Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Liraz Goes To The UN

This is Liraz Madmony from Sderot, addressing the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Gaza.
Twenty-three years old, smart and gorgeous. The UN may not be listening, but she certainly gives me naches.
Her speech:
Thank you, Mr. President.
I come from Sderot, the city in Israel that for eight years has been terrorized, by 10,000 rockets fired against us from Gaza.
As a law student, I learned - and I believe - that all human beings have the right to peace and security.
But when I see today's resolution, I ask: Why is the United Nations ignoring my suffering?
When the terrorists committed these 10,000 violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, why was the UN silent?
Are human rights for some, but not others?
The constant assault on Sderot has destroyed our ability to lead a normal life. The warning before each attack gives us only 15 seconds to run for shelter. Fifteen seconds that will decide, life or death.
Mr. President, who will protect our right to life? My family does not have a bomb shelter, so we run to the most protected room, which is the shower.

There is one attack I will never forget. We heard the siren at seven in the morning. We ran to the shower. The rockets fell next to my house. My little brother, who was 14, went to see if anyone needed help. He found a man whose legs were blown off, and a woman blown to pieces.
My youngest brother is six. The rockets have been falling for eight years. He knows no other reality.
Everyone suffers in Sderot. Fathers and mothers are afraid to go to work, creating poverty. Kids are afraid to go to school. I have missed many of my law classes. My friends are afraid to visit. The streets lie empty.
I dream of the hometown that I remember. When the park near my house was filled with happy families and children playing. When people enjoyed life.
I still dream of peace. It will come when the rulers of Gaza choose humanity over hate, when they stop firing on our children while hiding behind their own.
We refuse to grant victory to the terrorists. We choose to live, staying strong with our faith, family and love of country.
Mr. President, who will protect our most basic human rights? My country is now trying its best, and all who love life and desire peace should pray they succeed.
Thank you, Mr. President.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

From Roseanne

Remember how Roseanne was in the JPost for calling Israel a Nazi state? Well, Roseanne isn't just a hater. She has a detailed peace plan:

israel must make alliances with the vatican and with Islam. Israel must rebuild
the temple and stay within its own borders. Israel must treat its labor party as
a democratic labor party for WORKERS instead of for Israeli's. that will change
everything---there is no real religious problem, there is only a labor
problem...the palestinians are the suppliers of israel's labor, and they want
decent living conditions and a living wage. there is no other issue in the
problem...i have unmasked the bullshit. israel cannot afford the religious bs
any longer. god demands they make peace and not war. god demands jews to give up
hatred and seperatism and become citizens of the world! god demands that the
israelis who are of european tribal descent step down, and be correctly replaced
in government by tribal sephardic jews who have lived in peace with arabs for
thousands of years. god demands this, according to jeremiah the prophet. read
his words. the torah is demanding unity and synthesis of all ways of thinking
about god. unity and not division for israel and the world. israel wrestles god
down to earth. this is the story of jacob. meditate and share and love and
trust. THAT IS WHAT IS MEANT BY ZION. zion is not a militaristic place. there
are no weapons in zion. there is no need for weapons, because justice and mercy

Roseanne also explains the nature of the divine presence:

the shekkinah is being revealed to us---she will simply eat the alien human
and then rebirth it again at a later carbon tested time or on a different
satelite that she uses for growing her babies. we gave birth to the indigo
children. their skin is greenie.

Here in Baghdad-by-the-Bay

At The Back of the Hill reports:


Early Saturday evening, homosexual anti-Israel demonstrators held a noisy event
in the Castro district, to the general disapproval of most of the people on the
street. They were counter-protested by several local activists, and a swelling
number of passers-by.Most gay San Franciscans are keenly aware that only one
state in the Mid-East offers gays full rights and protection. So when the
Israel-haters started throwing shoes, in imitation of their ideological cohorts
in parts of the extremist world, enthusiastic volunteers gathered up the flung
footwear for deposit in nearby garbage cans. This proved discomfiting to the
pro-terror side, as the throwers were left barefoot in consequence.

Meanwhile, Most Holy Redeemer Church in the Castro was vandalized. Swastikas were painted on it, in addition to angry messages about Archbishop Niederauer's support for Prop. 8.

Problem is, MHR is a predominantly gay Catholic parish. So this is not only hateful and ugly, it's even more stupid than if they had hit any other Catholic church.

Deep, deep sigh.

Hebrew-Speaking Workers of the World Unite!!

ANSWER and friends had a big anti-Israel get-together on Saturday morning at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza, and San Francisco Voice For Israel gathered to counterprotest. I missed the counterprotest because work demanded that I be administering an entrance exam to a pack of nervous eighth graders. I did, however, manage to convince Mr. Bluejeans Sr. to attend, and met him for lunch afterwards.

By the time I arrived, the ANSWERniks had gone on their march, and come back again. As I approached the plaza, the speaker on the stage was shrieking at the crowd to go on supporting the Palestinian struggle. A drunk crossing the streets behind me screamed "Yeah, you do that! I support the Jews, and I'm a ****ing Catholic! **** terrorists!"

