Wednesday, January 31, 2007

JPost: Biting the Hand that Reads You?

This post will probably kill my chances for being ever linked to the Jerusalem Post again, but I'm so annoyed at their current ad campaign that I had to post about this.

Last week, while driving through Kfar Sava, I saw the above huge red billboard.

Sorry, Stanley.

What the heck?

An ad for the Hebrew-only business magazine of the Jerusalem Post -- it's a nasty swipe at the head of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fisher.

Stanley's an American, who was brought to Israel by then-Finance Minister Netanyahu. With an impeccable record, it's about time that Israel appointed professionals, rather than petty, incompetent political hacks -- even if they are "imported" from outside of Israel.

So, the ad people working for the Jerusalem Post thought it would be "clever" to make fun of the fact that Stanley Fisher is "imported from America" and they attempt to imply that his Hebrew is sub-par to understand the Hebrew-language Jerusalem Post Business Magazine. (FYI, his Hebrew isn't bad at all)

Not only are they insulting one of the most respected people in Israel's financial community, but *I* was insulted.

Making fun of olim for their lack of Hebrew skills?

And from the company that runs the primary English Language paper in Israel?

What the heck are they thinking at the Jerusalem Post?

They think that's funny?


A special thanks to my wife for taking the pictures of the billboard for the blog while we were driving :)

On second thought, it would have been much funnier is if they wrote:

Olmert: You won't be able to read this in jail!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Palestinian Blogger to Israel: Bomb Gaza Now!

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly.

Palestinian journalist Fadi Abu Sada who publishes a blog on Palestinian News Network says, "If Israel attacks houses in Gaza and attempts to target the leaders of the Palestinian resistance, this would be the only solution to stop the fighting" (Courtesy of YNET and PNN)

Over the past few days, Hamas and Fatah terrorists have been shooting each other in Gaza like there's no tomorrow. Besides killing each other, they have managed to kill a bunch of civilians in the crossfire. As part of the death culture prevalent in Gaza these days, the Palestinians are on the brink of their own civil war. Palestinian Blogger Fadi Abu Sada has concluded that the only way to unite the Palestinians and stop them from rampantly killing each other, is for Israel to bomb Gaza.

Personally, I think we should let them take care of themselves for a while, saving us alot of ammunition, bad PR, and time. Sort of reminds me of Israel cheering from the sidelines during the Iran-Iraq long as they are busy fighting each other, then they usually leave us alone. I think the Palestinian's point of yesterday's attack in Eilat was a feeble attempt by the Palestinians to remind themselves who their real enemy is, and thereby bring about the "unity" that Abu Sada is wishing by Israel bombinging Gaza.

Here's a list of bloody events going on in Gaza over the past few days. Makes for interesting reading...and should be a warning sign for anyone stupid enough to invest in Gaza these days. The following comes from the PNN (Palestinian National News) website.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, bloody clashes have renewed between the two sides since Thursday evening, 25 January 2007, when unknown persons detonated an explosive device on the roadside when a vehicle of the Executive Force of the Ministry of Interior (EF)was passing in Jabalya town in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result of the attack, which occurred in a densely-populated area, the vehicle was destroyed and 8 members of the EF and 4 passing persons, including two children, were wounded. Later, Hussam 'Abdul Malek Mtai, 36, a member of the EF from Jabalya, who was wounded in the attack, was pronounced dead. On Friday, 26 January 2007, another member of the EF, Mousa Taha 'Asaliya, 18, was also pronounced dead.

At approximately 01:30 on Friday, 26 January 2007, a number of armed members of Hamas and the EF stormed a house belonging to Nabeel Hasan al-Jarjeer, 25, a member of Fatah movement in Jabalya town, accusing him of responsibility for the attack on the EF vehicle. They shot al-Jarjeer dead with a bullet to the head. They also violently beat his brother, 33-year-old Nahedh. He sustained bruises throughout the body.

Soon after, clashes erupted near a house belonging to Sameeh al-Madhoun, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Fatah movement) in Beit Lahia town in the northern Gaza Strip. In a later development, al-Madhoun abducted a number of members of Hamas and held them inside his house, which he had already fortified and blocked all roads leading to it with cement blocks and sand barriers. As a result of the exchange of fire, two civilian bystanders, including a girl, were wounded:

1) Saleh Jameel Matar, 28, wounded by a live bullet to the abdomen; and

2) Fatema Nafez Qa'oud, 17, wounded by a live bullet to the left hand.

At approximately 10:30 also on Friday, a number of gunmen opened fire at a vehicle belonging to Hamas, which was calling through loudspeakers for organizing a demonstration in Jabalya town. The driver, Ra'ed Rjab Subeh, 27, from Beit Lahia, who is a member of Hamas, was seriously wounded by a live bullet to the chest. He was later pronounced dead. Another person who was traveling in the vehicle, 23-year-old Younis Rabee' Abu Jabal, sustained injuries and bruises throughout the body as the vehicle turned over when it was fired at.

Clashes and mutual kidnappings between members of Hamas and Fatah movements continued. An armed group of Hamas chased a member of Fatah movement, 20-year-old Shadi Saleh Quddas, in Beit Lahia town and he fled to a police station. The armed group attempted to kidnap him from the police station, but things were settled. A police officer, 30-year-old Yousef Ahmed Hawila, was wounded by a bullet to the left foot unleashed unintentionally from his colleague's gun.

