28 November 2014

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Our Weasel Of The Week!!

Once again, It's time to present this week's statuette of shame, The Golden Weasel!!

Every Tuesday, the Council nominates some of the slimiest, most despicable characters in public life for some deed of evil, cowardice or corruption they’ve performed. Then we vote to single out one particular Weasel for special mention, to whom we award the statuette of shame, our special, 100% plastic Golden Weasel. This week's nominees were all slime-worthy,but in the end the winner by a nose was..the envelope please...


27 November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, all of you out there in the cold!

What, no more chocolate? No worries, here comes the savior!

An ode to chocolate in three parts.

Part 1: Doom.

Most of you, I believe (if you are as addicted to this brown substance as I am) were shocked recently to learn that your time of happiness is coming to a premature end.
The humble candy bar could soon change beyond recognition as palm oil, chemical flavorings and fillers replace increasingly scarce cocoa beans and expensive ingredients.
And that means real chocolates will become a luxury item -- for the wealthy only.
Etc... The sheer horror of seeing headlines like this:

Not that I am overly concerned about events removed 20 years from right now, but still, what about my grandchildren? No matter, a solution to this catastrophic future was found - 20 years before the time, I have to stress!

Watcher’s Council Nominations -What Stays In Vegas Edition

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

26 November 2014

Evil spirit taking over Middle Eastern studies?

I am not exactly a believer in all kinds of spirits, save one (that which could be attained from a bottle). The problems of cheapening the higher learning by fashionable political endeavors, like in the case of MESA, where characters like professors Juan Cole, Hisham Sharabi and their supporters pave their way to fame and/or notoriety by bleating (and frequently cheating) about the all-powerful Zionists, are not the problems of ghosts/spooks/spirits. Rather of malicious little men poisoning the wells of academy in general and higher education in particular.

And not only in US of A, I haste to add. Woe to our children and grandchildren.

Pushing out Hagel not shake-up Obama needs

Remember that "Change" slogan? Here are some thoughts on that, between other things:

Removing him will be unsettling to those in the Pentagon who realize he is being let go for advocating their views as well as to those throughout the administration who will worry whether getting rid of him will be seen as enough. The real changes needed are at a high level in the White House, in the team immediately around the President advising him on national security.

Unless those changes happen, view the Hagel move as a distraction, as an effort to create the illusion of change where a shake-up is needed.

Weasel Of The Week Nominees


Hello and welcome to the Watcher's Council's 'Weasel Of The Week' nominations, where we award the famed golden plastic Weasel to a public figure who particularly deserves to be slimed and mocked for his or her dastardly deeds during the week. Every Tuesday morning, tune in for the Weasel of the Week nominations and check back Thursday to see which Weasel gets the votes and walks off with the statuette of shame!

25 November 2014

חוק הלאום - "אני אראה לכם מה זה"!!!

חוק הלאום החדש, אשר עדיין לא אושר, מעורר מחשבות נוגות בפנים ותרעומות רבות בחוץ.
הרשת גועשת מדיונים בעד ונגד, כלאמר כל מי שכותב משהו נגד ישר זוכה לקיטונות של "הסברים" גזעניים בצירוף נאצות וגידופים.

הצורך הזה של הימין להגדיר בחוק את היותנו מדינה יהודית מזכיר לי את הביריון הזה, שכולו שרירים נפוחים, שעומד מול איש צנום ורועד מפחד, וצועק עליו ש"הוא יראה לו מה זה". כאילו שהוא לא מספיק מפחיד עם השרירים שלו, כאילו שלא מספיק ברור שהוא החזק והשני הוא החלש.

