Monday, October 31, 2005

Fifth Night of Muslim Rioting in Paris Suburb

The media is now starting to report this a bit more. I learned about it on LGF. Update: It is now, on the sixth night, the top story in the BBC world section--and all over the place.

Hitchens on Plame

Typically eloquent.
Mr. Fitzgerald, therefore, seems to have decided to act "as if." He conducts himself as if Ms. Plame's identity was not widely known, as if she were working under "non official cover" (NOC), as if national security had been compromised, and as if one or even two catch-all laws had been broken. By this merely hypothetical standard, he has performed exceedingly well, even if rather long-windedly, before pulling up his essentially empty net.
Just don't let Hitchens near a word processor if the subject is circumcision.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Taking Down the Sukkah)

Each step of disassembling and putting away the Sukkah undoubtedly has homiletical significance. The removal of the s'chach reminds us of the transitory nature of human existence. Taking down the walls reminds us not to erect a wall between ourselves and our fellow beings. Putting the light away reminds us of the Ohr Haganuz--the Hidden Light. Leaving some boards for the kids to put away reminds us that "HaKadosh Baruch Hu does not come to burden His creations" (Avodah Zarah 3a). Actually, I wrote this post as an excuse to rest from taking down the Sukkah. Back to work!

Associated Press Develops Mysterious Ability to Stop Terror

The headline is "Palestinian Militants to Halt Attacks," while the first sentence reads as follows:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Palestinian militants in the
Gaza Strip have agreed to halt rocket attacks on Israel, Palestinian Interior Ministry officials said Sunday.
Does that sound like a basis for confidently announcing that the attacks will be "halted" to you? It must be that . . . .
Update: The headline has been changed to "Israelis, Palestinians to Cease Fighting."

Daily Herald: "Harper pulls photo exhibit upon Muslim protest"

The exhibit sounds as if it was in self-indulgent bad taste, women naked except for jibabs. I could almost sympathize with the Moslems on this if not for things such as the following:
Salma Habed, 20, of Hoffman Estates said some of the pieces continued with the stereotype that Muslim women are oppressed.

“We go to school. We have careers. It’s not like we’re oppressed like some people feel for some reason,” Habed said.
"For some reason"? How about the fact that domestic violence cases involving Muslims suggest the need for double standards to some people? (Hat tip: Dhimmi Watch)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Pale of Blog-ment

You may have noticed that I only link to a small number of Jewish blogs. Why should that be? This *is* a Jewish blog. Part of the answer is that this a cheerfully ultra-Orthodox blog, and that happens to be something of a contradiction--unless you're a Lubavitcher (which I am). So there are just not that many other Jewish blogs that I feel a strong affinity for. You have all these defector/rebellion blogs by people who are out to bash their internet-scorning communities or ex-communities, blogs by modern orthodox Jews who are comfortable with the internet but who continually bash people like me, and a large number of blogs whose owners are only blogging in an intermittent desultory way and whose blogs are just not that well-written. After all, the Orthodox Jewish part of the Blogosphere is a subset of a subset (not just any blog and not just Jewish blogs, but Orthodox blogs). The blogs I have linked to so far are mainly examples of the sorts of blogs I just complained about, but entertaining nevertheless. I will probably never link to a blog from someone who has frei-ed all the way out, and I will certainly never link to a blog whose main purpose is Chabad-bashing. I will probably add more non-Orthodox Jewish blogs, as long as they simply represent an interesting perspective without too much Frum-bashing. And, of course, new blogs are appearing all the time.

