Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mixed Messages

Camp is over and the kids are back in shul. Having grown up in a dying Jewish community, I was always one of the youngest in the shul. When I was a teenager it was rare to have a 2 year old running amok, and at times I've had to do a double take when I see a sea of children in shul. Its very nice.

So last Shabbos, I heard an adult telling his son that his davening had improved greatly over the summer at camp. Reinforcement is great. He even repeated himself to make sure the kid heard. When did he tell him? During aleinu.

Blogger Trouble

Sorry, been having some trouble with blogger lately...seem to have gotten it fixed

Monday, August 21, 2006

Basil Herring's mistake

I found this story to be more than a little troubling. Basil Herring, executive VP of the RCA urged the IDF to re-examine its rules of war, given the fact that Hezbollah uses human shields to protect armed personnel.

Herring implies that the IDF should just go in, if a few more civilians are killed, well, that's the price that is paid. "Our traditional sensibilities tell us that it is not right to risk the lives of our soldiers to minimize civilian deaths on the other side," says Herring.

Why am I bothered? First, its not clear that anyone over the border in Lebanon is our enemy. And we do risk our lives to minimize deaths on the other side all the time. Surely Herring isn't saying we should just carpet bomb Lebanon or Gaza, killing tens of thousands to save the life of one soldier. Or maybe he is. But of course, when dealing with sound bytes, you always get an extreme statement, nuance is impossible. I don't hold his quoted statement against him.

But that's irrelevant. What Herring doesn't get, the point he's missing, the fact be hammering home along with all those in public positions is simple. Human shields are not civilians. Willing combatants? Also no. Legitimate targets? You bet.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Artscroll Biographies

Many, including myself, have criticized the whitewashing that Artscroll engages in when they publish a biography of a rabbi. However, note the following:

Why else do we read fiction, anyway? Not to be impressed by somebody's dazzling language - or at least I hope that's not the reason. I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not "true" because we're hungry for another kind of truth: The mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about somebody who actually lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself." --Orson Scott Card, Introduction to Ender's Game
Read as fiction, perhaps artscroll biographies are very useful...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bleg: Displays

I'm in the market for a new computer monitor. My current one, an AOC 19" CRT is beginning to fail. Only four years old, a slight drop it took in my recent move may have had something to do with it.

So, I'm on the market for a new monitor, an LCD. I'm shying away from widescreens, and plan on eventually getting 2 LCDs. Any suggestions? Important things to me include a height adjustable stand and ability to watch DVDs or movies without ghosting or colors bleeding out/fading (particularly dark ones). I'm mostly using it for word processing, but most LCDs are fine for that.

19/20" is fine. Forget about price, I'm trying to gather information and then I'll look at price after.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Give Olmert Time

I haven't been blogging much, nor have I been reading blogs. So I can't really comment on what's out there, whether people are happy with the ceasefire or not.

I'll just point out a couple of things:

1) Disarming Hezbollah isn't that important. They'd remain as a political party, in fact if not in name, and if they ever controlled Lebanon they would have control over the army there. What's important is stopping them from attacking Israel, carrying out kidnappings and launching rockets.

2) Every peace/ceasefire carries with it a price. We don't really know if peace with Egypt was worth it, because we don't know how many lives will be lost in the next war (if, God forbid, there is one) or how many were saved because of the peace. Similar idea here.

3) France is sending troops, and the head of UNIFIL has asked for increased authority to deal with Hezbollah.

Olmert may have screwed up, he may not have. But give him some time. Imagine if UNIFIL is transformed, if they do the job that the Israelis would have done if they didn't have hands tied behind their backs. If Olmert succeeds in making Hezbollah an international target, instead of an Israeli one, he'll have done all of Israel a huge service.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Funeral Sensitivity

Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, the Chief Rabbi of the IDF, was thrown out of the funeral for Yehuda Greenfeld, who was killed defending Israel. Perhaps its just the difference in Israeli mentality, or that some soldiers aren't the best politicians (its hard to argue with a gun, there's no need to be nice) but his response strikes me as inappropriate. The same for the Yesha Council [I doubt the Greenfeld's care about the Yesha Council's objections, what the council sought to accomplish is beyond me.]

After being thrown out by Yehuda's sister, who shouted that he (Weiss) was responsible for throwing people out of Gush Katif, Weiss replied in an interview: "They humiliated me. You can say to a person in the most humane and cultured way in the world, 'Please get out of here,' but to do this in front of a crowd of people - this is [tantamount to] murder."

First, don't make comparisons to murder at the funeral for a soldier killed.
Second, someone should have done their homework to find out if Weiss was even wanted at the funeral.
Third, and perhaps most important, the sister just lost her brother. Someone who she grew up with. Presumably, those who lose close relatives aren't exactly in the most rational state of mind. A little sensitivity on Weiss's part is called for.

What should he have said? "Losing a loved one is difficult, and I can't imagine the stress what Shoshi [Yehuda's sister] is going through. I apologize for any trouble my presence caused, and met only to pay my respects, and those of the country, at the funeral for one of our young men, struck down in his prime, by Hezbollah terrorists."

Monday, August 07, 2006

How many have NOT been killed

Things have been pretty hectic lately. I took the MPRE, the professional responsibility (read: ethics) part of the bar exam. Yes, an oxymoron. Plus moving, and Tisha B'av, suffice it to say last week flew by. Blogging should resume shortly.

I came up with a great idea. There are tallies of how many Israelis are killed, how many Lebanese. But we should have a tally on how many Lebanese have not been killed. Qana went from 52 to 28, and earlier today, the Lebanese Prime Minister lowered his previous statement from 40 to 1.

So Israel has not killed 63 people, a rather substantial percentage given the total number of Lebanese dead, and an even greater percentage if you count purely Lebanese civilian dead.