Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The future of Israel

When I was in Tel Aviv, after the Birthright Israel trip ended, I paid particular note to the graffiti lining the walls. I took pictures of it. But the most common graffiti I saw said "Am Yisrael Chai." This translates to "The People of Israel live."

The second most common graffiti I saw was in English, and it said "Know Hope." Here is an image of that:

I have been wrestling in my head with the issue of the Arab Israeli minority in Israel. To put things in context, African Americans are about 12% of the American population, and Arab Israelis are 20% of the Israeli population. And so the Arab Israeli issue cannot be ignored or swept under the rug, as it has been for too long. Please note that the birthrate for Arab Israelis is 4.0 per woman, compared to 2.7 per woman for Jewish Israelis. 25% of the new births in Israel are Arab Israelis. This is a demographic threat that will only get worse with time.

I was reading an Arab Israeli politician's website, and I was in horror, reading what he had to say. He said that for too long, the Arab Israeli nationality has been subjugated, and their history ignored. But now, evidently, the Arab Israelis are learning their own history and identifying with their nationality.

This is a horrifying problem.

What does this mean? It means that Arab Israelis are taught that May 14, 1948, is a day of mourning, not celebration. It means that there are essentially two Israels. It should also be noted that Arab Israelis receive a fraction of the funding for their schools, compared to Jews. And yet, funding their schools also means funding schools that are teaching something incompatible with Zionism.

Think about it. In the United States, there is no minority that learns that July 4 is a day of mourning. There is no minority that is taught in a different language.

And yet doing something about this problem necessarily means going against the priniciples of democracy and equality that we as Jews hold so dear to our hearts. However, not doing something about it also means sitting on a ticking time bomb. I do not believe that a bi-national state is a state that will be welcoming Jews for long. But moreover, a binational state is not a refuge for Jews, nor a Jewish homeland.

What should Israel do about this? I see the problem, but I do not see any clear solutions. The only politician even acknowledging the problem is Avigdor Lieberman, and he is advocating a radical solution: basically saying that all Israelis should sign loyalty oaths to Israel, and be required to join the IDF. Those who are not willing to join the IDF (Arab Israelis, but also Haredi Jews and peaceniks), do not get the benefits of citizenship. Is this the only way?

The solution that I came up with is to fully fund Arab Israeli schools, and to send Jewish Israeli teachers to teach the kids Zionism. There should be one education system, and one overarching culture that unites everyone. Without this, then there is no country, and Israel is a failure. And yet, after visiting Israel, I was struck by the following...I think that most Jewish Israelis really do not trust Arab Israelis, and believe that they are not loyal to the State of Israel. I think most Jewish Israelis believe that Arab Israelis must be hating themselves while they sing the Hatikvah. And I think that, because of what they are taught by their schools, parents, and mosques, perhaps that's true. But it doesn't have to be true.

For a nonJew to live in the first world country of Israel, and get to associate with Israelis - it's a positive, not a negative. Jewish culture, history, and philosophy has shaped the world, and it is to the benefit of a nonJew who is not a hater to live in the land of Israel.

I do believe that many Jewish Israelis believe it is a slap in the face for a nonJew to be singing the Hatikvah ("The Hope"). And yet, hope is what is required to keep us going each morning. Without hope, we perish and die. The concept of Israel as a refuge for Jews, as the hope of Jews, is not exclusive to Jewry. The Jewish people, individually, are not always the best people in the world. This is unfortunate. And yet, collectively, Jews have contributed to the world in a way that vastly exceeds their numbers. Jews have contributed to the fields of science, philosophy, the arts, and politics in a way that is fundamental to world civilization.

And so why wouldn't a nonJew want to live in Israel, and be sincere in the desire to contribute to this Jewish society?

The simple answer is hate. But hate is taught, hate is learned. Lest we forget, we are all born a tabula rasa, blank slate. And this is why Israelis should be doing all in their power to stamp out the seedlings of hate until they bloom into flowers that cover the entirety of Eretz Yisrael. I have come to believe that if Israel is not willing to fully fund Arab Israeli schools and teach them Israeli nationalism and pride, then perhaps Avigdor Lieberman's plan is what is necessary. But continuing down the current primrose path that Israel is taking simply is the road to perdition. I believe this more than ever, after reading the email a friend sent.

What do you all think?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More celebrity useful idiots

Now, personally, I am not in favor of the war in Iraq. But that is because we are supporting a government that is supporting Islamic extremism. Unless our strategy changes, I see Iraq as simply a waste of American resources. But I have a specific grievance with the government elected and the way it appears to be aligning itself with Iran. I do recognize that there are massive risks to leaving Iraq, and I recognize that things could be worse if we leave. In short, I do not believe I have all the answers when it comes to Iraq. Not so for the useful idiot celebrities who attended a recent anti-war rally in DC. Bill O'Reilly recently profiled these celebrities, and let me is astounding that such non-reasoning is swallowed hook, line, and sinker by so many people. Go see the video yourself! (choose the 1/29/07 show) Questions/comments/thoughts on these people?

Great Muslim: Tunisian Righteous Gentile

This is a heartwarming story. A Tunisian man was recently nominated as a Righteous Gentile Amongst the Nations, an honor bestowed upon non-Jews who helped out Jews during the Holocaust, by Yad Vashem. (the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem) This man, Khaled Abdelwahhab, is the first Arab to be nominated for this honor. Go read the story, written in Haaretz. This is an important story, and showcases how Jews and Muslims can get along, in spite of the world we live in today. No one is born evil or born hating, it is taught. Preventing the hatred from jelling in the impressionable minds of the youths today is more important than ever before.

Radicalization of Young British Muslims

A new poll came out, showing that 40% of Muslims aged 16-24 would prefer to live under Sharia law in the UK. 36% of the 'young-uns' believe in death for apostasy, 13% admire al-Qaeda, and 74% of young people believe women should wear the veil (as opposed to 19% of those over 55). (see poll results here) A full 84% also said they did not experience 'Islamophobia.'

Think about this for a second. Digest this.

These are not young people in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. These are young people in the UK.

Think about this some more.

Then think about multiculturalism, and wonder about how effective it has been.

A new paradigm is clearly needed. After you think about that, then consider the recent debate between Ken Livingstone ("Red Ken," mayor of London), and Daniel Pipes. Consider the points they brought up.

And wonder about what sort of world we are heading for, with above numbers like those.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Emma Thompson Joins Group Devoted to Israeli Hatred

An actress I formerly greatly admired has joined the muck and mire that is the political leanings of her compatriots, Alan Rickman and Vanessa Redgrave.