The Kashrus of Tequila

The kashrus of different types of alcoholic beverages is an interesting topic. People who keep kosher purchase most alcoholic beverages (except for wine) without hashgacha and the supervision agencies maintain fairly detailed lists of rules for what is and what is not acceptable without hashgacha. One very useful source of such information is the Chicago Rabbinical Council website. Here is what the CRC website said about tequila in a list updated on 3/06/03:
Any kind is kosher - as long as there is no worm in the bottle.
After some fact-finding, here is what was stated on a list updated on 10/24/03:

Please note that effective this date, the Chicago Rabbinical Council is implementing the following change in policy concerning Tequila.
The corrected listing for Tequila is as follows:
Tequila - There are three types of tequila sold on the market:
1) Regular or Gold type Tequila is not recommended. These types contain additives and would only be acceptable when bearing an acceptable certification mark. At the present, there are no known certified tequilas of this type on the market.
2) Reposado ("rested" ) tequila - when stating the type name Reposado on the label and also stating "100% Agave" on the label, this type may be used.
3) Anejo ("aged") tequila that states on the label "100% Agave" or "100% Blue Agave" and clearly states the product type on the label (Anejo) may be used.
Examples of some Tequila brands that are acceptable for use:

1800 Anejo
1800 Reposado
Cabo Wabo Reposado
Herradura Tequila Corralego
Gazadores Reposado
Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado
Sauza Hornitos Reposado
Sauza Anejo Conmeuorativo
Tres Generaciones Anejo
Note: Tequila bottles containing worms are not acceptable regardless of the variety. Questions concerning this change should be directed to the cRc office.
Sounds definitive, doesn't it? Well, guess what? Here is what the CRC says now:
Tequila is made from the agave cactus in Mexico.
According to Mexican law any tequila may be labeled 100% agave even though it contains no more than 51% actual agave alcohol!

However, based on research, the cRc has identified one type of tequila which is recommended even without a hechsher (Regular-White).

There are three types of tequila on the market:

1) Regular-White (also known as Silver) tequila is recommended. This clear tequila contains either 100% agave or a mixture of agave and sugar cane.

2) Gold-Brown tequila is not recommended. This darker tequila is aged for 3 months and may have color and flavoring added.

3) Reposado (“rested” ) (also known as Special) tequila is not recommended. It is aged for 6 months and in addition to concerns of color and flavoring, glycerin may be added for density.

Some acceptable Tequila brands:
Don Bernardo G (OU)
Sol Dios Anejo (OU)
Sol Dios Platinum / Blanco (OU)

The moral of all this is that in, say, ten years from now, kosher consumers will be buying a lot more liquor with a hechsher. There will be people who will grumble about it. Why was it OK all those years to buy this and that without a hechsher? The reason is that we are only just now becoming well-informed about how some types of liquors are made.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Caroline Glick: "The Good Terrorists"

Glick's columns are essential reading these days:
In sharp contrast to Israel's clear, understandable and constructive response to the Iranian threat, the government's response to the bombing in Hadera was marked by confusion, defeatism and absurdity.

How is this the case? First it should be recalled that in the immediate wake of last week's terror attack at the Gush Etzion junction, the Aksa Martyr Brigades - the terror group belonging to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party - issued an announcement claiming responsibility. Oddly, in the hours that followed, IDF commanders and government ministers denied Fatah's claim and insisted that Hamas, not Fatah, had carried out the attack that murdered three.

Although no evidence was ever presented to back up this claim, let's assume that it is true. Still, the question arises: What does the fact that Fatah claimed responsibility tell us about Abbas's Fatah party, on which Israel and the US are currently pinning all their hopes for peace and security?

After Wednesday's bombing, the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. As is their habit, the terrorists claimed that the massacre of Israeli civilians was their response to the IDF's killing of their terror commander Luai Sa'adi in Tulkarm earlier this week.

But then something interesting occurred.

In Gaza City, masked Fatah and Islamic Jihad terrorists held a joint press conference where they claimed joint responsibility for the bombing. A Fatah spokesman further announced that any attack against Islamic Jihad will be viewed as an attack against Fatah as well. Disturbingly, no Israeli newspaper other than The Jerusalem Post reported on the press conference.

