Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01


An oldie but goodie from Derb, wherein he reviews a treatise by Kevin McDonald making the standard-issue, Mark-1 Mod-0 complaint about the Jews controlling everything, and destroying it all for their own Jew reasons.

The Culture of Critique includes many good things. There is a spirited defense of the scientific method, for example. One of the sub-themes of the book is that Jews are awfully good at creating pseudosciences—elaborate, plausible, and intellectually very challenging systems that do not, in fact, have any truth content—and that this peculiar talent must be connected somehow with the custom, persisted in through long pre-Enlightenment centuries, of immersing young men in the study of a vast body of argumentative writing, with status in the community—and marriage options, and breeding opportunities—awarded to those who have best mastered this mass of meaningless esoterica. (This is not an original observation, and the author does not claim it as such. In fact he quotes historian Paul Johnson to the same effect, and earlier comments along these lines were made by Arthur Koestler and Karl Popper.) MacDonald is very scathing about these circular and self-referential thought-systems, especially in the case of psychoanalysis and the “pathologization of Gentile culture” promoted by the Frankfurt School. Here he was precisely on my wavelength, and I found myself cheering him on. Whatever you may think of MacDonald and his theories, there is no doubt he believes himself to be doing careful objective science. The same could, of course, be said of Sheldon, Rhine, Kinsey, et al.

It is good to be reminded, too, with forceful supporting data, that the 1924 restrictions on immigration to the U.S. were not driven by any belief on the part of the restrictionists in their own racial superiority but by a desire to stabilize the nation’s ethnic balance, which is by no means the same thing. (In fact, as MacDonald points out, one of the worries of the restrictionists was that more clever and energetic races like the Japanese would, if allowed to enter, have negative effects on social harmony.) MacDonald’s chapter on “Jewish involvement in shaping U.S. immigration policy” is a detailed survey of a topic I have not seen discussed elsewhere. If the Jews learned anything from the 20th century, it was surely the peril inherent in being the only identifiable minority in a society that is otherwise ethnically homogeneous. That thoughtful Jewish-Americans should seek to avoid this fate is understandable. That their agitation was the main determinant of postwar U.S. immigration policy seems to me more doubtful. And if it is true, we must believe that 97 percent of the U.S. population ended up dancing to the tune of the other three percent. If that is true, the only thing to say is the one Shakespeare’s Bianca would have said: “The more fool they.”

Similarly with MacDonald’s discussion of Jewish involvement in the Bolshevik takeover of the Russian Empire and the many horrors that ensued. This was until recently another taboo topic, though the aged Alexander Solzhenitsyn, presumably feeling he has nothing much to lose, has recently taken a crack at it. I believe MacDonald was driven by necessity here. Having posited that Jews are out to “destroy” (this is his own word) Gentile society, he was open to the riposte that if, after 2,000 years of trying, the Jews had failed to accomplish this objective in even one instance, Gentiles don’t actually have much to worry about. So: the Jews destroyed Russia. Though MacDonald’s discussion of this topic is interesting and illuminating, it left me unconvinced. As he says, “The issue of the Jewish identification of Bolsheviks who were Jews by birth is complex.” Paul Johnson gives only 15-20 percent of the delegates at early Party congresses as Jewish. If the other 80-85 percent were permitting themselves to be manipulated by such a small minority, then we are back with Bianca.

The aspect of Macdonald’s thesis that I find least digestible is his underlying assumption that group conflict is a zero-sum game rooted in an evolutionary tussle over finite resources. This is not even true on an international scale, as the growing wealth of the whole world during this past few decades has shown. On the scale of a single nation, it is absurd. These Jewish-inspired pseudoscientific phenomena that The Culture of Critique is concerned with—Boasian anthropology, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, and so on—were they a net negative for America? Yes, I agree with MacDonald, they were. Now conduct the following thought experiment. Suppose the great post-1881 immigration of Ashkenazi Jews had never occurred. Suppose the Jewish population of the U.S. in 2003 were not the two to four percent (depending on your definitions) that it is, but the 0.3 percent it was at the start of the Civil War. Would anything have been lost? Would America be richer or poorer? Would our cultural and intellectual life be busier or duller?

It seems incontrovertible to me that a great deal would have been lost: entrepreneurs, jurists, philanthropists, entertainers, publishers, and legions upon legions of scholars: not mere psychoanalysts and “critical theorists,” but physicists, mathematicians, medical research- ers, historians, economists—even, as MacDonald notes honestly in his new preface, evolutionary psychologists! The first American song whose words I knew was “White Christmas,” written by a first-generation Ashkenazi Jewish immigrant. The first boss I ever had in this country was a Jew who had served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps. Perhaps it is true, as MacDonald claims, that “most of those prosecuted for spying for the Soviet Union [i.e., in the 1940s and 1950s] were Jews.” It is also true, however, that much of the secret research they betrayed to their country’s enemies was the work of Jewish scientists. The Rosenbergs sold the Bomb to the Soviets; but without Jewish physicists, there would have been no Bomb to sell. Last spring I attended a conference of mathematicians attempting to crack a particularly intractable problem in analytic number theory. A high proportion of the 200-some attendees were Jews, including at least two from Israel. Sowers of discord there have certainly been, but on balance I cannot see how anyone could deny that this country is enormously better off for the contributions of Jews. Similarly for every other nation that has liberated the energies and intelligence of Jewish citizens. Was Hungary better off, or worse off, after the 1867 Ausgleich? Was Spain better off, or worse off, before the 1492 expulsions? “To ask the question is to answer it.”

Now, Kevin MacDonald might argue that he, as a social scientist, is not obliged to provide any such balance in his works, any more than a clinical pathologist writing about disease should be expected to include an acknowledgment that most of his readers will be healthy for most of their lives. I agree. A scientist, even a social scientist, need not present any facts other than those he has uncovered by diligent inquiry in his particular narrow field. He is under no obligation, as a scientist, to soothe the feelings of those whose sensibilities might be offended by his discoveries. Given the highly combustible nature of MacDonald’s material, however, it wouldn’t have hurt to point out the huge, indisputably net-positive, contributions of Jews to America, right at the beginning of his book and again at the end. MacDonald has in any case been fairly free in CofC with his own opinions on such matters as U.S. support for Israel, immigration policy, and so on. He is entitled to those opinions, but having included them in this book, his claim to dwell only in the aery realm of cold scientific objectivity does not sound very convincing.

This is, after all, in the dictionary definition of the term, an anti-Semitic book. Its entire argument is that the Jews, collectively, are up to no good. This may of course be true, and MacDonald is entitled to say that the issue of whether his results are anti-Semitic is nugatory, from a social-science point of view, by comparison with the issue of their truth content. I agree with that, too: but given the well-known history of this topic, it seems singularly obtuse of MacDonald not to try to calm the troubled waters his work is bound to stir up. 

Of course he’s obtuse: he’s just another Jew-hating crank grinding away on that same old worn-out wheel—a guy who sees a big hooked nose and a yarmulka lurking behind every problem or setback. It’s exactly the same sort of easy, comforting deflection practiced by the dismaying number of black Americans eager to blame Whitey (or the Chinks, or the Mexicans, et al) for all their woes. People who really, truly believe that all the world’s problems can be laid at the feet of a sinister cabal of Dem JOOOZ! are intellectually lazy at best, and should probably get out more.

(Via Zman)


((((((((JEWS!!!!)))))))–a primer

What with all the talk in certain Alt-Right circles about the (((((((JEW!!!!))))))) Question, I thought I’d dip a toe in too. In the course of researching these strange, sinister “people,” I actually learned quite a bit, some of which was horrifying, some of which was repulsive. It was quite a remarkable learning-journey; I’ll now share some of my newly-acquired knowledge with you folks, if I may.

First off, this is a (((((((JEW!!!!))))))):


His name is Gene Klein, which he changed to Gene Simmons so no one would know he was a (((((((JEW!!!!))))))). In this photo, he is enjoying a sandwich made from the bones and sinew of Christian infants, which is something (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) do quite a lot. This is what he looks like without makeup, in real life:


In this photo, the (((((((JEW!!!!))))))) Klein has just slaked a parching thirst with a (((((((JEW!!!!))))))) drink made from the blood of Christian children, also very popular among (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))).

Here is another picture of a (((((((JEW!!!!))))))).


He was called Jesus the Christ, and he was killed by another (((((((JEW!!!!))))))) named Pontius Pilate, which is why most reasonable people now call (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) the Christ Killers. That word above his head means “King Of The Jews” in their secret (((((((JEW!!!!))))))) language, which is called the Koran.

Jesus should have just gone back where he came from, just as all the rest of the (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) should. Then maybe he wouldn’t have been killed for his (((((((JEW!!!!))))))) troublemaking, and we’d all be a lot better off for it. The trouble is, where they all came from is Palestine, which, in one of the earliest examples of a long series of twisted conspiracies they’ve conjured up, the (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) claimed for themselves, after killing all the Palestinians and drinking the blood of their children. What a bunch of greedy, rotten bastards those (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) are, eh? GIVE THE PALESTINIANS THEIR LAND BACK, YOU JEWS!

Nobody should be the least bit embarrassed or hesitant about giving in and indulging the natural human impulse to hate (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))); almost everybody does hate them, and you’ll be in some pretty lofty, honorable company. These are just a few examples of the kind of intelligent, noteworthy movers-and-shakers you’ll be aligning yourself with. Some of them may even invite you to dinner at their house!









Yep, excellent company for sure. Incidentally, that last pic is of a guy called Hitler, unfairly maligned—by (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))), of course—for supposedly killing 6 million of them in something they call “the Holocaust,” which never actually happened. It was at most only a couple million anyway. Which, it didn’t happen, so there. Just another (((((((JEW!!!!))))))) lie to make everybody feel sorry for them, that’s all.

