the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Israel

My Once A Year Jewish Rant

Today, I’m going to take this time to explore some Jewish-related subjects that I’m in the mood to rant about to you, my Jewish and non-Jewish friends.  I’m not sure why it occurred to me to write this today.  Maybe it was the bagels and lox I had for breakfast.

I’m usually much of a ranter.   I don’t have too many hang-ups over religion.   I’m not overly-touchy about Israel.   I don’t see anti-Semitism in every joke.  That would make me hypocritical, especially since I spend a good deal of my day making jokes about Catholics and Mormons.  We all have our own ethnic and religious prides and foibles, and the great thing about America is that we can freely express it.

It’s pretty clear that I am a Jewish guy, right?  So, I think it might be interesting to you to hear what I think about some of the following topics.  And if you disagree with anything I say, don’t be afraid to say it.

1) Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays


Remember me?  The guy who throws the online Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa concert every year?  I like all holidays. Maybe next year, we can throw in a Muslim holiday into the concert mix as well! I’m all for inclusiveness.   However, every year, I find myself in the middle of the same boring argument — should Christians say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?”  Some are adamant that America is really a “Christian” nation and are upset that outsiders are undermining the sacredness of this three month consumer bonanza we call “Christmas.”  Naturally, the haters always come out to play.  And we all know who are the biggest kvetchers about Christmas, right?  The Jews.  First Jesus, now Christmas.  What spoilers!

Here’s my take.  If you live in a big city were there are many religions and minorities, you should be able to make a big public display of your holiday.  There are plenty of those not celebrating your holiday, so we don’t feel bad.  We go for Chinese food.  Everyone loves Christmas trees.  However, if you live in a small town in mid-America where there is only one Jewish and one Muslim family, it probably would be nice if you went OUT OF YOUR WAY to make the outsiders feel comfortable, which means stop pushing for nativity scenes outside of the public library and city hall!  Who wants to be told “It’s a Christian nation” right to your face? It isn’t polite.

2) Israel and Gaza


Is God playing a joke on the Jews with Israel?  What a pain in the ass this country is! And have you ever tried to date an Israeli woman.  Talk about tough!  Israel is a tough subject for liberal Jews to talk about in public.  I have no problem with it.  During the recent election, I found it extremely annoying how the McCain campaign was trying to appeal to American Jews by creating “Obama is a Muslim” fear, as if we were a bunch of idiots.  Jews go to college.  We’re not that stupid.  On the other hand, I don’t find much of the progressive community a big fan of Israel, since these good-hearted souls prefer to side with the underdog, and not the American-allied bully.  And who can honestly root for a country that bombs poverty-stricken innocent women and children in their mosques and schools?

So what is a liberal Jew supposed to do?

I’ll never forget when some columnist wrote a post on the BlogHer political site advocating shipping all Jews from Israel to some place in Siberia, which would help defuse the problem in the Middle East, and friends of mine, normally outspoken political women, were protecting this writer, saying, “Well, perhaps it is an issue we should discuss.”  Maybe conservatives are right about liberals being the Jewish people’s worst friends!  My mother went to Boca Raton to escape the cold.  No Jew WANTS to move to Siberia!

Some of my favorite progressive bloggers, especially the ones in Europe, were very angry over the recent fighting in Gaza.  Many Europeans dislike the Israeli government, and think the American media is controlled by the pro-Israeli propaganda machine.  Two bloggers I know wrote pieces demanding that Israel be held for war crimes for the murder of innocent children.  On one of the posts, the word HAMAS was never used once. The scenario in Gaza was presented as “Israeli occupiers vs. people of Gaza.”

“What happened to the real bad guys in the story?” I commented.

Talk about propaganda!  While I was worried that I was losing my liberal credentials by bringing this up, it bugged me that someone could complain about slanted views, and substitute it with another man’s propaganda!   Wasn’t Hamas shipping in increasingly powerful weapons and hiding them in schools and mosques AND purposely endangering innocent victims for their own purposes?   What the hell was Hamas doing (with Iran’s help) by sacrificing their innocents for power and ideology?  Shouldn’t THEY be put up for war crimes?  The deaths of so many innocents is shameful, and it angers me that so many excuse the actions of Hamas as if they a local boy scout troup.

