04 July 2015

America’s Stupidest College Professor? Hardly.

Professor Adam Kotsko is an American writer, theologian, religious scholar, and translator, working chiefly in the field of political theology.
The learned professor, besides channeling some European pseudo intellectuals, such as Žižek, is apparently a sucker for publicity. At his current post (Assistant Professor of Humanities at Shimer College in Chicago) in the minuscule college, beating the dead and festering horse of Žižek's "philosophy", prof Kotsko can hardly achieve any of that publicity. But there are ways, as the recent flare-up shows:
Dr. (and I use that title lightly) Adam Kotsko, a professor at Shimer College in Chicago, Illinois, thinks that all white people have been “complicit” in slavery, and should therefore “commit mass suicide” as reparation.
This statement, as expected, caused a wave of responses, the most obvious and frequent one having to do with the good prof serving as the first example for the proposed act of contrition.

Just to make sure this is not a singular outbreak of the prof Kotsko's thirst for fame, here is another example, from January:
On Tuesday, Kotsko boldly and immediately took to Twitter after masked Islamist fanatics massacred a dozen employees of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical website, for writing about Islam. Kotsko told the world that the horrifying terrorist attack was foreseeable because Charlie Hebdo is “a newspaper devoted to hate speech,” notes Campus Reform.

“It’s no more surprising that someone would attack a newspaper devoted to hate speech than that someone would beat up Westboro protestors,” he wrote.
Obviously irked by this provocative statement, Eric Owens, education editor of The Daily Caller, invented the headline partly used for this post.

But no, Eric, I beg to disagree. It is just the way of the good professor to signal to some bigger and greater academic institutions of USA (or Europe) that he is good and ready to be embraced by one of them. I bet the feelers of Berkeley, UCLA and other similar progressive outfits are already vibrating excitingly...

03 July 2015

Now explain this: US blocks attempts by Arab allies to fly heavy weapons directly to Kurds to fight Islamic State

If it were published in some yellow rag it could have been ignored as an attempt at backbiting, so popular this days. As it stands, unbelievable as it might sound, it is another mindboggling fact from the long list of failures of the White House in its unending saga of Middle East political blunders.

The United States has blocked attempts by its Middle East allies to fly heavy weapons directly to the Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, The Telegraph has learnt.


High level officials from Gulf and other states have told this newspaper that all attempts to persuade Mr Obama of the need to arm the Kurds directly as part of more vigorous plans to take on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have failed. The Senate voted down one attempt by supporters of the Kurdish cause last month.

The officials say they are looking at new ways to take the fight to Isil without seeking US approval.
Of course, there is a (political) reason for this travesty. Huffpost article on the subject explains it:
Under current law, the U.S. government is only allowed to send weapons to internationally recognized sovereign governments -- not to autonomous regions within countries like Kurdistan. Since they cannot receive U.S. equipment directly, the Kurds must wait for the central government in Baghdad to share it.
But, as you will see from the article, there was an attempt to amend the law. And:
On June 16, the Senate voted 54-45 against the measure. The majority of Democrats, following the White House's lead, voted against the amendment.
And, of course, there is another significant player, with excellent connections to the White House:
Turkey, a NATO member and essential player in the ISIS fight, is also a concern, the aide added. Though Turkey has been friendlier with the Iraqi Kurds than with other Kurds across the region, it remains nervous that increased Kurdish power could inspire its own Kurdish minority to seek greater autonomy.
Yes indeed.

So what can one say about this abomination of international politics? Probably what this article says so clearly:

Too bad.

02 July 2015

Thank you, Sir Nicholas and RIP

Nicholas Winton with one of the children he rescued in 1939

A British man who saved hundreds of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia from the Nazi concentration camps in the Holocaust, has been nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

Winton had kept his heroic deed to himself for half a century. His pivotal role in the rescue operation was revealed in the late 1980s after his wife found a scrapbook documenting his work in their attic.
There are debts that could never be paid.

Update: and it is impossible to overlook this emotionally loaded episode:

Stalin: the revelation of the century

The placard says: "Stalin is alive and works as Putin. Scum!"

The truth will out!

Hat tip: Y.Z.

01 July 2015

Rule 5 out! FEMEN: Sextremism in Canada

This in-depth study of one of my favorite groups of people will not leave you indifferent, and it is a promise.

Go, Canada!

30 June 2015

Recep Tayyip Erdogan to send 18,000 troops to Syria

While the Western world is watching from the sidelines the Kurds fighting Daesh practically alone, and applauding limp-wristedly, as usual, one man in the whole world intends to do something about it. The Turkish Caliph wannabe, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, really intends to send his soldiers to Syria - to fight... the Kurds.

The bravery and the self-sacrifice of this long oppressed by all the Middle Eastern countries minority doesn't leave Mr Erdogan apathetic. Far from it: he hates the Kurds even a bit more than he hates the Zionists. So much so that, after years of impotently threatening the murderous Baby Assad regime and doing zilch to help the rebels, he is finally ready to send his troops in the harm way. But not to end the bloodshed, just the opposite.
On Friday, the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused Syrian Kurds of ethnic cleansing. He said: “I am saying this to the whole world: We will never allow the establishment of a state on our southern border in the north of Syria.