And that isn't all. Like the government, the Israeli media also ignored the fact - reported again exclusively by the Post's Khaled Abu Toameh - that in the same IDF raid where Sa'adi was killed, Majed al-Ashkar, a senior Fatah terror commander, was also killed. The Israeli Hebrew-speaking public has not been informed that the two had spent the past several months establishing joint Fatah-Islamic Jihad cells throughout Judea and Samaria and Gaza.
It has become a cliche of blogging to follow a long block quote with the phrase "read it all," but read it all.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ahmadinejad's Comments Elicit Meaningless Posturing

For instance:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is in Israel for meetings with officials, told Sharon on Thursday that Ahmadinejad's comments are unacceptable to Russia and that the Iranian ambassador to Moscow has been asked to provide an explanation.
"Unacceptable"? I wonder what acts of non-acceptance Russia intends to perform.

JPost: "Bomber's hometown celebrates attack"

The following is interesting:
Abu Zeid's mother, Um Hassan, said she was proud of her son for what he did.
The bomber's name was Hassan. Even I can see that "Um Hassan" is Arabic for "Mother of Hassan." Is that some kind of honorary name that denotes that she has had the supreme privelege of bearing a mass-murderer?

Before you were a Ba'al Teshuvah did you ever think that . . .

. . . you'd be yelling at your kids for saying not-nice things in Yiddish?

Whats-Her-Name Withdraws

Following this story too closely is probably bitul-Torah (neglecting Torah study). I liked the Scrappleface piece about how Bush forgot to wear his "What Would Kristol Do" bracelet.

Worthwhile Divestment Campaign?

This one seeks divestment from companies doing business with regimes that support terror.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Reuters: "Iran president wants Israel 'wiped off the map'"

OK, let's give Reuters credit for at least covering the story. Now, on to the next observation--note the following:
Tehran denies accusations it trains and arms Palestinian militant groups, saying it offers only moral support.
What disease causes journalists to write sentences like this? Why is the truth or falsehood of this assertion so completely off-limits? There is no evidence for Iran's offering material support to Palestinian terorist groups that could be included in the story without violating some sort of objectivity standard?

Current AP Story About Suicide Bombing Accompanied by Picture of Bomber's Sister Crying

It is very common in stories about suicide bombings in Israel from the AP and Reuters that we see photos of the suicide bomber's family members crying. You don't suppose any of the victims' family members were crying, do you? I should mention the title of the article also: "Blast Kills 5 Israelis, Erodes Peace Hopes." What a weird slide into metaphor and abstraction. People's arms and legs are blown off and that is accompanied by Peace Hope Erosion. P.H.E. evidently did not occur as a result of a public celebration by certain Palestinians after the event. Update: The title link doesn't work anymore. Here is a link to a Powerline article that includes the picture. The IRIS Blog has a similar observation about the story that the link does point to at the moment: AP's "Israeli Missile Kills Seven Palestinians" Only Says They Were Terrorists in 11th Paragraph

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wet Sukkos in LA

Freilechen Yom Tov! I probably will not post again until after Simchas Torah. Update: It ended it up that the rain was never a problem. There never seemed to be any significant rain when we actually needed to be in the Sukkah, and the cloudy drizzly weather was actually preferable to the hot weather we often get during Sukkos in LA.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Caroline Glick: "Israel's new strategic environment"

Among other disturbing developments, Glick discusses the presence of al-Qaida in Gaza:
It is not at all insignificant that a new al-Qaida cell in Gaza just distributed its first leaflet over the weekend. Al-Qaida, with its global reach, has the ability, once seeded in Gaza to bring enormous resources in weapons, technologies and financing that can easily alter the terror nexus that comprises Israel's strategic environment. In the absence of control over the international border, again, the risks that Israel incurs by allowing any entry of people and goods from Gaza into Israel or Judea and Samaria are of a completely different order than the ones it incurred by enabling such traffic before the withdrawal.

ALL OF this means that Israel must reexamine its entire strategic rationale for contending with Palestinian and international demands for enabling traffic from the Gaza Strip into Israel, Judea and Samaria. Today, free passage from Gaza to Judea and Samaria constitutes an open conduit for international terrorists into the Israeli heartland, with no Israeli supervision whatsoever.
Glick might have added that in Gaza al-Qaida is likely to receive international support for its operations, which are going to be construed as resistance to oppression (which is not to say that leftists are not already construing al-Qaida operations as resistance to oppression).(hat tip: Jihad Watch)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Looks Like I Could be Building My Sukkah in the Rain Tomorrow . . .