Sometimes I think the best thing for the Palestinians to do is to accept that they lost the endless war and start to figure out a way to live peacefully with their strong victors, like Japan did after World War II. Forget talking about 1948 and 1967.   Much of the Arab world likes to keep the Palestinians angry and in poverty, so they can keep them as a symbolic thorn in Israel’s side, and control their own corrupt governments.  HAMAS needs to accept Israel already, stop throwing bricks at the big bully’s head, and start asking their Arab brothers to help build some nice hotels by the Ocean and trying to really compete with Israel by offering better vacation packages.

But no one progressive would ever say that.

3) Beautiful Barcelona


January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to remember the victims of the Holocaust.  This date marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

As I mentioned, Europeans were very angry over the recent fighting in Gaza.  And many European cities have large Muslim populations that are a growing political power.  Because the local Barcelona media had run stories comparing the Israeli stance on the situation in the Strip to Nazi atrocities, the Catalunya government called off the city’s public memorial service.  This was to be the only public event marking the day, and was scheduled to take place in Barcelona’s central piazza.

“Marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right,” a local City official told Barcelona’s La Vanguardia newspaper.

Despite my love for the beautiful city of Barcelona, I found this quite disturbing.   Even if one is upset over Israel’s actions, why exactly is this the fault of those exterminated in Nazi death camps?  They don’t live in Israel.  They’re already dead.  If the Barcelona government was more logical, they would CELEBRATE this occasion, because if these six million would survived, there is a strong chance that THEY would be living in Israel themselves, as well as their children and grand-children, and the Israeli population would be three times as large, and Israel would even have a larger army in which to go into Gaza!  So next year, rather than pooh-poohing the holiday, I say free Tapas in Barcelona for everyone!

4) 1/3 of all Europeans


A week after the Bernie Madoff scandal broke, I was having coffee with my friend Barry.  We were discussing the amazing hubris of this guy.  How could he pull this off?

“There’s one thing that is cool about this country,” I said.   “Bernie Madoff is clearly Jewish and his victims were wealthy Jews, but Americans never say things like, “Oh, the Jews, they’re always ripping people off.   All they care about is money.”

My friend laughed and said, “In Queens, they don’t, but believe me. they’re are doing it everywhere else.”

Call me naive, but I would assume most of those old stereotypes have died already in a country with an African-American President.  That’s why it is good to have Europe around for some of that old-fashioned anti-Semitism.  Good ol’ Europe — home of the Crusades, the Inquisition, forced conversion, and the Holocaust.  Even when most of the Jews are killed off, it is still the fault of the Jews… especially during economic downturns.   It has to be someone’s fault, right?

The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that a survey it commissioned found nearly a third of Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world.   In Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets.  That is the highest percentage in the survey.  Nearly two-thirds of Spanish respondents said Jews were also more loyal to Israel than they were to their home countries.

Did I ever tell you that Sophia and I honeymooned in Spain?  We loved it, except for the fact that it was almost impossible to find anything to eat that wasn’t made from the pig!  Hmmm…

5) Circumcision


Can you believe that until I read this post on Her Bad Mother, I didn’t know that circumcision was such a big issue and that there are many ANGRY over it?!   I know that Americans tend to be circumcised more readily than Europeans (uh-oh, I can feel the American Jewish doctors having a hand in this… more trouble), and that it is considered unnecessary to many.  But what is the big deal?  I say, if you don’t want your son to get circumcized, don’t do it.  Who cares?  I don’t remember any discussion in the locker room between circumcised and uncircumcised men, or any laughing and pointing.  They are just penises.

But the fact is that circumcision is a big deal in Judaism.   It is probably one of the oldest traditions in the book, a symbol of the convenant between God and his people.   Jews have been doing it a long time without much trauma (unless research shows that circumcision is the cause of our neurotic behavior, but how would we then explain the neurotic Jewish women?).

Her Bad Mother’s post was intelligent and well-reasoned about her personal decision not to have her son circumcised, but if you do some googling on the subject, you find some scary stuff, and not just from crazy people, but from seemingly “loving” people who care about their children.   Circumcision is called “primitive” and “barbaric” and “genital mutation.”  It “destroys a man’s sexual pleasure” and “torments” the baby and should be “made illegal!”  WTF are we talking about?  Jack Bauer’s interrogation techniques on “24?”

