Archive for December 2016

Goodbye Honest Ed

December 31, 2016



If anybody asked where I grew up I would simply say Honest Ed’s. everybody knew about Ed’s outrageous bargain store at Bathurst and Bloor. The legendary store closes today after 68 years, a veritable Toronto ikon.

Mirvish was a great character, a down to earth business guy, very loyal to the immigrant population who were looking for bargains—first the Italians and Jews and then the Portuguese and Jamaicans They all loved Ed.he remembered what it was like to be an immigrant. His dad had come to the USA first from Kiev and when Ed was nine moved to Toronto and located in the largely Jewish area of Dundas and Bathurst.
I often ran into Ed on his birthday—which was the same day as mine.He would throw a party outside the store and treat the folks to free hot dogs.

When my first book Shabbes Goy: A Catholic Boyhood was launched in 2001 the Mirvishes, Ed and son David insisted I launch it at David’s great bookstore across the road. Who was I to say no.? They loved it because it was a local story. Not only did the Mirvishes buy the first two copies but they took out ads in the Globe and Mail! I never spent a dime promoting it.
Bathurst and Bloor will never be the same. Mirvish had a great run there and parlayed it into refurbishing the beautiful Royal Alex theatre. Both Toronto originals.



John Kerry: Too little, too late

December 29, 2016


Typical America—speak the truth after the election. Do nothing to get the Zionist police and their deep pockets angry at you. Never stop funding the apartheid state over the 8 years of the bankrupt Democratic presidency.

Political cowardice.
John Kerry just gave an eloquent eulogy for the two-state solution,” said Ali Abunimah, director of the Electronic Intifada website. “His detailed critique of Israeli settlements and occupation was striking in its forthrightness – rare from US officials. But it serves more than anything as an indictment of the United States, which funded, enabled and protected the brutal reality Palestinians have lived under for so long.”
Robert Herbst, a civil rights lawyer and part of Jewish Voice for Peace wrote the following:

So Hear, O Israel, these parting truths – hard as they are for many of us — from the peacemakers who tried so hard to move it from its disastrous path:
You are running Israel and Judaism off the rails.  Led by the most right wing leadership in history, you are taking them to a one-state reality — a Greater Israel, in the West Bank — for the sake of ideological and religious reasons utterly disconnected from Judaism’s values and Israel’s greater interests in security and its future peaceful integration into the Arab world.  In your single-minded commitment to settlement construction and expansion, you have increasingly consolidated control over the West Bank for your own purposes, reversing the earlier goal of permitting Palestinians greater control over their own lives.
You have transferred into the West Bank, the future homeland of the Palestinian people, 270,000 Jewish settlers since the Oslo peace accords were signed on the White House lawn, 100,000 since the Obama Administration began in 2009.  And you have located these settlers, deliberately and strategically, in places which have made it particularly difficult to envision separating the two peoples and transferring sovereignty to a new Palestinian state.  Because you are not stupid, you must be doing this for a reason, and that is ultimately to prevent the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state in which Palestinians could live in freedom and dignity, free of Israeli domination.So Hear, O Israel, these parting truths – hard as they are for many of us — from the peacemakers who tried so hard to move it from its disastrous path:


What kind of Jewish vision is left, Kerry asks us.  What kind of subjugation of Palestinians is consistent with Jewish religious and moral values?  There are 2.75 million Palestinians living under Jewish military occupation, in the West Bank.  They have limited autonomy.  They cannot travel without approval.  They are living in enclaves with no rights, under occupation that deprives them of basic freedoms.  Palestinians live lives that are Separate But Unequal.  While Kerry did not utter the word “apartheid,” the reference to American racial segregation was an unmistakable stand-in for it.  Will Jewish military and police personnel police the streets of every Palestinian city and town?  Will they administer the schools and hospitals?  How will they deal with civil rights protests?  Unspoken was the fact that Israeli troops and police have shot, killed and maimed Palestinians engaged in peaceful protests for years.

Because this one-state Greater Israel is not consonant with democratic ideals, Americans will not accept it, the world will not accept it, Kerry said.  He is right, of course.  This is the truth, obvious by the global consensus enunciated in resolutions like this one since 1967.  The unspoken question to Jews the world over was, will the Jewish people accept it?  Is that the legacy of the Holocaust?  It was not enough for 6 million to have perished?  We have to end up being oppressors of another people, millions of them, Arabs in an Arab world where we hope and expect to live for the next thousand years?