A side note: if you’re interested in writing something about (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) on your own blog (if any), you must be sure to always use a lot of parentheses and exclamation points when naming them so people will know who you’re talking about. But be careful: in addition to being greedy, spiteful, conspiratorial, and strongly tribal, (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) are also extremely vengeful and dangerous. When they get wind of anybody talking bad about them, that person will suddenly find himself cut off from any chance of enjoying any more of their delicious child-blood (((((((JEW!!!!))))))) drinks, and will no longer be welcome in any of the major cities or countries they control, which is all of them. They will also never be able to attend a movie, sporting event, or concert again, because (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) control those industries too. Nor can they watch TV; yep, (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))) in charge again. Yes, even Netflix. Also, the Internet.

So in sum, that’s what I learned about these vile, depraved, grotesque, iniquitous, omnipotent monsters, and quite an eye-opener it all was, too. Stay away from them, don’t speak of them for any reason, and maybe they’ll be content to sit back counting their money and drinking their horrible, demonic drink and just leave you alone. Probably not, though. That’s the one thing they NEVER do. Darn (((((((JEWS!!!!))))))).


Antisemitic Jews

A few of the other distasteful groups some on the alt-right choose to align themselves with: Joo-hatin’ libtards, self-hating Jewish libtards, and…guess who.

Anti-Israel activist Peter Beinart had spent years arguing that Hamas was a potentially moderate organization. Then when he was questioned at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, he played victim. 

But as Caroline Glick notes, there was every reason for Israeli authorities to question Beinart’s visit, because the anti-Israel BDS activist had participated in anti-Israel protests in Israel. Beinart was not, despite his claims, detained. He was asked about his participation in that protest by the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. The Center, despite its name, is used by Jewish Voice for Peace members, a BDS hate group, which also, despite its name, advocates for and supports terrorists who attack Israel. 

JVP members are on the banned list. Beinart had participated in a protest organized by a group that it used as a vehicle. So it’s completely normal that he was asked about it just as visitors to this country are asked about their membership in prohibited organizations such as the Nazi, Communist and other totalitarian parties. The BDS blacklist that bigots like Beinart rave about is no different than the United States blacklist on anyone who “has used a position of prominence to endorse terrorism.” 

That’s the BDS movement. 

JVP declared that it was proud to host Rasmea Odeh. Odeh had been convicted of a supermarket bombing in Israel that killed Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner: two Hebrew University students. It called the terrorist an “inspiration” and used the hashtag, #HonorRasmea. That’s using “a position of prominence to endorse terrorism” which gets you banned from both the United States and Israel. 

Beinart writes for The Forward, a paper notorious for attacks on Israel and Jews that veer into the anti-Semitic. Typically anti-Semitic Forward headlines include, “3 Jewish Moguls Among Eight Who Own as Much as Half the Human Race” and “Why We Should Applaud The Politician Who Said Jews Control The Weather.” 

Did I neglect to mention yet another of those distasteful groups above: the absolutely batshit insane? Consider the oversight hereby corrected, then. But wait, there’s more…and worse.

Jewish power, Karl Marx, whose bearded visage still sneers from The Forward’s old building, claimed, is self-interest. That self-interest has corrupted Jews. And Jewish self-interest has corrupted the world. Only socialism, enlightened global altruism, can redeem the world from the corruption of the Jews. 

Behind the special pleading, the foaming outrage, the laughable invocations of Jewish tradition and morality, Beinart, Eisner, The Forward and Jewish Voice for Peace are working off the same Marxist critique of Jews. Israel’s crime and that of its Jewish supporters, they contend, is that its self-interest has corrupted Jewish morality. The only way to redeem the Jews is to destroy Jewish self-interest. 

To destroy Israel. 

Only by abandoning their self-interest, their power, even their survival, can they atone for what Marxist anti-Semites, from their great bearded master on down, see as the ‘original sin’ of the Jews.

Peter Beinart, The Forward and JVP aren’t putting forward bold new ideas. Their Jewish sources are not, as they claim, the prophets of Israel or the Kotzker Rebbe, but the original prototype of the anti-Jewish Jew. Their prophet is the pathological anti-Semite who raved, “What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.” 

Over a century and a half later, Marxist criticism of the Jews has made few innovations, replacing Judaism with Israel, and to a lesser degree, money with power. Leftist anti-Zionism is so hard to distinguish from anti-Semitism because its roots are still in the same anti-Semitic Marxist sewer. 

The Anti-Jewish Jews preach the salvific powers of the left to redeem the selfishness of the Jews. Only the left can save Jews from Jewish power. Only the left can redeem Jews from clinging to their guns, bible, and land by destroying Israel.

Boy, the irony is strong with these ones, ain’t it?

Yeah, I ain’t gonna be joining the chorus of “JOOZ DID IT!” conspiracy theorists, Right, Left, or Confutated, thanks. I don’t care how vociferously they preach their frothy gospel, here at this websty or anyplace else. Try peddling it someplace else, guys; there’s no market for it here.


How Odd of Zod


Mark Steyn:

It’s prime real estate, with a magnificent view of the Mediterranean, if you don’t mind the trash and the stench and the chickenshit, and you tiptoe cautiously around the broken glass. I wandered past the graves: Jacob Cohen, Samuel J. Cohen, Samuel M. Cohen . . . Lot of Cohens here over the years. Not anymore. In one isolated corner, six young men—des musulmans, naturellement—watched a seventh lightly scrub a tombstone, as part of a make-work project “providing the community with resources to assist in its current grooming.”

What “community”? By 2005, there were fewer than 150 Jews in Tangiers, almost all of them very old. By 2015, it is estimated that there will be precisely none. Whenever I mention such statistics to people, the reaction is a shrug: why would Jews live in Morocco anyway? But in 1945 there were some 300,000 in this country. Today some 3,000 Jews remain—i.e., about one per cent of what was once a large and significant population. That would be an unusual demographic reconfiguration in most countries: imagine if Canada’s francophone population or Inuit population were today one per cent of what it was in 1945. But it’s not unusual for Jews. There are cemeteries like that on the rue du Portugal all over the world, places where once were Jews and now are none. I mentioned only last week that in the twenties, Baghdad was 40 per cent Jewish. But you could just as easily cite Czernowitz in the Bukovina, now part of Ukraine. “There is not a shop that has not a Jewish name painted above its windows,” wrote Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, visiting the city in 1937. Not today. As in Tangiers, the “community” resides in the cemetery.

You can sense the same process already under way in, say, London, the 13th-biggest Jewish city in the world, but one with an aging population; and in Malmö, Sweden, where a surge in anti-Semitism from, ahem, certain quarters has led Jewish residents to abandon the city for Stockholm and beyond; and in Odense, Denmark, where last year superintendent Olav Nielsen announced he would no longer admit Jewish children to the local school. The Jewish presence almost anywhere on the map is as precarious as, to coin a phrase, a fiddler on the roof. And Israel’s enemies are determined that the biggest Jewish community of all should be just as precarious and prove just as impermanent.

In 1936, during the Cable Street riots, the British Union of Fascists jeered at London Jews, “Go back to Palestine!”, “Palestine” being in those days the designation for the Jewish homeland. Last week, Helen Thomas, the doyenne of the White House press corps, jeered at today’s Jews, “Get the hell out of Palestine,” “Palestine” being now the designation for the land illegally occupied by the Jewish apartheid state. “Go home,” advised Miss Thomas, “to Poland and Germany.” Wherever a Jew is, whatever a Jew is, he should be something else somewhere else. And then he can be hated for that, too.

North Korea sinks a South Korean ship; hundreds of thousands of people die in the Sudan; millions die in the Congo. But 10 men die at the hands of Israeli commandos and it dominates the news day in, day out for weeks, with UN resolutions, international investigations, calls for boycotts, and every Western prime minister and foreign minister expected to rise in parliament and express the outrage of the international community. Odd. But why?


All we are saying is give peace a chance


Jerusalem Post:

Women are “the new secret weapon” in use against the “thieving enemy,” said Samar Alhaj, the woman leading the Lebanese boat that is scheduled to try to break the naval blockade on Gaza in an interview with a regional Israeli Arabic- language radio station in Nazareth. The Israeli government has linked the boat to Hizbullah ”

Asked on Radio A-Shams by Zohair Bahloul why the ship, Mariam, would only be carrying women, she said, “We are women in order not to give the thieving enemy an excuse to use arms against the ship.” She said the ship would be carrying cancer medication for children, and women suffering from breast cancer and cancer of the uterus due to “chemical bombs” dropped on Gaza by Israel.

Alhaj is the wife of an officer in the Lebanese security service who was jailed for four years for alleged involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Alhaj and her husband met with Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah on May 22.

So Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth were ‘peace activists’? Who knew?

Andy McCarthy, that’s who! Quoting Ken Timmerman:

“…[Peace] “activists” shot this commanding officer in the leg and stabbed him in the stomach before tossing him off the deck. Other “activists” on the lower deck then dragged the officer inside, taking a knife to expand the wound in his stomach. “They cut his ab muscles horizontally and by hand spilled his guts out,” the soldier said. “When they finished, they raised him up and walked him on the deck outside. He was conscious the whole time. If you are asking yourself why they did all that here comes the reason. They wanted to show the soldiers their commanders’ body so they will be demoralized and scared,” the soldier said. “Luckily, when they walked him on the deck, a soldier saw him and managed to shoot the activist that was walking him down the outside corridor. He shot him with a special non lethal bullet that didn’t kill him. My commander managed to jump from the deck to the water and swim to an army rescue boat (his guts still out of his body and now in salty sea water). That was how he was saved. The activists that did this to him are alive and now in Turkey and treated as heroes.”

Wow–just like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!


The Price of Pearls: How Can I Listen if You Won’t Hear?

“Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel…'”–Mark 12

Thomas Joscelyn:

Who Killed Daniel Pearl? Barack Obama won’t say.