This actress is Emma Thompson. In the wake of the Eilat bombing, seeing another such esteemed actress showing her side of hate (by joining the group "ENOUGH") words. Well, I will just quote Emma's 'words.'

The launch will come only days after a report, funded by the British government, warned that Israel's separation wall (a wall of defense that has been largely, though no totally, successful in blocking terror attacks) is trapping 250,000 Palestinians. (of course, the lives of Israelis are meaningless) The report on Israel's separation wall was produced by the Israeli planning and rights organisation Bimkom. The report says the wall is cutting off Palestinians from employment, education, healthcare needs, undermining social and family life and isolating farmers from markets. (end terror, end the need for wall - that's simple!)

Ms Thompson said: "This report cites the devastating effects on Palestinians' health and livelihoods of Israel's separation wall. It shows the vital need for our ministers to make fresh moves for a just peace. It is high time the UK government matched its rhetoric with action which can save Palestinians and Israelis from another 40 years' conflict."

That's all fine and dandy. Except the tag for the group "ENOUGH" is "End Israel's Occupation, Peace and Justice for Palestinians."

I slogged through the website of "Enough!" to see exactly what they stand for. Let me Fisk it all for you...

2007 marks the 40-year anniversary of the Six Day War, in which the Israeli army took military control of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. (this ignores the fact that Israel fought a defensive war against annhilation and immediately offered the land right back, after it won the land, only on condition of recognition and peace - which was refused!) Since that time the government of Israel has built 'settlements' in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (loaded term!) and assisted its citizens in setting up homes and businesses using land and resources stolen from the Palestinian people. (LIE!) This situation has continued to the current day despite Israel being in violation of international humanitarian law and over 60 UN resolutions. (let's ignore all of the wrongs of Hamas/Fatah/etc, or the fact that the UN is a feckless, corrupt, terror enabling organization!)

This wonderful organization goes on to explain what it stands for...

The Occupation has created serious poverty for the Palestinians, as well as severe human rights violations. (WRONG, terrorism creates the 'occupation!') But Palestinian suffering dates back further to 1948, when the state of Israel was created and 750,000 Palestinians were driven or fled from their homes. (WRONG, Arab Israelis fled on their own (which was commonly known, until Benny Morris made up history), and were most certainly not called 'Palestinian' (a made up ethnicity) by this point in time) The United Nations asserted the refugees' right to return home in 1948, but Israel has refused to allow this. (LIE: see 20% of Israelis are Arab Israelis, and moreover, these 'refugees' in fact left to wage war on Israel! Moreover, most of Israelis are themselves refugees, a conveniently ignored fact!) Meanwhile the refugee population has grown to over four million, one of the largest in the world, many of whom live in camps waiting for international law to be upheld. (Yes, that is only because Palestinians are allowed to consider fourth generation 'refugees' to be refugees, and moreover, it is also because of the pathetic definition of 'Palestinian,' as someone with two years of ties to the land!)

This 'organization' goes on...

Britain bears a particular responsibility for this suffering. (that I agree with, see, the White Paper, amongst many other things!) From 1917 to 1948 Britain controlled Palestine. Along with the US and many EU countries, the UK government is today involved in a close military, economic and political relationship with Israel, and fails to stand up for the rights of the Palestinian people. (What is that supposed to mean? Standing up for the Palestinian people means standing AGAINST the Nazi PLO, which Britain is ostensibly doing!)

Finally, this organization concludes with 'pearls'...

We say Enough! We are a group of charities, trade unions, faith (Islamist and Dhimmi, I am sure!) and other campaign groups. We have come together because we want peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike. (hahahaha, riiiiight, they really care about Israelis!) This can only be built on justice, equality and freedom. (True, except, this group does not stand for justice, equality, or freedom.) In order to achieve this goal governments like the British government must stand up for international law and human rights. (Yup, which means standing with Israel and against murderous thugs who are killing not only Israelis, but Palestinians alike.)

What a total and complete joke. I just frisked through almost every single word of the organization's website, an organization that an actress of Emma Thompson's calibre thought it fit to join.

Sad. Seems Emma Thompson has joined the ranks of the useful idiots.

The Israeli-Egyptian border

In light of the fact that Israel believes the suicide bomber who slaughtered Israelis in Eilat arrived via the Egyptian border, I feel it important to show the pictures I took while I was actually at the Israeli-Egyptian border, about two weeks ago, probably while the suicider was planning his attack. I am sorry for the poor quality of the images; they were taken with a cell phone camera, because my regular digicam had run out of batteries by this point in the day.
You can clearly see the puny barbed wire fence in this picture.
The lonely Egyptian "watchtower."
My fingers in Egypt. (to the left) The other fingers are of an Israeli's hand.
Barbed wire
Another picture of the 'watchtower.'
Israel's 'super high tech' defense system!

How to defeat Islamofascism and hate

In light of yesterday's deadly attack in Eilat, I thought I would post something about what every person out there, across the world, can do to defeat Islamofascism. Every person should be the best person they can be. That seems somewhat obvious, but really, it is not. When I was in Israel, I encountered all sorts of people, good and bad. And in my encounters, I had to be careful to not generalize. For instance, if a shopkeeper was rude to me, it would have been very easy to generalize and say "all Israeli shopkeepers are rude." And yet that is what happens every day. Think about it. You are all ambassadors for the ethnic/racial/social groups that you are a member of. Every single contact that you have with every single person you encounter (and I mean everyone), has the potential to make a difference in the world. Let's say, for instance, you are rude to someone on the subway. Let's say it was something so simple as not being able to get a seat when you wanted to. What then? The person you were rude to may choose to forget about what happened, or they could look at you and say "Oh, look at that XYZ person. TYPICAL! Another rude XYZ person." And then your little action will have a ripple effect across the world. Very few of us will be working for the FBI, IDF, CIA, Mossad, etc etc etc. Very few of us will be in positions of real power to be able to effect massive change on a more global scale. And yet each of us has a responsibility to be the best people we possibly can. I think the small little 'nothing' decision that we make every day often are overlooked. And yet they are the most important decisions of all. There is more that we can all do. Each of us has a responsibility to read as much as possible, and inform ourselves about the state of the world, so that in casual conversation, you will accurately be able to assert your position with friends and acquaintances. Each of us has the responsibility to spread what we know to those that we know, thus shedding some light upon the ignorance of the world. When combining both efforts on a mass scale, it will do a heck of a lot to defeat ignorance and hate. Just remember these things every morning you wake up out of bed. Think about what you can do, in your own small way, to make the world a better place. All the best, Red Tulips