All the usual signs, except for a new contingent from A small group had strung up a clothesline with 'bloodstained' onesies. A table was selling olive oil. The usual. As I was crossing the plaza, a teenage Palestinian-American poet was called up to the stage to read her free verse. I learned that her cousins in Jordan do not understand the struggle, that her uncle does not know who Che was, and that some Zionist once told her there was no such thing as Palestine.

I feel bad for her cousins in Jordan, if they have to hear about this on a regular basis.

Mr. Bluejeans reports that an earlier speaker rejected a two-state arrangement, in favor of one state, "for the Palestinians and the Hebrew-speaking workers".

Gee. If Pharaoh's bureaucracy had only been delicate enough to call us "Hebrew-speaking workers", who knows how history might have come out?

Monday, January 05, 2009


QUIT is at it again. The Jawa Report is taking notice of them, ("I wonder if these people realize what Hamas would do to them?") and Meryl Yourish spotted them too...("Are these the most clueless Hamas supporters ever?")

So, as the lady who ends up having to explain the Bay Area to the rest of the world sometimes, yes children, there is a group called QUIT, that stands for Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism. I will not link to their website, you can find it with Google, OK? Be prepared, it is full of some really incredible laugh-out-loud Big Lies.

No, this is not a fly-by-night group, they have a website, a membership, and some years ago they went through a phase of attacking Starbucks because the owner of the company donates to Hadassah or something, also Estee Lauder, and when "Yossi and Jagger" first played in the Bay Area in 2003 they protested that too.

Yes, they are that disconnected from reality.

No, I'm not sure how it works either.

No, there is not a word on their website about the situation of LGBT Palestinians.

No, they are not typical of gay people in the Bay Area. Gay people in the Bay Area are, for the most part, too busy with the gay lifestyle--carpooling, jobs, taking the kids to the zoo, trying to assemble shelves from IKEA, TIVO, the parish council, and watching their 401Ks plummet--to get involved with crazy self-destructive people. (Gilah's last girlfriend does not count for the purpose of this discussion.)

Hopefully, this information will prove useless to you in the future, since God willing, you will never meet any of these people. But if you do, at least you will be informed.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Baby animals and wily coyotes

Two websites you need: is a site dedicated to zoo baby pictures. Little jaguars, little hippos, little sloths, they have it all. A baby aardvark is an amazing example of 'so ugly it's adorable'. Check it out. is dedicated to pictures of coyotes. Coyotes are wonderful. (If you're a rancher, you may disagree. Tough. I love coyotes.)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Truthiness and the Divine

Roseanne Barr made it into the JPost for announcing in on her blog that Israel is a Nazi state. I don't know exactly why this made the JPost. Roseanne is always sayin' death to someone she don't like. (Name that movie reference!) And she has general big issues with Israel. Since Cynthia McKinney failed to sailed to Gaza in a cabin cruiser, she's been very cranky. So, like I say, not sure why this was news.

But it did make me go and check out Roseanne's blog, and this time I read quite a bit of her archives, and well, it's quite something. I particularly enjoy the lengthy bits about how Mary, mother of Jesus, was the last Priestess of the Temple (yes, that's the Temple in Jerusalem, the second one, you know, the one that there's one wall left of, and al-Aqsa built on top), and Mary Magdalene, wife of Jesus, was raised to be a priestess, and ya know, they killed Jesus to end the matriarchal Goddess cult that apparently survived right up until that point and then just fell in like a house of cards. Someone has read The Moon Beneath Her Feet too many times, and well, OMG as the vilde chayas say.

Anyway, as I am sifting through this chaos and confusion, I find a link to This is an interesting little site, which entertains me no end. Sgulah, you see, is a new spiritual movement. Its goal is to re-win the Grace of Kabbalah (I think she may be related to a fabulous waitress some friends of mine used to call The Amazing Grace of Dunkin' Donuts) lost in a very successful attempt of mass production.

I guess this is a jab at the Kabbalah Centers, although this website sells such great Sgulah accessories as $500.00 Shabbos candlesticks, (silver, which enhances the energy of Shabbat with the energy of Hesed.), $200.00 keys--the Large Key of Prosperity or the Small Key of Luck, your choice, and a $380.00 mezuzah--they recommend that each house should have two.

But anyway, on the front page, they're selling some new book of theirs, and they pitch it like this: A book is a book is a book, right? Not exactly! A book in Hebrew is SEPHER. If you are a spy and want to send me a message that nobody else can understand, you will use a special code or a so-called CIPHER. The word CIPHER comes from the Hebrew word SEPHER, meaning a book.

Now isn't that fascinating? The problem is that I have a copy of The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, and I go to this source to learn that the source of the word "cipher" is actually the Arabic "sifr", which means "zero". To cipher, in the old sense, is to do arithmetic--math with Arabic numerals, using the zero, rather than the Latin system with no zero. Now that really is fascinating.