The set decorator priests

December 28, 2016

I once kidded a highly placed bishop for picking up his own phone. He laughed and proceeded to needle me about a column I had written about how out of touch the JP2 bishops were.They appeared, and still do, like ghost figures whose life styles hardly embraced the human condition.In particular in the column the bishop alluded to, i jokingly said that you’ll know when the Parousia (end times) is arriving: you are at a jazz club and you look across the room and you see a bishop! Never happens in my experience. Early to bed early to rise and you never meet the regular guys.

40 years ago i wrote another article(in the flush of the great Vatican ll glow, that until you can tell a bishop to eff off, he wasn’t worth bothering about.
The Catholci people have had their fill of the “set decorator priests” as Eugene Kennedy once called them, all part of the princely past of hierarchical Catholicism. Kennedy quipped,”If they build the people will come.” Well they did build it and the people left because these wax dummies were so divorced from everyday life.Kennedy further stated, ”they share a bristling confidence that they are the defenders of the faith out to rid the Church of Vatican ll heresies… a new generation of true believers whose zeal for their father’s house earns them places of honour in the new restoration.” Those days are long gone when people slobber over an episcopal ring, refer to “You excellency” and worst of all, ignore your heartfelt letters because you disagree with them.

I used to meet a beautiful priest regularly in his day off. He was the real deal, had gone to Latin America, seen another reality, actually read critical books on the church.He had had it with the local bishop, a real piece of the Canadian shield and told me he was leaving. I never tried to convince him otherwise but really hoped he would stay, because he was authentic. 6 months later I ran into him—and he was back!
What happened?
He lived in his brother’s basement apartment, saw the struggle his bro had with his young family, contrasted it with his own privileged life and he came back to earth—still on the job.

Which brings me to the new archbishop of Newark, Joe Tobin .Next time.


Pope Francis disses reactionary bishops

December 26, 2016

On December 22 Pope Francis denounced the resistance he’s encountering in reforming the Vatican bureaucracy, saying some of it is inspired by the devil and that the prelates who work for him must undergo “permanent purification” to serve the Catholic Church better.


Wow, strong albeit metaphorical language.

But dead on.

We have a few high ranking prelates in Canada who really do need “permanent purification.” They are the JP ll -Ratzinger brigade who unsuccessfully tried to stem reform in the church.

One of my favourites is the auxiliary bishop in Ottawa who declared openly that he was not “a Francis bishop” but a JP bishop. Whoopee.
Sadly these men, imposed on the people of God from above, were noted for being Yes men, reactionaries to the Vatican ll agenda. They were simply unwilling to perceive the signs of the times, the insight that baptism trumped holy orders.Lay people by dint of baptism needed to be seriously consulted.

this has never happened. this is why female ordination has not taken place. A scandal which has alienated many Catholics.

The clerics will not listen—even to their own teaching:

The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) 1998 states this:
Those who exercise episcope in the Body of Christ must not be separated from the ‘symphony’ of the whole people of God in which they have their part to play. They need to be alert to the sensus fidelium, in which they share, if they are to be made aware when something is needed for the well-being and mission of the community, or when some element of the Tradition needs to be received in a fresh way. (#30)

something is needed for sure. as of now the bishops got the words but they ain’t got the music

Francis is playing a new tune but these men appear to be tone deaf. they reuse to dance.

Bad religion—once again in israel

December 22, 2016

In a letter faxed to hoteliers in Jerusalem, two of the city’s chief rabbis warned against displaying Christmas trees on their premises.


Baah humbug.Start talking about compassion and human dignity.

“As the secular year ends we want to remind you that erecting a Christmas tree in a hotel contravenes halacha [Jewish law] and that therefore it is clear that one should not erect [a tree] in a hotel,” the letter reads, according to the Times of Israel. “It is also appropriate to avoid hosting parties to mark the end of the secular year.”


Don’t tell us what to do.This is a democracy.

The Israeli daily said the letter could be interpreted as a “veiled threat” to hoteliers who risk losing their kosher licenses. This flies in the face of recent developments, including a March 2015 ruling by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate that lifted a ban on Christmas trees in hotels and tied the criteria for kosher certification more closely to the preparation of food.


It’s not kosher!

Christmas trees and other symbols of non-Jewish traditions rankle some Israelis; the country’s ultra-Orthodox rabbis are known to criticize their display. In a separate incident reported by Israeli media, a rabbi at Technion Institute of Technology in the city of Haifa warned students against entering the student union building because of a Christmas tree there, arguing that the tree was “not a Christian religious symbol, but even worse, a pagan one.”


