Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No One's Talking About Climate Change

12 million people without power. $5 - $10 billion in insurance payouts. $10 - $20 billion in economic loss. Not to mention last summers droughts and wild fires. And neither presidential candidate is talking about climate change. One because he doesn't think its real, the other because he doesn't think its good politics.

We're screwed.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Most Israelis Agree: Israel Practices "Some" Apartheid

According to a story in Haaretz, a recent poll of Israeli Jews shows that:
  1. a majority agree that Israel practices apartheid "in a few fields" or "in many fields,"  
  2. only 31% percent objected to calling Israel an "apartheid state" and said "there's no apartheid at all," 
  3. a third wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset today, 
  4. and 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.
The survey was conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. The survey was commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund and is based on a sample of 503 interviewees. You can read the rest of the troubling statistics here and here.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Thank God For Women

Thank god for women!

The U.S presidential race is now too close to call. But if only women voted Obama would win by a landslide - other 9% in the popular vote, and approximately 372 to 166 in the electoral college. Even traditional Republican strongholds like Arizona, Georgia, Missouri and Montana would be up for grabs by the Democrats. Conversely, if only men voted, Romney (ptu, ptu, ptu) would win by about 9% and the Democrats would be wiped out in most of the country.

The map above shows what the election results would look like if only women voted. (Yellow indicates states that are too close to call.) The map below shows what it would look like of only men voted. (See Fivethirtyeight for full details.)

I don't know what's wrong with American men - but thank God for the women.


Is The Jewish Mainstream Beginning to Move?

Both statements above are true. Whats surprising is that they appeared in the not very radical New Voices e-zine, - the official publication of the Jewish Student Press Service, which itself is a Jewish Community funded voice to/for Jewish college students.

Over the weekend I had an opportunity to hear Peter Beinhart speak. One of his noteworthy comments is that on many U.S, college campuses the leadership and core of of the "Palestine Solidarity Campaigns" are Jewish students. Beinart's insight, is that the Jewish community needs to engage in the debate with these students, not try to shut it down. Having a debate on BDS in a synagogue has the advantage of getting these kids into shul and engaged with the Jewish community. Something that is unlikely to happen otherwise.

The Jewish community needs to decide: does it want to defend Israel's largely indefensible reputation at all costs, or does it want to keep these Jewish youth in the Jewish community. The article cited above seems to indicate that at least some community leaders are beginning to side with Beinart on this point.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

They Have Ears, But They Hear Not

This song was banned on Israeli radio.
(push the red CC button to get English subtitles.)

"They have ears, but they hear not" (ps115:6)

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Meddling in Israeli Politics

The purported meddling of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyau in American politics has been much in the news lately. But what is equally, and perhaps more significant, has been the meddling of foreigners - mostly rich American Jews - in Israeli politics. Haaretz reports that "More than half of contributions to Israeli politicians come from foreign donors". The headline actually underplays the issue:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised 96.8 percent of his NIS 1.2 million in campaign contributions from foreign donors, according to the State Comptroller's Office, which published the candidates' campaign contribution reports for the last two years on its website on Thursday. ... 
Among political parties, Likud raised the highest percentage abroad - 67 percent - while Kadima raised 65 percent overseas. By contrast, Meretz raised zero percent overseas ... 
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, whose party members raised campaign funds only in Israel, said contributions from abroad could give foreign individuals or bodies improper influence on Israeli politics. 
"Politicians should be accountable to the public. As long as they raise money transparently, the public must be permitted to judge them in the elections," she says. ...
... Party leadership candidates may raise up to NIS 11,000 from a single donor, but the number of family relatives who may contribute is not restricted. Thus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received several donations from members of the Falic family of Miami, Florida. ...
Israeli politicians have two fundraising methods. The first, used by Labor leader Yacimovich and Moshe Feiglin of Likud, is to raise several small contributions, mainly from Israelis. The other way, favored by Netanyahu, is raising large sums from a small number of contributors, mostly from abroad. 
The latter method proves much more beneficial. A foreign donor contributes an average of NIS 12,565 - five-and-a-half times more than an Israeli one, whose average contribution is NIS 2,260. 
This means a relatively small group of about 550 foreign contributors are responsible for the big money behind Israel's politicians. 
The date for Likud's primaries has not been set, but party members have begun raising funds. At this stage, 261 foreign nationals have contributed NIS 2.72 million to Likud members - 67 percent of the contributions they have raised so far. ...
Kadima's candidates have raised 65 percent of their contributions from abroad. Dan Halutz, who has left the party, raised 93 percent of his NIS 72,000 from abroad. Avi Dichter raised 88 percent of his NIS 320,000 overseas. Shaul Mofaz raised 67 percent of his NIS 1.475 million abroad. Tzipi Livni raised 58% of her NIS 1.6 million from foreign sources. 
Yair Lapid has raised NIS 132,000 for his party from 38 donors, 40 percent of the money from overseas. 
Labor's members raised NIS 4.1 million in contributions for the primaries, 38.5 percent from abroad. Dr. Roby Nathanson raised 87 percent of his NIS 87,000 from overseas. Next, in terms of percentage, comes MK Isaac Herzog, who raised about half of his NIS 1.2 million from abroad, followed by Amir Peretz, who raised 42 percent of his NIS 1.3 million from overseas. 
Yacimovich, who won the [Labor] primary elections, raised NIS 603,000 from 1,756 donors, only two of them from abroad, who gave small sums each. 
Money talks, and in Israel too. And we shouldn't be so naive as to believe that big donors don't also have influence. So, it seems that Israeli politics is at least as much under the control of ideologically committed rich American Jews, as of its own citizens. And most of these American Jews, it seems, are ready to fight to the last drop of Israeli (and Palestinian) blood in order to maintain their fantasy Jewish State and their inspirational vacation homes.