At approximately 13:50 also on Friday, armed members of 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) and the EF, besieged the house of Mansour Shalayel, a member of Fatah movement, in Jabalya refugee camp, accusing him of responsibility for the aforementioned attack on the vehicle that was calling for organizing a demonstration for Hamas. Violent clashes took place between dozens of gunmen who deployed around the house on one side and Shalayel and some gunmen who were inside the house on the other side. As a result of those clashes, two civilian bystanders were killed:

1) Fu'ad 'Abdul Mahdi al-Khaldi, 17, hit by several live bullets to the head and the chest; and

2) Ziad Isma'il Abi Zaid, 25, hit by a live bullet to the chest.

At approximately 21:30 on Friday, the bodies of 3 persons who were killed in clashes near Shalayel's house were brought to Kamal 'Edwan Hospital in Beit Lahia town. Two of them were identified as Ahmed Saleh Salah, 20, and Sharaf Salama Abu Wadi, 22, both are members of the EF. They were hit by several gunshots throughout the body. The third person has not been identified.

At approximately 22:00, several units of the Palestinian National Security Forces and the Naval Police moved from the site of the Third Brigade, east of Jabalya refugee camp, towards the area of clashes near Shalayel's house and were able to lift the siege imposed on the house. They were also able to take shalayel and his family out of the house, which had been under heavy gunfire.

At approximately 00:30 on Saturday, 27 January 2007, Mohammed Ghaleb al-Skani, 25, a member of the National Security Forces from Gaza City, was killed by live bullet to the back from an unknown source, when he was on duty at the southern entrance of Beit Hanoun town. It is worth noting that several areas in the Gaza Strip witnessed armed clashes at the time.

The number of persons wounded in the bloody clashes in the northern Gaza Strip was 57, including a number of bystanders.

The clashes in the northern Gaza Strip extended to Gaza City. At approximately 15:00 on Friday, Brigadier Jihad 'Abdul Ra'ouf Srhan, 58, of the National Security Forces, was wounded by a bullet to the right leg. Sarhan told PCHR that he was traveling in his car with his bodyguard on Salah al-Din road, east of Gaza City, when a number of masked gunmen intercepted the car and fired at him as he refused to obey their order for him to get out of the car.

At approximately 18:20 also on Friday, a number of unknown gunmen broke into al-Hedaya Hospital in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the southwest of Gaza City, and opened fire at all those who were in the mosque listening to a preach. Three persons were killed:

1) Eihab Suleiman Hammouda, 22;

2) Mas'oud Jamal Shamallakh, 22; and

3) Zuhair Mahmoud al-Mansi, 40, a prominent leader of Hamas.

Four other persons were wounded:

1) Sa'id Jamal Shamallakh, 20, wounded by several bullets to the legs;

2) Muneer Qassem al-Meenawi, 27, wounded by a bullet to the right side;

3) Mo'taz Jamal Jamal Abu Ras, 20, wounded by two bullets to the right leg and
the left thigh; and

4) Mohammed Mansour Sa'da, 17, wounded by several bullets to the legs.

The gunmen also kidnapped Mohammed al-Hussein al-Berniya, 24.

At approximately 21:30, armed clashes erupted between members of the Preventive Security Service (PSS) and those of the EF near the headquarters of the PSS in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. A civilian bystander, 20-year-old Ra'fat Daoud Toutah, was killed by a gunshot to the head.

At approximately 22:00 on the same day, unknown persons fired a projectile at the house of Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahhar, Palestinian Foreign Minister, in al-Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City. At approximately 22:20, unknown persons fired two projectiles at the house of Rasheed Abu Shibak, Director-General of the Internal Security Service and former commander of the PSS, in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. Approximately 10 minutes later, unknown persons launched 3 mortars at the headquarters of the PSS in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. No casualties were reported as a result of the three attacks.

At approximately 23:15 on Friday, unknown gunmen shot dead Lieutenant Colonel, Kamal Hasan Khalil, for the Special Security Bureau, when was traveling in his car near al-Samer intersection in the center of Gaza City.

At approximately 00:30 on Saturday, 27 January 2007, armed clashes erupted again between members of the PSS and those of the EF in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. A member of the EF, 22-year-old Hammam Taha al-Sha'er, was killed, and 3 members of the PSS were wounded.

At approximately 11:00 also on Saturday, medical sources at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, declared that Mahmoud Khalil al-Khattat, 18, died from a wound he had sustained at 08:30. Al-Khattat was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head during armed clashes between members of the National Security Force and those of Hamas in al-Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.

Clashes in the Gaza Strip had their echo in the West Bank. At approximately 15:30 on Friday, an armed group of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Fatah movement), kidnapped 7 children and their teacher of al-Qastal Scout in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, when they were in Kufor Qallil village, southeast of the city. Members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade declared in a media release that the abducted persons are members of the EF and threatened to kill them if the siege imposed on Shalayel's house in the Gaza Strip was not lifted. The abducted persons were released on Saturday morning. At approximately 22:30 on Friday, a number of masked gunmen stormed a house belonging to 'Aamer 'Omar Sha'bello, 24, in al-Dahia area in Nablus. They asked him about his brother, who studies abroad. They then kidnapped him.

In Khan Yunis, at approximately 16:30 on Friday, 2.5-year-old Yahia Ibrahim Madhi, was killed by mistake by a bullet to the head. According to his father, the child was playing near the family home when members of the Popular Army, who guard areas on which Israeli settlement had stood in the past, fired at 4 vehicles of security forces, thinking that the vehicles were belonging to the EF.

