Archive for April 2016

86 Cowardly Dopes

April 29, 2016

As usual it takes a brave Israeli columnist to tell the truth to 86 American politicians who bend the knee to the Israeli lobby. Gideon lLvy writing today in Haaretz  is justifiably appalled at the waste of American money on  Israel’s putative defense needs.

Levy writes with thinly disguised disgust at these ignorant politicians

The 83 U.S. senators who urged the president to increase military assistance to Israel are 83 ignoramuses and their letter is a disgrace. Israel of all countries? Military assistance of all needs?
Increasing military aid won’t add one iota of security to Israel, which is armed to the teeth. It will harm Israel. Those 83 out of 100 senators base their extraordinary demand on “Israel’s dramatically rising defense challenges.”
What are they talking about? What “rising challenges”? The rise in the use of kitchen knives as a deal-breaking weapon in the Middle East? The challenge for one of the world’s strongest armies to survive against young girls brandishing scissors? Hamas’ tunnels in the sand? Hezbollah, which is bleeding in Syria? Iran, which has taken a new path?
It’s time they expanded their narrow view and reduced the enormous aid they shower on Israel’s arms industry – one of the world’s largest weapons exporters – and its army.

The United States is allowed, of course, to waste its money as it sees fit. But one may ask, senators, if it makes sense to invest more fantastic sums to arm a military power when tens of millions of Americans still have no health insurance and your senate is tightening its purse strings despite the challenges of climate change.
A world power is arming a regional power as part of a corrupt, rotten deal. Your money, senators, is largely being spent on maintaining a brutal, illegal occupation that your country claims to oppose – but finances.

Mentally ill boys in the priesthood

April 27, 2016

“Be careful of who you admit to the seminary,” because there could be people with mental deficiencies among the candidates to the priesthood. Pope Francis said this in an audience with participants of a Conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy marking the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Vatican II decrees “Presbyterorum ordinis” (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests) …


The Pope told clergy that they must think twice when a young man “is too confident, rigid and fundamentalist”. Hence, his invitation to them to beware when admitting candidates to the seminary: “There are mentally ill boys who seek strong structures that can protect them”, such as “the police, the army and the clergy”….

Oh my, could these new rigid and authoritarian orders which cropped up in JP ll and Ratzinger’s time ever used this monitum. The Vatican ll priests looked on in horror at these underdeveloped and frightened neophytes who strutted their arrogance and their hilarious (but tragic) notion that they were bringing the Church back under a pope who acted more like a commissar than a wise pastor.

The prolific Catholic sociologist Andrew Greeley, writing in the January/February 2004 issue of Atlantic Monthly, called then “the  young fogeys”, the trend of conservative priests  presenting themselves for ordination. Fr. Greeley observed, “These are newly ordained men who seem in many ways intent on restoring the pre-Vatican II Church,  and who, reversing the classic generational roles, define themselves  in direct opposition to the liberal priests who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Analyzing this disturbing development, Greeley described the lamentable failure of nerve which characterized the immediate post-Vatican II period, the sad attempt to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Greeley wrote:
The backlash after Vatican II was swift. Church leaders, realizing that reform had slipped out of their control, grew increasingly convinced of the need for the Restoration — a movement in which the upper clergy would close ranks and reassert their authority. Newly-appointed bishops would restore the rules; theologians who disagreed would be silenced and the old order would be established. Today’s young priests are rallying to the call.
All this under the Polish pope and his rigid enforcer Josef Ratzinger. It was what Karl Rahner called the beginning of the Ice age in Catholicism.
Now, under a Vatican ll pope, the ice is melting but poor Francis is surrounded by the wolves of the curia who yearn for the status quo ante when clericalism ruled the Catholic roost.
The young

fogeys are still around. Most went down fast when they found their arrogant brand of Catholicism was a non-starter. A few adjusted but the real scandal has been the JP ll bishops have not publicly demanded the obvious, a priesthood available to all believers. There is no vocation crisis. There is a courage crisis in the episcopacy demanding that all 7 sacraments be available to every baptized person.