Save me from all fundamentalisms!

Trump blows it on Israel

December 19, 2016

Democracy Now reported on Donald Trump’s shocking new choice for ambassador to Israel


President-elect Donald Trump isbeing slammed picking David Friedman to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.Trump’s former bankrupty lawyer witth no diplomatic experience has been For years, Friedman s president of American Friends of Beit El Institutions, which has raised millions of dollars to support illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

According to a tax filing, Trump donated $10,000 to the group in 2003.He supports Israel’s Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and says he doesn’t think it would be illegal for Israel to annex the entire Palestinian territory—despite the fact that it would be blatantly illegal under international law. During the presidential campaign, Friedman also said he opposes a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

Daniel Kurtzer, who served President George W. Bush as ambassador to Israel, said, quote, “[Friedman] has made clear that he will appeal to a small minority of Israeli—and American—extremists, ignoring the majority of Israelis who continue to seek peace. Friedman’s appointment as ambassador runs directly contrary to Mr. Trump’s professed desire to make the ‘ultimate deal’ between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. The liberal advocacy group J Street said, quote, “This nomination is reckless, putting America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk.”

Israel abuts and ignores Aleppo

December 16, 2016

Another laser across the bow of Israel from the resident prophet, Gideon Levy.

Has anybody pointed out that Israel borders on Syria and yet israel ignores Syrian refugees.


It’s easy for anybody who watches Israel closely—they are mainly Muslims. Herre’s the country which air lifted 1 million Russians, most of them Jrewsw in name only. Israel sits sit by and watches aleppo burn

Levy has foir a long time excoriated Israelis, particularly his own Tel Aviv citizens as crassly on.

They’re the worst, the hypocrites and the self-righteous. The ones who are shocked at the scenes from Aleppo, tsking as they watch television and certain that the world has to do something. The world, but not they and not their country. Urgently, right now, without delay, but not they and not their country. They are assuaging their conscience, so beautiful, superior and moral in their own eyes. They are after all not indifferent to the horrors of Aleppo; they are people of conscience and justice and this pains them. It pains them so much – they can’t sleep at night at the sight of the dead children, they think about their grandmothers and grandfathers in the Holocaust and how the world stood by and did nothing and how this must not be allowed to happen again. Never again. But not they and not their country. Somebody else. Israel, after all, can’t. It is an enemy country and so it can’t interfere, and it’s a special case and therefore it can’t take in refugees, like Sweden for example.
The second group is the indifferent people. What does all that have to do with them? Israel is not involved, and all the rest is not interesting. In fact, nothing interests them except for their own private world. Occupation-shmockupation, asylum-seekers, Syria. Just leave us alone to plan our next vacation in peace.

The great Brueggemann

December 13, 2016

Interview with Rev. Walter Brueggemann was part of the online United Church of Canada’s website

Brueggemann is rated the greatest Hebrew scholar of his generation. Alicia von Stamnitz did the interview. This is but a part but required reading for serrious bible thumpers.

Q What is your core message for church leaders today?
A That the public agenda is not an add-on for gospel faith, but it really is the core business of the Gospel. Most of us are hung up on private matters. So we put all of our energy into questions about sexuality and abortion and gays and all that kind of stuff — which is not unimportant, but those are not the core issues of scripture. The core issues of scripture are public, political and economic justice. Justice is central to Jesus’ ministry; it is central to the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament; and it is central to the Torah tradition that lies behind the prophetic tradition. But I think we have learned, for comfort’s sake, to misread the Bible.

Q Can you elaborate on how we misread the Bible?

A Most people think the Bible is about personal happiness, personal well-being, being with God when you die and being privately moral. But that’s not what the Bible is about. The prophets are moral teachers, but what they’re talking about is public morality. You can open the books of the prophets anywhere and you’ll find them talking about widows, orphans, immigrants and poor people. They talk about wages; they talk about unjust scales; they talk about the greed that skews the economy. They say that injustice will lead to destruction — it’s an unavoidable message. So it’s just amazing how, in our habitual reading, we have siphoned off the energy from those accent points into stuff that is less demanding

Chas McCarthy to Pope Francis

December 12, 2016



This is the mere opening of that incredible apostle of the  nonviolent Jesus, Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

Dear Pope Francis,

Christ is in our midst. He is now and ever shall be.