Even if a person did have these beliefs about circumcision, I would think it impolite to blast a tradition so integral to another religion — in public!  There are all sorts of weird rites and rituals that occur around the world, and we appreciate them as part of some other culture.  Do people really want to make the bris illegal?  Would the same person feel as comfortable saying that wearing a burka should be made illegal?  Can you really compare the bris to female genital mutilation?

The whole issue sort of amused me.   Have you ever been to a bris?  The ceremony is done quickly, and then everyone eats a lot of food.  The only thing barbaric about the event is the amount of cholesterol in traditional Jewish food and the overly-sweet taste of the kosher wine.

Danny told me that he once wrote a post about the Jewish bris on the Huffington Post, and it received so many anti-Semitic comments that they had to remove the post from the Huffington Post.

Here is Danny’s post
, which is on his own blog, Jew Eat Yet.

This was his reaction after taking the post off the Huffington Post. And remember — the Huffington Post readership is a progressive one, believers in freedom of speech and religion.

Last Friday I posted my piece about circumcision which was mostly a family reminiscence based on an old discovered film I saw of my 1959 bris. I added a few comments about the people who oppose circumcision and I adopted an over-the-top and I thought humorous tone of intransigence about Kendall’s ambivalence towards the procedure. When I first saw my post zooming to the “Top Posts” list on Huffington, a way they have to track the most-read pieces, and the comments started pouring in fast and furious, I was excited that my post was generating such controversy. But I was unprepared for the level of hysteria that the “anti-circ” people would unleash, some of it accompanied by blatant anti-Semitism. Never in a million years did I mean to imply that circumcising your male child was the “right” thing to do, I was just sharing my own very personal feelings on the subject, all the while saying that this anti-circumcision group makes some valid points (which I still feel they muck up by resorting to outrageous hyperbole and propaganda).

I thought I had a very tough skin when it came to people sharing opposing views but I am not used to the level of personal attacks I received on the Huffington Post. Here is a sampling:

—Pull your head out of your egotistical Jewish ass.

—Let’s make a movie…at least this time it will have sound to preserve your pompous Jewish pontification (or should I say rabbification?).

—Your wife has a better sense of what a woman wants a penis partner to look like. Unless you’re planning to raise a gay son.

—Would you think the same thing if all male babies had to have their ears cut off at birth? Let’s dress up and make a fucking ritual of it and have a party with covered dishes!

—This last bit of animal sacrifice needs to end no matter the sentimental charm it has over older Jews.

—While you’re at it, Danny, you should really think about having all your children’s fingernails removed. After all, they are unnecessary in the evolutionary sense.

—YOU are the reason there are self-hating Jews, asshole. Your son would have every reason to hate you for being a coward.

—I demand that you CUT YOUR SON’S PENIS YOURSELF. See if THAT brings you closer to God!

—Fascism comes in all forms and degrees…you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

—Is this “mark” kind of like that yellow star the Nazis had all Jews sew on their clothes during WW2? They tried tattoos, too. How did those work out?

—Kendall, don’t damage and risk your child’s life by allowing some idiot to chop off the most sexually pleasurable part of his penis. Chop off that idiot you married instead, and do it before you get pregnant. Find a human being for a father for your children and replace this monster.

—Being Jewish and circumcised is no excuse for the kind of abusive behavior Miller exhibits. Many Jews are humane, decent people. This bozo is a disgrace to the good name of Judaism.

—Circumcising infants is a Satanic blood ritual. That is the only possible explanation for the persistence of this heinous evil. Human beings are not this evil. Only Satan himself is. All children circumcised are severely injured for life.

All I can say is that I am blessed with my friendly readership. You seem to like me, despite my circumcised Jewish talking penis.

Back to the Shtetl!

In the last issue of Los Angeles’ Jewish Journal, there was a full-page advertisement from the McCain campaign. The ad consisted of a letter written from a woman in New Jersey who said she was once a Democrat, but was now going to vote for McCain. She insisted that she wasn’t a right-wing nut. In fact, she specifically said she was liberal in social matters such as abortion and gay rights. No, her big issue was Israel. And some think that the Republicans are a better “friend” to Israel than the Democrats. I don’t know if I agree, or understand what this “friendship” really means, but there is this impression out there.

