Archive for June, 2007

The Glil-Yam Pirates

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

‘Real’ American baseball has come to Israel, thanks to American Jewish businessmen connected to Major League Baseball.

You can read about it in the link above. For me it brings back memories from 25 years ago, when I coached a baseball team on my kibbutz.

The kids enjoyed playing a game called hakafot which was similar to baseball in that it involved hitting a ball with a stick and running, at which point the relationship ended. But American baseball games were televised by a Christian missionary TV station in Lebanon, and my son was immediately hooked.

I don’t know why. My son came on aliyah when he was 2-1/2 years old. None of the Israeli-born kids were particularly interested in the games on TV (at first). But somehow my son knew. It was in his genes.


Farfour meets 72 rodent virgins

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Farfour the Hamas mouseFarfour the Hamas mouse is gone, brutally beaten to death by an Israeli official who tried to persuade him to sell his land. But Farfour, patriotic to the end, refused, calling the Israeli a ‘terrorist’.

“Farfour was martyred while defending his land,” said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed “by the killers of children,” she added. — AP

If you haven’t been keeping up with Farfour, Palestinian Media Watch describes him thus:

The squeaky-voiced Mickey Mouse lookalike, named Farfur, is the star of a weekly children’s program called Tomorrow’s Pioneers on the official Hamas TV station (Al-Aqsa TV). Farfur and his co-host, a young girl named Saraa’, teach children about such things as the importance of the daily prayers and drinking milk, while taking every opportunity to indoctrinate young viewers with teachings of Islamic supremacy, hatred of Israel and the US and support of “resistance” – the Palestinian euphemism for terror.

Farfur tells children that they must pray in the mosque five times a day until there is “world leadership under Islamic leadership.” The earnest and soft-spoken Saraa’ explains that the nucleus of this world Islamic leadership will be from “all of Palestine,” i.e., including Israel. Farfur refers to Israel as “the oppressive invading Zionist occupation,” which the children must “resist.”

Well, he’s gone to his 72 black-eyed rodent virgins now, and good riddance. Station personnel say that he has been taken off the air to make room for other programs. Perhaps even Hamas is afraid of Disney’s legal department.

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Short takes

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Some snippets from today’s news, with my comments:

[Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, appearing on a podium alongside Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, said Hamas had committed “crimes, murder and aggression against everything Palestinians stand for” in its takeover earlier this month of the Gaza Strip. — Jerusalem Post

What do they stand for? Before Hamas started shooting Fatah members, Abbas went as far as saying that terrorism and murder against Israel was “counterproductive”. Now, when applied to Fatah, it’s finally become morally reprehensible. Of course, the charter of Abbas’ Fatah organization still includes these principles:

Article (17) Armed public revolution is the inevitable method to liberating Palestine.

Article (22) Opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine, as well as any project intended to liquidate the Palestinian case or impose any international mandate on its people.

Here’s another statement, this from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday that he had no intention of providing maximal protection to all residents of Gaza periphery communities. “A country cannot protect itself ad infinitum, because there would be no end to it…”

The prime minister added that stepping up protection would be “just as [ineffective] as the demand to solve Sderot’s Kassam problem by wiping Beit Hanun and other towns in Gaza off the face of the earth.

The prime minister appealed to the residents of the Gaza periphery: “In the short term we cannot supply you with all of the personal security that we would like to provide, because such protection would draw from expensive resources that are needed for other critical security needs…”

He added that “life in Israel entails a certain security risk, and anyone who chooses to live in the Jewish state is accepting this risk.” And yet, “the risk in Israel is lower than the risk threatening Jews in other parts of the world.” — Jerusalem Post

So…what is your plan? Should part of the sovereign state of Israel be abandoned? Should the remaining residents of Sderot just sit in shelters? What will be different in the long term from the “short term”?

Next item: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is reported as saying

“Kadima isn’t a one-time thing and it’s not going anywhere. We still have a lot to do…our goal is a dual-nation State [I think — I hope — she said ‘two-state solution’], but the road to a Palestinian state goes through the war on terror”. — YNet

Israel’s goal should peace and security, not any particular arrangement of states. But she is unquestionably correct that the road to it, whether or not a Palestinian state is on the way, runs through war. And I would have preferred that she had said “war on Palestinian and other Arab rejectionists” than the nonsensical “war on terror”.

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Israel a model for Iraq? Or vice versa?

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

It’s really hard to know whether to laugh or to cry.

President George W. Bush held up Israel as a model for defining success in Iraq, saying Thursday that the goal of the US mission in the war-ravaged Arab nation is not eliminating attacks but enabling a democracy that can function despite continuing violence…

He suggested Israel as a model.

There, Bush said, “Terrorists have taken innocent human life for years in suicide attacks. The difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy and it’s not prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. And that’s a good indicator of success that we’re looking for in Iraq.” — Jerusalem Post/AP

One hopes that Iraq is not the model for a future Israel, with Israeli Jews and Arabs playing the roles of Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites.

Unfortunately, the same kind of inability to share a common vision seems to exist, although internal conflict has not taken off as it has in Iraq. It’s pretty certain, though, that conflict with external enemies — Hamas, Hezbollah, perhaps Syria — lies in the near future. And that, like the 2nd Lebanon War, will stress the uneasy relationship still further.

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Fresno State president makes a statement, sort of, on UCU boycott

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Recently I commented on statements issued by the president of Columbia University and the chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, which criticized the British University and College Union for considering a boycott of Israeli academics and institutions.

Both Lee Bollinger of Columbia and John Birgeneau at UC Berkeley strongly condemned the UCU boycott as representing an unacceptable infringement of academic freedom. In my original post I quoted Birgeneau; here is an excerpt from the even stronger statement by Bollinger:

Therefore, if the British UCU is intent on pursuing its deeply misguided policy, then it should add Columbia to its boycott list, for we do not intend to draw distinctions between our mission and that of the universities you are seeking to punish. Boycott us, then, for we gladly stand together with our many colleagues in British, American and Israeli universities against such intellectually shoddy and politically biased attempts to hijack the central mission of higher education.

I asked Dr. John Welty, President of California State University – Fresno, to consider issuing a similar statement. He has not issued a press release, but he gave me permission to quote him as follows:

The future of our world is dependent upon the free interchange of ideas and a discussion of solutions to complex problems. Any actions to stifle interactions among universities and their faculties is counter-productive.

Since the statement does not mention the UCU boycott motion, I asked Dr. Welty if he would be prepared to go a bit further, by prefacing the above with something like “I oppose the UCU boycott of Israeli academics and institutions because…

He was not.

Dr. Bollinger has asked the UCU to boycott Columbia too, if they must boycott Israeli institutions; and Dr. Birgeneau has said that they can add UC Berkeley to their list. Here in Fresno, Dr. Welty stands four-square behind academic freedom — as long as we don’t get too specific. I didn’t ask him for his position on apple pie.

In his defense, he is presently dealing with several scandals surrounding the university’s Athletic Department. Of course, given the fact that similar scandals erupt with the regularity of Old Faithful (perhaps slightly more frequently), I would expect that he would have developed ways of dealing with other issues by now.

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