I am aware that several hundred Catholics and Americans of goodwill have appealed to you by letter, petitioning you regarding your upcoming visit to the United States in September. They appeal to you to denounce the U.S. government—not the American people—for the nation’s military aggression, its ongoing nuclear armament, its use of torture, and its genocide of the Arab people of the Middle East. These conscientious Americans are, surely, representative of tens of millions of other people of goodwill who are sickened by the agony that the U.S. economic, political, and military elites have intentionally brought down upon the Arab people.

Many American Catholics have waited every Sunday—for more than a decade now—waited for their bishop or priest to say something to counter the prevailing U.S. culture of unapologetic militarism, war mythology, war profiteering, vicious Machiavellian morality, with its stealing from the poor in order to fund killing the poor, all the while watching their local dioceses and churches morph into breeding grounds of nationalistic sentimentality, patriotic fervor, and glorification of the military. It is not difficult to understand why many American Catholics and others are looking to you, Pope Francis, to finally, finally, say something about this nightmarish, cold-blooded, pre-emptive war, and its crushing, merciless consequences for the people of the Middle East.



Hewlett Packard deals in oppression

December 9, 2016

Over 150 actions in 101 cities  in 30 countries on 6 continents!


The international alliance is targeting HP companies because they provide critical information technology (IT) services and infrastructure that facilitates the segregation and oppression of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, the naval blockade of Gaza, and the suppression of Palestinian human rights.  In conjunction with the global week of action organized by the International Boycott HP Network, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the Palestinian BDS National Committee have launched a petition drive to collect individual and institutional endorsements supporting the boycott of products and divestment from HP companies

HP companies also provide services and technology for some of the largest illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, and provide services and hardware to the Israeli prison system that incarcerates Palestinian children and hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners.  Hewlett-Packard companies supply computers for the Israeli Ministry of Defense and equip the Israeli Navy with hardware and the information technology infrastructure that enables the ongoing naval blockade of the Gaza Strip serving to collectively punish 1.7 million Palestinians confined to the tiny coastal enclave because of their religion and ethnicity.


The Boycott HP Week of Action was a phenomenal success, with creative actions in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Kenya,Malaysia, Peru, Sudan, and across the Middle East, Europe, and North America! In the U.S. alone, there were 40 actions in more than 30 cities across 16 states! It is extraordinary what we can achieve when we build together, and the victories have already begun:

In Italy, HP was removed from the program of an Italian “Ethics and Social Responsibility in Information Technology” conference following efforts from BDS Italia.

In Derry, Northern Ireland, five councillors gave back their HP equipmentin support of the boycott as part of the week of action.
Adelaide, Australia                              Buenos Aires, Argentina                                    Santa Fe, NM

The diversity of actions and tactics was stunning…

In Rome, activists dropped a banner near the Colosseum to kick off the week of action that saw 26 actions across Italy.

In the Gibraltar countryside of southern Spain, activists produced their own original boycott HP video.

In Berlin, Germany and Seattle, activists lifted up indigenous resistance from Standing Rock to Palestine. The Northwest BDS Coalition’s mic-check flash mobs offer a fantastic action model.

In Jerusalem, students revealed why they’d been placing stickers on HP equipment saying “When I grow up, I wanna be a checkpoint,” kicking off a campus boycott campaign.

In Philadelphia and Boston, students came together to learn why HP is an important BDS target while in Kuala Lumpur activists held actions at public university libraries.

In Valencia, Spain, students performed a mock checkpoint.

In Khartoum, Sudan, activists held a lively action in a park passing out boycott HP stickers and flyers.

In Osaka, Japan and Los Angeles, organizers erected mock apartheid walls.
In Hamburg, Germany, activists projected a video about HP’s crimes in a spirited protest outside a major electronics store.

In San Francisco, a stone’s throw from HP headquarters, activists projected images of HP’s oppressive activities onto buildings and performed boycott HP street theatre.

In Toledo, OH; New York City and Ithaca, NY; Santa Fe, NM; Asheville, NC; Rome, GA; Doral, FL; Omaha, NE; Pittsburgh, PA; St. Louis, MO;up and down the state of California; and in too many other cities to count, activists sang boycott HP carols, held signs and passed out flyers, educating shoppers and passersby.

Around the world, activists jammed the #HPEDiscover hashtag as British activists engaged HP employees and clients at a trade show starting the same day as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people — just one of more than 40 actions in the UK alone!

And on and on…