I’m not an Israeli. I don’t let one issue become the reason I vote for a candidate. But Israel is a big thing for most Jews. Is it surprising? Or wrong? Are we upset when the Irish care about Ireland? Or Chicago residents root for the Cubs? Passover just ended. The whole story of this ancient holiday, one that Jesus himself celebrated, is about Moses leading the chosen people into the Holy Land.

Do backers of Israel have too much of a say in American policy? Perhaps. Or is Israel in the best interest of America? The Arabs may have the oil, but when you get stuck at a seder, you’ll be glad you’re drinking the Israeli stuff rather than our own Manishevitz. And did you know that Natalie Portman was born in Israel? Enough said.

The Chosen People. I sometimes get the weirdest anti-Semitic emails about the phrase “chosen people,” as if Jews believe God gave them special freebies, like bigger penises on Jewish men. While this is true for some of us, I can’t vouch for every Jewish man. Maybe next week, I’ll write a post about “the chosen people” and have some of you goyim tell me what you think the phrase really means.

I’d like to also hear more of your feelings about our policies with Israel. Is America too biased towards Israel? Who do you think we should be biased to? Syria? Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. I already know which of you are anti-Semitic. Seriously, I’m open to different views. I have a few blogging friends who live in Europe who are very upset about the conditions of Palestinians in Gaza, and pretty much blame Israel. I understand the humanistic need to fight for those without a voice — the underdog. It is part of the liberal tradition. It is also why Republicans have made inroads with the Jewish community. Because many have forgotten that Israel is an underdog also.

I don’t think I met a Republican until I was twenty years old. A Republican in New York? A Jewish Republican? But politics make strange bedfellows. Soon, it was the religious right that was supporting Israel, while liberals like ex-President Jimmy Carter were sharing tea with Hamas leadership.

I consider myself fairly liberal. I care for the underdog. I just happen to see Israel as an underdog, despite its military power. Look on the map.

There’s a lot of guilt to go around in the Middle East. Israel can suck, too. Their policies have caused chaos in Gaza. But then again, I don’t live there. It is very hard to be sympathetic to those wanting to kill you.

I once read this very bizarre article (written by a French intellectual, of course) which theorized that Israel was bad for the Jewish people. This writer was proud of the older generation of Jews — the ones who thrived in Europe and added so much to European intellectual life — the Spinozas and Einsteins of the world. Now, Jews lost some of their moral high ground by having Israel. They became like everyone else. He seemed disappointed in these new Jews, because these Jews weren’t as alienated and miserable as they used to be. What should liberals do with Jews who aren’t victims — the prototypical victim?

I think the extreme right and the extreme left end up meeting in the same place concerning Jews and Israel: they don’t really feel comfortable with them being normal people. It’s as if they take “the chosen people” more seriously than Jews themselves. They need to be “chosen” for something, whether they want to or not.

How many other countries get the scrutiny that Israel gets? Or is as demonized by liberal Europeans, despite violence going on all over the world? Or is berated for land that was given them, and then won after the other side repeatedly attacked them? Or has given back most of the land and repeatedly made compromises? That actually respects the religion of their enemies?

Still, it would be nice to go back in time, to a more carefree era — back before half of the Jewish population was wiped out by the Nazis — back to the shtetls of Russia. Imagine if we could just move all the Jews back to Russia! I can give up blogging and return to my life as a grumpy milkman with three daughters, waiting to become a rich man. Wouldn’t that be a miracle of miracles?!

Of course, this dream could become a reality, as one blogger points out. In an interesting article in today’s BlogHer, Dana J. Tuszke writes “Quo Vadis, Israel?,” in which the blogger paves a way for peace in the Middle East by following H. Peter Nennhaus’s cool plan:

Nennhaus proposes that purchase of the land called the Kaliningrad Oblast from Russia, would encourage Russian immigrants to return to Russia by means of financial enticements, and the transfer of the Israelis to the Baltic, would prevent anyone from questioning the legitimacy of this new Israeli homeland.

What do you think? Could Israel relocate its entire nation? Could peace finally be achieved?