…President Barack Obama did not identify who killed Daniel Pearl at a signing ceremony for a bill that bears Pearl’s name – the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed killed Daniel Pearl.

You may have heard of him.

He flattened the World Trade Center, where a mosque is now scheduled to be built.
He bombed the Pentagon like Bill Ayers only hoped to, where a Muslim Brotherhood adviser recently held sway.
KSM killed Americans in Shanksville, Pa., where a crescent-shaped memorial now faces Mecca.
But he was really aiming for the White House, where dwells a president who kneels before Saud monarchy, or perhaps Capitol Hill, where the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association works daily to impose sharia on America.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed killed Daniel Pearl, by his own admission, on what he understood to be orders from Mohammed:

Tabari VIII:38 “The Messenger of Allah commanded that all of the Jewish men and boys who had reached puberty should be beheaded. Then the Prophet divided the wealth, wives, and children of the Qurayza Jews among the Muslims.”

Obama: “All around the world there are enormously courageous journalists and bloggers who, at great risk to themselves, are trying to shine a light on the critical issues that the people of their country face; who are the frontlines against tyranny and oppression. And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.”

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did not murder Daniel Pearl because he was a journalist. He murdered Daniel Pearl because he was a Jew. An infidel, like you and me:

On March 10, 2007, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged Al Qaeda operative reported to be third in command under Osama Bin Laden, claimed responsibility, before his Combatant Status Review Tribunal, for the murder of Daniel Pearl. He claimed to have beheaded him. In a confession read during his Tribunal hearing, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is on record repeating:

“I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the City of Karachi, Pakistan.”

KSM said that by our waterboarding him, that released him from his religious obligation, allowing him to open up and tell us about all his other previous and pending plots.

In December 2008, he and his gangsters told the military tribunal judge at Guantanamo they wanted to plead guilty. The Obama Administration then shut the proceedings down.

In hopes of putting Bush on trial, they insanely tried to move KSM’s trial to New York until the public outcry forced them to back down. Even Obama seems to sense he’s one successful fuse away from impeachment hearings, although Holder and the al Qaeda Bar Association still hold out hope.

Just as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was about to decapitate him, Daniel Pearl invoked the prayer of Deuteronomy before the death blow rained down: “Shema Israel”; “Hear, O Israel”.

The murder–not “loss”–of Daniel Pearl and his brave last words in the very face of evil don’t remind me that “there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.”

It reminds me to “Hear, O Israel”; God is one, Love the Lord with all your heart. And love your neighbor as yourself.

Like this:

When the police found Pearl’s remains, Abdul Sattar Edhi, one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan, arrived promptly on the scene, personally collected all ten body parts, and took them to the morgue. Pearl’s body was returned to the U.S., and was interred in the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

But it does reminds us there are those who would go to any length in order to silence themselves.

Even as the president rightly decried press censorship, he was self-censoring; he will not say “radical Islam”. Perhaps he fears Islamist demagogues who would twist his words, just as he demagogues Arizonans.

But this failure to name names has consequences, as we’ve seen at Ft. Hood and many other times. Yes, it’s easier to Blame Bush yet again *yawwn* or pick a media fight with Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, but the truth is this:

“You can avoid evil, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding evil.”

Or avoiding evil’s name.

Hear, O, bama.


Petraeus Goes Native

“…[W]hen swearing in new ambassadors, I used to take them over to the big globe in the secretary of state’s office and ask them to point out their country. Almost invariably they would rotate the globe and point to their post, wherever in the world. I would then tell them that when I made this request of Senator Mike Mansfield, then American ambassador to Japan, he spun the globe, put his finger on the United States, and said, “This is my country!””–Secretary of State George P. Shultz

Andy McCarthy:

In January, after canvassing opinion from Muslim governments in his area of responsibility, Petraeus sent a team of CENTCOM officials to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff…to underline Petraeus’s “growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The general was doing politics, not combat strategy — and we don’t owe him any deference on politics. In a 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint presentation, Petraeus’s briefers reported…“that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, [and] that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region.”

Petraeus is echoing the narrative peddled incessantly by leftists in the government he serves and by Islamists in the countries where he works. According to that narrative, Israel’s plight is not a struggle for survival against immovable foes spurred by an Islamist ideology that must be discredited and defeated. To the contrary, this view holds, it is the result of a mere political conflict. It could be resolved, so the theory goes, if only Israel weren’t so intransigent — i.e., if it would just stop taking so seriously its need to secure its citizens against enemies pledged to its destruction. …

As night follows day, Islamist sympathizers leapt on a statement from CENTCOM’s commander that Israel causes America’s problems.

Islamist sympathizers…and Joe Biden:

“This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden castigated his [Israeli] interlocutors. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”

No–buying into the PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah worldview endangers peace.

I certainly don’t think the general “Betrays Us”, as the Left said, or that he’s a liar, as Hillary Clinton said during the surge (leaving aside the cognitive dissonance with the phrase ‘called a liar by Clinton’…). Although he and the Secretary of State seem to have made up now.

Petraeus wants the modernizing mission to succeed. So do I. But as George Schultz illustrated, there is a natural human tendency for diplomats (and functional diplomats like the general) to over-identify with their client states rather than the United States. And to identify with the bureaucracy rather than the American people.

The more likely path for mission success lies in forthrightly standing up for our principles and our friends, rather than coddling and humoring the baser impulses and ideas of Islamic societies. That’s like the two social workers who find a bleeding victim in the alley and worry about helping the troubled youths who committed the assault. Stop the bleeding first.

Liz Cheney:

In the era of Obama, American allies have their loyalty met with humiliation, arrogance and incompetence. The shabby reception Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu received in Washington a few weeks ago — being treated as an uninvited guest at the White House — was disgraceful. President Obama must not understand the most fundamental point about US-Israeli relations — the world is safer when there is no daylight between America and the state of Israel.

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East and one of our strongest and most important allies in the world. Barack Obama is playing a reckless game that could have deadly consequences if he continues on the path of diminishing America’s ties to Israel.

and Britain. and Poland. and Canada. and…

I hope Petraeus doesn’t choose Gen. Scowcroft’s road of “Realism”, where we sell out those struggling for freedom in order to maintain peace and quiet in our own neighborhoods. Obama already has this tendency to bow to kings and cave before dictators, acquiescing in the subjugation of those peoples.

Gen. Petraeus has been a leader all his life–don’t stop now, sir.


The Absalom Administration


Victor Davis Hanson:

The United Nations knew that nearly half of its resolutions aimed at Israel would come under fire from the United States. We would bite back in New York at the fiery speeches of an extremist like Arafat or Qaddafi. The Arab summits accepted that yet another pan-Arabic resolution damning the Jewish state would go nowhere in convincing the West to drop its alliance. And European triangulators accepted that their flagrant dislike of Israel would always encounter American resistance.

The net result, again, was that Israel’s front-line enemies, whether terrorists or state autocracies, accepted that it was futile to try to destroy Israel, and difficult to galvanize world opinion to turn it into a global pariah.

Now, however, the Obama administration — through its symbolic snubs and choice of personnel, and through real policies concerning Jerusalem — has sent a message to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iran, the United Nations, and the European Left that America is no longer particularly interested in playing its traditional role in defending Israel either intellectually or politically — and thus perhaps soon not through military assistance either. That will only encourage new adventurism…


George Lane’s Welsh Rare Bit


David Pryce-Jones:

Explosions were taking place just off the French coast, and George and another Commando were detailed to find out what these were, as they represented a possible danger to landing craft. The Germans had put in place underwater mines. George reported this, and was then sent back to do further investigation. This time, the Germans detected them, there was a fire-fight, and George was captured. Blind-folded, he was taken for a long drive, escorted into a house up a staircase, and when the blindfold was removed he found himself facing Field-Marshal Rommel and other German generals in their headquarters at La Roche Guyon. Rommel then interrogated him about his mission, saying that he suspected the Allies were about to invade. George of course spoke German but stuck to English, to be on the safe side. The more George hedged, the more Rommel played the good-cop role. But then one of the other generals butted in. If George was the British officer he claimed to be, why did he speak English with a foreign accent. “Because I am a Hungarian Jew,” was not the right answer in the circumstances. George said, “Because I am Welsh.” Oh, of course, the generals all nodded. George was given a cup of tea, and then sent to prison in Paris, and deported — not to a concentration camp as might have been the case, but to an officers’ prison. As for Rommel, a few days later he and his car were shot up by the RAF, so he played no part in D-Day, and then he was accused by Hitler of being part of the July bomb plot, and forced to commit suicide. George was surely the last non-German to see him alive.

The Daily Telegraph has his obituary but omits the brilliant improvisation that he spoke with a foreign accent because he was Welsh. A pity. The obituary also forgot to mention that he was Jewish. Now what was the reason for that?


City of Lites


Denis Boyles, who knows France, says Sarkozy is sucking up to Obama because there’s trouble at home:

Despite the hopes of the voters who swept him into office on the promise of reform and fiscal sobriety, he produced no serious proposal to roll back even a few months of the 50 years of Socialist lunacy that has brought France to an economic stand-still. Instead, he made a “carbon tax” the centerpiece of his administration’s proposed initiatives. It was despised, ridiculed, and finally abandoned.

Le Grand Suck-Up? Maybe so:

(AP) France is standing with the administration United States in condemning Israeli settlement activity in east Jerusalem.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says his own commitment to Israel’s security is well known but adds that the settlement activity in an area claimed by the Palestinians “contributes nothing.”

France has already given the Palestinians several neighborhoods in their capital city of Paris.

Perhaps they could give them yet another one, and let Israel keep the neighborhoods in its capital city of Jerusalem.


Ask Any Czech, Check Any Pole


The other day, I mentioned that New York Times was lying through its Gray Lady dentures. It claimed “Israel Feeling Rising Anger From U.S.”, when in fact, Gallup had just reported “Support for Israel in U.S. at 63%, Near Record High”.

