Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hevel Hevelim #75

For actual good presentation visit Hevel Hevelim #75, hosted by AbbaGav.
UPDATE: I apologize to Perspectives of a Nomad whose feelings were hurt by my last post on AddeRabbi being omitted from HH two weeks ago.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hevel Hevelim #74--fathers, lies, and videotape

Welcome to Hevel Hevelim #74, the Carnival of Jewish Blogs! I would like to recognize Ezzie for bringing some of these posts to my attention in his blog roundups this week. Blue Diary management has included all posts submitted without necessarily endorsing them. Blue Diary management has also attempted, within these limits, to hold to SoccerDad's policy of one post per blog. Jonathan Rosenblum's post was so important it had to be here.
A big Yasher Koach for the Class of 2006 of Bais Yaakov of St. Louis, graduating today.

We begin with a public service announcement from Jameel about advertising.

We move on to Israel, which produced sustained attention as the killings on the Gaza beach spilled over into last Shabbos.
Israel at Level Ground captures the mood on Sunday.
Oleh Yahshan and lawhawk consider evidence that an Israeli shell did not kill civilians on the beach in Gaza. Rabbi Yonah of Jewlicious fisks the Palestinian video here and here.
Mideast: On Target discusses the Kassam fire in southern Israel. Shiloh Musings sees general incompetence in Peretz's lack of response to said Kassam rockets. In other posts, Batya questions why the NYT thought Hamas had a truce at all and
the principles of the Israeli leaders.
Perspectives of a Nomad and Daled Amos consider the tactics of terrorists in general.
zionist.com sees Olmert being swept along beyond where he wants to go by his own idea of "convergence". Meanwhile Israel Matzav asks why Abu Mazen is not promoting the idea of provisional borders and Perspectives of a Nomad finds opportunity in the Palestinian government's failure to pay salaries. (Yourish questions if Palestinians are really starving and brings an article from The Australian.)
SoccerDad deconstructs the NYT on the prisoners' document.
Yitzchok Adlerstein praises Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, candidate for President of Israel.
Treppenwitz nails the Benjamin Bright-Fishbein story. Joe Settler discusses the two girls almost kidnapped in the Shomron.
Israel Matzav brings our attention to another terrorist incident, and Samizdat BlogFree calls our attention to the expelled trying to resume normal life.
Solomonia has the latest on the Ron Francis case, and Elder of Ziyon posts on the Caterpillar boycott.
AbbaGav rants righteously against Ahmedinejad.
Raanana Ramblings talks about Israelis and the Swedish prison system.
West Bank Blog finds more responses to her call for aliyah stories, and Israel Perspectives begins a press roundup.


We also had some completely positive posts on Israel.
The Hashmonean contributes a very cool post on the Israeli architecture of the new Intel chips.
Meryl Yourish has an eloquent post on Israel's right to exist.
At the IgNoble Experiment, Irina continues her trip to Israel here, here, here,here, and here. Amishav also tells us about his travels in Israel.

Jewish bloggers also considered the Jewish world outside Israel.
A Simple Jew marks the 20th of Sivan.
Jonathan Rosenblum encourages the religious to show concern for Darfur.
LamedZayin decries that we don't have peace among ourselves.
Steven I. Weiss criticizes the defense of AgriProcessors in the Jewish Press.
Ezzie discusses the metzitzah b'peh controversy, with links to Gil and SIW.
Mobius continues the discussion of left-wing anti-Semitism.
Snoopy admits to the Jewish torturers of Guantanamo.
Israel Matzav discusses a positive poll on French attitudes towards Israel.
Orthodox Apprentice interviews Lee Beinstock, the Apprentice finalist.

The World Cup reached our corner of the blogosphere. Kasamba observes World Cup insanity of the present, and Jameel discusses his deep-rooted soccer trauma. DovBear balances the pluses and minuses of soccer. In other sports, Ezzie provides this link to Nephtuli musing on interleague play.

These posts on everyday life are almost all taken from Ezzie.
Jack's Shack contributes this sweet post for Father's Day.
Please listen to the song the title of this post by Psychotoddler, also related to Father's Day, links to. DAG remembers being a father for too short a time.
Seraphic Secret continues the "My Movie Girls" series.
Shira celebrates 29 years of marriage, while MCAryeh waits for his true life.
Orthomom asks about what standard of tznius is appropriate, and Harry Maryles asks about standards for bar and bat mitzvahs.
me-ander comments on organ transplants.
Life in Israel draws lessons from a visit to the dentist.

A good selection of Torah posts is placed "kneged kulam".
Elie brings important points from the Oral Law on parshas Naso, while AddeRabbi provides food for thought and weighs in on the issue of racism and the "Kushite woman".
Gil Student considers when Torah or science should be believed.
On The Main Line discusses the text of "Ashrei".
LabRab attends YU's and YCT's graduations.
Reb Chaim haQoton contributes an essay on converts, spiritually great and not so great. On the other side, Unenlightenment encourages ordinary people to do kiruv, with a stop on the movie "Inspired".
Gedalia Litke contributes one of the best Cross-Currents posts ever.