This is perfect for me, since I’ve already married a Russian and know how to drink vodka! Das Vadanya, Comrade Jews!

Disney Israel Presents “The Girl Who Didn’t Believe in Passover”

Once upon a time, there was a pretty Israeli girl named Ariel. She lived in Tel Aviv. All she wanted to do was go to the beach with her friends and have fun, listening to music and checking out the cute, slacker boys.

“You can’t go to the beach on Saturday,” said her mother during dinner one night. “It’s Passover. We’re going to have a seder.”

“Do I have to?” complained Ariel. “The weather is going to be perfect on Saturday.”

“It’s Passover!” replied her mother. “We celebrate our freedom from Egypt. Think of all the good food we get to eat!”

“I’m on a diet, Mom. And seriously, do you really believe that old story? That Moses forced the Pharaoh into “letting his people go” from slavery? How could a bunch of scrappy kvetchers ever compete against the mighty Egyptians?

“It was God who guided them.”

“Right. And then you expect me to believe that with Pharaoh’s army in pursuit of the Israelites, the Red Sea opened up JUST FOR the Israelites, to let them pass through under the sea.”

“You know, you’ve very cynical for a young girl, Ariel!”

That night, Ariel had a wild dream about what happened under the Red Sea so many years ago. And during this dream, she finally learned the true meaning of Passover:

Still need a cool progressive-oriented Haggadah for your seder? Download a cool self-made one by Velveteen Rabbi (Rachel Barenblat).

The Art Gallery


With Sophia in New York, I figured rather than pouting, I’d put on some of my best clothes and go out on the town. I heard about this new exhibit, so I figured I’d go and check out the scene.

“Why not?” I asked myself. “I’m always hearing that you can meet classy chicks at an art gallery.”

So, I got into my car and drove to this gallery in downtown Tehran. I had heard a lot about this exhibit: it was sponsored by the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri and contained the best international entries of cartoons mocking the Holocaust. The exhibit was packed, as it was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself who called for the cartoons as a response to last year’s caricature of Mohammad in a Danish newspaper.

It had been a long time since I’d been out alone, so I was a little nervous approaching any of the available woman. But as I enjoyed some of the complimentary cheese and tahini, I saw her, like a vision from the Arabian Nights. Her eyes were like sensuous burning coals. Well, actually, all I saw were her eyes, since she was wearing a burkah.

I introduced myself. You could hear the nervousness in my voice.

“Hi, I’m Neil,” I said.

“I’m Sarvenaz.”

“So, how do like the exhibit?”

“This exhibit is important as it will finally expose the Holocaust myth that the Zionist entity has foisted on the world.”

She obviously was very bright. But since I hate to get into politics on a “first date,” I decided to change the subject.

“The tahini here is excellent. Have you ever tried the tahini from Trader Joe’s?”

Sarvenaz started laughing. At first I thought she found me amusing, but then I realized she was laughing at one of the satirical cartoons hanging on the wall.

“I like this cartoon where American students are being dragging in chains to go to a “Holocaust” Museum and forced to learn the untruths about the so-called concentration camps.

“I get it.” I said as I nodded. “The Holocaust Museum is being presented like a concentration camp itself — and the students are the prisoners. A weird concept, but clever.”

“We received entries from all over the world. The truth is slowly getting out. Knock on wood and spit on the Israeli flag.”

Although Sarvenaz seemed a little neurotic, I guess I’m always falling for the “passionate” type. She was opinionated, but I like a woman who has a mind of her own. There was something very intriguing about Sarvenaz and I definitely wanted to know her better.

“So, which piece of art do you like the best?” I asked, trying to sound “bohemian.”

“I like the work that most tests the filthy pagan West’s commitment to freedom of speech,” she replied.

“You mean like this one of Hitler and Anne Frank in bed together, having just had sex?”

“Oh, the West and Anne Frank!” she protested. “The Holy Anne Frank. You can mock our Prophet, but if we caricature the holy Anne Frank, you Westerners consider it an outrage. You laughed at us when we went on rampages across the world after the Prophet was insulted. Now we’ll see the real outrage as Western hypocrites take to the street burning down mosques while waving their precious copies of Anne Frank.”