So I was listening to the radio today when CNN News came on. Citing a CNN poll in a story about Bibi Netanyahu’s White House visit today, the announcer said “For the first time, most Americans don’t view Israel as an ally.”

Say what? How is that possible? Did everyone take Joe Biden’s and Hillary’s side overnight?

So I went to CNN’s website. Turns out the CNN radio writers had turned the poll on it’s head to help their boyfriend in the White House in his beef with Israel:

CNN poll: Israel a friend and ally

41 percent of respondents consider Israel friendly to the United States but not an ally, while 39 percent characterize the Middle East nation an ally.

At the same time, 12 percent said they consider Israel unfriendly to the United States and 5 percent said Israel is an enemy.

In other words, 80% of Americans say Israel is our friend or ally!

The two words are almost interchangeable, which explains why the “ally” number is down. (You could also say they’re not our “ally” per se like the Nato countries, because they don’t fight with us in the Sandbox for obvious reasons.)

80% support sounds a lot different than “For the first time, most Americans don’t view Israel as an ally,” doesn’t it? In fact, it’s almost the opposite.

Congrats to CNN’s website for shooting it straight, but CNN’s Radio Rangers are really bad amateur liars. And in an Era of Professional Liars. Do try harder next time, girls.

And welcome to America, Bibi.

It’s good that there’s a White House meeting between the Leader of the Free World and President Obama:

“The future of the Jewish state can never depend on the goodwill of even the greatest of men. Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself. The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.”


How odd of O to choose the PLO…


…as Joe Biden: Get these squirrels off of me!”

David Pryce-Jones says declare them a country–and then treat them like one:

The Palestinians are happy with the way things are; they see no reason for change; the present situation is playing profitably into their hands. If they’d really wanted a state, they could have had one any time since the 1992 Oslo Accords. Israel, the United States, the European Union, and even Saudi Arabia implore them to have a state. But why should they? All these well-wishers are pumping money to them, and a state would force them to spend it on administration rather than themselves. They also have the pleasure of observing everyone — and specially Washington — putting pressure on Israel and making it unpopular. Sixteen-hundred more settlements gives them grounds for 1,600 more complaints, and then sitting down and rubbing their hands in expectation of commiseration and rewards. A state would oblige them to pull their own chestnuts out of the fire.


No-one–really, no-one–cares about the Palestinians. The tiff centers on Israel’s plans to attack Iran. And Obama may be in more trouble than Netanyahu.

The chess-masters of Tehran have played a single combination for the past five years: threaten America’s flanks in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to gain control of the center of the board, that is, by pushing on with a nuclear program that is designed to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran will succeed, unless another player kicks over the chessboard. Israeli officials report that American officials are visiting Jerusalem – including Vice President Joseph Biden last week – to warn Israel against launching an attack on Iran. “They’re not talking about the Palestinians, they’re only talking about Iran,” commented the head of one Israeli political party. …

An Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would polarize American opinion. And if the Obama administration attempted to punish Israel for doing what most Americans seemingly want to do in any event, the balance of American sentiment – if available polling data are any guide – would shift away from Obama and to Israel. Obama’s party would pay at the polls in November.

John Bolton:

“We are moving inexorably toward, and perhaps have now reached, an Israeli crisis with Mr. Obama. Americans must realize that allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is empowering an existential threat to the Israeli state, to Arab governments in the region that are friendly to the U.S., and to long-term global peace and security.

“Mr. Netanyahu must realize he has not been banking good behavior credits with Mr. Obama but simply postponing an inevitable confrontation. The prime minister should recalibrate his approach, and soon. Israel’s deference on Palestinian issues will not help it with Mr. Obama after a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear program. It would be a mistake to think that further delays in such a strike will materially change the toxic political response Israel can expect from the White House. Israel’s support will come from Congress and the American people, as opinion polls show, not from the president.

“Mr. Obama is not merely heedless of America’s predominant global position. He is also embarrassed enough by it not to regret diminishing it.”


“No Worse Friend, No Better Enemy”


Seth Leibsohn:

Blazoned across the NYT today is the headline: “Israel Feeling Rising Anger From U.S.”

How I just pray for the headline someday that reads ”Iran Feeling Rising Anger From U.S.” or “Venezuela Feeling Rising Anger From U.S.” or “Cuba Feeling Rising Anger From U.S.” or “Myanmar Feeling Rising Anger From U.S.” or “Sudan Feeling Rising Anger From U.S.”

Not from this crowd, Seth. It’s all “Punish your friends, reward your enemies!”

By the way, that Times headline is a bald-faced lie;

Gallup: Support for Israel in U.S. at 63%, Near Record High.

The only “rising anger from U.S.” is from US terrorist-coddling politicians in this administration.

Bibi was blindsided by a trouble-making cabinet-member of a different party, who announced new construction in a Jewish neighborhood during Biden’s visit. The administration jumped on the chance to portray themselves as deeply “insulted” in order to wring more unconditional surrenders to the Palestinians from Netanyahu.

If it’s any consolation, guys, these liberals have wrecked the home-building industry here in America, too.

The administration is even trying to pin US casualties in the Sandbox on…Israel! They keep on asking themselves “Why do they hate us?” and answering “Because of Jew!” It’s getting awfully crowded under that bus.

Meanwhile, and speaking of busses, the “moderate” Palestinians named a town square after a mass-murderer who killed dozens of civilians on a bus, including 13 children and an American.

Biden was so deeply “insulted”, he hugged Abbas around the neck. And kissed him.

Building homes–bad. Celebrating terrorist–good.

That’s what friends are for?


Witness: A Hero’s Hero

Denis Avey, The British PoW who broke into Auschwitz — and survived:

“I ended up in the 7th Armoured Division, the original Desert Rats,” he says. “We operated behind enemy lines in Egypt. In 1942 we were ambushed. I was wounded and taken prisoner by the Germans.”

Avey was a troublesome prisoner. In the summer of 1943 he was deported to Auschwitz, in Poland, and interned in a small PoW camp on the periphery of the IG Farben factory. The main Jewish camps were several miles to the west. “I’d lost my liberty, but none of my spirit,” he says. “I was still determined to give as good as I got.”

But he knew immediately that this was a different order of prison. “The Stripeys — that’s what we called the Jewish prisoners — were in a terrible state. Within months they were reduced to waifs and then they disappeared. The stench from the crematoria was appalling, civilians from as far away as Katowice were complaining. Everybody knew what was going on. Everybody knew.”

Remarkably, Avey was able to think beyond the war. “I knew in my gut that these swine would eventually be held to account,” he says. “Evidence would be vital. Of course, sneaking into the Jewish camp was a ludicrous idea. It was like breaking into Hell. But that’s the sort of chap I was. Reckless.”

According to the historian Sir Martin Gilbert, Avey’s hunch was right. “Auschwitz would not become known as a place of extermination until the spring of 1944,” he says. “When the world found out, there was outrage. After the war, British war crimes investigators were desperate to find PoWs with information about the camps.” …

“Despite the danger, I knew I had to bear witness,” Avey says. “As Albert Einstein said: the world can be an evil place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. I’ve never been one to do nothing.”

The operation was planned meticulously. Avey found a Dutch Jew with a similar physique and persuaded him to exchange places for a day. Avey knew that they marched past each other at the same time every week. “The Nazis were rigid, you see,” he says. “To them orders were orders, to be carried out exactly. That was what allowed me to find a way round them.”

Avey shaved his head and blackened his face. At the allocated time, he and the Dutch Jew sneaked into a disused shed. There they swapped uniforms and exchanged places. Avey affected a slouch and a cough, so that his English accent would be disguised should he be required to speak.

“I joined the Stripeys and marched into Monowitz, a predominantly Jewish camp. As we passed beneath the Arbeit Macht Frei [work makes you free] sign, everyone stood up straight and tried to look as healthy as they could. There was an SS officer there, weeding out the weaklings for the gas. Overhead was a gallows, which had a corpse hanging from it, as a deterrent. An orchestra was playing Wagner to accompany our march. It was chilling.” …

The changeover went smoothly, and Avey returned to the PoW camp. “The Dutch Jew perished, but I’m certain that this short reprieve prolonged his life by several weeks,” he says. “Whether that was a good thing, I don’t know.”

In 1945, as the Soviet Army closed in, the Nazis abandoned the camp and herded 60,000 prisoners in the direction of Germany, in what would become known as one of Death Marches. Avey, who by then was suffering from tuberculosis, was among them. Around 15,000 prisoners died on the way. “The road was littered with corpses,” he says. “I saw a chance to escape and seized it.”

He found his way to Allied lines and was transported back home. Two days before VE Day, he arrived at his parents’ Essex farm half-dead with exhaustion and sickness. They had not expected to see him again.

If Avey’s story still sounds implausible, there is no doubt about the help he gave to Lobethall. Last year the BBC screened a moving documentary, during which Avey learnt for the first time that his old friend had survived the war and died in New York in 2001. Before his death, Lobethall recorded a video testimony for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, during which he emotionally recounts how his life was saved by Avey’s initiative and Susana’s cigarettes. This is the only moment that I see Avey’s steely façade falter.

“I was hospitalised for two years after the war,” Avey continues. “In 1947, I went to the military authorities to submit my information about Auschwitz. Their eyes glazed over. I wasn’t taken seriously. I was shocked, especially after the risks I’d taken. I felt completely disillusioned, and traumatised as well. So from then on I bottled it up, and tried to piece my life back together.” …

Sixty-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, when eyewitnesses are dying out and Holocaust denial is burgeoning, Denis Avey’s extraordinary tale has finally found its moment. “I’m talking to you so it will do some good,” he says fiercely, pounding his fingers on the table for emphasis. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”


The Games People Play


Mere Rhetoric:

“The two Israelis won gold and bronze medals at the European Cup fencing tournament for under 17s. Dana Stralinkov, 14, won gold and Alona Komarov, 13 won bronze. But the Austrian official in charge of arranging the national anthems played when the winners went on the podium said he could not locate the recording of ‘Hatikvah’. After a few minutes of silence, the two teens sang the Israeli anthem themselves, with no backing track.”