Please feel free to link to any posts I may have missed in the comments.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Late to the party

Why was this post not on HH last week? Excellent.

Israelis strike first


JPost on this story
:

Israel will no longer exhibit restraint toward Palestinian terrorists involved in anti-Israel operations, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Tuesday following an Israeli air strike in Gaza that targeted a car carrying Islamic Jihad cell members on their way to launch GRAD-model Katyusha rockets at Israel. Eleven people died in the strike and, according to the IDF, at least three of them were Islamic Jihad members.

"We will act with all our might and use all our means against any group that acts against us," Peretz said.

"We showed the necessary restraint in light ... of the international uproar that resulted, but it's over," Peretz continued.

Nine civilians and two schoolchildren were killed in this strike when the second missile was fired. Abbas condemned the attack and was quoted as follows by the AP:

"Every day there are martyrs, there are wounded people, all of them innocents, all of them bystanders...They want to eliminate the Palestinian people, but we are going to sit tight. We are sitting tight on our land...We want to establish our state and live in peace...What Israel is committing is state terrorism."

A Katyusha rocket is evidently worse than a Qassam rocket. Even if the attack was a them-or-us thing, it's poison. We see Peretz and Abbas making statements you would not expect them to make every day. The Olmert government should especially not expect disengagement from the West Bank to have any good effect if the two sides are openly throwing bombs at each other.

(This just in: Evidently serious political pressure on both Peretz and Abbas. The lead prisoner of the "prisoners' referendum" disparaged Abbas's attempt to hold a vote on it and a combination of security forces loyal to Abbas and Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades members attacked the Parliament and other Hamas-controlled buildings. Hamas, for its part, fired on the headquarters Preventive Security Force, loyal to Abbas, in Rafah. 2 were killed and 11 wounded. Abbas declared a state of emergency. Peretz was reported in the Israeli press to have "rejected army plans for intensified airstrikes against rocket-launching teams and sites" (NYT). In this situation the Palestinians will probably be happy Hamas is attacking Israel instead of Fatah. No one will take seriously a country in what amounts to a civil war.)

One of the best diaries I have seen on Kos

Why Unions? Labor 101 by Nathan Newman is an excellent primer on why the labor movement matters even if he got the title of Taylor Branch's books entirely wrong.

More Republican villains

Rove will not be charged in the Plame case. emptywheel
speculates that this is for Rove's cooperation and that the investigation is focusing on getting Cheney indicted. Fitzgerald failed a lot of people as a messianic figure today. I am reminded of Trevino saying that Bush is a terrible president compared with any ideal, but compared with any real alternative he just squeaks by. Democrats have the information to show that Bush is a terrible president. We don't need any new information and this case might have been only tangentially damaging to Bush. Democrats can tackle as a party and a group of activists the idea that the public realm can't be any more moral than it is now and only private morality will save us. Congressional candidates can take responsibility for the Republican ethical and constitutional failures of the last six years. As much as the netroots love Lamont, they are aware that he cannot save us alone. The Democrats can no longer send out a single figure to suffer for them and save them. Figures such as Brian Keeler, the Kossack running for the State Senate in New York, are as important because it means that the netroots is using their idealism to lift up the established party and make it stand for more democracy. The netroots are likely to keep their connection with the Ned Lamonts and the Brian Keelers because they will be inspired to field more and more candidates to serve as colleagues and Howard Dean is solidly behind the netroots. Related to this subject, Eugene asks the My Left Wingers if they have considered running for office themselves. 10 comments are running mostly against with a contribution from ben masel, running a $1 donation campaign for the Wisconsin Senate as a Democrat.

Coulter, the gift that keeps on giving

I was hoping Coulter could write a whole book without attacking evolution, but evidently she gave it 80 pages. Pharyngula
does the super-competent job of fisking it we would all expect. If PZ comes over here I hope he can address Coulter's remark that liberalism "teaches children that they have a common ancestor with the earthworm". A Google search for "earthworm and (evolution or fossil)" came up with a lot of junk, but one site said that the line leading to the annelids started in the Pre-Cambrian period through the evolutionary development of the coelom, a basic innovation which implies a body cavity. Another site said that earthworm fossils are few. This confirms my suspicion that the common ancestor of humans and earthworms was such a simple creature that referring to it gives us no interesting speculation about the commonalities between humans and earthworms at all. Saying that humans today have "common life processes with the earthworm" gives as much information as that we have a common ancestor with the earthworm. If you are going as far back as the earthworm you might as well go back to DNA and one-celled organisms, which do provide as much of a sense of wonder and mystery as anyone could want.
I would like to make a comment which on PZ's site would just confuse the reader on Coulter's statement that "liberals subscribe to Darwinism...out of some wishful thinking. Darwinism lets them off the hook morally." Evidently Gertrude Himmelfarb has advanced the view that evolution made our philosophy more materialistic and provided the conditions for Nietzsche to arise. Gertrude Himmelfarb is far more worth taking seriously than Coulter. (Himmelfarb's The Darwinian Revolution goes on reading list. Should have read years ago) But the Higher Criticism was developing separately from evolution and would have discredited unthinking belief in Judaism, Christianity, and their associated moral codes for those who wanted not to believe had Darwin or Wallace never published. In terms of formal ethical theories liberals are split between existentialists, utilitarians, and Rawlsians, and maybe some out-and-out cynics. We also have the ideas of Isaiah Berlin, advanced by DB, that moral values have trade-offs. But this does not mean that we shouldn't subscribe to any moral values. It means that moral values are flexibly wired and can progress or regress with material changes in society, so liberals are responsible for progress in moral values. (See: the "Markos is too pragmatic" controversy) I wrote a paper on Rawls back in my primordial earlier life which showed that Rawls is a constructivist. If we think of ourselves as people fit to have a democratic society we must subscribe to a set of moral values which maximize the democratic potential of everybody. The "contract" is renewed for each person as they become aware of their democratic obligations without necessarily using the "veil of ignorance" which was simply a hypothetical. Pullman's "Republic of Heaven", hardly meant to be an amoral place, might look like this. This old post from Y. Aharon subbing for GH also advances the idea that material evolution went to a certain point and then G-d took over with us and gave us a neshama. In other words, the spiritual world can't be explained in terms of the material world. The spiritual world influences the material world, but even to this day we have limited understanding of it, kol hachomer when Bereishis was written. It is not scientists' job to explain this influence.