. . . and eating in the rain on the first day. I should mention that I am in Los Angeles. It seems that New York will have to mainly worry about wind. Update: I mostly manged to dodge the rain, but now the forecast for the first day of Sukkos in Los Angeles is thundershowers.

"Churches ease talk on Israel divesting"

This post began with a "Breaking News" item at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: "Jewish officials say they believe Protestant churches are reconsidering plans to divest from Israel." I wonder if JTA's vague and unsourced story is a paraphrase of this item from Reuters via the Boston Globe.

Caterer Sued for Blowing Kosher-Style Wedding

It had to happen sooner or later. Notice how solemn and respectful the article (from the Forward) is about eating treif while pretending to keep kosher:
. . . there are arguably more ways than ever to be — or not to be — kosher. Picking and choosing among halachic, or rabbinic, dictates is nothing new. But according to Arnold Eisen, professor of religious studies at Stanford University, the lines between the Jewish and secular worlds are more blurred than ever, leaving many Conservative and Reform Jews to continually ask, "How distinctive do I want to be?"

The challenges are particularly pronounced for those who fall in the middle of the religious spectrum, according to Eisen.

When it comes to religious observance, the Stanford professor said that "the people who are in and know for sure that they are in — they have a strict definition of what it means to be in." Conversely, he added, "The people who are out and have no doubt they're out... they don't have to make these decisions. [But] most Jews have to make these kinds of decisions all the time."
(Hat tip: Orthomom)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Feel Like Getting Really Scared?

Charles Krauthammer's latest. The topic sentence:
It was announced last week that American scientists have just created a living, killing copy of the 1918 ``Spanish'' flu.
Another bit:
A nuke can only destroy a city. The flu virus, properly evolved, is potentially a destroyer of civilizations.

We might have just given it to our enemies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

AP refers to "Saudi Dissident Osama bin Laden"

Look at the caption to the picture. Update: The link doesn't work anymore.

Nekomas HaTarnigolim

What's fair is fair, I guess. (Hat tip: DovBear)

New York Magazine on the Lulav Crisis

There are more memorable phrases in the following paragraph than in all the coverage so far:
There won’t be a whole lotta shakin’ going on this Sukkoth, thanks to a severe scarcity of the date-palm fronds—called lulavs—waved ceremonially during the Jewish harvest festival. “I have a big lulav shortage, and I’m having conniptions here,” says Levi Zagelbaum, president of lulav importer Esrog Headquarters in Midwood. Instead of $25 for a basic Sukkoth kit—also including willow, myrtle, and a citron—he’s charging $40. Queens congressman Gary Ackerman says the crisis stems from a recent decision by Egypt—the Saudi Arabia of lulavs—to export only 100,000 branches, instead of the usual million. “Unless [President] Mubarak wants to be known as the Grinch who stole Sukkoth, he’s going to have to do a heck of a lot better than that,” says Ackerman, who’s been lobbying Egypt for more. Finding other options for the holiday on October 17 isn’t as simple as borrowing a parsley sprig from the Passover Seder plate. “Let my palm fronds go!” says Ackerman.
(Hat tip: Orthomom)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Neturei Karta Shul Vandalized by Jews?

For some reason I find it interesting that JTA paraphrased this story and credited the Hackney Gazette, but did not link to it. What do you call a critical hat-tip? Here's an excerpt:
AN orthodox Jewish synagogue in Stamford Hill has been attacked and vandalised - not by anti-semetic thugs, but by fellow Jews who regard its leaders' outspoken condemnation of Israel as a betrayal.

Rising tensions over the forced evictions by Israeli troops last month of Jewish settlers from occupied Palestinian territory as part of the Middle East peace process has sparked a backlash among Stamford Hill's orthodox Jewish community.