מהן המחשבות הנוגות שלי?
ובכן, הסבים והסבתות שלי היגרו לישראל בשנות העשרים של המאה העשרים ממניעים ציונים. ארבעתם התמודדו עם הנוכחות הערבית בארץ - כל אחד ממקום מושבו ובדרכו שלו. ארבעתם תרמו להקמת מדינת ישראל - מי בקיבוץ, מי בעיר בהקמת עסק ומי בייסוד ועריכת עיתון. הם היו מגוונים בדעותיהם הפוליטיות אך אחידים באהבת הארץ ובאמונה בצורך להקים את המדינה.
שני הורי, ילידי הארץ, השתתפו באופן פעיל במלחמת השחרור ובהקמת המדינה הצעירה שלאחר מכן.
לאף אחד מהם לא היה ספק בהיותנו מדינה יהודית, בית לעם היהודי. הם הסכימו לכל מילה במגילת העצמאות וחינכו אותי לאורה.
ילדותי עברה עלי בין מלחמת סיני למלחמת ששת הימים (אז עדיין היו מרווחים גדולים בין המלחמות....), כאשר ברור היה לכולם שמדינת ישראל היא מדינה יהודית, ושהעליות השונות חשובות לנו.
אחרי מלחמת ששת הימים הייתי בין המפגינים הראשונים להחזרת השטחים וקידום תהליך השלום עם המדינות השכנות. הפגנות שהלכתי אליהן ביתר דבקות אחרי מלחמת יום כיפור.
אני מאמינה בכל לבי שאנחנו מדינה יהודית, ושיש הכרח שנהיה מדינה יהודית.
אני לא מסכימה עם הפרדוקס שמצד אחד אנו שולטים על מיליוני ערבים ומצד שני צריכים להגדיר בחוק את היותנו מדינה יהודית:
בואו וניפרד מהפלסטינים ואז באופן אוטומטי אנחנו כבר מדינה עם רוב יהודי שמכתיב את אופי המדינה.

Forum: What was your reaction to the President’s New Executive Order On Immigration?

Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week's question: What was your reaction to the President's New Executive Order On Immigration?

24 November 2014

Bibi and the ‘Jewish state’ bill or what to do when she doesn't love you back

"There will be no peace with the Palestinians until they recognize the Jewish right to a homeland in Israel..."
For quite a long time Bibi made this statement a cornerstone of his policy on the solution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
A necessary condition to getting a true solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian] conflict was and remains clear as the sun: ending the refusal to recognize the right of the Jews to a homeland of their own in the land of their fathers,” he said. “That is the most important key to solving the conflict.
For the same long time Mahmoud Abbas aka Abu Mazen steadfastly refused to grant such recognition to the state of Israel.

The reasons for the former demanding this recognition as part of the future peace deal and for the latter refusing the recognition are many, some of them serious and some less, but let's not go into it for the moment. Suffice to say that I do understand Bibi's logic in this case and don't necessarily disagree with it.

The latest bout of lawmaking activity by a few usual suspects of our illustrious bunch of solons (Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin, Ayelet Shaked) seems to be an attempt at a crushing answer to Abbas' negative stance on the recognition issue.
The cabinet is expected to approve on Sunday two controversial bills that seek to enshrine Israel’s definition as a Jewish state among the country’s Basic Laws.
Bibi, unable to sit still while somebody tries to out-patriot him from the right, just had to counter-strike with his own proposal:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed his own version of such legislation in May. He said then that the state lacked “adequate expression” of Israel’s “existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people” in the country’s set of Basic Laws, which constitute its de facto constitution.
Sounds fishy to me, since the Declaration of Independence states quite clearly:
It also states, by the way:
...it [the state] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture...
Of course I am not a lawyer and indeed there is no basic law that defines Israel as a Jewish state - but isn't the Declaration quite enough? Isn't the whole brouhaha with that new basic law (that is being objected to by the Attorney General) just a too obvious attempt to stick a finger in Abbas' eye?

And how should one take the Bibi's proposal of the law that says, between other things:
The State of Israel is a democratic state, founded on the principles of freedom, justice and peace, in accordance with the vision of Israel’s prophets, and upholds the individual rights of all of its citizens according to the law.
Does the reference to the "vision of Israel's prophets"  mean a whole new era in the local law schools and courts? Strange, innit?

Anyway, back to the reasons for all this: what would a boy do when she doesn't love him back after all his efforts at courting? What if she continues to refuse him the... ah... pleasures of her company, so to say? And what if the boy doesn't want to switch his attention to someone else, possibly more responsive? Or if there simply isn't anyone else?