That's some list.

If Israel did a fraction of this to the Palestinians, then we'd be demolished in the UN, CNN, AP, Reuters, and the entire MSM.

Better they use their ammo locally in Gaza only....improve their accuracy to target each other, and leave their civilians (and the rest of Israel) alone.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Proud Terrorist's Family.

For those of you just reading this blog now, there was a Palestinian terror attack this morning at the Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat. At 9:25 AM, three Israelis were killed and numerous wounded by a Palestinian suicide bomber at an Eilat bakery.

The proud family of the Palestinian terrorist are seen here, showing off pictures of their brave son who blew himself up, killing innocent Israelis, whose only only crime was wanting to buy bread at a bakery, in Israel.

With such an intense culture of death, I wish they would find somewhere else in the Universe to live. Perhaps they could join the Borg and leave the planet altogether.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tel-Aviv in the Fog.

I don't know who to credit for this picture, since I've gotten it so many times by email. It was taken during the fog yesterday morning, January 28th. I suggest you click it to see the full clarity of the picture.

In the center of the picture is the Azrieli towers (seen below on a sunny day).

To help put things in perspective and give you a slightly better appreciation of the fog picture.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Palestinian Suicide Bomber Explodes in Eilat Bakery.

Photo courtesy of Meir Ohayon, via YNET

(Updated 1:16 PM)

What started out as reports of a gas canister explosion in an Eilat "Lachmim" bakery is now being confirmed as a Palestinian Suicide bomber attack. At 9:25 AM Israel time, the terrorist exploded at the busy commercial district and MDA sources claim the scene is particularly...difficult.

There are 3 confirmed dead (in addition to the terrorist) and a number of wounded.

Terror groups taking credit for the attack include the Islamic Jihad and the Fatah's Al-Aksa Martyr brigade (this group is the #1 favorite of the United States State Department, as the head of Fatah is PA president, Mohammed Abbas) Sources: JPost and YNET.

Update: Terrorist's name was Mohammed Faisel Al-SakSak, part of the Fatah Al-Aksa terrorist brigade.

The Shin-Bet is investigating.


So, for our daily terror roundup; Qassam rockets continue to fall near Sederot and Ashkelon (I'm assuming you didn't forget about them, right?), Rock and molotov coktail throwing continues on the roads of Yehuda vShomron, and a terrorist blows himself up in Eilat.

Any questions for Prime Minister Olmert or Defense Minister Peretz?

What you probably didn't know is that the government is in the planning stages of (temporary) evacuation of the Israeli communities around the Gaza strip. Don't worry...they say it's only in the planning stage...and only temporary.

I agree with the temporary part; just as the temporary evacuation of Gush Katif.

We'll be back.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, January 28, 2007

We are experiencing technical difficulties

Please stand by

We apologize for any inconvenience, but since blogger has forced us into using "new blogger" as of this morning, we are experiencing technical difficulties.

We hope to resume normal Muqata programming later today.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Technical Department
The Muqata

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Friday Night Spirituality vs. Friday Night Spirituality: An Internal Struggle

Man is often faced with making difficult choices. Here, I list a choice that I've personally been struggling with, and maybe there are others who struggle with the same. And I'd like to hear of how others are dealing with this as well...

When Shabbos arrives, a certain peace comes over me. Sure, we all know how hectic Friday is, but when I walk out the door and head to shul with my son, nothing else matters and I know that Shabbos is upon us. It is a feeling unlike any other.

There are times when I head to a shul where the davening is nice, but totally uninspiring. The davening isn't long (about 45 minutes to an hour or so), and the Rav of the shul does say over a nice short dvar torah, but I don't feel much different after returning home from this shul. In addition, the seating in this shul is such that my son usually sits on the other side of shul or upstairs in the ezras nashim -- but not by my side.

Then there's another shul I go to at times. The Rav is chassidish and therefore the davening doesn't start until much later. The davening is also longer (usually about an hour and a half). But let me tell you -- what a davening. There is so much spirituality. A truly beautiful and inspiring davening here always includes joyous singing. More seating in this shul allows my son to sit by my side, and that brings a tremendous amount of nachas to me. After Maariv, the Rav also sings a short song (Shabbos Shulem) and I have to admit that upon returning home after this davening, I am truly on a different level altogether. Not only is the davening uplifting, I am filled with a happiness that is difficult to describe. It is a kind of spiritual uplifting that defines shabbos itself.

Then there's a different kind of spirituality -- that of sitting around a shabbos table with your family. It's true when it is said that one friday night shabbos meal can produce a baal teshuvah. For me (one who often travels during the week), holding that becher (cup) of wine in my hand reciting kiddush, while my family stands with me, with the table set in beauty, with the flames of my wife's shabbos candles basking the entire room in a special glow, is a feeling that gives me untold strength. The entire meal is spiritually uplifting.

And therein lies my dilemna.

When I return home late from shul, the younger ones in the family are tired. More importantly, my wife, who has worked hard preparing for shabbos, is also tired. And that means that a meal that starts later isn't as spiritual -- especially if the family finds it difficult to particpate when they are truly exhausted. And I totally understand that as well.

So I can choose to go to a faster yet less spiritually uplifting davening, but return home to a more spiritually uplifting meal, or attend a more spiritually uplifting davening, at the risk of a less spiritually uplifting meal at home.

As a man, I'll admit that I want both. Hence, the internal struggle.

I'll close with a personal story on Friday Night Spirituality. On my first visit to Eretz Yisroel about 4 years ago, my brother was also there learning in yeshiva. We had agreed that we would eat together at my hotel Friday night and that we would meet up at the Kotel. Mind you, having never been at the Kotel on a Friday night, I had no idea what I was about to experience.

When walking towards the Kotel that Friday night, I was surrounded by many others also walking, but when I made that final turn and saw the Kotel, I was not prepared for what greeted my eyes. Tens of thousands of Jews -- of EVERY kind -- all davening, singing, dancing. It's a sight I can never describe and yet one that I will never forget. And here I thought I'd never find my brother in all of this.

I was with several friends from my shul and we made our own minyan amongst all the others there at the Kotel and as I opened my siddur to begin davening, I heard a familiar voice -- that of my brother -- who was standing right beside me.

Maybe my internal struggle for a more spiritual friday night davening is my soul's attempt to reach the level I did that Friday night at the Kotel in Israel.

As always Jameel, thank you for giving me the opportunity to post my thoughts on your blog.


Wherever I am, Jameel's blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Welcome to the Muqata...

I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome all the Jerusalem Post readers to the Muqata.

If you are a new reader it is probably because you read the Jerusalem Post article where Jameel most eloquently expressed himself. Of course if you are a Jerusalem Post reader its amazing you got here at all, as they spelled the address wrong.

As it happens, I am not Jameel, but rather JoeSettler posting an illegal (out)post, and hoping to use all of Jameel's free publicity to invite you to hop over to my blog too.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Despite Olmert, Katzav, Halutz them all, ISRAEL IS AMAZING.

Yes, I could write about President Katzav and the upcoming criminal charges against him. Or I could write about our slimy Prime Minister who called for President Katzav to resign last night (even though there are numerous investigations hanging over Olmert's head and he was also part of the failed war effort this summer). I'm not going to write about Halutz either. If YNET follows up the news scoop I gave them this morning, then maybe I'll have more to write about Olmert, but forget that all for now.

I got a phone call this morning.

Caller: Hi, Who is this?

Jameel: Shalom! You called me...who are you?

Caller: (silence on the line)

Jameel: Hello?

Caller: Well, I'm a soldier.

Jameel: Shalom Chayal! What I can I do for you.

Caller: I found a cellphone and it said to call this number if found.

Jameel: REALLY?! Where are you?

Caller: I'm stationed up North on the Hermon...just found a cellphone in the snow. I turned it on, and there was an SMS msg to call your number.

Jameel: WOW! My son is going to be SO happy, thank you, thank you. You are a tzaddik!

Caller: Well, Im stuck here for 2.5 more weeks before I can leave to send it by mail to you.

Jameel: Give me your number and we'll talk later to work out the details.

If you read this blog, you'll know that my son lost his cellphone on the Chermon snow capped mountain 2 days ago on a school trip and was very upset. I tried getting his phone replaced yesterday, but his phone is out of stock and will maybe be replenished mid-next-week...

So...even if we have pathetic leadership and a media which will attack anything that walks; what makes Israel survive are the PEOPLE.

Whether it's the solider who finds your cellphone and calls to return it, the plata gemach, or the "give their shirt off their back" attitude of so many...I am optimistic that because of the people here, we will survive, flourish, and be a light onto the nations.

Shabbat Shalom!


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Responsibile Reporting and when things go horribly wrong

There's an email going around Israel about the alleged silliness of doctors/patients/employers in Israel.

It shows an official "Doctor's Note" which is used to officially report an absence at work/school/IDF due to illness.

The diagnosis is written in English (Latin) letters, as is usually done in Israeli health-related official reports. The words however, are transliterated Hebrew.

"Stam Balbel ta moch bari kmo shor, natti lo stam kadorim shani mikabel heleem hamalot"

Loosely translated: "This guy is just making up stories, he's as healthy as an ox. I gave him pills which I receive money for dispensing them"

At first, this sounds real funny.

A real doctor's name was signed and stamped at the bottom of the form, and it looked legit. Someone thought this was funny enough to send to YNET and they printed it, demanding an explanation from the HMO, Kupat Cholim Klalit -- how their doctor could write such a note?

Kupat Cholim announced they were going to question the doctor, and they viewed this matter very seriously...and this was all printed on the YNET site.

The story went to print...the doctor was humiliated, and everyone got a good laugh out of this. Channel 10 TV broadcast the story (with the Doctor's name) all over Israel. Over 451 talkback messages were reported on the YNET article (most of them deploring doctors in Israel).

The tearful doctor wasn't even given a chance before the YNET article went to print...Kupat Cholim didn't give her a chance to defend herself in advance either.

Only afterwards, when it was too late, did the doctor prove that the letter and pictures from the internet...were just photo-shopped.

YNET removed the first story, so here's the screen snapshot of it:

Great. So she still has her job. And YNET hasn't said a word (yet). Haaretz wrote up the whole story with their usual smugness, even though they are just as guilty of similar stories.

Words kill.

Let's be careful out there.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Lost Phone

My son is sad.

What was supposed to be a school fun day at the Hermon turned out to be a crushing disaster for him. Thankfully, he wasn't hurt in any way, but what started out as wonderfully fantastic day of fun, ended in gloom and tears. See, as part of his newfound maturity of attending a dorm yeshiva, he received a cellphone of his own. We limit the calls he can make per month, but as things go here in Israel, it's always best for kids who are away from home to have a phone so we can reach him or for him to call us.

He called at 11 to say what a great time he was having, playing in the snow, seeing the snow-capped Hermon in all it's glory (saying the bracha of "Oseh Maaseh Breisheet" upon seeing it), and I told him, "Have fun, enjoy yourself"

Later on during the day, the ominous SMS message arrived from my wife, "He lost his phone." Obviously, it's only money, and not health, so things are kept in proportion...but I knew my son was hysterically trying to find his phone, and he recruited all his friends to scour the mountain to find the mobilephone in the snowstack.

To everyone's dismay, the phone was in "vibrate" mode, so no one could hear it ringing, as we called it dozens of time in the hope someone would find it. My son tearfully got on the bus on his way back to school, leaving behind his beloved cellphone. In return for his excellent grades and positive attitude at school, we paid extra to get him a "nicer" phone...and since he waited so long to get it, the sadness for him was amplified.

Putting myself in his shoes, I thought back to things I had lost as a kid. A baseball glove, my brand new 10 speed bike was stolen, and in first grade I lost my water-squirt ring that fit in my hand. Of course it's silly, but the pain of losing something when you're younger is still...a reason for sadness.

I envision the phone in the snow.

It's battery is slowly dying and won't be found till the spring (if ever). The next time it snows it will be completely buried. Ive already disabled outgoing calls to it, and it won't receive any more calls as of today. It could be years before it's ever found...and even if it is, will someone try to find a way to charge it, and see my son's MP3 collection on it, or the pictures he took?

The good news, is that we have insurance on the phone, and should have a new one for him in a week or so. He didn't know that at the time...though I doubt it would have cheered him up that much. Being given the responsibility of a owning cellphone meant he's accountable...and as he said, "this hurts me more than you."

I guess human nature is to care about physical possessions.

And even though health is the #1 priority, it still hurts when things get lost, stolen, or broken.

Hmmm. That was a rather melancholic posting. You ever get sad over losing something?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dear America: Where Does Your Money to Palestinians Go?

In the Arab Municipality of Yaabed in the West Bank, Palestinians have named a main thoroughfare paved by American tax-money, in honor of...the great friend of America, Saddam Hussein. Palestinian Media Watch has the scoop.

The Arab newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda reported;
"In the Yaabid Municipality… thousands of citizens held a requiem for the soul of Saddam in the mosque. Following that, a march began in the streets of the municipality, that ended at the offices of the Yaabid Municipality, where a mourners’ tent was opened in his memory. Public figures and the [Armed] Factions in Yaabid decided to name one of the schools in the municipality and its most important street after Saddam to immortalize his memory and to emphasize the values of Arabness and Jihad, which he represented…" [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, January 4, 2007]
This main street was paved through USAid, as found in the PMW archives:
“The Yaabid Municipality in the Jenin area held a ceremony yesterday for the inauguration of a project of the paving of the main street of the municipality, funded by the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID)… The project of paving and renovating the main entrance to the municipality and some of the inner streets is three kilometers long and cost $402,000.”
[Al-Ayyam, July 14, 2005]
While this story has been picked up by 2 websites that are routinely bashed for their unreliablity, (WND and CNS), I found the original on PMW, which is a far more respected site (and the source of the story).

Perhaps you should write your Senator or State Representative asking if this is the most efficient use of your tax dollars?

Speaking of unreliable news sites; someone sent me the following news story about the US forcing Israel from attacking Iranian nuclear reactors. It seems a bit off the wall to me. Has anyone heard of this site before? Are they wing-nuts? Moonbats? Somewhere in the middle?

Upcoming Post in the not too distant future; Things I hate, can't stand, dislike about Israel

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

What the Left says about the Left.

This past January 8th, Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Law held a conference entitled "Security prisoners or political prisoners? For those of you who may be unaware, TAU is a bastion of the Israeli Left. They could have just as well renamed their conference, "Mislabeled and Misunderstood Terrorists are just Fun-loving Political Prisoners." They were proud to count among their attendees the recently released from prison, Tali Fahima, famous (and charged, convicted and imprisoned) for aiding and abetting the enemy (during wartime).

Maariv commenter Ben-Dror Yemini compared the conference to the Holocaust-denial conference recently held in Teheran: (The following is all quoted here in the JPost)
"Hosting those that deny the Zionist enterprise's right to exist in Tel Aviv University is not very different from hosting Holocaust deniers in Teheran University. The pretext of 'academic freedom of speech' is starting to sound increasingly hackneyed and hollow. Not only in Teheran... in Tel Aviv too."
But the even more condescending was Prof. Amnon Rubenstein, one of the founders of the political Leftist Party, Meretz: (assorted quotes follow)
The novelty at the Tel Aviv University conference was its purpose: to present Palestinian terrorists as political prisoners. In order to do so a terrorist who had been sentenced to 27 years in prison for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a bus was invited and given a seat on the podium in the law faculty's Hall of Justice auditorium.

That is new. It goes without saying that it didn't occur to the faculty leaders to invite on the podium, in addition to the terrorist, a victim of the terror that targets Jews because they are Jews; because as we all know, Jews are not entitled to human rights. (Jameel: correction, Settlers, Religious, and Rightwing Jews are not entitled to human rights)
Would the Tel Aviv University Law Faculty be willing to hold a conference spotlighting the violation of Israelis' human rights by Palestinian war criminals? Don't make me laugh.
He asks:
Would it be acceptable for such an Israeli Arab college to hold a conference of Holocaust deniers, or one on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Or to invite someone who preaches Nazism, simply because it was a conference organized by an academic institution and held inside it? Based on the precedent set by the Law Faculty of Tel Aviv University, the answer would have to be yes.
Of course, the leftist bloggers were scathing in their condemnation of Neturei Karta for attending the Iranian Conference -- and of course, they look to PA President Abbas as a partner, despite also being an avid Holocaust Denier.

He ends with:
I write these words in anger mixed with pain. I was among the founders of Tel Aviv University's Law Faculty, and its first dean. Among the other founders were the late professors Ze'ev Zeltner and Gualtiero Procaccia, and professors Yoram Dinstein, Daniel Friedman and Uriel Reichman. I am convinced that not one of them could have imagined that the institute they established would sink so low as to invite a terrorist - even one that had served out his term - to speak on the podium in the Hall of Justice. It is a shame and an outrage.
So how do I look at Prof. Rubenstein? Truth be told, he was the most right wing of Meretz...yet he didn't say much about the Human Rights violations against the Jews of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron who still have no housing solutions and the majority lack employment.

The plain fact is, since the Left does not decry the abhorrent situation that they wrought upon the Jews of Gush Katif, and do nothing on any level to help them, proves beyond a doubt that their agenda is not a Jewish one.

Or even one of a human and civil rights.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Indiana Jameel Versus The Alligator

I am ever so tempted to recite the tale of Indiana Jameel versus the alligator. It was supposed to be a simple trip to Hamat Gader to partake of the healing waters of the spa. Instead it turned into one heck of a wacky adventure.

Let me tell you, if Jameel ever convinces you to join him for a tiyul you just better be prepared as he likes to really get into it.

P.S. The good news is that if you want to see one of the only pictures of mighty Jameel taking on the alligator you can click here. It is a little small but if you look carefully you can kind of make us out.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, January 22, 2007

Jameel Meet Dr. Jones

As I wiped the remains of a tasty waffle breakfast off of my lips I told Jameel that it was time for us to take off our Black Hats

and don something a little sexier, a la Indiana Jones.

And thus we found ourselves on our way to Petra.

Magical, Mysterious Petra. We weren't searching for the grail, but for a new adventure. The kind of journey that you dream of as a boy but don't ever get a chance to experience until you have walked through the land of milk and honey to work off the 613 waffles you consumed.

So much happened there I am not sure that I can even describe it. There was the crazy camel and the looney bus driver. There were the silly American tourists and frankly the bizarre Canadians.

And don't get me started about the comparison between a bull whip and wrapping leather straps around your arm and head for a sunrise you couldn't possibly imagine. What a day.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Israel's New IDF Chief of Staff.

(photo-hat-tip: Reuters via Walla)

It's official -- the 19th Chief of Staff for the IDF will be Gabi Ashkenazi.

(Well, semi-official anyway)

A few thoughts:

1. I'm very happy to see Dan Halutz leave, especially under the humiliating circumstances that he resigned. His arrogance towards the residents of Gush Katif and soldiers during the Disengagement; the cold, calculated sale of his investment portfolio after hearing the news that 2 IDF soldiers were kidnapped on the Northern border this past summer, instead of thinking exclusively about their return and what the IDF should do ensure their return; his arrogance during the war this summer, and of course, the depressing way that Israel lost the war without accomplishing any of the stated objectives. Good Riddance. Though I have a sinking feeling we haven't heard the last of him. Halutz will probably emerge sooner or later in the Labor party. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks that appointing Halutz in the first place was a mistake.

2. Gabi Ashkenazi has a few good points in his favor; he comes from a Golani infantry background (unlike the Halutz you-can-win-wars-with-surgical-strikes methodology). He was in the running for Chief of Staff against Halutz, but Sharon opted for the person who would most successfully carry out the Disengagement (instead of who would be mostly likely to protect the country in a war). Good Luck General Ashkenazi!

3. General Moshe Kaplinsky was the contender for the spot of Chief of Staff against Gabi Ashkenazi. He decided to pull himself out of the race, which in my opinion is an honorable step far above anything we have witnessed in Israel in the past 5 years. Prime Ministers refuse to accept responsibility for anything, and then Olmert cynically calls up Kaplinsky to praise his "courage" (while probably laughing hysterically after hanging up the phone that Kaplisky's such a frier). We've seen criminal investigations against Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers and Members of Knesset and they refuse to take themselves out of the equation. Halutz only resigned after tremendous public pressure (and 5 months after the war). Here, we see a rare instance of an individual removing himself from the race for Chief of Staff for the sake of the country. This sort of behavior is exactly what the IDF needs to see, and not the likes of our political echelons or Dan Halutz.

With Ashkenazi running the IDF and Kaplinsky staying in the IDF despite dropping out of the race, I think we have a fighting chance for the IDF to rehabilitate itself and get us ready for the next war.

Now, if only we could find someone worthy in the political establishment...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Breakfast With Jack (Muqata House of Waffles)

Nothing beats home baked waffles at the Muqata for breakfast.

Jack, can you please pass the syrup?

We've got lots more tiyulim to go on...and you're still sleeping. (as usual)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael



That's the SMS message I got from my kid today on my cellphone during a meeting.

Honestly, the first thought running through my head was, "With all the money we're paying for his school, I really wish his English made more sense. I have no clue what he's trying to say."

After calling him to decrypt his message I found out what he meant;

"Our Chayal is in my school"

Ah..."Our Chayal"

What he meant was, "Our Adopted Chayal" (IDF Soldier)

As with many settlements in the Shomron, we live near IDF outposts and bases -- and a group of paratroopers was in our area for the past 3 months. On shabbat, many would come at daven at our shul -- and of course, we would have fights in shul over the privilege of hosting soldiers for shabbat meals. Everyone wanted them for meals (not in a Hannibal Lector sort of way, you sickos!).

One solider who ate at our home was adopted by our kids and became, "Our Chayal" -- and the kids would always be on the lookout to see if he was in our neighborhood on patrol or davening at shul so they could drag him over for a meal.

So, what the SMS message meant, was the our adopted chayal was visiting my sons' yeshiva. They swapped email addresses with him, and he just sent the following cool picture from one of his training excersizes a few weeks ago.

Cool stuff.

So, you can either adopt a soldier like we do, or perhaps what my wife's crazy cousin does. Whenever he sees a soldier in Jerusalem, he runs over and pays for his meal, felafel, pizza, or whatever he can find to show is gratitude. He showers them with money and thanks.

The soldiers think he's nuts, as they graciously accept whatever he throws at them.

I know he has a heart of gold :)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Traveling With Jameel Part II

Short business trips can have their moments, especially when you end up in a timezone that is dramatically different from the one you normally spend your time in. Needless to say I am still kvetching about jet lag, although I'll take this over being stuck in cleveland. That would be a real nightmare.

Tiyul, Tiyul, Tiyul. A couple of notes on where we have been and what we have done. Been through more a couple of villages that were less than happy to see nice Jewish boys traversing through. I'd love to show a few of the friendlies that in spite of being an old man I can throw a rock harder, farther and faster.

Not really something that I want to do, I am just cranky from lack of sleep of not enough syrup on my waffles.

Ran into nice American tourists who asked me if I knew how to get to a place called Hee-Bron. Answered back with a thick southern drawl that they were a long way from Kentucky. Got a good laugh from watching them try to reconcile the voice with the man standing in front of them.

Made nice and told them that we had davened Shacharit at the cave they wanted to visit. Apparently they liked us and asked to take our pictures. We took some of our own, maybe we'll share them later.

Bounced around from place to place. If you have driven with Jameel you know that bounced around is an accurate description. Grabbed flowers for Mrs. Jameel or Mama Muqata as some people like to call her. Unfortunately the flowers wilted, or maybe the dog ate them. Somehow they were lost.

Either way showing up empty handed is not the most gracious way to thank your host for their hospitality. So I explained that there is this Midwestern recipe for fish called the pepper pike in which you lax and mandel the fish and add the secret sauce. Would have tried to make it but the truth is that without the burning river it just doesn't taste the same.

Back to the travels. Jameel and I headed into town to visit old yeshiva pals. Memories flooded back, Bravenders, Ohr Samayach, Yeshivat Hakotel, and a million other institutions of learning. Those are tales for a different day.

Somewhere between Kfar Giladi and Rehovot we stopped at a makolet, picked up some drinks and had an impromptu picnic. Good thing that we are big masculine men, that last sentence sounded a little funny.

Anyway, did the usual blogger talk and realized that although we are both young virile men within the Jblogosphere we are among the old guard. Not quite as old as others, but old enough. Good thing that age is mental, or maybe it is Jameel and I who are mental. I am still too tired to tell the difference.

The Muqata folks are busy for Shabbos so I will be heading out on my own adventure. Perhaps I'll write more later.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Outting Hot Chanie? (Video Thursday)

Hey All.

Ive been real busy the past few days...but someone mailed me the following recorded video, allegedly of Hot Chanie in her younger years. Personally, I don't believe it since she doesn't look that frum in this video; but you can judge for yourself. (Video suitable for all ages, I wouldn't post it otherwise!) honor of Jack's postings here at the Muqata (it's been a year since he last posted), here's a video of him when he toured Cape Town a few months ago.

Of course, there's lots of stuff going on in Israel. Dan Halutz has resigned from Commander in Chief of the IDF. I can't say I'm sorry to see him resign for a multitude of reasons, ranging from his arrogance during the Disengagement, to his selling of his stock portfolio upon hearing the news of the kidnapping of 2 IDF soldiers which led to the war this past summer, to the total mismanagement of the war. The downside is, the IDF is rather bad shape now and we need an outstanding leader to get the IDF back into shape in time for the upcoming war. Of course, Israel also needs outstanding political leaders at this time as well, and the overwhelming majority of our leaders are rather...well...underwhelming.

Thats all for now!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Breakfast With Jameel

Oy, my head hurts. Sometimes the jet lag catches up with me. I am not Joe Settler with another illegal outpost. Nope, this is Jack. As they say I got important bidness so here I am hanging out with Jameel.

If you are new to Jameel's blog you haven't had the pleasure of reading about the various tiyulim that he goes on. If you want to catch up you can try here and here. Go on, we'll wait.

Are you ready yet? Ok, have some left over cholent and catch your breath.

When I first told Jameel that I was going to take him up on that waffle breakfast I was under the impression that it would be easy to find him. After all, I already knew what he looked like.

Really, with a smile like that how can you miss him.

But it never occurred to me that he would insist on re-enacting the exodus. We marched from Latrun to Tel Hai and then back down to Timna. We went inner-tubing down the banyas and then hit a half dozen other hot spots.

We had this great picture of us on Masada, but unfortunately a plane got in the way.

Anyway, I'd like to write more but I think that I need to rest before the man drags me out again. You'll have to forgive my snoring but I can't keep my eyes open any longer.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Objective JBlogging: A Case Study

As we all know, in the JBlogosphere everyone has an opinion on everything.

Put 2 Jews in a room and you get 3 opinions. One favorite pastimes among many is throwing proverbial darts at a wide range of issues, individuals, and people.

We defend and attack positions based on our backgrounds, beliefs and (for some of us) agendas. Agendas include "Just having fun exploring horizons through creative writing", "Investigating Theological and Philosophical Issues in Judaism", "Reporting on News of Interest in the Five Towns" and "Providing Unlicensed Advice Free of Charge."

My agenda is widely known -- (hopefully) promoting aliya and defending those who live here in Israel. The rest is just a thoughtful and humorous environment which I hope is compelling enough to keep readers coming back day after day.

DovBear, with the reputation of one of the baddest actors of the JBlogosphere (TM) published something yesterday which I found rather refreshing. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a DovBear defender from many perspectives. I thought the "Great DovBear Affair" was rather awful, I disagree with much of his politics, we were definitely at odds over the Disengagement, and the way he goes after certain people is a far cry from the way I would.

However. (And this is a HUGE "However").

To his credit, I must bring up the following story.

Last week, a rather unfortunate video made the rounds on the internet and in the media, showing an Israeli woman from Hevron screaming at Palestinians in Hevron. I have yet to find anyone who doesn't cringe when seeing it; some feel slightly bothered, and some are outraged.

In typical Israeli knee-jerk reaction, the police have even summoned this woman for a criminal investigation over this video incident (over what, I have no clue, she didn't threaten anyone). Yet, the Israeli Police are far from kind to the Jewish community of Hevron, and have exclusive orders for treatment of the people who live there from the Attorney General that do not apply to any other sector in Israel. Children as young as 9 can be taken and interrogated by the police, without a parent or attorney present.

But I digress.

I will tell you that since the Hevron Jewish community (and settler community in general) gets such a bad rap, that my knee jerk reaction is first to defend them and give them the benefit of the doubt. The onus of proof is not the Hevron community -- not because they are blameless, but with all the incessant hatred (and terror) aimed at them, there needs to be someone who speaks up on their behalf to defend them from the media and Israeli Left.

Last week, DovBear emailed me about the video, said he was going to post it, and asked if I had any thoughts on it.

First of all, I think it's a sign of fairness that DovBear approached me before posting.

A year ago, DovBear would have posted it hands down, and let people "roast the settlers."

Yet in yesterday's post, his treatment of the story was one the JBlogosphere's most balanced postings on the subject.

Counting to ten before posting, looking for additional sources, and reviewing the issue with others before writing a potentially scathing and damning posting against an entire Jewish community -- I am honestly impressed he wrote the article as he did; fairly and preventing needless sinat chinam.

You can (and you do) criticize him for his faults; but in his story yesterday, he did the right thing.

For that, I applaud DovBear (and I think you should too), and offer the official Muqata Seal of Approval for his post on "The Third Chapter".

May he merit many, many more.

If he keeps it up, he may even lose his "bad actor" status.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Aliyanniversary to me.

Another year has gone by, and I'm thrilled to celebrate my aliyanniversary.

Sweet 16!

January 15th, 1991.

I wrote this rather sappy piece last year.

While I still believe everything I wrote there, I was on the verge of my oldest son's Bar Mitzva and in wistful mood.

Yet, to be honest, I am very fortunate to be here, happy with my life, and even with all the difficulties that the State may throw at us, we're still living the dream.

And for that, I owe alot of Hakarat HaTov.

(ok, now you can go back and think about leftover cholent below)


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Leftover Cholent.

By the time Wednesday evening rolls around, all the Shabbat leftovers are long gone.

The remaining potato kugel the kids didn't finish on Shabbat was gobbled up on Sunday and Monday.

Shnitzel? Forget about it -- it was finished Motzei Shabbat.

The salads trudged on till Tuesday along with the carrot kugel, but disappeared as well. The only thing that somehow never gets leftover cholent.

Now, though I haven't discussed this with AirTime or Ezzie, I have a feeling that most guys have no problem eating cold leftovers. I can eat cold pizza, cold spaghetti and meatballs, cold shntizel...just about cold anything. But even a guy will have his limits.

Leftover Cholent is probably somewhere near that red-line. Cold Leftover Cholent surpasses it.

Is there anything more unappealing than last Shabbat's Cholent, on Wednesday night?

I don't want it to go to waste -- and while the Cholent was absolutely fantastic at Shabbat lunch (and Mrs. Muqata, it was great, as usual!) or at a Five Towns Hot Kiddush (no relation to Hot Chanie) after shul...I just can't seem to down it easily on Wednesday night.

Do you eat Leftover Cholent?

Don't be bashful, spill your guts...

PS: A HUGE Muqata Mazal Tov to the ever-so-funny blogger family, Bec and Phish on the birth of a baby boy!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

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