Windows at the synagogue in Alkham Road were smashed after bottles were hurled at them last Thursday evening and the front of the building was covered with red spray paint.
I wonder if I will ever learn how they know that Jews did it. I am not likely to buy a print edition Hackney Gazette.

Terrorist Attacks at Georgia Tech?

I saw this on Michelle Malkin's blog, but it isn't currently one of the Yahoo headlines, my usual source for mainstream news.

Marvin Shick of Cross-Currents: "Should We Give Up On American Jewry?"

Presenting information from an an article by Jack Wertheimer of JTS, Shick summarizes:
He notes that our median age is “seven years older than other Americans” and that “among Americans of all kinds … Jews have the fewest number of siblings, the smallest household size, and the second lowest number of children under eighteen at home.”

Furthermore, too many of us do not marry. Those who do, as often as not, marry non-Jews. We also marry later and have fewer children than other white Gentiles. In short, as Jews have become more appreciated by their fellow Americans and have made distinctive contributions, we also are moving in the direction of becoming extinct.

He asks:
Apart from the Orthodox whose ranks will continue to grow, although aliyah and abandonment by some of a religious life will limit the gains, is it time to face reality and say that there is little to be done to avoid the inevitable loss of nearly all non-Orthodox Jews? Is it time to throw in the towel, perhaps by deciding that our resources should be directed toward helping Israel?
I don't see why a campaign to promote marrying at a reasonable age and having larger families could not succeed. Non-religious American Jews are worse off but not qualitatively different in this respect than other educated affluent populations. As a matter of fact, I wonder how the American Jewish birthrate compares to the European Gentile one. Besides the fact that we're doomed otherwise, a family is beautiful and fullfilling thing. It has to be possible to increase public awareness of this fact. Perhaps the campaign in recent years among Jewish Federations to reemphasize all-day Jewish education could serve as a model. Maybe liberal Jews can be convinced that P'ru Urbu is actually a profound mystical component of that supreme mitzvah of all mitzvos: Tikkun Olam!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Lulav Shortage Over?

Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Dafna Yurisata said 600,000 of the 700,000 expected annual fronds were already in Israel or on their way. About 300,000 had already been acquired from Egypt, 150,000 had been authorized for purchase from Jordan and an additional 150,000 were expected to arrive from Egypt.

She said the ministry pressured Egypt to ship the palms and also embarked on a quest to seek alternate sources for the lulav, sending delegations to Jordan and Spain. Also, she said, there would be efforts in Israel to grow its own palm fronds in the future.

Giving Them Guns to Shoot Us With

Here we go again. Another proprosal is afoot to have Israel arm the PLO, this time with armored personnel carriers! Some background, courtesy of Arutz Sheva:
The acquisition of rifles and other armaments by the PA was a focal point of contention between right and left-wing groups prior to the implementation of the Oslo accords in the early 1990’s. Many right-wing groups, especially those affiliated with Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, vehemently opposed arming the PA, contending that the weapons ultimately would be used against Israelis and IDF troops.

Although they were condemned at the time, particularly by the press, of being soothsayers of doom and opponents of peace, their grim forecasts proved correct early on the in process. When Israel opened an underground tunnel in the Old City of Jerusalem to provide access to buried sections of the Western Wall in 1996, PA troops opened fire and killing numerous IDF troops.

In September 2000, after Ariel Sharon, then opposition leader, took a tour of the Temple Mount, PA forces used their weapons, much of which was provided by Israel, to launch a brutal war against IDF troops and Israeli civilians, resulting in well over one thousand deaths and thousands of injuries, over a five-year period.

AP: "Some Rabbis Criticize New Madonna Song"

Madonna, it seems, has a song called "Isaac" on her new album, and the "Isaac" in question is the Arizal. I don't think the folks at the AP have much of a feel for Israeli religious politics:
Rabbi Rafael Cohen, head of a seminary named after Luria, suggested Madonna's actions could lead to divine retribution.