Good for those girls, who knew what to expect after the same thing happened in Sweden [and Turkey. And…]. The Austrian official who approached the podium actually said that he had the old Israeli national anthem available, which was an interesting rhetorical gambit insofar as it’s the only thing he could have said to decrease his credibility. […]

[S]houldn’t the rest of the country be appreciative enough to keep track of even one Hatikva recording?

Maybe they lost it in a Swiss bank vault. Have they thought of checking there?

It’s alright; some Austrians have already “helped” enough to last a century.


The Leader of the Free World Speaks


And baby, it’s cold inside that building (excerpts):

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events. Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth.

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency? A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.

What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations! Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.

It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.

What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come. We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks. We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the “confirmed unteachability of mankind,” the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them. Churchill bemoaned what he called the “want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.”

In the spirit of the timeless words spoken to Joshua over 3,000 years ago, let us be strong and of good courage. Let us confront this peril, secure our future and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come.

Hey, somebody’s got to lead the Free World. Somebody’s got to speak truth to powers and principalities. Somebody’s got to make the bold case for Western Civilization and freedom. Our guy certainly didn’t.


“When Something is Wrong With my Bibi…


Thanks to President Bush for making Obama stay away from the UN’s “Durban II: Get the Jew” Racism Conference in Geneva. Obama claimed those thug governments were being “hypocritical”–that is, practicing policies just as bad as Israel’s.

The only reason we’re not there is because President Bush stood up to these cretins last time and refused to attend. After weeks of kowtowing to human rights abusers, even Pres. Barack “Dances With Dictators” Obama knows there are limits to the American people’s disgust quotient with his non-stop groveling. For the US to attend now after having repudiated the first conference was more than this president was willing to take the heat for.

Tougherer, Smarterer(tm):

The Bush administration — while schizophrenic — went to the United Nations and won unilateral and near-unilateral sanctions demanding Iran suspend nuclear enrichment. This came after the IAEA had found Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement. By agreeing to negotiate without enrichment suspension, the Obama administration is casting aside unilaterally these U.N. Security Council resolutions. Rather than facilitate diplomacy, such a move hampers it in the long-term because it signals to Tehran that it need not take U.N. Security Council Resolutions seriously. We can never use threat of U.N. sanctions again to coerce Iran.

Barack as “The Midnight Unilateral Cowboy”. As weak as those sanctions were, they were far too tough for President Ladybug.

David Pryce-Jones’ history lesson:

In 1935, a British nurse on secondment to a hospital in Frankfurt was walking home after duty. Uniformed Nazi storm-troopers waylaid her in the street and beat her up. Informing the British government, the British consul, Dr. Max Auwe, spelled out how serious this episode was. The fact that the storm-troopers were in uniform showed that they wished to be identified as acting for the Nazi regime. The Nazis wanted to find out whether the British would react strongly to such a provocation or cave in. When Dr. Auwe insisted on a policy of strength, he was fired from his post. Months later, the British government signed the Anglo-German Naval Treaty that gave Hitler his fleet and became the stepping-stone for the disastrous policy of appeasement. The failure to defend a British nurse who had been deliberately attacked, the Nazis rightly judged, signified that the British were in no frame of mind to defend the national interest, but could be pushed to make huge and devastating concessions.

So it is exactly with Roxana Saberi. The Iranians are testing the frame of mind in Washington. They have heard President Obama lamenting over past American policy, and offering change, indeed pleading for friendship. Negotiations are in the air. It is even being suggested that in the event of agreeing to negotiations the Iranians need not suspend their nuclear development, hitherto a condition for proposed talks. The mullahs are in the process of discovering whether Washington might be willing to make further concessions. Hillary Clinton has expressed “deep concern” over Roxana Saberi, and if weasel words of the kind are the sum total of Washington’s response then the conclusion will be that the United States can be pushed into abandoning its national interest and instead pursuing a policy of appeasement of the mullahs, in spite of their warmongering quite as evidently as the Nazis.

If you think Pres. Toughie McTufftuff sent a message by standing up to those pirates, think again:

“…reliable military sources close to the scene are painting a much different picture of the incident – accusing the president of employing restrictive rules of engagement that actually hampered the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips and extended the drama at sea for days.

Multiple opportunities to free the captain of the Maersk Alabama from three young pirates were missed, these sources say – all because a Navy SEAL team was not immediately ordered to the scene and then forced to operate under strict, non-lethal rules of engagement.

They say the response duty office at the Pentagon was initially unwilling to grant an order to use lethal force to rescue Phillips. They also report the White House refused to authorize deployment of a Navy SEAL team to the location for 36 hours, despite the recommendation of the on-scene commander.

The White House also turned down two rescue plans offered up by the Seal commander on the scene and the captain of the USS Bainbridge.

Our Navy stood up to the pirates in spite of Obama. Here’s how its really done:

Stanly Kurtz:

But as Reagan’s last secretary of state, George Shultz, once said, the most important foreign-policy decision Ronald Reagan ever made was to fire the striking air-traffic controllers. …That incident, early in Reagan’s first term, embodied his character, had an enormous and unanticipated effect on his foreign policy, and even foreshadowed the challenge we face right now. …So the president bit the bullet and fired the striking controllers. That set the tone for labor negotiations with national, and even municipal, governments for years to come. More important, the whole world was watching Regan’s conduct during the strike. This was obviously a man who would hang tough under pressure, and risk serious costs to back up a decision he believed to be necessary and right. The Soviet’s took note.

Thomas Washburne:

On August 3, Reagan took just 29 seconds to explain his argument on national television:

“Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees: ‘I am not participating in any strike against the government of the United States or any agency thereof.’ It is for this reason that I must tell those that fail to report for duty this morning that they are in violation of the law and if they do not report for work within 48 hours they have forfeited their rights and will be terminated.” …

Many Americans admired Reagan’s handling of the situation, but the impact did not stop there. Edwin Meese, Reagan’s attorney general, has noted that this incident “convinced people in other capitals around the world, including Soviet leaders, that they had a person of real substance that they were dealing with here.” …

August 3, 1981, could have been a very different day. Reagan could have appointed commissions. He could have passed the buck to Congress.

But instead, he did what he knew was right. In the present political world of instant polling, flip-flopping and blame-placing, we need to remember that real leadership comes from deeply embedded principles that can be tapped to tackle the serious issues confronting us as a nation, as a state or as a local community.

We need a leader who will stand up for America, stand up for Israel, stand up for our allies and stand up to thugs. So far, this this president stands up only for himself. When he’s not bowing down to some slug with a flag somewhere.


The Homeless are back!


“Politically speaking, who are our friends?”

We are. And so is Mark Steyn:

“…I found myself on Cable Street in East London for the first time in years. It was the scene of a famous battle in 1936, when Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, in a crude act of political intimidation, determined to march through the heart of the Jewish East End. They were turned back by a mob of local Jews, Irish Catholic dockers, Commie agitators et al all standing under the Spanish Civil War slogan, “No pasaran”: They shall not pass. …

Things are different now, as Ezra Levant’s dispatch on the intimidation of Calgary Jews in the heart of their own neighborhood makes clear: There’s no resistance, no old leftist solidarity, no nothing, just a fatalistic shrug as supporters of banned (and explicitly eliminationist) terrorist organizations commandeer private property to compare Jews to Nazis. What can you do? They shall pass, week after week. It’s as if Sir Oswald had marched through Cable Street in triumph, and then decided to make it a twice-weekly event.

By the way, those contemporary lefties who think the Jews should get out of Palestine might note the protest slogans of 70 years ago: In those London demonstrations, the Jews were told, “Go back to Palestine!””

“Go Back to Palestine! Get Out of Palestine! Leave! Stay! Go! Come Back! How Dare You Come Back! Hey, Come Back Here–We Didn’t Say You Could Leave!”

When they say Jews shouldn’t be here and Jews shouldn’t be there, what they’re really saying is that Jews shouldn’t be. period.

God Bless Israel.


The Proportional and the Pregnant


or No More Monica Smiths?

If a street-gang swore to kill your family and drove by your house every week spraying it with bullets, even though no one was harmed, what would the proportional response be?

Would you ask the police to drive by the houses of the gangsters families and shoot some bullets harmlesly into their attics? That seems to be the answer proposed by Leftists from the safety of their upholstered sinecures.

Proportionality is not a even swap–otherwise Israel would have to indiscriminately target civilians as the Hamas Nazis do. It has been described by some as using the proper amount of force to get the job done; i.e.; not destroying an entire village to stop one sniper in one building.

We’ve already tried our own version of the Left’s alleged proportionality.

In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed. Because the bombers were poor engineers–like the Gaza rocketeers–casualties were “light”. Because they were “light”, we chose to prosecute this now-declared war of war crimes as a simple criminal act–almost as a glorified liquor store robbery gone awry. No one was even given the death penalty.

Less than a decade later, our military barracks, our embassies, our air and sea vessels and even our Pentagon had all been attacked–and the World Trade Center was a smoking hole in the ground. Something’s not proportional here.

And neither is the concern for Khaled Sheik Muhammed, who was probably in on both WTC bombings. We used the proper amount of force to get the job done when we rightfully waterboarded his sorry ass–not to punish him, not to make him admit guilt–but to prevent more civilian deaths.

And by “civilian deaths”, I mean, of course, “your death”.