“We will continue our fight in that respect whatever the cost may be.”
Yeah. This is the leader of one of the members of NATO, a good buddy of the current POTUS and his diplomatic sidekick.

For shame.

29 June 2015

Yes, really, what exactly did Bibi have in mind?

To quote myself, from a recent post:

But to assign a politician, who publicly and proudly declares her anti-judiciary stance for a long time, to serve as minister of justice - what exactly did Bibi have in mind?
Well, call me a misogynist or male chauvinist pig or whatever (just don't forget to call me to dinner) - but in fact it is only one question of the three I would like to ask Bibi. If an opportunity presents itself.

So this was a question re Eng. Ayelet Shaked.

Eng. Ayelet Shaked
To the next question:
To assign an ex-IDF censor and a failure of an IDF spokesperson to serve as minister of culture and to call the artists “tight-assed, hypocritical and ungrateful” - what exactly did Bibi have in mind?

Brigadier-General Miri Regev
And the last - but far from the least:
To assign a deeply religious (nothing wrong with that) and extremist (lots of wrong with that) person to serve as Deputy Foreign Minister and advise the embassies abroad to reference the Torah in response to criticism - what exactly did Bibi have in mind?

Att. at Law Tzipi Hotoveli
Now, all of you males out there: you better refrain from sexist remarks. Think about Bibi, our poor Bibi instead.

Che - simply revolting

This version of Che (#24) might require the viewer to take a dose of antiemetic:

You have been warned!

28 June 2015

Why Doesn't Israel Just Withdraw to the 1948 Borders?

A great visualization of the military challenges facing Israel by The Jewish Standard.

26 June 2015

The Knesset vs High Court of Justice: the danger within

This post is not a simple matter. To explain to an English speaking reader why the recent attack on the High Court of Justice is more than an act of political petulance by this or another politician might take some doing. After all, the English speaking world is organized upon various constitutions written lots of years ago and, aside of law experts, the principle of three separate branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) may seem trivial and is rarely, if at all, challenged. Western democracies, by and large, live by this principle and it seems to be working quite well, if not perfectly. The balance between the three branches is a delicate interplay of many factors, created during hundreds of years and its fragility precludes any careless change, which might destroy the whole edifice.

It is important (to me) to address one point before I proceed. Based on the current affairs, criticism of the attack on the High Court of Justice may be interpreted as coming from the left. It isn't so. Just a reminder: this country is managed most of the time since 1977 by right wing governments*. It naturally follows that, if any of the political wings in this country has reasons to be unhappy with the judicial branch, it is the ruling one. It is chiefly the ruling wing's legislation and executive activities that come under the scrutiny of our courts, for a good reason. Enough said.

It will be somewhat (not significantly, but still) easier to accept the claim that there needs to be a review of the judiciary branch's powers, having a goal of curtailing some of them, if our country could be called an accomplished and stable democracy. A democracy ruled by enlightened politicians and a wise legislative forum, whose only concerns are to keep the lights of democracy burning and to improve our common lot.

Unfortunately, the situation in Israel is far from being as wished. A brief look at the list, helpfully prepared by some Wiki dweller, shows the extent of corruption in our executive and legislative branches:
  • One imprisoned president (another one resigned to avoid in depth investigation of his deeds).
  • One imprisoned Prime Minister.
  • About ten ministers.
  • Approximately the same number of Knesset members
  • An uncounted number of police officials punished for bribery, sexual harassment, dereliction of duty etc.
To make the matters even worse - one of the previously convicted and imprisoned (for bribery) ministers is now a minister - of economy, no less - in the current government!

As for our ability to choose our new solons wisely: here comes the case of the latest addition to the Knesset for Likud, one Oren Hazan. These days he is a member of five Knesset committees and a deputy Knesset speaker - who used to run a casino in Bulgaria, hired prostitutes for his friends and used hard drugs.

As far as our international standing on the corruption scale is concerned:
The results, published by Transparency International, did however say that Israel dropped a spot from 36 to 37 out of 175 places in the rankings since last year and is 24th out of 34 OECD countries.
Emphasis mine. I have chosen on purpose to quote the blindly patriotic and provincial Jerusalem Post, whose headline for this article is seriously pathetic: "Index: Israel one of least corrupt states in region". Yeah, compared to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon Jordan etc... for shame... You can easily imagine that other newspapers have presented the situation differently, and you would be right at that.

This is, using a very broad brush, the background of the current events, by current events I mean the elevation of one Ayelet Shaked, a BSc in electrical engineering and computer science, to the post of minister of justice. Of course, political appointees don't have to have any relevant qualifications for their assigned ministries, this situation isn't a specifically Israeli shtick. But to assign a politician, who publicly and proudly declares her anti-judiciary stance for a long time, to serve as minister of justice - what exactly did Bibi have in mind? It is your guess.

So far Ms Shaked fulfilled the expectations:
In her first public speech since being named justice minister, Ayelet Shaked underscored her criticism of the Supreme Court and made clear that curtailing the power of the judiciary branch would be a top priority.