Suicide bombing in Eilat, Israel

Yesterday, there was a suicide bombing in Eilat, Israel, killing three Israelis at a bakery. What gets to me is that these suicide bombers are dying and killing for a false cause, simply because they are taught to hate. When will this sick and diseased society stop blaming the victim, and start blaming the killers? I was in Eilat. Actually, I was in Eilat about two weeks ago, today. That's right, two weeks ago. This city reminded me of South Beach. It was like a resort city anywhere in the world, except that across the water was Aqaba, Jordan, where the world's largest flag is flying high. It was like being in some sort of alternate universe - I physically was in the Middle East, yet the air of the city was anything but...and yet within my vision was that Jordanian city and flag. The following Y Net article describes the reaction to the suicide bombing groups (please note that Al Aqsa, the military wing of the 'moderate' Fatah party, is taking responsibility):
Monday’s suicide bombing attack in Eilat, which left three civilians dead, “underscored the Palestinian resistance's intent to continue the Jihad (holy war) until all Palestinian lands are freed,’ an Islamic Jihad spokesman said. Three people killed as suicide bomber blows himself up in Eilat shopping center, as police search for culprits who drove bomber to scene of attack. "This is a message to the world saying that the Palestinian resistance has the right to choose the time and the place for their actions,” he said.
Just so we are clear, they are saying that the "resistance" has the right to attack civilians in land that is considered indisputably Israeli, despite the so-called "cease fire."
A high ranking official from one of the Palestinian organizations told Ynet that the terrorist attack in Eilat was an operation coordinated between Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing.
Please remember that when you are told the dogma that somehow Fatah is 'moderate' and Hamas is different and 'radical.'
A senior al-Aqsa operative told Ynet, “The attack in Eilat was a natural response to Israel’s continued crimes in the West Bank.
Please note that the attack was not in the West Bank. Furthermore, attacks like these necessitate an Israeli response, and hence hurt the few good Palestinians out there. (note that these monsters not only do not care about the good Palestinians, but actively hate them)
“Each time the Israelis breach the ceasefire we will find a way to respond, be it through rocket fire or suicide attacks,” Abu Ahmad said.
Last I checked, this was the Palestinians 'breaching' the ceasefire unilaterally! Talk about insane, murderous, non-logic! (that is actually swallowed by the useful idiots of the world)
'Israeli leaders stupid' The al-Aqsa member said the bombing should not lead to the collapse of the agreed-upon truce with Israel as "the IDF killed and apprehended dozens of Palestinian activists during the period of calm." Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “The suicide bombing in Eilat came as a response to Israeli military policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as its ongoing boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian government.” "So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate," he said.
So, I guess it's cool for the Arab world to boycott Israel, and call it the "zionist entity," but it's somehow some sort of human rights violation for Israel to boycott the Hamas government? The fact that the world buys this tripe is a sure sign of its useful idiot mentality. Moreover, they just admitted that there is no such thing as a ceasefire, and they will do whatever they want, whenever they want, because of the so-called "occupation"!
A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees told Ynet that, “The Israeli leaders in their stupidity maintained that the cessation of suicide attacks was an Israeli success and not the result of an internal Palestinian decision. “
Well, duh. It was a 'hudna' from day one, nothing more, nothing less. This has to be the one statement I agree with. In summary, these so-called 'people' are saying that they can and will do whatever they want, whenever they want, that ceasefires are hudnas (temporary truces to regain arms/strength until a greater attack is initiated), and that they will stop at nothing until Israel is destroyed. Why does the Western world ignore them? Why has the Western world gotten so diseased and sick, that somehow this 'logic' actually passes for something that makes sense? Can someone answer this for me? UPDATE 1: Please consider donating to the Magen David Adom, in the wake of this deadly attack. Every little bit helps. UPDATE 2: The word is that the suicide bomber made his way into Eilat through the Egyptian border, a border which I will soon post pictures of (I was there!), and is not exactly secure. Peretz also said "terrorists will pay the price," whatever that means. (you can see how much faith I have in Peretz) UPDATE 3: It is no wonder that the suicider did what he did, what with parents like these!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Laura Mallory:- where intolerance leads...

So here we have a woman who has never read a Harry Potter book, but read excerpts and decides to declare them evil books indoctrinating children into the occult world of witchcraft. Now while I find her amusing, I think she has some very serious problems. Facts are: Witchcraft is based on myth and superstitions, from the earliest stages of human history. The Harry Potter books have several major themes that are positive:- Love, Friendship and the courage to make tough choices even when the easy path is wide open. It also deals with Evil in the form Of Lord Voldemort. Who is the very essence of evil in the books. However it is a very human evil, enhanced with the plot device of Voldemort being a very powerful wizard. Voldemort has the same motivations that Humans sometimes tend to gravitate like moths to a flame. Those being Immortality and power. Voldemort is a dictator who uses terror to instill fear into the hearts of his enemies and his followers. Magic is just one of his tools. He is very good at the art of misdirection and turning friends against one another. Whereas Harry is the exact opposite. He stands for all the best human qualities that one can hope for. Those being love, friendship and respect for those who are might not be on an equal footing as you are. Which brings me back to Laura Mallory. She is intolerant of ideas that go against her religious beliefs. Like most Christians of her type, she has i think lost the point that Jesus made about love in general. While you should love your friends and family, you should also show love and perhaps even pity your enemies. So her basis for wanting the Potter books removed from Schools ? Myth: We are trying to ban Harry Potter. Truth: This case first began when we noticed the books in our son's elementary school classroom. We were then told by the school that anything in the school library may be used in the classroom. The original request of August 2005 asked that the books be removed from the classrooms and libraries due to the extreme evil and violent content, the promotion of witchcraft (Wicca) and the age-inappropriateness. We are not trying to ban Harry Potter. The books may of course be purchased in bookstores or checked out at public libraries, but need not be encouraged, assigned and read aloud in our children's schools and classrooms. Are they ready to put the Bible and prayer back in our schools and classrooms and read it aloud? Source. This seems to hinge on the perception that if you don't teach kids about the bible and how to pray they will somehow be lead astray by something like Harry Potter, and turn into social misfits who will goto hell because they are not following the path that Jesus Christ laid out for Humanity, to gain entry to heaven. Now i would like to point out that while I do have some religious beliefs, i don't follow them meekly and without question. I am open to the fact that all religions are just myths and superstitions and nothing more. Created by early man to explain the universe, and also as method to control the masses. Or religion could actually be based on some truth, that has been obscured over the passage of time. Now the Harry Potter books may not be to everybody's taste. But Rowling has woven some pretty heavy concepts and themes into the novels. That death is but the next great adventure to the well organised mind, that intolerance leads to death and destruction i.e. pureblood mania has created the correct environment for the type of evil that Lord Voldemort represents. In much the same way as the centuries of intolerance towards Jewish people in Christian Europe lead to the eventual rise of Hitler and his desire to purge the world of Jewish people because they had dirty blood and polluted the German race, which lead to Germany's defeat in the first world war (at least in Hitler and those of his followers minds). But Rowling has tempered that evil with the character that is Harry Potter who shines through not with magical power but with the best human qualities (as I've already stated). Laura Mallory may well have the best of intentions but i believe she is mistaken and would be better off tackling the issues that really matter. Developing a child's moral values through the use of different sources, be they Harry Potter books, the bible or Tolkien's masterpiece that is the lord of the rings. Though as with any attempt to ban books, it will only make a child want to read it even more. Thus Laura Mallory has defeated herself even before shes begun. The moral of the story ? Be open to new ideas and if you don't like those ideas, fight your points with reason, rather than resorting to the old and tested viewpoint that "God is great, Witchcraft makes kids evil" mentality. You can follow this story via the many Harry Potter fansites, who are literally laughing themselves silly over the whole thing, or least the pottercast gang are... Leaky link.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Can we win wars anymore?