Here’s a special Note to Politicians:

If a Puerto Rican mother in New York were to get up at 2 a.m. to go to her first of three jobs because politicians have driven the economy into the dirt, her last dying words before plunging off an exploding Brooklyn Bridge into the icy East River below are very unlikely to include the phrase “Thank God John McCain and Barack Obama were too pure to waterboard a terrorist and prevent all thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis!”

You see, we already failed Monica Smith–and who is Monica Smith, you ask?

She was a secretary. She was 35. And she was seven months pregnant.

It is often said that the first WTC bombing killed “only” six people, just as it is said that Hamas’ rockets have “only” killed a few people recently. (Also like Hamas, they HOPED to kill thousands–they simply lacked the expertise.)

No, five men were murdered that February day in 1993–five men and one woman, a secretary doing her job though she was seven months pregnant. Therefore, seven people were killed that day.

It’s a sad fact of life how we don’t know her name, but we remember the names of the Nazis who murdered her.

That’s because Ramzi Yousef, the “Blind Sheik” Abdel Rahman and both the Sheik Muhammeds, uncle and nephew, are given lengthy trials with lawyers and discovery–while their victims were tried, convicted and executed in the blink of an eye.

We barely remember Monica Smith’s name. And the name of her child is known only in Heaven.

But it is known there in the proper proportion.


Oxford Union Dues


It seems that hardly a week goes by around here that we don’t mention those wacky public master-debaters at England’s Oxford University.

Historically, they are of course famous for their 1933 Resolution: “Resolved; This House will not fight for King and Country”. By swearing not to stand up to Hitler & Company in 1933, they merely ensured that they would be forced to do so five years later, and on much less favorable terms.

Well, they’re at it again:

Mona Charen asks:

“Resolved: This House Believes that Israel has a Right to Exist.” So Israel’s presence in the world, the right of seven million people to a sovereign existence, is a fit topic for debate? Is there any other country in the world whose right to exist the privileged young men and women of Oxford would think open to question? Jordan? Her sovereignty dates to 1946, just two years before Israel. Is that up for grabs? How about Great Britain? Bangladesh? Cuba? In fact, there is no other country whose very existence is considered debatable. Now what does that say?

Mark Steyn answers:

It reminds us that it’s not a border dispute or a territorial dispute but, for one party, an existence dispute. It’s a telling comment on the state of affairs that more and more Europeans are growing more and more comfortable with more and more open support for the absolutist position of Hamas and the PLO charter. I’d disagree with you only on one point, when you write that “anti-Semitism has made a roaring comeback in Great Britain”. As these things go, and by the standards of the Continent, Britain has a more or less honorable record. That’s what makes the current virulence – from the BBC’s institutional anti-Israelism to the increasing number of cemetery desecrations to the security guards required by more and more synagogues – a mark of shame in a traditionally tolerant society. The British dishonor themselves and their history in adopting the grubbiest of Continental pathologies.

It also says that Euro-elites have not really divested themselves of the Hitler Project; when you tell Jews they can’t be here and then tell them they can’t be there, either, you are really just telling them they can’t be, period.

I guess the Oxford Union is still smarter than God. Must be nice.

Now, I don’t want to go all anti-intellectual on you. Even though I’m a member in good standing of the Stupid Party, I admire the great conservative thinkers; Locke, Burke, Adam Smith, Russell Kirk, Foghorn Leghorn. But intellectuals can get so over-educated that they think up is down, right is wrong and Ben Afleck is a deep-thinker.

In fact, the Oxford Union isn’t even as smart as a 5th-grader. Why? Because even a 5th-grader knows that “debate” means opposing points of view–and Oxford Union has loaded both debate teams with supporters of Palestinian terrorism.

“Resolved: A debating society with no real debate is as useless as tits on a boar hog.”

As Al Gore says, “The debate is over!”

Pre-Update!: Speaking of Foghorn, here’s more cartoon musings from the noted cartoon-speech criminal Steyn:

Here’s another news item out of Britain this week: A new version of The Three Little Pigs was turned down for some “excellence in education” award on the grounds that “the use of pigs raises cultural issues” and, as a result, the judges “had concerns for the Asian community” — i.e., Muslims. Non-Muslim Asians — Hindus and Buddhists – have no “concerns” about anthropomorphized pigs.

This is now a recurring theme in British life. A while back, it was a local government council telling workers not to have knick-knacks on their desks representing Winnie-the-Pooh’s porcine sidekick, Piglet. As Martin Niemöller famously said, first they came for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character and, if I was, I’m more of an Eeyore. So then they came for the Three Little Pigs, and Babe, and by the time I realized my country had turned into a 24/7 Looney Tunes it was too late, because there was no Porky Pig to stammer “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” and bring the nightmare to an end.

Semi-Related Pre-Update!: P.J. O’Rourke explains our presidential primary election to Europeans:

Let us not forget Ron Paul who is very popular–with people who stay up all night in Ayn Rand chatrooms, bury Krugerrands in the yard, and think the Trilateral Commission causes sub-prime mortgage foreclosures.

Now if someone would just explain it to me.


I Should Study with Him?

Rabban Gamliel II, the great-great-grandson of Hillel, is often called “Gamliel of Yavneh”. This is because Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai brought him to Yavneh is his youth. Although Jerusalem, the Temple, and the autonomous kingdom of the Herodians had all been destroyed by the Romans, the city of Yavneh had been established by R. Yohanan as a sanctuary. The Talmud1 informs us that R. Yohanan, who had been trapped in the besieged city of Jerusalem, had himself smuggled out of the city in a coffin and brought before the Roman general Vespasian, whom he greeted as emperor. Almost immediately thereafter, messengers from Rome arrived, informing Vespasian that the Senate had indeed proclaimed him emperor, in opposition to the rebel Vitellius. Impressed by R. Yohanan’s knowledge and prophetic abilities, Vespasian offered him any favor that he asked for. R. Yohanan’s response was, “Give me Yavneh and its Sages!”, a request that Vespasian fulfilled.

(This nonetheless led to a profound spiritual crisis that lasted the rest of R. Yohanan’s life. Yavneh and the Hillelic dynasty of nesi’im (patriarchs) had been saved, but Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. Ever after, R. Yohanan wondered if he had done enough or, if he had asked for more, Vespasian would have reneged and given him nothing. On his deathbed, R. Yohanan confessed in tears that he did not know how he would be judged in the World to Come.)

Rabban Gamliel grew into a learned but arrogant man. He freely employed herem (banning or excommunication) to force other rabbis to submit to his authority and the authority of the Sanhedrin (even placing his brother-in-law, Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus haGadol under a ban), although he was gracious and forgiving to those who did submit. Finally, the Sanhedrin could stand no more, and deposed Rabban Gamliel as nasi, replacing him with Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah. The Talmud2 relates that

[O]n that very day3, they got rid of the door-guard and permission was given to the students to enter; since R. Gamliel used to say that any student whose inside [motivation, character] is not like his outside [the way he presents himself] may not enter the bet midrash4. On that very day, more benches were brought in…some say 400 benches were added, others say 700 benches were added. R. Gamliel became depressed, saying ‘Have I kept [words of] Torah from Israel?’ In a dream, he was shown white barrels, filled with ash – but that was not accurate, they only showed him that to restore his spirits (i.e., the dream indicated that all of these new students amounted to nothing; the truth was that they were competent students)

Rabban Gamliel thought that he was doing a great work – using his power and authority to see to it that only worthy men would study Torah, and that frauds and hypocrites would not be allowed to use their studies as a pretext to oppress and deceive others. When he was removed from power, however, and R. Elazar reversed his policy, he became depressed, not out of mere pique at being opposed, but because he realized that what seemed like a good idea to him was actually harmful: “Have I kept Torah from Israel?”, “Has my policy to guarantee integrity among talmidei hakhamim5 actually prevented men from rising to great knowledge and spiritual stature?” So upset was he by the realization of what he had done that Heaven sent him a comforting (although false) dream.

(It should be noted that, after his deposition, Rabban Gamliel became a humble man, and was eventually reinstated as nasi. Although he pronounced many halakhot6, he is perhaps remembered most for his funeral arrangements. At the time, it was the custom to vie for status through the extravagance of one’s funeral. Many were bankrupted, arranging for the funerals of their parents; some even fled, abandoning the bodies, rather than be faced with such a crushing burden. On his deathbed, however, Rabban Gamliel commanded that, despite his wealth and position, he be buried in a simple shroud of coarse white cloth, so that people could say, “If this was sufficient for Rabban Gamliel, how much more should it be sufficient for me!” It became the custom for a cup of wine to be drunk in houses of mourning in memory of this.)

1Gittin 56.

2Berakhot 28a.

3The standard euphemism for Rabban Gamliel’s deposition in the Talmud.

4Study hall.

5Torah students.

6Legal decisions.


The Nature of the World to Come

(DISCLAIMER: the author has no semikhah. For a more definitive answer, CYLOR; for a really definitive answer, spend the rest of your life studying Talmud and qabbalah.)

The term “Judeo-Christian” almost invariably means, “Christian, as described by someone who doesn’t know shit about Judaism, but wants people to think that (s)he does”. What is actual Jewish thought on the afterlife?

The usual term used by Jews to describe the period after this world is olam ha-ba, “the world to come”. This term can be used to refer to different things, and opinions about it may therefore seem to differ more than is actually the case. Additionally, mainstream Judaism is (relatively) free of what would be called theological content by others; the stereotypical answer to such questions as, “Why was the world created?”, “Why does the Holy One blessed be He permit pain and suffering?”, “How can we reconcile Divine omniscience with human free will?”, and (in this case), “What happens to a person after death?” is: “I don’t know; when you see the Holy One blessed be He, ask Him”. On the other hand, Jewish mysticism (qabbalah) is replete with answers to such questions (albeit they often take years to understand thoroughly and properly).