Something to think about next time you are told that Israelis need to be allowed to make their own decisions about security matters, and that foreigners - whether foreign governments or diaspora Jews - should not meddle and should not press Israelis to take risks that the foreigners will not have to live with themselves. When it comes to Israel, it seems, everyone is meddling everywhere.

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Two Can Play At "Blow Up Their Nuclear Facilities"

The papers are full of the report that Israel shot down an "unidentified" drone over the northern Negev.

According to Haaretz the drone was shot down in the Yattir forest, after travelling roughly 56 kilometers over Israel, and after entering Israel's air space from the Gaza Strip. The map above shows the approximate track of the drone over Israel.

In other reports, Israeli sources are quoted as saying the drone was sent by Hezbollah,  likely launched in Lebanon, and flew from Lebanon to Gaza over the Mediterranean. This is a sophisticated operation, and the fact that the Israeli air-force did not shoot it down until it had penetrated so far should worry Israeli military planners. A slight change of course could have sent this drone over Beer Sheva - a city of 200,000, and numerous Israeli military bases. More ominously, Israel's nuclear facilities at Dimona (bottom right in the above image) are only 30 kilometers south of where the drone was shot down and only 65 from the Gaza and Sinai borders.

Given that Hezbollah is an Iranian client, and Iran just announced the development of long range drones capable of both reconnaissance and of delivering high impact missiles, this incident is quite likely Iran sending a message to Israel: "Two can play the bomb nuclear facilities game." In other words, if Israel does strike Iranian nuclear facilities, no one should be surprised if Iran attempts to strike Israel's nuclear reactors in Dimona. And given the dismal job the Israel air force did in detecting and downing last weeks drone, we shouldn't be surprised if Iran succeeds.

The Israeli air force is already attempting to learn lessons, and recriminations are beginning to fly. Worryingly, there may be more than enough fallout to go around.

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Friday, October 05, 2012

More Proof That The Official Canadian Jewish Community Has Lost Its Moral Compass

Here is more proof the official Canadian Jewish Community organizations have embraced the right. The web site The Daily CLIC  (sponsored by CIJA), referring to an article in the Toronto Star, attacks Liberal Party leadership candidate Justin Trudeau with this line.

"...it is a fact that today, Israel's closest friend and supporter is Canada. Any political candidate, introduced by the lead actor of Little Mosque on the Prairie, is likely going to lessen this precious support."
Really!  Little Mosque on the Prairie - and innocuous feel good comedy about Muslims in a mythical "white bread"  prairie town - is the enemy?? I guess all Muslims are by definition not to be trusted, and any politician who addresses or is addressed by Canadians Muslims is not to be trusted either.

This is how low the Canadian Jewish establishment has sunk.

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Did Obama Throw the Fight?

Watching last night's Obama - Romney debate, my wife commented that Obama looked like he didn't want to be there. I said that I thought he looked tired and annoyed. Later my wife wondered out loud, "Do you think that when he writes his memoir, he will tell us how much he really hated this job?"

After the debate, we agreed with the consensus of the comentariate: Obama lost this debate. It crossed my mind that Obama seemed so tired and fed up, that he may have decide to lose the debate on purpose. Getting beat in the election, is so much more dignified than just quitting outright. Maybe he aspires to be the next Jimmy Carter.

That didn't turn out so bad for Carter. But the rest of us had to suffer through 8 years of Ronald Reagan that we still haven't recovered from!

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