I had a talk with a coworker the other day - I said to him that I believe that torture has to be considered when deciding whether to wage war. Basically, I said that I believe it is a guarantee that there will be torture in every war, whether it is right or wrong, and it is stupid to be shocked when it occurs. The cost to the human psyche of torturing has to be considered as one of the costs of war. Lest we forget, Americans (and the world) have tortured people in every single war it has waged. Every one. In fact, what is going on in Iraq now is nothing, considering the prisoners now are begging for Americans to come back after they left Abu Ghraib and handed it to the Iraqi police forces. Think about that one for a moment. Digest it. The media certainly did not cover this with much detail. Then think about what happened during WWII. Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Dresden. Internment camps. And yet this is considered the "great war." Think about this. And then think about the fact that, in contrast, Bush recently said that, yes, American troops can protect themselves from Iranians if they attack inside Iraq. HUH???? Americans are allowed to protect themselves? Wow, that's nice to know! Evidently, otherwise they will walk softly to the gallows? What has the world come to? I am serious, now...can America win wars anymore, what with the extensive rules of engagement that the other side not only ignores, but laughs at? And how do you win a war on the domestic front, what with so many "patriotic terrorists"? Is there a way to win a war that is fought "proportionately?" I know that after the atomic bomb, the rules changed. But, it seems the pendulum has swung so far the other way as to make wars simply unwinnable. What are your thoughts? What is the sufficient balance of human rights, and strategic need to win a war? And how do we win the war of ideas, which is perhaps the most important of all?

Freedom of religion

The first amendment to the U.S. constitution states as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
There have been controversies over what exactly this means pretty much since the text of the first amendment was written. One question is whether or not this nation was formed as a "Christian nation," and ifso, does that mean anything, and if not, on which intellectual foundation was this nation formed? Max Dimont, in his book "The Jews in America," has an interesting take on the intellectual foundation of the United States - he believes that in fact America was formed by Christians who modelled themselves after Jews. I never thought of things that way, but his arguments are compelling. Firstly, if you think back to high school Social Studies, you may remember talk about how the Puritans thought of their society in Massachusetts as a sort of "city upon a hill." Where did that phrase come from? It didn't occur to me that the "city upon a hill" meant Jerusalem until I actually visited Jerusalem and saw it as the requisite "city upon a hill." In fact, Jerusalem does rest on top of a hill, and I believe there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the Puritans viewed their society in Massachusetts as a neo-Jerusalem. I am astounded that this aspect of things was really not discussed nor developed in my AP American History class in high school. It took a trip to Israel for me to realize the obvious. But there is more. The Pilgrims saw themselves as analogous to the Hebrews who fled the Pharoah, and America as their "promised land." They viewed the American Indians as akin to the Canaanites. And moreover, the society that was built in the United States does in some ways reflect the society that existed during the ancient days of the Kingdom of Israel. What was the government like back then? There was the king (aka, president), there was the Sanhedrin (akin to the modern American judiciary), and the "congregation of Israel" (legislature). The intellectual foundation of the United States may be rooted in ancient Greece and Rome, but it is absolutely also rooted in ancient Israel. I cannot fathom why this is ignored in American schools today. It should also be noted that there was freedom of religion in ancient Israel. But America as a nation was heterogenious from the start - there were Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and of course Jews who existed in the nation since colonial times. And each colony had a distinctive character. In order to allow for the formation of a more perfect single union, there had to be freedom of religion, and most importantly of all, federalism. And yet, implicit in this freedom of religion is the supremacy clause:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
Thus, if a state like South Dakota seeks to outlaw abortion, perhaps in the name of religion, they will be faced with the supremacy clause which says that Supreme Court and federal congressional law reigns supreme. A corollary to the abortion issue is that of birth controll pills. There are now pharmacists who are refusing to fill prescription birth control pills? Should they have the right to refuse prescriptions? I can easily see a compelling interest of women to prevent pregnancy - which interest is stronger? Should the pharmacy profession refuse to grant licenses to those who will not fill all legal prescriptions? A modern issue that Americans face is how much freedom to accord Muslims. At what point does allowing Muslims their freedom of religion conflict with other secular laws, as outlined in Lemon v. Kurtzman? One case that has been receiving particular attention is that of taxi drivers at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. These cab drivers are refusing to transport people who are carrying alcohol. As it stands, alcohol is legal in the United States. I would say there is a compelling state interest in transporting intoxicated people via cabs, rather than having them on the road. The interest is in preventing drunk driving. Thus, I would say that the Twin Cities could easily pass a law that requires all cab drivers to pick up intoxicated people. However, this case is dealing with people who are merely transporting alcohol - not those who are intoxicated. What such legitimate secular interest is there in transporting these people? One interest I can think of is the interest in freedom of commerce - namely, in allowing individuals to carry items they purchased lawfully back to their homes. Do you believe such an interest overrides the interest of Somali cab drivers to have their 'freedom of religion?' And most importantly of all, do you believe that imams should have the right to preach hatred inside mosques, in the name of 'religion?' Does freedom of religion mean freedom for a religion to be espousing ideas that call for violence against a state? Does a state hold the power to tell an imam he no longer has the ability to be a religious leader, if he is preaching violence? And where does freedom of speech come into this? Lest we forget, there is also the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, which says that there must be a "clear and immediate danger" prior to the government banning speech. Should there be a different law in wartime? Is this wartime? And what are the implications, if this is wartime, given this is not some clearly defined war against a foreign nation, as World War II, for example, was? As you can see, the extent to which America is a "Christian nation" and affords freedom of religion is as gripping today as it was at the foundation of this great nation. There are no easy answers to these questions, only more questions. What do you think? Questions/comments/ideas?