"Jewish law forbids the use of the name of the holy rabbi for profit. Her act is just simply unacceptable and I can only sympathize for her because of the punishment that she is going to receive from the heavens," Cohen told Maariv.

Another rabbi called for Madonna to be thrown out of the community.

"Such a woman brings great sin on kabbalah," Rabbi Israel Deri told Maariv. "I hope that we will have the strength to prevent her from bringing sin upon the holiness of the rabbi (Yitzhak Luria)."
Exactly what "community" is "Esther" supposed to be thrown out of? The community of celebrity Kaballah enthusiasts? Does this mean that Britney Spears will be shunning her?

Update: Here is an interesting paragraph from the Reuters article on the same subject:
Deemed especially provocative was Madonna's music video for "Die Another Day", in which she wove phylacteries around her arm, a custom usually reserved for Jewish men, before escaping from an electric chair on which Hebrew letters spelling out one of the 72 names of God appeared.

Murawiec Interview about the Saudis

The Left likes to imagine itself as the scourge of the Saudis, but I keep thinking about an editorial in the Guardian that assumed that a good way to discredit MEMRI would be to quote Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR against it. Note the contrast with something like the following interview in David Horowitz's Front Page Magazine. Murawiec is well-informed and hard-hitting where the Saudis are concerened:
. . . look at the Royals and at bin Laden. What's the difference? The Royals are fat, rich, gorged in luxury, sitting on top of the oil, the income, the palaces, their state, their power. They don't want to risk it. They want to implement the grand design King Faisal launched in 1973, when they really became rich, and take over Sunni Islam, extend the writ of their insensate Wahhabi creed, as they have successfully done, e.g., in Pakistan, they want pro-Wahhabi madrasas throughout the world, they want the World Muslim League and all the other Islamic NGOs to recruit, influence. They have taken over al-Azhar, the great institution of learning in Cairo, the primus inter pares in the Sunni world. They want to go on. They want to go on being able to manipulate the United States, buy influence, blackmail Washington with the threat of bin Laden taking over Saudi Arabia, offer "stability" by way of supporting Sunni dictators and other despots.

Bin Laden - and the other killers, Zarkawi, Zawahiri, etc. - is lean and mean. Remember Shakespeare's Caesar, "yon Cassius has a mean and hungry look..." He has not seen a boat he does not want to rock. He is held by no tactical consideration, mostly: he is the Trotsky to their Stalin. He plays the role of the Mahdi, or the sub-Mahdi. So the difference between the ones and the others is one of tactics: the Saudi Royals want a regulated form of terrorism, which they can largely control, bin Laden wants a deregulated form of terrorism, which he controls. If you study the sociology of sectarianism in Muslim history, such divisions are nothing new.

Would Be Funny If It Didn't Lead To Bombings

A pioneering scheme to fight Islamist terror by encouraging jailed extremists to rethink their grasp of the Koran is under fire after claims that some of its "converts" have taken up arms again . . . . The effectiveness of his technique - a theological "duel" in which he and the prisoners quote Koranic texts at each other - is in doubt, however, after reports that some al-Qaeda militants freed under the scheme have been caught fighting coalition forces in Iraq.

Among those released is the former chief bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, Nasser Al-Bahri, who has admitted that his sessions with Judge al-Hitar did nothing to diminish his belief in the leader of al-Qaeda. Instead, he suggested that many militants simply pretended to repent to gain quick release from jail.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Appeasement in Norway

A teacher in a Norwegian school, it seems, tried to persuade a teacher from wearing a Star of David lest it "provoke and offend students, for example immigrants from the Palestinian territories." Not exactly a victory for democracy, is it? (Hat Tip: LGF)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Israeli Haredi Schools Discriminating Against Ba'alei Teshuva?

I had to reload the page to eliminate a really annoying flashing banner, and rememeber that Ha'aretz is generally biased against Frummies, but this is interesting. (Hat tip: Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulkeh)

Update: Orthomom has a long post about this story.