It was at this point that I decided to change the mood into something a little more romantic.

“Uh, so, have you had dinner yet?” I asked.

“I will not eat again until Israel is wiped off the face of the Earth!”

“Not even a little snack?”

But Sarvenaz was totally fixated on the art show.

“This next cartoon is excellent. I am sure it win a medal of honor.”

“Hmmm… I’m not sure I get it… ” I said, trying to weigh my words carefully, so as not to look like I didn’t understand art. “Why is the Statue of Liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in its left hand and giving a Nazi-style salute with the other. Is this supposed to be Dada?

“You’re obviously not familiar with the artist. He is brilliant in the way he expresses his vision so succinctly. Let’s see who’s rioting now after this cartoon is seen by the American public?!

I sighed, clearly uncomfortable with my knowledge of art history. Sarvenaz laughed at me, mocking my values.

“So, obviously your Western sensibilites are disturbed by the satiric nature of these Holocaust cartoons. You are nothing more than a worthless Zionist swine who manipulated the Danish media into mocking the Prophet’s name against their better judgement!”

“I’m sorry.” I said, apologetically. “I’m a little distracted today. Maybe I’m just feeling a little lonely. You see Sophia went to New York and I’m left by myself for the next seven weeks without my Sofotchka or a blog editor.”

For the first time, Sarvenaz’ eyes showed warmth and compassion. She turned away from the Holocaust revisionist cartoons and focused on me.

“Oh, look at you. That sad face. You look like a sad little puppy dog. Why do I suddenly feel so much compassion for you — you greedy dishonest Zionist-American fool?”

“You know, my car is right outside. And it is a Prius, so I don’t waste too much Middle Eastern oil. Would you like to come home with me tonight?”

“Do you have HBO?” she asked.


For the first time in my life, I praised Time-Warner.

And so it was written, so it was done. We went back to my place. I got my mind off of Sophia. Sarvenaz watched a little HBO. This morning, as we made love for the third time, I wondered if our relationship could be a building block to the start of a lasting Middle Eastern peace plan.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: A Wimpy Post About Friendship

Letter to Paris #2

Dear Tara,

As I sign of peace in a political world, I will not link to articles that insinuate that Islam is a religion of violence, because that is something I strongly detest when I see it written by conservatives.   How about you refrain from linking to articles that state that “the Jewish fundamentalist belief of being God’s chosen people has allowed Israel to believe it can do as it will?”

As I wrote in your comments:

“While I believe the Palestinian leadership and the Arab world bear much of the responsibility for the problems in the middle east — along with Israel — and I particularly blame Iran for arming Hezbollah to the teeth in this current conflict (they sent off a drone today that neared Tel Aviv), I would never say that Arab violence comes out of the religion of Islam.

So, I hope you will agree with me that the statement that the central Jewish concept of “the chosen people” means they can “do as they will” is completely horrendous, and a total misinterpretation of what it is about — moral duty, not superiority. The concept of the chosen people is completely bound to the idea of keeping the commandments that bring a people closer to God. For a journalist to use the “chosen people” line as an explanation for Israel’s entry into Lebanon smacks of the most abhorent anti-Semitism.

If Jews really believe that they were chosen as a ‘superior’ people who can do as they will, they would be the most stupid people that ever existed, especially after being driven from their homeland, forced to wander the world for centuries, made to live like second class citizens, tortured, and murdered by both Muslim and Christian. What luck to be so chosen!”

Letter to Paris


Sometimes I read personally bloggers lamenting the fact that they only write about the mundane events of their lives rather than getting involved into the big discussions of the day:  politics, war, etc.  They almost feel unworthy to be writing on the blogosphere next to their more serious brethren.

I don’t feel this way.

I’m not a big fan of political blogs, despite their popularity.  The readers are usually people of the same political persuasion patting each other on the back until some outsider breaks in to write something controversial.  Then, all hell breaks loose as insults fly.

I believe that personal bloggers are way more important than political bloggers.  It is the personal that will eventually bring people together.  Despite differences, most people everywhere want the same things:  love, shelter, sex, and good food.  I might want a corned beef sandwich and you might want a shish-kebab, but when it comes down to, it is the same basic  want.  I wish there was more cross-cultural blog reading going on.  I love to read about a Muslim woman’s life in Mauritius (Fitena).  I learn so much from her.  And hopefully, she’s learning something about American Jews like me (I just hope she doesn’t think that all Jewish men have an unhealthy relationship with a talkative penis — that’s even worse that Jews having horns!)