Alice Rothschild Jew of Conscience pt. 1

April 25, 2016

Alice Rothschild is a 68 year old Jewish-American physician, author, filmmaker, and peace activist. Raised in an Orthodox Zionist family in Boston, she became active in feminism and health care reform, especially for poor and marginalized women. In 1997 she turned her abundant intelligence to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Rothschild like many “Jews of conscience” has tried to understand how Jews, with a long history of justice-making could become so blind to the oppression of Palestinians. Her thinking out loud produced two books Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Israeli and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience and On the Brink, written in the summer of 2014 while she was in the West Bank during the events leading up to the massacre in Gaza. Rothschild has also produced the documentary Voices Across the Divide an attempt to understand Israel’s shocking behaviour rooted in fear and trauma.


Recently Rothschild appeared on Israeli television and spoke forthrightly about her experience in Israel. As per usual her Facebook page was deluged by vitriol and personal attacks by fellow Jews with absolutely no experience in the west bank or Gaza .None of her detractors has had the open-ended history that Rothschild has had in Palestine. This is part of her experience:
I traveled last spring—and will return next month—to the West Bank to work on art projects in a refugee camp in Nablus and a small Palestinian agricultural village in the Jordan Valley scheduled for demolition by the Israelis. Once there, one cannot help but see the ugly face of the occupation: the mammoth indignity of the separation Wall, the steady encroachment of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the appropriation of Palestinian water and resources, the omnipresent military checkpoints, the house demolitions, the constant humiliations. All of this being done with the help of U.S. weapons and equipment. But most of all is the overriding clarity that there is not now nor has there ever been any desire for or possibility of a Palestinian state. When Netanyahu said recently that he had no intention of allowing a two state solution, many people in the US were shocked. But, in fact, that has been the policy all along. The “peace process” has been a mirage manipulated by the Israelis to defuse criticism. And the U.S. has played magician’s assistant in pretending the mirage was real.


And this is a précis of her TV appearance


I elaborated on the clash between progressive Jewish values and history in the US and the indefensible occupation and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza that I had personally witnessed in 2015 and on annual visits since 2004. I explained that BDS is a response to Israeli policy, growing racism in the society, and the death of a functional peace movement. I explained that the core issue is that Israel is the last colonial project in a post-colonial age, that having a country symbolized by a tank with Star of David is dangerous for Israelis (Jews and Palestinians) as well as our respective Diasporas.

The narrator ended the episode reflecting on the changes between older Zionist families and their children and grandchildren and expressed astonishment that there appeared to be a connection between blacks and minorities in the US and Palestinians. Who would believe this could happen? Perhaps this is the new audacious cool thing to do? As usual, Israelis were described more as passive victims than active participants in whatever was happening. So maybe Omri didn’t really get it, which is of course why I support the strategy of BDS.

Zionist thought police in action

April 22, 2016

Simone Zimmerman could be the type of millennial to help save Judaism from a Zionist takeover.


She is the 25 year old young woman who was unceremoniously booted from the Bernie Sanders campaign as a jewish outreach coordinator for some negative comments about the hapless Netanyahu who appears to be driving Israel into an ultimate outlier on the international stage.

Here is Zimmerman last year on a Facebook rant: for Netanyahu was “an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole. He is the embodiment of the ugliest national hubris and tone-deafness towards the international community. F**k you.

After effing up Bibi, Zimmerman erased her comment (what the hell she was 24!) from Facebook 10 hours later but alas the damage was done and the zionist thought police pounced on her and went full bore at Sanders.

Peter Beinart, a liberal Zionist and regular contributor to many Jewish publications wrote: Perhaps Simone chose the wrong words. Perhaps she should have called Netanyahu “one of the most obnoxious individuals you’re going to come into – just a liar and a cheat,” as former Clinton administration press secretary Joe Lockhart did. Or she could have simply called him a “liar,” like former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Or she could have used the term popular in the British foreign office: “armored-plated bullshitter.” Or she could have called him a “corrupt individual, a contentious liar who is ruining everything that is good about our society.” Those words came from Leah Rabin.
Zimmerman’s trajectory from young Zionist defender of Israel fell apart when she came to Berkeley and met Palestinians—which most israelis and American jews never do.She had to confront the ugly face of Zionism as Beinart described “interactions that made them confront the human consequences of holding millions of people as non-citizens, without free movement, under military law, for almost fifty years.


Something had to give: Zionism or biblical Torah justice.


More next time.