Speaking before the annual Israeli Bar Association Conference in Eilat on Monday, the Jewish Home MK said decisions relating to governance have been wrongly placed in the hands of the justice system, rather than the people and their elected representatives in the Knesset.
Yeah, indeed - our selfless, patriotic and arrow-straight elected representatives. As you can see.

No thanks, Ms Shaked, I would vastly prefer a powerful and watchful High Court of Justice looking over your shoulders and the shoulders of all of your colleagues in the government and the Knesset day and night, if you don't mind.

And if you do too... because having a BSc in electrical engineering and computer science tinkering with our judicial system is akin to letting the proverbial bull into the proverbial china shop. And it is quite the time for the powers that be to wake up** and to prevent this potential disaster for our fledgling democracy.

Before it is too late.

(*) And the first Likud PM, Menachem Begin, was a staunch protector of the judicial branch, its powers and its independence, it is necessary to add.

(**) Some of the people are already awakening, fortunately. Will it be enough? The time will show.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein bemoaned Sunday a series of reforms proposed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that may shake up the powers of Israel’s judicial authority, dubbing the motions “simplistic and baseless.”

25 June 2015


As I woke up from unsettling dreams this morning, I've found myself transformed in my bed into Rachel Dolezal.

Nothing more to report so far, aside of needing an urgent advice on combing my hair. 

24 June 2015

Marilyn Monroe and Ya'akov Hodorov: fame and infamy

The history of football in Israel is rather a lesson in more or less uninterrupted failure and humiliation at the hands (feet) of even the least able of the world teams, national and otherwise. One would suggest it's time to quit this business altogether and direct the means into some more satisfying endeavor. Like bridge or bingo or something. Well, anyway, this post is about a rare heartwarming moment in this miserable history.

This picture, which I picked up thanks to Fred Lapides, depicts such a moment. The picture, according to the photographer Bob Henriques, shows Marilyn Monroe opening the USA-Israel Football International at Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1959.

The picture caused me to do some googling. The player on the left appears to be no one else but Ya'akov Hodorov, the goalkeeper of the Israeli team. Wiki knows some things about him:
Ya'akov Hodorov (Hebrew: יעקב חודורוב) (born 16 June 1927; died 31 December 2006) was an Israeli football goalkeeper in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. He was considered by many to be Israel's best goalkeeper in history, and among the best goalkeepers of his generation.
There are more facts about one of the very few really good Israeli footballers in this link.

As for the occasion where this picture was taken: I have dug up a 2003 Haaretz article that tells the story of the Israeli team visit to US and the round of games it played there. The tour started with the game in New York, at Ebbets Field, as is correctly stated in the Bob Henriques' entry. The date, however, is wrong - the game was played on May 15, 1957.

According to the article, Ya'akov Hodorov succeeded to "monopolize" Marilyn's attention, keeping her near himself all the time during an unprecedentedly warm and festive reception organized by New Yorkers for the Israeli team. A lot of pictures are said to be shot of the pair.

As for the game itself, played against the New York all stars team - the Israeli team won 6-4, while Hodorov, as the article remarks, was in a somewhat dreamy state. Probably influenced by his beautiful host...

Well, back to infamy. The Israeli team played another two games during the visit: one in Philly against a local team, another in Washington - against Scots of Glasgow's Celtic. Lost both. So much for the customary infamy.

Here is another picture of Marilyn Monroe and Ya'akov Hodorov:

Which is surely better than just Israeli football.

23 June 2015

Just Another Jersey Guy by Matti Friedman: a must read

I have just put this quote and the link to the article on FB, but then decided it must be recorded here too.

I found the account to be a useful recap of the journey I and other admirers of America in the region have traveled—from optimism about a fresh approach on the part of a new kind of president, to concern that the Americans are misplaying their cards, to a suspicion that the Americans don’t know what the cards are, to the realization that they are playing Go Fish at the poker table.
Yes indeed. So read the article, it is short and to the point.

22 June 2015

UNHRC report: catering to the dictators' club tastes

When a supposedly objective report is 'citing a press release from Hamas' military spokesperson Abu Obeida, saying that, "In some instances, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza reportedly attempted to warn civilians in Israel of imminent attacks"', you must smell something rotten.

Here is some antidote against the UN-issued poison, by Maurice Ostroff.

Although the Israel government refused to cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza War, a number of concerned citizens and NGO’s presented cogent well researched submissions to the Commission whose report is due to be released in advance of the scheduled June 29 debate before the Human Rights Council.

Unfortunately the commission’s refusal to open the evidence it has examined to public scrutiny will make it difficult for fair minded people to attempt to evaluate the report when it is published. However, a substantial listing on the internet, of some of the above mentioned informative documents that were submitted to the commission, will enable members of the public as well as journalists and politicians to make informed evaluations.
Both the listing in the link above and the rest of the Maurice Ostroff's post are informative and will help an unprejudiced person to understand the subject matter.

21 June 2015

Simply Che - in Italian

Sometimes - frequently, in fact - I envy the ability of Italian folks to take the life easy. As this Che (#23 in the collection) will surely prove.

Parco di Pinocchio, Collodi, Italy.

With thanks to T.