This post is also extremely cool and shows a new application of bioinformatics in working on gene relationships.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Gaza beach: nothing to see here, move along

I have found some good information about the Gaza beach incident from various right-wing bloggers which properly will go in HH. Evidently the Israeli government was willing to believe the shell was Israeli, but is now putting out that it may be a leftover Palestinian rocket. One blog linked to DEBKAfile which stated that Palestinians were combing the beach for bombs. (Will try to find link again later) AbbaGav properly mourned the death of the innocent civilians. As my husband pointed out, Hamas was observing a very cold truce. However, their having rejected it and the prisoners' document cannot be positive. I am trying to have the proper bitachon not to live in deadly fear of where and when the next terrible attack will be.
I think it was Israel Matzav who had an excellent point that the settlers in Gaza were in terrible danger, but they had chosen to be there more than the residents of Sderot. OTOH the Palestinians were firing on Sderot both before and after disengagement.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Postville, Iowa

Kol haKavod to
Sheira Galyan
for an excellent post I came across on Hevel Hevelim. The contrast between the article and the Torah portion of that week or the week before, enjoining us on how to treat our fellow Jewish laborers, could not be missed by anyone. I am not eating the meat cholent at the shul.

Hypocrisy

Also in today's Times we have a story about a State Department report on trafficking of women which cited that Saudi Arabia "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so". This is a wonderful advertisement for the Saudi royal family. LGF must be all over it.

Ann Coulter does not disappoint

I am a combination of gleeful and sad to report that the ad for Ann Coulter's book out today in the NYT makes it look as if it is another collection of random insults on liberals. For example, the assertion that Roe v. Wade is liberal holy writ is nonsense. Liberals value the right more than the decision and have phrased abortion as a matter of human rights. If this is really so, a better written decision or a constitutional amendment would take the place of Roe v. Wade and its reasoning perfectly well. I was almost right when I predicted that liberal "churches" would be universities. She chose public schools instead for ad purposes, probably not to remind the book-buying public that the administration of Loyola of Chicago disowned her after her visit where she incited the crowd. I was not sure, however, if Coulter could find it in her to write the anti-secular-Enlightenment book which it would have been very easy for her to have written, and which Tom Wolfe perhaps has already written, and stop giving real conservatives a bad name.
I. B. Singer and GH have identified themes for such a book. Most people will not accept that life is meaningless and then you die. It takes some courage to be a real heretic, who believes in nothing and practices radical skepticism. It is proper to speak about secular religion when you are really talking about conformity: if it is not fashionable to be religious people who care for fashion will believe in whatever is fashionable. This can be liberalism, or pleasure, or art, or nature. There is a liberalism like King's or Heschel's which is motivated by a deeply religious outlook and a liberalism which is motivated by an anti-religious outlook. Liberal bloggers have seen the anti-religious posters whose anti-religion is so fundamental that if the Democrats began to speak about religious values, even to sustain existing Democratic positions, they would all go Green the next day. But this religion of anti-religion is shared by Christopher Hitchens, for one, so Coulter cannot really call it "liberal". Real conservatives are on better ground in speaking about the "religion" which says that human beings do not need a concept of God or organized religion in order to cultivate the spiritual qualities to perfect the world or the "religion" which says that reason will ultimately explain everything. Both of these appeal to the religious sense because they posit an ultimate good.
Despite the gay marriage smokescreen Democrats are not running in 2006 on who has religious values. They are running on who has competence. Religious values are more important for a presidential election because more people vote and more religiously conservative areas of the country have more weight. In such an election the measured rhetoric that our government was meant to be limited in promoting religious values, on the one hand, and that religious values are not always an instrument of controlling people but can inspire people to seek freedom and dignity for themselves and the less fortunate, on the other, may work.