Jawa Report: "Islamic Terrorism in Oklahoma Likely"

After a 9-point summary of the evidence, the author concludes:
All of this evidence suggests that there may have been a wider plot by Islamic terrorists to use Joel Henry Hinrichs III as a suicide bomber in exactly the same way as terrorists use suicide bombers around the world: to kill civilians. Hinrichs, like so many other suicide bombers, failed in his attempt and killed only himself.

A word of caution is necessary here. It is definitely possible that Hinrichs did act alone and was just a sad nut with a death wish. Some of the facts presented above could turn out to be untrue, and even if true could be interpreted in a number of ways. We'll just have to wait and see. But, as of this writing I am inclined to believe that Hinrichs was part of a larger plot.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Daniel Pipes: "Stupid Terrorists"

This reminds me that I haven't seen Darwin Awards material for ages.
Mohammed Salameh, the terrorist who returned to the rental agency in 1993 to retrieve the $400 deposit he had paid on a truck subsequently used to blow up the World Trade Center. His penny-pinching lead to his own capture and that of several other bombers.

Zacarias Moussaoui, thought to have been the would-be 20th hijacker of the September 11, 2001, attacks, was sitting in jail on that date because his disheveled and impoverished appearance at a flight instruction school was so discordant ("there's really something wrong with this guy") that two of its staff phoned the FBI. In April 2005, Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Michael Wagner, an African-American convert to Islam associated with Al-Qaeda, did not wear a seat belt and that got him stopped by the police in July 2004 near Council Bluffs, Iowa. His car contained "flight training manuals and a simulator, documents in Arabic, bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, a night-vision scope for a rifle, a telescope, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition."

Christopher Hitchens: "Why Ask Why"

The last time I linked to an article by Hitchens, he decided to write an article of vile anti-circ nonsense the very next day. He is good, however, on the issue of terrorism:
Never make the mistake of asking for rationality here. And never underestimate the power of theocratic propaganda. The fanatics look at the population of Bali and its foreign visitors and they see a load of Hindus selling drinks—often involving the presence of unchaperoned girls—to a load of Christians. That in itself is excuse enough for mayhem. They also see local Muslims following syncretic and tolerant forms of Islam, and they yearn to redeem them from this heresy and persuade them of the pure, desert-based truths of Salafism and Wahhabism. (One of the men on trial in Bali had been in trouble before, in his home village, for desecrating local Muslim shrines that he regarded as idolatrous.) And then, of course, Australians must die. Why would that be? Well, is it not the case that Australia sent troops to help safeguard the independence of East Timor and the elections that followed it? A neighboring country that assists the self-determination of an Indonesian Christian minority must expect to have the lives of its holidaymakers taken.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Upcoming Lulav Shortage?

American legislators, Israeli officials and Jewish groups are working diplomatic channels in an effort to stave off a looming lulav shortage ahead of Sukkot.

Their efforts follow a surprise move by Egypt, which — after years as the world’s primary supplier of the palm fronds that form the spine of the ritual lulav — said it no longer would provide the leaves to suppliers in the United States, Israel and beyond.
You might want to budget some more funds for your Arba Minim this year.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

This Should Prove Interesting

One person was killed in an explosion near a packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma on Saturday night in what authorities said appeared to be a suicide.
(Hat tip: LGF)

Update: It did prove interesting. It now seems that the bomber may have have attended a Mosque.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

JTA: "Groups want stronger species bill"

Here is an interesting example of references to vague, unnamed "Jewish texts," which support political correctness:
Jewish groups expressed disappointment at the passage of a weakened Endangered Species Act.

The legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, removes several protections Jewish groups have endorsed. “Jewish texts clearly state that all species deserve our wonder and protection,” said Adam Stern, director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. “Every species of plant or animal is thus understood by Jewish tradition to occupy an ecological niche in our interdependent, living world.”
This recalls my suggestion for how to get liberal Jews to stop admiring Vashti from the Purim story: We must insist that she was actually an anti-environmental figure. When she grew a tail it was middah kenegged middah for mistreating snail darters. When she was covered with pimples she was being punished for mistreating spotted owls.