Take THAT, Jimmy Carter!

Jimmy Carter, in his abomination book, stated that Israel is an "apartheid state." Well, JPost revealed something rather momentous today: a Druze MK is now next in line to serve as president, after what happened with Moshe Katsav. Read the article, yourself! I think this should be forwarded to everyone who believes Israel is some sort of inherently evil 'apartheid state.' Let them know that not only are Arab Israelis full citizens of Israel, but they also hold important positions in the government. Cheers, Red Tulips UPDATE: It should be noted that Shimon Peres (opinion about him excluded in the name of sanity) is evidently the front runner to be the permanent replacement of Katsav. Also, Alan Dershowitz wrote a great column concerning his recent encounter with Jimmy Carter at Brandeis right here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

News roundup!!

Okay, I want to start by speaking briefly of non-Israeli news items resuming my discussion of my amazing Israeli adventure.

1) GWB had his state of the union, and I was asleep and have no idea what he said, nor do I really care. That said, feel free to read the transcript.

2) Hillary Clinton announced she is running for prez. I predict she will get the nom, and Obama will be her running mate. I also have no intention of voting for her. If it is Hillary versus a typical Republican, given I live in a non-swing state, I am considering voting Libertarian simply in protest. I predict she will win, because this will go along with my general prediction I made in the year 2000 that Hillary will win in 2008, thereby creating at minimum 24 years straight of presidents related to each other. (Bush Sr (4), Clinton (8), GWB (8), Hillary (4) = 24 years) Who says there are no royal families in America?

3) Lebanon is in chaos. There was a nationwide strike and general mayhem yesterday. It seems that this was basically called off today, in order to avert another civil war that might possibly drag on another 25 years. It seems hundreds of people were injured, many with gunshot wounds, and three were killed. I wrote the following about it on Sandmonkey's blog:

I wish I was surprised, but I am not. This is a long time in the making.

You are right, SM, the ideology is one of destruction, not creation.

The good Lebanese people want to create a functioning government and society, and they are hated for it. It is heartbreaking to watch. I do not know what the answer to this is…it seems like the destruction of what was a beautiful possibility in Lebanon is inevitable.

I want to say that I wish I had the chance to visit Lebanon while I was in Israel (I should say I wish that the Israeli-Lebanese border allowed for that!), but alas, I did see the antennae from Lebanon! It breaks my heart to see a nation with such promise and with people who really have a *zest for life* slowly cracking under the strain of extremism. Of course, the following abomination breaks my heart most of all: the Aoun Hizballah supporter.

This woman is the epitome of Lenin's 'useful idiot.' Actually, in many ways she reminds me of Rachel Corrie.

4) Iran is not letting nuclear inspectors into their country. In a related item, Wesley Clark, former NATO commander and candidate for prez, blamed the JOOOOOOZ for pushing the nation into war. I am horrified that such a mainstream politician, and not just some nutjob extremist (such as David Duke or Cynthia McKinney) is actually blaming the JOOOOZ for controlling foreign policy. The New Republic wrote an excellent response to Wes Clark's antisemitism. In more related news, Newt Gingrich wrote a great response to the Iranian crisis on Ynet news. (thanks to Raccoon)

Despite this all, I maintain my optimism that good will triumph over evil. I maintain my belief that, in the long run, Iran's suicidal ideology will not win out, cannot win out. Let me quote what I wrote earlier, which I feel is especially true in light of Iran's recent developments.

There will always be horrors in the world. There will always be genocide in every generation.

But there also will be goodness, kindness, and love. And perhaps it's not possible to

take one without the other. Perhaps it is all part of the crazy, seemingly incomprehensible world that we live in, and the only way to exist and not go mad is to focus on what each individual can change in their own lives to shine just that little candle of light into the unfathomable darkness.

I believe this now more than ever. Perhaps I have to believe it, to get through each day.

This is what is on my mind at the moment. I know there are other news items, but these are the ones jumping out at me at present. What do you think about it all?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I will get to posting more about my trip as soon as I can, but until then, I have a story to tell you all about my flight home... I was on a plane with a little baby who was running up and down the aisles, for almost the entire 12 hours. I took a sleeping pill soon after take off, and I was very confused about this all. My limbs were quite heavy and weighing me down. Then, I woke to people in shock and horror around me. Someone said to not touch a brown pile on the floor near where I was sitting. My half awake, half asleep brain did not comprehend anything, and accidently brushed my hands against...BABY SHIT! Yes, a baby shat on the floor right next to where I was sitting. I was instantly awake when I realized what happened, and in shock and horror, I started asking for a napkin, and I cleaned my hands. The mother of the baby, instead of appologizing, was yelling at the stewards and stewardesses who wanted her little demon spawn held securely in a seat. "MY CHILD NEEDS TO ROAM FREE ON A 12 HOUR FLIGHT!" There was then an argument with the flight attendants over who should have to clean up the baby shit. One of the flight attendants lost the argument, and I heard this man say, under his breath, "I cannot believe I am going to law school and cleaning up baby shit." After the poo was finally cleaned, I tried to lay back in my seat for some SLEEP, only this fat couple in the seats behind me would not let me and kept kicking my seat. I had enough, and tried to change my seat, only the plane was full, and there was no empty seat! So basically, I was stuck with a seat next to baby shit, with a couple that would not let me lean back in my seat without kicking it, for 12 hours! Afterwards, I went straight to work from the airport! I still am recovering from my flight, hehehehehe. I am really glad to be off that hellish plane, but I miss Israel terribly!! I feel I left a part of myself in Israel. Hoping no one else gets stuck on a plane for 12 hours with a crack mom and devil child, Red Tulips