Nonetheless, we can certainly draw on the Talmud, rishonim, etc., to give us a general picture. Chazal are agreed that there is a World to Come. Ramban maintains that the olam ha-ba consists of an eternal life on Earth after the resurrection in the Messianic era. Rambam, on the other hand, opines that life after the Messianic resurrection will not be eternal, but that it is so that men may judged in the same state as which they sinned (i.e., whilst incarnate). After judgment, the dead will be returned to a discorporate state in which they will enjoy a more direct apprehension of the Holy One blessed be He, one that is impossible to a soul confined in gross matter.

R. Yosef Albo agrees with Rambam as to the impermanence of the material resurrection, but assigns a different reason for it. Spiritual progress, he opines in Ikkarim, can only occur if the soul is incarnate. After the coming of Messiah, therefore, the dead will be allowed a second period in which to perfect themselves.

It is generally agreed, however, there will be a non-material afterlife (even Ramban agrees that the resurrected dead will exist simultaneously in the material and spiritual world).

Generally, the concept of “hell”, as understood by Christians, plays no part in Judaism. There is certainly Gehinnom, a place of suffering, where the soul fully understands the gravity of the sins it committed in life (a Hasidic folktale has a soul tell Besht that a half hour in Gehinnom is worse torment than being burned to death at the stake). However, Gehinnom is purgatorial in nature; souls may escape from it every Shabbat (although it is debated whether this respite is enjoyed by every soul, or only those that kept the Shabbat laws in life), and we are assured in the Talmud that even the worst sinner spends no more than twelve months in Gehinnom .

After the purgation of the soul, it proceeds to Gan Eden. From here, it may be sent back to Earth to be reincarnated. I noted R. Albo’s opinion on the impossibility of spiritual perfection if the soul is not incarnate. Therefore, a soul may be reincarnated a number of times, to allow it to perfect itself. Arizal explains that, although the soul does not have a detailed memory of its previous incarnation(s), it is drawn to those areas of Torah and those mitzvoth that will allow it to perfect itself. It is generally believed that those suffering mental retardation are reincarnations of great tzaddikim who came so close to perfection in a previous existence that they do not need a normal intellect to complete that perfection (Hazon Ish would pay honor to retarded children on this theory). When the soul has finally achieved perfection, it remains in Gan Eden.

(In writing of “the soul”, I follow the simplistic popular conception. In qabbalah, however, the soul is considered to be very complex. Although the general destiny of the soul is as related here, a full consideration of its nature and possible fates would require another essay to even briefly describe.)

Note that these possible fates are generally regarded as common to both Jews and gentiles. Whilst a few thinkers, such as Rambam, opine that gentiles cease to exist upon death (he reasoned thus: only the Holy One blessed be He is truly eternal; the souls of men share in this eternal existence by their knowledge of, and thereby partaking of the nature of, the Holy One; gentiles do not have such knowledge), it is generally agreed that gentiles do survive death, and judged according to the appropriate standards (the so-called “Noachide laws”).

It is universally agreed that gentiles are not obliged to adhere to the mitzvot. Chazal generally (not but universally) agree that gentiles have as full a share in the World to Come…if they adhere to the Noachide Laws.

Sanhedrin 57a gives the deduction of six negative and one positive commandment, derived from incidents recorded in Torah before its revealing to Moses, as being required of all people (“Noachide” strictly means “descendant of Noah” — it is an Anglicization of the pseudo-Greek formation “Noakhides” — but all living people are reckoned descended from Noah). The six negative commandments are:

  • Murder
  • Stealing
  • Committing sexual immorality
  • Eating the flesh of a living animal (the use of flesh as food at all was prohibited to the antediluvians; permission to eat meat is a dispensation granted specifically to Noachides; ref. Genesis 9:4)
  • Serving idols
  • Blaspheming against the Holy One blessed be He

The positive commandment is generally held to be to establish courts of justice.

There are different opinions as to what constitute the Noachide laws in practice. Some hold that specific, narrow interpretations of these commandmants are to be made; this raises the number of Noachide laws from seven to sixty-six or so (there are disputes as to the exact number of things forbidden to Noachides as “sexual immortality”, and also as to whether Noachides are obliged to bring a murderer to a formal court, or whether they are empowered to act individually and immediately).

There is also the concept of ketinok shenishba — a child kidnapped and raised by robbers. In essence, if a person is not raised to think of a certain conduct — say, highway robbery — as being wrong, he will be judged leniently on that conduct; the Holy One blessed be He judges according to what He gave a person to work with (see the Hasidic story of Reb Zushya’s death for both sides of this question).


Hillel and the Proselytes

Hillel ha-Zakan (?Ǩ?the Elder?Ǩ?) was one of the greatest Rabbis of the Mishnaic (or Tannaic) period1. Many stories are told of his mild character and his devotion to Torah. He founded the rabbinic dynasty of nesi?ǨѢim2 that stood at the head of the Great Sanhedrin for over four hundred years, until its suppression by Theodosius II.

Hillel is generally considered a member of the last Zugah3, or ?Ǩ?Pair?Ǩ?, the two rabbis at the head of Judaism. His colleague in this was Shammai, who held the office of av bet din4 of the Great Sanhedrin. Shammai was a harsh man, as strict with himself as others. It is related that, when his daughter was pregnant and about to give birth during Sukkot, he destroyed the roof of his house, lest she give birth to a son and the infant then sin by dwelling under a roof during Sukkot.

Shabbat 30a tells the stories of three would-be proselytes, and their very different treatments by Shammai and Hillel.

One came to Shammai and asked, ?Ǩ?How many Torot have you??Ǩ? Shammai replied, ?ǨWe have two: a Written Torah and an Oral Torah?Ǩ?. ?Ǩ?Well?Ǩ?, said the pagan, ?Ǩ?I will learn the Written Torah, but not the Oral, for I do not trust you to teach me what is really in the Oral Torah?Ǩ?. Enraged, Shammai drove him off with his builder?ǨѢs rule (he was a builder). The pagan then went to Hillel and offered to become a Jew under the same conditions. Hillel agreed, and asked him, ?Ǩ?But tell me: do you read Hebrew??Ǩ? ?Ǩ?Not in the least?Ǩ?, answered the pagan. ?Ǩ?Well, then?Ǩ?, Hillel said, ?Ǩ?I will teach you, so that you can read the Torah for yourself, and not have to rely on others?Ǩ?.

The next day Hillel began to teach the proselyte the Hebrew alphabet: ?Ǩ?This letter is ?Ǩaleph?ǨѢ, this ?Ǩbet?ǨѢ, this ?Ǩgimel?ǨѢ, this ?Ǩdalet?ǨѢ?Ǩ?, and so on. The following day, though, he mixed up the names: ?Ǩ?This letter is ?Ǩdalet?ǨѢ, etc.?Ǩ? The man protested, ?Ǩ?Yesterday you did not teach me thus!?Ǩ? ?Ǩ?If you trust me to teach you the alphabet?Ǩ?, inquired Hillel, ?Ǩ?why would you not trust me to teach you the Oral Torah??Ǩ?

Another man came to Shammai and said, ?Ǩ?I will become a Jew?Ǩif you can teach me the entire Torah in the time that you can stand on one foot?Ǩ?. Again, Shammai, drove him off in anger. Going to Hillel, he made the same offer. ?Ǩ?What is hateful to you, do not do to others?Ǩ?, said Hillel. ?Ǩ?That is the whole Torah; the rest explains how to avoid doing so. Go and learn it.?Ǩ?

A third pagan happened to be passing by a synagogue when the portion of the Torah describing the garments of the Kohen ha-Gadol (High Priest) was read. The pagan was seized with the desire to wear them; going to Shammai, he told him, ?Ǩ?I will become a Jew on condition that I am appointed High Priest?Ǩ?. Once more, the builder?ǨѢs rule. Hillel agreed to convert him on that condition, but said, ?Ǩ?If the Romans were to appoint you a king, it would be necessary for you to learn the etiquette of royal courts. How much more so, then is it necessary for you to learn the Torah, which contains the rules of conduct for the High Priest!?Ǩ? In time the proselyte came to the verse, ?Ǩ?And the stranger that comes nigh (to the altar) shall be put to death?Ǩ?5. He asked Hillel, ?Ǩ?Who is meant by ?Ǩa stranger?ǨѢ in this verse??Ǩ? Hillel told him, ?Ǩ?Everyone who is not born a priest; even David, greatest of all Jewish kings, was so designated?Ǩ?. The proselyte reasoned, ?Ǩ?If even non-priestly Jews, who the Holy One calls ?Ǩmy firstborn sons?ǨѢ, are ?Ǩstrangers?ǨѢ in this context, how much more so must I, a mere proselyte, be so considered??Ǩ? Angry, the proselyte went back to Shammai and said, ?Ǩ?If you had taught me this verse, instead of beating me, I would have known at once that my ambition was an impossible one!?Ǩ? Returning to Hillel, he said, ?Ǩ?Blessed be you, Hillel, for having the gentleness and patience to teach an ignorant pagan the path6 he should follow?Ǩ?.

Some time later, those three proselytes met. Comparing their stories, he said, ?Ǩ?Shammai?ǨѢs impatience would have robbed us of the World to Come, but Hillel?ǨѢs gentleness brought us under the wings of the Shekhinah7!?Ǩ?

1Roughly, 200 BCE-200 CE.
2The literal meaning of nasi is ?Ǩ?exalted one?Ǩ?. It can refer to a variety of officers of state, not necessarily sovereign. It is often translated as ?Ǩ?prince?Ǩ?.
3A loan from Greek zugos, ?Ǩ?yokefellow?Ǩ?. Why it changed grammatical gender to feminine, I don?ǨѢt know.
4Literally, ?Ǩ?father of the house of judgment?Ǩ?; effectively, first vice-president.
5Numbers 1:51.
6The Hebrew word is halakhah, the same as for the practical expression of the Torah.
7The Divine Presence. English-speaking Christians generally translate this as ?Ǩ?Holy Spirit?Ǩ?.


