27 April 2008

27 April 2008 - A temporary lull

Largely due to the pressures of work and academic life, I will be posting less frequently for the next several months. Apologies to all regular readers--there will be updates, but they will be less frequent for a while.

14 April 2008

14 April 2008 - Promoting Jihad at Harvard?

This weekend, Harvard Law School will be hosting its eighth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance, sponsored by Harvard Law School's Islamic Finance Project.

What Harvard isn't telling the participants is that Shari'a-compliant finance could potentially expose American companies to civil and criminal liability. Shari'a-compliant funds must apparently donate money to charity to compensate for investments in non-shari'a-compliant enterprises. These charitable funds (zakat) have on several occasions been linked to terror funding networks.

This time, critics of shari'a finance have asked to participate in the forum, without success. Their efforts have already attracted a bit of attention. This Thursday, they'll be holding a panel discussion at Harvard Law School to present their views. More on this as it develops.

10 April 2008

10 April 2008 - Falk really, really Troofy

Check out this article in today's New York Sun

You heard it here first, folks.

03 April 2008

03 April 2008 - Jew-hatred at Harvard: Stop this vicious lie!

Harvard's Arab and Islamic student groups have been circulating an article that claims that "a number of prominent rabbis in Israel" have issued a "ruling" calling on Jews to kill all Palestinians.

This article is a vicious lie whose sole purpose is to incite hatred of Jews.

It takes advantage of the deep hatred of Jews that already exists in the Arab and Islamic world, even among people who should know better--which is why some Arab and Muslim students at Harvard are apparently falling for this forgery and assisting it.

The story is being circulated throughout the Arab media and on Arabic news blogs such as The Angry Arab (click here for the full Google translation).

The forgery violently distorts a story that ran in Ha'aretz on March 26, 2008.

The Ha'aretz article describes the Jewish concept of Amalek, and how the Biblical commandment to erase Amalek does not apply today.

The reason Amalek came up at all in some congregations is that Jews worldwide recently celebrated the holiday of Purim, which commemorates the survival of Persian Jewry in the face of an attempt by a minister named Haman, who is sometimes described as a descendant of Amalek, to exterminate them. Amalek is described in Deuteronomy 25:17-19 as a nation that targeted the innocent and vulnerable among the people of Israel. In the wake of the recent terrorist attack at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, the image of Amalek was particularly potent for some, particularly religious, Jews.

However, not one single rabbi called for Jews to kill Arabs, nor issued any remotely similar ruling.

In fact, as the Ha'aretz article makes clear, those rabbis who saw fit to address the subject told their congregations that while Israel still has enemies, the Bible's injunction regarding Amalek is forbidden today. It is forbidden by the Oral Law as recorded in the Talmud and other sources, according to the rabbis, because Jewish law forbids intentionally killing innocent people even if they are among enemies as vicious as the Amalekites were. The rabbis also explicitly noted that Amalek does not even exist today as a specific group or nation, but that Amalek's memory is evoked by those particular murderous individuals who deliberately kill innocent children in their schools and in their homes.

Every single quote in the Ha'aretz article has been twisted deliberately and maliciously by the authors of the forgery. If any rabbi had said anything remotely close to what the Arab media is claiming these rabbis said, the story would be all over the Israeli and Jewish media, the rabbis would have been forced by their congregations to resign, and the police would have laid charges of incitement. Under Israeli law it is forbidden to call for anyone's murder, and political parties that advocate racism or incite hatred are banned.

Harvard's Arab and Islamic student groups must immediately stop circulating this terrible, hateful lie.

-Julia Bertelsmann and Joel Pollak

02 April 2008

02 April 2008 - Viva! Democracy returns to Zimbabwe!

The Movement for Democratic Change has now officially won the Zimbabwean parliamentary elections.

God only knows how.

But here are some theories:

1. Internal dissent within the ruling Zanu-PF complicated attempts to rig the vote.
2. South Africa was able to impose some modicum of good behavior on the Zanu-PF.
3. The MDC was emboldened by Jacob Zuma's victory at the ANC conference in South Africa in December.
4. Thabo Mbeki, ousted from the party leadership, had a freer hand to act in restraining Mugabe (or perhaps finally faced pressure from his party on the issue).

I think reason #3 is the strongest explanation.

Anyway--time to celebrate!

02 April 2008 - Experts on Israel pick McCain-Barak combo

(That's Ehud Barak, not Barack Obama.)

Ha'aretz asked its panel of experts to rate the best combination of U.S. Presidential candidates and Israeli Prime Ministers. The top five combinations, in order on a scale of 1 to 5, are as follows:

1. McCain and Barak (4.25)
2. McCain and Netanyahu (3.875)
3. Clinton and Livni (3.75)
4. (tie) Clinton and Barak / McCain and Olmert (3.625)

Obama doesn't feature.

Every combination involving McCain beats every combination involving Obama. Obama and Livni (3.25), his best comination, would be better than Clinton only if she were paired with Netanyahu (2.125), her worst combination. But Clinton and Livni beat Obama and Livni, and Obama with Netanyahu is just as bad as Clinton.

Let's look at the results slightly differently.

Given that the next Israeli elections are only scheduled for 2010, the next U.S. President is likely to be working with Ehud Olmert. So--which candidate would be the best under this realistic scenario?

Again, the order is the same:

1. McCain (3.625)
2. Clinton (3.25)
3. Obama (2.625)

So--McCain is the best and Obama is the worst overall, regardless of who is the Israeli PM. The only circumstance in which Clinton is best, according to the panel, is if Tzipi Livni runs the Israeli government.

This is, of course, just a measurement of perceptions, and it's not entirely clear what the panel understands the purpose of a good combination to be.

But these results do tell an important story.

01 April 2008

01 April 2008 - Al-Qaeda: 9/11 Conspiracy Theories "Ridiculous"

9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

Thanks to Baratunde, Onion web editor, for the tip.

01 April 2008 - I've got mail

Received the following this morning:


Callow sophist that you are - see if you can answer these 20 questions before you become what the nation's clamoring for: Jew lawyer #5,000,363.

D. Swyer
Cheyenne, Wyoming

The "20 questions" are in fact 20 familiar answers from a British antisemite. I won't bother linking to the piece.

Interestingly, D. Swyer, who includes the word "patriot" in his e-mail address, had to import an article from the UK to make his point.

Thanks, D., for reminding us of the connection between Jew-hatred and hatred of Israel.

01 April 2008 - Collective suffering, collective guilt.

An appropriate entry for April 1st.

Several days ago, just before the traditionally silly Jewish holiday of Purim, Breaking the Silence offered a recap of their exhibit at Harvard. As if their message hadn't been made clear by the "minders" and the distorted captions, they insist:

"The Occupation is first and foremost the story of the subjugation of the Palestinian people under military control. It is collective, regardless of weather or not the specific Palestinian was involved in an act against Israel. . . . Israel is the one deciding to pay that moral price. We were not the victims. We were, and our society still is, a victimizing society."

There you have it. Collective suffering, collective guilt. The guilty and the innocent identified in advance, based on their identities and independent of their individual actions. Human rights and basic concepts of justice? April Fools!