Joan Chittister comes to town pt 1

April 17, 2016



with unidentified fan

Joan Chittister, Benedictine nun breezed into town April 1 and 2 to be part of a colloquium engineered by the Niagara sage, John Quinn. About 500 people were there and no one from the chancery where Sr. Joan is still persona non grata.Saw no active priests either.The prophet always frightens.

Closing in on 80, this author of about 30 books (who’s counting) has lived a full Catholic life always attempting to move the yardsticks forward, particularly on the perennial neuralgic question of the role of women in the church. Her refusal to accept Vatican bullying in 2001 when she defied headquarters and attended a womwen’s Ordination conference was a key moment melting the frozen pontificates of JP ll and ratzinger. The whole commun ity basically said, we don’t do top down Kremlin obedience in a 1500 year old order. The whole Erie, Pa. group collectively discerned that the Vatican dictum was a bridge too far and Joanie went.The Vatican realized that it better not go mano a mano with a group of women which had more credibility than it did.

Anyway it was breuatifujl to see the grey haired nuns turn out in massive numbers to salute their feminist champion. All the orders were there and it was quite a moving scene to watch the wonderful women bask in the glow of the nun-prophet.

She did not disappoint:
In diocese after diocese parishes are being merged, closed, turned into sacramental way stations, being served by retired priests or married male deacons, both of which are designed to keep the church male, whether it is ministering or not. The number of priests is declining: the number of Catholics is increasing; the number of lay ministers being certified is rising in every academic system despite the fact that their services are being restricted, rejected or made redundant in parish after parish than ever before.

And here in Pennsylvania there’s a five year old girl who, when her parents answered her question about the absence of women priests in their parish with the flat explanation that “We don’t have girl-priests in our church, darling,” the little girl thought for a minute and then responded quite simply but sharply, “Then why do we go there?!”

Clearly, the church is changing even while it reasserts its changelessness. But static resistance is a far cry from the dynamism of the early church in which Prisca, and Lydia, and Thecla, and Phoebe and hundreds of women like them, opened house churches, walked as disciples of Paul, “constrained him,” the scripture says, to serve a given region, instructed people in the faith and ministered to the fledgling Christian communities with no apology, no argument, no tricky theological shell games about whether they were ministering ‘in persona Christi’ or ‘in nomine Christi’.

“Vocabulary of the master race”

April 13, 2016


Uri Misgav is merely one of thousands of the “Jews of Conscience” living in Israel. Like most israelis he is a man of no fixed religion, much less Judaism but nevertheless a humanist with universal values. Another reason not to judge all israelis with the Netanyahu-settler stick.

Mercifully, the newspaper Haaretz consistently gives people like Misgav a regular pulpit from which they bravely attempt to pull Israel back from the downward trajectory it is presently on. His latest sally is a public scold of the racist MK Bezalel Smotrich who can’t stand a Palestinian woman being in the same maternity room with his wife. Misgav fearlessly resurrects (Only an Israeli Jew would dare do this) the shocking appellation of the great polymath Yeshayahu Leibowitz who 40 years ago bestowed the descriptor “Judeo-Nazis) on israeli settlers. Leibowitz broke the taboo-and bravely pointed out that these thugs were indeed acting like Nazis.

Misgav writes:
The Smotriches spoke of the holy and pure moment of the birth of a Jewish child. Of the demand that Arab hands not interfere and pollute this holiness and purity. Of the refusal to share the physical space with Arabs, because Arabs are by necessity enemies. Of the baby that is born to an Arab mother and in another 20 years will murder the baby of the Jewish mother. This is not just ordinary racism. Racism is always offensive and it is important to fight it. But racism has its degrees, too. This is the vocabulary of the master race. Of racial purity and its holiness. Of inferior races that could pollute the master race. Of the lebensraum cleansed of the enemy’s impurity. Of infants who will grow up to be murderous enemies because they belong to the enemy race. This is a Nazi way of thinking. The Smotriches and their followers are Judeo-Nazis.
One wonders if this column will receive wide distribution in Jewish-American circles. The author continues his April 12 column:


What is not understandable, and what is unforgiveable is the attitude towards Smotrich. This is the true mirror he set up for Israeli society this week: Not everyone is like him, but everyone accepts his existence as something legitimate. The only thing that needed to be done was to boycott him. To ignore his existence. Not to share a word with him. Certainly not a smile or handshake. Even the media did not stop interviewing Smotrich and his wife with chilly politeness. In the previous century Likud tried to prevent Meir Kahane from running for Knesset, and after he was elected most MKs boycotted him. After that his movement was outlawed.