A man must do what a man must do, surely. Which mean glumly pleasure himself. For instance, issuing new laws like this misbegotten one.

Wanking, in short.

Update: Hear,  hear! Moshe Arens speaks out.

23 November 2014

Let's counter boycott the boycotters!

It occurred to me that there might just be a solution to the problem of the Boycott. Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement: counter boycott. Why not? There are lots of us wrinklies remembering how we boycotted South Africa (if you want a real apartheid, there's one you youngsters out there should study). We might not have had the effect that we desired, but, by heck, we sure felt better!

Further, these days, Jewish communities in the West, especially, actually do have some real economic clout. This autumn, for those of you who missed it, the UK (for United Kingdom) Jewish Film Festival was due to show some of its films in a cinema/theatre complex called the Tricycle. situated in North London, in an area noted more for its Irish and Afro-Caribbean "immigrants" than those of any other ethnicity. The Tricycle had shown films for the Festival in previous years, but this year, for some unknown reason, they demanded to view the films due to be screened in advance, with a clear implication of potential censorship. Fortunately, the UKJFF Executive flatly refused.

So, the Tricycle Chief Executive and Board scrutinised the Festival's sources of finance and alighted on a grant of £1400 ($2100, or NIS8400, both approximate) from the Israeli Embassy (clearly an Arts Grant from the Israeli - for the Brits reading this - the equivalent of one from the UK Arts Council: government money but administered independently). They demanded that the Festival return this and they would replace it, pound for pound. Naturally, the Festival rejected this out of hand and withdrew their films.

The reaction among the London Jewish literati was immediate: lots of us (my wife and I and all our friends on their mailing list, etc) immediately wrote to them, telling them to delete our addresses from their lists and that we would not be returning until they changed their policy. It is notable that a significant number of Jewish sponsors/donors also withdrew their support. The Tricycle reaction was almost immediate: they promised to reinstate the Festival next year (2015). However, none of us going back until the Tricycle makes good on its promise.

They must have had a nasty shock when they lost the support of a significant number of their sponsors and mailing list members.

They forgot that Jews, these days, are, in the Diaspora, collectively pretty Middle Class +, with a significant spend available for the arts and entertainment sector.

The point of this preamble is to note that the Zim Line has decided to stop attempting to unload cargoes in Long Beach, California, following problems with BDS demonstrators at the port (see this Times of Israel article for details). Despite the efforts of the port authorities to play down the problems, one of them, Lee Peterson stating that "“At the time,...it did not affect the longshore workers and operations continued”, and despite a spokesperson for Zim Lines (apparently, the 10th largest sea-borne freight carrier in the world) suggested that this situation wasn't necessarily permanent, it would appear that Zim Lines will unload elsewhere on the West coast of the US for as long as it takes.

So, all of us supporters of Israel have purchasing power: we can buy or not buy where we like. Perhaps we should be making sure we buy in stores, etc, that are prepared to stock Israeli goods (even if that's not what we're buying today), and avoid stores that support BDS.Capitalist principles of the bottom line and profit margin will soon take over!

By Brian Goldfarb.

Update: Commenter Larry Sheldon is absolutely right, saying:

You make an error if you fail to include the Christian communities that feel and act more strongly FOR Israel [than] some Jewish communities do.
Indeed, the same call applies to our Christian friends as well.

A NYT/Jodi Rudoren Equivalency - this revolting Olympian indifference of NYT

Another NYTimes (im)moral equivalency:

"More than 100 people on each side died in a week of rioting in 1929 over access to the Western Wall below."
Now read the whole post by Yisrael Medad.

22 November 2014

On the benefits of higher education. Oh, and the fungi, the fungi

And no comments from me. Just enjoy.

But keep in mind that: Berkeley gas pumps to soon feature global warming warning stickers

Since I promised no comments on all of that, please don't count the following as a comment - just as an additional piece of the puzzle that helps to clear up the whole picture:

New mushroom species found on Berkeley's campus
Suffice to say, the place is no stranger to mushrooms.
Yeah... that will be all.

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners