Monday, November 29, 2004

Thanks a Lot, Mr. Savitsky

Stephen J. Savitsky, incoming president of the OU (Orthodox Union), has started his term of office by planting his foot squarely in his mouth. The Jerusalem Post quotes him as saying:

People are starting to go to Israel for the right reasons. Years ago aliya was for people who were running away from something. They weren’t successful. They didn’t have a successful marriage. They were coming because there was a reason. They weren’t role models.
But today I see really successful people. Young people. Doctors, lawyers, business people, finance people, who are giving it up not to come here to starve. Not to schnorr from their parents.

The very next line of the article reads: “Savitsky is a successful businessman.”

Well, bully for you, Mr. Savitsky. I suppose that in your book, only successful businesspeople and wealthy physicians, lawyers and finance people need apply. As for those of us who moved here because we wanted to fulfill the mitzvah of living in our Jewish homeland; who struggle under a tax burden among the highest in the world, working several jobs just to make ends meet; who moved here before Nefesh b’Nefesh was a gleam in anyone’s eye—I guess that as far as you’re concerned, we’re all a bunch of losers with failed lives who can all just crawl back into the woodwork.

You have just bad-mouthed most of my friends and acquaintances, who are some of the most accomplished, hardworking, menschlich people I’ve ever met. (Including one lawyer who has been happily married for nearly three decades and has married off three of his children within the past four years. But he is not rich, so I guess that for you he doesn’t count.) By your ill-considered and narrow-minded statement you have slung mud at—among others—every teacher, musician, artist, writer, editor, translator, store owner, computer technician and technical writer I know, who I dare say work harder than you can imagine for less than you would possibly want to.

Or can it be that the sort of people you described are the only American immigrants to this country that you ever met? If so, then I feel sorry for you—and I can also show you far better places to hang out.

(A personal aside: when I first came here, a friend of mine in the States, a religious man whom people would probably describe as “black-hat,” sent me a quote from a religious source comparing those who move to the Land of Israel to lions because of their courage. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the source of the quote offhand, but it was written a long time ago, when the journey to this country and life here were uncertain and dangerous. At the time that my friend sent me the quote, I thought it was a bit over the top. I didn’t see myself that way at all. Now, after living through more than four years of the terror war and nearly thirteen years of struggle, I can appreciate my friend’s gesture of encouragement far more deeply. So in case you ever see this blog, ZM, I still remember, and thank you.)

But as for you, Mr. Savitsky: how can you dare to claim to represent the Orthodox Jews in this country after you have slandered them so badly? On a more personal level, by your lashon ha-ra you have just made sure that my chances of joining the OU are absolutely nil. If I ever had any question as to whether the OU represents me, the answer is now as clear as can be.

We long-time immigrants to this country need hizuk [encouragement] more than anything, Mr. Savitsky, but apparently you’re too dense to notice that. If you hope to salvage this situation at all, then the best thing you can possibly do is to take responsibility for your statement and issue a clear and honest apology for it without insulting our intelligence by claiming, for example, that you were quoted out of context.

One final note, sir: our Sages praised silence, calling it precious and a fence for wisdom. Too bad you didn’t listen.

(For more takes on Steven J. Savitsky’s unfortunate statement, check out Allison Kaplan Sommer at An Unsealed Room, David at Treppenwitz, Sarah, Alisa, Jeff and Dave. Nathan’s take is a bit different.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

Post for a Rainy Monday Evening

Strengthen the Good: Alan of Strengthen the Good tells us about a new opportunity to do good. Want to help Slovakian teenagers at the C. S. Lewis Bilingual Gymnazium in Bratislava learn English? Send ’em some books. Find out more at Strengthen the Good, or at Meryl’s.

Rain, Rain, Rain: It’s been coming down heavily today—rain, occasional hail, followed by more rain. I had some internal rain this morning, too: the radiator in my bedroom sprang a leak. My landlord has replaced nearly all the radiators here over the past several years as they burst one by one, so in order to avoid any additional nasty surprises we’ve decided to replace not only this one but also the remaining one that hasn’t drenched my floor yet. An ounce of prevention and all that—and now all the radiators in this apartment will be of uniform style. Does wonders for the decor, you know.

The winter rains in Israel also mean that we Israelis resume one of our favorite spectator sports: watching the water level of the Kinneret. (Sometimes that sport can be quite a nail-biter. Really.) Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, now everyone can join in! Although the text is in Hebrew, the diagram and the numbers are clear and accessible, and I wouldn’t miss that rubber ducky for the world.

Our local cold snap has another benefit: getting rid of the locusts that have been plaguing us over the past few days.

The wind is blowing, I’m all bundled up even indoors and snow is forecast for the north. Time to go make some soup.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

He’s Dead, Jim

Well, that’s it. Yasser Arafat is officially, indubitably, absolutely, merely and most sincerely dead. Finally.

And an ignominious end it was, too, with his estranged wife and cronies haggling over his (stolen) millions as his body remained hooked up to life-support equipment.

Even that was better than he deserved. But he’s gone. Good riddance to very bad rubbish.

For those who take issue with that statement, here is just one thought:

Why did Arafat have to go to Paris for treatment? With all the billions of dollars flowing into the Palestinian Authority from western countries since the days of Oslo, why wasn’t there a top-notch medical center right there in Ramallah? Where did all that money go?

And that’s without mentioning the thousands of murders he and his gang committed and the governments they tried to destabilize. There are plenty of articles about that for those who are interested (or who need a little waking up).

Meryl Yourish has a concise, comprehensive round-up of Arafat’s legacy of terrorism and murder. Honest Reporting has a short video on Arafat’s Dark Legacy.

As far as I am concerned: Arafat is gone, and now there is a little less evil in the world.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

It’s Official

It’s official. Bush has won.

Congratulations, Mr. President. And good luck.

Nu, So Who Won?

The morning after, and it’s still not clear who won the election. (Rats. I never did enjoy suspense.)

Here’s some information about the electoral college and how it works.

In other, much smaller news: the Leader Minyan’s website has moved to its new server. No more advertisements. Yay.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

For the Sake of Accuracy ...

Turns out that Mr. Moral Equivalence, who I thought was from France, is not from there after all. My bad; I made an assumption based on his name. But he still equates Israeli self-defense with Palestinian terrorism and, inter alia, asks the following:

Wasn’t everything pretty much settled after Oslo and util [sic] Sharon decided that there was not enough blood in the region anymore?

Oh, so it’s all Sharon’s fault, is it? If you read a bit of history, you’ll find that the Palestinians began the present terror war against us in the fall of 2000 after Ehud Barak offered them everything and Arafat walked away. Sharon wasn’t even in office then. Or is that distinction perhaps a bit too fine for those who delight in blaming Sharon for everything that’s gone wrong, regardless of the facts?

In case you’re referring to Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount: wrong.

And as for the idea that after Oslo everything was “pretty much settled”: wrong again.

Finally, there’s this gem:

When Palestinian children are shot by the Israelian [sic] army, isn’t it as much terrorism as when Israelian children are killed by Palestinian suicide bombers?

Oh, is that what’s going on? You could have fooled me.

Palestinian gunmen planted mines and fired automatic rifles and homemade anti-tank shells during the intense fighting. In one incident, gunmen surrounded by children and teens set up a grenade launcher in an unpaved alley, waiting for a target.

Now, I wonder: why would those “gunmen” be so careful to surround themselves with children? Could it possibly be that they use children as cover because they know the IDF will do everything in its power to avoid shooting at them? (Unfortunately, accidents do happen. But that is precisely the point: they are accidents, while Palestinian terrorists deliberately target civilians and children.)

On the other hand, it’s a sure bet that the sixteen-year-old terrorist who killed three people and wounded dozens at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market yesterday was taught that all Jews are the enemy: soldiers, shoppers, babies. No difference, no distinctions. And he himself was undoubtedly taught that the highest and best thing he could possibly do with his life was to end it while killing as many Jews as possible.

And that’s the end of my debate with Mr. Moral Equivalence, folks. I don’t have the time or the energy to teach remedial current events.

In other, sadly related news, filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered today for criticizing Islam.

Enough of this. It’s getting too depressing. I think I’ll watch some election coverage and go to bed, and wake up in the morning to find out who our new President is.