Rabbi Me?ɬr

Rabbi Me?ɬr?ǨѢs name was not, in fact, Me?ɬr; that?ǨѢs a nickname meaning ?Ǩ?he who enlightens?Ǩ?. Talmud Bavli claims that his given name was ?Ǩ?Me?ǨѢasha?Ǩ?; but Talmud Yerushalmi records no such thing.

R. Me?ɬr is called Ba?ǨѢal ha-Nes, ?Ǩ?Master of the Miracle?Ǩ?, based on the following story1: he was married to Beruiah, daughter of R. Hananiah ben Teradion. After the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 CE), R. Hananiah was executed, and another of his daughters, Beruriah?ǨѢs sister, was seized as a slave and sold to a brothel. In order to rescue her, R. Me?ɬr disguised himself as a wealthy Roman and went to Rome (some say to Antioch) where the brothel was located. He offered the brothel-keeper a large bribe to carry her off.

?Ǩ?If my superiors find out that their most beautiful prostitute has been freed?Ǩ?, the man objected, ?Ǩ?they will have me killed.?Ǩ?

?Ǩ?I will give you such a large sum of money?Ǩ?, replied Me?ɬr, ?Ǩ?that you can bribe others not to report you, and still have much for yourself.?Ǩ?

?Ǩ?But eventually the money will run out, and then what shall I do??Ǩ? asked the brothel-keeper.

?Ǩ?In that case?Ǩ?, said Me?ɬr confidently, ?Ǩ?you need only say, ?ǨGod of Me?ɬr, save me!?ǨѢ, and you will be saved.?Ǩ?

?Ǩ?A likely story!?Ǩ? the brothel-keeper scoffed. ?Ǩ?How can I know that this is true??Ǩ?

?Ǩ?Listen!?Ǩ? said Me?ɬr. ?Ǩ?You know that in the next courtyard there are savage watchdogs, trained to kill any intruder. I will go in there, and make use of this phrase myself. If it doesn?ǨѢt work?Ǩwell, I will leave this money with you, and no one knows I am here; you need never tell anyone what happened.?Ǩ? Me?ɬr went into the next courtyard; the watchdogs attacked him, but he confidently called out, ?Ǩ?God of Me?ɬr, save me!?Ǩ?, and the dogs shrank away from him (some say that they were changed into unweaned puppies).

Impressed, the brothel-keeper let him take away his sister-in-law. Future events turned out as he had predicted; he was able to bribe others to overlook his transgression, but eventually the money did run out; he was denounced to the government, which ordered him to be hanged. On the scaffold, the brothel-keeper cried out, ?Ǩ?God of Me?ɬr, save me!?Ǩ?, and the rope fell apart as if it were made of wet tissue paper. Astonished by this, the authorities questioned him, and got the whole story; but R. Me?ɬr was long gone, and no one knew who he was.

R. Me?ɬr was also careful of the honor of women not related to him in any way. It is told of him2 that he used to lecture on the evening of Shabbat, and that one woman in particular was careful never to miss one of his lectures. One Shabbat, his lecture ran longer than usual; when the woman got home, her husband was infuriated that there was no light or food. Demanding to know where she had been, she told him that she had been listening to R. Me?ɬr lecture, but he didn?ǨѢt believe her: ?Ǩ?Get out!?Ǩ? he snarled, ?Ǩ?and don?ǨѢt come back until you have spit in this Me?ɬr?ǨѢs face!?Ǩ? At this moment, an angel appeared to R. Me?ɬr in a dream, and told him, ?Ǩ?An innocent woman is suffering because of you?Ǩ?.

The next day. R. Me?ɬr went to the bat midrash3; seeing the woman, he surreptitiously poked himself in the eye with his pen. Squinting and with his eye tearing, he went up to the woman and asked a favor of her: ?Ǩ?As you can see, I am suffering from an ailment of the eye. This ailment, however, will be cured if a woman spits in my face seven times; would you do this for me??Ǩ? The astonished woman did as he asked; Me?ɬr then told her, ?Ǩ?Now go home, and tell your husband that you have spit in my face not once, but seven times, and with all the talmidei hakhamim4 of the city as witnesses?Ǩ?.

The talmidei hakhamim, amazed by this, asked R. Me?ɬr what had happened; upon being told the story, they said, ?Ǩ?You should have told us; we would have seized this man and beaten him until he agreed to take back his wife, and you wouldn?ǨѢt have had to be humiliated thus?Ǩ?. However, R. Me?ɬr told them, ?Ǩ?The Holy One blessed be He does not permit His Ineffable Name to be erased ?Ǩ save in the case of a sotah5. If He permits this dishonor to save a woman?ǨѢs reputation, can I hold my own honor higher??Ǩ?

1Avodeh Zarah 18 a-b.
2Leviticus Rabbah.
3Study hall.
4?Ǩ?Students of the wise?Ǩ?; i.e., Torah scholars.
5A woman suspected of adultery, but against whom there is no evidence. Numbers 5:12-31 describes the ritual by which a woman frees herself of suspicion. A priest pronounces a conditional curse against her, describing the misfortunes that will befall her if she is guilty. When the woman assents to this, the priests writes down the curse, using the Ineffable Name ?Ǩ the Tetragrammaton ?Ǩ and then washes the ink into a cup of water, which the woman drinks.


The Damned Rabbi

Hagigah 14b records a story that, although somewhat obscure in its beginnings, has a tragic outcome:

“Four [sages] entered paradise?ǨBen ‘Azzai, Ben Zoma, aher, and Akiva. Ben ‘Azzai looked and died; Ben Zoma went mad; aher destroyed the plants; Akiva alone came out unhurt.”

Aher — ?Ǩ?another?Ǩ? ?Ǩ is the euphemism employed by the Talmud to refer to Elisha ben Avuyah. The meaning of ?Ǩ?aher destroyed the plants?Ǩ? is that Elisha became a heretic (the specific term used of him — min — can refer to a wide variety of heresies; the consensus is that Elisha became a Sadducee).

What led Elisha to self-destruction? BT goes on to say:

In heaven aher saw Metatron1 seated while he wrote down the merits of Israel. Whereupon aher said: ?Ǩ?We have been taught to believe that no one sits in heaven…or are there perhaps two supreme powers??Ǩ? Then a heavenly voice was heard: ?Ǩ?Turn, O backsliding children2 — with the exception of aher.”

From this, Elisha concluded that he had forfeited his share in the World to Come, and that his repentance would not be accepted. Therefore, he joined the Sadducees, who believed that there was no World to Come, and that therefore one should make the best of this one.

That he considered his damnation personal, not the common fate of mankind, is shown by the haggadah relating his meeting with his student, Rabbi Meir ?Ǩ?Ba?ǨѢal haNess?Ǩ? (who, unlike other rabbis, never turned against him):

Our rabbis taught: It once happened that aher was riding his horse on Shabbat3, while Rabbi Meir walked after him to learn Torah from him.
?Ǩ?Meir?Ǩ?, he said, ?Ǩ?turn back. I calculate from my horse?ǨѢs paces that we have reached the Shabbat limit4.
Meir said, ?Ǩ?You too ?Ǩ turn back!5?Ǩ?
?Ǩ?I cannot. Have I not told you??Ǩ? he said. ?Ǩ?I have heard from Heaven: ?ǨTurn, O backsliding children ?Ǩ with the exception of aher?ǨѢ?Ǩ?.

Rabbi Meir then took Elisha to thirteen batei midrash (study halls), hoping that hearing the Torah would cause Elisha to repent ?Ǩ but the topics being discussed all were on Divine retribution! In the last, a student innocently quoted the Tanakh: ?Ǩ?But to the wicked God says: What business have you reciting my laws? or speaking about my covenant?6?Ǩ?. Unfortunately, the student had a speech defect; when he said, v?ǨѢlarasha — ?Ǩ?to the wicked?Ǩ? ?Ǩ it sounded as if he was saying v?ǨѢle?ǨѢelisha — ?Ǩ?to Elisha?Ǩ?. Bitterly, Elisha said, ?Ǩ?If I had a knife, I would cut this student into pieces, and send the pieces to the other batei midrash?Ǩ?.
When Elisha died, it is said that Rabbi Meir said, ?Ǩ?I will make smoke rise from his grave7?Ǩ?. For a hundred years, Elisha?ǨѢs grave smoked. Then Rabbi Yohanan bar Nappaha said, ?Ǩ?The man was right here among us, and we could not save him! But if I were to take him by the hand (i.e., bring him with me to Paradise), who is there who could snatch him away from me?” He added: “When I die, I will make the smoke stop rising from his grave8.”
When Rabbi Yohanan died, it is said that smoke stopped rising from Elisha?ǨѢs grave. The eulogist at Rabbi Yohanan’s funeral said: “Even the gatekeeper [of hell] could not stand up to you, our teacher.”
We may hope that he was right.

1The supreme scribe of Heaven, often identified with Enoch.
2Jeremiah 3:14
3Strictly forbidden; it is considered melekhah, perhaps best translated as ?Ǩ?creative endeavor?Ǩ?, and thus not permitted on Shabbat.
4One may only travel 2,000 cubits beyond one?ǨѢs starting domain on Shabbat. Although Elisha felt that he had nothing left to lose by breaking this or any other law, he was scrupulous enough to warn Rabbi Meir.
5In Hebrew, the same word means ?Ǩ?turn back?Ǩ? and ?Ǩ?repent?Ǩ?.
6Psalms 50:16
7I.e., give him in death ?Ǩ through fire ?Ǩ the purification that he felt he could not achieve in life.
8This, however, is not consistent with R. Yohanan?ǨѢs opinion, recorded elsewhere in the Talmud, that he was uncertain whether he had a portion in the World to Come.


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