Look at what happened in Israel over the past year. The Tekuma faction chose Smotrich in second place on its slate in its primaries. The party that calls itself Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) recognized the results and adopted him. After that, along came Benjamin Netanyahu and promised voters they were a natural partner. Promised and kept his promise. The result is that the Judeo-Nazi faction is represented in a party that received the justice and education portfolios. But it does not end here. Netanyahu has a coalition of 61 Knesset members. Smotrich’s vote keeps it alive. He was also appointed a deputy Knesset speaker and runs some of its sessions. The Judeo-Nazi faction sustains the government of Israel and serves as a deputy head of its parliament. It would be interesting to see what we would have said if this had happened in a different civilized country, shall we say Germany.

Sporting life

April 12, 2016

And it feels like
I’m seventeen again
Feels like I’m seventeen

So sings Annie Lennox.

Sometimes I am 12, my puer aeternus intact.

Forever Young as Dylan would say.

Always been like this.

But I guess I have nothing on my beautiful grandson John.

A day short of twelve he is playing for the whole Metro and environs minor-peewee championship. Resting for the big game? Are you kidding? He has his first ball hockey game in the morning, followed by his winter baseball practice in a gym, then at night, he scores 2 goals and an assist in a 3-1 victory.The kid is wearing me out.

JM33hoto 3

Grampa with the Thunder hat, John with his medal

True I am still hobbling from an injury at our annual Easter ball hockey game but this is too much. I still have my pride. And my memories.

Bball 56I watch the Thunder go wild as they throw their gloves and helmets in the air. It all comes back to me. I have been there and tried as a coach to help the young to appreciate those significant moments.Even losing with a kindred group can have lasting meaning.


Sport correctly understand as a true amateur (from the latin root of amare—to love) has the power to eternalize a moment when time stands still. Outside the rink, the diamond and the court it may be mean Greenwich time, but on the playing field it is eternity. Sacred ground may be anywhere people congregate. Here we can have transcendent experiences which go way beyond the winning side of a scoreboard.


Coaches may not plumb the mystery at work here.


That’s why we have grandparents nourished in a sacramental worldview.


Ah, to be twelve again.Or 3.

John and Gramps

Mulcair pays the price

April 11, 2016


Good for the Youth Wing of the NDP who four days before the NDP convention, said that the leader must be dumped, and they called for Mulcair’s sayonara.

These young people were reading the tea leaves correctly.
Looking at the numbers still rocketing upward for young Trudeau, these young uns presciently saw 8 years in the wilderness. Let’s get on with the demolition.
After the worst run campaign in NDP history when those in the bubble around Mulcair smelled victory and tilted to the mushy middle, the NDP defaulted on core principles. Like Icarus they got too close to the sun, in this case power. The smell of victory was too enticing. Amnesia set in and they forgot who they were. Pride went before the fall. It was pathetic to watch to watch the inner core of the party grasp for the gold ring. They played it safe, swore they would never run a deficit and allowed the Libs with Trudeau leading the charge to dream big. This is what the NDP was built on—vision of the common good. What a tragic miscalculation—of epic proportions. People were ready for this breakout after the dark years and meanness of Stephen Harper. And voila—Trudeau usurped the throne with bold policies which used to belong to the NDP.
This was the same mistake committed by Andrea Horvath the Ontario provincial leader lat year.  She smelled power and dis not stay true to NDP values.When will they ever learn? The party’s only hope is to stay committed to those core principles. When you don’t, people will smell dishonesty and naked ambition These two leaders got caught up in hubris. They started acting like cheap politicos pandering to what they figured voters wanted. They fell from grace and deservedly so.
Mulcair was a good performer in the House but for a guy who said in a Maclean’s profile that he was inspired by Catholic social principles, he never inspired. Particularly brutal on Israel. Is there no political party which will say the obvious. The Occupation of Palestinian land for 50 years has had terrible ramifications all over the Muslim world. All Canadian parties seem craven in front of the pro-Israel lobby. The bravest people are Canadian Jews of conscience who are saying the obvious. For the NDP to remain mute was a terrible blow for those who looked to the party for a braver stance.