Personal bloggers tend to be more open to civilized discussion.  

For example, Tara Bradford is an American journalist living in Paris.   She writes a blog titled Paris Parfait, which she describes as a muses about a “parfait sundae” of art, antiques, culture, poetry and politics.  In the last few weeks, she’s been very upset about what is going on in Lebanon and has written some excellent posts about the conflict there.   Although they are written very passionately, I’ve complained about the one-sidedness of her arguments because she seemed to blame the situation more on Israel than on Hezbollah and Iran.  She could have just dismissed me, but instead, she invited me to write a post on her site, expressing my differing views.  (link here)

Now, that is a definition of a mensch.

Personal bloggers rule!


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Bad News Neilochka

Happy Bastille Day!


I’ve always had a love for things French, from Rabelais to my favorite movie director, Eric Rohmer. I have a few blogging friends in Paris, and I love to read about their beautiful city. But sometimes I wonder — has there ever been a positive thing said about Israel by a French leader? And why not?

I support Israel’s current bombardment of Lebanon, although I’m sad that civilians are being injured and killed. But why is Jacques Chirac always the first out of the gate to call Israel’s offensive as “totally disproportionate”?

Bachar El Assad and Jacques Chirac

“One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communication,” Chirac said during an interview.

What would he do if Spain went into France tonight and kidnapped some French soliders? Wouldn’t the French people want to take action? Was the storming of Normandy by the Allies a “totally disproportionate” action? Or was the Nazi presence acceptable? Was the storming of the Bastille disproportionate?

France has a long history in the Middle East, including past colonies in Morocco, Lebanon, Algeria and Tunisia. Millions of Arabs murdered by French soldiers in the past. Maybe that explains French guilt over the Arab world. Does it also explain why Chirac was the only western head of state at Syrian despot Hafez el Assad`s funeral?

These two men had a long relationship. After being pressed by Jewish groups, Chirac finally questioned Assad about former Nazi Alois Brunner, who was living in Syria. Brunner, a top Nazi operative, is believed responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Jews deported to death camps between 1942 and 1945. He once was commandant of the squalid French transit camp at Drancy. Assad’s simple answer to Chirac’s question: he would “examine the issue.” I guess that was good enough.

President Giscard d’Estaing provided asylum to Ayatollah Khomeini who resided in Neauphle le Chateau near Paris and, on 1 February 1979, arrived in Teheran on a special Air France flight. Two generations earlier, France extended similar hospitality to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a close friend of Heinrich Himmler and enthusiastic advocate of the “Final Solution.” Although the French government was obligated to detain this war criminal and bring him to law, they lodged him in a villa in the fashionable Paris suburb of Rambouillet.

General de Gaulle was well-known for using the phrase: “le peuple juif, sûr de lui meme et dominateur” (the Jewish people, self-confident and domineering). De Gaulle was an admirer of Charles Maurras, a monarchist-nationalist-Catholic thinker and politician with strong anti-Semitic feelings.

According to the Canadian historian Henry Weinberg, “De Gaulle implicitly characterized the Israelis as arrogant, expansionist war hawks who seek every opportunity to achieve their imperialistic aims, as militarists spoiling for a fight. He also ‘invited’ the Jews to keep a low profile, implying that Israel’s right to live in security was linked to the ‘humility’ of its political behavior.

Which basically meant that Jews were OK, as long as they remained wimpy. You know, like the nice non-aggressive ones who agreed to go onto the friendly trains to Germany.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Life is a Cabaret

London Bombing

What a terrible event in London.   

I can’t believe it took so long (at least a half hour) before it was blamed on —  the Jews.

In other news, I find it a positive step that Sir Igbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain publicly condemned the attacks.   (via Marissa)

"We are simply appalled and want to express our deepest condolences to the families."

"These terrorists, these evil people want to demoralise us as a nation and divide us."

"All of must unite in helping the police to hunt these murderers down."

Can we hear from some more Muslim leaders… in other countries?

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