And as I muse over Roseanne's fascinating version of history in which a Cohenet Gdolah distributed the words of the Goddess to the people of Jerusalem until the last generation of BCE, I am reminded of an article by Rabbi Gershon Winkler in which he asserts that Jewish women had an equal role in Jewish society, until in Europe (but not in the Middle East or North Africa), in the Middle Ages, Jews began to remove "their women" from public roles to prevent them from being burned as witches.

So why am I nattering about these things? Because when I was in college, I was surrounded by people who were attracted to things like this--secrets, and ancient history of women's power--and I would always be the one who said "OK, but is that true?"

It's not true that the Virgin Mary was a priestess in the Second Temple. It's not true that gender inequity was only acquired by Jews from Europeans. It's not true that "cipher" is derived from "sepher". And I think it is important to know that these things, if only so that those things that are truly fascinating and real about history and language keep their beauty and importance.

So what about midrash? I had a moment with one of my colleagues at work, in the religion department, who told me that Origen (father of the Church) interprets the lines in the Shir haShirim about the woman's navel being a cup of wine, and her belly a heap of wheat as an image of the Eucharist. "Oh, that's a beautiful midrash," said the Balabusta, enraptured. "There's NO textual evidence for it," says the coworker, crankily. But there's not SUPPOSED to be evidence for it. It's poetry. It's interpretation. It's symbolic truth. It's not an assertion that Christianity was secretly practiced in Solomon's day. This, by me, is different than creating a secret history that you make up and then insist is true, against all evidence.

I've been watching a lot of Bones reruns, and while I am not in the least like Dr. Temperance Brennan, I understand her insistence on scientific truth. I am not a scientist, but I am an historian at heart. I believe in finding out the truth, so far as we can know it. I believe in honoring the real experience and thought of those who came before us, even if we may do and believe differently. "Truthiness" is not a basis for religion.

San Francisco Treasures

On New Years Eve day, I met my parents in North Beach, and we went to mass at the shrine of St. Francis. This is a beautiful little gem of a church, all cream and gold and turn-of-the-century stained glass. It was a parish church for many years, and is now the officially designated national shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, San Francisco's patron.

I have a fondness for Francis that probably dates back to my reading of the Marvel Comics version of his life. How can you resist a man who preaches the Gospel to wolves and birds? So I was amazed and thrilled by Angela Alioto's most recent audacious project, that of building a perfect three-quarters replica of Francis' Porziuncula church in San Francisco, right next door to the shrine.

The original Porziuncula is a small chapel built by Francis and his early followers. There is now a cathedral around it, and some very dramatic medieval art frescoed inside and outside. Thanks to Angela Alioto, San Francisco now possessed a perfect slightly smaller replica of it, which has been declared by the Pope to be one of the 'five holy places' of the world. Oh, and it has an original twelfth century rock, carefully sealed with tape and wax, from the original building, that lives in a little iron container by the altar.

It's absolutely gorgeous, small and beautiful, and full of haimish holiness. It's an amazing treasure that has just quietly become part of San Francisco. If you have the slightest interest in religious art, or Francis, or anything of that sort, go and see this place. It's stunning.

Flapping The Flag at ANSWER

On Tuesday evening, the Balabusta headed into San Francisco to form part of a counterprotest against the big protest out in front of the Israeli Consulate on Montgomery St. Notes herewith humbly submitted:

ARRIVAL: I walked down Montgomery, in the company of people toting all kinds of hideous signs, plus women toting the big paper mache heads. As I approach, I see the Israeli and American flags clustered on one side of the street as they usually are. Then I blink. Among the familiar blue and white is a green flag with writing in Arabic. This doesn't look quite right...

THE PROBLEM: By the time I showed up, a basic problem had developed, namely that the protestors were on both sides of the street, and had spread out through the area. They outnumbered us considerably. It was not a pleasant situation.

THE OPPOSITION: Usual crowd. Overwhelming majority of prefabbed ANSWER signs. STOP THE MASSACRE IN GAZA. THE REAL TERRORIST: U.S. AND ISRAEL. And so on. Except for one random bobbing ANSWER sign that read STOP CLOSING PLANTS. I expect that one got in there from another demo. A couple of swastika-instead-of-star flags. Some "Real Jews reject Zionism". Not wildly creative. They were extremely hopped up and aggressive. A couple of women 'accidentally' bumped into me, and when one woman backed up abruptly and ran into me, she got extremely crabby. A couple of very big and/or very young men screaming aggressively into people's faces. Very hyped, very hysterical.

THE CHANTS: They were loud. The predominant scream was "From the river to the sea", but there was a lot of "Free Free Palestine!" too. I can't make out much of the Arabic, but At The Back of the Hill has some further info.

At about six-thirty, the whole mob formed up and decided to march down Market. This led to all of them marching by us. Lots of fingers given. At some point, the lady next to me spotted a similar lady in the crowd walking by us. The lady spotted her. She zoomed over, accompanied by a nervous SFPD officer. A screaming match in Russian ensued.

I'm disappointed in SFPD. They should have sorted the two groups out, for safety's sake if nothing else.