Next leader—a new generation. Nathan Cullen or Megan Leslie.

Segregation in the maternity ward

April 8, 2016

Israel prides itself on its hospital system. Their “Arab” doctors, (you can never say “Palestinian”) treat Jewish patients and vice-versa. This on the surface is part of a universal Hippocratic code. Now meet the enlightened kippah wearing member of the Knesset (deputy speaker no less) Bezalel Smotrich.Real religious guy. Member of the religious Zionist party. His wife has a baby and he wants a racial segregation policy.It’s only natural, you see.

He tweets: It’s only natural my wife would not want to lie next to someone who just gave birth to a baby that might murder her baby in another 20 years,

He assures us “My wife isn’t a racist, but after giving birth, she wanted rest, not the mass parties that are common among the families of Arab women who give birth.”

You can’t make this stuff up.This pathetic racist has no shame in tweeting his despicable comments to a wider audience.
Quietly israeli hospitals are acceding to this bonehead request.

In a marriage made in heaven his wife Revital is all for this racial purity.She tells us she would never allow an Arab doctor or nurse to deliver her child, because such a “pure” and “Jewish” experience should not be “contaminated.”



Future terrorist-Palestinian baby

This latest firerstorm comes on the heels of the laughable “purity of arms” mantra Israel has paraded before a gullible world for decades. This was recently shattered by the cowardly murder by the 19 year old racist IDF soldier in Hebron. and the constant harrowing revelations of the soldiers of conscience Breaking the Silence.The IDF reflects the deep seated racism of contemporary Israel as does the stupid remarks of MK Smotrich.

Israel descends

April 6, 2016

The facts are clear. An Israeli soldier, a medic no less, shot dead a young Palestinian man as he lay wounded and unable able to move. On March 24 Abdel Fattah AL Sharif was shot at a chekpoint in the largely Palestinian city of Hebron. This cowardly action, a war crime, was filmed by the human rights organization B’Tselem.
It is in the response to such shocking barbarity that we see the hope and despair that is modern Israel. In this regard we can trust the sterling newspaper Haaretz to help us understand the present-day morass and ethical disintegration in Israel.

Two regular writers help us in this regard. The first is the contemporary prophet (and I do not throw around this descriptor lightly) Gideon Levy, oft quoted in this blog. The second to be dealt with later is  Ari Shavit—and who knows there may be more.This war crime has impacted thousands.



Delirious supporters ofthe IDF soldier

Such callous disrespect for Palestinian life has been going on so long, Levy suggests that this latest act reflecting Israeli identity, the old one was problematic too, but the new one is incorrigible. It’s not a passing fancy, it’s the zeitgeist and the ortgeist, the spirit of the place, and it is patently irreversible that “ the new situation, of which the the soldier in Hebron is just one symptom, is irreversible, because there’s no one to change it.

He lists the media, the army the government, the Supreme Court…all are complicit.They are going to stop this madness? “Don’t make me laugh.” He names the the low points of Israel’s disintegration

After the orgy of 1967 came the turning point of Operation Protective Edge: In the summer of 2014, tolerance died, replaced by violence. The Zionist-religious demon genie escaped, and there’s no one to recapture it

In ages past one might have hoped for the deep universal and humanistic values of Judaism to speak publicly about such a profanation.well, don’t make me laugh.

Two weeks ago, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said that it’s a “mitzvah” (religious commandment) to kill armed Palestinians.

Another well known Zionist rabbi and head of a Jerusalem yeshiva Uri Sherki said in January that there is an “obligation for Jews to kill terrorists before they kill us.”

In that ancient centre of Kabbala learning Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu said last October “ It is forbidden to leave a murderer alive.”

Rabbi Benzion Mutzafi a year ago when asked “Am I allowed to kick the insurgent, hit him or shoot him in order to kill him after he has been arrested or is this prohibited?”

The answer

“It is not only desirable to do so, but it is a religious duty that you hold his head down to the ground and hit him until his last breath.”

Not much hope here.

Levy is close to despair

It’s doubtful that a nation so corrupt can be brought back to the straight and narrow. A people that has lost its moral compass, even its shame, will never find them again. How would it, and why? No one even seems to be trying.

More next time.