Psaki, from her new role as a CNN political commentator and Spring Fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics, dispenses free advice to the new WH communication team, advice preceded by a volley of barbs in the general direction of everyone in and near White House.

I was kinda flabbergasted by the whole performance from this totally unexpected direction. One would have imagined that Ms Psaki would do everything in her powers to distance herself from her previous job and to make the public forget about her more conspicuous moments there. I wasn't really keeping tabs on her job history, but here are three examples of her outstanding performance. I shall copy/paste a quote from the last one:
...a reporter asked if the State Department still agreed with President Barack Obama’s September claim that Yemen is the model for his successful counterterrorism strategy.

Spokesperson Jen Psaki answered, “Correct and we stand by that.”
Indeed, Ms Psaki?

Well, here is my totally unsolicited advice: come on, Jen, really. Let's cut the crap.

P.S. On a tangentially related subject: being a sexist pig, I can't avoid mentioning that Ms P. looks much better since she got rid of that previous job. Good.

15 February 2017

Vitaly Milonov and boiled Christians - a purely technical correction

Some, even many, people were discombobulated by Vitaly Milonov, a Russian MP who used his deep knowledge of history and genealogy to produce a memorable soundbite.
A pro-Kremlin Russian lawmaker came under fire Monday after saying the ancestors of local Jewish opposition figures in Saint-Petersburg “boiled Christians in cauldrons,” sparking indignation from Russia’s Jewish community.Vitaly Milonov, a Duma deputy known for his anti-gay initiatives, lashed out at the weekend at two local lawmakers leading a protest against handing over St. Isaac’s basilica, a top landmark in Russia’s second largest city, to the Russian Orthodox Church.

“Christians survived despite the fact that the ancestors of Boris Vishnevsky and Maksim Reznik boiled us in cauldrons and fed us to animals,” ultra-conservative Milonov said at a rally Sunday to support the controversial handover.
Well, I have to disappoint the budding historian: he got the boiling point incorrectly. Being of nomadic persuasion, we, the Red Sea pedestrians, have never wanted anything to do with cauldrons and other heavy kitchen implements. Not to mention the scarcity of water in our corner of the woods (figuratively speaking, there is mostly sand and stones where we are).

Our standard MO is catch it, kosher butcher it (which is a separate issue to be addressed) and cook it on an improvised spit, using spears, long swords or stout enough branch if lucky and there is a tree or two nearby. Of course, in case of emergency, tartar style could be used too. But there is a caveat or two to all this:
  • First of all, the blood: any amateur Jew-baiter knows the blood is the most important part of the deal. Especially in desert conditions, I hope I don't have to expand on this.
  • The game: of course, the preference is for children, as all above mentioned Jew-baiters and their aunt know. And, again, in the field, where a child is not available, a woman would be our second preference, for shaving your game in the desert is not an easy task.
  • And the last but not the least: of course, there are some dietary restrictions. Even such a succulent and well-fed specimen as Mr Milonov will be a low priority game for us, due to his uncanny resemblance to a forbidden (if tasty) creature. If you know what I mean. If not:

So there.

P.S. As for feeding some people to the animals: well, see caveat 3. Sometimes there is no other choice, and the protein is valuable in the field.

Addendum: About Vitaly Milonov.

This priceless interview (in two parts, two and a half minutes in total), short as it is, should be a mandatory watching for a better picture of the illustrious gentleman.

A dollop of scandalous info about the gentleman:
On December 16, 2013 Fontanka.ru, a St. Petersburg website, published an article according to which a regional charitable organization "Orthodox World", which was co-foundes by Vitaly Milonov and his wife Eva Liburkina, was paid 9.64 million rubles (around 300 thousand USD at the time) from the city budget for the activities conducted by the charity in 2012. According to the report, these funds have bought 19,280 units of food packages, the distribution of which took place before the parliamentary and presidential elections in Krasnoselsky, Kirovsky and Petrograd districts of the city in the autumn of 2011 and the first half of 2012. However, the organization "Orthodox world" itself , according to the Federal Tax Service in St. Petersburg, has been registered only on June 5, 2012, thus the contract and the invoice were dated retroactively. President of the organization (and Milonov's assistant) Alexey Knyazev said that Milonov actively participates in the work of his organization and helps it.
Well, a politician...

Those who know Russian might enjoy this brief summary of our hero's life and deeds. I've decided not to translate it, due to the prevalence of Russian unparliamentary idioms that don't easily give in to translation attempts. Juicy.

14 February 2017

Get the cross back in the beak! Please...

The flag in the picture is the national flag of Moldova that undergone a surgery recently in Tehran.
There was a scandal in Moldova in connection with the distortion of the national flag, used during the Moldovan president Igor Dodon's visit to Iran.

The Moldovan leader, who is also the president of the Chess Federation of the Republic, on Friday participated in the opening ceremony of the World Chess Championship for women in Iran. Moldovan flag was presented in honor of the president. On the coat of arms, depicted on the flag, there was no image of the cross in the beak of an eagle and no scepter. Immediately after the ceremony Dodon posted pictures on his Facebook page.

Several media outfits drew attention to the distortion of the coat of arms. Journalists have accused the head of state in profanation of official symbols, recalling that Dodon won the recent presidential election under the banner of protection of Christianity and Christian values.

Pro-presidential media protested that the president has no hand in this, as the hosts are responsible for the flag.

"For reasons of political correctness Muslim countries remove from the flags of other countries crosses and other Christian symbols. It is practiced in many Islamic states and, naturally, the president doesn't have any relation to this practice."

The publication reports that a similar pattern could be observed at the opening of an official Moldovan consulate in Antalya. In the photograph, published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, there is no cross in the beak of an eagle.
What can I say about it? Isn't it nice when a country leader is an expert in chess, of all things?


11 February 2017

One story, two headlines

The recent arrest of four Daesh-related would be terrorists in France isn't, probably, something outstanding or even surprising these terror-filled days. However, it's interesting to watch how the coverage of the story differs from place to place.

Here is a snapshot of the front page from a French source (English version of France 24):

The gist of the story is succinctly summarized in the lede of the article:
Anti-terrorism forces arrested four people Friday in southern France, including a 16-year-old girl, and uncovered a makeshift laboratory with the explosive TATP and other ingredients for fabricating a bomb.
Nothing of substance was forgotten, even the somewhat secondary in its importance fact that one of the four plotters was a 16-year-old girl. Here is the full article, if you want to know more.

And here comes the front page from CNN, the relevant item circled in red:

As you can see, the 16-year-old girl became the main feature of the story. At least if you, like 99% of the Internet surfers, skim the surface of the front pages. If you are such a busy surfer, you might be also unaware of the sad fact that 16-year-old girls (and younger) are quite able to - and frequently do - push the button of their suicide belt, stick a knife into the back of a human being, squeeze the trigger of a gun etc. Provided sufficient motivation/brainwashing and tools, of course.

But we wouldn't want y'all to become paranoid, would we? Or to start complaining incessantly about the media? Right?