My Israel adventure of a lifetime - Part ONE

I am finally back from Israel (actually, I got back yesterday), and I wanted to get out all my thoughts on the trip while they are fresh in my mind. I went to Israel with many thoughts on my mind, and questions in my head. I was bouncing around political, personal, and even spiritual questions and ideas for quite some time. I think this is what drove me to blog, that deep need to connect with others who are grappling with these same issues, and discuss my ideas with them. What did I see? Gosh, I saw so much. My itinerary was as follows: Day One: Get off the plane after little to no sleep on the plane, but I am greeted by the Birthright crew, who are singin to us upon arrival. It really brought a smile to my face, to see such a greeting. The group then got into a big circle and shouted "ACHIM (brotherhood), ACHIM, ACHIM, ACHIM, ACHIM, SIMCHA, SIMCHA, SIMCHA, SIMCHA SIMCHA!" This was right in the airport! We then went to Kibbutz Sdot Yam (sp?), near Ceasaria, for a breakfast/lunch. I sampled my of many meals containing hummus. Afterwards, we went to another kibbutz to change, and then went straight to Mount Arbel in the Galilee for a hike! This was a mountain where the zealots had their last stand against the Romans. This mountain was also very muddy from a recent rain, and I ended up nearly falling off! I held onto a rope for dear life, and one of the people from my group ended up helping me down. Mount Arbel is beautiful. When I reached the top, I was able to see down into an Arab village that was actually quite pretty. (not sure the name of the village at this point) After the hike, we went to dinner at a 'Small Mall" (in Qiryat Shemona, a town heavily hit by the Katusha rockets from Lebanon) where I had the first of many shawarma meals, and then tried to get sleep. Day Two: Wake up call at 7 am. I am a bit jet lagged and confused over this early wake up call, but heed the call nonetheless. The group wakes up at the kibbutz and eats a kibbutz breakfast of many cheeses, and then we are off to Tzfat. This is a Jewish city devoted to the study of Kabbalah. I purchased a Chai necklace, that I am wearing today. Chai, for those who do not know, means "life." We also got to speak with artist David Friedman about Kabbalah and his art. He spoke of meditation and numerology, and all sorts of things I really was not aware of re: Kabbalah. I can see how it is a trendy 'religion' with the glitterati. We also went to a synogogue in the classic Sephardic tradition, and saw a completely different layout than the normal synogogue, with the bima in the center, rather than in the front. The color of blue was siffused throughout, which is a color that has great significance to the Jewish people. (just as green is the color of Islam) After touring the town, we hiked up the Golan Heights. From the top, we saw very clearly into Lebanon and Syria. The phrase "antennae of Lebanon" became a catch phrase for the trip! After the beautiful Golan (pictures of all this will eventually follow), we went to hot springs, and then dinner at the Kibbutz again. The hot springs were lovely - just what was necessary after the two hikes. Of course, my bathing suit stank of sulfur after the hot springs, but I didn't care, as it was something that really eased my aching muscles. After we got back to the kibbutz, I joined many in the group for a lovely chat, and songs. We stayed awake as long as we could, not wanting the perfect day to end...but then sleep eventually overcame us. And then onto day three...which I will leave for another post. I hope you are enjoying this! Love, Red Tulips

Monday, January 15, 2007

Israel update

My trip is now halfway complete. I have seen the major sites in Israel - hiked the Galilee, Golan Heights, seen Safed (Kabbalah community), Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, hiked the Masada, swam in the Dead Sea and Red Sea, slept in a Bedouin tent, ate at a Druze family's home, had a long talk with an Arab Israeli bartender, and of cours, met the inimitable Raccoon. (I swear I was not drunk!) I cried at the Western Wall, and at Yad Vashem. Actually, there were many tears. I am sure there will be more tears. What do I think? Words cannot describe. I am very emotional writing this right now. One thing I really am struck by is how lucky I am to be alive, and how lucky the Jewish people are to exist. The state of Israel is in many ways a miracle. When my grandma was in the Holocaust, she would have laughed at the thought that somehow Israel would exist in such a short while. And yet it does. I was also amazed at the opinions of the staff members of the Birthright trip - most seemed to belong to the Labor party. Identity politics are certainly a major issue. But more than anything else, I am feeling so emotional right now because I feel like I am sorting out all the inner crap that my mind goes through. Who am I? Why am I? Why do I do what I do? I am such a passionate person - I often act with my instincts. Sometimes my instincts are right, and sometimes they are wrong. I realized during this trip that perhaps my passion is part of the problem - it is unfocused - I go in 20 directions at once, without doing anything. But I do have specific passions. I see, with this trip, that I love Jews and Judaism irrespective of antisemitism. There is really a family amongst Jewry that exists across the world. But sometimes families fight. And sometimes families turn their back upon one another. Sometimes they even, as horrifying as it is, kill each other. But it still is, more than anything else, a family. Islamofascism, can it be defeated? I don't know. All I know is I have to work on myself. I have to be the best person I can be and try to learn as much as I can about myself, my family, and the world in general. Only then can I even hope to effect positive change in the world. I feel that so strongly right now. And somehow, thinking this, recognizing this, I feel some of the anger at those who hate me slipping away. Will there be people who hate me because I exist as a Jew? Absolutely yes. Will I ever be able to change this? Absolutely no. But can I make some small changes in the world, bit by bit, chipping away at the hate wherever possible? Absolutely yes. And I think, recognizing this, it becomes clear that I was misdirecting my efforts for a long time. I feel so many emotions in my heart, but more than anything else, I feel joy. I am joyful that, be it the atomic superparticles that collapsed the universe, or some unknowable God, somehow I was created, and humanity was created, and that is so beautiful. Breathtaking. There will always be horrors in the world. There will always be genocide in every generation. But there also will be goodness, kindness, and love. And perhaps it's not possible to take one without the other. Perhaps it is all part of the crazy, seemingly incomprehensible world that we live in, and the only way to exist and not go mad is to focus on what each individual can change in their own lives to shine just that little candle of light into the unfathomable darkness. I will be in Israel a week longer, and I cannot even imagine what I will be thinking then. All the best, Red Tulips

Saturday, January 13, 2007

In Israel - having an amazing time!

Hi all - I just thought I would say I am in Israel and having an amazing time. I thus far have seen Safed, hiked the Golan Heights, seen the Galilee, stayed at a kibbutz, seen Tel Aviv (and gotten drunk there), seen the Kotel (Western Wall), seen Yad Vashem (Holocaust Memorial), and walked around Jerusalem. Up next is hiking in Masada, Dead Sea, Bedouin tent, and then back to the Western Wall. I cannot even describe my time thus far. So memorable, words cannot explain. One of the most meaningful, spiritual, and just plain FUN times I have had. Beyond words. I feel horrible that I will be going home soon! My connection to the land and people is deep and spiritual. All the best, Red Tulips

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Now time for resolutions

Attempted resolutions do not last too long, and after 10 days many have been abandoned, so now I make mine on day 10, hoping that if I can keep them past day ten, 364 days won't be as tough, or so my theory goes. But first, I will include an article by my all-time favorite, Capitalism Magazine: The Meaning of New Year's Resolutions My own resolutions: 1) Read 50 books or more this year. So far, I have 1 down and 3 if you count books I concluded at the beginning of the year, but I'll just count the one. 2) Lose the weight I gained over the holidays :) 3) Continue my Hebrew lessons, until I can read it and understand it as easily as the English in my siddur. 4) Now I can release some insider information that only RT and Irina knows right now, but I am planning to convert to Judaism, of the Conservative movement, so I will continue my research and will be ready for when Ft Hood's Jewish Chaplain assigns me a rabbi. 5) Save at least $20,000.00 this year..much easier to do as I will be deployed, hopefully. Six is not a lot, but good ones for enriching my life.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Political Parties Are Really Starting to Cheese Me Off Now!

For their lack of will to take on the BNP in a serious political debate that translates into an understandable framework for Joe-public to understand. The BNP is gaining ground in certain areas of the UK, where the likes of Labour and co have lost ground. As it is the labour government's immigration system is a complete shambles.

I don't mind immigration as it's a natural human trait to move to places where there are better sources of food and money.

My fear is that the BNP will cause and exploit problems with the many varied ethnic community's that make up the UK. They could for example worsen the situation with Muslims and lead to more home grown terrorism. Rational debate is needed on the whole issue of immigration to the UK.

It's been shrouded under the cloak of Political correctness for too long and has allowed the BNP to gain ground that the major parties used to occupy.

The BNP's latest tactic to gain respectability is to recruit middle class English people. Like the ballerina Simone Clarke.

Of course the fuss caused will just generate more publicity for the BNP. I'm just extremely frustrated with the Labour government and the Tories for not addressing the issue properly, but instead just like to score cheap party political points over the issue. David Cameron may have something to offer on the issue, but if it contains any substance will be a different matter, as he has to appease his Party on issues like this. Even if he does cover it up in a bit of fluffy spin to make the Tories look united and not divided.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

So long for now, folks!

Well, I am off to Israel for two weeks! I leave as of tomorrow, and in the meantime, I am leaving C4A in the capable hands of Kevin and Thomas. (Adil may be contributing as well) I hope you enjoy all they have to say, and I will be reporting back on my journey after I get back! All the best, Red Tulips

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Clarification re: Rachel Corrie

I figure I owe you all a clarification on Rachel Corrie. There is a reason I hold a particular venom for this human being. This reason is that she chose hate. Rachel was not brainwashed from age 0 onwards to be a suicide bomber. She grew up in the relative lap of luxury in Washington State, and chose to aid and abet Hamas operatives, via the ISM. This was her choice. She chose to give up her life to protect a home with weapons and drugs inside: again her choice. She chose to burn an American flag at a Hamas rally, and showed exactly where she stands. Israelly Cool summed up the real life story of Rachel Corrie right here. When someone turns their back on their country in order to support suicide bombers, I view it as an abomination. As a perfect example, I despise Adam Gadahn more than, say, your average suicide bomber. Adam Gadahn chose hate, and chose to turn his back on his country and his people. He is a traitor to his country. As a corollary, I despise the Kapos in many ways more than the Nazis. And so yes, I hold a special disdain for the Rachel Corries of the world. I have no time to mourn the death of a terror supporter when thousands of people are killed every day. If that sounds harsh, so be it. There are millions of people in the world who do deserve my sympathy. Rachel Corrie is not one of them, and no, I am not sad she is dead. I certainly did not celebrate when she died, but I also am not sad that she is dead. Rather, I mourn the loss of her mind when she was alive and brainwashed. I mourn the loss of the minds of hundreds of thousands of other Rachel Corries from around the world. She was certainly not an important figure in the world when she was alive, but she has been martyred at her death, and that is what makes me flat out angry. If this shows I 'lack compassion,' then so be it. I have no compassion for those who aid and abet terrorists. Ms. Corrie did her small part to make the world a worse place to live, and the most tragic part about it is that she died as a true believer for a false cause. I hope that clears things up. You may now go back to discussing recipes!

Recipe swap

Again, because I have been sick of politics lately (same old bull caca), I figured I would write a post that has as little to do with politics as possible. What's your favorite recipe or food? As far as I go, my signature dish is an angel hair pasta covered with sauteed onions, garlic, portobello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar, tossed with fresh mozzarella and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. (freshly crushed black pepper to taste) I also have recently become known for a dish I found on Giada DeLaurentis's show on Food Network. The recipe is super easy, and called a Cornbread Panzanella Salad. See the recipe here. I love Paula Deen's European Adventure, where she goes to a French bakery and asks them to make their food with extra butter. She also goes to Harrod's, sees blood pudding, and asks the person at the food counter why people eat blood pudding when they could eat bread pudding, lol.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Favorite movie of 2006

Hey all, As a break from politics and all the muck and mire that goes along with it, I was wondering - what was your favorite movie of 2006? Personally, I simply did not see that many films in 2006. The only movies of note that I saw were Borat, Thank you for Smoking, Snakes on a (muthf*ckin') Plane, and of course, The Queen. I already wrote a review of The Queen, which I believe was the best movie of the year (from the limited films I saw, mind you) right here. Anyway, what was your favorite film? Films I hope to see: Dreamgirls, The Departed, The Good German. Hopefully I will see some of those films prior to the Oscars coming out. Recommendations, thoughts, questions, comments?

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Eat your heart out at Heart Attack Grill

John Stossel has an pointed out a fun restaurant with a great gimmick and a perfect place for Michael Moore and Bill Clinton to eat at. Morgan Spurlock should go there for yucks, too. The place is called the Heart Attack Grill, and everything served is bad for you, and they admit that straight up. The place is set in Tempe, AZ so a perfect place for ASU students, especially with the waitresses known as nurses. They even have fun menu items like quadruple bypass burgers and flatline fries. Unfortunately, the falangists are all up in arms over the naughty nurse stereotype perpetuated by the waitresses. The State Attorney General has threatened to shut down the restaurant and the Arizona Nurse's Board is upset about the title nurse being used by the waitresses. Luckily the bullies were exposed so the Heart Attack Gril was spared the threat of being shut down. Now the only unfortunate thing is that this idiocy is being done in a great state like Arizona. Arizona is supposed to be a land of liberty and Barry Goldwater and the Attorney General's bullying dishonors everything Arizona should represent. Now, let's get Michael Moore, Ted Kennedy, Jerrold Nadler, and Al Sharpton to have an eating contest at Heart Attack Grill. Last survivor wins :)

Thank you, curmudgiana

Seems I was just banned from DKos for calling out the truth on Rachel Corrie. I was curious how long I would last on DKos, and I see it was not long. This simply provides definitive proof that DKos is, for the most part, an anti-Israel swampland. To the extent that it is backed by major Democrats, I see the writing on the wall. Sad. Resolution for 2006: Any one politician who DKos supports automatically is suspect. So sad. I just cannot believe that there are people who are so anti-American and anti-Israel out there. I cannot believe how many people believe the lie. To good folks on there (you know who you are), I believe you are fighting a losing battle. Experiment on DKos proved my hypothesis of the anti-Israel cesspool of the far left. I thought I could redirect the dialogue and combat the blood libels, but alas, I cannot. Very, very sad. ****UPDATE**** Eric S, a poster on DKos whose opinion I value, wrote the following. In the interest of fairness, I believe it deserves airing, even though I disagree with it:
I find the argument above [that the majority of DKos posters are anti-Israel] to be the kind of cherrypicking that begins with the conclusion and will not be deterred. At best, these are your impressions. But to it all, I add two notions. You are hearing the deafening volume created buy a small group of extremely loud and obnoxious true believers and imagining it is a multitude. The majority, I believe, are put off by the raw and contentious tenor of IP debate, and so either distance themselves from it, or hold less fervent positions (certainly not hate) in the absence of extensive consideration. And that is my opinion, though a real poll would be interesting.
I agree a real poll would be interesting, though it should be noted that Eric S wrote what he wrote in response to the following comment I wrote:
I can understand the desire to hope that the larger community does not hate Israel, but I would have to dispute your conclusion. I believe the larger community clearly does not discuss Israel on a day to day basis, but, after the release of Jimmy Carter's book and the subsequent lauding of Jimmy Carter by the vast majority of the community, I feel the resulting comments speak for themselves. Lest we forget the diary that Meteor Blades, an admin, wrote. Lest we forgot the hundreds of responses to that diary, from individuals who normally do not post on the subject. And lest we forget the infamous Jerome a Paris, who wrote a diary recently about the Iranian Holocaust cartoons, advocating they brought up a legitimate debate, in response to which Markos himself said "worst timed diary ever - get this off the site, or at the very least, repost it after the election." Do I believe the majority of Kossacks are quite as passionately anti-Israel as the posters who regularly post on the subject? Of course not - if they were, they would be posting on the subject. But when the issue becomes mainstream and bigtime users post diaries on the subject, it becomes clear where the majority of Kossacks stand. I say this as someone who has read DKos for years prior to deciding to open an account. This is not to say that there are not a what I believe to be a minority of Kos posters who I have the utmost respect for and would even vote for, should they run for election. I want to be very clear that I do not believe the entirety of Kos is like a Borg entity that thinks alike. I won't name the posters in this comment (as I know if I name them, then there will be cyberstalkings of them), but we both know who I am talking about when I say there are some extremely intelligent and thoughtful posters on there, despite the morass of the majority.
Are the majority of Kossacks anti-Israel? The only way to know is to see a poll on the subject. It is clear that a majority of Kos posters who post on the subject are extremely anti-Israel. It is my contention, based on the comments in diaries I have seen that hit the 'most recommended' list, that most Kossacks in general are also anti-Israel, but certainly Eric S is right that the only proof that this is the case would be found in a poll on the subject that somehow was answered by a majority of Kossacks. Fair point. Thanks again, Eric S, for stopping by. You can let Kossacks know that while I am amused by what happened, I do not hold a grudge and hold no anger towards DKos. Rather, I take the experience as an important lesson in the hypocrisy of those who claim to value free speech. It's yet another chapter in the same old tactics of 'anti-zionists.'

New post for a new year

Welcome to a new year at Culture for All, and today, I bring a post from an old favorite, Capitalism Magazine. My article is about morality without religion. In the article, Peter Schwartz of the Ayn Rand Institute discusses the so-called culture war and dismisses both factions, the dogmatic right and the relativistic left. Also, Schwartz goes on to show that religion is not necessary for moral values, and he's right. Religion is a force that can be both good and bad, just like anything. In Judaism, there are three different terms used to describe a synagogue, depending on the movement. The Orthodx use shul, a Yiddish word for school, which emphasizes education. This can be good, like my Catholic education (and religion class was an easy A, which boosted my GPA :)), or it can be bad like a fundamentalist indoctrination camp. Conservatives use the word synagogue, a Greek word for assembly, which shows a social function, and certain non-faith churches do have a good social structure, like a club or fraternity, as well as religion-based networks, which can be both good or bad, depending on how the network is used. The final word used is Temple, mainly be the Reform movement, which is a reference to worship. Many people have a spiritual need that is fulfilled by this, making it a good thing, except when worship is used to promote hate or intolerance, like Orange Man's Day, or a demagogue preacher driving worshippers into a hate-filled frenzy. Ok, Schwartz doesn't evaluate positives and negatives of religion, as that is my view being discussed above. He does explain how the relativists have made themselves the public face of secularism, which is a huge insult to most of the good readers and posters on this blog, and that many regular folks are repulsed by this extreme and wind up preferring the other extreme of religious extremism, because it is red meat: tough, spoiled red meat, but red meat, nonetheless. And the philosophy that Schwartz supports is Objectivism, which can serve the same positive functions of a religion. Education is key, because a philosophy of individualism supports well-informed thought, and independent study. Even a religious person with an open mind can heavily benefit from studying objectivism, because nothing should be accepted without question or opposed without research and knowing just what you are opposing and why. Also, community is available with all kinds of objectivist networks and dating sites, and back in more ancient times, pen pals. As for worship, one could make some cheap shot about worshipping Ayn Rand, but an objectivist shouldn't claim spiritual needs, so this shouldn't be a needed function. On an unrelated note, I'l add resolutions on the tenth, because most resolutions are abandoned by then :)